‘Army Of Thieves’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Don’t worry; no zombies were harmed in the making of this prequel. We all loved Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) in Army of the Dead, but we never really expected a prequel with his character. Zack Snyder’s film was a fun zombie flick and we were all happy to see him go back to his roots. However, Army of Thieves was lacking the Snyder touch and it felt completely different in tone. This one is more of a heist film to highlight Dieter’s expertise in safecracking and it does work for the most part. The issue is that the pacing was a bit slow for my liking in between the heists and the secondary characters apart from Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel) were forgettable.

This prequel comes before the zombie apocalypse, so we see the early stages of what transpires in Las Vegas. Our favourite German safecracker, Dieter leads a group of aspiring thieves on a top-secret heist, attempting to crack as many safe’s as he can. The most impressive thing that Matthias Schweighöfer did as a director was completely understand Dieter’s character and make the entire atmosphere of the film feel like him. From the music choices, to the fourth wall breaks, and the actual safe cracking, it was all about Dieter. For a prequel that is solely character based, the essence of Dieter was evident and worked for what the film was.

For the most part, it is a standard heist film with some hints to zombies attacking them in the near future. But that is about the only link to Army of the Dead. The Snyder-isms are definitely missed but Schweighöfer’s magic behind the camera came with the attention to the safecracking. He really went into the gears of the safe and every single aspect that goes into opening it. The special effects that were used to show the dimensions of the safe and the actual locks were a very nice touch. There are some strong choices made, some solid action sequences but it’s more style over substance. Which is also a good thing for Schweighöfer to show off his directing chops.

Army of Thieves is a fun prequel for Army of the Dead and it is because of Schweighöfer. If it weren’t for his comedic timing and absolutely brilliant physical comedy, this wouldn’t have worked. He is talented, when working with the right material but he did get the chance to show it off. Dieter is a wonderful character and the movie will make you love him even more. Really glad that Netflix decided to actually go forward with the Snyder, zombie-verse because we can get some fun one-offs like this. If you just want to watch some good old safecracking and some funny physical comedy, then this is a solid watch this weekend.

‘You’ Season 3 Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Hello, you.

If you haven’t watched the first two seasons of You on Netflix, then I suggest you stop reading this and start binge-watching.

In season three, Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) and Love Quinn-Goldberg (Victoria Pedretti), are now married and raising their baby, in the balmy Northern California enclave of Madre Linda. They are surrounded by privileged tech entrepreneurs, judgmental mommy bloggers, and Insta-famous biohackers. This suburban lifestyle would drive anyone crazy. Joe is now committed to his new role as a husband and dad, but fears Love’s lethal impulsiveness.

This series has always explored what the meaning of love actually is. Majority of the time it’s through a toxic, borderline psychotic angle, but it still does assess relationships from every side. The violent, lethal side is definitely an exaggeration of the passion shared between two people. It works for the stalker-esque persona that Joe has locked inside him. It also works in favor of Love’s jealousy and territorial nature. The way this season sets up Joe and Love’s relationship, as a couple, and as individuals makes for an interesting finale.

you season 3  penn badgley as joe goldberg
Courtesy of Netflix

Joe and Love had a very unique love story in season two. We see Joe’s obsession turn into something wholesome and normal. Until, Love turns out to be the exact same as Joe, maybe even worse. In this season, there’s an exploration of past trauma and how it can affect every single aspect of one’s life. The show will always have Joe as the central focus, so his flashbacks are integrated during crucial moments. Joe knows that the violent, animalistic nature of his relationship with Love isn’t that energy of a soulmate, but a very toxic union involving a murder spree.

Joe is clearly unhappy in this marriage and he wonders if Love is his soulmate, or if someone else is out there, who understand him more than she does. Joe is definitely not content with his marriage and is trying to find his actual soulmate elsewhere. While Joe is stalking other women and making poor life decisions, Love is struggling with motherhood and being the perfect wife in a suburban town. It’s almost like a modernized, influencer version of The Stepford Wives for Love. As she meets the other mothers in town, she becomes insecure and loses herself in the ideal perception of motherhood in Madre Linda. She spirals out of control because she feels the need to protect her family, even from her own husband, who seems to be putting in very little effort.

You' Season 3 | Netflix Cast, Release Date, Plot, and More
Courtesy of Netflix

You season three incorporates so much, that it truly exceeds expectations. Love and Joe are an unlikely tag team and they continuously make poor decisions throughout the season. It progressively gets worse for them, as more characters come into play. It is one gigantic game of lust and betrayal. The viewer has no choice but to stick around and watch it unfold. Even though Joe tries to keep his past behind him and attempts to repress his violent, stalkery urges, Love just brings out the worst in him. The pacing of this series is extremely strong and packs a definite punch to the gut at the end.

You season three drops on Netflix this Friday, October 15th and you won’t want to miss it!

‘Midnight Mass’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

I really had to sit and think about this one.

As everyone knows, I am a Mike Flanagan supporter. He has captured my heart and I love his work. He brings so much detail and knows how to create tension throughout his pieces. However, Midnight Mass did not do it for me. I left this series feeling a bit underwhelmed.

It is a very different approach to the horror genre. He strays away from his typical ghost stories from Hill House and Bly Manor. Instead of paying close attention to the things that are creeping around the home, Flanagan puts all the focus on the dialogue. I am a fan of dialogue heavy projects BUT it must be engaging. We are rating this show as a whole and not based on a fantastic finale.

Courtesy of Netflix

The arrival of a charismatic priest, brings miracles, mysteries and renewed religious fervour to a dying town. The first half of Midnight Mass is very slow. The character introductions are fine but definitely not strong enough to make me care for any of them. Flanagan started out with Riley Flynn’s (Zach Gilford) story and then it fizzled out halfway through. There were many storylines that didn’t really intertwine the way they should have. Some character stories fell flat. The only interesting character, who held all this together was Monsignor Pruitt (Hamish Linklater). He commanded the screen and had powerful moments during his sermons.

You have a very complex character in Pruitt. There are so many layers to him. Unfortunately, he had no one to bounce off of, that matched his level of intensity during dialogue heavy scenes. There needs to be some back-and-forth for his character to work. Majority of the time, I would be waiting there to see when he popped up on screen because then I knew it would get interesting. I just expected so much more from the characters and the performances. Unfortunately, nothing really grabbed my attention until the final three episodes.

Netflix's 'Midnight Mass' Review: Mike Flanagan's Latest Gothic Horror -  Variety
Courtesy of Netflix

There are still great moments throughout this series. The creature designs are beautiful and there are some great kills with tension-filled moments. The practical effects and use of blood were both lacking at certain times. I appreciate that Flanagan is having a healthy conversation surrounding faith. That people should not blindly follow a system that can sometimes be corrupt. He also showed the fine line between good and evil, especially with the Angel coming into play. The journey that Flanagan takes you on in these seven holy episodes ends up spiralling out of control.

Midnight Mass is an interesting new addition to Flanagan’s body of work. This series just did not hit me in the same way the previous two did. Maybe it’s because I already contemplate all of the questions raised as a Catholic myself? So it felt repetitive for me. I feel like the point Flanagan was trying to make about faith, self-doubt, and corrupt religious systems got lost in translation as the show went on. It also ended up in a very different place and I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

‘Fear Street Part Three: 1666’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

We are back for one last Shadyside scare! Fear Street Part Three: 1666 ties up the trilogy quite nicely, making it one of the most consistent horror trilogies in the past couple of years. We dive into Sarah Fier’s backstory, as we head to the time of witchcraft, and the devil. Fier’s small, colonial town is gripped by a witch hunt, that has deadly consequences for centuries to come. Fier’s story is then combined with Samantha Fraser’s from 1994, as the group of teenagers try to put an end to the Shadyside curse before it’s too late. The way this slowly flows into each instalment and era is really well done. The characters are all somehow linked to the curse of Sarah Fier, and the reveal in this third instalment is genius.

What worked incredibly well in this third instalment is that Deena is transported to 1666 through Sarah Fier. The concept of possession normally works for the present time and the body is rarely brought into the world of the dead. So it was a really nice change of events. We see that majority of the characters from the first two films are also in this third one. Doing this allows the audience to remain familiar with the faces while telling a new story, so that the emotional connection that was previously established could carry through.

The structure of Sarah Fier’s story was interesting because of the queer representation in 1966. Relationships were kept hidden, or were called abnormal; those who were queer were automatically linked to the devil. Fier’s story became rather important once we found out what had actually happened to her. It took one person, a town filled with misogynists and loyal Christian followers to create a false narrative. This all ties together at the end of Sarah Fier’s story, there was a Saw-like montage, showing the audience everything they missed in the trilogy. Once the audience goes back with Deena to 1994 they know what the plan is to end the curse for good.

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 has a sinister atmosphere from the start and authentically presents 1666. The score was disorienting and reminded me of Hereditary, there were plenty of animals used, flies were very prominent, and the essence of the devil around the townsfolk was felt. The violence and gore in this third instalment was subtle, but effective. The fun, fancy kills, were brought in at the end in 1994, which made complete sense. All in all, this trilogy had a perfect release strategy from Netflix, allowing this to become one of their best properties in their library.

Oh, and don’t worry, there could be another sequel… I wonder where they will go next?!

‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

What can be said about Gunpowder Milkshake?

Well, it does bring the neon lights with some style and cool fight choreography. It has a solid soundtrack, and a fantastic cast of women, but it still falls short. We open on Sam (Karen Gillan) who is on a job for her boss Nathan (Paul Giamatti). It looks cool, sleek, and feels like its neo-noir with a modern action movie spin to it. The combination of those genres can only work if the script is strong, and sadly, this was a little too simple for my liking. They stretched a simple concept really thin. It didn’t have enough substance to match the flashy style of the lighting and camerawork.

What was the most upsetting is that Karen Gillan gave the most bland, internal performance I’ve seen in a while. It’s hard to lead a film if you are emotionless and stiff the entire time, rarely giving anything for your co-stars to even work with. You have absolute legends like Angela Bassett, Carla Gugino, Lena Headey, and Michelle Yeoh in this film, that were barely giving anything, and they still outperformed the lead of the film. It is hard to sit through this, knowing that those four actresses are there, waiting for the final battle, when they could have been scattered throughout the film.

The concept was there but the execution was disappointing. It was great to see an all female cast in an action film but they underused them as well. We have Sam, whose mother (Lena Headey) abandoned her at a young age do go do a job. Then 15 years later, Sam takes on her mothers hitman job and works for ‘The Firm’ with Nathan. She ends up whacking the henchmen of another big boss and he wants to get even. Very straightforward, had so much potential to be a fun, action film, but the entire second act was painfully boring. The highlight was when Sam went to the “library”, and there she meets Yeoh, Gugino and Bassett. She needed books, and in those books, there were different guns.

Gunpowder Milkshake had so much going for it, but it fell victim to having a wicked trailer, that had every good part of the movie in it. I had so much hope for this film because of this all-star cast but I was really disappointed with it. There were great action sequences but some of them ran long and felt really generic. There were choices made that lasted longer than it should have and that is what makes it a drag. There are ways to make something unique, play it up, and then know when to fold them. Sadly, this film is the lowest blow for me this year because of how hyped I was for it.