Category: HBO

“Nightmare Alley”

6.5

Beautiful film. Meh story.

I was hellaciously intrigued by the trailer and what I thought was the film’s premise. Sometimes that intrigue hits; sometimes it misses. Unfortunately, this one ended up being a trapeze act of a narrative, swinging wildly all over the place for far too long and with no rhyme or reason. All to, I think, come full circle. I’m still not quite sure what I was supposed to take away from this one. There are some great premises and possibilities, but the story opts for the path of least resistance and goes for tricking the audience into thinking that misdirection and the resulting confusion is evidence of its cleverness, instead of just a cheap Christopher Nolan rip-off. Honestly, I think the overall lesson here was a “don’t stick your dick in crazy” cautionary tale dressed in a noir disguise.

“Many Saints of Newark”

6.7

If there was such a thing as a “Goodfellas” cover band… this would be it.

They check off all of the boxes for “making a mob movie,” but with little to no creativity. Almost purely riding the coattails of the legendary series. It was cool that they cast Michael Gandolfini to play Tony Soprano, but that was about all of the novelty you get here.

“Mortal Kombat”

7.8

Exceeded expectations! Definitely the strongest video game adaptation in quite some time.

Thankfully, the fighting is everything you imagine and more. It’s just the right amount of blood and cheesiness. A well-told story of tradition, facing adversity, and working together against a common enemy. Where they could have just made a cheap adaptation that just hits all of the high notes, this film really took the time to tell a story while also delivering on the action and adventure you would expect, all while keeping the runtime reasonable. Similar to “Godzilla vs. Kong,” it gives you exactly what you’re looking for, executed at the highest level of the craft.

“Godzilla vs. Kong”

7.9

Exactly what you want from it. No more, no less.

Short, sweet, and to the point. No cumbersome, Debbie-downer story to bog down the momentum of what you’re here to see. Strap in, and get ready to watch the giant gorilla fight a Kaiju, with just enough ordinary people story stuff to make it a movie. Beautiful cinematography, great acting by both fighters. Interesting directorial choices made in this one, especially the way that Kong and Godzilla are shot in a very human matter. They’re filmed similarly to a boxing movie, instead of the standard giant destruction machines doing their thing. For their size, they feel like very down-to-earth, relatable characters.

Best seen on the largest movie screen you can find, with the loudest sound system available. Still plays well in the safety of your living room on HBO Max.

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League”

8.7

Worth every second of the 4 hour runtime.

Everything lacking from the first go-round or that didn’t fit, fixed. One of the few times I’m thankful for the power of a hashtag. Everything from the color palate to the soundtrack has been redeemed to it’s initially intended glory. I had my doubts, as I think we all did. Zack Snyder went ahead and blew expectations out of the water, and singlehandedly put the DCEU back on the map.

The characters finally get the screen time and TLC they all deserve, leaving each fulfilled to a degree not imagined in the first version. No more odd jokes, no more creeping on Wonder Woman, no more rushing the story to fumble the ending. A well thought out and constructed masterpiece, leaving hope for the legendary stable of superheroes once again, instead of the feeling of doubt and turn back to Marvel. The darkness in this film and unabashed nature of the consequences experienced was refreshing. The finale battle topped by one of the greatest 5 minute finale scenes I’ve seen in a superhero film in some time. The actors seemed engaged, and to fully buy into their roles in this version. You can feel the passion that went into the project. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, flying off to claw the eyes out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It took a couple days to process before I felt fully ready to write this. Great call on the part of Warner Bros. to green light this hairbrained idea, and even better call on Zack Snyder foregoing a salary for complete creative control.

Bravo!