Dull, poorly acted and ultimately unrewarding, Killer Klowns From Outer Space suffers no delusions of grandeur, never trying to be anything more than cheap, disposable horror schlock. John Vernon's character was my favourite, since I'm always happy to see an old curmudgeon who verbally berates everyone around them. Despite him being a grump, I always felt uplifted when he was on screen. The films primary problem is that most of it is just tedious. So many scenes simply consist of characters driving to or running between one location and the next, usually punctuated with uninspired banter. The Klowns themselves can be funny, but not enough is done with them, and they're given a weakness which makes so many of the action sequences end in the same predictable way. I'm glad it found an audience, but for me, there's nothing in it that I'd be remotely interested in revisiting.
A fairly loose adaptation of the classic H. G. Wells alien invasion story, The War Of the Worlds does a great job of capturing the fear, panic and paranoia of such a scenario. You could easily draw parallels with the Red Scare that was going on at the time, with the aliens being a convenient substitute for the communists. The special effects are hit and miss, but are far from the worst ever seen, especially for the time. The acting is decent and the film does feel like its building to something. The ending is very abrupt, probably due to the short runtime, but you can sense the catharsis that the characters experience, especially after all they've been through. Possibly the thing that irked me the most about it is its treatment of the female lead. Sylvia van Burren is apparently a well-educated science instructor, but she's relegated to the stereotypical 50s damsel in distress role. She screams, cries, needs a man to help her do everything, even walk towards a door in one scene, and her education or training in no way impacts her story arc. It's a shame that a film can be so highly regarded in some areas and yet so regressive in others. It's cheesy and silly and hasn't aged well in many places, but it's still an important entry in the sci-fi genre, and a movie that you should definitely see if you get the chance.
Regarded as one of the finest epics ever to grace the cinema screen, The Ten Commandments was Cecile B. DeMille's final film, and the one he is arguably best known for. In many ways its aged poorly. The dialogue is hammy, the acting feels stagey and the fight scenes are 1950s through and through. The film also suffers from an excessive runtime and a very uneven pace. The beginning of the film, which introduces the main characters and establishes their connections is the most enjoyable part. Moses' journey in the desert and his transformation into a liberator is good too, but the section where he comes back to confront Rameses has very little momentum and seems to go on forever. It feels more like a childish game of one-upmanship than it does a bid to free slaves from bondage, and when the exodus does eventually begin, even that seems to last a lifetime. It's probably not worth pointing out holes in the story, since it's based on biblical accounts, and therefore there's not much you can do if you want to tell the story we're all familiar with. Also, the titular commandments don't play much of a role in the film, since they only appear in the last 10 minutes when things are already wrapping up. If I was going to recommend the film for any reason, it would be to witness its incredible scale. With thousands of extras, both animal and human, it does an incredible job of capturing the sheer size of an Egyptian city in full swing. Everything about it, from the scope of the story to the number of characters to the enormity of the sets screams ‘Hollywood epic'. It has it's issues, and its length and pacing make it an unlikely candidate for repeat viewings, but it's much vaunted grandiosity is good enough reason to see it at least once.
Though it's got an undeniably power story, and a set of raw performances to tell it effectively, Pieces Of A Woman often feels like it doesn't know which tone or even style it wants to go with. It's usually presented as a drama dealing with grief, with minimal music and long, uncut shots of people in conflict. At other times, it shows people wandering around or doing not very much while an incongruous musical score plays. The opening scene of a woman giving birth in her house is likely the main reason anyone will remember the film, since there's not much else in it that sticks in your mind in the same way. With a title like Pieces Of A Woman, you'd expect the narrative to focus more on our heroine and the trauma she goes through after losing her child, but the film mostly focuses on her bickering family and the court case against her midwife. It's not bad drama by any means, it just feels like the movies focus is in the wrong place, and that it could have been far more compelling if we focused on the lead rather than a lot of what's going on around her. It might be overlong, undercooked and peaks far too early, but with commanding performances from Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf, and a story that, for all its flaws, is still compelling enough to care about, I'd say it's worth a watch.
As beautiful as it is enchanting, and with a great voice cast, Wolfwalkers is made in the same vein as Song Of The Sea, Tomm Moore's previous directorial effort, also an excellent film. The art style is incredibly detailed, bizarre at times, and full of vivid colour. Sometimes it looks like a painting from the 17th century, which is fitting given the setting, and I love how quickly colours can change within a scene, as if the characters themselves are skirting across an artist's palette. The bond between the leads is very authentic, constantly changing and bolstered by great voicework from the leads. Sean Bean, not dying in a film for once, is predictably great as a concerned father torn between duty and family. The 3rd act gets a bit cluttered, with so many things happening at once, but it builds to a satisfying crescendo, and it leads to a happy ending which feels earned, and not just tacked on to satisfy a test audience. In a time where the animated cinematic landscape is dominated by Pixar and Disney, it's always great to have a film like Wolfwalkers come along and show the world that there's other great animated films out there just waiting to be discovered.