Fire in the Sky

I’ll be completely honest with you: growing up, I was afraid of aliens. There was an ambiguous fear instilled upon me, no doubt seeded by the weird sci-fi films my dad exposed me to as a child; it wasn’t so much a fear of something specific, it was just the horror of seeing an actual alien, or spacecraft, invade my reality that seemed to have me on edge. And perhaps that’s just it: it was a fear of disrupting the regular routine of my life, or something, I’m not sure. I remember driving home one night in the backseat and seeing these lights in the distance search the skies. I was immediately on alert, my mind teeming to life with all he horrific possibilities that it could manifest, but never truly giving thought that it was anything but aliens. They were spotlights from a business in the city, just programmed to pan back and forth in unison.   With the fear of aliens and extraterrestrial invasion being so prominent in my mind, I certainly went out of my way to go review even…

Underworld: Evolution

Immediately, we abandon the slick confines the original’s city, mansions and underground settings for the (somewhat) blanket openness of Eastern Europe. The story picks up just where we left off as well, with Selene and Michael on the run from the aftermath of the mayhem before, including the (spoiler for the first film) slaying of Victor. I’m just about fully on board with Evolution delving deeper into the lore of the “Vampire-Lycan” war and appreciative that it ties a number of strings together, including our main vampire played by Kate Beckinsale all without feeling like story beats and characters are just done for the sake of being convenient or filler.  I mentioned in the previous film that there were very few (if any) human characters present, which has been rectified in Evolution. Rectified, because I need to see how our vampires and werewolves perform in the face of your average human, which helps craft this world’s reality against our own. There’s a scene early on where Michael is chased into the woods by a group of humans – as he resists the…

2020 Year in Review

As we heartily say goodbye to one of the most tumultuous years, I look back at the twelve months and stand back in a kind of awe: having hit 312 movies watched is truly a milestone, although a tad bittersweet as its partly due to being fueled by the pandemic lockdown that has so dictated everyone’s year. The stats are actually interesting though: in both January and February I watched 31 and 29 films, respectively, which would put me on track for a “film a day” and this was before our initial lockdown in March. That pace burnt me out though, and I focused my attention on catching up on some television shows, and without the regular social interactions I found my pace in the high twenties for movie watching each month. Again, Letterboxd is my logbook and source of all kinds of interesting stats. Check out my 2020 stats page here: https://letterboxd.com/ryebone/year/2020/ So you’re perhaps looking for a top ten list, right? I had some loosely interesting conversation with my movie-loving friends, bringing to the forefront the question: was there…

Wolfwalkers

There’s something reassuringly captivating and enchanting about Wolfwalkers, the latest animated feature from Irish filmmakers Tomm Moore and Ross Steward, with Moore previously codirecting both The Secret of the Kells and the amazing Song of the Sea. Wolfwalkers had me engrossed from start to finish, and held my thoughts for days afterward. I’m always a bit hesitant to put on “kids” films when alone and as a result I can miss out on some really excellent films so in an effort to recognize the more positive sides of this turbulent year and not let some films slip by, I made a priority to watch the highly-rated Wolfwalkers, and would heartily recommend it to everyone. The story is clean and uncomplicated, as we follow an English father and daughter, Bill (Sean Bean) and daughter Robyn (Honor Kneafsey) who are brought to the town of Kilkenney in Ireland in the 1600’s to utilize his hunting abilities to clear the surrounding woods of wolves, who are oft-considered supernatural and evil. Robyn discovers another girl in the woods, Mebh, and they form a friendship…

Tenet

Despite the standard cliche, I don’t remember ever literally being on the edge of my seat during a movie, but there are some movies that make me sit up a little straighter and pay very close attention. Tenet was one of those movies. I wasn’t really all that surprised that I enjoyed Tenet; Christopher Nolan is one of my favourite directors working today (or really, ever), and I’ve been a fan of all of his movies to date. Nolan is one of the few modern directors who is able to effectively blend the auteur and blockbuster approach to craft films that are truly epic in scale but at their core are stories about people and that both pose and explore questions about the human condition in an intelligent way. In that way, Nolan is heir apparent to the original generation of auteur film makers who essentially invented the blockbuster like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. And like Spielberg and Lucas, Christopher Nolan is primarily concerned with telling original stories about larger than life events anchored with fully fleshed out human characters (and a…

Iron Man 3

In the seven years since Iron Man 3 was released, I had the impression that there was a consensus that this film was one of the worst of the MCU lineup, but as I revisited the film recently, I found very little to actually dislike. Coming off The Avengers event film, the third entry in Tony Stark’s solo films was going to be in a precarious situation, and I feel as though they did a pretty solid job. Tony is suffering from PTSD, resulting in a bit of a harder edge to the comedy, leaning into a bit of self-deprecation and moving away from the arrogant playboy in previous films. His friends seem to tip-toe around him, trying to take as much responsibility away as possible, although – to be fair – the film doesn’t really hit up the dynamics between Tony and Pepper and Happy, practically writing Happy out of the majority of the film. It makes sense to evolve Tony and Pepper’s relationship, but she comes across as a bit exhausted of his antics, either ignoring his mental…

Possessor

There seems to be a bit of marketing around this film that pushes it as the “uncut” version, which is usually reserved for home video releases and results in a rather dubious difference in content of the film. However, we’re talking about the Cronenberg family in this case, and the small theatrical run during this pandemic is perhaps allowing such a cut of film to grace the big screen. As I stumbled across snippet-sized details of Brandon Cronenberg’s latest film over the past few months, I absolutely tried to minimize how much I knew about the film going into it, allowing the poster to speak for itself. The Possessor Uncut disclaimer comes up on screen before the movie gets going, making me all the more aware that this should be quite the ride, and a ride, it was. There are boundary pushing images and scenes on display here, but at no point does this feel exploitative or irrelevant to the story and characters. You become acutely aware of when the camera would normally cut away, or show us a different…

Underworld

Revisiting the original Underworld proved to be surprisingly refreshing and I was taken aback and just how glued I was to the screen. For this screening I decided to watch the extended cut, which apparently adds about 12 minutes (making the film a convenient two hours and twelve minutes) and I’ll be honest in saying that I couldn’t see what was added or replaced, although I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the original cut of the film. Indeed, I watched the film in cinemas back in 2003 and maybe once after, although there were a decent number of memorable moments and scenes that stuck with me for a while, although it’s worth noting that I retained nothing of the story or plot, save for the basic werewolves versus vampires driving force. It was a pleasant surprise then, that the film didn’t stick me with a ton of exposition at the beginning; we’re dropped into the action right off the bat with just a brief introduction to Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and her “Death Dealer” squad, as they chase down a pack of werewolves into the…

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

When I first saw a preview for The Wolf of Snow Hollow, I was immediately invested. Everything seemed to check off this unknown list within my mind: werewolves, small towns, snow, mountains, dark humour, comedy, and horror, to name a few. I had seen Jim Cummings’ Thunder Road last year and enjoyed it enough that I often think about it and was intrigued with what Jim would come up with next. He has a way of writing his characters that straddle the line between likeability and distaste, and I would say that Snow Hollow tests those boundaries to a point that has me questioning my enjoyment of the movie. The plot is familiar as werewolf movies go: on each full moon bodies are found, and our local small-town police force struggles to find any compelling evidence or follow any leads. The difference here between any similarly-plotted movie is the characters, who are the central focus of Snow Hollow. Jim Cumming plays – again – a cop named John, with significant issues and stresses; he’s not a warm, genial small town…

The Fly II

I was quite taken aback with how captivating this film was; it probably helps that I entered into the viewing with fairly low expectations. I had just listened to a podcast about Cronenberg’s remake of the Fly, and they talked briefly about its sequel (of which Cronenberg had no involvement). While it’s easy to agree that this sequel is miles behind, it wouldn’t be fair to dismiss it entirely. There are some incredibly fun creature effects and grotesque deaths on screen to grab your attention, although most of them come in final act of the film. The first couple of acts are still fascinating, as we watch Marin Brundle (Eric Stoltz) rapidly age through the first five years of his life as a result of the human/fly hybrid genetics of his father. Although he’s supremely intelligent, he’s regularly picked on and treated poorly by his foster family of lab techs and a particularly surly security guard, resulting in quite a bit of sympathy for the child-turn-man at five years old, and this investment in his character is deepened as he…

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