Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Three Films Make A Post: The tide is turning.

Aquaman – Lost Kingdom (2023): Even though I’m not writing about the current crop of superhero movies all that often, I haven’t jumped on the superhero hate train, and “superhero fatigue” just fatigues me.

However, most everything bad you’ve read about this second Aquaman movie is unfortunately true. For much of its running time, this doesn’t feel like a proper, finished movie from a big studio at all, but the rough cut of something that doesn’t appear to even have had a finished script, with characters just dropping in and out of the plot for no good reason, no dramatic arc, and an absolute inability to sell the film’s tonal shifts; actually, I don’t even see attempts at selling them, for James Wan has apparently not just decided to direct this as if it were a TV movie, but given up on doing his job completely.

Making matters worse are special effects that often appear to simply not be finished, with many a scene that takes place in what looks like raw sets you’d find in 80’s Doctor Who serial instead of intricate greenscreen work. It’s just a complete train wreck of a movie, and not even an entertaining one.

The Marvels (2023): Also much maligned is this second Captain Marvel movie directed by Nia DaCosta. Here, I really can’t see the problems I’m supposed to notice. Sure, the film can get silly as all get-out, but most of the time, its jokes are actually funny and imaginative, and the script has no trouble shifting from this to the more serious stuff.

Unlike certain parts of the internet, I also enjoy watching a superhero movie carried by a trio of women where the male characters simply aren’t terribly important without the film making much of a thing of it one way or the other (call it the Claremont approach). But then, I am a simple man.

Detective vs Sleuths aka 神探大戰 (2022): If you’re like me, you’re missing classic Hong Kong cinema rather badly. As this extremely energetic mix of action movie and twisty thriller suggests, classic Hong Kong filmmakers do so as well, so long time Johnnie To cohort Wai Ka Fai’s film isn’t just a big damn action movie that follows many of the rules of modern blockbuster cinema to perfection and with considerable verve, but that also contains more winks and nods towards the tradition of post-80s Hong Kong cinema than you can shake a stick at, some of them very subtle, others very obvious indeed. Lau Ching-Wan playing another Mad Detective really is only the beginning there, and before the film is through, we’ll even have gone through a moment of baby juggling.

That all of this works as an absurd but absolutely riveting action film of the highest order instead of sinking into some kind of retro mire is a particularly wonderful achievement.

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