Watched 2023 computer-animated film, directed by Jeff Rowe by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
I saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Mutant Mayhem today. We had a voucher that was running out and there was not really anything else on.

I grew up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and saw the 2007 remake. I was not sure what to expect from this revamp.

One of the points of difference was the comic-book style used.

Like with his previous outing, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Rowe wanted Mutant Mayhem to look different from what was expected from an animated film. The director’s aim was to make it heavily resemble the concept art.[33] He was inspired by sketches he made in school notebooks as a teenager and how they tend to have a lot of exaggerated features, spikes, and random effects lines, and wanted the film’s animation to reflect a similar feeling.[34] Rowe described the film’s sketch look as its “North Star”, as the comic book-inspired look was for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018).[12]

Source: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – Wikipedia

In addition to this, the sound track was done by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which adds a real edge and feel.

Overall, I felt that it was well done. I remember reading on Common Sense Media that it was a film for the family. Although I was not sure about the sadistic torturing, I did feel that it provided aspects for both children and parents alike.

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 96% of 238 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website’s consensus reads: “With its unique visual style and a story that captures the essence of the franchise’s appeal, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is an animated treat for the whole family.”[78] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 74 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating “generally favorable” reviews.[79] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale, while those polled at PostTrak gave it an 88% overall positive score, with 70% saying they would definitely recommend the film.[75]

Source: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – Wikipedia

Watched 2022 film directed by Dan Trachtenberg by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Prey is a 2022 American science fiction action horror film based on the Predator franchise. It is the fifth installment and is a prequel to the first four films, being set in the Northern Great Plains in North America in 1719. The film is directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Patrick Aison. It stars Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Michelle Thrush, Stormee Kipp, Julian Black Antelope, Bennett Taylor, and Dane DiLiegro. The story revolves around Naru, a skilled Comanche warrior, who is striving to prove herself as a hunter. She finds herself having to protect her people from a vicious, humanoid alien that hunts humans for sport, as well as from French fur traders who are attacking her people and destroying the Buffalo they rely on for survival.

Although there were elements that seemed a little far-fetched, I enjoyed this addition to the Predator franchise, especially the heroine. I also liked the comparison between the predator and the colonisers.
Watched Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – 2022 film directed by Sam Raimi by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a 2022 American superhero film based on Marvel Comics featuring the character Doctor Strange. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the sequel to Doctor Strange (2016) and the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Sam Raimi, written by Michael Waldron, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, alongside Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams. In the film, Strange protects America Chavez (Gomez), a teenager capable of traveling the multiverse, from Wanda Maximoff (Olsen).

I always wondered about the place of X-Men within the Marvel universe.
Watched Birdman by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Riggan Thomson is a faded actor famous for playing a superhero named Birdman in a film trilogy from 1989 to 1992. He is tormented by the mocking and critical internal voice of Birdman and frequently visualizes himself performing feats of levitation and telekinesis. Riggan is trying to regain recognition by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” However, the Birdman voice wants Riggan to return to blockbuster cinema and insists that he is essential to Riggan’s identity.

An absurd insight into the world of self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

“Damian Cowell” in Disco ex Machina – YouTube ()

Watched 2021 American comedy disaster film from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Don’t Look Up is a 2021 American apocalyptic black comedy film written, produced, and directed by Adam McKay, and starring an ensemble cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Cate Blanchett, and Meryl Streep. It tells the story of two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization. The impact event is an allegory for climate change, and the film is a satire of government, political, celebrity, and media indifference to the climate crisis.[6][7]

I finally got around to watching Don’t Look Up. I remember it receiving a lot of criticism when it was released. I kind of wonder if all this discussion, even though a lot of it seemed critical, was positive in that it got people talking about the subject of global warming? For me, there were some aspects that were really quite absurd. But as the quote from Peter Goldsworthy’s novel ‘Maestro’ goes, “Cartoon descriptions? How else to describe a cartoon world?” In the end, I think George Monbiot captured it best:

While the film is fast and funny, for me, as for many environmental activists and climate scientists, it seemed all too real. I felt as if I were watching my adult life flash past me. As the scientists in the film, trying to draw attention to the approach of a planet-killing comet, bashed their heads against the Great Wall of Denial erected by the media and sought to reach politicians with 10-second attention spans, all the anger and frustration and desperation I’ve felt over the years boiled over.

Watched The True Story Behind ‘Tolkien’ Is Just As Interesting As ‘Lord Of The Rings’ by Allie Gemmill, Author at Atom Insider | Discover Movie News & Exclusive ArticlesAllie Gemmill, Author at Atom Insider | Discover Movie News & Exclusive Articles from atomtickets.com

When author J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973 at 81, he left behind a family, an academic career, plenty of friends, and esteemed peers. But what the world remembers of Tolkien to this day are his Lord of the Rings novels, along with The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.
While legions of fans keep discoveri…

Biopics are an interesting genre. It is intriguing to read Allie Gemmill’s discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s life and some of the facts that were left out for the sake of narrative, such as Tolkien and Bratt marrying. I guess we cannot include every detail of life, but such creations are often just as interesting in what they leave out as what they include.

Another fact is the origin of the idea of ‘Cellar Door’:

The fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien, who was also a philologist, might well be the linguist she had in mind. He mentioned the idea of cellar door’s special beauty in a speech in 1955 and is often given credit for it. Other supposed authors abound; the story is tangled. But Tolkien, at least, can be ruled out as the originator. He was, after all, just 11 years old in 1903 when a curious novel called “Gee-Boy” — which also alludes to the aesthetic properties of cellar door — was published by the Shakespeare scholar Cyrus Lauron Hooper. Hooper’s narrator writes of the title character: “He even grew to like sounds unassociated with their meaning, and once made a list of the words he loved most, as doubloon, squadron, thatch, fanfare (he never did know the meaning of this one), Sphinx, pimpernel, Caliban, Setebos, Carib, susurro, torquet, Jungfrau. He was laughed at by a friend, but logic was his as well as sentiment; an Italian savant maintained that the most beautiful combination of English sounds was cellar-door; no association of ideas here to help out! sensuous impression merely! the cellar-door is purely American.”

Watched Eternals (2021) from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Eternals is a 2021 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics race of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Chloé Zhao, who wrote the screenplay with Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo. It stars an ensemble cast including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie. In the film, the Eternals, an immortal alien race, emerge from hiding after thousands of years to protect Earth from their ancient counterparts, the Deviants.

I watched Eternals and could put my finger on how it felt different to other films within the Marvel universe. Joel Hodge captures this difference through an exploration of the humanity, metaphysics and love.

In this “good faith”, Marvel reveals its basic metaphysical commitments and vision, though it does not provide deep philosophical justifications. The unanswered question for Marvel — like other fantasy and science fiction mythologies — is: What is the origin and source of such love? Why does love seem, to us moderns, as the most natural order for life and the universe? Here it is inescapable that the question of a loving God must be addressed. And among all the world religions, it is Christianity that presents this vision of a loving God most clearly. “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 12) is stated in the New Testament with such conviction and clarity.

Watched 1917 from imdb.com

April 6th, 1917. As an infantry battalion assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers are assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap.

I recently watched two recent films associated with the portrayal of war. The first was the 2019 film Midway. In the fourth segment of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series on Japanese involvement in World War Two, he dives into the intricacies of the battle at Midway. I am not sure Midway captures the same sense of nuance. To me it strips everything back too far. It has all the parts, but none are really drawn out.

In contrast, 1917 captures a particular moment where two soldiers cross enemy land to deliver a message to stop a 1600 men being slaughtered. The two soldiers cross no-man’s land, survey the way in which the German army retreated and life in towns near the fronts. I felt that this account provided a more captivating recount of life in war.

Bookmarked The Problem of Marital Loneliness by Agnes Callard (The New Yorker)

In Levi’s vision, the problem of loneliness can be addressed by adjusting the pragmatics of mutual dependence; at first, these changes are painful, but eventually everyone is better off—which is to say, better at achieving their goals. For Bergman, connecting is the goal, and it’s not clear that we can do it. It is when Johan and Marianne realize this that they become “citizens of reality,” a loss of innocence from which they cannot recover. Can any marriage survive an honest reckoning with itself? Can you get close enough to any person for life to feel real? These are Bergman’s questions; Levi doesn’t ask them.

Agnes Callard discusses the remake of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage. Another post exploring the reality of marriage is Caryn James’ piece exploring different representations within film. This encourages me to return to the short stories of Frank Moorhouse.
Replied to Plots of Nineteen-Eighties Movies if Their Protagonists Had Been People of Color by Carlos Greaves (The New Yorker)

Carlos Greaves humorously reimagines the plots of eighties film classics, including “Back to the Future,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” if their protagonists had been people of color.

I really enjoyed these interpretations, particularly the one for Risky Business:

After a suspicious neighbour calls the police on Joel Goodson, and his sex party gets raided, he is tried as an adult on felony charges for destruction of property, solicitation, and twenty-two counts of corrupting a minor. He does not get into Princeton.

However, my favour it Caddyshack:

People of color would not have agreed to make this film​.

Watched Soul from imdb.com

Soul is a movie starring Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, and Graham Norton. After landing the gig of a lifetime, a New York jazz pianist suddenly finds himself trapped in a strange land between Earth and the afterlife.

David Sims describes Soul as a grand ambition.

Compared to Pixar’s recent spate of sequels to past hits, Soul is a loftier project—a messy but expansive story worthy of its director’s grand ambitions.

Namwali Serpell argues that it is another attempt to put a white person in a black body.

Pixar’s “Soul” is, in fact, the latest in a long tradition of American race-transformation tales, each of which finds a pretext—a potion, a spell, a medical treatment, or simply makeup—to put a white person in a black body (or vice versa). One strand of the genre—which encompasses films like “Change of Mind,” “Watermelon Man,” and “Soul Man”—is obviously the legacy of minstrel productions like the 1927 film “The Jazz Singer.” But even recent, more ostensibly race-conscious works (see again “Watchmen” and “Lovecraft Country”) play with this theme in sometimes disturbing ways, as though unable to resist making white people the hero of blackness. The white desire to get inside black flesh is absolved as an empathy exercise. Blackface gets a moral makeover. It’s telling that, in most race-transformation tales, the ideal is presented as a white soul in a black body.

Soul feels like it sits somewhere between Inside Out and The Emoji Movie.

Liked Waterworld at 25: Reappraising cinema’s biggest flop (BBC)

But if film fans are now beginning to appreciate Waterworld, why was it so eagerly dismissed and savaged when it originally hit cinemas? According to the University of Liverpool’s Yannis Tzioumakis, a perfect storm of issues blighted its release. First of all, there was a “huge increase in what’s called enfotainment” – the combination of entertainment and industry news. This primarily covers “box office figures and film productions, especially if they have problems and go over budget”.

Watched 2017 American biographical musical film directed by Michael Gracey from Wikipedia

The Greatest Showman is a 2017 American musical biographical drama film directed by Michael Gracey in his directorial debut, written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon and starring Hugh JackmanZac EfronMichelle WilliamsRebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya. Featuring nine original songs from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the film is inspired by the story of P. T. Barnum‘s creation of Barnum’s American Museum and the lives of its star attractions.

The Greatest Showman was a nice story with some uplifting music. However, it felt like it overlooked some of the messiness of history. As Jackie Mansky explains:

Today, Barnum and his career arguably serve as a Rorschach test for where we are, and what kind of humbug tale we are willing to be sold. But if you’re looking clear eyed at Barnum, an undeniable fact of his biography is his role marketing racism to the masses. “He had these new ways of making racism seem fun and for people to engage in activities that degraded a racially subjected person in ways that were intimate and funny and surprising and novel,” says Reiss. “That’s part of his legacy, that’s part of what he left us, just as he also left us some really great jokes and circus acts and this kind of charming, wise-cracking ‘America’s uncle’ reputation. This is equally a part of his legacy.”

Rather than explore such dark notes, The Greatest Showman is more interested in spinning a pretty tale, a humbug, if you will, of a magnitude, that Barnum himself would likely tip his hat to.

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There is also this strange Disney subplot where it felt like there was a quota to how many times the camera cut to Zac Efron and Zendaya?

Liked What makes the ultimate film soundtrack? (bbc.com)

There is a universal relatability to a brilliant film score, even in fragments. Morricone is credited for (re)defining the sound of the Western (although his music obviously went much further than that); meanwhile, US composer John Williams summons otherworldly adventures, across the Star Wars and Superman sagas, ET and more. When Brand reminisces about leaving a busy cinema screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), I instantly think of Williams’s five-note UFO synth motif: “Every single one of us in the crowd looked up at the sky when we walked out,” said Brand. “Suddenly, we were in a world where that was possible. I wanted the real world to be like film… and music is the thing that will allow you to do that.”

Bookmarked Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) – IMDb (IMDb)

Directed by Joachim Rønning. With Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Harris Dickinson, Michelle Pfeiffer. Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies and dark new forces at play.

I enjoyed the exploration of character in the film. However, it is pretty predictable at times.
Watched Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – IMDb from IMDb

Directed by J.J. Abrams. With Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver. The surviving members of the resistance face the First Order once again, and the legendary conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its peak bringing the Skywalker saga to its end.

After watching The Mandalorian, The Rise of Skywalker was not the same. It felt like a stretch, with various threads tied off. On a side note, it felt like there were a lot of similarities with Harry Potter and the horcruxes. Something that Becca Benjamin ponders upon in more detailBecca Benjamin ponders upon in more detail.