Fear Street: Part One – 1994 (2021)

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In 1994, a group of teenagers discovers that the terrifying events which have haunted their town for generations ​are all connected — and that they may be the next targets. (Letterboxd)
It’s not particularly stylish (the aesthetic is neither consistent nor enjoyable, but maybe that’s the 90s?) or well-crafted (the intriguing Shadyville vs. Sunnyvale narrative is dropped quickly; the kids vs. cop dynamic feels unwarranted), but its slasher thrills are solid (the multi-faceted grocery store showdown is intense) and the refreshing batch of teenage characters add a really unique and gritty edge to it all (lots of swearing, drugs, angst, hormones, and questionable decisions).
6.5/10 (Alright)

Now You See Me (2013)

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An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money. (Letterboxd)
The end sucks, not just because the twist is nonsensical (flashbacks of the person in a hoodie “there the whole time” isn’t enough explanation), but because the dumb carousal final scene leaves behind the cool Robin Hood-esque motivations of the team for some lame secret club idea–and the cocky characters already weren’t that likeable. Magic and heists are fun though, and fortunately that makes up most of the movie, making it fully watchable when the camera isn’t making you dizzy.
6/10 (Mediocre)

The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

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The human city of Zion defends itself against the massive invasion of the machines as Neo fights to end the war at another front while also opposing the rogue Agent Smith. (Letterboxd)
There’s a lot of stuff packed into this plot and it’s hard to make sense of it all, but as a trilogy finale it has a satisfying amount of fittingly epic highs and lows (see the grueling battle for Zion, ominous and lonely lovers’ mission to the Machine City, the unique climactic deal and defeat) to go with its hit or miss philosophical quips (Agent Smith’s frustrated post-fight speech was a highlight: “You can’t win. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?”).
7/10 (Good)

Dirty Harry (1971)

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When a madman dubbed ‘Scorpio’ terrorizes San Francisco, hard-nosed cop, Harry Callahan—famous for his take-no-prisoners approach to law enforcement—is tasked with hunting down the psychopath. (Letterboxd)
For a 100-minute movie it feels really long (see the numerous monotonous tracking/chasing shots), and its tangential scenes for character development feel completely unnecessary (see the bank robbery, suicide rescue) since the film never commits to being an in-depth character piece. Its central police procedural plot is done well though, with its fantastic music and atmosphere, a chilling villain, and a surprisingly intriguing underlying theme of the tension between justice and the law.
6.5/10 (Alright)

The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

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Freedom fighters Neo, Trinity and Morpheus continue to lead the revolt against the Machine Army, unleashing their arsenal of extraordinary skills and weaponry against the systematic forces of repression and exploitation. (IMDb)
It’s slow to load, with its first half marred by lifeless fight scenes (see the Chinatown fight which Neo just leaves after a while) and too much talking about who knows what (see the convos with the Oracle, Hamann), not to mention that over-indulgent dance/sex scene. On the freeway things pick up speed; the chase sequence is incredible and the final talk actually lands some philosophical punches (see Morpheus’ wind knocked out: “I have dreamed a dream, but now that dream has gone from me”).
7/10 (Good)

The Matrix (1999)

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Set in the 22nd century, The Matrix tells the story of a computer hacker who joins a group of underground insurgents fighting the vast and powerful computers who now rule the earth. (Letterboxd)
A few glitches (some dated VFX, a cheesy romantic arc), but nothing major to make me not want to take the blue pill and escape my reality for a couple hours. The simple premise is juicy steak-scrumptious (see the breathtaking first wake-up scene), and the script walks with sunglasses-cool perfection the line between fun action movie and philosophical sci-fi laced with emotion (see pre-rescue: “[He] believes in something.. I understand that now.. because I believe I can bring him back”).
8/10 (Great)

Zodiac (2007)

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree. (IMDb)
Too long? Nah, could’ve used another hour-I mean, that’s how long I spent googling the Zodiac afterwards anyways. It’s that sort of mystery–complex, endless, with countless players and procedures to dissect, and the film with its excellent technique, turns, and script (the time jumps feel natural; the third-act lens shift to Graysmith works well; Avery’s arc feels like it’s cut short though) captures it all with a remarkable sense of cohesion (a couple loose threads along the way) and momentum.
8/10 (Great)

The Towering Inferno (1974)

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At the opening party of a colossal, but poorly constructed, office building, a massive fire breaks out that threatens to destroy the tower and everyone in it. (IMDb)
The disaster drama here is excellent, adeptly building from a spark of discomfort and brief but torturous dramatic irony to an epic and arduous fight for survival featuring plenty of exciting plot turns and equal amounts small triumphs and terrifying tragedies (Bigelow’s futile run through the fire is a searing memory). Throw in great turns from Newman and co., hints of intriguing building specification scandal, and solid visuals and you have yourself a great action-thriller.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)

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When the Earth is threatened by a burning Van Allen Radiation Belt, US Navy Admiral Harriman Nelson plans to shoot a nuclear missile at the Belt using his experimental atomic submarine, the Seaview. (IMDb)
An undersea sci-fi adventure that loses its credibility as soon as a global disaster comes out of left field in the form of a terrible looking sky on fire. The world-saving submarine mission established henceforth (featuring a tiresome repeated external sub shot) is just as outrageous and poorly written, with the crew and captain melodrama within the visually superior indoor sets offering only slight consolation. It’s a film that’s never substantial, and only occasionally entertaining.
5.5/10 (Poor)

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

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A group of passengers struggle to survive and escape when their ocean liner completely capsizes at sea. (IMDb)
Five trivial character set-ups converge at a fancy New Years cruise ship party as scenes with the captain and crew increase in frequency as the foretold disaster (see the opening story summary) draws near: It’s a straight-forward and effective opening act that leads naturally to the “rag-tag group of survivors” disaster adventure plot. The pace is slow (realistic, but tiresome at points) but it’s offset in part by the well-defined characters (marred only by Hackman’s eye-rolling macho overload).
7/10 (Good)