El Camino (2019) – Breaking Moderately OK

Released: 11th October
Seen: 13th October

Adapting a TV series into a film is not easy. The two mediums, though similar in many ways, are substantially different when it comes to storytelling. Going from a 22-42 minute long episode of TV to a two-hour long movie can change what kind of story you’ll focus on. They’re also made for a variety of reasons, either to provide commentary on the series (21 Jump Street or The Brady Bunch Movie), act as a long episode that couldn’t have been done in the normal series runtime (The Simpsons Movie or DuckTales The Movie: Treasure Of The Lost Lamp) or take on the form of a finale and give the series some much needed closure (Serenity or The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!). There are other reasons to make the leap, like brand name recognition or the increased quality of cocaine, but these three seem to be the biggest reasons. El Camino seems to be going for the “much-needed closure” reasoning but forgot that we didn’t actually need that closure.

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Fractured (2019) – Broken

Released: 11th October
Seen: 12th October

Sometimes all a film needs is a great concept and that can do most of the work. Sharknado is a great example, the idea is so out there (It’s sharks… in a tornado) that no matter what those films do I can enjoy it because the idea itself is so perfect that I’ll buy it. This can also work with good films, “Killer who kills you in your dreams” gave us Freddy Krueger, “Plant that eats people” gave us Little Shop of Horrors, a good concept can make a film easy to enjoy. So when a concept as perfect and as effective as “Guy checks his daughter into a hospital, hospital pretends she never checked in” comes across I was ready to love it because that idea has so much potential… shame Fractured wasted so much of it.

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In the Tall Grass (2019) – Hey You Kids, Get Out Of My Lawn!

Released: 4th October
Seen: 5th October

Stephen King is a master of taking things that aren’t normally scary and making them terrifying. Puppies, classic cars, a cell phone, he’s taken them and twisted them into the stuff of nightmares. In 2012, Stephen collaborated with his son Joe Hill for a short story called In the Tall Grass, because now Stephen wants us to be scared of lawns. One of these days he’s going to make a film about a killer lamp and then someone will make a movie about it and I’ll end up enjoying that almost as much as I enjoyed this film.

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Murder Mystery (2019) – Whodumbit?

Released: 14th June
Seen: 25th August

The murder mystery genre has been kind of slow lately, the last major film in the genre being the Murder on the Orient Express way back in 2017. It’s always been a pretty fascinating genre, a large scale whodunit where someone is murdered and we follow the investigation into who the killer is. Often these movies would maybe take place in one location with everyone staying put so they could figure out who the killer was without having it spread. It’s also a genre that’s ripe for parody, as films like Murder by Death or Clue have proven how the genre can be taken to create some genuinely great comedy… and then there’s Murder Mystery, the store brand version of a comedy-mystery movie with all the ingredients and none of the flavour.

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Sextuplets (2019) – More Like Suckstuplets

Released: 16th August
Seen: 23rd August

In ancient Persia, there was a method of execution known as Scaphism. It’s one of the most creative methods of execution ever created. First, you take two boats of identical shape and place the victim inside one of them, leaving a spot for their head to stick out the end. You put the other boat on top, creating a box that floats, and feed the victim as much food as you can. Then honey and milk is forced down their throat and poured over their head. Soon, their entire head was covered in flies and other assorted bugs, then the milk would work through their digestive system and they would begin to have severe diarrhoea that would fill the boat. They would float around for weeks, slowly being eaten alive by the flies and the bugs that got attracted by the boat full of excrement, one of the most elaborate torturous painful methods of execution known to man… anyway, I saw Sextuplets and now I know how the people in the boat felt.

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Shaft (2019) – Daft

Released: 28th June
Seen: 10th August

In 1971 the world learned the answer to the immortal question “Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks?” and turns out, that answer would be an icon of blaxploitation cinema and one of the most badass characters to ever appear on film. John Shaft started as a detective novel before his original trilogy of movies (Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score and Shaft in America) and even ended up with a TV series in the early 70’s before the character was retired until the character was revived in 2000 for a brand new Shaft movie that did fairly well but didn’t get any sequels… until now. Now it has a sequel that did poorly at the box office, was distributed internationally on Netflix and is currently the most critically panned movie in the entire franchise. Does it deserve that kind of treatment? Is the film really bad enough to deserve to be relegated to the trash heap of cinema history? Kind of, but only because it’s kind of bland.

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Point Blank (2019) – Half Points

Released: 12th July
Seen: 9th August

In 2010 the French film À bout portant came out to critical acclaim. Known overseas as Point Blank, it’s a story of a nurse who gets dragged into a world of dirty cops and gangsters when his pregnant wife is kidnapped and he’s under orders to break a known hitman out of prison. Not only did it get a lot of praise but there have been multiple remakes in South Korea, Bangla, a Tamil-language remake and there were even plans for a Bollywood remake, although I can’t find if that one ever got made. With so many countries remaking it you can almost tell that there was an inevitable remake to come from America because subtitles are hard to read and originality is not required anymore so instead let’s take something that was relatively popular somewhere else, slap America on it and we’re good to go… I mean, it’s not great but I’ve seen worse translations.

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See You Yesterday (2019) – Timely

Released: 17th May
Seen: 8th August

The concept of Time Travel in cinema is one of the most fun and irritating plot concepts we’ve ever come up with. Fun because it allows us to explore history and do variants of “Person from today is stuck in the past” stories that present a fish out of water narrative. Irritating because, every single time it happens, people try to logic the hell out of the time travel and explain why it wouldn’t work that way as though time travel was an actual thing and not a storytelling device meant to act as the most threadbare framework for an actual story. This was evidenced earlier this year with Endgame where people ignored the larger story about acknowledging the past of an entire universe of characters and showing the drastic change and growth of everyone involved and instead said “Actually it makes no sense that they all travelled like that, time travel doesn’t work that way” in a whiny high pitched voice, not unlike Urkel with his testicles in a vice. In case it isn’t obvious, I do not care if the Time Travel element doesn’t make sense because it never has to. It is a variation on the MAGIC SCIENCE that was used in Happy Death Day 2U and nothing more. Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the newest entries into the Time Travel genre and the first Netflix film since Someone Great that actually got a reaction out of me.

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Secret Obsession (2019) – I’ve Got A Secret

Released: 18th July
Seen: 5th August

I almost feel bad for taking so many cheap shots at Netflix and their original films. I’ve lambasted them, I’ve mocked them, I’ve put them on my “worst of” lists but I swear I don’t do it intentionally. Netflix probably makes the exact same amount of good and bad films as any other distributor… the catch is that a bad Netflix film is one you can only see on Netflix with a Netflix branded logo right up the top hammering home just where you saw it. I also don’t mind that they have bought so many subpar films, they have to do their best to try and outright own as much content as they possibly can since they’re having content pulled by their corporate partners who are trying to make their own service. Hell, they just lost all of Disney’s stuff while Disney prepared for Disney+, I can’t imagine that Fox properties will stay on there for long thanks to the Disney merger and CBS is pulling a ton of its stuff too in preparation for whatever they’re doing with their own platform. I get that Netflix is trying to maintain a large number of films and aren’t that fussy about the quality… but god damn I wish they’d maybe try a little harder to not pick up the scraps that fell off Lifetime’s table.

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The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019) – DIVE DIVE DIVE!

Released: 31st July
Seen: 4th August

In the 1980s there was a huge refugee crisis in Sudan. Thousands of Ethiopian Jewish refugees fled persecution by making an arduous trip to Israel. To help get these refugees from Sudan to Israel, Mossad agents set up a fake hotel as a cover that they used to keep eyes off them while they were sneaking large numbersof refugees to somewhere safer. The entire endeavour was lead by a man named Gad Shimron and he, along with his team, saved over 12,000 people from persecution. It’s a story that Gad put in a book called Mossad Exodus or you can read a condensed version in an article from The Sun. To quote the end of the article “It is, [Gad] says, important to remember that the bravest people in the story aren’t the Mossad operatives but the Ethiopian Jews who endured endless hardships trying to reach Israel by land, sea or air — uncomplaining men, women and children who crowded into trucks, small boats or planes with no guarantee of safe passage.”… but Hollywood decided that they could get Captain America to play a Mossad agent and that changed the focus considerably.

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