I think I may have forgotten about Apple TV+. I remember watching The Morning Show and Defending Jacob, and then something we don't talk about like See, but nothing really intrigued me enough to binge all of their content. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and even HBO Max have hooked me, but Apple's starry, expensive new platform felt tired and without much good movies or series to stream. That may be why Sofia Coppola's new film, On The Rocks, starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, is so forgettable, obvious, and dull. Coppola's movie recently debuted on the service, and it came as a warning sign that it was going to be mediocre. Alas, the impressively positive reviews from critics hooked me in, but it was as I expected, Murray trying to save a complete disaster with only mixed-to-negative results. The characters are foolish, the pacing is all over the place, and it's unfunny for the most part. The writing, also done by Coppola, feels detached, messy and unplanned as well, as if she wasn't certain about the ending, and then threw it in there at the last minute.
I was truly excited about this. Netflix adapting a highly-acclaimed graphic novel with a killer premise. What if the US government ended crime? When I saw the trailers, I became less and less enthralled with the whole project, especially since Oliver Megaton was helming this thing. But what I didn't expect was this film to be one of the worst things I've ever seen! The acting is awful, it's overlong, the characters are uninteresting, and the action is horribly edited. It was extremely hard to find many positive things to say about this hunk of junk. And besides a decent musical score, I cannot recommend enough that you skip this movie. Megaton's The Last Days of American Crime has a plot that could have been squeezed into 80 minutes...Instead, we got about 2 hours and 30 minutes of pure crap. Not only is this movie absolutely atrocious, but it's also derivative. Megaton borrows off of so many other, better pictures that the filmmaker forgot his own vision.
Whoever thought that a reboot of the corny, yet iconic Universal monster would lead to one of the best horror films ever made. Yes, I'm trying to say that Leigh Whannel's thriller-esque take on "The Invisible Man" is a shockingly tense, well-acted, visceral and terrifying achievement for the genre. Led by a terrific and empowering Elisabeth Moss, this flick not only takes thrillers to the next level, but it also injects more than enough hints of #MeToo to get its point across. The camera-work is astonishing, and the most impressive thing is, the movie was made on a scant seven million dollars. Whannel's technical talents have made this low-budget film look better than any expensive, run-of-the-mill action movie, and that's something to boast about. The score is nothing short of excellent, and the somewhat feminist allegory marks a significant change from its source material. These factors also make the movie a lot more unique than the traditional reboot. And instead of copying the source's story it invents something new, which is a rare thing to come upon.
The movie starts right in the thick of it, with Cecilia Kass (Moss) attempting to escape from her abusive and controlling husband Adrian Griffin (a stellar Oliver-Jackson Cohen). After Cecilia successfully runs away with the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dryer), she then finds out that Adrian killed himself in his own house. Now trying to close the door on her past demons and staying with cop James Lanier (Aldis Hodge), a sequence of unexplained events begin to occur. When Cecilia suspects that Adrian may have found a way to become invisible and stalk her, she must try to prove that not everything is what it seems. This premise could have been hilarious, a joke for all I care, but I was on the edge of my seat the entire two hours.
If one thing is guaranteed it is that Elisabeth Moss is a tour-de-force in the leading role. She plays Cecilia, who after escaping from her rich husband, becomes paranoid that something or someone is stalking her, watching her every move. It's darn terrifying all right, and Moss nails nearly everything with a flawless performance. Also, the actress has become yet another excellent lead role in horror, and her film has joined in with all the greats: "The Shining", "A Quiet Place", "Halloween" and more. But Moss's performance outshines those in a typical slasher flick and her co-star Oliver-Jackson Cohen makes for a competent villain that may not be as iconic as Jack Nicholson was, but he's damn good. The supporting cast is also top-notch, Aldis Hodge and Harriet Dryer are both superb in their respective roles. Teen actress Storm Reid has also excelled in her modest role as Sydney. The cast isn't star-studded, which is just how it needs to be, fresh and talented.
Remember the anticipated launch of the Dark Universe in 2017, a cinematic franchise that was attempting to bring back all of Universal's classic monsters to life? Well turns out the first film in that hunk-of-junk had to be the Tom Cruise-starring, ill-fated "Mummy" reboot. And after Cruise's "The Mummy" hailed disappointing box office returns and lackluster critical reception, the cinematic universe was dead. Shockingly, Whannel has somewhat brought back the attempted series to life with this small, but incredible film. Despite being an R-rated thriller that doesn't focus on big action sequences, this could mean something new will be arriving. Perhaps not a direct sequel to this movie (which I'd be down for), but taking a similar formula from this flick and injecting them into let's say..."Dracula". It could work, especially since this movie is a masterpiece.
Director Gavin O'Connor has returned with star Ben Affleck in this new sports/redemption drama about getting a second chance, dubbed The Way Back. Principally, the film plugs in the familiar sports story into a stellar alcoholism piece, and it works spectacularly. Affleck fits right in, considering this is seemingly autobiographical for the actor and extraordinarily tough to watch. To make it far higher than the average tear-jerker are the performances, direction and compelling characters that make it well worth your money. The film is particularly slow-moving, but when it gets to the basketball games, you'll be cheering for Affleck's underdog set of players. The running time is right on the money, clocking at about 105 minutes and despite a somewhat formulaic approach to its heavy theme, the emotional knife that continues to stab you through the heart while watching will keep you intrigued. Hey, perhaps Affleck will start making some real pictures again, starting with this very convincing movie.
Audiences look upon Jack Cunningham (Affleck), a former star basketball player in his high school turned construction worker. He's a drinker, divorced and utterly depressed. However, when the head coach of the Bishop Hayes basketball team has a heart attack, Jack is asked to come and coach the team during the season. With a team of only ten players, and not possessing enough skill in the game, Jack must attempt to coach the team into the playoffs, and potentially to victory. It may recall some of the old-fashioned underdog sports movies such as Rocky or The Mighty Ducks, but with a far more intense approach, The Way Back still succeeds. So yes, a few people may feel that the plot veers towards the sentimental territory, but the vast majority of the time, audiences are focused on the ups and downs of Jack's life.
Speaking of ups and downs, Ben Affleck has had several of those during his mostly successful career. He's directed and acted in several acclaimed films such as Goodwill Hunting, Argo, Gone Girl and more, but he's been going on a somewhat downward trend these days. His first movie in the DCEU as Batman was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which made some serious dough but flailed with the critics. What's even worse was his second superhero film, Justice League, which didn't just get negative reception, it also flopped in the box office. It isn't exactly confirmed that this film will save the actor. However, with his brilliant work in the central role of Jack, this could be the start of a new era for him.
Let's just say one thing for sure: Gavin O'Connor really knows how to direct a movie. After directing two sports flicks with Miracle in 2004 and Warrior in 2011, he's got one part of the film down. Though he's not just experienced enough with sports movies, O'Connor also helmed the Affleck-starring action flick The Accountant with great success. With this guy sitting in the chair, and a very solid screenplay written by Brad Ingelsby (Run All Night, American Woman), you've got a good film. It's too bad that the Academy Awards will likely ignore this small project, but it's still a pleasure to know that O'Connor is truly a great fit for Affleck. This movie may not be the most likable flick in times like these, but if the film is good enough, you'll forget COVID-19 exists today. Just remember people, bring the tissues.