Honest Thief (2020) – Honestly? Not Great

Released: 22nd October
Seen: 11th November

Honest Thief Info

Can we, as a society, just admit that Liam Neeson action films have become repetitive and stale? Is that a thing that we can collectively do? Hell, let’s be honest, they were getting stale roughly around the third time he played a character who had a member of his family taken. It’s now to the point where you could write a Liam Neeson action film using a madlib form, they all have the same basic plot and only change the minor superficial details. It’s always the same and every time it gets a little bit less interesting and Honest Thief is just another one for the pile.

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The Empty Man (2020) – Yep, Empty

Released: 23rd October
Seen: 31st October

The Empty Man Info

The Bye Bye Man
The Snowman
The Slenderman

Movies that begin with The and end in Man in the horror genre have lately filled me with dread lately. With the exception of The Invisible Man, I can’t think of a good film with this combination of words in the title so imagine how I felt seeing the poster for The Empty Man. If you thought I was prepared for a long slow boring film that tried far too hard to be smarter than it was, then you know me far too well… and you also just described the film to a T.

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The Lie (2020) – Pants On Fire

Released: 6th October
Seen: 17th October

The Lie Info

One of the many repeated tropes of horror that has worked time and time again is “Someone does a murder, they or someone who loves them helps them lie to cover it up, the secret comes back to haunt them in the end”. This simple concept has led to literary classics like The Tell-Tale Heart, to cinematic classics like Rope and even been used in fun 90s slashers like I Know What You Did Last Summer. When done right, it’s a setup that creates tension right off the bat and the way the characters react to the knowledge of what they’ve done (or how what they’ve done turns them into the ultimate victims) creates the emotional core of the story… when done wrong you get The Lie.

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Enola Holmes (2020) – Elementary School, My Dear Watson

Released: 23rd September
Seen: 27th September

Enola Holmes Info

December 26, 2018. A date that will live in infamy. This is the date when Holmes & Watson was released and, despite the year being almost completely finished, made a case to be called one of the worst movies of the year (a case it won, easily, since it made it on my list with 5 days to go!). It was truly a ghastly nightmare but as since then it looks like it may have done something even more sinister… it may have killed the Sherlock Holmes brand! 

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The Devil All the Time (2020) – The Devil Went Down To Ohio

Released: 11th September
Seen: 18th September

The Devil All the Time Info

In 2011, the novel The Devil All the Time was released and was instantly showered with awards and praise. Written by Donald Ray Pollock as a follow up to his book Knockemstiff, it was a big enough hit that, inevitably, the rights to the book were bought and a film adaptation was announced way back in 2018. Well, now we are here two years later and what did they make? They made… a film. A film with two great performances that is a film, it’s not much more than that.

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Just Mercy (2020) – Mercy Mercy Me

Released: 23rd January
Seen: 6th September

Just Mercy Info

Racial injustice is a topic that never ever makes anything controversial or hard to talk about. Never, I never ever go “oh how do I open this review” when I watch any film about racial justice because surely it is a non-controversial topic that I can never say anything wrong about, right? Of course not, that’s impossible but yes today I’m reviewing a movie, specifically Just Mercy, that does that thing where it tries to remind people “Hey, the justice system as it currently exists has a horrific problem regarding race that disproportionately affects people of colour and it would be great if someone would do something about that” because apparently that’s a thing we still need to be reminded of in the year 2020 because some mouthbreathers don’t seem to realise that there’s this big horrific problem so maybe they’ll pay attention if they hear it from Jamie Foxx, Michael B Jordan and Brie Larson in a legal drama… and a really good legal drama, like one of the best I’ve seen in a while.

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Queen & Slim (2020) – Heartfelt and Powerful

Released: 12th March
Seen: 25th August

Queen & Slim Info

On August 24th, video emerged of Jacob Blake being shot 7 times in the back by police officers. He was not resisting arrest, he was not armed, he was not in any way a danger to the officers. He was getting into his car after breaking up a fight and was shot by police 7 times IN THE BACK (that ‘in the back’ part is why I’m not going to be hearing your counter arguments on this. not kidding, don’t bother trying to justify this, you can not). Now, fortunately (at the time I type this) Jacob survived this attempted murder by the police, although he is paralysed from the waist down but he is just another in a long line of unarmed black men who have been shot by police who disproportionately shoot unarmed black men. 

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The Last Days of American Crime (2020) – Absolutely Criminal

Released: 5th June
Seen: 11th June

When it comes to single sentence movie concepts, it’s hard to deny that “The government is about to implement a device that makes it impossible to do crime, so what would the last crime ever committed look like?” is a fantastic concept. The idea alone promises a fascinating film, maybe something like Minority Report or even the later Purge movies that had some elaborate plot device around how crime is handled and used that to discuss serious real-world issues. It promises a fun movie, possibly futuristic and certainly a little bombastic. I mean, this is a film about the last crime that can physically be committed in the United States, surely that crime has to be something elaborate right? Well, turns out… no, no it doesn’t mean that. In fact, somehow a film that’s been gifted an idea so good that it should be impossible to mess it up managed to mess up in every way possible.

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The Lovebirds (2020) – Something For (Almost) Everyone

Released: 22nd May
Seen: 25th May

In case you hadn’t noticed, these last several weeks have been…  a lot. It’s been a couple of months now that the entire world has basically had to shut down while we deal with a minor apocalyptic pandemic and everyone is reacting differently. Some are just getting tired and depressed, some are playing a whole lot of Animal Crossing, others are outside demanding barbers open so they can get haircuts because no one loves them enough to grab a pair of scissors and snip their bangs. I’ve personally been doing the first two of those, my Animal Crossing island is awful at the moment but I clearly have plenty of time to create a little getaway where I don’t have to deal with the third kind of person. 

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The Last Thing He Wanted (2020) – No One Wanted This

Released: 27th January
Seen: 5th May

The Last Thing He Wanted Info

So, while I’m still learning how to effectively write these reviews, I have slowly developed a system that works for me. After I do the first paragraph (usually designed to be just eye-catching enough that if you were to scroll through my main page that it might make you want to know more) I will then stop and think about how to describe the plot. I might have IMDB open to remind me of character and actor names but I can usually come up with a decent enough plot synopsis that doesn’t give away more than I need to in order to get you to know just what kind of movie I’m talking about. The plot synopsis is always a quick thing for me, I try to keep it short and sweet because if you want a proper plot synopsis then Wikipedia is in the next tab over. I add it for context and little more than that… this time? I’m tempted to skip it because the plot is so poorly constructed that even just adding it for context feels pointless but it’s my structure now so I feel obligated to try.

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