Kyle’s Most Anticipated Movies of 2022!

Now that we firmly have 2021 in the rearview mirror, let’s look forward to the movies of 2022, which still shockingly contain some movies originally scheduled for 2020 and 2021. Shockingly, the movies on last year’s most anticipated all actually came out, so let’s hope that by me placing these films on the list that I’m sending good omens their way.

Either way, we’ll celebrate the (possible) films of 2022 that I’m most excited to see. It’s almost as good as actually seeing them.

Just a couple notes, as always:

  • These films are my Most Anticipated, not what I think will end up on my Top Ten of the year come next January. In fact, only 2 films from last year’s list made it to the Top Ten, and that seems fair.
  • There always tend to be a lot of blockbusters on these lists, but that’s because their production schedules are much longer, and their recognizability is easier to connect to. That’s just the way it works, but my favorite films of this year might even be ones I haven’t heard of at the current moment. Big movies get big attention earlier than little ones, so take that as you will.

NOTE: THIS IS NOT A COUNTDOWN. IT’S JUST A LIST AND THE FILMS ARE IN ORDER OF (TENTATIVE) RELEASE DATE.

We’ve waited long enough, let’s dive in…

Scream

  • Okay, yes, this movie is already out and I’ve already seen it, but before I had seen it, it had made it to my Most Anticipated list due to the trailers and the early reviews from colleagues with similar tastes to mine. I loved the idea that Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett had moved from Ready of Not to this franchise, as that film also had a satirical viewpoint and a serious horror tinge. I was excited to see our core cast of characters return to usher in some new Ghostface fodder, and the screenplay by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) and Guy Busick also interested me as they might bring in some new flavor to the franchise. How did it turn out? You’ll find out soon enough.

The Batman

  • There are a few interesting DC projects coming in 2022, but I’m not picking this one because it’s Batman. I love Batman, but I’m selecting The Batman because of Matt Reeves. I’ve been a big fan of Reeves ever since Cloverfield, one of the best found-footage films ever. He also surprised me with his vampire remake Let Me In and then blew me away with TWO incredible Planet of the Apes movies, redefining genre and franchise filmmaking with the once-thought unlikeliest of IP properties. The trailers look great, seeing Batman as an unhinged detective seems like a great idea, and the dynamic with Selina Kyle looks exciting and tense, but if I were to pick one character that won me over, it’s Paul Dano’s Riddler, seemingly modeled after the Zodiac killer. There’s nothing here that doesn’t work for me, though I was sad to hear that this will be disconnected from the Batman character of the DCEU (it could’ve made a hell of a prequel, one would assume), but in Matt Reeves I trust.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

  • See, they won’t all be franchise films! A few years back, the filmmakers collectively known as Daniels released Swiss Army Man, one of the most baffling films of the decade or, perhaps, ever, featuring Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse. Now, flash forward to 2022, where they (FINALLY) have a new movie, this one starring Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese immigrant who learns that she has an infinite number of alternate lives spread across a multiverse and she will need them all to save the world. Yeah, that’s a movie, and it’s happening. Every time I see this trailer, I am just enamored with all the What-The-Hell-Is-Happening that is racing from the screen to my brain. I’ve purposely not been looking up more info on this film as I just want to experience it as soon as possible, as Daniels have a very interesting visual flair that looks to be a part of this new feature as well. Check out the first trailer if you need to know more.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

  • Okay, so yes, even I can admit that The Crimes of Grindelwald was a bit of a letdown. In fact, the last Fantastic Beasts is my least favorite movie in the Wizarding World, not something you want as you expand your world and franchise, but it does seem like Warner Bros is righting the ship. Steve Kloves, screenwriter of seven Harry Potter films, stepped in to co-write the screenplay, and I have faith that David Yates can learn from the mistakes of the predecessor, this being his seventh film in the franchise as well. Even at its worst, The Crimes of Grindelwald certainly expanded upon the world in ways that even fans of the Harry Potter books did not see coming, and there are still a lot of great elements at play throughout the film, and the first trailer for The Secrets of Dumbledore seems quite exciting, so I will have faith in this new installment.

The Northman

  • Robert Eggers has done some truly impressive work with both The VVitch and The Lighthouse, both films that have further improved themselves with each rewatch. The VVitch is a regular Halloween season pick at my home, and The Lighthouse is a year-round rotation. The Northman’s first trailer showcased an impressive world and an even more impressive cast. The film looks to be Eggers’s most ambitious film to date, one that combines the mysticism and horror of his two previous outings into a bloody, violent tale of revenge. With the underrated Alexander Skarsgard in the lead and a well-rounded supporting cast including Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, and freaking Bjork all adds up to a very interesting project.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

  • I limited myself to one MCU pick and, even though Thor: Love and Thunder is mighty interesting, I kind of know the flavor I’ll be getting with that one, but Sam Raimi returning to the world of superhero cinema and going all in on what is being reported as an MCU horror film (let’s be fair, though, this is still a Disney production) is very interesting. Now, I’m praying that this film doesn’t end up a cameo nightmare. Spider-Man: No Way Home utilized its nostalgia to its benefit, but it came very close to toppling under its own fan service. I want a Doctor Strange movie that is focused on Strange, Wanda, and the Multiverse itself, not on cheap cameos and appearances of non-canon characters. I trust that Sam Raimi found something worth his return to the subgenre, and the idea of Baron Mordo returning, the potential of a villainous Scarlet Witch, and some alternate evil Doctor Strange could work very well in the favor of this movie. As much as I enjoyed the original Doctor Strange, it didn’t fully embrace the bonkers madness of the title, so I want to see what a more confident follow-up can do now that the first film set the character in motion.

Salem’s Lot

  • 2022 also has a few interesting Stephen King adaptations incoming. While the new take on Firestarter certainly seems like a winner, I’m limiting myself to one here, and Salem’s Lot is one of my favorite King novels. I enjoyed Tobe Hooper’s original miniseries but the budget wasn’t there. The 2006 miniseries adaptation is often forgotten in the discussion, but I rather enjoyed that version as well, even if it had to forego some of that sweet, sweet gore to satisfy networks. Ah, but this year, Gary Dauberman (who penned the It movies as well as some Annabelle films and directed Annabelle Comes Home) is helming this new adaptation, produced by James Wan. Now, not everything penned by Dauberman has been gold, and not everything produced by Wan has fully worked, but even the chance that this new version of the classic vampire tale works has be all giddy. Bring it on, and bring on that sweet, sweet gore.

Mission: Impossible 7

  • There’s only been one bad Mission: Impossible film, and that was over two decades ago! Not only that, but the franchise has taken on bigger and more epic action set pieces without sacrificing what made the more-restrained original so much fun. M:I works because of the team dynamic, and even though the team has had some shuffling, the series has always evolved for the sake of elevating the action above the general fare. Say what you will about the truly-unhinged Tom Cruise, but the man knows how to execute the good bit of no-holds-barred intensity, and especially following up on Fallout, seeing this M:I 7 as the first of a planned two-parter only adds to the level of high-octane eagerness I feel for the next Ethan Hunt mission, no matter how impossible it may seem.

Halloween Ends

Halloween Kills might be my favorite Halloween film since the original. After multiple viewings, including the Extended Cut, that seems to be the case. It’s a movie that made the 2018 Halloween film better by how it followed through, and if Halloween Ends can bring the story home in a satisfying way, that’ll just mean the world to this horror fanboy. I grew up with Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Chucky. Well, Freddy and Jason have been dormant for over a decade, and Chucky is doing well on his own path from home video releases to television but seeing a movie on the big screen from one of these horror juggernauts will always excite me.

Avatar 2

Lastly, we come to Avatar 2, a movie that probably should’ve come out years ago. People like to dunk on Avatar, but it became the highest-grossing movie of all time and kept that record for 10 years (and continues to fight for dominance with Avengers: Endgame even now), and it was a theatrical experience unlike any other. Don’t bother bringing your comparisons to Dances with Wolves and Fern Gully and Pocahontas because I’ve heard them all before. We tend to forget that every story has been told a thousand times before; it’s all in how to tell you, and James Cameron told it very uniquely, conjuring up not only an epic world with loads of mythology but also crafting the technology with which to do it. I firmly believe it became popular to hate on this movie purely because of its box office prowess and its Best Picture nomination, and while the film has its imperfections, I loved the world and the awe that unfolded before me. As far as Avatar 2 goes, I have come to learn in my years not to doubt James Cameron. He’s a director that has consistently tested himself and improved his skills, and every new film he conquers leads to further advancements in filmmaking. So bring it on, Avatar 2, let’s see this single finally become a franchise.

So there you have it. Hopefully we will end up seeing all of these hit theaters at some point in 2022, as long as we stay vigilant and safe. 2021 was a solid year to return to the cinema, and 2022 looks to be just as great. Comment below with the films you are most excited to see in 2022, and let’s have a great year in movies.

-Kyle A. Goethe

Kyle’s Top Ten Films of 2021

Well, last year was…a little better…right?

Hello again, everyone! We’ve reached the end of 2021 and it’s time, just like every year, to discuss the best in movies from last year. 2021 was an overall improvement of a year, and I also happened to see a lot more movies in 2021 than the year prior. In 2020, I think I saw 30 movies. 2021 was a lot closer to 90.

More than anything else, 2021 was the year I got to go back to the movies. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure that would happen. This year, the theaters reopened (and had movies to show), and I got vaccinated. To be honest, it was tough for me to even consider going to the movies again once they reopened until I was vaccinated. That’s not me preaching to any of you; it’s more me saying that I didn’t think I could lose myself in the movie without thinking of COVID.

That means I missed seeing theater-worthy movies like Godzilla vs. Kong, but I was finally convinced it was time to return to the cinema for Spiral: From the Book of Saw was released. Saw was such an important franchise for me, I couldn’t miss it.

Yes, I finally went back to the theater in June, and I haven’t looked back. It’s been a really solid element in my mental health to be back at the cinema (I’ve stated many times that the theater has been a place of solace for me when the world becomes too much to handle). I’m not alone in this regard, as audiences flocked back to the theaters back in the 30s in the height of the Great Depression. Well, 2020 and its sequel were rather Greatly Depressing, and I used the theater as a tool. Great movies or terrible ones, it really didn’t matter.

All of that is a long way of telling you that I saw a great many movies, and I feel better talking my Top Ten Films of 2021. So let’s not waste any further time and get right into it.

Now, in order to properly begin, we have to state the obligatory forewarnings:

  • I did not see every film released in 2021. In fact, there are still a few films released very quietly in 2021 that many reviewers have not been able to see, like The Tragedy of Macbeth and Cyrano, and I am unable to include those films in my list. If you know of a film that belongs on this list but you don’t see it, it just means I didn’t see it…that, or it doesn’t belong on my list.
  • On that note, this is my subjective list, not yours, and not objective whatsoever. They are MY personal picks for best of the year. These are the films that spoke to me as a filmgoer. There are better made films that came out in 2021, and there are some films on this list that did not get Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and quite a few that will miss the Academy’s selection process for Oscar-worthiness. They are MY picks and mine alone, so don’t be upset if a film is on your list that isn’t on mine. That’s the beauty of art and entertainment: we don’t have to love the same things to make them worthy.
  • Along with all that, I crave discussion, dissection, and (respectful) disagreements. So let me know by commenting below with your Top Ten Movies of 2021 (or just a list of favorites, especially if they aren’t on my list). I’d love to see what you loved last year.

Alright, without further adieu…

  1. The Sparks Brothers

-In less than 2 1/2 hours, Edgar Wright turned me, someone who had heard one Sparks song but couldn’t even connect it to the band, into a lifelong fan who spent his entire summer listening to the band as if he was trying to play catchup for time lost. His documentary is equal parts biography, concert film, and fever dream, and it all seems to work quite well. It’s also an incredibly watchable film, an entertaining instruction manual on first watch and a celebration of the band for those viewers who had discovered the incredibly prolific but under-appreciated musicians.

  1. Spencer

-Who would’ve guessed that the Princess Diana movie starring Kristen Stewart would end up being a horror-thriller Christmas film? Well, okay, it isn’t so exact as that, but this is a Christmas-set “biopic” that is less concerned with the details and minutiae of a life’s timeline and more set on a story that captures the character and person that Princess Diana was. Set during the last holiday season of her time involved with the royal family, the film sees Diana breaking apart at the seams while she struggles to maintain a strong face for the sake of the Crown. She’s there for her children, the one piece of her life in this world that still has good in it. I also have to credit the incredible performance of Kristen Stewart as Diana, a piece of acting prowess that captures her spirit and soul more than her mannerisms and speech patterns, but I was completely lost in her performance and never once doubted that I was seeing Diana on the screen. I would also be remiss if I did not mention the unsung actor from the film, Sean Harris as McGrady, the Royal Head Chef, and one of the best scenes of the year, in which McGrady confesses how the staff really feels about Diana, and don’t forget the single best needle-drop of the year as the film comes to a close.

  1. The Last Duel

-Ridley Scott dropped two bangers in 2021, and one of them ended up on this list. I didn’t have the highest hopes for The Last Duel because, for me, Ridley Scott can get a little divisive. Every film he makes, the film gods flip a coin. As bonkers as House of Gucci ended up, The Last Duel is an elegant and intense view at altered perspectives done in the style of Rashomon. I have minor faults with a few elements in the overall film, and I argue that “kids-on-their-phone” is so old man and silly. The reason that The Last Duel underperformed is that we are in the middle of a pandemic and many filmgoers are forced to make choices of what they want to watch. Several great films slipped between the cracks this year, and a movie that portrays a rape (not once, but twice, mind you) may not be the type of film that audiences wanted this year. That’s one of the factors why a film like Spider-Man: No Way Home did so well this year while bleaker fare like Nightmare Alley and The Last Duel struggled to find a presence. Beyond all that, though, the film is fantastic. It’s a tough sell to do a film that covers a painful and intense event from multiple viewpoints. You have to keep the film fresh while essentially telling the same story. Scott’s film teases us with the titular duel and then presents these views in a captivating way, and each retelling sought to alter the narrative in interesting ways.

  1. Dune

-I try not to hinge my thoughts on one film based upon another, but it’s nearly impossible to do so in the case of Dune, or Dune: Chapter One, or whatever it will eventually be called. We knew going into this film that it would be an adaptation of the first half of Frank Herbert’s epic science fiction novel, but we also went into it knowing that the second half of this story was uncertain. It’s a lot of baggage to carry for a single film, and that’s not even diving into the quality of the film itself. Well, Denis Villeneuve surprised us all yet again by turning the oft-believed-unfilmable novel into a science fiction masterpiece on the level of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Well, potentially one day, but it’s a beautiful and elegant masterpiece of cinema nonetheless, but it needs to be stated that this is the first half, and it carries a level of understanding. Dune was not filmed back-to-back with its sequel like Back to the Future II & III or The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions or even the previously mentioned epic production of The Lord of the Rings. Dune was also not handled like the recent 2-part It adaptation. With that film, had we not gotten It: Chapter Two, the first film would stand on its own. Dune: Chapter One hinges on that sequel more than any other two-parter that I can recall. Had that sequel not been announced, I’m not sure this film would be on this list, but it was announced, and it will (likely) happen. With all that, I can’t wait to see this story come to an end and rewatch the first film a bunch when it drops on home video.

  1. The Suicide Squad

-Okay, I trust James Gunn to make a solid and entertaining film, and I trust the recent moves of the DCEU (overall, I’ve been positive on most of the universe, but the recent stuff has been the best), but I didn’t expect nearly as entertaining a time as I got with The Suicide Squad. Early reviews were very positive, and when I finally caught the film at a press screening, I was initially worried the hype was too hyped. Nope, this is an excellent time at the movies, a mean-spirited and bonkers action film that has shades of gritty 70s action pictures. Essentially, Gunn has made a big-budget Troma film, and you can tell he’s having the time of his life with his characters. A more stacked cast than his previous Marvel films, he’s able to give each of his “Squad” a moment to shine. By shine, I’m referring to debauchery or sin, but you get what I mean. The Suicide Squad is a wild ride of entertainment that, dare I say it, is damn beautiful and makes me excited for Peacemaker later this month.

  1. Candyman

Candyman was the last new movie I saw in 2021, and I’m surprised to see it on this list. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the original film quite a bit, but I did not expect the hit on this legacy sequel just waiting for me to watch it. A little context for you: I’m big on franchises and I don’t like the idea of the legacy sequel (it feels lazy and oftentimes falls into the same pitfalls as the films it ignores), and the only reason I waited on Candyman 2021 was that I hadn’t watched Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and Candyman: Day of the Dead, so last week, I binged the whole franchise, and I must say, this newest film is the best film in the series by a stretch. The clever screenplay, co-written by Jordan Peele, paired with the picture-perfect directing from Nia DeCosta (I can see why she was so quickly snatched up by Marvel). It’s a legacy sequel that chooses to build on the mythology in a way that doesn’t retcon anything that came before but instead decides to add and validate what came before while challenging the history of the series at large. It’s gorgeous, haunting, and thought-provoking to the very ambitious ending.

  1. Halloween Kills

-This is the part when everyone stops reading, so let me remind you that this is a subjective list, and I would be wrong not to put Halloween Kills on the list. I’ve said it before, but Halloween is my all-time favorite horror film, and I have a special place in my heart for the rest of the franchise, convoluted and deeply-flawed though they may be. For Halloween 2018, I was interested but, as stated above, I don’t like the retcon aspect. All that being said, I get why the rest of this franchise was retconned, as most audiences did not keep up with the mythology as much as I did, and trying to make sense of it all would’ve been a bit of work. Also, Laurie Strode was dead in the previous films. Well, I saw Halloween 2018, and it is easily the best-made film since the original, but I felt like it was more of a Greatest Hits album of Halloween, sending up a mashup of great scenes and references from the other non-canon entries, but really not doing a whole lot to distance itself. Well, I revisited Halloween 2018 right before Kills came out, in what amounted to a quick trilogy binge (1978/2018/Kills). Halloween Kills, while being less-polished than David Gordon Green’s previous film, is all the better for its ambition. Sure, it does tread some of the same waters and ideas, but it uses them in a wholly different way. Here, we see Haddonfield as a real town full of interesting characters (I love that many of the background characters of 2018 show up again in Kills), and it’s a town dealing with its trauma in an unhealthy way. This sequel speaks to the question of how we react to fear, and it pushes the Halloween story into delightfully bloody new directions while making its predecessor much better and more palatable as a chapter in Green’s story.

  1. The Green Knight

The Green Knight was a movie that almost seemed to not want me to watch it. It didn’t have a lengthy run at my local theater, and the weekend my wife and I had planned to see it ended up with me self-quarantining and getting tested for COVID because I was very sick. I ended up being negative but by the time I ended up feeling better, we didn’t have a free night to see it, so we missed its theatrical run. Thankfully, I ended up with a 4k copy of it, and I was actually able to watch it. Also thankfully, the movie is excellent. The way The Green Knight takes the classic fable and legend and reconfigures it to fit David Lowery’s filmmaking sensibilities and give us a Gawain who is essentially a hopeful hero without any heroic skills, a leader who only takes the killshot because he can, a man who cannot take responsibility for his actions and flees at the sight of danger. It’s also a technically stunning piece of medieval fantasy with terrific performances and a haunting visual aesthetic. If you missed it like I did, rectify that immediately.

  1. Belfast

-There’s an argument out there that Belfast is not as hard-hitting and serious as the events it is depicting require, and I can understand it. The reason the film works for me is that it’s not about those events specifically; it’s about the family at the center of it, specifically young Buddy (played by newcomer Jude Hill). Seeing these traumatic events through the eyes of a child was something very effective for me. For Buddy, everything going on in his world is strained through the filter of his family, and that’s all he wants. He wants things to go back to normal, he wants to stay in Belfast, he wants his life to go in the direction it has been up to now. That’s his reckoning in the film, and it’s a small story against a big backdrop, and it was a joyful (as joyful as it could be, given the surrounding political unrest of the time) coming-of-age story that I want to share with my family, friends, everyone.

  1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

-No, I’m not a Marvel fanboy saying it is better than everything ever made without discussion ever. The last time I had a Marvel film on my Top Ten, it was back in 2011 and it was Thor. If you look at my list, there’s a good number of acclaimed films in Oscar contention as well as some really entertaining popcorn movies. Shang-Chi is the best of both worlds, and if there were to be a superhero film in the Best Picture race, it would be Shang-Chi. The film has an important cultural touchstone, and it showcases a terrific starring turn from Simu Liu as the titular hero, but the film has so much more. It has a terrific friend/potential love interest in Awkwafina, and it has one of the MCU’s best villains in real Mandarin Xu Wenwu. The film has loads of excellently-choreographed action, nods to wuxia, and it plays off one of the MCU’s best arcs in the Mandarin, especially with how the character ties to Iron Man 3. I even find the finale to be much more than a CG mess that most superhero fare gets lost in. Shang-Chi ends with a bang, but it is character-driven all the way through. Gosh, I can’t wait for a sequel to this film. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is all-around excellent, and it’s my favorite movie of 2021.

There you have it. My Top Ten Films of 2021. I’ve said my piece, now it’s time to say yours. What are your favorite movies of last year? Leave your favorites below! See you next year.

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Early Review] The Suicide Squad (2021)

Director: James Gunn
Cast: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion, Sean Gunn, Flula Borg, Mayling Ng, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis
Screenplay: James Gunn
132 mins. Rated R for strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity.

A follow-up to 2016’s Suicide Squad has gone through a great many permutations since the original film opened to less-than-stellar reviews and reports of serious studio meddling on the part of Warner Bros. At various times, filmmakers like David Ayer, Mel Gibson, Gavin O’Connor, and Jaume Collet-Serra, were connected to the project before James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Super) stepped on board as a writer and director. Gunn, fresh off the controversy with Disney that led to his firing, put a lot of himself into this new film, and it seems he was given carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. I was very excited to see this film, and I was able to catch a press screening of the film last week. I’m happy to say that The Suicide Squad might be the best installment of the DCEU yet.

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, Fences, Widows) has reassembled Task Force X with some new and familiar faces in an effort to destroy Jötunheim, an experimental laboratory on Corto Maltese. As before, each of these thirteen inmates of Belle Reve have an explosive device in their skulls and, if they survive, they get time removed from their prison sentences. Under the leadership of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman, RoboCop, Edge of Winter), Task Force X begins their mission in bloody fashion, but they’ll soon find that Jötunheim is a much more protected stronghold than they’ve faced before, and it contains some secrets that perhaps should not be found.

There are simply too many characters in this film to spend time on each of them, and don’t assume that, because I didn’t talk about someone, they die earlier or aren’t worth it. I’m going to focus on the particular characters that stood out most to me, and I’ll just say that I enjoyed every single character in this movie. Gunn found a way to give each of them a POP that made them memorable in the film. Perhaps the film’s greatest fault is more of a strength in that I enjoyed all of these characters so much that I didn’t want them to die, but knowing this is a Suicide Squad movie, some of them need to die. Gunn reminds us throughout his screenplay that the odds are heavily stacked against Task Force X, and that makes for a more exciting movie experience because of it.

I would argue that this film doesn’t ignore the original Suicide Squad (or Birds of Prey) as much as interviews and reports have led us to believe. It doesn’t out-and-out reference these previous films, but it certainly isn’t trying to hide them away either. In fact, Gunn does a great job at incorporating some of the legacy characters of Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street, I, Tonya) is perhaps the best she’s ever been in the DCEU, and part of that comes from a mutual understanding of the character for Gunn and Robbie. Her character arc in this film sensibly builds on what she did in her first two appearances, and there’s the idea of Quinn as a catalyst of chaos, much like her former beau, that works quite well because the film isn’t resting on her shoulders. Even Rick Flag and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney, Terminator Genisys, Jolt) feel like natural progressions of their characters, while Amanda Waller is the same hard-ass from the previous film, but I like the added lack of emotion she feels here when members of the Squad suffer or die. She had that in the previous film, but it’s further expanded upon here.

Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation, Concrete Cowboy) is quite spectacular here as Bloodsport, a new addition to the universe who has such a pessimism for the mission but is forced into by Waller. Having seen Elba as an action superstar in other movies, it’s nice to see him play around with the idea that he has no faith in the mission and a complete understanding of his odds. He also has great interplay with the others in the Task Force X team.

Other notable introductions here include David Dastmalchian (Prisoners, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) as Polka-Dot Man, a character with a memorable screen presence and an interesting ability and Sean Gunn (The Belko Experiment, Ordinary World) as Weasel, a kind-of anti-Rocket Racoon, a clumsy and disturbing humanoid creature without any truly special abilities, but if I’m being fair, it is John Cena (Bumblebee, F9: The Fast Saga) who steals the show as Peacemaker, a criminal who sees himself as a hero, a protector of peace, no matter who he has to kill to make it happen.

Therein lies James Gunn’s greatest strength as a director: his ability to pull the best performances from his actors. He made Dave Bautista a better actor through their collaboration, and here again he has found a way to further develop Cena’s talents to make Peacemaker the standout character of the entire film. I never thought I’d be saying that, but it’s impossible to deny.

Gunn has a remarkable directing style that stands out even in studio pictures, and The Suicide Squad feels like a James Gunn movie with a big-ass budget. He’s in his realm, making the kinds of movies he’s always made, but now he has the money to stand behind his vision. As a screenwriter, he’s always been able to embrace the insanity in a way many others have tried and failed. Here, he has a ragtag group of villains that we shouldn’t be rooting for as they do reprehensible things to survive an unsurvivable mission, facing off against some of the weirdest antagonists in the comic book realm, and yet, he accomplished just about everything he sets out to do here. Having seen the film already, I just cannot wait to see it again.

If I’m looking for a flaw, and there are so few, I would have to say the only frustrating part of the film is a nitpick. I really like how the film presents its title cards almost like chapter headings, but a few of them were tough to read in the style they chose. I know, it doesn’t seem like a big deal because it isn’t, but it’s truly the only problem I had with this movie. Perhaps a tightening up of a few minutes in that transition from Act II to Act III, but again, nothing that I feel is ultimately a large problem for this film.

I had loads of fun with The Suicide Squad, and while I’m not ready to call it the best film in the entire DCEU yet (I’m still torn between this one and Shazam!), I have nothing but praise for this movie and the terrific work of its cast and crew. It’s batshit crazy in all the right ways, producing one of the most unique cinema experiences I have had in a long time, especially for a film fitting within a larger cinematic framework. The Suicide Squad is the kind of movie that the DCEU, the superhero genre, and the theater needs right now, and it’s unlike anything the DCEU or the MCU have done yet. See this one as soon as you can (because there will be spoilers abound on release weekend), and if possible, go to the theater to see it, because the big screen experience matches the big bombastic movie that James Gunn has crafted here.

4.5/5
-Kyle A. Goethe


  • For my review of Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, click here.
  • For my review of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, click here.
  • For my review of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, click here.
  • For my review of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, click here.
  • For my review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Theatrical Cut), click here.
  • For my review of David F. Sandberg’s Shazam!, click here.
  • For my review of Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), click here.
  • For my review of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, click here.
  • For my review of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, click here.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

Director: Cathy Yan

Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, Ewan McGregor

Screenplay: Christina Hodson

109 mins. Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material.

 

It feels like the DCEU has found its footing under the new leadership. After Justice League, the DCEU was handed off to others, and both Aquaman and Shazam! achieved generally positive reviews, so where does Birds of Prey land in all this? Did it continue that hot streak? Well, yes and no, but mostly no.

The Joker has dumped Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street, Peter Rabbit), and now the queen of mayhem is alone on the streets of Gotham and everyone wants her dead. It seems like all of Gotham has a vendetta against Quinn, including mob boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge!, Doctor Sleep), who tasks her with stealing a diamond, but this is all an attempt to take her out. Harley is in over her head, and in order to stop Sionis, she needs help from others who have been wronged by him.

Cinematic universes have changed the way these stories are told. Relationships and characters evolve across multiple films, but this is a problem for Birds of Prey. It seemingly assumes that we, as audience members, understand the relationship between the Joker and Harley Quinn. Hell, the inciting incident of the film is the destruction of that relationship. The issue with that assumption is that we didn’t get a good look at the central relationship in Suicide Squad; there simply wasn’t enough time dedicated to the relationship or the Joker in general to make the breakup have any impact. Since Jared Leto doesn’t appear in Birds of Prey, we again get nothing to go on that made me really connect with what Harley is going through in the film.

Thankfully, Margot Robbie is excellent in the role of Quinn, and yet again, she is such a dynamic presence onscreen that makes up for the lack of empathy and stakes to her central character journey. This is great because, for a film that sold itself as being a Birds of Prey film with a tiny hint of Harley Quinn, this is really a Harley Quinn film with a dash of Birds of Prey. Given that so much screen time is dedicated to Quinn, it’s great to know that Robbie continues to captivate as the Maid of Mischief.

Even Margot Robbie’s tremendous work as Quinn cannot save a very muddled and convoluted plot. I think the idea was to make Birds of Prey into DC’s version of Deadpool, so the film is edited to give it a loose narrative structure that hops around, but it lost me several times. I was never confused, but it lost my interest every time it left the main narrative.

Birds of Prey was very fun, but it struggled to consistently maintain my interest throughout its run time. I enjoyed several chunks of the film, and overall I really enjoyed the film, but altogether, this film is an absolute mess. It’s saved by an engaging Robbie performance and the awesome turn from Ewan McGregor, and I still believe that the film is worth watching for fans of the Harley Quinn character and the DCEU, but it’s a bug jumbled mess of a movie.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, click here.

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, click here.

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, click here.

For my review of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, click here.

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, click here.

For my review of David F. Sandberg’s Shazam!, click here.

David Ayer to Direct Dirty Dozen Remake?

Suicide Squad was once referred to by David Ayer as “Dirty Dozen with supervillains.” Well, it would seem he is up to direct a remake of The Dirty Dozen, so we’ll see how right he was.

Ayer is also in talks, according to The Wrap, to pen the screenplay for the remake. The original film starred several notable actors including Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Charles Bronson. It’s not clear at this point if the aim is to be a remake of the film or another take on the 1967 novel written by Robert Aldrich, which was itself based on true events.

I’m a fan of David Ayer, but I’m not sure this is the right move for him. The optics just don’t really add up. His Suicide Squad is one of the more maligned films in the DCEU, and being so similar in plot, I feel like attaching himself to The Dirty Dozen will only bring up the past, one which Ayer doesn’t seem too fond on bringing up. Yes, I know that studio meddling had a factor in the Suicide Squad film, but that won’t protect any backlash on the film. It just sours the whole process, and I’d like to see Ayer tackle something different.

What do you think? Should David Ayer write and direct a Dirty Dozen remake or should he be working on an original idea for his next project? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

I Can’t Believe We’re Still Talking About the Snyder Cut

In today’s edition of “Things I’d Rather Not Continue Talking About,” more DCEU actors are coming forth asking to #ReleasetheSnyderCut two whole years after Justice League released.

To clarify, yes, I would’ve liked to see Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League instead of the bare-bones recut of the film we ended up getting. All that out of the way, it’s the same reason we didn’t see a director’s cut of Avengers: Age of Ultron when that was rumored.

But now, with Damon Lindelof teasing to his Instagram followers that he probably hadn’t seen it, but if he had, he would support releasing it. Calm down, Lindelof.

Along with that news comes tweets of support from Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck even, someone who hasn’t spoken much of his time in the DCEU, so this is gaining steam.

Okay, let’s be a realist on this one. There are two potential problems with releasing the Snyder Cut of the film at this stage. First of all, it’s been two years, and in that time, the studio has rearranged their plans for the DCEU in order to keep the franchise alive and successful into the future. Since Justice League‘s release, we’ve had Aquaman. We’ve had Shazam! We will soon have Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984. Not to mention films like The Suicide Squad, The Batman, and Black Adam in the works. These films have all relied on what was created as far as mythology goes in the Justice League film. We’ve heard rumors of things like an appearance from Martian Manhunter who’s been hiding in plain sight for several movies and a completely different take on the ending, and all that stuff would change canon.

That’s right. Canon.

Canon is incredibly important to a franchise and cinematic universe. Building a canon can make or break a universe, and by releasing the Snyder Cut, you are ripping up the canon, something that WB should absolutely not do.

The other reason is simpler. Money.

That’s right. Money. More important than Canon to the studio. Why would WB release the Snyder Cut, knowing they would have to spend millions to even complete the damn movie. We know that a version of the Snyder Cut exists, but it wouldn’t have any CGI or effects completed in the film. That’s not how filmmaking works. They don’t finish the CG without at least having something edited together first. The Snyder Cut would be an absolute mess, and releasing it like that would be unacceptable and rather foolish. So they’d have to finish the movie, while doesn’t seem feasible. Who’s going to front the bill to complete post-production on a film that will not make enough money back to support the extra work. Is this a charity?

So there you have it. I don’t believe all this squabbling over a Snyder Cut is worth it, and I wish we’d all just move on. If we, as fans of the DCEU keep looking to the past, we’ll miss what’s possible in the future. So stop it.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

We May Have an Alfred! Andy Serkis in Talks for The Batman

There’s been a lot of info coming out concerning The Batman casting over the past few days, and I’m not sure I can keep up with all of it. First, I’m hearing that Matthew McConaughey is set to play Harvey Dent (I’ve seen only rumors on this one so far). Then there’s news that Colin Farrell is in talks for The Penguin. Finally, and what should be the smallest of these castings, Andy Serkis is entering talks to play Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler and surrogate father-figure.

I just want to unpack the interesting bit here about Serkis. Andy Serkis is an incredible actor, both in Motion-Capture and also in real world performing. People don’t talk about Serkis as a non-CG performer, but he’s great at both. I loved his work in The Prestige, Black Panther, and the cook in King Kong. So hearing him playing Alfred seems so inspired and something I hadn’t thought about. I had been hearing rumors of him as The Penguin, and again, my mind went to CG, and I was very excited. He has previously worked with director Matt Reeves on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and its sequel, so again, I wasn’t surprised by his inclusion in the DC Batman world, but its only that I hadn’t for a single second thought about him playing Alfred Pennyworth.

But now, I can’t believe the thought never occurred to me. It’s such a brilliant translation for the Alfred character after seeing what the DCEU had done with him as a guy-in-the-chair sidekick-like assistant to Bruce when he dons the cowl. It’s so perfect.

So I’m completely on board with Andy Serkis playing any damn role in The Batman, and if that happens to be Alfred, then I’m perfectly happy.

What do you think? Is Andy Serkis right for Alfred Pennyworth or is there a better fit? Let me know/Drop a comment below.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Feige Talks the Disney/Fox Deal and How to Incorporate the New Properties

I’m sure Kevin Feige is done talking about the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, but during an event for the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home, he took some time to talk again about it. So let’s unpack a few things he said.

First, he kept to his statement about taking his time, saying that he was in no real rush to add these characters to the MCU. This is still a smart statement for many reasons. First, we should point out that Kevin Feige makes a plan and usually sticks to it pretty close. Notice how his initial Phase 3 announcement compares to what we’ve see play out. The only major changes, to my memory, are the inclusion of Spider-Man, which didn’t need as much work and didn’t wrinkle the plan too much, and the movement of the Inhumans to a series from a movie, a move that you can say either worked out well for him or didn’t. The jury is still out on what an Inhumans movie would have looked like. Now, think about the reactionary approach to a DCEU or even The Dark Universe. A plan was made and then seemingly thrown out the window. He also has to come to terms with the failure of Dark Phoenix, which will leave a stain on the X-Men for a bit. Add that to the stain of a major Fantastic Four failure from a couple years back and Feige will have to play this one carefully.

He also stated that, while he is in no rush, he has been working on this possibility for a while now. Years, he states. He’s been playing though plans that have included and excluded the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man for years now, and that’s how Spider-Man: Homecoming was able to come together so quick in time to open up Phase 3.

It’s important to note that Phase 4 has been kept pretty secret for some time, but I would imagine, based on some of the statements from Kevin Feige over the years, that he has had some form of Phase 4 in his head for a long time. He stated a couple years back that he had storylines planned out through 2028. Now, this was back when Marvel was releasing 2 films a year, and maybe that changed when they moved to 3, but I have to imagine he’s had a future beyond Thanos and the Infinity Stones.

He shared that some character introductions work better in their own films and some, like Spider-Man and Black Panther, worked better in someone else’s story. It’s true, and the more I’ve thought about this, the more it has made sense. I would take that as a possibility that we could see a non-powered Reed Richards appear in someone else’s film in the MCU before the Fantastic Four get a solo movie. I could even believe that perhaps a Hank McCoy/Beast or a Professor X might get an appearance before an X-Men Proper film. These properties have fan expectations, so this one will be a tough inclusion process that might aid them to have an appearance elsewhere first.

So what do you think? When and how will we see the Fantastic Four and X-Men appear in the MCU, if at all? Let me know/Leave a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Zack Snyder Reveals Image of Darkseid for Father’s Day

Fans online lamented over the past week that Justice League Part II would now be in theaters if the original plan for the DCEU had worked out, and it’s a true statement that hit me. I was really into the wild take on the DCEU’s initial plan, and it they didn’t have such snap reactions to their films, it may have worked, but Justice League Part II is off the table with no knowledge of when we may see another of the superhero team-ups.

This week, though, Man of Steel, BvS, and Justice League director Zack Snyder shared an image of the sequel’s lead villain, Darkseid, who was to take over from Steppenwolf in the follow-up. Initially, Darkseid was to show up in the cliffhanger ending to the first film, but if you saw it (and not many of you did), it did not play out that way.

Zack Snyder was likely let go from Justice League, another decision that didn’t help, and though fans have clamored for a Snyder Cut of the original Justice League, it probably doesn’t exist, but Snyder continues to incite interest in his vision. He has frequently shared info on his Vero account (I pretty much only have a Vero account of my own to see stuff from Snyder).

I was pretty adamant that WB and DC not put one director in charge of their entire universe in a Feige-like position, and while Snyder never had all the responsibilities of a Kevin Feige, he did direct 3 of the, at that time, 5 DC films and was going to do another one. After Man of Steel, he was handed BvS and Justice League I & II. That’s a lot of faith to place in a director who has a vision when people were still pretty split on Man of Steel.

Now, when they did put their faith in Snyder’s vision, I went in on it too, and then they changed their mind, and the franchise barely survived.

So what do you think? Would you have liked to see Snyder’s vision come to fruition? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Suicide Squad Casting Benicio Del Toro?

Mark this one up as a rumor for now, because there’s been so strong evidence to really support it, but information coming from Forbes indicate that Benicio del Toro, recently featured in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Big Top Pee-Wee (look it up), may be joining the upcoming The Suicide Squad from director James Gunn. It would make sense if you look at the layers. He did appear in the MCU for Guardians of the Galaxy’s The Collector, directed by Gunn. Given that we still don’t know the status of The Collector, who appeared in Avengers: Infinity War but as a vision or fabrication, his time in the MCU may be done, but his addition to The Suicide Squad would further the argument that these two comic book giants are not enemies but coexist together.

As of now, The Suicide Squad will feature the returns of Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, and Jai Courtney. Idris Elba has also recently joined the project as a new character, with many speculating him to be Bronze Tiger. All that is known for Elba is that he will not be playing Deadshot as was recently rumored. Del Toro is rumored for The General, who will be one of the film’s villains. David Dastmalchian seemingly confirmed his involvement in a recent interview, praising Polka-Dot Man, and more rumors have circulated of John Cena’s involvement and frequent Gunn collaborator Michael Rooker (though he has since denied his addition), so this installment of the DCEU is shaping up quite nicely.

To this writer, Benicio del Toro only adds an air of quality to the upcoming installment, and I certainly hope the rumors are true. Adding talent like his can only help a movie. I’ve been randomly seeing him pop up in a lot of films from the past recently, and revisiting Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Sin City have affirmed that he is one of the more interesting personalities currently working in the filmscape.

As far as the character of The General goes, I know very little. I read some of the Suicide Squad books a few years back, but I don’t think he was ever in any of the ones I read.

I will chock this up as good news, because in James Gunn I trust. Every film he’s directed has been solid (if you’re a horror fan and you haven’t seen Slither, you’re doing yourself a disservice), and every bit of casting news surrounding The Suicide Squad has been exciting me, so count me in.

But what do you think? Are you excited for Benicio del Toro in the DCEU? What’s your favorite performance of his? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

The Suicide Squad will be unleashed again on August 6, 2021.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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