13 Mini-Reviews of Movies & Series from 2022


The Power of the Dog (2021). Nominated for 12 oscars. Is it really that good? No. But it is a decent western with a slow story that only becomes clear near the end in a very strong ending. Cumberbatch plays a brutish, insensitive cowboy. He pushes his brother (Plemons) away and makes the local widow (Dunst) cry over her effeminate son. Then his brother marries the widow and Cumberbatch loses his shit and makes their lives miserable. Fun fact: Dunst and Plemons are married in real life too. All the acting is strong and subtle and there is an uncomfortable tension throughout the movie. What makes this western feel modern is that the background tension in the film is directly in line with the perspective of Dunst, the widow. It is her anxiety we feel. And when we are ultimately released from that, how do we feel? That is for every viewer to decide for themselves.

Uncharted (2022). I liked it. A fun adventure film and doesn’t pretend to be more than that. I don’t know anything about the games it is based on so I can’t judge if it is a good adaptation. Recommended if you like films like National Treasure. It’s interesting too to see Tom Holland’s career develop. He’s becoming a very physical mainstream action star. Mark Wahlberg is starting to look old and confused next to him.

Moonfall (2022). Roland Emmerich’s new disaster movie follows the template to the letter, in the process producing a brain-breaking work of staggering stupidity. The special effects do all the heavy lifting. Also in line with tradition there is a totally uninteresting side-plot with kids. And there is some outrageous product placement going on, especially for Kaspersky software which didn’t age well since the Russian invasion.

The Adam Project (2022). Ryan Reynolds travels back in time, but travels to the wrong year and meets his 12-year-old self, who is just as annoying as he is. The film is more serious than you would expect from him. Well-paced too and enjoyable to watch. It has some of everything: science fiction action shlock, some comedy, heartfelt moments about family and grief, some romance. It’s not bad.

Jackass Forever (2022). Not sure what to make of this, to be honest. The guys are 10 years older, greying around the ears, but they brought in some new smoothbrains to get hit in the balls. I guess watch it if you are a dudebro who likes to visit Hard Rock Cafe or whatever. Don’t make my mistake and watch it over dinner.

Death on the Nile (2022). A relaxing, sensual film with oversaturated CGI shots that takes its bloody time to tell a story. Kenneth Branagh spends an hour walking his moustache around before anything happens. But once the bodies start dropping and the interrogations begin, it’s fun enough.

The Batman (2022). A class act. The film perfectly radiates that gothic noir atmosphere. Excellent visual style – dark yes but it suits the material. Feels like beautiful darkly painted comic with excellent use of muted colours and compositions. This batman is a good one, not slightly absurd as Christian Bale’s version. And this version of the Riddler has much in common with John Doe in David Fincher’s Seven, as does the rest of the film. This is a more personal batman too. While Nolan’s films were so focused on the villains, Bale’s batman didn’t have much personality, but this new film is more balanced in that regard. Catwoman was a great addition this time, as she adds an emotional layer to the story. Yes, I liked this film very much.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022). An action-comedy starring Nicolas Cage as Nick Cage, as an ironic meta-commentary on his career. He plays himself as an ageing, failing actor who finds that there is no script for being a good dad. Then he suddenly finds himself in the midst of a CIA mission. On the one hand, most of the jokes are references to his earlier movies, which is a bit lazy. On the other hand, if you’re a film buff and like Cage, this will be entertaining. The film keeps evolving from genre to genre, drama, bromance, action, and the second half is quite good with many fun moments, leaving you well satisfied.

The Northman (2022). While watching, my couch grew wings and we set course for Valhalla. This is a cinematic masterpiece. Like a visual interpretation of grimdark, this brutal and realistic depiction of a Viking revenge tale grips you by the guts and doesn’t let go. Good pacing, a fantastic soundtrack and first-class cinematography kept me in thrall, while Robert Eggers’s little arthouse additions lifted the film up further so that in rewatches you can admire the short metaphorical scenes, the interplay of the natural and supernatural, the play with colour against dour backgrounds and the stylised, slightly poetic and alienating human interactions. It isn’t meant to be a slick blockbuster. The film expresses its own truth and doesn’t bow to the lowest common denominators.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022). You know what this is. A cookie-cutter sci-fantasy plot and jokes that are screamed at you through a loudspeaker. The only distinguishing element is Jim Carrey and he just about carries this franchise. I perked up whenever he entered a scene. The best thing that I can say about the rest of this is that it isn’t terribly annoying.

The Bad Guys (2022). So, we have Mr Wolf, Mr Snake, Ms Tarantula, Mr Shark and Mr Piranha, like Reservoir Dogs, but this is more like an Ocean’s 11 caper. In this high-octane animated film, these animals embraced the bad guy role that they always get. They’re bad, but they’re good at it. This film uses every trick in the book, like fourth-wall breaks, montages, suave narration, split screens, jazzy music, but uses it well and it is very watchable. The combined 2D and 3D animation looks good too. The story is a bit too reminiscent of old caper films and Zootopia, but the character work is pretty strong. I had a good time with this.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). In the barrage of craziness that is this film, Marvel does not neglect to add a touching, tragic story, and I appreciate that. But you will need to see the WandaVision miniseries to understand it, as this film works as a continuation of that storyline. Besides that, this film takes a lot of storytelling shortcuts to throw as much visual spectacle on the screen as it can. Much of it is indeed a feast for the eyes, and its take on science-fantasy space opera is stirring. But it is also a lot of running to and fro, and for the tragic storyline there is little real room for real emotional moments beyond the superficial repeating of the same emotional arguments again and again. Still, a solid entry in the series.

Star Trek: Picard, Season 2 (2022). This season started out strong but deteriorated quickly. The writers brought back some iconic characters like Q, Guinan and the Borg Queen, and the story turned into a version of the final TNG episode ‘All Good Things’ in combination with the 4th film, A Voyage Home. Picard and crew travel back to 2024 to save the future. Then the story turns incredibly lame and heavy-handed when the Picard crew wanders around Los Angeles, rolling their eyes at climate change and racism. Shooting episodes in today’s LA sure saves that effects budget. Episodes are full of forced drama and muddled motivations. After that the story falls completely apart in a number of side plots that are tonally all over the place and full of holes. The greatest disappointment is Patrick Steward himself. He never liked SF nor the character Picard, and now he walks around in the show taking blame for everything, doing penance for his old white male shame. What a dumpster fire. Star Trek is dead.

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16 Responses to 13 Mini-Reviews of Movies & Series from 2022

  1. I’ve been curious about The Adam Project but worried a little about the overall tone, which I believed would not be to my taste, but your comment about the successful blending of the various narrative elements made me reconsider, so thank you!
    As for Picard S02 you summarized it perfectly: it started in a very promising way, but then it went downhill and proved quite disappointing. Or, to quote one of my friends after she saw the final episode: “all this mess for what turned out to be a long, drawn-out psycho-analysis session?”
    (((insert evil grin)))

    Liked by 1 person

    • The storytelling in Picard is such a mess. They set up all these fragments of stories and nothing really comes together. It is a very superficial show. I’m very disappointed. Soon there is a new series coming out: Strange New World. I almost don’t dare to give it a chance.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bookstooge says:

    I didn’t know Stewart didn’t like the Picard character. I wonder why he signed on for the tv show then?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bormgans says:

    I dropped out of picard s1 after 4 episodes. A travesty.

    Good to read your takes on northman and batman. I´ll put them on the list, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bormgans says:

    (Btw, have you watched Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul? The final season of the latter is airing now, really good show. Among the best ever, and worth going through the full BB just to get to BCS.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. savageddt says:

    Great breakdown. I enjoyed Batman, but have a different opinion on Catwoman and the main villain, but still had a way better time with it than I expected. Adam project was great too. Still have to see northman and the first sonic before i do the second. Great post man.

    Like

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