Uncharted (2022)

The CGI is a little spotty and the writing is full of cannonball-shaped holes (Nathan is a good character but the backstories to Sully, the treasure, and the rival hunters are only hinted at; meanwhile, the twisty trust/betrayal dynamic of the main three awkwardly flip flops between serious and playful), but the clue-hopping pace is perfect, the comedy sufficient, and the adventure action barrels of fun (see the heist, the plane jump, and the ridiculously amazing pirate ship battle in the sky).

Do Revenge (2022)

Good acting, aesthetic, and posh Gen-Z high school world-building keep this party going amidst some inconsistent writing (see the unnecessary narration, the one-off sympathizing of Max, the confusing and unfounded twist, the drastic reconciliation to happy ending that reeks of privilege, the cheesy and easy re-pairing off in the credits). There are some great emotional moments (see Drea and Nora in bed) but they don’t always feel connected or justified. Or maybe I just don’t get teens anymore.

Easter Sunday (2022)

Nice to see the Flipino representation on screen (the meta bow-tying with the TV show offer at the end was a nice touch), though you can tell lead Koy is more of a comedian than an actor (probably why the writers awkwardly shoved a stand-up routine into the church scene). The whiplash plot full of wacky family drama and wild crime action is handled surprisingly well, but is marred by a few cringey low-budget moments (see the poor sound editing during karaoke and obvious green screens).

End of the Road (2022)

Mostly awkwardly scripted in its crime plot (if it’s gonna be this simple, make it even simpler and lose the laughably generic helicopter scene) and family drama (see the painful slap then chat), with mediocre turns and try-hard camerawork to (cowboy) boot. Keeping it watchable are some good moments of suspense and campy action (see Latifah beating the shit out of a gaggle of white supremacists) and the saturated and colourful desert aesthetic (especially in that cool, neon-drenched climax).

That Thing You Do! (1996)

It has low stakes and little weight, yet that thing it does where it applies the typical biopic rise and fall narrative to a fictional one-hit wonder band, some of whom don’t even get names, never mind character depth (we love you, TB), is uniquely engaging in its paradigmatic plot. It’s easy watching and funny in a very fun way (mostly thanks to goofball Lenny), and even has a sudden and poetic dramatic moment that somehow fits (“Shame on me for kissing you with my eyes closed so tight”).

The Breaker Upperers (2018)

Can’t go wrong with a quirky Kiwi comedy about two best friends who run an offbeat (sometimes on the beat–see their hilariously awkward cop con shenanigans) business out of their wood-panelled office, especially with the natural performances on display here. The premise is a little flimsy like a flimsy flower but the way it portrays the nuances of maturity and fulfillment in relationships (romantic and platonic) is heartfelt and comes to a charming song-and-dance break-up and make-up ending.

The Rock (1996)

America: where the President would rather annihilate 81 innocent civilians than pay reperations to families of people who died on illegal missions that he sent them on. The plot is full of rockin’ entertainment but is occasionally hard to get into when said country is such a major player in it and isn’t always viewed through a critical lens. Still, the cast’s got charisma for days (Cage and Conn err not once) and the action overflows (see the destructive joyride through San Fran tangent).

Mamma Mia! (2008)

A wild, campy mix of sitcom-esque green screens and goofy comedy, Greek island-breeze(d) through ridiculous plot points, and frequent brazen musical numbers. Plus a weird amount of sweeping cinematic camera movement. Any doubt on whether I liked all this was washed away with the perfect Pied Piper-esque rendition of “Dancing Queen” and the adorable three-dad date on a boat that followed. It drags a bit pre-wedding with two long, sappy songs, but gets back on track with the ceremony drama.

Nope (2022)

Its pacing feels sluggish throughout, and when you combine that with a script that has more subtext than plot points, it makes it difficult to get into the unique sci-fi thrills despite great turns, visuals, and sound design. Still, the rich and fascinating themes (Hollywood spectacle and its connections to money-making, animal treatment, and the Black experience) and many fun details of the UFO-B-movie/creature feature/neo-western vibes keep it flying around in your head well after the credits.

Julie & Julia (2009)

A very pleasant picture serving two distinct dishes made from the delicate but delicious-if-done-right recipe of relationships, ambition, and personal passion. The cast is excellent (though Streep is the clear star with her hilarious and effortlessly charming Julia) and the multi-faceted writing is well-balanced (the letter/blog voiceovers add a wonderful warm butter-like flavour to savour throughout), with Eric’s sudden departure and the “Julia hates me” thread left hanging the only missteps.