The Father (2020)

It’s slow and subtle psychological horror (the poignant production design parallels are powerful here, as is the intentionally convoluted time/place/person-jumping script) that ditches easy “losing mind” thrills in favour of a meaty, beating-heart character drama core which Hopkins masterfully drives home to the homelessness of the crushing final scene (“I have nowhere to put my head down anymore”) with the many emotions of the journey (confusion, anger, and bittersweet charm and ignorance).
9

The Two Popes (2019)

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Behind Vatican walls, the conservative Pope Benedict and the liberal future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church. (IMDb)
For a movie about two old religious guys talking to each other it’s surprisingly colourful and dynamic (see the handheld camerawork, lively soundtrack, and bright and goofy end credits) but it’s got dramatic weight too: the leads excel and the great and hefty dialogue is complemented by plenty of personal character moments and an intriguing look at papacy politics (superbly edited). The flashbacks are interesting but awkwardly shift the focus to Francis when it should have stayed on the two.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

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Autobots and Decepticons are at war, with humans on the sidelines. Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. (IMDb)
The plotting is either incomprehensible or downright cheesy (or both–see the climax at Stonehenge with the staff of Merlin), character movements are difficult to make sense of (see Duhamel’s Colonel and co. chase, then join forces with their target; the Earl suddenly ditching), and besides that, it just goes on too long. The action’s good though, and some surprising and genuinely funny moments of levity (see Merlin’s opening plea; Cogman’s organ playing; Agent Simmons in Cuba) help break it up.
6/10 (Mediocre)

 

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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Thor is imprisoned on the planet Sakaar, and must race against time to return to Asgard and stop Ragnarök, the destruction of his world, which is at the hands of the powerful and ruthless villain Hela. (IMDb)
Thor is released from his cheesy-golden-Viking realm (“Asgard is not a place, it’s a people”) to super fun results: Hemsworth oozes goofy charm (“No, I won. Easily”) and serves as a solid lead for the fast-paced script. An eclectic supporting cast (the amiable Kiwi Korg and goofy Grandmaster are comedy gold-blum), fun cameos, a suitably intimidating villain, and just the right amount of trope subversions (see the opening scene) amidst the serious moments (see Loki’s final catch) fill it out.
8.5/10 (Amazing)

 

RED 2 (2013)

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Retired C.I.A. Agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. (IMDb)
After Die Hard 5 I said a protagonist has never been more annoying but Willis may have topped himself here by adding even more stupid smirks and patronizing remarks to his macho lead. Elsewhere we’re treated to a billion convenient last-second saviors and nearly as many eye-rolling villains in a mess of a plot I gave up on halfway through, while the dark humour from the first film becomes just plain disturbing (mirrored by the overload of bloodless killings). At least Marvin was still funny.
4.5/10 (Bad)

 

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

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When Dr. Jane Foster gets cursed with a powerful entity known as the Aether, Thor is heralded of the cosmic event known as the Convergence and the genocidal Dark Elves. (IMDb)
Another predictable plot with a still insufferably lame Jane in the still mostly cheesy CGI fantasy land of Asgard (the funeral scene being a beautiful exception) is iced with enough good stuff to elevate it above its predecessor. There’s better self-aware humour (see the hammer hang on the coat rack; Thor on the subway), a pretty cool–if far-fetched–final action sequence, and engaging relational development between Thor and Loki (regrettably reversed during a stupid final-seconds twist).
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Thor (2011)

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The powerful but arrogant god Thor is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders. (IMDb)
It’s a little hard to get past the two wildly contrasting worlds, especially when the futuristic-space-viking one is saturated with CGI and cheesy costumes (though Elba’s gatekeeper intrigues). Story-wise, a decent arrogant-hero-humbled premise headed by the charming hunk Hemsworth (the supporting characters are largely forgettable) is weighed down by a cliche jealous brother/father’s approval sub-plot in space and a dull romance on earth (Portman’s strong scientist Jane feels cheapened here).
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Instinct (1999)

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When a noted anthropologist who left society to live in the jungle is imprisoned for murder, it’s up to a young psychiatrist to get through to him. (IMDb)
The central relationship here quickly loses its initial psychological suspense but eventually morphs (through the growing pains of cliches) into a pleasant unlikely friendship spurred on through story sharing and spiked with a sentimental side-plot stemming from its prison setting. Most of its emotional peaks don’t feel deserved (Theo’s tears in particular) and some are downright cheesy (standing in the rain with my arms out!) but at least the film manages to get going after a shaky start.
6.5/10 (Alright)