Week Of 07.18.2021 Movie Reviews

Reviewing Space Jam: A New Legacy, Gunpowder Milkshake, And Pig

- S Grade; 5.0 Stars: The Best Film One Has Ever Seen, Everyone Has An S Film
- A+/A- Grade; 4.0/4.5 Stars: One Of The Best Films Of The Year, If Not All-Time
- B+/B- Grade; 3.0/3.5 Stars: Worth A Trip To The Theatre For First Viewing
- C+/C- Grade; 2.0/2.5 Stars: Watch From Home For First Viewing
- D+/D- Grade; 1.0/1.5 Stars: Don’t Bother Watching This At All If You Can Help It
- F Grade; 0.5 Star: One Of The Worst Films Of All-Time
- Reminder: Reviews For These Films Can Change Over Time And Will Be Reflected Over At Our Letterboxd

- The Plot: When LeBron and his young son Dom are trapped in a digital space by a rogue A.I., LeBron must get them home safe by leading Bugs, Lola Bunny and the whole gang of notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes to victory over the A.I.’s digitized champions on the court. It’s Tunes versus Goons in the highest-stakes challenge of his life.

- The Review: In some ways this might truly be the most frustrating film of the year for me so far. Frustrated that critics and their Film Twitter sheep are being harsher on this than it probably deserves. Frustrated that there was enough interesting ideas and concepts here that could have made an even better movie but they decided to go the lazier routes. Frustrated that the movie got in its own way of being something special. Frustrated that this will likely be yet another example of movie niche audiences in separate bubbles. There is really a lot with this movie that I can both appreciate, but more than not be frustrated about both in and out of the screen.

In terms of the film itself, I came into this with significantly low expectations as the marketing campaign sold me on a pretty cringe sequel to a pretty mediocre 90s kids movie. What I got was a film that gave me a better fleshed out backstory for our protagonist, a very interesting villain played excellently by Don Cheadle who is arguably the highlight of the film, a much better acting performance than MJ from Lebron, some comedic moments that made me laugh, and explored the Warner Brothers library in ways that could have made this into something bigger than just another Looney Tunes movie; a sort of READY PLAYER ONE type of film.

That said, the film also keeps getting in its own way from achieving something even greater, never exploring the multiple Warner Brothers properties past cheap cameos and crammed in references with the Looney Tunes characters being in separate properties that don’t really fit that particular character in whatever property they’re in. Randomly at times characters and cheap celebrity cameos would come in and they felt like things that could have just been cut out of the film altogether in post-production. Some of the comedy does fall flat as well. The Looney Tunes are given absolutely no personality or character arcs and don’t get entertaining up until the second half of the Basketball game which at least leads to a very strong third act.

There’s a much better film in here when I look at some of the things they did right, but I think a lot of critics and Film Twitter in general are getting caught up more in the flaws of this than appreciating some of the really cool ideas that make this in my mind a much superior film to the mediocre and overrated (thanks to nostalgia) first film. I’m getting a lot of HILLBILLY ELEGY and TOM & JERRY vibes from this in that critics and Film Twitter hate this, but general audiences are going to be entertained for the most part. I liked this significantly more than I thought I would, but I’m also incredibly frustrated because the flaws get in the way of creating what I think could have been something really special instead of a come and go kids film we’ll forget about years down the road. B- for SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY. Honestly wroth taking your kids to the theatre if they’re begging to see it and you don’t want to get HBO Max. Doesn’t deserve the hate its getting but the movie has real flaws that need to be pointed out. You can believe both at the same time.

- The Plot: After being abandoned by her mother, Sam was raised by The Firm, the ruthless crime syndicate her mother worked for. Now, 15 years later, Sam has followed in her mother’s footsteps and grown into a fierce hit-woman. But when a high-risk job goes wrong, Sam must choose between serving The Firm or protecting the life of an innocent 8-year-old girl.

- The Review: This film has gotten an interesting reception in that its actually getting mixed reviews from the usual “follow the leader” masses of Film Twitter. Some think its pretty mediocre, some think it has the potential to be one of the best films of the year. Over at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing its getting pretty mediocre reviews from critics and an even worse reception from general audiences. Letterboxd, the go to place for many on Film Twitter has been giving it the same mixed reception its getting on social media. So what did I think?

I’d say about half way through I was more in the line on the positive side of things. The aesthetics were working for me, the characters seemed fun to follow (especially the library ladies which, in my mind, kind of stole the show every time they were on screen), and the film was setting up an interesting lore around “The Firm” and those linked to it. The comedic relief was working for me too. I also appreciated that as a female-driven film it didn’t decide to beat you over the head with a “Men are bad” message even if there were some subtle tones there in some story beat decisions. Granted it had pacing issues and the film’s dialogue was cringe at times, but overall I was having some decent fun.

Then half-way through the film’s flaws really began to show or just overcome the pros. Character motivations and turns became convoluted and predictable, the film’s pacing started to become more of an issue for me, the villains never developed into anything past two dimensional almost faceless bores, the comedy started to hit less, and the over the top action began to feel borderline obnoxious to me. And as the film went along its cheap production started to show too much as you started to realize we were just returning to the same places over and over again. Which for the record is how the action sequences started to feel as well. Something you can get away with as long as it’s not noticeable enough to get you out of the film.

There’s been some who have compared this to JOHN WICK or even Tarantino films but I find that to be an insult to those movies which executed similar story beats better - the former having better action and villains and the latter having far superior dialogue in his movies. If anything I got a lot BIRDS OF PREY vibes from this, another film that I just didn’t jump on the bandwagon of as it seemed more like a generic and yet obnoxious action flick but even that has more fun moments than this really. Even though I do think the acting here is commendable, the actors (especially the ladies) are clearly having fun with their roles, and there’s some stylistic choices here I really dig, I just overall came away feeling very underwhelmed and actually came to appreciate BLACK WIDOW more watching this. C+ for GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE. Its where it belongs on Netflix. Maybe you’ll like it better than I did, but I was underwhelmed. I wish I got the movie the trailer teased if anything, now that seemed like a fun flick.

- The Plot: A truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped.

- The Review: Nicolas Cage has been typecast into being known for wild roles in wild films, but the man does have a history as an actual Academy Award winning actor, and with this film Cage shows “He’s still got it” and delivers one of the best performances of the year. So much so that I myself am ready to crown this as my personal favorite performance of the year by a male actor so far. And he’s helped by a great supporting role which showcases Alex Wolfe in a great performance as well at just 23 years of age!

The film is being billed as a sort of another one of those JOHN WICK style films of a man seeking revenge who has a dark past that catches up to him, but its honestly a lot more sobering (not depressing though) than that. This is as if JOHN WICK and MINARI had a child together, giving us a movie in which the weapons aren’t guns but the passion for cooking for other people and what matters to you most in life. Its ultimately a film more about seeking purpose in life, a friendship that develops in this, and how to move on from grief more so than any revenge thriller.

Instead of an undercover world and lore of assassins we get an undercover world and lore of food and chefs that range from food trucks and fight clubs to Mafia style justice in running a top notch restaurant. The film has scenes that range from taking a punch to calling the expensive hipster style of modern food out to even a scene that shows how emotions can be affected by just the way food can make one feel.

Overall I really liked to love this film, but it’s ending does leave just a little to be desired and it is one of those movies that isn’t going to work for everyone as some will come into it expecting an action packed thriller but will instead get an arthouse type film. Ultimately I give PIG an A-. This is one of those films that will either just make it or just miss out on making my personal Best of the Year list come the end of December.

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