Director Jeff Wadlow’s (“Truth or Dare”) big screen adaptation “Fantasy Island” is a mess of a genre picture that easily one of the most tonally confused movies I’ve seen in years. Its prologue sets it up as a horror movie, then it becomes a goofy comedy about wish fulfillment, then it’s a character study about a son reconnecting with his father, the next minute it’s a torture revenge thriller, and the next it’s a movie about looking back at what could have been. None of it is remotely creepy, none of it is remotely spooky, and to top it all off, it’s all so painfully boring from beginning to end.
In 1981, every single studio in the world were looking for their own horror movie success story. Slasher movies were cheaply made, garnered a lot of money, and was often used as a means of getting a tax break or two. Canada entered the arena of holiday oriented cheaply made slasher films with “My Bloody Valentine.” Although it’s often ignored when spoken in the same breath as “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th,” it’s easily one of the best, most unnerving slashers ever made, and one that even garners a brutally underrated remake, to boot.
This year we were once again lucky enough to cover the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival, and though we came on a bit late, we were able to catch a shorts film block from the festival as well as some features! This year the shorts block was solid, and I took on the #MeToo shorts block. This list of short films covers the topics of sexual assault, rape, toxic masculinity the like.
The gallery of genre entries was great once again and I loved the substance these directors brought to film.
Hollywood loves to look for new angles on public domain fairy tales and intellectual properties. They’re always looking for a platform for a brand new franchise, and they either go the horror route or the action route. If one fails, they automatically revert to the other a few years later. “Cinderella” and “Snow White” have been brought to the big and small screen as pseudo-horror movies and action bonanzas, with varying degrees of success. The one fairy tale that hasn’t dodged the massive overhaul for a new generation is “Hansel and Gretel.”
The Academy is always a fan of the historical epic. They love movies about perseverance to hard times during a bygone era, from “Lincoln” and “Glory” to “Amadeus” and “Saving Private Ryan.” One of the movies that they didn’t touch in 2020, despite being a relatively mesmerizing picture, was Jennifer Kent’s 2019 “The Nightingale.” Despite it being a virtually gritty and gruesome journey in to darkness a la “The Revenant,” the Academy never offered the film its due, even in the realm of cinematography and or acting. There’s not even a best original screenplay nod handed to the thriller, and it’s a shame. Jennifer Kent’s revenge period piece is the antithesis of the glossy Oscar fodder that they stumble over themselves to honor every year.
As Disney soaks up just about every viable property and franchise in Hollywood, studios have sought out some of the more vacant properties, and here comes the long dormant “Bad Boys” series. With the nineties as popular as ever, “Bad Boys For Life” is a great property to revive. The new sequel acts as a soft reboot that could potentially help it live past Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and in to the “Fast and the Furious” long road. “Bad Boys For Life” is a shockingly good restart for a new series, and I like how the producers take the titular heroes and allow them to grow in a world that’s becoming harder to keep up with.
At this point I’m just glad that the new “It” adaptation didn’t get split in to a trilogy. “It Chapter One” was great just as it was, I thought “Chapter Two” needed to be the book end. Thankfully it truly is the finale I was hoping for as a poignant, complex, and heartbreaking film about the horrors of the past, and trying to prevent the nightmares of our childhood from deciding who we are and can become as adults. Once “The Losers Club” is forced back in to Derry Maine, they have no choice but to confront their own personal monsters before fighting the physical manifestation of their demons known as Pennywise.
For folks that loved the original 2009 “Wonder Woman” animated DC movie, Warner and DC have rebooted “Wonder Woman” in to the New 52 mold with a refresher on her origin and a twist on her relationship with Steve Trevor. I can’t say that I liked “Bloodlines” as much as I did “Wonder Woman,” but it’s a pretty good piece of action filler until the live action sequel arrives in theaters very soon. “Bloodlines” is interested in expanding on Wonder Woman’s world and that’s what it excels in, most of the time.