Hannibal

Though Hannibal is an abysmal failure of a film, I’m incredibly grateful that it exists if only as proof positive that Ridley Scott is fallible and therefore mortal. Much like Ready Player One, it humanizes one of my favourite directors and demonstrates that we don’t have to be defined by our failures. Which is good in Mr. Scott’s case, because it is, as the kids say these days, a whopper. (Unlike Vincent Vega who probably wouldn’t be inclined to use the same terminology, knowing his disdain for Burger King.) Hannibal is a direct sequel to the iconic The Silence of the Lambs, and while I didn’t expect it to reach the same heights as its predecessor, I also didn’t anticipate the depths to which it would plunge. Like all of the Hannibal Lector movies, this one was based on a book by Thomas Harris. I have yet to read any of the books in the Hannibal Lector series, but immediately after watching Hannibal, I felt compelled to look up an outline of the novel online, breaking one of my unwritten rules about indulging in spoilers for texts…

The New Mutants

It would be impossible to begin talking about The New Mutants without touching on the abhorrent delays and release schedule woes that the film underwent. Originally slated to be released in the spring of 2018, the movie would be pushed back until late summer of 2020, which feels unprecedented for a superhero film in our climate, but alas, here we are. You could blame a few things, including the Disney acquisition of Fox, higher priority films and of course the COVID pandemic, but behind all that would loom the quality of the film: surely, this entry in the Fox mutant pantheon was SO bad that releasing it could do more harm than good. The issue is that I could believe it: the last two films in the X-Men series were pretty awful, and I was ready for a reboot (although I’m not necessarily looking forward to a Disney/Marvel reboot, but that’s another topic). The New Mutants dropped a trailer, and I was heavily intrigued, but I still had no choice but to enter into the film with the lowest of expectations.  Wouldn’t you…

The Silence of the Lambs

There’s a good reason why The Silence of the Lambs is widely regarded as one of the best horror/thrillers of all time, and that’s because it is. It’s one of those rare movies that was able to capture that lighting in a bottle, that rare confluence of puzzle pieces that meshed together perfectly to create a singular vision that left an indelible mark on film history. Everything from the writing to the casting to the editing to the set and costume design is so on point it could be used by a vicious serial killer as a murder weapon. The Silence of the Lambs has become one of the most iconic and most-parodied films of all time to the point where even people who have never seen the movie will understand the reference “Hello, Clarice” or instantly recognize Hannibal Lector’s famous face restraints. Director Jonathan Demme demonstrates a mastery of the source material that doesn’t lean so far into its conceits to be self-indulgent but at the same time doesn’t shy away from the more fantastical and macabre elements of the story. The Silence of…

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

I feel a tiny bit betrayed by last instalment of Resident Evil: the series has built itself up as an action series with a hint of being held together by a thin storyline about the evil Umbrella Corporation and Alice’s (Milla Jovovich) quest to dismantle it. I was disappointed that this movie would go ahead and retcon so many things from the previous films but I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised as Paul WS Anderson has prioritized The Action Scene above all other elements of the films, but it still hurts nonetheless. While the story here does feel tightly focused, I found myself a bit confused on the actions of some characters based on the previous films and left wondering where others disappeared. Killing favourite characters off-screen comes across as disrespectful to the viewer at the sixth entry in the series but shouldn’t surprise me at this point either. The series has always been light on story and The Final Chapter is no different, with the main difference being that you know how this movie is going to end.…

Red Dragon

If you were to tell me that there was a universe where not only did Brett Ratner and Ridley Scott direct entries in the same film franchise, but that Brett Ratner’s film was the better one, I would never have suspected for one minute that the universe you were talking about was the one I was currently living in. There are those who might think I’m being uncharitable to Mr. Ratner, to which I would reply by directing people to the filmographies of both Brett Ratner and Ridley Scott. There’s simply no comparison, with the curious exception of their respective entries into The Silence of the Lambs series. Red Dragon was the third entry in the series and the first of two prequels after Hannibal effectively killed off any possibility of moving forward with its characters in any way that made a lick of sense. The cinematic powers that be made the correct choice of going back to a simpler time when Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) was a psychopath locked in a cage who could serve as an asset to help profile and catch other serial killers and…

Hannibal Rising

I don’t think I’ll ever understand the urge to try and turn horror icons into badass antiheroes, but I believe I’ve pinpointed the mistake that serves as the catalyst for that sort of storytelling. Hannibal Rising is the second prequel to Jonathan Demme’s seminal The Silence of the Lambs and the fourth – and hopefully last – movie in that particular horror franchise. I had only ever seen The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, so I figured that for my annual October horror movie marathon, I’d give the entire series a watch in the chronological order in which the events of the films took place rather than their release dates to watch the Grand Vision unfold. Like all of the movies featuring the iconic serial killer Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lector, Hannibal Rising was based on a book by Thomas Harris, though to what degree this movie – or any of the other Hannibal Lector movies – remained faithful to the books I haven’t much of a clue, as I have yet to read any of them. Harris seems to have carved out a financially lucrative literary niche for…

Resident Evil: Afterlife

It seems like the previous entry, Extinction, left the series in a bit of a dubious situation: the planet was a barren wasteland, with Umbrella operating from various underground facilities, and Alice found a trove of her clones with a promise of that sweet revenge. I had some reservations as I couldn’t imagine them being able to maintain the “desert” setting throughout three more films, and the idea of replacing groups of survivors with an armada of Milla Jovovich’s was borderline silly. Just as I suspected, they scaled back on the level of planetary destruction but doubled down on the clone army in the opening action sequence, which was amusing and ended with Alice potentially losing her abilities. This plot point felt more important at the time than it played out for the duration of the film, as we’re left wondering if she retains her superhuman status, but the film doesn’t really revisit it here; maybe they plan to in a future instalment. The remainder of Afterlife follows familiar zombie-film territory, where Alice meets up with a group of survivors…

Resident Evil: Retribution

One thing that the Resident Evil series of films manages to do is end on a cliffhanger, then proceed to just zoom past those events in the next installment, like Paul WS Anderson had an idea of where the Project Alice storyline was going, but ultimately decided to change gears and speed off in another direction. Retribution does pick up where Afterlife left off, with a pretty nice sequence of special effects and action before it decides to do away with story and characters from the previous film, so we have at least a bit more coherence to start out with. Retribution has Alice (Milla Jovovich) captured and in another underground Umbrella installment where she must battle not only the supercomputer Red Queen, but her old shoot-em-up pal Jill Valentine (clearly not in control and turned evil by the devices from the previous film). The film is bursting with characters from previous films and from the video game (of which I only really recognize Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong); I have to assume their characters are butchered much to the…

The Old Guard

The Old Guard is emblematic of all of the worst tendencies of Netflix original content. It’s not that it’s complete and utter garbage. At least if it were terrible, it would evoke some kind of emotional response. I would rather a movie made me either love it or hate it. But when a movie forces me into the emotional purgatory of apathy, that’s something I refuse to forgive. Like the vast majority of Netflix original movies and TV shows I’ve seen, The Old Guard is neither great nor terrible, but instead aggressively mediocre and eminently forgettable. Sorry, what was I talking about again?  Netflix’s biggest enemy seems to have been its overnight success as the giant of a media streaming industry that they essentially created. At first, their challenge was how to secure all the licencing and rights to hundreds of thousands of movies. To their credit, they never rested entirely on their laurels, and adapted their business model proactively in anticipation of market trends. Knowing that they couldn’t keep the entire pie to themselves forever, especially considering how lucrative that pie was,…

Inception: 10th Anniversary

As I slowly approached the theatre, I squinted my eyes to avoid both the relentless brightness of the sun and the light dirt blowing across the parking lot from a harsh midday summer breeze. Looking around me, I saw maybe five, six cars in the vast ocean of pavement and curbs that formed the parking lot for this particular movie house. In front of me, was the vast, inoffensive colour scheme of my local multiplex, adorned by tiny empty poster boards and a sense of doom. I looked about me, expecting a local vagrant to warn me of the dangers within, but while there was nobody to be seen I already knew the dangers that lurked before me. While COVID-19 ravished the entire world, the large multiplex stood as stark monolithic houses of contagion and virulent disaster. You would have to be a fool to sally forth, and while the pandemic was at a lull in my local area, and the virus all but absent, I found myself opening the doors of this familiar-yet-unfamiliar establishment to go see an IMAX…

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