Movies I watched in 2021 (Part 5)

I meant to write this installment of this post…months ago. The last one I did was all the way back in July 2021. The reason I put it off so long was simple–I wasn’t watching movies at as fast a rate. I started a new job, I was catching up on shows, etc etc etc.

Since it’s November, I considered just leaving it until the end of the year. But given I’ve watched three movies in the past week or so, and will probably watch more when I get into the holidays, I’m doing it now. As always, trailers are linked!

Gunpowder Milkshake: This Netflix movie starred Karen Gillan (who I love, and was the main reason I watched this movie), Lena Headey, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, and Carla Gugino. The lead character Sam (Karen Gillan) was raised by the crime syndicate her mom worked for after her mom abandoned her, turning into an elite assassin. When a hit job goes wrong, she finds herself returning to the “library” and group of female assassins her who were her mom’s associates in order to protect a young girl as well as herself. This movie was really fun, considering the subject matter. It was campy, it was action packed, it had comedy and drama, it had epic fight scenes. It was so so cool to see a movie like this that was female led, especially since so many of the women were “older” for a female action star. If this sounds like your kind of thing, go for it, it’s a fun time.

Black Widow: I wrote about this being the first movie I had seen in theatres since COVID started back in August! I stand by my quick review at the time: loved it, would die for Yelena Belova, fuck the patriarchy. There are scenes in that movie I was thinking about for a long time after the movie ended. If you’re a Marvel fan, I’m sure you’ve already seen this.

Awakening the Zodiac: I’ll be honest, I barely remember this one, which probably isn’t a glowing review. This movie stars Shane West and Leslie Bibb as a couple who discover the film reels of a serial killer (the zodiac killer) and decide to try and capture him themselves in order to get a monetary reward. If you like serial killers and mediocre thrillers it’s a decent way to spend an hour and forty minutes, but I can’t say it stood out for me weeks later.

Cinderella (2021): If you’re like me, you might have seen the trailer for this movie and thought, “Why do we need another Cinderella? Is this one contributing anything new?” I watched it and am still not sure of the answer. It stars pop singer Camila Cabello as the lead role–she does a pretty good job (although I don’t think her voice suited the main “I want” song written for her, oddly enough) and the movie feels a bit like it’s meant to be a star vehicle for her. The movie isn’t terrible, but it’s not particularly great either. There’s some funny moments–James Acaster as a mouse/footman was fun to see–and some fun musical numbers. There’s also some deeply confusing song choices in this jukebox musical, and some very very clunky messaging. I’ll note that I’m definitely not this film’s intended audience, and this is almost definitely some 8 year old girl’s favourite movie right now, so I can’t drag it that hard.

Definitely, Maybe: Released in 2008, this is one of those rom coms I meant to watch and never got around to. It stars Ryan Reynolds as a divorced father who tells his daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) the love story of him and her mother–without telling her which of the three women he talks about in the story are her mom. It’s funny and cute and heartwarming and I’m really glad I finally watched. If you’re a fan of rom coms, I would definitely recommend.

Eternals: The second Marvel movie on this list!! This is another one I watched in theatres, and I was so excited to have done so. It’s got grand special effects, beautiful cinematic shots, and beautiful people, so it’s absolutely worth a theatre watch. I really enjoyed it, and how it was a slight shift from the typical Marvel formula. It still had the comedic moments and the action sequences and it’s still set in the same universe, but it has a darker tone, grander cinematography (they actually filmed much of it in real locations, which actually isn’t super common in the MCU), and a really interesting way of rolling out the story and characters. I can see so many ways in which this movie will impact the MCU going forward, and where these characters and storylines go from here (including those credits scenes, if you have seen it you get me) but also enjoyed it as a film on its own).

Love Hard: This Netflix romcom is about a woman (Nina Dobrev) who meets what she thinks is the perfect guy on a dating app. She flies to Long Island to surprise him only to discover she had been catfished by a man (Jimmy O’Yang) who was using the pictures of one of his more conventionally attractive friends (Darren Barnett). To make it up to her, he agrees to set her up with the guy whose pictures he used. Hijinks ensue. If you have ever seen a rom com you can probably guess where it went from here, but it’s a pretty cute and funny ride. You have to be kind of careful with a plot like this, but I think they did a pretty good job of balancing it and not letting anyone get off that easily. A nice Christmas themed rom com watch if you’re okay with awkwardness.

Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings: And the last movie of the list is yet another Marvel feature, what a surprise!! I unfortunately wasn’t able to get to the theatres to watch this movie when it was out, so waited patiently until it was released on Disney Plus this past weekend. I LOVED IT. This is another Marvel movie that shifts from the typical Marvel formula, although in a very different way. It’s very much inspired by martial arts films, and characters speak Chinese nearly as much as they do English. The fight scenes were indeed memorable and fantastic, and the film was well acted by everyone involved. I look forward to seeing where they go as well, and love that it’s a Chinese-Canadian man in the starring role!! I honestly think all the marvel movies on this list can be watched without having a ton of familiarity with the MCU. There are some references you will miss, but it’s not too bad.

Movies I watched in 2021 (Part 4)

At it again! Here is the last part if you missed it.

The Woman In The Window: This Netflix film is based on a novel of the same name, which I have not read. It stars Amy Adams as an agoraphobic woman who spends her time spying on her new neighbours until she witnesses a crime in their apartment. Things start getting strange when denials from the police and her neighbours cause her to question not only what she saw but her reality and her sanity. This movie got some mixed reviews, but I like a mystery and there’s a lot of great actors in the cast (Amy Adams, Wyatt Russell, Anthony Mackie, Gary Oldman) so I gave it a shot. And it was fine! I guessed at least one of the twists, but I don’t think that makes it a bad movie. I wouldn’t rush to watch it again, but I watched the whole thing and the performances were very good. It wasn’t a stand-out of this genre, but a fine watch if bored and it’s a genre you’re already into.

Raya and The Last Dragon: I love a good Disney movie, and would have watched this one sooner if theatres were open here. Alas, it was $30 extra on Disney Plus, and I didn’t feel like paying that, so I had to wait until it was available for free on the platform. I’m really glad I watched! The story follows Raya, a warrior princess who sets out to seek the legendary last dragon, hoping to restore the kingdom. I thought this movie was a TON of fun. I loved the main character, Raya. She was tough and stubborn and made mistakes, but she was also a cool and confident princess who wanted to do the best for her kingdom. I also deeply appreciated that they didn’t throw in an unnecessary love interest for her, she had enough going on. The animation in this movie was BEAUTIFUL. I especially loved the designs of the dragons (and that there were dragons in general! I just really love dragons) but in general it was absolutely beautiful to look at. I could see kids being obsessed with this movie, but even as an adult, I really enjoyed watching it.

In The Heights: You know what else I love? A MUSICAL. I’d been looking forward to this movie since it was first announced. I’d never seen this show onstage, sadly, but had heard some of the songs and knew it would be a good time. The movie tells the story of a pre-dominantly latino neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York City, following a few days around a blackout. Among many others it stars Anthony Ramos, who I knew from his role as John Laurens in Hamilton (which is written by Lin Manuel Miranda, who also wrote In The Heights). Reader, I loved it. I love a movie musical that isn’t afraid to be a musical, that isn’t afraid of spectacle and tricks with camera work and perspective and scene changes and elaborate dance numbers. I loved the music–every single person on the cast is EXCEEDINGLY talented and deserves all the applause, and the energy in the music is so much fun to watch in general. One number brought me to tears. Other numbers had me laughing. If you love musicals, or dance numbers, watch In The Heights.

Luca: We are back to Disney, this time with the latest Disney/Pixar release! For some reason the Pixar releases aren’t being released with the extra price on Disney Plus, which both annoys me on behalf of the creative teams, and pleases me because it means I can watch them the day they are released. Luca is set on the Italian riviera–already a win for me, who comes from an Italian background–and follows a young fish person? humanoid aquatic creature? who longs to explore on the surface. He discovers that he turns into a human when on land, and so befriends Alberto, another sea creature living as a human on land. The two of them run off to the nearby human town, where they meet a young human girl named Giulia, and team up with her to race to try and win a vespa. This movie is adorable and funny and joyous and heartwarming. It just made me feel good inside when I watched it. I loved the setting (there’s some extra comedy if you understand Italian), I thought all of the characters felt well fleshed-out and fully rendered, I enjoyed the message of the story, and the friendships between the characters. Again, the animation was beautiful, in a much different way than Raya and The Last Dragon‘s animation was beautiful. I would definitely watch it again and recommend it.

Crimson Peak: And now for something completely different. This movie was released in 2015, and I’ve meant to watch it for a while. I love the work of the director, Guillermo Del Toro, and I love a period piece. What was deterring me, for years, was that it’s a creepy ghost story. I’m not inherently against ghost stories, but I can get really freaked out sometimes. I ended up having a work-related excuse to watch it, and so powered through while in my bed alone–with my phone to block the view when necessary. The movie follows a young woman named Edith (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring writer and heiress in 1901 who falls in love with an English Baronet, Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). When she moves to his dilapidated mansion in England with him and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain, who I did not recognize right away), she soon discovers that the siblings, and the house itself, hold dark secrets. The movie also stars Charlie Hunnam, which I mention because I love him. This movie was very good. That may sound strange to say considering I had to watch through my fingers at certain parts, but I don’t think that ultimately took away from the quality of the movie for me. It’s less of a ghost story, and more of a story where there are ghosts (both literal and figurative). The performances were all excellent, and the costumes and aesthetic were AMAZING. I would never expect less from this director, who puts so much thought and detail into each and every one of his films. Frankly I think the trailer is kind of misleading, and I think it’s less of a horror and more of a classic gothic tale. If those appeal to you, I’d give it a watch.

Theatres open here in a limited capacity on July 16th, and I am bursting at the seams to get into one (wearing a mask and being safe). Hopefully next time I write one of these, I will have seen Black Widow in theatres.

Movies I Watched in 2021 (Part 3)

I meant to read another book and write about it, but didn’t end up having the time to do so because of work. I’ll get to that soon. But for now, here are the four VERY DIFFERENT movies I have watched for the first time since the last time I did this. All the trailers are linked!

Love and Monsters: This movie was released on Netflix and stars Dylan O’Brien as a young guy who has been stuck in a bunker for several years during the apocalypse with a group of other survivors. He decides one day to leave the bunker in search of his former girlfriend, who he hasn’t seen since the day of the apocalypse. I admittedly watched this movie largely for Dylan O’Brien, who I watched religiously in Teen Wolf and have been fond of ever since. But I ended up really enjoying it. I knew it would be fun, but it got a lot of genuine laughs from me, was genuinely heartwarming, and Dylan was very likeable, understandable, and charismatic as the protagonist. I also loved the concept for the apocalypse. Basically, an asteroid headed for Earth is destroyed, and that creates chemical fallout. This causes cold blooded animals to mutate into large monsters, many who are dangerous and kill off much of the population, while the rest hides from them. I’ve devoured a LOT of post-apocalyptic content, and can honestly say I’ve never seen an apocalypse quite like this before. It was really fun and definitely worth a watch.

Promising Young Woman: This is a surprisingly divisive movie. But I was interested in it from the first trailer, and after watching, think it was a brilliant film. But I get why it isn’t what some people wanted or expected. I also get why it can be hard for some people to watch. It’s hard to talk about. I think if you aren’t triggered by discussions of sexual assault, and it’s safe for you to watch, you should give it a try. The performances by the entire cast is amazing (and some of the casting choices are just brilliant….the use of actors who have played iconic “nice guys” is an amazing touch), the cinematography is beautiful, and so much is just a fucking gut punch. Things are morally grey, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

The Mitchells vs the Machines: And now swerving back to Netflix family fare about the apocalypse! This is an animated film about a family who finds themselves the only ones who can prevent the end of humanity when a furious AI takes control of technology. There’s so much to love about this movie. It’s funny, really funny in a way that’s silly and interesting and never punches down. It’s a story about technology and about finding yourself and about the importance of family even when it’s not perfect and also about robots. There are lots of robots! It’s also so interesting stylistically. I know not everyone loves stylized movies but it’s always appealed to me. I think the style and editing of this cartoon is really quirky and fun and suits the storyline and the main character. Absolutely recommend if you want a laugh and also robots.

Bo Burnham: Inside: This is the second project featuring Bo Burnham on this list, since he also stars in Promising Young Woman. This is his latest Netflix special, created by himself during the pandemic, and in a lot of ways, it’s about the pandemic, and about us during the pandemic, and about Bo during the pandemic. I don’t know if “comedy special” is the right descriptor for this film. Yes it’s definitely funny, in weird ways, and in silly ways, and in dark ways. But it also gets dark and meaningful and hard to watch in a way where you don’t want to stop watching. It’s the most creative “comedy special” I have ever seen. It’s poignant and funny and off-kilter and full of songs and it’s just so damn good.

I’m hoping to see a movie in theatres this summer, although I don’t think there’s even a possibility of that here until July. But fingers crossed!

Movies I watched in 2021 (part 2)

I have watched five movies since the first time I did this, with one of them being four hours long. I think I went through quite a range of movies in the past month! Once again, these are only films I am watching for the first time, so this does not include my rewatches of Mean Girls, Tangled, or Spiderman Far From Home, for example.

Palm Springs: This is a movie I have wanted to watch since I saw the trailer, and it finally got released on streaming in Canada (we don’t have Hulu). This movie follows the “Groundhog Day” trope of repeating the same day over and over, but at no point did it feel like a remake or like something I’d seen before. This movie stars Cristin Milioti as a young woman who meets a guy, played by Andy Samberg, at her sisters wedding, only to accidentally find herself trapped in the same repeating time loop that he has already been stuck in for a while. This movie was very well acted and very funny, but also genuinely heartfelt and emotional. When it ended I found myself thinking, “wow. I’m so glad I watched that.” I’m glad it got some awards buzz because it definitely deserved it. Also, if you watch this and enjoy it or enjoy the Groundhog Day trope in general, I would also recommend “Happy Death Day” for a slasher-comedy version of this, and “Before I Fall” if you want to cry.

Alitta: Battle Angel: I kind of avoided this film when it was first released because I was so weirded out by the uncanny valley nature of the main character’s appearance. It still weirded me out after watching the movie, but you do get more used to it in time. This movie tells the story of a cyborg who gets reactivated by a doctor, turning out to have the soul of a young woman, who then sets out on a quest to discover her own identity. I don’t think this was a bad movie but I think it could have been a better one. I think it had a lot of really cool imagery and a lot of interesting concepts. But I also felt it tried to fit in too many plot threads and storylines at once, which consequentially, meant several of them felt strangely tacked on or not fully fleshed out. This movie is based on a manga series, which I think partially explains how this happened. They may have tried to fit in too many points from the manga. Overall a fun watch, but I don’t think I would watch again. I’d love to see this turned into a TV show of some kind.

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles: This documentary follows chef Yotam Ottolenghi as he and a team of pastry chefs from all over the world put on a Versailles themed gala at the Met Museum in NYC. I love history and history-based documentaries are my favourite kind of documentaries. I love learning about Versailles. I love watching cooking shows (even though I’m not exactly a cook myself). So unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed this. I think it was so cool to see how these modern pastry chefs interpreted the spectacle and atmosphere of the feasts of Versailles for this space and this gala. It’s only about 75 minutes, so I would recommend checking it out if you like history or food or museums or all of those things.

The Trial of the Chicago 7: This is another movie that has received a lot of awards hype, both wins and nominations. This is a drama based on the historical story of a trial in 1969 of defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy during the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. I’m not usually drawn to court drama films, but I had heard so many good things and the cast is full of amazing actors, so I decided to check it out. And I absolutely do not regret it. This movie was fantastic. The writing, the acting, the cinematography, the energy, the message–it was just riveting to watch. It’s also shockingly relevant in 2021. Definitely one to watch.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League: For those of you who don’t know, Justice League was originally released in 2017. It had been directed by Zack Snyder, but he had to step down partway through production due to a personal tragedy, leading Joss Whedon to take over. Whedon made rewrites and reshot some scenes, making it a different film than Zack Snyder’s original vision. Zack Snyder has now released “the Snyder cut,” a FOUR HOUR cut of the film which is closer to his original vision. Yes you heard that right, four hours. I had to watch this over two days, although I know others who watched it all in one shot. I thought the original film was alright–it’s a superhero movie, I watch all of them and always end up having a good time to some extent–but did have some issues. The four hour version of the film, surprisingly, solved a lot of those. There were more clear backgrounds and motivations for most of the characters and just a better sense of the universe and a more fleshed out and interesting plot. Of course this brings up some questions and concerns–like was his vision going to involve a FOUR HOUR theatrical release, and if not, maybe there should have been some cuts and rewrites before going into production? But I did think it was good and there were some moments that really stuck with me. It’s a shame there won’t be a direct continuation to this movie (to either version of it really) because I would have liked to see where they would go. I do look forward to seeing the individual character movies for some of the heroes that are in development or in production. I do hope they have less slow motion moments with dramatic music in the background though, I cannot express how many of those were in this movie.

So that’s it for the time period between Feb 20 and April 1! I have also been reading, working, working out, and watching television shows (I don’t talk enough about television on blog, but I love tv shows and series!) so it’s not all movies all the time. But overall I saw some really fantastic movies in the past month, and ones I definitely suggest watching when you have the time. I’ve linked to all the trailers, so if my vague thoughts are at all interesting, or even if they aren’t, check those out too.

Movies I Watched in 2021 (Part 1)

This year, I decided to write down every movie I watched for the first time in 2021. It didn’t have to be a new film, just one I had never seen before and watched in its entirety. I watch a lot of movies, but I’ve never kept track in this way before. I’ve watched six movies that were new To Me so far, so thought I would list them and briefly talk about each one. Don’t expect anything indie or underground in this list–I’ll inevitably watch movies like that later this year, but I haven’t gotten there just yet.

Wonder Woman 1984: I think this was generally enjoyable, but not as good as the first Wonder Woman. Looking back I think the main issue was focus. The new characters were interesting, but even when they overlapped, it felt like separate storylines. I also think there should have been more fallout from the storyline with Steve Trevor, but generally I think he was the best part of the movie. Chris Pine is always great. Overall I always enjoy a superhero movie, but I don’t know if I would call this one particularly memorable, especially in comparison to the first film.

Tenet: This is the latest Christopher Nolan movie, and I had heard mixed reviews before I watched. Upon watching, I do understand why. It’s a very cool and interesting concept, but it needs a LOT of set up. The concept needs so much set up that the REASON that the concept is happening felt almost secondary? I don’t think it really came together before the second half for me personally. That said, the cast is fantastic. I always love Robert Pattinson and find him very magnetic on screen, John David Washington is wonderful and deserves all the praise he gets, and Elizabeth Debicki was definitely a standout. The visuals were also very cool and I would have loved to see those on the big screen. Overall not my fave Nolan movie, and I wish the first half was less muddled, but still an interesting watch.

Scoob: This is the most recent cartoon movie in the Scooby Doo franchise. While I actively sought out the other two movies, this is one that just happened to be available for free, my dad wanted to watch, Zac Efron voices Fred, so I sat down to watch it. It was alright! It was a light fun cartoon caper. The voice acting was all good, and the animation and story was generally fun. It made me laugh. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Scooby Doo movie, you’ll probably like this.

The Dig: Now for something completely different; this film is a British Netflix movie starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes based on a true story about the 1939 archaeological excavation of Sutton Hoo. And I loved it. I cannot express how beautifully done this movie was. It could be quiet and serious and contained, and the acting performances felt so real and genuine. I really felt for these characters and understood their experiences and the parameters of their world. I cried at the end. Just beautiful.

Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn): Along with The Dig, this is my favourite movie on this list. They are very very different movies, but I contain multitudes. I feel like this movie was exactly what I wanted and what I didn’t even know I wanted from a Harley Quinn movie. It was hilarious, it was dark, every character felt both over the top and real at the same time, the action sequences were fun, the aesthetic was fantastic. It was quite stylized which I love. I was really invested and laughing the entire time. I don’t understand why this movie is so underappreciated. Is it because people dislike DC movies? Is it because men are terrible? Is it because the marketing was poor? I don’t know, but I’m a big fan.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever: This is the third and final in the series of Netflix teen rom coms based on well loved YA novels which I have not actually read. I’m a bit older than the target demographic. But you know what? I really enjoyed it. I think the first movie in the series is still the best one, but this was a good one. It gave me a lot of nostalgia not just for high school but for that feeling of confusion and transition. I know these are generally pretty “fluffy” and often predictable movies, which is what they get criticized for, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It was a nice watch after I had a headache all day, the aesthetic was nice, the characters were cute, and the pop music in the background was catchy.

That’s all for the year so far! In between I have watched some movies I have already seen and some TV shows, but those do not belong on this list. The second part of this will probably turn up in a month or two, depending how many movies I watch during that time.