FILM TRILOGY REVIEW: SCREAM (1996 – 2000)

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Ghostface: What’s your favourite scary movie?

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Kevin Williamson, Ehren Kruger

Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Jamie Kennedy and Liev Schreiber

Synopsis: The Scream trilogy deals with Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) who is stalked by a serial killer dressed up in a Ghostface costume. Each film deals with the mystery of who the killer could be.

Scream was released in 1996 when the horror genre was in its last days. Franchises such as A Nightmare on Elm St, Friday the 13th and Halloween had exhausted their sequels and no one was showing up any more to see generic teen victims get slashed up by Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Until Scream came out and reinvigorated the horror genre by taking a look back at the genre through the eyes of all too aware film loving screenwriter and an iconic horror director. Scream was a huge success and opened the way for many more horror films to follow in the late 90s until the torture porn era began in the early 2000s.

The original Scream is the best of the series with a great concept and characters. It is a dissection of the horror genre by the master horror director Wes Craven. Craven was an academic and often lent into the meta side of horror with his previous film New Nightmare which was a meta-commentary on his own classic A Nightmare on Elm St. In Scream he used the conventions of horror and put them into the reality of film geeks of the 90s. It was a new and interesting way of approaching horror and it paid off ostensibly.

The opening scene with Drew Barrymore is perfect horror. Craven’s best directed scene in the series (or perhaps ever…). He ratchets up the tension with each piece of dialogue and movement. With Drew Barrymore playfully flirting on the phone talking about horror movies playing with her kitchen knives and making popcorn. It quickly turns dark and all these elements become horror set pieces and her death is gruesome. Craven sets the tone for the film and the series in this opening. It’s mix of humour and horror. Kevin Williamson’s script is also perfect as he references horror classics as well as mixing teen curiosity. The film then moves into a more conventional story of a teen getting stalked by a serial killer. Williamson plays with the genres conventions as well as mixing in film references and the 90’s fascination with violence in the media with shades of the OJ trial with the TV journalist Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) chasing the story.

Neve Campbell as the lead Sidney Prescott is charming but a bit too broody at times which is common for a Wes Craven lead female. The real highlight is Jamie Kennedy as Randy who introduced the film geek to the mainstream. His film references and attitude brought audiences to the video stores to discover horror classics themselves. The plot deals with Sidney trying to fight off the serial killer while dealing with her boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and her two friends Tatum (Rose McGowan) and Stu (Matthew Lillard). We are also introduced to the ambitious journalist Gale Weathers. Courtney Cox as Gale who brings a lot of attitude and energy to this film and its sequels. There is also David Arquette as Deputy Dewey he’s a fun oddball character who you grow to love through the series. His innocence as a young wannabe detective is fun and goofy which is needed in the overly tense scenes.

Craven mixes horror and comedy well. He uses blood and gore extensively as he has in his past horror films and he lets his actors make fun of the ironic situation they are in as they dissect the genre conventions of horror films and the film itself. Craven has always used violence as a metaphor for something else here he uses it to make fun of horror films in general with their over the top violence especially his own series A Nightmare on Elm Street. I like the murder mystery element to the film as well. I remember the first time seeing all of these films was the thrill of working out “who” is the killer. The ending drags on a bit and borders on ridiculous as the killers are revealed and Sidney survives another day.

Scream 2 is similar to the original with sharp witty dialogue as in the first film and filled with horror references from the 80s however this time they concentrate more on horror sequels. This is a rare horror sequel that succeeds in character and plot. It takes the best of the original and improves on it by leaning more on Jamie Kennedy’s Randy for film references and Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott is stronger and more aware than the original. Courtney Cox and David Arquette return and deliver more of the same they weren’t the most interesting characters in the original but their presence is welcome and ties the films together. The opening with Jada Pinkett Smith isn’t as good as the originals opening but still interesting by setting it in a cinema. Sidney is again surrounded by disposable friends who are acted by late 90s TV stars such as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Timothy Olyphant, Jerry O’Connell and Laurie Metcalf. Wes Craven is still at the top of his game here by upping the murders and gore which make it overall more fun, but not as original as the first.

Scream 3 leans more into the representation of the media depicting real life crimes and shadows today’s obsession with true crime films and television shows like American Crime Story and Making a Murderer. In the 90s and early 2000s true crime was very mainstream in pop culture with the OJ trial and Versace murders on 24 hour news cycles. Scream always looked at the media’s relationship with violence especially in horror movies and as Scream 2 looked at horror film sequels and their conventions, Scream 3 looks more at the audiences obsession with true crime and making a horror film. It still has an ironic and playful tone by looking at itself as a vision of Hollywood’s obsession with violence and the people who wish to be famous by becoming monsters themselves. It also has a stab (pun intended) at itself by having the actors in the film Stab 3 begin to get murdered and Lance Henriksen makes a spot on Wes Craven.

The dialogue isn’t as good as the previous entries and the film overall is structured more as a thriller instead of a film commentary on horror. Perhaps because it wasn’t written by Kevin Williamson who had a sharp way of writing film references and horror conventions. The death scenes aren’t as clever as the previous films either. Especially the opening which was very underwhelming after the excellent openings of the previous two films. There are some good concepts with the killer going after the actors from the film being made and the characters dealing with their doppelgangers especially Gail with Parker Posey. Also the concept of going back to the beginning to discover Sidney’s mothers acting past was interesting. There is some comedy with Parker Posey and Patrick Warbuton (Puddy from Seinfeld) as her celebrity bodyguard however the comedy isn’t as clever as the first two.

Courtney Cox is pretty good in this entry. Her energy from the previous films are a welcome as opposed to Neve Campbell’s PTSD stricken Sidney who is pretty terrible in this film and the scenes of her interacting with her ghost mother are laughable. Craven could have given it a Hitchcock/Psycho vibe and should have done better with the material. However the videotape of Randy discussing the rules of film trilogies is again spot on as are all of his rules from each film. Let’s go through them…

Scream
Rules to successfully survive a horror movie:
1. You may not survive the movie if you have sex.
2. You may not survive the movie if you drink or do drugs.
3. You may not survive the movie if you say “I’ll be right back”, “Hello?” or “Who’s there?”

Scream 2
Rules to successfully survive a horror movie sequel:
1. The body count is always bigger.
2. The death scenes are always much more elaborate, with more blood and gore.
3. Randy starts to describe the third rule: “If you want your films to become a successful franchise, never, ever…’ before being interrupted by Dewey. However, the film’s original teaser trailer featured an extended version of the rules scene which reveals that originally the third rule was supposed to be “Never, ever, under any circumstances assume the killer is dead.” This referenced Randy’s last line in the first Scream which stated that a killer always comes back to life for one last scare.
The lack of a third rule in the film’s final cut was a deliberate in-joke by the crew, referencing the fact that it is impossible to ensure that a horror franchise will be successful.

Scream 3
Rules to successfully survive the last chapter of a horror movie trilogy:
1. “You’ve got a killer who’s gonna be superhuman. Stabbing him won’t work, shooting him won’t work. Basically in the third one, you gotta cryogenically freeze his head, decapitate him, or blow him up.”
2. “Anyone, including the main character, can die. This means you, Sid.”
3. “The past will come back to bite you in the ass. Whatever you think you know about the past, forget it. The past is not at rest! Any sins you think were committed in the past are about to break out and destroy you.”
Although, in the first few drafts, there was a fourth rule: “Never be alone” but was taken out because Gale immediately goes off alone afterwards.

Scream 3 is unfortunately the lowest in the trilogy but it is still an enjoyable ride if you have come to empathise with these characters. The Scream trilogy is a highlight in modern horror franchises and is a great analysis of the horror genre overall.

SCREAM (1996) A
SCREAM 2 (1997) A-
SCREAM 3 (2000) B-

Notes;
– Jay and Silent Bob cameo in this film. It also has a Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back feeling with the film centered on the production of a film based on the characters in the film “It’s very meta” as one character suggests. Check out my Kevin Smith Retrospective for more

https://hqmoviereviews.wordpress.com/category/kevin-smith-retrospective/

KEVIN SMITH RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW: JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK (2001)

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Holden: If the buzz is any indicator, that movie’s gonna make some huge bank.
Jay: What buzz?
Holden: The Internet buzz.
Jay: What the fuck is the Internet?
Holden: The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another.

Director: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith

Starring: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Shannon Elizabeth, Eliza Dushku, Will Ferrell, George Carlin, Seann William Scott, Jon Stewart, Judd Nelson, Tracey Morgan, Diedrich Bader and Chris Rock

Synopsis: The comic “Bluntman and Chronic” is based on real-life stoners Jay and Silent Bob, so when they get no profit from a big-screen adaptation, they set out to wreck the movie.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is Kevin Smith’s fifth directed film and his best straight up comedy. Instead of mixing drama and comedy with Clerks, Chasing Amy and Dogma he chooses to let his two characters Jay and Silent Bob take the lead on a road trip comedy filled with excellent comedic supporting characters. He succeeds in his comedic tone and in jokes for fans of his previous films. Unlike Mallrats which used potty humour throughout this works better as Smith’s film making skills have grown. After the successful Dogma he chose to use an excellent comedic supporting cast to make his plot and dialogue work unlike in his early films when he didn’t have the resources.

The film revolves around Jay (Jason Mewes in great comedic form) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) trying to stop a film being made about them based on Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) comic Bluntman and Chronic (from Smith’s previous film Chasing Amy). They are so offended by the fans on the internet bagging the film on the website Poop Shoot (which went on to become a real thing and inspired Smith’s ongoing internet presence. Also could be the genesis of Twitter) that they decide to travel to Hollywood and stop the production. The film then follows them on a road trip and is filled with call backs to Smith’s previous four films including cameos from Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) from Clerks, Brodie (Jason Lee) from Mallrats, Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck), Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), Hooper X (Dwight Ewell) and Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) from Chasing Amy. Also other call backs include the Buddy Christ on the Nun’s dashboard and the Mooby’s fast food chain from Dogma.

This is just a fun film throughout and easily re-watchable. I consider it Smith’s best comedy since Clerks. It’s not as uneven as Mallrats and Dogma. The humour works because he sticks to Jay and Silent Bob’s humour and he populates them with great comedy talent such as George Carlin, Seann William Scott, Will Ferrell, Jon Stewart, Judd Nelson, Tracey Morgan, Diedrich Bader and Chris Rock. He also uses actors to send themselves up as absurd versions of themselves including Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek, Mark Hamill, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck playing absurd versions of themselves. Will Ferrell is really good in this as he was still in his early Saturday Night Live days and proving himself on the big screen.

The climax in the Hollywood studio is a real highlight and shows Smith’s great skill in parody. Especially when he sends up Star Wars, Good Will Hunting and Scream. I love this film even though it is rather indulgent for Kevin Smith to make a film all about characters from his previous films. If you aren’t familiar with Smith’s previous films I’m not sure how you would appreciate this film. However as a fan I loved it.

A

Random Notes;
– Ties to Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Marc Blucas (who played Riley, Buffy’s love interest during Season four) plays the Fred looking character in the Scooby Doo van and Eliza Dushku who played the bad girl Vampire Slayer Faith on Buffy plays the bad girl Sissy part of the CLIT group of girls who are really jewel thieves
– Ties to American Pie with Shannon Elizabeth, Seann William Scott and Jason Biggs
– Kevin Smith-isms; Star Wars style introduction, Jay and Silent Bob’s own film!, Tons of Gay jokes, Scott Mosier cameo, Jay and Silent Bob’s Monkey friend, Film references –including Star Wars, Charlie’s Angels, Entrapment, The Fugitive, Good Will Hunting, Scream, E.T

FILM REVIEW: CHRISTOPHER ROBIN (2018)

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Winnie The Pooh: People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

Director: Marc Forster

Writer: Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, and Allison Schroeder

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Toby Jones

Synopsis: A working-class family man, Christopher Robin, encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh, who helps him to rediscover the joys of life.

Christopher Robin is a charming throwback to one of my childhood favourites, Winnie the Pooh based on the children books by A.A Milne. As a child I loved watching Winnie, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo and Owl get into many adventures with Christopher Robin. It was innocent, simple and fun. This film like Hook (1991) and Alice in Wonderland (2010) shows what happens when your childhood hero grows up into adulthood. Although Christopher Robin was never my favourite part of those stories he was the audience surrogate and represented a child using his imagination and just playing around with his toys. This film of course deals with his loss of innocence and how he has now put work over having fun and especially not giving time to his wife and daughter who desperately seek his attention.

The film opens with a young Christopher Robin enjoying time with Winnie and company which shows their friendships (and perhaps gives some insight for those who aren’t familiar with the Pooh series of books and cartoons). He says goodbye to the gang and thirty years later Christopher is all grown up (played by Ewan McGregor) and is married to Evelyn (played by the brilliant Hayley Atwell who is completely underused) and has a daughter, Madeline (played well by Bronte Carmichael). She is a very obedient child who excels at school and is not quite sure how to have a fun time or play in the backyard as her father did as a child. While his wife and daughter go for a trip back to Sussex, Robin has to stay and work which puts a strain on his relationship with his family. As they leave, Winnie and company magically come back after thirty years.

Once they reappear the film has a lot of fun with the characters and they show Christopher Robin how to recapture his love of fun as a child and reconnect with his family. The film is pretty clichéd however I do love these characters and it was fun to revisit them after all these years. The film wasn’t that successful at the box office so I wonder if it will get a sequel but I could see more adventures with Winnie the Pooh and Madeline in the future. It could be a renaissance for the characters and the franchise. Just like Paddington Bear which has become very successful.

The film is beautifully shot by Matthias Koenigswieser and I enjoyed the character designs. They are very realistic and show a realistic vision of these fluffy toys coming to life. The English settings are beautiful to look at and the voice actors do a magical job of capturing these characters personalities. The film leans into the business side of Christopher Robin’s life a bit too much which slows the movie down and may push the limits for kids under five.

B

KEVIN SMITH RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW: DOGMA (1999)

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Bethany: Wait a minute. Christ. You know Christ?
Rufus: Knew him? Shit, nigga owes me 12 bucks!

Director: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith

Starring: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Chris Rock, Alan Rickman, Jason Lee, Salma Hayek, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith

Synopsis: An abortion clinic worker with a special heritage is called upon to save the existence of humanity from being negated by two renegade angels trying to exploit a loop-hole and reenter Heaven.

Dogma is the fourth directorial effort from Kevin Smith following his Jersey Trilogy of Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy. Dogma actually continues in the same Universe as recurring characters Jay and Silent Bob continue to have adventures.

Dogma is kind of a mix of all Smith’s previous films. There’s the potty humour of Mallrats, the witty dialogue of Clerks and the controversy and independent spirit of Chasing Amy. The film is entertaining for fans of Smith however it does get bogged down by heavy theology based expositional dialogue and a pretty uninteresting protagonist. What saves the film is its excellent cast of supporting players such as Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Janeane Garofalo, Chris Rock, Alan Rickman, Jason Lee, Salma Hayek, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. Linda Fiorentino seems miscast as the lead character Bethany. According to the commentary she was difficult to work with.

The film revolves around Bethany a Catholic who has lost her faith in God after losing her husband due to a miscarriage. She still attends church but has no passion for being there. She works at an abortion clinic with Liz (the deadpan Janeane Garofalo) and wonders what her purpose is. She is soon visited by the angel Metatron (hilariously played by Alan Rickman) who sets her on a journey to stop two archangels Bartleby (Ben Affleck) and Loki (Matt Damon) from entering a Church which is trying to get more people by introducing the Buddy Christ which in turn would prove God doesn’t exist and end the world. She is sceptical at first but everything Metatron says becomes true so she sets on her journey and along the way meets an array of angels and demons including the great Chris Rock as Rufus the thirteenth apostle, Jason Lee as the demonic Azrael, Salma Hayak as the muse Serendipity, and the two prophets Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith). All of these supporting characters save the film and have great comical moments. The film plays like a comic book (a trope of Smith) as the protagonist goes on a journey to save the world filled with lovable characters. Especially the introduction scene of Jay and Silent Bob as Comic Book type heroes as they save Bethany from the three Hockey slaying boys/demons and continue throughout the film showing Kevin Smith’s obsession with comic books and turning them into Bluntman & Chronic comic book characters from Chasing Amy. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are excellent as the two arch-angels wreaking wrath on the sinful. The scene where they interrogate a Disney inspired company called Mooby’s featuring men who have all sinned their way to the top strongly reflects the views of these types of men in 2018 especially with the #metoo movement at the moment and the controversy surrounding John Lasseter and Harvey Weinstein (who produced this film!)

At the time the film was very controversial for its depiction of Christianity however Smith who is a Christian said he was only trying to make a fun parody of religion. In the 90’s it seemed Smith wanted the controversy as other independent filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson were being praised for their visions. Smith was somewhere in the middle he was making entertaining dialogue heavy pictures but his visual style was being criticised and he wasn’t having box office success or award love as his peers were. The more people discussed this film the more interest it got. Especially with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck coming off their success of Good Will Hunting and Chris Rock beginning to blow up after his time on SNL and his successful stand up specials. The film was a success making $30 million off a $10 million budget but it isn’t as regarded as Clerks or Chasing Amy. It could have made an interesting new trilogy for Smith because the film seems overstuffed with great characters and strong ideas. Today it could be a great Netflix series. Looking back the controversy wasn’t deserved however for strict Christians there is a lot of blasphemy as Smith says Jesus was black, Joseph and Mary had more kids and Chris Rock as the thirteenth Apostle however if you have a sense of humour you can look over these things.

Dogma isn’t Smith’s best film but I think it is very entertaining and had potential to be something greater. Perhaps with a better director or as a series.

B

Highlights:
– Kevin Smith-isms; Cameos from Brian O’Halloran as the News Reporter, Scott Mosier (Producer), Hockey, Comic Books, the introduction of the Mooby food chain, and Jay and Silent Bob

KEVIN SMITH RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW: GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997)

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Sean: It’s not your fault

Director: Gus Van Sant

Writers: Matt Damon & Ben Affleck

Starring: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Minnie Driver, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgård, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser

Synopsis: Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

Good Will Hunting is the breakout hit of 1997 for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. These two young actors proved their credibility not only as great actors but also as smart filmmakers. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote the script for this film which is smart, witty, emotional and very mature for two young boys from Boston. This isn’t their feature film as Ben Affleck had been working with Kevin Smith (Producer on this film) on Mallrats and Chasing Amy and Matt Damon had some pre-acting work also. However this was the film that put them on the map and also garnered them Academy Awards for Writing (Best Screenplay). Although they both wrote the script the film is Matt Damon’s showpiece. He stars as the protagonist Will Hunting who is a poor orphan boy from Boston working menial jobs who is secretly a genius prodigy.

He is discovered by Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård) after he secretly completes a complicated mathematical equation for his students. Will was working as a Janitor at the University and is caught by Lambeau after he notices him working on his whiteboard. Will is happy to just hang out with his best friends including Chuckie (Ben Affleck), Morgan (Casey Affleck) and Billy (Cole Hauser) as they hit bars and work construction jobs. They are all from the same part of town and are as close as brothers. Will doesn’t want to break his bonds with them although he has a secret gift.

After getting into a brawl he is sentenced to prison unless he takes therapy sessions advised by Professor Lambeau. Initially Will isn’t interested in working for the Professor but goes along as he doesn’t want to go to prison. He plays around with different therapists trying to buy time until he reaches 21 and can be free. However Professor Lambeau seeks out an old colleague who he knows can reach out to Will. His old colleague is Sean (played in an Oscar winning performance by the legendary Robin Williams) who connects to Will and knows how to cut around his bullshit. Will eventually gives in and they form a bond which is emotional and heart-warming. Matt Damon and Robin Williams have excellent chemistry and their scenes together escalate this film to a higher status. The film overall is quite slow and follows familiar tropes of a Kevin Smith film. Two best friends, girl trouble, college humour. However with a smart script, delicate direction from director Gus Van Sant and brilliant acting from Matt Damon and Robin Williams this film garnered critical and commercial fame which a Kevin Smith film could not approach (although I find Kevin Smith’s films more entertaining in general.

This is a sophisticated film which put Matt Damon and Ben Affleck into A list stars. It is a little slow but the conclusion pays everything off brilliantly.

A

Highlights:
– Excellent chemistry and performances between Matt Damon and Robin Williams
– Great original script by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
– Matt Damon and Ben Affleck portray two friends very realistically
– Minnie Driver is quite charming
– Robin Williams gives the film a maturity the film is missing in the first half
– Matt Damon and Robin Williams in the “It’s Not Your Fault” scene escalates this film to classic status

KEVIN SMITH RETROSPECTIVE FILM REVIEW: CHASING AMY (1997)

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Silent Bob: So there’s me and Amy, and we’re all inseparable, right? Just big time in love. And then four months down the road, the idiot gear kicks in, and I ask about the ex-boyfriend. Which, as we all know, is a really dumb move. But you know how it is: you don’t wanna know, but you just have to, right? Stupid guy bullshit. So, anyway, she starts telling me about him… how they fell in love, and how they went out for a couple of years, and how they lived together, her mother likes me better, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… and I’m okay. But then she drops the bomb on me, and the bomb is this: it seems that a couple of times, while they were going out, he brought some people to bed with them. Ménage à trois, I believe it’s called. Now this just blows my mind, right? I mean, I am not used to this sort of thing. I mean, I was raised Catholic, for God’s sake.
Jay: Saint Shithead.
[Silent Bob elbows him; Jay motions as if to start a fight]
Silent Bob: Do something.
[to Holden]
Silent Bob: So I’m totally weirded out by this, right? And then I just start blasting her. Like… I don’t know how to deal with what I’m feeling, so I figure the best way is by calling her a slut, right? And tell her she was used. I’m… I’m out for blood. I really wanna hurt this girl. I’m like, “What the fuck is your problem?”, right? And she’s just all calmly trying to tell me, like, it was that time and it was that place and she doesn’t think she should apologize because she doesn’t feel that she’s done anything wrong. I’m like, “Oh, really?” That’s when I look her straight in the eye, I tell her it’s over. I walk.
Jay: Fuckin’ A!
Silent Bob: No, idiot. It was a mistake. I didn’t hate her. I wasn’t disgusted with her. I was afraid. At that moment, I felt small, like… like I’d lacked experience, like I’d never be on her level, like I’d never be enough for her or something like that, you know what I’m saying? But, what I did not get, she didn’t care. She wasn’t looking for that guy anymore. She was… she was looking for me, for the Bob. But, uh, by the time I figure this all out, it was too late, man. She moved on, and all I had to show for it was some foolish pride, which then gave way to regret. She was the girl, I know that now. But I pushed her away. So, I’ve spent every day since then chasing Amy… so to speak.

Director: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith

Synopsis: Holden and Banky are comic book artists. Everything’s going good for them until they meet Alyssa, also a comic book artist. Holden falls for her, but his hopes are crushed when he finds out she’s a lesbian.

Chasing Amy is Kevin Smith’s third film and possibly his best. After the hit independent Clerks and the extremely disappointing Mallrats, Smith went back to his indie roots and made a personal, touching and often witty romantic comedy. With shades of Annie Hall, Kevin Smith used his real life relationship with Joey Lauren Adams as the template to make a film that was more than low-brow humour found in his previous film. The film is impressive for its realism of male and female sexuality and dealing with relationships in the 90’s.

The film revolves around Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) two best friends who created the comic book Bluntman and Chronic (based on Jay and Silent Bob). Banky is the Inker and Holden is the writer. They are a good team and have a successful comic book career. That is until Holden meets Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), a charming, sexy and fun fellow comic book writer. Holden and Alyssa immediately hit it off although Banky becomes jealous of his best friends new potential love interest. Holden is head over heels immediately and is eager to meet her again when she invites him to a bar. Unfortunately for Holden he soon becomes aware that she is gay. Alyssa notices his disappointment but wants to be his friend and enjoys being with him. After hanging out with each other for a while Holden can’t keep his feelings back anymore and confesses his love for her. Alyssa gives in and they get together. However with her sexual history and Holden’s mainstream idea of love he can’t get over her past and things begin to fall apart.

This is a very touching and heartfelt film and a huge improvement in filmmaking from Smith. Ben Affleck is great in this film. His acting is superb and he really rises to his leading man status of today after his awful role in Mallrats. Joey Lauren Adams is adorable as Alyssa Jones, she’s every comic book lover’s fantasy. She’s sexy, charming, she’s a comic book writer with knowledge of comic book history too. Her voice is also so sexy. It’s too bad she didn’t have a better career after this film. Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams have amazing chemistry and their characters relationship is sweet, charming, realistic and ultimately heartbreaking.

Jason Lee plays a similar character from Mallrats. However he has better chemistry with Ben Affleck than Jeremy London (where is he now?). His scenes with Affleck depict a really strong male friendship that can sometimes become effected by a new girlfriend. Their relationship follows Smith’s familiar tropes of two male protagonists who are best friends (usually man-boys) who don’t understand women; one more sensitive and emotional the other cocky and amusing. However in this film it feels a lot more real and personal than the relationships in Clerks and Mallrats.

The film has other common Kevin Smith tropes including pop culture references including comic books, Star Wars, TV Shows and films. Characters referring to, going to or playing Hockey. Also keeping in the same Universe of Clerks we have a scene at Quick Stop Groceries and a Jay and Silent Bob cameo.

Chasing Amy is a sweet and personal film from Smith which shows a maturity as a filmmaker. Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams and Jason Lee also help lift the material with great performances. It is not as funny as his previous films but Smith’s skills with dialogue is still very strong and the plot flows with great twists and turns. This is my favourite film of Smith’s thus far.

A+

Highlights:
– Dwight Ewell as Hooper X a black gay comic writer pretending to be a strong Black Activist, especially his opening scene at a Comic Book Convention.
– The idea of a comic book called Bluntman and Chronic based on Jay and Silent Bob

FILM REVIEW DOUBLE: DEADPOOL (2016) & DEADPOOL 2 (2018)

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DEADPOOL (2016)

Colossus: You will come talk with Professor Xavier.
Deadpool: McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing.

Director: Tim Miller

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni and Leslie Uggams

Synopsis: A fast-talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humour is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge.

Deadpool came out in 2016 in the peak of Comic Book Movie saturation. However with its R-Rated graphic violence, tongue in cheek humour and iconic performance from Ryan Reynolds this became the highest grossing X-Men film and a refreshing new take on the genre.

This is an average superhero origin story about a mercenary named Wade Wilson who falls for a stripper named Vanessa (played by the stunning Morena Baccarin) but soon gets cancer and doen’t have much longer to live. He decides to go through an experiment which will give him mutant powers similar to Wolverine where he can grow back his body parts and is unkillable. However the experiment leaves him disfigured and he leaves Vanessa and becomes Deadpool to exact revenge on the man who led the experiments, Ajax (Ed Skrein).

Although the plot is mediocre what elevates the material is the mix of R-Rated graphic violence
with the comedy of the character Deadpool who has constant witty remarks, breaks the fourth wall, insults himself and the X-Men Universe. Ryan Reynolds is brilliant as Deadpool, after many misfires as a superhero including Deadpool in the maligned Wolverine: Origins he finally found his own iconic performance. After this film everyone now knows him as Deadpool. Reynolds has always been a great presence on screen with his charming looks and Jim Carrey-esque humour. However he had more misses than hits. This film changed all of that as it was a massive success for an R rated Superhero film. Something the Studios never predicted.

The film also excels with its wonderful mix of supporting characters. The beautiful Morena Baccarin as Wade Wilson’s love interest is every comic book nerds fantasy. You have Karan Soni as the Indian Taxi Driver Dopinder, who seems sensitive and sweet in the beginning but has a dark side by the end. T.J. Miller as Weasel, Wade’s bartender who offers advice in times of need. Leslie Uggams (scene stealer) as Blind Al the ctrotchety blind old black woman who becomes Deadpool’s roommate.

This film is a lot of fun and similar to Iron Man, I wasn’t aware of the character from comic books or the X-Men Film Universe however this film changed all of that and I am now a huge fan of the character on screen and the comic book page.

A-

Highlights:
– Stan Lee as the Strip Club DJ
– Excellent opening establishing Deadpool as a character with his witty banter, conversations through the fourth wall, and then the action packed car chase sequence.
– The Soundtrack of cheesy 80’s/90’s hits

 

DEADPOOL 2 (2018)

Cable: You’re no hero. You’re just a clown, dressed up like a sex toy.
Deadpool: So dark. You sure you’re not from the DC universe?

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick & Ryan Reynolds

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni and Leslie Uggams

Synopsis: Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy of supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling mutant, Cable.

Deadpool 2 is as fun and entertaining as the original. Ryan Reynolds is still perfect as the Merc with a Mouth. However like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 you love these characters and enjoy the ride but the movie doesn’t surpass the original as it is exactly the same experience without the surprise of the first time you see these characters and their depiction on screen. The format is the same with Deadpool still breaking the fourth wall with witty jokes about X-Men films, comic book and pop culture references, and a sweet heart. This time instead of a love story it is a family story at its core.

The film actually borrows a lot from one of the best sequels of all time Terminator 2. A soldier from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin’s second Marvel villain this year) comes back in time to avenge the loss of his family by killing the Mutant who killed his family as a child. That child is Russell (Julian Dennison) a flame throwing mutant who is tested on in a Mutant Orphanage which is a front for dangerous tests and possibly sexual harassment of Mutants. Cable believes that if he kills him he can change the future and save his family. There isn’t much explanation of the character of Cable, all we know is that he is a strong soldier from the future with a cool gun who lost his family. Josh Brolin has a strong presence on screen however the character is quite underdeveloped and could have had more to do than being a killing machine like the original Terminator. Julian Dennison as Russell is a sympathetic character with a great story arc which coincides with each character. Deadpool’s bond with him becomes the heart of the story and provides drama to each action scene where he needs to protect Russell.

The Deadpool films aren’t your typical X-Men films. They are not dramatic character stories involving Mutants dealing with humanity. They are first and foremost superhero comedies (even parodies at some points) so you won’t get the characterisation and drama you expect from an X-Men film. All of the characters aside from Cable and Russell are comic relief with Deadpool as the main funny guy. I love this as it is a fun and different approach to the typical Marvel and DC fare, especially after the grim Avengers: Infinity War. This is just a fun pop-corn film with great action (new director David Leitch from the John Wick films brings a slickness to the action which was missing in the first) and great comedy from not only Ryan Reynolds Deadpool but from the supporting cast including Karan Soni as Dopinder, T.J. Miller as Weasel, Stefan Kapicic as Colossus, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Leslie Uggams as Blind Al. The original built a successful formula with these characters and the sequel continues with their characters building on the original.

The sequel does introduce more comedic sidekicks with Deadpool trying to create his own version of the X-Men with X-Force which includes one of the best sequences of the film on their first mission to save Russell. Domino (played with charm and toughness by Zazie Beetz) is the stand out of the team and a great new addition to the Deadpool films.

If you enjoyed the first Deadpool I can’t imagine you wouldn’t enjoy this one. There is plenty of tongue in cheek humour and gruesome violence for the older comic book film fans to enjoy. It doesn’t capture the magic of the original but it is still a fun ride and I hope we get more Deadpool soon.

A-

Highlights:
• Best post credit scene ever
• The cameos
• Every scene with Dopinder
• Dubstep