The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It Review

Horror films are something that either appeal or they don’t. Some people absolutely love them, others see no reason as to why you would want to pay for a ticket to be scared, but personal pretense aside the newest release in The Conjuring series ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ is a bit all over the place. Revolving once again around the protagonists and notorious ‘demonologists’ Ed and Lorraine Warren the two are once again faced with yet another strange demon story and yet another demonic force to face off against, the result is what can really only be described as a disappointingly mediocre entry to a legendary series .

It’s hard to sit on either side of the fence as far as The Conjuring 3 goes, there are some great parts but also some truly destructive ones that take away from the experience as a whole, with the added unfortunate overwhelming amount of cliché that tends to plague so much of this genre in the modern day.

The film is based on the true story surrounding the events of Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson in 1981 in which Arne was said to be ‘possessed by the devil’ when he murdered his then landlord, his defence henceforth claiming that he did not hold personal responsibility for the crime. It was said that Arne had become possessed by the demon during the exorcism of then 11 year old David Glatzel whom under Ed and Lorraine’s watch had been exorcised as a last-effort move from the family whom had supposedly witnessed increasingly and continuous concerning behavior from the young boy. The exorcism was recounted as a violent, disturbing event during which time Arne, whom was present as Debbie Glatzel’s partner demanded that the demon ‘take him instead’. Ed and Lorraine Warren claimed it was then that the demon exited David Glatzel and entered Arne Johnson, later bringing him to murder his landlord Alan Bono, stabbing him over 20 times with a pocket knife.

This was the first unlawful killing in the history of Brookfield, Connecticut and ‘The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It’ follows the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren as they try to discover the source of the demonic behavior that allegedly led to the possession of Arne Johnson.

Before anything is said about the plotline or creative direction of this misguided piece of work it would only be fair to recognize the cast for doing the best they could with what they had. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have well and truly proven themselves in the horror genre and despite a less-than-great film still hold a very good standard of individual work. After all these years their chemistry on screen is something to be regarded very highly for any future endeavors. Ruairi O’Connor as well was fantastic in his depiction and arguably the best on-screen as he played the mentally wayward and demonically possessed Arne Johnson, he was able to perfectly depict down to the constant shifting of the eyes exactly what you’d imagine someone possessed by demons would look like. Sarah Catherine Hook and Julian Hilliard also deserve considerable applause for their work depicting the Glatzels.

But unfortunately the cast can only do so much, and even with a proven level of quality in your people ‘The Conjuring 3’ isn’t able to back it up with the same quality of writing or creative direction. Turns of plot that have no real depth, little character development outside of Arne-Johnson and a strange overarching agenda all of which leading to a long, drawn out climax lead the film off the path of success and away from it’s roots which had proven so prolific in the past.

That being said, the set pieces of this film are fantastic, the continued creativity of the scene work and the big-budget effects coupled with impressive camera shots make for a visually impressive and undoubtable eye-pleasing viewing. Scenes such as that with the waterbed or the (albeit cliché) proceeding terrifying scene in the bathroom when David Glatzel faces the demons that have grasped onto his consciousness make for a film that still keeps a viewer on the edge of their seat here and there, but doesn’t quite live up to the bone-chilling quality of its predecessors.

Period accurate and extravagant set design aside, a mismanaged pace of plotline and wayward choice of direction seem to slow ‘The Conjuring 3’ down past the point of necessity and become destructive to its success. Switching with no real grace between several convoluted plotlines the film seems to disregard the terrifying simplicity that had made the previous entries into this series such powerful works. Various scenes feel unnecessary and whilst expansive set work is nice here and there it should never become center-stage to the plotline. You can’t help but feel disappointed by the lack of creativity as far as actual horror goes for a series that had done so well in the past to capture the essence of what made human beings crumble.

Unfortunately, perhaps the most redeeming factor of ‘The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It’ is the intrigue in the fact that the events depicted (regardless of the actual truth of that depiction) are based off real-life events, something that has impressively never previously played so much of a redeeming role in the series. ‘The Conjuring 3’ seems to have lost sight of what made the previous films so successful and attempts to push the confusingly positive agenda that the case of Arne Johnson was one that deserved sympathy. Occasional comedic relief is well timed and overall the piece still holds a respectable level of terrifying suspense, however it can be said without a doubt that the latest release in ‘The Conjuring’ series is by far its weakest.

5/10

Disney Plus Could Overtake Netflix, Here’s Why…

Disney Plus has absolutely exploded onto the scene and is currently pulling in unprecedented numbers and audiences that services such as Netflix surely must be feeling nervous about.

In November of 2019 Disney Plus amassed 10 Million Subscribers.

It is February of 2021 and Disney Plus has easily pushed past 90 Million Subscribers.

Take that in…

That is around 14 Months ahead of projections and there looks to be absolutely no signs of letting up with millions of new paying subscribers flooding in month after month.

In a little over one year Disney Plus has amassed an unbelievably large audience of over 90 million people, which is nothing short of mind blowing considering the fact that it was in the very same November of 2019 when the service was actually launched.

Lets compare that to Netflix. Founded in 1997 Netflix took SIX YEARS to gain it’s 1 million subscriber milestone in 2003.

Though it is important to understand that Netflix underwent a lot of changes in it’s first few years and was obviously arising in a very different climate.

However that isn’t to understate these numbers from Disney Plus. To push towards half of Netflix’s total subscribers (Around 200 million) in just over a single year is bound to concern the streaming giant.

Now Disney Plus is obviously aiming towards quite a targeted market by making the franchises under Disney’s control exclusive to that service, however with such an explosion into the market it would not be surprising in the slightest to see Disney Plus branching out to license other films from completely separate studios. Which could prove to be a huge threat to the success of Netflix.

And with projections for Disney Plus to reach around 230-240 million paid subscribers by 2023-24 how could you not be speculative as to where that will leave services like Netflix.

But How and Why has Disney Plus exploded in the way it has?

There are plenty of obvious reasons to pin to the massive and immediate success of Disney Plus, in built audience, plenty of funding, competitive pricing the list goes on. But what really seems to have pushed Disney Plus to new heights as a platform is it’s decision to have content that is completely exclusive to its service.

You quite literally are unable to stream those shows, movies and documentaries anywhere other than Disney Plus, and that is where Netflix just can’t compete.

You’ll be able to find heaps of movies on Netflix scattered across the streaming industry from Hulu to Amazon Prime Video to HBO Max to Stan you’ll be able to stream plenty of Netflix’s catalogue across other services.

This doesn’t apply to Disney Plus, you cannot find what is on Disney Plus on any other streaming service and you therefore have no other option other than to subscribe to their service if you wish to stream that content.

And what really packs the killer punch is the fact that Disney has control of some of the biggest franchises on the planet.

-Star Wars

-Marvel

-Pixar

-National Geographic

These are monumentally huge franchises with billions of dollars worth of production value boasting millions of unbelievably dedicated and global fans, all exclusively available to one service and one service only. Disney Plus.

It’s genius.

Netflix has tried to push their own smaller version of this concept with Netflix originals with mixed results, but there is just no way for them to compete competitively with Disney Plus as far as exclusive content goes because that is the very crux of Disney’s platform.

Netflix has variety but Disney has exclusivity. In essence that is where things currently stand and are the central reasons behind each platform’s success.

So hypothetically if Disney Plus was able to grow such a large subscriber base and proceed to branch out by licensing big titles outside of it’s direct umbrella, Netflix may well see detrimental downturns in returning subscribers. Meaning unless they make some serious decisions on how exactly they can add the same amount of incentive we’re currently seeing from Disney Plus.

Disney Plus is the fastest growing streaming service on the planet, and easily the fastest service to put up 90 million subscribers.

Does this mean to say that Netflix is going to crash, crumble, die and fall out of existence, absolutely not. But just you can’t help but be interested to see what Disney Plus does into the coming years with it’s platform and given the numbers the service is putting up (Which are only growing faster and higher) Netflix executives have to be looking at each other with considerable concern.

Malcolm And Marie Review: Zendaya and John David Washington Shine in an Underwhelming Netflix Original

Malcolm and Marie was released on Netflix about a week ago, the original starring Zendaya (Marie) and John David Washington (Malcolm) follows a dysfunctional couple returning home from Malcolm’s film premiere. Things quickly get heated between the stubborn and emotionally distant filmmaker and his ex drug addict turned actor partner whom claims she was the basis of his film’s success before being discarded without any thanks.

A story told in almost real time, the two go back and fourth throughout the course of the film going deeper and deeper into personal attacks of character and uncovering the true nature of their relationship that goes far deeper than Malcolm failing to thank Marie at the premiere. Each segment being swiftly cut up with periods of briefly calm interactions before the flurry of raised voices and verbal abuse.

Malcolm and Marie is an intriguing concept from it’s outlook, but in many ways falls short in attempt to be something that it isn’t and in the end coming off as more pretentious than purposeful. For starters the entire film is shot on Kodak and in black and white, there is no explanation for that decision as far as the actual film goes as it seems to be set in the modern day with phones and various other modern devices shown throughout. The language is modern and the setting (whilst limited to just one place) is without doubt modern in its architecture and design.

So why film this in black and white?

The only practical reason that I can muster for the choice is the production going with the black and white feel as some form of comment on the nature of both relationships and life itself being at the surface level black and white but inherently complex should you dig a little deeper. Whilst this is a considerable point to make, it just doesn’t make sense in a film so evidently trying to reject the idea of unnecessarily politicism in the art form. Malcolm spends big portions of the film just ranting about the problem with the industry’s need to constantly politicize and find social impact in every film that comes out, which is why the choice for Malcolm and Marie to film in black and white is just a bit strange.

The crux of the film from the outside is promising but although there are some quality moments sprinkled across Malcolm and Marie the film just doesn’t pack the emotional punch it so desires in it’s subject matter. There are a lot of different reasons for this, whilst the back and forth between Zendaya and John David Washington as Malcolm and Marie is impressive it starts to lose it’s kick after a while and you end up losing the feeling of suspense or intrigue and rather find yourself on a merry-go-round of a heated statement from either Malcolm or Marie, followed by a calm or even inexplicably happy period which then loops back to the other producing some abuse of their own.

Rather than packing the emotional impact that seems to be intended from a film like this Malcolm and Marie loses it’s novelty fairly quickly and feels more like watching an emotionally based yet still pretentious debate of ideals rather than a gut-wrenching exploration of the implicit issues that Malcolm and Marie find in their relationship and that some viewers may find in their own.

However, there certainly are some heavy hitting lines and more than valid points made throughout the film and the back and forth is definitely entertaining however in a film so rooted in the dialogue it’s important to also consider what that dialogue is actually attempting to achieve/convey and in the case of Malcolm and Marie it seems to fall short of the mark.

Zendaya and John David Washington clearly gave this piece the best that they possibly could and in many ways the successes that it does have is due to their personal performances, even if the production itself is somewhat mediocre. Zendaya puts on the role of a now sober drug-addict turned actress who is intelligent yet equally mentally estranged and traumatized by her past life, a tough role to take on in a film centralized around dialogue and body language rather than setting or chronological events, but Zendaya has proved her worth once again as a far more flexible actress than many may choose to accept her as.

John David Washington seemed the perfect fit for his role as ‘Malcolm’, an emotionally devoid man-child yet creative intellect whom seems to put his artform above all else and suffers personally from it. You can’t help but get attached to Malcolm in some way throughout the film and for a character with so many fundamental flaws you can only say that feeling is due to such a fine effort on the actors part.

Points made about politics, social climate and society as a whole aside, Malcolm and Marie at it’s core is a film about the nature of love itself, yes that nature is explored through one particular story of love but it is clear that Malcolm and Marie is attempting to do more than just tell a story but rather comment on the intensely complex and dysfunctional nature of love itself through the intensely complex and equally dysfunctional nature of Malcolm and Marie’s partnership. Is this concept executed to the best of it’s ability absolutely not but with two fine actors putting in performances far outweighing the script itself, Malcolm and Marie is not an entire waste of time.

Watching the interactions between Malcolm and Marie throughout the course of the film swing back and forth, teetering between straight up emotional nuclear warfare and love for the other is extraordinary to see and the jagged changes of pace (whilst becoming quite predicable over time) will hold your interest enough to still appreciate Malcolm and Marie for what it is.

What really is able to push this film just above mediocrity is the underlying topicality and the clever dialogue (mostly out of Malcolm) that is put across in a both comedically charming yet also thoughtful manner, questions of political correctness, the status quo of the film industry, the basis of what ‘art’ truly is and questions on the basis of human existence itself are littered throughout the back and forth between Malcolm and Marie. The argument about whether or not much of the consideration of foreign idea’s outside the crux of the film is necessary is of course one to consider but although an element of comedy is present in much of that dialogue, Malcolm and Marie contains plenty of truth said in jest.

Malcolm and Marie has all the tools to put on an impressive display, and though leaving much to be desired despite the quality performances from both Zendaya and John David Washington is still an experience worth undertaking. It is the various moments that make Malcolm and Marie worthwhile rather than the culmination of all it’s parts and taking this film for what it is rather than what it attempts to be is the best course of action upon hitting play.

5.5/10

10 A-List Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar

The Academy Awards, more popularly known as the Oscars are regarded as arguably the most prestigious awards in the film industry and year after year stir up both excitement and controversy surrounding various nominations and eventual winners. Public opinion is always going to be divided following Oscar winners and nomination snubs, however there’s still a number of huge stars with plenty of reason to feel that they should have taken out the top spot at least once. So here’s 10 A-Listers who’ve never won an Oscar…

Will Smith

Will Smith as Christopher Gardener in 'The Pursuit of Happiness'

Nominated twice as Best Actor for his performances in ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ and ‘Ali’ Will Smith is the first name on this list and currently has never taken out the top spot at the Academy Awards. From ‘Independence Day’ to ‘I Am Legend’ even given such an immensely large catalogue of movies across all genres Smith hasn’t bagged an Oscar yet to many fans displeasure.

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise in 'Mission Impossible'

The ‘Mission Impossible’ star has had an illustrious career no doubt about that, but even with big performances outside of his most popular franchise in films such as ‘Minority Report’, ‘Rain Man’ and ‘The Color of Money’ Cruise has never received an Oscar. With three nominations at the awards for his work in ‘Magnolia’, ‘Jerry Maguire’ and ‘Born on the fourth of July’ whilst some still view Cruise as more of a blockbuster actor many still consider him unlucky to not have at least one Academy Award.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Zodiac'

Criminally underrated Jake Gyllenhaal has received just a single nomination at the Academy awards for his performance in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and given his ability to put in quality performances how could he not be on this list. With fine displays in films such as ‘Nightcrawler’, ‘October Sky’, ‘Source Code’, ‘Prisoners’ and so many more it’s surprising Gyllenhaal has received just a single nomination and never taken out a win at the Oscars.

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. as 'Iron Man'

Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most well known faces in Hollywood and outside of his most popular role as Iron Man he has been nominated twice at the academy awards for Oscars after his roles in ‘Tropic Thunder’ and ‘Chaplin’ however has never ended up taking out that top spot.

Matt Damon

Matt Damn in 'The Martian'

Outside of his penning involvement in ‘Good Will Hunting’ which won ‘Best Original Screenplay’ as far as acting goes Damon has actually never received an Oscar even after Nominations for his personal performances in ‘The Martian’, ‘Invictus’ and obviously ‘Good Will Hunting’. With appearances in ‘Interstellar’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ and so many more, many fans consider Damon more than deserving of an Oscar for his work.

Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner'

Harrison Ford has had a long and for the most part strongly received career in Hollywood and from his performances in ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ to those in the various ‘Star Wars’ films it may surprise some to see Ford on this list but he actually has only ever received a single nomination at the academy awards for his work in ‘Witness’ and outside of that has never won an Oscar.

Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo in 'Spotlight'

Mark Ruffalo is once again a very underrated actor as far as mainstream attention goes and regularly puts in quality performances. With three nominations for supporting roles in ‘Foxcatcher’, ‘Spotlight’ and ‘The Kids are Alright’ Ruffalo has never been nominated for a lead role nor won any Oscar entirely. Given the top-shelf Ruffalo performances found in ‘You Can Count on Me’, ‘The Normal Heart’ and ‘Zodiac’ Ruffalo not being even nominated for a lead performance has stirred controversy in many fans.

Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson in 'Batman Begins'

Say what you will about Liam Neeson but as far as his acting goes he has mustered some great performances, with a loaded arsenal of films such as ‘Batman Begins’, ‘Widows’, ‘Ordinary Love’, ‘Husbands and Wives’ and so many more it may surprise you to know that Neeson has never won an Oscar and has received just a singular nomination for his role in ‘Shindlers List’

Woody Harrelson

Woody Harrelson in 'The Hunger Games'

Woody Harrelson is one of those actors whose persona may lead you to initially misjudge his ability to take on all types of roles and take them on well. The genre blending actor whom feels considerably underappreciated has been nominated three times at the academy awards for roles in ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri’, ‘The Messenger’ and ‘The People vs Larry Flynt’ but couldn’t bag an Oscar for any.

Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson in 'Pulp Fiction'

Last but certainly not least, Samuel L. Jackson has been nominated just once for his role in ‘Pulp Fiction’ and with such a massive array of movie appearances and big roles some feel that Jackson has been unfortunate not to at least get a few more nominations and even wins at the Academy Awards.

‘Swiss Army Man’ Risk-taking and astoundingly unorthodox yet strangely good…

Now, before anything is said about Daniel Kwan and Dan Scheinert’s ‘Swiss Army Man’ this is without doubt one of the strangest film’s I have ever come across in my entire lifetime of watching movies, which is quite the achievement. So with this in mind I can only come to the conclusion that this one will completely divide opinion between ‘Weird Genius’ and ‘What did I just watch’. Just thought I’d mention that.

Released back in 2016 ‘Swiss Army Man’ follows an inherently bizzare let alone unsettling premise and theme which does absolutely everything in its power to completely derail any idea that a proceeding a chain of events leading to a logical conclusion was to follow. Which, to some may prove to be just too much but in many ways it also felt like a breath of fresh air to watch a film in which for the most part, you grasp its core premise yet have quite literally no idea what is going to occur in the next scene. It is absolutely impossible to categorize the experience of this film and in a sense that’s why its such a rewarding one.

Let me just set the scene as to educate you on exactly why this is the case. The film opens by showing it’s protagonist Hank attempting to commit suicide after being clearly stranded on a deserted island, however in the process he notices the body of Daniel Radcliffe, the dead but flatulent body mind you. He then proceeds to mount the body and use the mans farts in a glorious gassy miracle to ride back towards land. Yes, you read that correctly. Once reaching mainland Hank and his now sidekick dead body whom he names Manny embark on a journey through the wilderness to reach society.

Now whilst that may seem like a complete trainwreck of a film the direction taken on this one is yes without doubt risky, however with strong lead performances from both Danielle Radcliffe, whom once again proves his value outside of his infamous role as Harry Potter coupled with Paul Dano in a role that completely changes the usual protagonist into a completely new acting job entirely, there are a lot of good things to be said about ‘Swiss Army Man’. Without doubt the fully committed performances from both leads is why this film is able to achieve its goal with a far more unsettling and profound response from any viewer. Not to mention the fact that Danielle Radcliffe performed nearly all of his own scenes in the mud and on the ground playing a literal dead body.

‘Swiss Army Man’ doesn’t make major usage of setting or impressive visual effects but instead opts for a far more primal feel to evoke response from audiences, whether that be shock, laughter or discomfort and in many cases all of the above. For the type of film ‘Swiss Army Man’ attempts to be it can’t deemed a creative failure and you just absolutely have to hand it to Radcliffe and Dano for their willingness to do whatever it takes for their art, although by the same token it is understandable why some may find this one a tad too far.

However well this film does in it’s mission to both entertain and unsettle, there definitely are moments when surely even the most intrigued and appreciative viewers would find unnecessary and hindering to the experience, something which was inevitably going to happen when pushing the line of what is and isn’t too much.

Some scenes feel somewhat dragged out and perhaps could’ve been wrapped up far quicker and allowed more time for other events to occur. The jokes of the film do also feel old after a certain point and whilst the piece in a general sense definitely does grow on you there may be points particularly through its duller mid-section where you may wish things progressed a bit faster. Although that being said with a strong (but highly confusing) ending that in some ways makes up for previous shortfalls ‘Swiss Army Man’ may just grow on you and will definitely remain in your head for quite a while.

There are very few films which completely revoke the ability for a viewer to class it into any genre, but that is exactly what ‘Swiss Army Man’ is so unbelievably successful in doing via it’s risk-taking and original methods that never fail to provoke almost every emotion there is to muster. Through committed and impressive performances in the lead roles batted with a surprisingly depth-filled plotline upon further thought, this is without doubt one of the most peculiar films going around, but perhaps that is its genius. Although smartly written ‘Swiss Army Man’ at times falls short of the mark but it’s intriguing outside-of-the-box approach has to be respected.

7/10

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…