Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023) – Net Positive

Released: 1st June
Seen: 1st June

It’s kind of wild to think about how different things were in December of 2018, both in terms of general worldwide issues and in the pop-culture landscape. Obviously, we didn’t know at the time that we were about a year away from experiencing one of the biggest worldwide events in human history, weren’t to know that the simmering of fascism that popped up in small places was going to become an overwhelming constant nightmare that would seemingly never end and in the world of pop culture we’d all just experienced the absolute shock that was Infinity War

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The Little Mermaid (2023) – Part Of Our World

Released: 25th May
Seen: 25th May

When people talk about the Disney Renaissance, they are talking about a very specific period of time from 1989 to 1999 when Disney released hit after hit with stunning regularity. Ten films over a ten-year period that would revive the Disney brand in a way that basically set the stage for its eventual dominance over the industry today. It could be argued that without the Disney Renaissance, we wouldn’t have the MCU that dominates the landscape today.

Even the worst film in the Disney Renaissance is better than most other films from the same time period, it’s truly a remarkable time in cinema history and it all started with a simple film about a mermaid who wanted to be where the people were… and because Disney has decided exploiting it’s back catalog is a substitute for good film making, we now have a remake of The Little Mermaid, the film that started this Renaissance. In somewhat of a miracle, it’s not actually that bad.

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Plane (2023) – Minimal Turbulance

Released: 13th January
Seen: 21st May

January tends to be known as a dump month for releases. Basically, a film that is released this month tends to be something that the studios don’t have faith in and throw out quickly and quietly with minimal expectations. There are obviously exceptions to this idea, truly spectacular movies can come out pretty much any time but a January release is usually the spot where films go to die. It takes something kind of special to break this rule and actually make a splash… or you can be mediocre enough in the exact right ways to make back a minuscule budget and be something more than just a quick write-off.

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Fast X (2023) – Slow Down!

Released: 17th May
Seen: 20th May

Fast X Info

The Fast and the Furious franchise has developed something of a reputation over the years. At first, that reputation was that these were the films to see cool car tricks and hot women in skimpy outfits, maybe with a little bit of a heist thrown in for dramatic tension. Now the Fast and Furious movies are where you go to see physics be violently pegged by a souped-up automobile powered by the laws of “Fuck you, this looks cool”. It’s somewhat of a dramatic shift over the years but it’s honestly been for the best, the franchise was kind of dull and boring in the beginning and now it’s almost impossible not to salivate in anticipation for what insanely stupid thing is going to be done next behind the wheel of a car.

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3 (2023) – Out Of This World

Released: 3rd May
Seen: 3rd May

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3

When it comes to the many franchises that make up the MCU, it’s arguable that one of the most surprising of them all is the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Based on one of the most obscure Marvel comics out there, the first Guardians movie took the MCU into space and, effectively, introduced the character Thanos to the franchise as an actual character in the narrative instead of as an end credits gag. The second Guardians movie somehow managed to be even better, funnier and more emotional with grander stakes that showed just what these characters were capable of. 

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Ghosted (2023) – Leave On Read

Released: 21st April
Seen: 24th April

Sometimes a film feels like it should be basically impossible to mess up, a combination of a great director, great writers and great actors that seems like at the bare minimum it should produce a piece of fun, harmless entertainment that’ll deliver on what it promises. Say you have the director of one of the best biopic films ever, gave him a film written by the people who wrote two major superhero franchise films and a pair of actors who have proven to have chemistry before who are also wildly popular and insanely talented. That sounds like a recipe for success, a surefire way to make something that’s at least on the surface level enjoyable… so what the hell went wrong with Ghostedyou to make it as dull as it is?

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The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) – Let’s-a go.

Released: 5th April
Seen: 12th April

When it comes to the world of video games, there is no character quite as well-known and iconic as Mario. For 40 years the short Italian with the red hat has been lighting up video game consoles and being the blueprint for an entire genre of games that he still basically runs to this day, and probably will until the universe implodes and we all die. He is such an icon that it’s kind of surprising that there’s only been a single movie made about him and it is, to be charitable, a tortuous trip through 90s consumerist dystopian fiction wrapped in an absurdist nightmare.

It’s a film that people mostly enjoy in the way most cult films are enjoyed, because they’re incredibly strange and mockable and it’s impossible to believe that someone actually made this happen. It’s an adaptation that was so bad that it put an end to the idea of Nintendo games getting made into movies up until the 2019 release of Detective Pikachu proved that they could actually work, leading to Nintendo giving the Mario Brothers one more chance… thank goodness.

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Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) – Natural 20

Released: 30th March
Seen: 30th March

In 1974, the very first edition of Dungeons & Dragons was published and it pretty quickly became a mainstay of pop culture. Every decade seems to change how people look at it, be it back in the 80s when it was a very large part of the Satanic Panic bullshit or in the 2000s when we were talking about the first film adaptation that carried the name or even the 2010s when Stranger Things reminded people of why they enjoyed playing this game back in the 80s when the adults said it was evil and satanic. Even now it still maintains high popularity with an untold number of web shows and podcasts dedicated to variations on this classic tabletop RPG… I’ve never played it once, so I went into this movie completely blind and had a great time but who knows how a fanboy might react to this.

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Shazam: Fury Of The Gods (2023) – Less Fury Than Expected

Released: 16th March
Seen: 18th March

In 2019, DC released one of its few good films, Shazam. At the time it felt like somewhat of a revelation, after years of a dark and dour DC universe being built with several below-average films that refused to even try to have a little fun, we finally got a film that seemed to understand why this genre is so popular while also having one of the biggest heartfelt stories in all of Superhero media (The Billy Batson story with his mother is still heartbreaking, I will die on that hill). It might not have been the biggest box office hit, possibly because the DC well was basically poisoned even by that point but somehow it got a sequel that got somewhat delayed by the recent plague but is here now… it’s fine, I guess.

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