Locked Down Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

We have all come to terms with the fact that some screenwriters out there will write a story based on the nightmare that is Covid-19. Everyone copes with the pandemic in different ways, some rather not see the reality of it on screen and others want to laugh about the stupidity that has gone on during the pandemic. The new HBO Max Original Locked Down gives audiences the realistic slice of hell that we’ve all been living in while trapped in our homes. As a matter of fact, as I’m writing this my province has declared a second state of emergency.

People may be turned off by the pandemic nature of the story but it’s such a minor aspect of the film itself. It really is about two people, who have grown apart and are forced to face their issues during the two weeks in isolation. Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) have had a very strained relationship. Linda is now working as a CEO for Harrod’s and Paxton is a service worker who delivers packages. Linda promises that after the two weeks she will leave Paxton and they have fair arguments during their remaining days as a couple.

(left) Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Courtesy of WarnerMedia

The film sheds light on how mentally straining isolation can be and the different ways people were coping with the stress. 2020 was a mentally draining year and to show what people were going through within the first two weeks was very realistic and somewhat comforting. It’s more of a “yes, I totally understand how they’re feeling” versus “how dare they show us this in a movie when we’re living it”. It was actually nice to watch a film about the psychological effects of this pandemic with actors who have a very comforting screen presence. It also had some humorous moments that anyone can relate to during the pandemic.

It was a story about relationships and how everyone was forced to look at who they were individually before looking at their partner. It’s well-written because it touches upon different dynamics and different experiences across the globe. Locked Down is an enjoyable film that has great performances from Ejiofor and Hathaway, their chemistry was great. Their journey as a couple, in a strained relationship, trying to salvage their former adventurous lifestyle, with a heist was really fun to watch. The ending of the film was actually perfect and pretty funny!

If you want to check out this pandemic based film, you can catch it on HBO Max January 14th!

Outside The Wire Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Outside the Wire is the first action film from Netflix this year and it has such a great concept. The film has a nice balance exploring robotics and how the mechanics can fit in with humanity. The story is about a drone pilot being sent into a warzone, where he finds himself paired up with a top-secret agent, who turns out to be an android. In typical sci-fi war film fashion, they must stop a nuclear attack. The big draw is the android being able to regenerate its skin to appear human. The concept may sound far-fetched but realistically we do have the resources to create androids and other robotics for the sustainability of the human species.

The moment the film begins you are transported into the warzone, the opening credits resemble a first person shooter game like Call of Duty, which set the tone for the film. The first 20 minutes are filled with action and it shows the state of the world in the near future with grey areas regarding soldiers and robots combined. We are introduced to Lieutenant Thomas Harp (Damson Idris) who causes some serious damage as a drone pilot and is sent to a different sector. There he meets the Captain, named Leo (Anthony Mackie) who is an android military officer. Together they must stop a Russian extremist group from a nuclear attack.

Anthony Mackie as Captain Leo
Courtesy of Netflix Film

What I enjoyed the most was watching Anthony Mackie own the screen. I can’t help but wonder when or if we are going to see him lead a Captain America film of his own one day but he proved in Outside the Wire that he truly deserves it. There are moments, specific lines like “I could do this all day” that really hit me when watching this film. Mackie is a star and people need to start recognizing that. He has proven himself time and time again. He deserves more leading roles that highlight how talented he is.

In all honesty if it weren’t for Anthony Mackie’s on screen presence and his great chemistry with Damson Idris this film wouldn’t have been as fun or interesting. It is a very generic action film that has a messy script, even though the story is pretty straight-forward. The action sequences were choreographed fairly well but nothing really stood out until the final standoff. The film has its moments but it is ultimately a chore to sit through. The middle does drag a bit and the military jargon is thrown around making it hard to understand what’s happening.

If you enjoy your sci-fi war zone action flick then this is definitely one you will enjoy! Check out Outside the Wire on Netflix January 15th.

Wolfwalkers Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Wolfwalkers is another pleasant surprise this year!

The story is about a young apprentice hunter, named Robyn (Honor Kneafsey) and her father Bill (Sean Bean), who journey to Ireland to wipe out the last wolf pack. The pair of them are seen as outcasts and they try to keep to themselves as best they can. Robyn is rather adventurous and does not follow her father’s rules. One day Robyn ventures into the forest with her little bow and arrow, and she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe.

The story is such a magical tale but it’s the animation that makes it soar into the hearts of audiences. It is so beautifully detailed and is designed to create an atmosphere that changes with the emotions of the characters. There are such rich colours that change from scene to scene, depending on the dialogue being exchanged and what it evokes. The magic presented by the wolfwalkers is stunning and is a prominent yellow that glows to heal any person, or animal.

Courtesy of Cartoon Saloon

What was so lovely about the film was the relationship between Robyn and Mebh Óg MacTíre (Eva Whittaker), they were so playful with one another. It was great to see two very different characters adapt to each other and help each other in the end. Wolfwalkers is about friendship and how much power it holds through the symbolism of magic. Mebh saved Robyn and then Robyn did the same in the end. The power of friendship is a strong theme in any film but animation just elevates the theme to another level.

The film is beautiful to watch and there are plenty of moments that will leave you appreciating the depths of the animation. The way the animation is structured almost gives it a three-dimensional look, while it is designed as a two-dimensional ground. The images are stacked upon one another to create this depth and it was so interesting to see the difference from scene to scene. There was also fluidity with the animation of the wolves, which had a pack mentality, even through the movements. Wolfwalkers is the most magical animated film of the year. It has beautiful imagery, impressive animation and a well-written story about acceptance.

Mank Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

We have been waiting for David Fincher to grace us all with a new film. A Fincher film is always bold with its characters, meticulous in its camerawork and is always elevated by its score. Mank definitely had all of those aspects going for it but unfortunately something was missing. It did not feel like a Fincher film. If you look at his filmography and watch Mank, it just feels so out of place. When I say that Mank is the equivalent to Citizen Kane (as it should) it is not necessarily a good thing. Citizen Kane has the expectation of being the greatest film of all time and it is one of the most divisive film because of the argument surrounding the status of the film.

Fincher is extremely talented because he does his research. Mank is a film that pays homage to the Classic Hollywood studio system while modernizing it for today’s audience. However, the arguments Fincher raises in Mank are quite contradictory in how he views the cinema experience today. Fincher is a cinema purist, he has said so himself, yet he made a film for a streaming service. In Mank it is expressed that the studios needed to follow the money, that is the way of the future and it still is. Everything that is said in Mank is reflective of how this year went. Whether it be the cinema experience, the studio’s adapting to a different model or politics, Fincher seemed to wrap it all together in a nice little bow.

Mank exists as a parallel to Citizen Kane, it is literally its counterpart. If you enjoyed Citizen Kane then you will most definitely enjoy Mank. If you’re like me and understand that the technological aspects and narrative structure of Citizen Kane is something to be admired but the film does not really grasp you in anyway emotionally, then you will feel the same way about Mank. Fincher’s camerawork was beautiful, the cinematography was stunning and the lighting in true Welles’ fashion was captured perfectly. There were so many lovely aspects in Mank but the screenplay was just so dull, (I find this ironic because the story is about a screenwriter) there were moments where Gary Oldman woke himself up to speak a bit louder, so you could understand where the story was going but it just fell flat.

Courtesy of Netflix

When it was first announced that Fincher was going to shed some light on Citizen Kane I knew the kind of movie it would be. Fincher was trying to prove a point with this film, he wanted to make a film that presented the best of cinema, the golden age because he dislikes the current state of it. The film is a technical feat and will be up for Oscars but this is the most surprising entry in his filmography. For some reason it’s like he played it safe but he also boldly created a film that the general audience won’t even gravitate towards. This film was made with the intention to educate people on who Mank was but there is a hidden agenda in the way he presents this story.

David Fincher finally made the Oscar bait film that we have all been waiting for. It has the Classic Hollywood glam, detailed dialogue discussing the state of the studio system and political undertones that parallel the current state of America. It is a film that will leave you feeling cheated and confused because it has two sides of Fincher, instead of the one we all know and love. There are many wonderful aspects in Mank, there just should have been something more and I just can’t put my finger on it.

Superintelligence Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Superintelligence is a Ben Falcone film in every aspect. It stars his wonderful wife, Melissa McCarthy and has a very unique concept that doesn’t quite stick. Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy), a former corporate executive, has her life turned upside down when she is selected for observation by the world’s first super-intelligence – an A.I. that could possibly take over the world.

The premise does sound like something that could work but for an action comedy, the humour was severely lacking. Perhaps the slapstick comedy does not work for me anymore but I have to address the fact that it has been used with heavier set actors for as long as I can remember. It just doesn’t work for me at all but to each their own because comedy is personal. It just wasn’t funny, you could see the attempts to set up the jokes but they just didn’t land and it was a hard film to sit through because of it.

What was even worse was that they cast James Corden as the voice of the A.I. The film honestly had this obscurity to it that I can’t even explain, it just felt off from the second it started and then it just went on without any substance. It’s upsetting to watch a comedy and not laugh at all and I love Melissa McCarthy. There are moments where it does get better but then it falls apart again. What was the most frustrating was that Bobby Cannavale and Brian Tyree Henry (who have great comedic timing) were wasted in this film.

Superintelligence has a strong premise and a message about technological advancements eventually becoming a dangerous problem in our lives but the execution was lacking. For an action comedy to lack proper form in a joke set up is very telling about the experience you will have while watching this. Again, comedy is personal but this was the first miss for HBO Max.