Cult Hero (2022) – Worshippable

Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival

Cult Hero Info

The world of religion is a wild place even at the best of times, but when religion is at its worst you get a cult. Cults come in all shapes and sizes, from small things like Heaven’s Gate to seemingly large abusive groups like Scientology and they all just pull people into their web and ruin their lives in some way. Sometimes when someone is in a cult you might need to hire someone known as a deprogrammer who will do what they can to pull your loved one out of this toxic environment… and naturally a situation that’s this intense and fraught with danger is just perfect to be the foundation for a comedic action film.

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Samaritan (2022) – Super-meh-ro

Released: 26th August
Seen: 28th August

For a while now we’ve been living in the era of the Superhero. From the moment that Iron Man built a mech suit in a cave with a box of scraps, one of the dominating elements of pop culture has been the superhero story. Everyone has had a go at trying to make their own version of it in order to ride the trend, some have tried to deconstruct it (like Netflix’s Project Power or the horror film Brightburn) but everyone has at least tried to have a go at the concept of a superhero saving the day. 

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Prey (2022) – Out Of This World Amazing

Released: 5th August
Seen: 7th August

In 2018, the film The Predator was released to cinemas. It was the 4th entry in the badly named franchise (previous entries being Predator, Predator 2 and Predators… so not confusing in the slightest) and it was probably the worst of the bunch. It almost felt like it was going to put the final nail in the coffin for this franchise which has been kind of coasting on fond memories of the 1987 original. So when there was news of another entry coming out that would take the actually unique film title Prey, it’s fair to say that there was some trepidation about how good the film would be… turns out it might be the best in the whole damn franchise.

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Jurassic World Dominion (2022) – Terradac-dull

Released: 30th June
Seen: 1st August

It’s time for us to call it, Jurassic Park as a franchise is dead. Hell, let’s go one step further, the franchise probably should’ve stopped after the first movie and left when it was on top instead of just gradually getting serious diminishing returns every time they bring us back to the land of the dinosaurs. The new trilogy, headed by bad writer Colin Trevorrow, started out promising with Jurassic World which might not have been at the level of the original but at least it was watchable… and then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom came out and it wasn’t great, kinda dull but it had some nice moments and an ending that suggested something interesting and new could happen with this franchise… but this film was written by the same guy who helped come up with the story for Rise of Skywalker, a story that can be summed up with the line “Somehow, Palpatine returned” so you can kind of guess that nothing new has been done with Jurassic World Dominion.

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The Gray Man (2022) – A Cinematic Gray Area

Released: 22nd July
Seen: 24th July

The Gray Man Info

Netflix has had a pretty bad year, hell a bad few years if you really want to think about it. For starters they’re just having to deal with every studio they used to work with pulling their product and opening up their own streaming service, which they responded to by raising their prices. This is partially why the number of subscribers has fallen, though you could also blame that on things like regularly platforming transphobic comedians or their seeming lack of quality control. So maybe now is not the best time for Netflix to be ramping up their budgets and trying to pull off the 200-million dollar blockbuster epics… though if they have to do it, at least The Gray Man is enjoyable enough but they certainly can’t afford to do many more of these.

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Blacklight (2022) – Uggh

Released: 10th February
Seen: 14th July

Blacklight Info

Liam Neeson needs to be stopped, with his latet release Blacklight he has officially worn out his charm as an action star and needs to either take a break or just stop entirely if possible. At one point he was charming as the older lead of an action film, Taken and its immediate sequels were exciting and clever enough that they worked no matter who was in them but the fact it was someone as talented and charismatic as Liam Neeson elevated it. Then he started slipping and just repeating the formula with films like Honest Thief or The Commuter, films that leaned so heavily on Liam’s charm that it was almost inevitable that we’d hit this point. The point where it’s just impossible to give a damn… even if the plot isn’t just another spin on the Taken formula, there’s no more fucks to give.

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The Lost City (2022) – A Cracking Adventure

Released: 31st March
Seen: 11th July

The Lost City

One of the classic kinds of films we don’t get enough of is the romantic action adventure. You know the kind, films where a guy and girl randomly go to some far off land to try and hunt for some treasure, they exchange witty banter and eventually fall in love all while dealing with some overly hammy villain that’s there purely to raise the stakes. Classics like Romancing the Stone or The Mummy (the 1999 one) are great examples of this style of film. They were fun, over the top, clever and just seem to have fallen by the wayside lately. Well, thank goodness that The Lost City brought them back because they have been sorely missed.

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Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) – Another!

Released: 6th July
Seen: 6th July

The Thor movies are possibly the franchise in the MCU that’s had the weirdest trajectory. The first Thor movie was fine, a Shakespearean epic that was helmed by Kenneth Branagh who clearly leaned into the overly dramatic elements (quite literally leaning in with half the shots being Dutch angles), the second Thor movie is widely considered one of the worst of the MCU and kind of felt like it would be the end of the Thor movies as we know them… and then out came Ragnarok with its bold colour palette and love of 70s heavy metal music, turning Thor from the insanely serious character he’d been up to that point into a jovial jokester frat bro that everyone came to love. Since Ragnarok went so well, thanks in large part to the work of writer/director Taika Waititi, Thor: Love and Thunder decides to just take what worked about Ragnarok and do it all again. It’s not a bad plan but there are some diminishing returns.

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Lightyear (2022) – To Infinity And Beyond-ish

Released: 16th June
Seen: 4th July

In 1995 the film Toy Story was released and began what can only be called a revolution in what an animated film could look like. It was truly the first of its kind, a feature-length 3D animated film that effectively marked a moment where the medium itself changed forever. That sweet funny little film about a bunch of toys who came to life will go down in history as a landmark film, showing the potential of the 3D animated technology that was so new at the time. 

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Spiderhead (2022) – I Have Some Complaints

Released: 17th June
Seen: 3rd July

Netflix has been having what can generously be described as “A shitty year that’s been very shitty”. Their numbers of subscribers have been dropping, their revenue is dropping and they keep just landing in controversy after controversy. They also keep spending exorbitant amounts of money on absolute garbage films that have little to sell themselves on beyond the star power of the lead actor. To be absolutely blunt, Spiderhead looked like it was going to fall into that category but good news, it’s not absolute garbage… it’s just not very good. 

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