Category Archives: STREAMING

This topic/movie is streaming on one of the streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.

FREE GUY (2021) – My rating: 7.5/10

Free Guy is a science fiction action thriller directed by Shawn Levy from a screenplay by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn. The story was also written by Matt Lieberman. This film follows a bank teller who thinks he lives in paradise.  Eventually, he discovers he’s actually a non-player character in an open-world video game. Actually, the trailers drew me to the story when I heard him say he was living in the perfect world.  The film was definitely a feel-good movie.

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a non-player character (NPC) in Free City, an open-world video game developed by the  Soonami Games family. Unaware that the world he lives in is a video game, he works as a bank teller alongside his best friend who is the bank’s security guard Buddy (Lil “Rel” Howery). In the real world, Millie Rusk (Jodie Comer), who plays Molotov Girl in the game, tries to find evidence of being the rightful owner of the source code, which was stolen by head developer Antwan Hovachelik (Taika Waititi), while co-developer Walter “Keys” McKeys (Joe Keery) was also in Soonami’s employment. In the game, Molotov Girl catches Guy’s attention by singing his favorite song, and he begins to deviate from his programming. Taking a pair of sunglasses from a player robbing the bank, Guy sees Free City through the player’s heads-up display (HUD) and tries to catch up with Molotov Girl. Guy becomes the hero of the story while trying to save his friends from deletion by the game’s creator.

Free Guy is about a very happy guy who thinks he’s living the good life.  He describes his world as a paradise.  He has a best friend, a cushy bank job, and loves his coffee.  The only thing missing is the perfect girl to share his life with.  He doesn’t want anyone less. Of course, he finds that girl but has to be told he’s not real but instead a character they have now labeled “Blue Shirt”.  On top of that, he has to save his world from deletion.  As you can see, the story is pretty good and with Ryan Reynold’s at the helm, you know the acting is going to be excellent.  At first, I thought Free Guy was a little silly but as I got into the film my opinion changed.  I actually thought Free Guy was brilliantly written and acted. I haven’t begun to reveal the whole story which gets pretty intense and may not appeal to an elderly crowd.  As of October 17, 2021, Free Guy has grossed $120.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $207.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $328.6 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 2021. It has received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the clever concept and compared it favorably to a combination of science fiction films and action video games such as Ready Player One, The Truman Show, The Matrix, Grand Theft Auto, and Fortnite. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 80% based on 277 reviews, with an average rating of 7.00/10. The website’s critics consensus reads, “Combining a clever concept, sweet, self-aware humor, and a charming cast, Free Guy is frivolous fun.”  Free Guy is in theaters and is streaming on Prime Video for $5.99 if you’re a Prime member.  Check It Out!

 

RESPECT (2021) – My rating: 8.5/10

Respect is a biographical musical directed by Liesl Tommy (in her feature directorial debut). Respect is written by Tracey Scott Wilson, Callie Khouri, and is based on the life of “Queen of Soul” singer, Aretha Franklin. The film follows the first two decades of Aretha’s life, from being born as a musical prodigy in an affluent but controlling African-American family to her arduous rise to international musical stardom, while simultaneously enduring an abusive marriage. In April of 2018, National Geographic renewed their series called Genius for a third season, focusing on Aretha Franklin. It aired in March 2021. My goal is to see both of these stories. So far, this version (Respect) turns out to be very good.

Respect includes the effect of Aretha losing her mother at the age of ten, her controlling father who managed her career, constraints of patriarchy, and ultimately concluding with the recording of her influential live album Amazing Grace in 1971.  In 1952, ten-year-old Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson) lives with her Baptist pastor father, C. L. Franklin (Forest Whitaker), as well her sisters Erma (Saycon Sengbloh), the oldest, and Carolyn (Hailey Kilgore) the youngest, in Detroit, Michigan. The sudden death of her mother Barbara Siggers Franklin (Audra McDonald) traumatizes Aretha and as a result, she is unwilling to speak until her father forces her to sing at church after weeks of silence.

By 1959, a teenage Aretha is the mother of two children. She then meets Ted White (Marlon Wayans), a local producer, at a party at her father’s house. The two strike up a conversation before being interrupted by C. L., who warns Ted to stay away from his family. Later, C. L. surprises Aretha with tickets to New York for a meeting with Columbia Records executive John Hammond (Tate Donovan). After being offered a contract, Aretha begins to sing jazz records with Columbia, including “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.

Four albums later, Aretha still lacks a signature hit as a jazz singer. After singing a tribute to longtime family friend Dinah Washington (Mary J. Blige), Aretha is told to find songs that move her and stop trying to fit the polished image her father wants her to display. Aretha reunites with Ted White, with whom she begins a relationship and later marries. Frustrated by her lack of success after nine albums, Aretha begins skipping recording sessions to see Ted, embarrassing her father. Much to the chagrin of her sisters and the dismay of their father, Aretha returns home and introduces Ted to her family announcing him as her new manager.

Respect didn’t really focus on Aretha’s sexual endeavors but did manage to let us know she had a child at the age of twelve (1955) with a childhood friend and schoolmate named Donald Burke. The child was named after her father, Clarence.  She then had a second child with another childhood friend named Edward Jordan at the age of fourteen (1957).  Later it was established both boys were Edward’s.  She was married twice and had two more sons.  Initially, a film on Franklin’s life was in development for a long time and she herself was involved with the pre-production. Because of a lack of suitable candidates to play Aretha, and eventually the Covid pandemic, the film was buried. After seeing the musical film Dreamgirls in 2006, Aretha asked Jennifer Hudson to play her. The film began production in 2019.

I thoroughly enjoyed Respect.  I learned some new information about the singer and marveled at Jennifer Hudson’s portrayal of Aretha Franklin, which received critical acclaim.  Aretha herself said that Hudson would win an Oscar for portraying her. Forest Whitaker was brilliant as Aretha’s overbearing, abusive, womanizing, and cheating father.  The film suggested in a very short rape scene, that her father may have sexually abused her but didn’t elaborate on it.  The music seemed better than it was back in the day.  That’s probably due to today’s technology.  Jennifer Hudson usually comes off as a real diva but at the rate, she’s acting and singing I can’t say I blame her.  She herself is a prodigy.  I can see why Aretha picked Jennifer to play her. The film never revealed why Aretha’s mother, Barbara left her father but I found that he had a child with a twelve-year-old in 1940 which was before Aretha was born but had two more children while still married to Barbara.  On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 66% based on 170 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “This standard-issue biopic falls shy of its subject’s transcendent brilliance, but Jennifer Hudson’s starring performance absolutely commands Respect.” As of September 27, 2021, Respect has grossed $24.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $7.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $31.2 million. Pete Hammond of Deadline also praised Hudson’s performance, saying; “This is Jennifer Hudson’s triumph merged with the spirit and guidance from an even greater voice above. Hudson’s performance is an electrifying sight to behold.”  Respect is available to rent and is streaming on Amazon Prime and can probably still be found in some theaters. Check It Out!

 

REMINISCENCE (2021) – My rating: 8/10

Reminiscence is a neo-noir science fiction thriller and love story, written and directed by Lisa Joy, in her feature directorial debut. Joy also produces alongside her husband and creative partner Jonathan Nolan.  The film was released by Warner Bros. Pictures and follows a businessman and his partner who makes a living by using a unique device that helps their clients to retrieve and relive their memories for various practical reasons. I’m not sure what attracted me to this movie, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, as it appears to be different from the usual plots.

In the near future, climate change has caused the sea level to rise and flood Miami. Extreme daytime temperatures have forced most of the population to function at night. A man named Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) along with his female business partner Emily “Watts” Sanders (Thandiwe Newton), operates a business where people can come and relax by lying in a device and connecting to electrodes that enable them to relive or discover forgotten memories.  They are placed into a comatose state of mind, which is revealed on-screen so that Nick can review and pinpoint the client’s issue.  In this futuristic film, Miami has sunk significantly and extreme daytime heat has caused people to stay in their homes unless they absolutely need to come out.

Reminiscence focus is on a walk-in client Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) who can’t remember where she put her keys.  She’s beautiful and sexy and Nick becomes obsessed with Mae and her memories, which reveal that she is a nightclub singer with a complicated and unsavory lifestyle and past.  While viewing Mae’s memories, she happens to sing Nick’s favorite song, which only aided in drawing Nick closer to her. Eventually, Nick and Mae begin a relationship, although Watts distrusts her. Months later, Mae has disappeared without a word. Hoping to find a clue to her whereabouts, Nick spends hours repeatedly reliving his memories of their relationship, a dangerous practice that could forever trap him in the memory.

Reminiscence is a revetting tale of danger, love, deceit, determination, mystery, and heartbreak, and I’m just getting started. There are so many twists in this story, it’s hard to keep up.  I found Reminiscence exciting and very different from what’s being offered lately. Hugh Jackman and Thandiwe Newton’s performances were brilliantly executed.  Rebecca Ferguson was absolutely tantalizing.  Her display of innocence and desperation was the right combination of a damsel in distress to cause any man to take notice.  The ending was so unpredictable, I didn’t mind not being able to reconcile my feelings towards what I thought was unjust.

As of September 17, 2021, Reminiscence has grossed $3.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $14.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $18.7 million. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 37% based on 180 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “Although Reminiscence isn’t lacking narrative ambition, its uncertain blend of sci-fi action and noir thriller mostly provokes memories of better films.”  Reminiscence is currently streaming on HBO Max the same day it opens in theaters. I recommend Reminiscence to those who like a good sci-fi mystery — Check It Out!

 

A QUIET PLACE PART II (2021) – My rating: 8.5/10

A Quiet Place Part II is a horror film and the sequel to 2018’s A Quiet Place. It follows the Abbot family from the first film as they continue to navigate and survive in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by blind aliens with an acute sense of hearing. The film was written, produced, and directed by John Krasinski for Paramount Pictures. After seeing the first Quiet Place, I had to see the sequel just so I could find out what happens to the Abbott family.  Quiet Place Part II  was surprisingly a good sequel.

A Quite Place Part II opens before the aliens arrived and took over the Earth. While attending a softball game, the Abbott family – wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), husband Lee (John Krasinski), deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and sons Marcus ( and Beau (Dean Woodward) along with other families observe a strange cloud-like object hurtling toward the Earth. Within minutes, hostile creatures attack and begin slaughtering people. These blind creatures are huge, possess armored skin, have extraordinary speed and strength. They track their victims using hypersensitive hearing, which enables them to attack anything that makes a noise. Over a year later, the creatures have killed much of the Earth’s population, including Evelyn’s husband Beau and youngest son Lee. In the original version, Regan discovered that high-frequency audio feedback makes the creatures vulnerable, and she devises a makeshift method of transmitting the noise from her cochlear implant through a portable microphone.

In part II, the survivors seek ways to keep quiet and out of harm’s way but are frequently unsuccessful.  The story moves forward with Evelyn encountering an old friend, Emmett (Cillian Murphy) as well as some new survivors.  This adventure gets hairy and quite suspenseful.  Djimon Hounsou is cast as a father and leader of a colony that displays a ray of hope to their dispare.  There are numerous situations that will have you tensed and even scared. I really liked A Quiet Place Part II and wouldn’t be surprised to see a possible sequel in the future. As of August 25, 2021, A Quiet Place Part II has grossed $160.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $136.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $296.4 million. The film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes assessed 335 reviews and determined 91% of them to be positive, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website’s critics consensus reads, “A nerve-wracking continuation of its predecessor, A Quiet Place Part II expands the terrifying world of the franchise without losing track of its heart.” The film was not too scary with a good story line.  A Quiet Place Part II is streaming (for a fee) on Amazon Prime Video and is in many theaters.  Check It Out!

 

BLACK WIDOW (2021) – My rating: 8.5/10

Black Widow is a superhero film based on Marvel Comics that features its comic character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Cate Shortland from a screenplay by Eric Pearson.

Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), the film sees the Black Widow on the run and forced to confront her past. After what happened in Avengers: Endgame (2019), I enjoyed seeing more of this character but sadly, Johansson said she was “going out on a high note” and was proud of the film, feeling that her work portraying Romanoff was now complete.

Black Widow opens in 1995 with what appears to be a normal American family living in Ohio  In reality, dad (head of the household) is a Russian super-soldier Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian (David Harbour) and mom is a Russian Black Widow / Melina Vostokoff (Florence Pugh).   They work as Russian undercover agents, along with their two young Russian daughters, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlette Jonhassan) and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), and are responsible for stealing S.H.I.E.L.D. intel as instructed by their boss, General Dreykov (Ray Winstone). After raiding the Ohio community, the General has Natasha and Velena taken to the Red Room for training. Years pass, during which Alexei is betrayed and imprisoned in a Russian prison while Natasha escapes and defects to S.H.I.E.L.D.

I truly enjoyed Black Widow.  The plot was pretty simple, Russian operatives against America, headed up by a mad general and his team of Black Widows. The adventure was exciting, fun, and all ends had closure.  The cinematography was fabulous as Black Widow took you to many different countries including Norway, England, Budapest, Rome, and Maroco. There are many chase scenes that will have you on the edge of your seat.  I loved the relationship Jonhassan enjoyed with the character Mason (O-T Fagbenle) who I recognized from the Handmaid’s Tale. Mason’s character services Natasha as Alfred services Batman.  Additionally, Ever Anderson played Natasha as a youngster and speaks Russian. Anderson felt her background in taekwondo along with her gymnastics training was helpful to the role. Black Widow broke several pandemic box office records and has grossed over $371 million worldwide, becoming the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2021; it also made $67 million through Disney+ in its opening weekend. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the performances, particularly those of Johansson and Pugh, and the action sequences. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 420 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Black Widows deeper themes are drowned out in all the action, but it remains a solidly entertaining standalone adventure that’s rounded out by a stellar supporting cast. Aside from appearing in theaters, Black Widow is also streaming on Disney+with premier access.  Check It Out!

 

 

SWEET TOOTH (2021) – My rating: 8/10

Sweet Tooth is a fantasy drama developed by Jim Mickle. It’s based on the comic book of the same name by Jeff Lemire. The appearance of this series looks childish but make no mistake, it holds its own as a serious drama with lots of curious adventures. Sweet Tooth has its own pandemic that has proven to be quite the worldwide global event of the decade. Many characters are introduced that give substance to this nicely done series, as in a sweet series for all the family.

Sweet Tooth opens ten years in the past as Dr. Aditya Singh (Adeel Akhtar) goes to work and discovers a deadly virus, which is taking over the world, wiping out most of the human population.  As if the virus wasn’t enough, babies started being born half-human, half-animal (hybrids).  It’s unknown which came first, the virus or the hybrids.  This pandemic was deemed “The Great Crumble”, and the H5G9 virus was deemed “The Sick”. Unsure if hybrids were the cause or a result of the virus, many humans feared and hunted them.

Sweet Tooth is a story about Gus / Sweet Tooth (Christian Convery), a half-human, half-deer hybrid. In order to protect Gus from the outside world of hatred towards hybrids, his father (Richard Fox), who Gus calls Pubba (Will Forte) lives in a secluded cabin in Yellowstone National Park and dies when Gus is nine years old. Gus discovers a box buried by his father beneath a tree that contained what Gus believed was a photograph of his mother, with the word “Colorado” written on it. Gus tries to manage on his own, remembering the rules his father set forth for him to live by.  A year passes when Gus decides to leave the wilderness in search of his mother.  Before leaving the make-shift home he and his father lived in, Gus starts a fire, which alerts nearby hunters to his location, putting him in danger as the hunters try to murder him for sport. Because Gus is able to speak, the hunters become visibly surprised. They are soon killed by Tommy Jepperd / Big Man (Nonso Anozie), a lone traveler who after saving Gus, tries to leave him behind but Gus follows him, insisting Jepperd (“Big Man”) escort him to find his mother in Colorado. Jepperd tries to resist but ends up protecting Gus on his journey.  BTW:  Jeppard was a famous professional football player before the apocalypse.

Sweet Tooth is not what you’d think a story like this would be about.  It’s adventurous with a ton of messages to be learned about bullies and how people act when they fear the unknown.  I found Sweet Tooth to be fun and mysterious while captivating its audience with lots of difficult situations and many twists and turns.  Gus and Jepperd meet all kinds of people on their journey before learning the truth about Gus’ mom.  I think everyone will enjoy this series. The series has been watched by 60 million households since its June 4 release on Netflix. Sweet Tooth is renewed for a second season.   Check It Out!

 

BIOHACKERS (2020) – My rating: 8.5/10

Biohackers is a German techno-thriller, sci-fi, and drama television series created by Christian Ditter who also directed along with Tim Trachte [de]. The series premiered on Netflix, August 20, 2020. Biohackers is a fast-paced thriller following a medical student who discovers the use of highly advanced biohacking technology. This is my kind of story — loved it!

Mia Akerlund / Emma Engels (Luna Wedler), a young medical student at the University of Freiburg meets Jasper (Adrian Julius Tillmann) a talented biology student, and Niklas (Thomas Prenn) his roommate. Being interested in biohacking technology, Mia becomes involved in the world of illegal genetic experimentation while also trying to investigate the cause of her brother’s death. When she learns of breakthrough biohacking research results that have landed in the wrong hands, she has to decide whether to protect her friends or avenge her brother’s death.

Biohackers opens the first episode entitled Arrival with Mia and Niklas traveling together by train. Several passengers suddenly fall ill with what appears to be heart attacks. Since Mia is a medical student, she tries to give aid as the infected passengers fall into a coma, one by one.  The scene then changes to “two weeks earlier” at the University of Freiburg. Mia is moving into an apartment she will share with several other students; Lotta (Caro Cult), a very attractive young lady who likes to party; Ole (Sebastian Jakob  Doppelbauer), an adventurous, wacky guy who likes to DIY on himself; and Chen-Lu (Jing Xiang), a rapid-speaking young woman who is well versed in molecular biology.

Meanwhile, Mia hides scientific papers and newspaper clippings including a photo of Professor Tanja Lorenz (Jessica Schwarz), inside a speaker. Finally, Mia encounters the famous Professor Lorenz in a large introductory class for students in medicine. Professor Lorenz proclaims that synthetic biology, the future of medicine, “turns us from creatures to creators”. Mia has a flashback to her childhood with her twin brother being rushed into an emergency room; on the PA system, she hears, “Dr. Lorenz to the ER please”. After class, Mia pursues Jasper, Lorenz’s assistant and he shows Mia his personal lab in an isolated hut in the woods. He then sends Mia forms to apply as a clinical assistant to Professor Lorenz. The episode ends with a flash-forward to the train where a medic in a hazmat suit enters in the aftermath of the incident that opened the episode. The medic asks Mia her name, and she replies: “My name is Emma”.

So the dye is cast and one of two seasons begins.  Professor Lorenz plays the biggest role in Biohackers as she is Mia’s focus because of her work in synthetic biology and Mia’s past.  I found Biohackers to be exciting, mysterious. and a good drama.  There are six episodes in both seasons one and two, currently streaming on Netflix.  I understand there will be a third season upcoming. While Biohackers is a German production, Netflix has made an effort to make its foreign shows less “dubby” — I think there’s still room for improvement but is more than acceptable.  The plot has many twists and turns as well as a stable storyline.  I enjoyed Biohackers and I think it’s one of the better series streaming on Netflix.  The Rotten Tomatoes website rated Biohackers 100% on their Tomatometer and 79% audience Score for season one.  Because of Covid, critics’ delays are scarce, I can’t wait till we’re back in full swing.  I think if you’re a sci-fi fan, you will truly enjoy Biohackers.  Check It Out!

 

ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE (2021) vs JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017) – My rating: 8.5/10

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (often referred to as the “Snyder Cut”) is Snyder’s 2021 recut of Justice League (2017), directed by Joss Whedon. It presents Justice League—the fifth film of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) as director Zack Snyder intended it before he left the production. This is sort of the answer to the question, why should I spend over 4 huh n hours of my time watching the same Justice League (2017) I’ve already seen?

THE STORYLINE:

**** SERIOUS SPOILERS BELOW ****

Five thousand years ago, Darkseid and his Parademons attempted to conquer Earth using the Mother Boxes that were created on Steppenwolf’s home planet. (The Boxes are instruments that can convert energy to create or reform matter). If you put the three Mother Boxes together, they become an unstoppable force (the Unity), which Steppenwolf uses to conquer planets. The attempt was foiled by a unified alliance of Old Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, humanity, and a Green Lantern. After the battle, the Boxes were hidden in different locations, guarded by the same unified alliance that fought to save planets. In the present, Superman’s death triggers the Boxes’ reactivation, attracting Steppenwolf, Darkseid’s disgraced lieutenant, to Earth. Steppenwolf aims to regain Darkseid’s favor by gathering the boxes to form “the Unity,” which would terraform Earth in the likeness of their world, Apokolips.

Steppenwolf retrieves a Mother Box from Themyscira, prompting Queen Hippolyta to warn her daughter Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Diana receives the message and learns of the events related to Darkseid and Steppenwolf. She informs Bruce Wayne/Batman. Bruce and Diana seek to form a team of metahumans to protect Earth. Bruce locates Arthur Curry/Aquaman and Barry Allen/Flash, while Diana locates Victor Stone/Cyborg.

HERE’S WHAT’S DIFFERENT:

EXTENDED FIGHT SCENES:
Final Fight and Time Travel: Much of the final battle between the Original Justice League “OJL” and Steppenwolf’s forces have changed or been restored. The orange-red sky is now a simple night sky while moments of Batman breaking through the Zone’s barrier are extended. Cyborg trying to connect with the Mother Boxes as Diana and Aquaman fend off Steppenwolf while Flash is racing around the area to achieve maximum charge are also extended in Snyder’s cut. The ending is switched up with a rule-breaking time-reversal finish that undoes the Unity and blocks Darkseid and his demons from crossing over. Steppenwolf’s demise is very different — Arthur stabs him, Superman sends him soaring, Diana chops his head off, and for the finale, Darkseid crushes Steppenwolf’s chopped-off head with the stomp of his foot.

Many of the action scenes that were in the “OJL” (2017), were shaved down. However, in Snyder Cut, they’ve been restored using more CGI blood added to the mix. Wonder Woman stopping the terrorists is longer (with way more bracelet bullet-blocking). Steppenwolf and his Parademons have a much bigger fight with the Amazons (and the Mother Box temple even crumbles into the ocean). Superman vs. the Justice League has some added small scenes, and the battle below Stryker’s Island Penitentiary is beefed up as well. Additionally, Batman doesn’t tell flash to “save one person”.

There is a lot more Cyborg and Silas Stone added to this cut (see Added Scenes)
THE ASPECT RATIO IS DIFFERENT:

The OJL was released in 2017 with a 1.78:1 widescreen ratio. And though early reports claimed Zack Snyder’s Justice League would utilize a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, we now know that Snyder shot the film specifically for a full-frame look in 1.33:1. This aspect ratio is similar to that of IMAX screens, which the director fell for after shooting some IMAX footage for Batman vs Superman. There’s also a black & white version of the film that Snyder is calling the “Justice is Grey” cut but there’s no word yet on when or if that might be released.

NEW CHARACTER DESIGNS, OUTFITS, AND DIFFERENT DIALOGUE:

Deathstroke Differences: Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke was first glimpsed at the end of the theatrical cut of Justice League where he was recruited by Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. He was originally supposed to be a villain in the solo Batman film starring Ben Affleck, but obviously, that movie never happened. Now Manganiello returns as Deathstroke in the Snyder Cut, albeit in a different capacity than in the theatrical film. Not only does the Lex Luthor scene have a different dialogue exchange, with Lex revealing Batman’s identity as Bruce Wayne, but Deathstroke additionally appears in the “Knightmare” future segment, rocking a mohawk and acting as an ally of Batman in the effort to stop Darkseid.
Knightmare Cliffhanger: The “Knightmare” part of Justice League’s epilogue gives us a lot to chew on as it, once again, shows Darkseid’s forces succeeded in conquering Earth. This particular Knightmare dreamscape was totally absent from Joss Whedon’s Justice League, which sort of left the Knightmare scenario from Batman vs. Superman in the lurch. It makes more sense now to have a follow-up to the Dawn of Justice dream since fans would have complete context for it with the reveal of Darkseid in this cut. So what does the Snyder Cut Knightmare segment contain? In the wake of Lois Lane’s death (which Batman failed to prevent), Superman’s somehow been corrupted by Darkseid and now serves him as an undefeatable annihilator. Most everyone has died in the wake of this attack, including Aquaman and Harley Quinn. Batman and a ragtag team of surviving heroes and villains scour the wasteland, trying to win the day while also avoiding Superman’s wrath. Bruce wakes up from this vision right as evil Supes spots them all. All of this, plus Bruce actually mentioning his time travel moment with Flash from Batman vs. Superman to the others earlier in the movie, works in service of the “New Gods” trilogy Snyder had planned.
Darkseid: Uber-baddie Darkseid, played by Ray Porter, is a big part of Snyder’s Justice League. Always intended as the evil lurking behind the scenes, Darkseid is now a much more prominent fixture, motivating Steppenwolf’s assault on Earth. After Diana saw him depicted in an ancient mural toward the beginning of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a flashback showed us Darkseid leading the Parademons against the Greek gods, humans, Atlanteans, and Amazons as his pre-Darkseid version, Uxas. In the theatrical cut of Justice League, a version of this sequence featured Steppenwolf instead of Darkseid, with Diana Prince telling Bruce Wayne it was Steppenwolf who had originally come to conquer Earth. Instead, Steppenwolf’s story now revolves around his plan to get back into Darkseid’s good graces, revealing to his former master that Earth contains the Anti-Life Equation. When Steppenwolf fails and is defeated by the Justice League — complete with Wonder Woman decapitating him — at the end of the film, Darkseid orders an all-out attack on Earth (and squishes Steppenwolf’s rolling head). We last see Darkseid as part of “Knightmare,” approaching a grief-stricken Superman (who’s mourning over, presumably, Lois’ skeletal corpse). It’s the moment he turns Superman (with the Anti-Life Equation, possibly?). In the theatrical version, Steppenwolf is incapacitated by the Justice League but not killed by them and is sent off Earth via a Boom Tube while being swarmed by his own Parademons.
New Steppenwolf Design and Story: Steppenwolf not only has a new look (and slightly altered voice from the theatrical version), but also a new motivation. In the theatrical release, Steppenwolf creating the “Unity” on Earth using the Mother Boxes was part of his own design. He was the villain and it stopped with him. If Darkseid was meant to be someone pulling the strings from somewhere else in the universe, it was never stated at all. With Darkseid reinstated into Snyder’s version, Steppenwolf is now trying to scorch all of Earth in order to pay off a debt to Darkseid, who banished him after an unnamed “betrayal.” Steppenwolf owes his former master 50,000 more worlds before he can be let back into the fold. This creates an emotional vulnerability for Steppenwolf that wasn’t present before, as well as a better understanding of why Earth is a prized possession (since it is the only planet that ever sent Darkseid packing).
Superman Reshoots/Black Suit: Most of Henry Cavill’s scenes for Justice League were reshot by Whedon, with his Mission: Impossible – Fallout mustache digitally removed, as Supes’ entire storyline was reconstructed for a lighter, less-intense film. The theatrical cut nixed Superman’s black suit and changed everything from Superman’s first battle with the Justice League upon being resurrected by the Mother Box to his role in the final battle against Steppenwolf to many other scenes throughout the film (including Superman meeting Alfred). As part of the added Super scenes in the Snyder Cut, we see Superman walking back through the Kryptonian ship, and the computer saying “The future has taken root in the present” (which, by the way, is also a line from one of Snyder’s favorite films, Excalibur). Does this mean that the Superman who was brought back is destined to become the “Knightmare” version?
Lois Lane Lost: In the Joss Whedon version of Justice League, Lois Lane mourns the death of Clark, but doesn’t leave her job at the Daily Planet like she does in the Snyder Cut. She tells Martha that she only does small puff pieces because that’s all she could handle. In Zack Snyder’s version though, Lois doesn’t work at all, and visits the Superman memorial almost every day, bringing coffee to the officer on duty there (played by Donner-verse Jimmy Olsen, Marc McClure – (who is still actually in the Joss Justice League as this cop, just in a different scene).
Martha Gets Martian’d: The scene between Lois Lane and Martha Kent happens way earlier in the theatrical version (and differently too since they meet at Lois’ Daily Planet office). But that’s not the only difference. In the Snyder Cut, Martha is revealed to be Martian Manhunter – aka Harry Lennix’s General Swanwick. On top of this, the entire movie now ends with Martian Manhunter introducing himself to Bruce Wayne and then flying off.
ADDED DELETED SCENES ARE BACK IN:
The Flash/Iris West Scene is Restored: A big Barry Allen scene cut from the theatrical version, featuring Kiersey Clemons’s Iris West, is now back. In it we see Barry, scatterbrained and spread too thin, applying for a job at a dog groomers when an accident outside the store makes him race out and save Iris West from a runaway truck (which in itself pays tribute to Flash creator Gardner Fox). This sets Iris up for future appearances in the DCEU while also giving us a good introduction to Barry before we meet his wrongfully convicted dad in prison. It also makes more sense to see this before his dad later chastises him for working too many jobs and wasting his life.
Arthur and Vulko Scene Restored: Prior to his role in 2018’s Aquaman, Willem Dafoe appeared as Vulko in Snyder’s Justice League. His scene with Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry just never made it into the theatrical version. Yep, there are now a few more Atlantis-centric scenes in Snyder’s movie and the biggest is an exchange between Arthur and Vulko about Arthur’s non-allegiance to Atlantis and how Arthur should be the one to chase after the ocean’s enemies because it would have been his mother’s duty as Queen. And as a tease for the Aquaman movie that would follow, there are also a few lines about how Arthur’s half-brother, Orm, is lying to his people about who’s behind the kidnapping of Atlanteans, trying to start up a war with the humans on the surface. Also, the accent of Mera (Amber Heard) has changed between the two cuts.
There’s Waaaayyy More Cyborg and Silas Stone: Overall, it’s not just Cybrog’s origin story that was missing from the theatrical cut but also his integral role in the breaking of The Unity and the full scope of the abilities he’s been blessed/cursed with by the Mother Box and his father, Silas. “Cyborg is the heart of the movie,” Snyder shared at DC FanDome. “Cyborg is the thing in the end that holds the team together in a lot of ways.” Victor Stone’s genius intellect, football prowess, strained father/son relationship, death, and resurrection are back in the Snyder Cut – along with Silas trying (a bit too late) to be a father to a boy who he’s now gifted with God-like powers (to either launch nukes or give a struggling, working mom a hundred grand). We also see Victor interact within his own internal operating system like it’s a form of virtual reality, where he’s able to walk around in his old Varsity jacket-wearing body. All of Victor’s arc was shaved down to the bare minimum in Whedon’s version. Silas Stone also faces a different fate in Snyder’s version of the film as he intermittently, with Ryan Choi, develops a laser that can super-heat the Mother Box. The reason? So Silas could sacrifice himself to mark the artifact in case it ever got taken. Silas dies helping his son locate Steppenwolf’s base of operations.
S.T.A.R. Labs Infiltration: Cut either for time or because it didn’t contextually work anymore, the scene where Cyborg uses his powers to evacuate S.T.A.R. Labs wasn’t in the 2017 version. In the Snyder Cut, the entire Superman resurrection sequence is longer since the team has to first get inside the Kryptonian ship. Cyborg activates the lab alarm and Silas, after first attempting to call it off, realizes that his son hacked into the system. Silas then allows Cyborg and the others to enter. Knowing they’re doing something important. Silas and Cyborg share a nice nod, which will be the first and last time they amiably connect as father and son in the film.
Ryan Choi: Cut from the theatrical version, but added back into the Snyder Cut, is the S.T.A.R. Labs epilogue scene that names Silas’ co-worker, a fellow scientist, as Ryan Choi – aka The Atom.
Desaad: Since there was no Darkseid in the 2017 Justice League, there were also no Darkseid minions. So his devious right-hand-man DeSaad wasn’t a thing. In Zack Snyder’s Justice League, DeSaad is Steppenwolf’s liaison to Darkseid – a middleman who makes sure his master doesn’t have to endure Steppenwolf’s pleading (or possible failure). Peter Guinness voices DeSaad in the Justice League Snyder Cut and is featured in a few scenes where Steppenwolf attempts to report on his Earthly findings. He, along with Granny Goodness, are seen with Darkseid in the third act as they attempt to come to Earth during the Unity.

THE FILM IS MUCH LONGER:

Time and Substance: Weighing in at 4 hours and 2 minutes, the Snyder Cut of Justice League is a substantially longer and more thorough film – one that aptly reflects director Zack Snyder’s tonal template that began with Man of Steel and continued with Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. The Snyder version has been divided into six plus parts: 1. Don’t Count on It, Batman; 2. The Age of Heroes; 3. Beloved Mother, Beloved Son; 4. Change Machine; 5. All the King’s Horses; 6. Something Darker; and an Epilogue: A Father Twice Over The original Justice League is 2 hours.

THE RUSSIAN FAMILY IS OUT:

No More Russian Family: To add collateral damage stakes to the theatrical version, Joss Whedon created a Russian family that, for whatever reason, lived in a nuclear zone so toxic that Steppenwolf deemed it perfect for his vile headquarters. At first, it seemed like they were the only ones who lived there, but in the end, Flash and Superman are both put on rescue duty and save the family, and a building of other people, from the carnage. Anyway, all these innocent people living in the irradiated death zone don’t exist in the Snyder Cut. Instead, the stakes are that the Justice League actually fails and Flash has to hit the rewind button to save the world.

THE OPENING HAS BEEN CHANGED:

The Entire Opening has Changed: The podcast kids filming Superman, Superman’s funeral, and the world mourning his loss are gone as the opening. These scenes represented a massive reshaping of the story for the theatrical cut. The theatrical version wanted to hammer home, at the start, that Superman was gone and the world was vulnerable. Batman kicks off the movie already knowing there’s an alien invasion, using a burglar’s fear to draw out a Parademon. A burglar, played by Mindhunter’s Holt McCallany, who does a ton of heavy lifting on the exposition front. None of this is a part of the Snyder Cut and we now start with Superman’s scream, upon his death, reverberating around the world and waking up the Mother Boxes (and giving Lex Luthor a glimpse of Steppenwolf). It then shifts to Bruce traversing the Icelandic tundra in search of Aquaman, only knowing that he needs allies and not that there are actual aliens attacking the world.

THE JOKER HAS BEEN ADDED/RETURNED:

Jared Leto Returns as The Joker: While Jared Leto’s Suicide Squad version of The Joker was thought to be a thing of the past, particularly in the wake of Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-winning turn as the character in a solo standalone film, the actor returns to the role for the Snyder Cut of Justice League. Joker was a non-presence in the theatrical cut of the film. The character wasn’t even someone Snyder had originally intended to include. Leto’s Joker was added as part of the additional footage that Warner Bros. funded for the HBO Max streaming presentation. Joker now appears in a new dream/premonition sequence set on the ruined Earth after Darkseid has invaded the planet (as seen in Bruce Wayne’s “Knightmare” vision in BvS). He’s part of a team of survivors that includes Batman, Mera, Cyborg, Deathstroke, and The Flash. He taunts Batman about Robin’s murder and makes everyone question whether it was a good idea to bring him along. The “we live in a society…” line from the trailer and Joker-as-Jesus photo released by Vanity Fair are not included.

THE MUSIC IS SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT:

Music: The score by Thomas Holkenborg (AKA Junkie XL), who was replaced by Danny Elfman for the 2017 theatrical release, is back. For the Snyder Cut, Sigrid’s opening credits cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” that opened the theatrical cut (which Joss Whedon chose) is gone, as well as Elfman’s music, which at times strongly echoed his score to Tim Burton’s Batman films (which, combined with a now-axed line about fighting penguins, curiously tied Justice League into that particular franchise timeline). New Snyder Cut songs include a few tracks by Nick Cage and the Bad Seeds along with a song by This Mortal Coil. The theatrical version’s use of The White Stripes’ “Icky Thump” is also gone, replaced by Icelandic crooning (and some sweater sniffing).

FEWER JOKES:

Banished Jokes: One of the major things Zack Snyder wanted to do with his version of Justice League was to have the film reflect the darker, more serious tone of his previous movies, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Warner Bros., with the Joss Whedon reshoots, tried to make the film echo the MCU’s product, which has more jokes and an overall less grim vibe. No, not all of the film’s jokes are gone — particularly, most of Barry’s silliness remains intact — but humorous moments with most other non-Flash characters have been excised. Bruce doesn’t ask Arthur if he can talk to fish or mention his past battles with penguins. Barry doesn’t question what brunch is, Cyborg doesn’t say “booyah,” and Arthur doesn’t have that “Lasso of Truth” speech.

BRUCE AND DIANA’S ARC HAVE BEEN TAKEN OUT:

The Bruce/Diana Arc is Gone: Though they both interact in the movie, and have a flirty, awkward hand touch moment while researching possible recruits, Bruce and Diana’s relationship is lessened in the Snyder Cut. In the theatrical version, the two of them share more moments together, from discussing lost loved ones to arguing about bringing Superman back. Bruce calls Diana out for sitting on the sidelines for too long because she feels “leaders get people killed,” culminating in a moment in the final battle when she decides to “lead” the others. In the Snyder Cut, the conversations around bringing Superman back are done more as a group, with Bruce telling the rest of them about how he saw Barry appear to him from the future. They then have to decide if bringing Superman back will help them win or actually start the end of the world. Or both.

IT IS NOW RATED R AND BATMAN HAS A NEW SIDE TECH QUEST:

Rated R Language: If you’ve ever wanted to hear Batman tell Joker “I will fing kill you” or Cyborg says “F the world,” then you’re in luck. The Snyder Cut not only spruced up the violence and restored more on-screen fatalities, but it also contains a handful of F-bombs.
Batman Tech Side Quests: There are a couple of Batman side stories in the Snyder Cut that wasn’t in the Joss Whedon version. No, not Alfred getting fidgety over Diana making tea. Bruce, throughout the movie, is developing a new gauntlet that can absorb energy (he uses it to save himself from Superman’s heat vision) while also trying to fix a giant plane so it can fly (Cyborg gets it working). Neither mini-arc has a huge payoff, but they’re still included nonetheless.

POST-CREDIT SCENES ADDED TO THE MAIN FILM:

Post-Credits Scenes: Whedon’s cut of the film included two post-credits scenes. One was the Lex Luthor/Deathstroke meeting, which has now been altered and included in the main film itself. In the Whedon version, it seemed to be setting up an Injustice League/Legion of Doom type team, but now it plays as more of a prelude to the Ben Affleck Batman solo film that never happened. The other scene has been completely cut from the Snyder version. That was the segment where the Flash and Superman took off on a race to find out who was the Fastest Man Alive (with brunch as the prize). Looks like we’ll never find out who won that race now… or, if the Snyder Cut is successful enough, will we…?

ABOVE DIFFERENCES BY Matt Fowler

CAST DATA:

  • Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman:
    A wealthy socialite, and the owner of Wayne Enterprises. He dedicates himself to protecting Gotham City from its criminal underworld as a highly trained, masked vigilante equipped with various tools and weapons. Director Zack Snyder described Affleck’s Batman as on a path of redemption in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, feeling guilty due to his actions in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
  • Henry Cavill as Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman:
    A member of, and inspiration for, the Justice League. He is a Kryptonian survivor and a journalist for the Daily Planet based in Metropolis. In 2018, Cavill described Superman as he appears in Snyder’s Justice League as coming closer to completing his character arc that began with Man of Steel (2013) and becoming the “true” Superman as depicted in the comics. Snyder said while he loves the traditional portrayals of the character, he wanted Superman to have a realistic arc and develop as a character, and not be a “one-dimensional Boy Scout”.
  • Amy Adams as Lois Lane:
    A reporter with the Daily Planet and the love interest of Clark Kent.
  • Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman: An Immortal demigoddess and Amazon warrior.
  • Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg: A former college athlete who, after being cybernetically reconstructed after a nearly fatal car accident, is turned into a techno-organic being enhanced by reactive, adaptive biomimetic alien technology. His enhancements include the abilities of flight, variable weaponry, and technopathy. Much of Cyborg’s character development was removed in the theatrical release, and Snyder described Cyborg as he is depicted in Zack Snyder’s Justice League as “the heart of the movie”. Similarly, Fisher stated that Cyborg’s character arc is emotional and allegorical of “the journey that Black people have taken in [America]”. According to Fisher, the only scene of his directed by Snyder which remained in the theatrical cut was that of Cyborg meeting up with Batman and Commissioner Gordon at the Gotham City police rooftop.
  • Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry / Aquaman:
    An Atlantean half-blood with aquatic powers.
  • Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / The Flash:
    A Central City college student pursuing a degree in criminal justice in the hopes of exonerating his father for the murder of his wife, Barry’s mother.
  • Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko:
    An Atlantean who acts as Arthur’s mentor.
  • Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor:
    Superman’s arch-nemesis and former head of LexCorp. Lex’s original appearance at the end of the film was originally filmed differently from the theatrical version, teasing Affleck’s The Batman project rather than a potential Justice League sequel.
  • Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth:
    Bruce Wayne’s butler who provides tactical support for Batman and the Justice League.
  • Diane Lane as Martha Kent:
    Clark Kent’s adoptive mother.

    Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta:
    Diana’s mother and Queen of the Amazons.
  • J. K. Simmons as James Gordon:
    The Police Commissioner of Gotham City and an ally of Batman.
  • Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf:
    A New God military officer from the planet Apokolips who leads an army of Parademons in search of the three Mother Boxes held on Earth. Hinds had previously described Steppenwolf as “old, tired, still trying to get out of his own enslavement to Darkseid”. Steppenwolf was redesigned for the new release, bringing his appearance closer to Snyder’s original vision prior to studio interference. Previously, Hinds expressed frustration with the theatrical cut which trimmed down Steppenwolf’s backstory and character.
  • Ryan Zheng as Ryan Choi:
    A scientist working at S.T.A.R. Labs, under the leadership of Silas Stone. By the end of the film, Choi is promoted to Director of Nanotechnology at the company. The character was intended to star in a spin-off, with Snyder having pitched a film to the studio. The filmmaker stated that the movie would have featured Choi taking up the mantle of The Atom, and taken place in China with a Chinese cast.
  • Amber Heard as Mera:
    An Atlantean who was raised by Arthur Curry’s mother, Queen Atlanna.
  • Joe Morton as Silas Stone:
    The father of Victor Stone and the head scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs.
  • Lisa Loven Kongsli as Menalippe: Hippolyta’s lieutenant and Diana’s aunt.
  • David Thewlis as Ares:
    The Olympian God of War, and Diana’s half-brother. Stuntman Nick McKinless portrays Ares physically on set, while Thewlis’s face replaces McKinless’s in the finished film using special effects.
  • Jared Leto as The Joker:
    A psychotic criminal and Batman’s archenemy, reprising his role from Suicide Squad (2016). The Joker was not planned to appear in the original film, but Snyder decided to use him sometime after his new version was greenlit, as it was always Snyder’s intention to bring the Joker into his Justice League films. The character was redesigned for the new release.
  • Karen Bryson as Elinore Stone:
    The late mother of Victor Stone.
  • Kiersey Clemons as Iris West:
    The love interest of Barry Allen.
  • Ray Porter as Uxas / Darkseid: A tyrannical New God from Apokolips and Steppenwolf’s nephew and master. Darkseid did not appear in the theatrical cut, meaning Zack Snyder’s Justice League marks the character’s first appearance in a live-action film. Porter played Darkseid through the use of motion capture and “went through a few different vocal gymnastics trying to figure out the voice”. Porter was unfamiliar with the Darkseid character upon being cast, but Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio helped guide him with their knowledge of the comic book lore.
  • Peter Guinness as DeSaad:
    Darkseid’s master enforcer.
  • Harry Lennix as Calvin Swanwick / Martian Manhunter: A shape-shifting alien from the planet Mars. Lennix reprises his role from previous DC Extended Universe films. Snyder has said Swanwick was always Martian Manhunter since Man of Steel and he has been guiding Clark, Lois, and mankind as a whole, pushing them to do good as he wants mankind to take action and try protecting Earth first before getting directly involved himself.

Other actors reprising their roles from previous DC Extended Universe films include:
Robin Wright as Antiope, Samantha Jo as Euboea, Carla Gugino as the voice of the Kryptonian ship A.I. and Russell Crowe (via archival voice recording) as Jor-El. Uncredited appearances include Billy Crudup as Henry Allen, Kevin Costner (via voice recording and still photograph) as Jonathan Kent, and Joe Manganiello as Slade Wilson / Deathstroke.

The Green Lanterns featured in the film including Yalan Gur and Kilowog, through the use of CGI special effects. The final scene centered around Bruce Wayne but was originally filmed with John Stewart / Green Lantern portrayed by Wayne T. Carr alongside Martian Manhunter, but the studio turned down the idea as they have other plans for the character. Snyder stated that his original plan was to have Ryan Reynolds (who previously portrayed Hal Jordan in the unrelated 2011 film), in a cameo so that the scene included an additional Green Lantern. Snyder compromised with the studio and altered/repurposed the scene. Wayne T. Carr was the actor Zack used for John Stewart.

 
After watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I was glad it was over. Not that it wasn’t a greatly directed version of the movie, it was just very, very long. The actual story was well done and many questions were answered. I again was happy to see Superman returned to the League. Thank goodness the movie was divided up into six parts. This made it easier to define where you left off if you didn’t binge-watch it in one day. I also liked the new Superman uniform. Overall, it was worth the watch. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is streaming on HBO/MAX for free if you subscribe to HBO. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 71% of 285 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League lives up to its title with a sprawling cut that expands to fit the director’s vision – and should satisfy the fans who willed it into existence.” Check It Out!

ANOTHER ROUND (2020) – My rating: 7/10


Another Round (Danish: Druk, “binge drinking”) is a comedy-drama directed by Thomas Vinterberg, from a screenplay by Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm. Another Round is an international co-production between Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
After the film finally became available, I watched and decided Another Round was definitely not my cup of tea.  It bears too much resemblance to grown men playing the part of teenagers doing extremely stupid and dangerous teenage things.

Teachers Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe), and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) are colleagues as well as friends at a gymnasium in Copenhagen. All four struggle with unmotivated students and felt that their lives had become boring and stale. At a dinner celebrating Nikolaj’s 40th birthday, the group begins to discuss psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, who has theorized that having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 makes you more creative and relaxed. While the group dismisses the theory, Martin, who is depressed due to marital concerns, is intrigued and decides to put the theory to the test and starts drinking at work. The rest of the group eventually decides to join him, considering the ordeal an experiment to test Skårderud’s theory. They agree to a set of rules: their BAC should never be below 0.05 and they should not drink after 8:00pm.

Within a short period of time, all four members of the group find both their work and private lives more enjoyable. Martin, in particular, is delighted as he finally manages to reconnect with his wife Anika (Maria Bonnevie) and children. Agreeing that the experiment should be taken further, the group increases the daily BAC limit to 0.10. Still finding their lives improved, the group decides to attempt binge drinking to observe how their bodies and minds respond. The group has a fun night, but after coming home drunk, both Martin and Nikolaj are confronted by their families. Martin’s family expresses their worries that he is descending into alcoholism, revealing that he has been visibly drunk for weeks. After a heated argument during which Martin’s wife admits to infidelity, Martin leaves her. The group abandons the experiment.

Teachers drinking during the day is risky, to say the least.  I would think other teachers, colleagues, and students could probably smell you coming.  Increasing your BAC to 0.10 would probably impact your driving skills as well as your reasoning skills.  While one out of the four became an alcoholic, the other three appeared to be in the throws of all the effects of an over-indulger, so what’s the point.  Perspective is everything.  Since Another Round was in a foreign language, I watch with English subtitles turned on. I suspect the subtitles took a little away from my overall experience, as keeping up with the verbiage was not easy.  The plot came to a logical conclusion, which I was not very happy with but on the upside, I found Another Round to be entertaining.  It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and is streaming on Prime Video — Check It Out!

[ANOTHER ROUND is Oscar-nominated at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Director, and Best International Feature Film — Totaling 2 Nominations]

 

PINOCCHIO (2019) – My rating: 9/10

Pinocchio is an Italian fantasy film, co-written, directed, and co-produced by Matteo Garrone. The film is also based on the 1883 book, The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Italian author Carlo Collodi. Pinocchio was a passion project for Garrone, who drew his first storyboard of the story at the age of six. Unlike previous Garrone films, which were directed towards adults, Pinocchio is aimed at both adults and children and was worth every effort to see this classic movie.

After seeing a puppet theater run by Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti), Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), a poor Italian carpenter decides to build a wooden puppet to tour the country, which would earn him a proper living.   He visits his friend and colleague Mastro Ciliegia (Paolo Graziosi) to ask him for a piece of wood he can use to make his dream come true. Earlier that day, Ciliegia became frightened when he discovered a log that began to move on its own. The incident caused Ciliega to practically beg Geppetto to take the log as a gift. With great appreciation, Geppetto takes the gift and begins to build his puppet, which he decides to name ‘Pinocchio’ (Federico Ielapi). Long before completion, Geppetto realizes that Pinocchio is alive and sentient, and decides to take him as his son. After completing the puppet, Geppetto tries to teach Pinocchio how to walk, telling him to be careful not to fall before getting the hang of it. Suddenly, Pinocchio starts running, leaving Geppetto to comb the town looking for him. While on his journey, Pinocchio encounters a hundred-year-old Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta), who tries to help him by giving advice, but Pinocchio, considering the cricket to be an annoyance, throws a hammer at him.

Later, Geppetto returns home to find Pinocchio there with his feet burned off and his legs still aglow. Pinocchio explains that he fell asleep with his feet too close to the fireplace. After having to rebuild them, he forgives Pinocchio for his actions. In order to educate him, Geppetto sells his jacket to Cecconi (Sergio Forconi), a seller and buyer of goods, in order to buy Pinocchio a Spelling book and insists that he attend school. Struck by this sacrifice, Pinocchio sets off, accompanied by Geppetto, for his first day of school. However, his good intentions are diverted by the puppet theater, for which he later sells the book to buy a ticket and the adventure begins. Geppetto vows to find Pinocchio, even if he has to search to the ends of the earth.

Pinocchio meets some interesting characters, some good but mostly bad.  He discovers that he has a Blue Fairy (Marine Vacth), who gets him out of all sorts of trouble, as she is the key to his survival and future.  Pinocchio finds himself getting further and further away from home, with each new character he meets. He is robbed, beaten, hung from a tree, tried by gorilla judge, drowned, turned into a goat, sold to a circus, and swallowed by a sea monster, to name a few of Pinocchio’s encounters.  At one point, Pinocchio is asked why he was in the forest and not at home or in school. Embarrassed, he lies but his nose becomes bigger and longer with each lie he tells. Out of all the children’s tales I’ve seen during the pandemic, I found Pinocchio to be the most adventurous and the best story told.  I absolutely loved this version of Pinocchio and highly recommend it. The Cinematography is outstanding as well as the makeup. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 56 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The site’s critic’s consensus reads: “Sticking closely to Carlo Collodi’s original story, Matteo Garrone’s Pinocchio pulls every string to create a visually stunning film that proves that some tales really are timeless.” Although this version of Pinocchio has been dubbed into English, I haven’t been able to find it, so I watched this version with English subtitles. Pinocchio is streaming on Prime Video — Check It Out!

[PINOCCHIO is Oscar-nominated at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best: Costume Design, and Makeup & Hairstyling — Totaling 2 Nominations]