The 10 Highest Grossing Films of 2020 May Surprise You…

In all honesty 2020 was obviously a very difficult year for film makers around the globe, constant lockdowns and strict regulations to slow the effects of the pandemic made it near impossible for the industry to operate with the same level of efficiency as previously and in many cases halted production altogether. So given the unbelievable circumstances that plagued the film world throughout 2020 why not take a look back at which productions topped the box office ladder, some of them may surprise you…

10. The Sacrifice: $161,047,608

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This Chinese Wartime Epic finds itself sitting at 10th on the 2020 global Box Office rankings, with the entirety of that coming from it’s immense popularity in China. It is fairly rare for a film to be pushed so high up the rankings by its box office popularity in a singular country but ‘The Sacrifice’ and its tale of the final stages of the Korean War clearly did something right, showing an impressive box office performance of $161,047,608 .

9. Birds of Prey: $201,858,461

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DC made a significant return to box office success with ‘Birds of Prey’. This story of a broken Harley Quinn following her rejection from by the Joker was able to produce an impressive $201,858,461 at the global box office. Considering some of the last releases DC has put out I’m sure ‘Birds of Prey’ and it’s considerable success was cause to celebrate especially given it’s $82 million budget.

8. Legend of Deification: $240,654,967

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Perhaps another surprise to some, rooted deep in Chinese mythology and showing in Mandarin it would seem from the outside that ‘Legend of Deification’ would be popular to a fairly specific type of viewer, and while for the most part this film found nearly all its success in China it is again very impressive to have pulled in such an audience. Though small release numbers in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, this beautifully animated piece still sits strongly on this list with a global release of $240,654,967.

7. Dolittle: $245,303,780

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Even with critic’s poor reaction to Robert Downey Jr.’s ‘DoLittle’ the film still managed to amass a strong box office performance around the globe with good domestic and global numbers totaling an eventual $245,303,780. However it is also important to understand the films huge budget of $175 Million due to it’s major usage of CGI and special effects. To many its budget renders it a flop however at the box office it still sits 7th.

6. Sonic The Hedgehog: $313,597,095

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Based off the classic video game ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ even following a huge redesign effort after its initial trailer release being laughed at by probably the entire internet managed to pull in an impressive $313,597,095 at the global box office off the back of an $87 Million budget. With mixed reviews and a stuttered release process some might be surprised to find ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ sitting at 6th on this list.

5. ‘Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train’: $340,100,754

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To some this might come as a massive surprise however perhaps given the unbelievable popularity of ‘Demon Slayer’ as an anime is it so out of the ordinary that its first full length film did over $340 Million at the global box office mainly across Japan but also Vietnam and Hong Kong also. ‘Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train’ amassed huge box office numbers that no doubt many will be surprised to see at 5th overall for 2020.

4. Tenet: $362,929,000

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The latest in Christopher Nolan’s impressive array of films ‘Tenet’ proved no less impressive at the box office from the outset. However once again it is important to consider this alongside it’s astounding $205 Million budget. The mind bender takes on the concept of time itself and whilst certainly not Nolan’s best was fairly well received and with a total of $362,929,000 at the global box office sits at 4th for all 2020 releases.

3. My People, My Homeland: $422,390,820

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Looking into the unique nature of various communities across rural China ‘My People, My Homeland’ is yet another Chinese Film that pushed to the top of global box office rankings without the need for Western ticket sales. With a box office display of $422,390,820, most of which coming out of the Chinese market this film sits firmly in the top three releases of 2020.

2. Bad Boys For Life: $426,505,244

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When Will Smith and Martin Lawrence were set to return for the third and more than likely final installment in the ‘Bad Boys’ trilogy there was always going to be huge numbers popping up at the global box office however I’m not entirely sure everybody saw a resulting $426,505,244 at the box office occurring off of just a $90 Million budget. With strong reactions from the public and considerably favorable critic response ‘Bad Boys For Life’ proved to be the second largest release of 2020 and the largest as far as the Western World is concerned.

1. The Eight Hundred: $461,339,528

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Sitting atop the 2020 Box Office charts is yet another Chinese wartime epic. Entailing the story of 800 Chinese soldiers fighting for their lives out of a warehouse against a surrounding and brutal Japanese army ‘The Eight Hundred’ had small Box office releases outside of China however pulled in a massive $460 Million from its target market and easily pulls clear to be named the highest grossing film of 2020.

‘Death To 2020’… An Underwhelming attempt to comedically recap the events of a year like no other

Without doubt 2020 was one of the most polarizing years in recent history and arguably human history entirely. From the globally devastating Covid-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matter movement charged by tragic death of George Floyd, 2020 was easily one of the most (If not the most) memorable years in the lives of all whom experienced it. Which is exactly why Netflix’s new Mockumentary/Comedy ‘Death to 2020’ struggles to impress.

When I stumbled across ‘Death to 2020’ in my daily endless scroll through Netflix’s catalogue I thought for all counts that it was going to be a poorly written attempt to recount the year using a few big names and less than original lines that may muster a laugh or two along the way. Unfortunately for the most part I was right…

From the outset ‘Death to 2020’ is not necessarily a bad idea conceptually, in fact I’d go as far as saying it had a substantial amount of potential to be quality, and backed by a few big names in the cast there was certainly an opportunity for that quality to be found. Based obviously around the events of 2020 real life footage and images are commented on by a group of “comedically” named individuals whom are being interviewed about the year and its events from their perspective. Most notably is Samuel L. Jackson who plays Dash Bracket and opens the piece as a journalist for a publication called the New Yorkerly News.

However the unfortunate but easily noticed problem that this piece found itself with was where it stood on the scale of comedy to seriousness, and whilst it is understandable given some of the subject matter, it stumbled to go wholeheartedly in either direction more than likely out of fear of a poor public reaction. For a piece falling under ‘Mockumentary’ it really did struggle to bring out more than the occasional chuckle throughout its course and given the fact that I was more interested to literally look back through the year’s footage in a chronological order than the actual comedic purpose of the piece instead is somewhat concerning. As a viewer, if you are able to remember most of the big events of the year (Which most should) then there is little reason for you to watch ‘Death to 2020’ as it fails to stand as really much more of a high production recap.

The cast isn’t necessarily bad either, I’d say they were quite good given what they had to work with. However that doesn’t mean that ‘Death to 2020’ is anywhere near the quality it could have been with better writing decisions. For a piece which in it’s title proposes to be a complete look back at all the horrible events 2020 it was fairly dismissive of many crucial events, in many cases giving little more than a quick reference and heavily focused on the political climate in the United States. Especially regarding the Presidential Election between Biden and Trump which whilst of course being a huge part of the year, was arguably covered more than the global Covid-19 pandemic which seemed strange.

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The almost centralized focus on US politics hindered the piece’s ability to do other events justice and whilst having some comedic value just felt unnecessary after about 20 minutes of overused Trump jokes. Whilst throughout ‘Death to 2020’ there is a fairly well put together timeline of events its hard not to say that for what it is attempting to do, the piece feels flat and rarely succeeds in adding any sort of creativity to a recap of events that few really need a reminder to remember.

Perhaps it is an inability to completely commit to a quality comedic centrality or a misusage of a well brought together cast, but whilst not a completely unwatchable failure ‘Death to 2020’ certainly feels like something that could have been put together with far more creativity and appeal if done correctly. Other than a few good skits from Lisa Kudrow and the occasional laugh there is little to say about ‘Death to 2020’ other than an underwhelming release of a concept that held such high potential.

5/10

‘If anything happens I love you’ is heartbreaking simplistic genius at its very finest.

Short films for many (Myself included) are very hit or miss, whilst some produce special things they rarely are able to rival the quality of a full length film with a massive production team and astoundingly high budget. However after watching the outpour of reaction all over social media I just had to give Netflix’s ‘If anything happens I love you’ a shot. It blew my expectations well and truly out of the water.

Being such a humble and simple cartoon piece from the outset this twelve minute short proves to make the finest possible usage of simplistic visuals and absolutely no dialogue in order to propel it’s gut wrenching experience even higher than imaginable upon beginning.

Following the tragic loss of their daughter the film follows the grieving process of two parents left with nothing but a text message and memories of a life cut short. Flashing between the past and the present this haunting journey begins with the two parents sitting alone at opposite ends of the dinner table and ends with the gut wrenching text message they receive in the wake of an unforeseen tragedy, ‘If anything happens I love you’.

The extraordinary journey undertaken in this film absolutely surpasses expectation and Gary Gilbert along with Gerald Chamales have been able to make a seemingly humble twelve minute short film feel like a lifetime. For any whom have lost a loved one, whatever the circumstances, this film depicts the journey through grief, loss and the life found after in one of the most immensely profound ways possible as these two parents must find a way to continue their journey without their missing piece.

The cartoonish look of this film is absolutely perfect and works unbelievably well to no doubt pull emotion from even the most cynical of viewers. The added value of a beautiful soundtrack cannot be ignored either, as ‘If anything happens I love you’ travels along the music becomes increasingly powerful in the build up to a heartbreaking climax.

From a completely stylistic approach ‘If anything happens I love you’ succeeds on all absolutely all fronts and in my opinion does not set a single step in the wrong direction, its beautiful animation and illustration choice demonstrates that a big budget or hyper-complex plotline does not inherently mean a top quality experience. In many ways this type of stylistic decision making is relatively unseen and therefore why it is quite simply jaw-dropping to see it done so well in the face of such a tough subject matter.

This animated short feels more like a prayer than a film and throughout it’s course chooses to show rather than tell, opting to build wonderfully towards its central ideal and purpose rather than lay all out to see from the onset. This film will spark conversation (Both internal and external) in all whom watch it and rises to the occasion of its powerful storyline and subject with perfectly crafted animation and illustration techniques. It is extremely rare that I find myself so blown away by a short film and I doubt there will be another like it for a very very long time. A piece that struggles to take a wrong step and now sits easily in the must watch category of its genre.

10/10

The Big Short: A MUST for Economists and curious Film Fans alike…

The 2008 housing crisis in the United States (leading to the crash of the global economy) and the respective Global Financial Crisis that followed was one of the most immensely tragic and instantly devastating events in modern history. The effects of the crisis are felt even still around the globe today however so few are truly aware of why exactly the market came down the way it did, especially the newer generations who may simply see it as a devastating market crash and nothing more.

This is exactly why films such as ‘The Big Short’ are so perfect and immensely important for both casual and economically inclined viewers alike. Released in 2015 the fun poking but equally serious take on the GFC makes use of an absolutely stacked cast including the likes of Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carrell and Brad Pitt along with guest features including Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain. The film received multiple academy awards nominations taking the top spot for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) andgrossing over 133 Million dollars (USD) at the global box office with just a 50 Million dollar budget.

Whilst the film does a fantastic job to give a more in-depth and easier understood look into the circumstances surrounding the crisis on Wall Street it is multi-faceted in its ability to produce laughs and entertain throughout with equal ease. This without doubt comes about due to outstanding performances from the leads, in particular Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling whom whilst on completely different ends of the spectrum as characters, put in top-quality performances as central figures along with an equally strong display from Steve Carrell, Finn Wittrock and John Magaro.

The film dives into the story of how a group of various investors were able to actually predict the fall of the housing market on Wall Street and bet against the market before it crashed by shorting subprime mortgages, thereby making hundreds of millions of dollars at the very least when the market fell. All of which is based around real life individuals and their stories. These men were laughed at and ridiculed as they presented their cases to major banks whom were certain there was absolutely no chance of a market crash and would cash out on their loans to the investors.

Whilst not all the jokes landed and various scenes or ideas felt somewhat out of place or forced at times. The film travels along at a good pace and for the most part is relatively easy to follow, which is outstanding for a film explaining the internal nature of Wall Street and its investors during the largest crash in decades, an inherently quite difficult topic to grasp.

This film was absolutely mind-blowing for someone who never truly appreciated or understood both the endlessly ruthless nature of Wall Street nor the unbelievably corrupt system which used greed and ignorance to prosper off of the unsuspecting public whom really knew any better, a methodology that proved to be their downfall. It was the dozen whom profited from the market crash that found out the true nature of the big banks on Wall Street along with the highly corrupt nature of the ratings agencies which placed completely false ratings on horrible housing investments that were being marketed as ‘risk free options’.

The character arcs across this film are done particularly well in order to provide viewers with multiple perspectives from the very few men who took the time to take a proper look into the housing market and attempting to warn a Wall Street unprepared to listen leading up the the 2008 crash that made them some of the richest men in the world, but equally took millions around the globe from their jobs, families and lives.

‘The Big Short’ is a highly creative and fresh take which very few other films revolving around economics have attempted or pulled off with this level of quality. Director Adam McKay has made use of elements across multiple film genres with a highly capable cast and pulled the strings in a way that truly allows this true-story film to succeed in its mission to both entertain and inform. A remarkable look into the astounding events surrounding the 2008 Financial Crisis and a film where its shortfalls are heavily outweighed by its successes.

8/10

The Mandalorian is a start, but ‘Obi-Wan’ can breathe life back into Star Wars…

With the recent hit ‘The Mandalorian’ proving there is still so much creative potential left in Star Wars, diehard fans and casual watchers alike have plenty to look forward to with the return of both Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor coming to fruition for the development of the new ‘Obi-Wan’ series set to start filming early into the new year.

There are so many reasons why this is such a big deal for both the Star Wars franchise as well as its fans…

A chance to bring back the classic lightsaber duels which brought the franchise global fans in the beginning.

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‘Obi-Wan’ has a fantastic opportunity given its throw-backish nature to bring about the return of some lightsaber usage and duels that diehard star wars fans haven’t seen for years. Before the modern era of films Star Wars had a quality plotline which was backed up by some jaw-droppingly intense and impressive lightsaber duels that put people in seats time and time again all around the world.

This isn’t to say that the modern film don’t have the same level of creative integrity, which is debatable but a separate issue. It just means that as a star wars fan you’ve surely have missed some of the classic duels that made the franchise what it was, and that is exactly what this new Kenobi series can bring you if given the right creative pushes from Disney and the cast.

The opportunity for the resurfacing of beloved characters from times gone by.

With the series supposedly exploring in more depth the character ark of Kenobi there surely is room for some fan pleasing moments with the return of iconic characters such as Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, Commander Cody and even the potential entering of Ahsoka Tano.

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Obviously there can be no expectations as to which characters we may see pop up along the timeline of the new series but without doubt fans should hope to see at least a few along the journey, something which could bring back the spark from older viewers returning to see characters that made their childhood. The return of older characters and concepts also gives the new generation of star wars watchers the chance for a taster of why the serious is still so popular so many years after its initial release.

A potential landmark in the future of the franchise and it’s direction with both films and series works.

Finally, whilst we know so little about how the series will turn out we can only hope that it will serve as a creative landmark for disney as they tackle how to push the franchise forward going into the future. Following the success of Disney’s ‘The Mandalorian’ series there has been a standard undoubtedly set for Star Wars fans who want to see like it both in the form of series work and films going into the future.

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There really is so much to look forward to with the upcoming filming of ‘Obi-Wan’ and without doubt Star Wars fans should feel in safe hands with the return of franchise legends who surely will do nothing but good for what stands as one of the most passionately followed stories of all time…

Lets Talk Movies: Why Benedict Cumberbatch’s “The Imitation Game” is Just so Good.

After recently revisiting the 2014 Award Winning hit I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘The Imitation Game’ is without doubt one of the most creative and outside of the box takes on the second World War that will spark excitement in all searching for something more than the ever-present and oversaturated market of explosion filled recounts seen year after year in the Hollywood scene. Based on a real life story is only the beginning.

The film follows a well paced timeline through the life and military work of Allan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a completely emotionally detached yet increasingly complex and loveable Cambridge professor with a scarred past and a love for intellectual challenge. After getting through a bumpy job application for a top secret job revolving around the greatest puzzle ever encountered in British military history, Turing and a small select group of Britain’s greatest minds are put to work against the German communication system/machine known as the “Enigma”.

The film whilst from the outset seems somewhat linear, given proper time and attention becomes far more layered as Turing goes through the ‘Impossible’ journey to crack the enigma and put the war in the favour of the allies. The introduction of Joan Clarke (Keira Knightly), exploration of Turing’s past and the reveal of Turing’s homosexuality all intertwine alongside the main plotline and leave viewers stuck on a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the fine performances of the cast in this film. Cumberbatch and Knightly are perfectly cast for the roles and are particularly impressive as the leads.

As far as cinematography and large scale intensive shots go this is a war film that can easily rely on the enthralling plot and impressive cast performance to keep people in seats. Whilst the film does fall down slightly with some particular scenes feeling somewhat unnecessary or forced for the purpose of adding a more “Complex” feel, ‘The Imitation Game’ rarely takes a wrong step across its two-hour runtime.

The fact that this one is also based off a true story on an individual scale rather than just a war fiction makes it that much more appealing for a viewer who knew absolutely nothing about the story of Alan Turing nor his immensely impressive work and equally tragic treatment as a homosexual and as a military hero. Obviously fictional additions were made to the film for entertainment and plotline purposes however to think of the real life implications of the events entailed in the film is just jaw-dropping.

Overall, a powerful and immensely creative piece of work that travels outside of the box of traditional war films with impressive ease. Boasting fine performances from perfectly casted leads and supports ‘The Imitation Game’ truly is a must watch in the sea of modern wartime films.

9.5/10