Tag Archives: movie review

“The Batman”: FLOP OR NOT?

SPOILER WARNING! 

I must preface this review by saying that I am not a big fan of DC Comics, so I did not come into the movie theater with high expectations. In all honesty, I only watched the film because I had major FOMO, and it was a trending topic. I did, however, know that Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz are indeed very talented (and very attractive together) and that the trailer was actually quite good. 

THE BATMAN – Main Trailer

Film Overview 

Directed by Matt Reeves, “The Batman” stars Batman, a.k.a Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), and Catwoman, a.k.a Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), who, beyond being his love interest, has a depth of her own with strong character and conviction. The film has almost a three-hour runtime, which I was surprised about because I did not expect it to be that long. It really doesn’t feel like much once you’re watching it;  it really does a great job of sucking you into the plot so much you don’t even want to get up (which happened to me twice when I needed to use the bathroom). In this film, the audience watches as Batman works alongside Catwoman through several murders done by The Riddler (Paul Dano) who is the film’s main villain… The Riddler himself is such a great character. I think his plans are very clever and the riddles left behind to make the film engaging as the audience itself tries to solve them. I enjoyed The Riddler going after the corrupt instead of harming innocent citizens… up until the last scenes of the film where he tries to wipe out the entire city of Gotham with a giant flood.  

What I liked

I really enjoyed the film’s structure; it was very different and not cliche at all like I have seen most superhero movies be. The first couple of minutes of the film really solidified the difference to me as it jumps right into a murder scene. After that, it has so many elements to it: horror, thrill, mystery and even romance. The Riddler is unique and uncovers a darker truth about our society: the corruption and shady business that people in power can often have. 

I absolutely loved Catwoman’s character. I like that she has a strong mind and doesn’t hesitate to take things into her own hands. I think the film industry lacks a lot of strong female characters, especially when their sole purpose is to be a love interest to male leads or to sexualize them. The chemistry between Pattinson and Kravitz was honestly so good. I particularly liked the ending. Catwoman is determined to leave Gotham and tries to convince Batman to do the same and explore life beyond the city. With his role as a vigilante and strong sense of duty, Batman declines. I thought she would feel compelled to stay with him for a moment, except she doesn’t. Just as she planned, she drives off. I love her straightforward nature and the fact that she doesn’t allow anyone to change her mind, even the man she may have feelings for. She’s stronger than her feelings, and we see it repeatedly throughout the film. 

I appreciated that the film gave enough context to what was happening; someone who had no clue about Batman or previous films could watch this and not miss a lot. This is in comparison to Marvel films in which you have to watch previous movies to understand what’s going on. In other words, it’s a simple enough watch for a non-fan like me!

What I didn’t like 

Controversial, but in certain scenes, I wouldn’t say I liked Pattinson’s acting style. At times it seemed very disconnected and nonchalant. But, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt- Bruce Wayne’s character might just honestly be like that. 

This is such a minor detail, but I was underwhelmed after hearing so much about THE iconic Batmobile. I expected it to fly and be super high-tech. I know it’s supposed to have a retro look but I expected a highly modified version. It doesn’t take away from the film, but I was looking forward to seeing a super decked-out car. 

My final complaint is about not enough focus on Catwoman. I hope that we get more of Catwoman in any future series or films with this particular Batman. I think her character is so good and would love to see it explored more. 

Final Thoughts 

I think it’s a great movie; there’s a lot to it that keeps you on the edge of your seat and even makes you anticipate a sequel. So, if you have a spare 3 hours and $20 (because let’s be honest, movie snacks are expensive these days), I definitely recommend you all to indulge in this thriller-meets horror-meets romance film! 

Four bat wings out of 5! Definitely NOT a flop! 

Featured Image by Sharon Lobo

Death of the Nile: Failure to set sail

Book-to-movie adaptations are famously a mixed bag. The most recent adaptation to hit the big screen is the Kenneth Branagh take at Agatha Christie’s classic 1937 novel Death on the Nile. This Hercule Poirot tale follows the famous Belgian detective on a cruise down the eponymous river, where he attempts to solve the eventual (five) murders. 

Those coming for the action will, for the most part, be disappointed. The first taste of murder only happens more than halfway through the movie’s runtime (a whopping two hours) and doesn’t create as much tension as one would expect. The movie begins with an inexplicable prologue of Poirot’s time in the war, which seems only to explain the origin of the detective’s signature mustache. This scene is just the start of the filler plaguing this film that seems to exist only to pad the runtime and allow Branagh more time to demonstrate his Belgian accent. 

A scene at a tomb spends far too long showing the cruise members exploring ancient Egyptian ruins, with not nearly enough character or plot development to warrant the time it takes. Spending time on these bloated scenes that stall the plot becomes even more questionable at the movie’s climax. Bouc, a man who up until this point appears to be a casual friend or acquaintance of Poirot, is shot by the movie’s villain. This causes Poirot to break down because his best friend has died, to the point where the detective appears almost in tears. This emotional reaction seems to come out of nowhere, a classic case of a movie telling and not showing. Poirot’s tears might have seemed more warranted if the movie had shown a prologue of his and Bouc’s connection instead of a facial hair origin story. 

Another thing bogging down the movie and elongating the runtime is the overabundance of landscapes and establishing shots. The main location for the action, the scenery around the cruise ship, is gorgeous. Still, the shots are repetitive and none of the accompanying cinematography is innovative enough to feel worth it.

Overall, though Death on the Nile has a strong backbone and a compelling plot, it loses points by being bogged down with unnecessary scenes and landscape shots that don’t add momentum or character development. As a result, the movie is enjoyable enough to have on in the background but unlikely to be anyone’s movie night go to.

Featured Image By Morgan Scruggs

A Love Letter to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

As the fall semester wraps up and final exam season approaches, times are stressful. Deadlines for assignments and projects have become top priorities consuming hours of the day to complete. Sometimes you just need an escape from everything, and a comfort movie could be the perfect little getaway. 

Comfort movies are ones you could watch multiple times for their lovable characters, straightforward plot, hilarious dialogue and more. These movies can range from romantic comedies to award-winning dramas, even animated classics. 

Even though I have various comfort movies, one of my favorites will always be Edgar Wright’s 2010 romantic action comedy, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The movie is based on the graphic novel series of the same name by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World follows a lanky, idler bass guitarist named Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) who must vanquish an army of evil exes to date the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Courtesy of https://movie-screencaps.com/ 

While the plot primarily focuses on Scott’s vicious conquest of Ramona’s seven evil exes, the movie also features notable actors and actresses before they landed their big break in Hollywood. Before winning an Academy Award and becoming Captain Marvel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Brie Larson was only 20 years old when she played Envy Adam, Scott’s crooner ex-girlfriend.

Larson’s performance as Envy remains an iconic role in her filmography who makes her entrance by standing in front of a poster promoting her band, the Clash at Demonhead. A few scenes later, Envy performs Metric’s “Black Sheep” as Scott and Ramona stare in utter shock. Larson’s cover of the song became available to stream on Spotify in June 2021 — a wonderful surprise for all the LGBTs.

Courtesy of https://movie-screencaps.com/ 

Another beloved actress who starred in this movie before gaining success in later projects was Aubrey Plaza, who played April Ludgate on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. In Scott Pilgrim, Plaza plays Julie Powers, a 22-year-old who has issues. When Scott starts to develop feelings for Ramona, she calls him a “total lady-killer wannabe, jerky-jerk.” She also points out his relationship with 17-year-old Knives Chau as “the mourning period” after Envy dumped him over a year ago.

Besides its lovable characters, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has a myriad of hilarious lines and dialogue between the characters. Throughout the movie, the drummer and ex-girlfriend of Scott, Kim Pine (Alison Pill) never fail to express her disdain for his relationship with Knives. In an early scene, Kim tells Scott that if his life had a life, she would punch it. 

Scott’s gay roommate, Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin) also disagrees with him dating Knives; with particular sympathy for the high schooler. At one point, he grabs her wrists and tells her, “You’re too good for him. Run.”

Courtesy of https://movie-screencaps.com/ 

However, Scott’s troubles worsen after he develops a strong interest in Ramona. In an attempt to learn more about her, he asks people at a party: “What do you know about Ramona Flowers?” If you have never watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the scene is reminiscent of Regina George in Mean Girls.

Another element I love about this movie is the transitions between scenes. Wright particularly uses frame wipes, in which one shot replaces another by traveling from one side of the frame into the next shot. These transitions are seamless and well-paced; sometimes emphasized with sound effects to match the comic book theme.

Even though I have seen this movie a million times, it always warms my cold dead heart. It’s a timeless classic that I could never get enough off. Long story short, if Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was a blanket, I would wrap it around my shoulders on my worst days.

Courtesy of https://movie-screencaps.com/ 

If you also feel like these last few weeks have been killing you slowly, put on this movie or any comfort movies of yours for a moment of peace. Along the way, cheer on your favorite characters and laugh at those jokes that never get old. Take a moment to yourself by getting lost in another world, even if it’s fictional.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is available to stream on Hulu, Showtime and Amazon Prime Video.

Featured image by Morgan Scruggs

Always Be My Maybe Movie Review

After a long day, the lyrics from Harry Styles’ song Woman, “Should we just search romantic comedies on Netflix and then see what we find?” often come to mind. It’s a thought many of us have on nights when we feel like watching a comforting movie. 

The rom-com combines the best parts of a love story and all the laughs of a comedy, which makes for the perfect thing to watch to put you in a good mood. Rom-coms have captured our hearts for decades, but the shift in media content in the digital streaming era can make us wonder what can we expect from rom-coms in the coming years? 

Rom-coms in the 2020’s should take notes from the 2019 Netflix original film Always be my Maybe. The film wouldn’t have been possible without a few notable alumni from the hit ABC sit-com Fresh Off The Boat.  The creator of the show, Nanatchka Khan, directed the 2019 film. The film was also written by and starred Ali Wong, a writer for Fresh Off the Boat and Randall Park, a star on Fresh Off The Boat. Wong andPark have been close friends since their days at UCLA and the magic behind their duo is what made the movie such a special treat to watch— complete with a great story, well-executed comedy and a film with positive representation.

The story of Always Be My Maybe follows Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim, and their classic tale of childhood best friends who fell in love. The two grew up together in the Bay area in the 90s and Sasha grew close to Marcus’s mom since her parents worked a lot and his mom taught Sasha how to cook. The summer after they graduate high school, Marcus’s mom dies and it takes a toll on Marcus and the relationship he has with Sasha. The two reach a breaking point and don’t talk to each other for years. Fast forward to 2019 and the two reunite when Sasha, now a celebrity chef, spends time in San Francisco opening a new restaurant. Marcus and Sasha reunite after all those years and after some initial awkwardness ease into their friendship again. While the two are dating other people, have different career goals and live vastly different lifestyles, they realize that they want to be with each other no matter what it takes. By the end of the movie, they commit to one another and build a life together. 

The movie has excellent world building especially given its setting in San Francisco. The location is influential on the characters and situations in the movie and builds a world that depicts life and Asian-American culture in the context of the Bay Area. Both characters are from there so they are attached to the location,family and overall community it represents. 

The movie also has really good character building in that throughout the entire movie you get a sense of the characteristics of both love interests and how that dynamic changes over time. The movie also acknowledges the trauma each love interest has and how it’s affected their worldview, relationships, sense of family and lifestyle. But by acknowledging these flaws, they show the conflict the characters have and how the conflict gets resolved when the characters learn to overcome their flaws and heal from their traumas.  

Something about the storytelling in this film is so natural. The progression of events seems so smooth and effortless that you never have to question why something happens because each scene informs the next and builds off the one before. The plot of this film also seems natural in a way that accurately depicts real life situations and conflicts. Even though the story follows Sasha and Marcus, this could have been the love story of anyone. 

An aspect of the film that highlights its appeal is it’s comedy. For a rom-com this movie is equal parts romantic and comedic which is a ratio that’s often hard to come by. You have the comedic stylings of Wong and Park who also have amazing onscreen comedic chemistry. The movie has situational humor, jokes about the embarrassment of adolescence and humorous commentary on the current state of California and Asian-American cultures. 

Beyond a well-crafted film, the movie serves as a positive depiction of Asian-Americans and women. As a story written by Asian-Americans, the film has a natural perspective on what life is like for Asian-Americans. The movie depicts the identity struggles that can exist among Asian-Americans in addition to the ways in which they celebrate their culture and community. The movie also depicts women in a positive way by having the lead female love interest be a woman who is successful in her career and consciously does not shrink herself or her ambitions for love. 

Always Be My Maybe could easily be the blueprint for rom-coms in the streaming era because it has everything you could want in a rom-com and more. The film combines the elements of great storytelling and casting, humorous writing, cultural commentary and representation that make for an impactful movie that stays with you long after the movie’s over. 

An honest review of Malcolm & Marie

Burnt X Entertainment Co-Editor Skyler King reviews Netflix Original, Malcolm & Marie , starring Zendaya and John David Washington.

Malcolm and Marie…need to go to therapy.

“Malcolm & Marie” is Netflix’s newest indie love story starring Zendaya and John David Washington. The film follows a young couple as they embark on a night full of emotional turmoil and necessary self-reflection. Filmed during the pandemic, Zendaya and Washington are the only cast members, and they only had a crew of 22 people. It was an impressive feat and Zendaya gives yet another powerful performance. But, this story about love was quite dismal and had little to no payoff.

To know more of my thoughts on the film, check out my video!

Featured Design by Kara Fields. Image courtesy of Netflix.