Message from the King

I had never heard of Message from the King until it popped up randomly in my Netflix feed, and despite the track record of random movies recommended by the streaming service, I still haven’t learned my lesson. I have to say that one of the main reasons I decided to watch this movie late one Friday night not too long ago was specifically because it starred Chadwick Boseman, who sadly lost his battle with cancer last year at the age of forty-three. I don’t mean to imply that I watched the movie solely as a way of honouring Mr. Boseman’s legacy, though that certainly came into play. It was mostly because he was a master of his craft and a truly captivating screen presence. And also partially because the plot description of a single man on a personal vendetta seeking righteous retribution and beating up and straight up killing a bunch of bad guys who obviously deserve it is like the comfort food of cinema. Watching an action hero walk into a room and lay the smackdown on a bunch of mooks…

Elektra

Just two short years after being introduced in Daredevil, Jennifer Garner’s Elektra gets the historical distinction of being the first female-led Marvel movies, but also (possibly) stands as a reason why we didn’t get any more female-driven Marvel movies until Captain Marvel nearly fourteen years later. It’s easy to put the blame on the lack of female superhero movies on the failure of Elektra, but I find it hard to believe there isn’t more going on here: when the MCU really got rolling, there’s no valid reason Black Widow didn’t receive her own starring vehicle and there were plenty of interesting female superheroes to pull out of the X-Men series. The fact is, female representation has always been a bit dismal in the comic book realm, and the race to get these adaptations to the big screen had studios picking the most historically identifiable and popular characters from Marvel’s stables, which unironically come from the 1960’s and are all alliteratively named white men.   That being said, Garner did a decent job – considering the context of the film – in 2003’s Daredevil…

Synchronic

Starting with a discussion of our beloved time travel films, this episode has the Chronicles delving into the 2020 sci-fi film by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead: Synchronic! Starring Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan, Synchronic continues the directing duo’s trend of thought-provoking, mind-bending combination of science fiction and drama. We couldn’t recommend this film enough, and this episode doesn’t hold back in spoilers.

I Care a Lot

There’s a tremendous amount of good and interesting things happening here, including a very rare situation where I found myself standing up (watching this at home of course) and wondering aloud if I could continue the movie. Yes indeed, Rosamund Pike plays the villainous Marla Grayson so perfectly, that I was swept into her abhorrent scheme and found myself questioning if I could endure two hours of this. In this film, Marla essentially – but legally – runs an operation wherein she takes guardianship of elderly “clients,” including managing their money and ransacking their homes to sell their belongings at auction and placing them into care homes where they are effectively trapped. The film does such a convincing job in conveying how frustrating this process is for the family, but just how morally corrupt and blind the system can become to allow such treachery to happen. Perhaps it was just too realistic. It was good, then, that the film took a turn into the absurd, as it introduces Peter Dinklage (playing Roman Lunyov) as the head of some organized crime…

Synchronic

Synchronic is no different. Which is to say, it’s very different. But still the same. It’s time travel, so admittedly, there’s going to be some head scratching. The best advice I can give when engaging with any story involving time travel is to quote the late, great Hunter S. Thompson: “Buy the ticket, take the ride…” Synchronic is the fourth feature film from Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, and one of the few movies I was truly looking forward to in 2021 (and in 2020, but the less said about that particular historical period, probably the better). Not just because I’m a sucker for a good time travel film (or even a bad one), but because Moorhead and Benson have established themselves in the indie film circuit as men of a visionary nature and a distinctive voice. I was hooked immediately after watching their debut, Resolution, last year and was similarly impressed/enamoured with their follow-up to their follow-up movie, The Endless, and their just plain follow-up, Spring. Though Resolution and The Endless have roots reaching deep into the fertile soils of both science fiction and horror (I couldn’t help shake the feeling after watching Resolution and The Endless and Ari Aster’s Hereditary and Midsommar in the…

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

I always had the impression that Rise of the Lycans was a misfire in the Underworld series fueled by the loss of Kate Beckinsale. Maybe I was barely paying attention, but the advertising of the film definitely led me to believe that Kate was in the film, and when I discovered she was replaced by someone who looks pretty similar (Rhona Mitra), that I had lost most of my interest in going to see the prequel. The same thing happened in the previews of the film Doomsday, also starring Mitra and mistaken for Beckinsale, except that I couldn’t pass up Doomsday in theatres and was happy to revisit the film fairly recently to appreciate what a ride it was (and Mitra kicked a ton of ass in that film). This was my first viewing of Rise of the Lycans and I’m still not quite sure why this film exists. Didn’t we cover most of the ground here before in the previous two films?  I always had the impression that Rise of the Lycans was a misfire in the Underworld series fueled by the loss of Kate Beckinsale. Maybe I was barely…

Reel Film Chronicles Podcast

So, Rybeone and I did a thing. Reel Film Chronicles has been humming along pretty smoothly for a couple of years now, so we decided to take the plunge into the world of podcasting. I know that for many of you of a certain age (and who are obsessed with pop culture), there’s a specific episode of The Simpsons that probably comes instantly to mind at the mention of starting a podcast these days: “We’ve all thought about counterfeiting jeans at one time or another, but what about the victims? Hardworking designers like Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, or Antoine Bugle Boy? These are the people who saw an overcrowded marketplace and said, ‘Me too.’” I think it’s safe to say that podcasting has taken on a life of its own since the early days, and if any descriptor fit the podcasting scene these days “overcrowded” could certainly be said to apply. I remember back in the halcyon early days of podcasting when the phenomenon was still just catching on, a few friends and I started a podcast, and managed to put out fifty…

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

In an effort to piece together a somewhat coherent top ten list for 2020 movies this year, I embarked on a short journey to watch a few critically celebrated films that I may had missed. This project had me putting on Never Rarely Sometimes Always, an especially impactful film both written and directed by Eliza Hittman whose tale chronicles the journey of two teenage girls making their way to New York city “to seek out medical help after an unintended pregnancy.” And I can’t tell you why – because I had zero exposure to any element of the film save for the high Letterboxd user ratings and the poster of the film – but I went in expecting a bit of a quirky, if dark, comedy. It does not take long for one to realize how far my expectations strayed from the end product, and I’m happy again that my expectations were upended and the film I did take in was quite thoughtful, emotional and poignant. Sidney Flanigan plays Autumn and gives an incredible performance, with excellent screen presence considering…

Tremors 2: Aftershocks

Certainly nobody, including myself, would have expected anything but the worst from the followup to such a beloved classic film such as Tremors. Indeed, nobody asked for it but here we are, thirty years later and a barrage of sequels that shows no signs of letting up. So, with my one hand buried in a bowl of popcorn and my other hand clutching a king-size soda, I put on Aftershocks with the foregone conclusion that this was going to be bad. As the film started – between mouthfuls of snacks – I found myself scoffing and eyerolling as I bore witness to this train wreck. While Kevin Bacon would obviously bow out of the series immediately, he is replaced by a bit of a Bacon-esque character to join in Fred Ward’s Earl, as the two are tasked with taking out a few of the graboids in a Mexico oil field. And it seems like they got things figured out, until they don’t: Earl and Grady encounter a sick, non-aggressive graboid and in moments, their entire operation is overwhelmed by new,…

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