How’d it go? – December 2021

Happy New Year! Here are the films I watched in December:

Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

I don’t know what it is about Godzilla films, but other than the Roland Emmerich one that I saw (and loved) when I was 11, I’ve never managed to make it through one without falling asleep, even in the cinema. The same can be said for here, but somehow exclusively in the Godzilla bits. I’ve long been fully in the Kong camp, and his storyline was all I was interested in here, especially the off the wall directions this story goes. I still stand by my statement that every King Kong movie is better than every Godzilla movie (granted, I’ve only seen the English-language ones, sorry), and this confirms it by straddling the line between the two and ending up firmly in the middle. More utter nonsense in mega budget tentpole films, please.
Choose Film 6/10

Home Alone (1990)

A perfect movie. I will take no further questions at this time. I watched it because a) it was almost Christmas, b) it’s, as mentioned, perfect, and c) I was a guest on the Pop Art podcast to talk about this and something else reviewed further down this list. It had been a few years since I last saw Home Alone and now, as a near-middle-aged man with occasional back issues and prolonged leg issues I found the number of times I winced at the trauma Harry and Marv are put through has drastically increased. Listen to the podcast here.
Choose Film 10/10

Home Sweet Home Alone (2021)

I can see what the attempt was here. I get it. Attempt a semi-remake/sequel to Home Alone (Kevin’s brother Buzz, played by Devin Ratray, has a small role) but with literally every character being someway redeemable and with honourable motivations. The problem you get there is that it positions the accidentally abandoned child (Archie Yates) as the actual villain of the film, torturing the couple trying to save their home (Ellie Kemper & Rob Delaney, both super-likeable) by retrieving a valuable doll they believe the child stole from them, and which the film makes us believe he stole as well. I appreciated the efforts made to make the attackers progressively look more like Christmas characters as the onslaught progresses (Delaney starts off wearing a Santa suit and Kemper’s hair gets frozen to look like reindeer antlers) but it doesn’t go far enough (something could have happened to give Kemper a bulbous red nose, or Delaney could’ve had a beard of feathers stuck to his face, for instance), and some of the traps go way beyond cartoon violence, especially the thumb tacks to the face, it’s a miracle they weren’t blinded! Filling the cast with some of the funniest people acting today (Andy Daly, Aisling Bea, Kenan Thompson, Timothy Simon, Chris Parnell, Mikey Day, Jim Rash) and then giving them all pretty much nothing to do also feels like some kind of crime has been committed somewhere.
Choose Life 4/10

36.15 code Pere Noel (1989)

The other film watched for the Home Alone Pop Art podcast episode, this shares a lot of DNA with Home Alone (a child defends their home from an attacker on Christmas Eve), but evidently not enough for the raised court case to be seen through. It’s horrifically brutal – spoiler alert, a dog is violently killed early on in front of a child – but the third act is pretty good. Listen to the podcast here.
Choose Life 5/10

The Covenant (2006)

Watched for Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast because it’s directed by Renny Harlin. This is not a good film, it’s easily amongst the worst we’ve covered on the show. It’s all privileged rich kids using magic to whatever they want, but being miserable about it. The problem comes from the magic being addictive and, once they “ascend” on their 18th birthday, the magic begins to drain their life force and make them age prematurely. Hey, let’s make a cool, fun magic film, but let’s make the magic a real drag to use, that’s cool, right? Add to that a very dull plot, lots of strands that don’t go anywhere, and only a couple of actually cool magic scenes – the car exploding and reforming is awesome – and you’ve got a film that’s now only noteworthy for early performances from Taylor Kitsch and Sebastian Stan. Listen to the podcast here.
Choose Life 4/10

Santa Jaws (2018)

Watched for Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast because of sharks and also Christmas. It’s a low budget film with a bonkers premise, sub-par acting, basic effects and an extremely frustrating plot, but I enjoyed myself with this one. A kid is gifted a pen that brings into existence whatever he draws with it, and he also has a comic book featuring a magical, super intelligent shark with Christmas-themed abilities. These two worlds collide to bring about Santa Jaws, who quickly sets about taking out everyone the kid has ever known. There are some fun kills and it’s all very silly, but if you accept the film for its own limitations there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had here. Listen to the podcast here.
Choose Film 6/10

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

This is a tricky film to discuss without spoiling anything, so I’m just going to say that I loved it. All of it. Even the rumoured bits that I thought I didn’t want, but when they turned out to be true I found out that actually, yeah, they were great ideas and I shouldn’t have doubted them (not all the rumours are true). Tom Holland remains my favourite Spider-Man and my favourite Peter Parker, and on average his films are my top ones too (other than Into the Spider-Verse, as you’ll see soon). No Way Home is ambitious but pulls it off without feeling over-stuffed or fit to burst. Everyone gets something to do, most of the motivations make sense and the acting is all top notch. If you’re a Spider-Man fan you’ve probably seen it already, but if somehow you haven’t then this is an essential viewing, and the Lambcast on which I was a guest to discuss the entire Spider-Man franchise is an essential listen, but only after you see the film. Listen to the podcast here.
Choose Film 9/10

Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021)

I’d had this hyped up a little to me, and it fell a bit flat. It’s probably at least partially due to it being released the same year as the far superior technology-going-haywire family animation The Mitchells Vs The Machines. The plots are quite different, but that’s amongst my favourite films of the year, so this just didn’t measure up against the Mitchells‘ haywire insanity. Ron’s Gone Wrong is fine, but not a lot more than that.
Choose Life 6/10

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

This year’s film I watched whilst wrapping Christmas presents, and also because of the aforementioned Spider-Man franchise podcast. I love Into the Spider-Verse. It’s a mesmerising blend od beautiful animation styles, hilarious comedy and fun action, plus there’s Spider-Ham, maybe my favourite character of all time?
Choose Film 10/10

Don’t Look Up (2021)

What better way to spend Christmas Day than by watching one of the most aggravatingly depressing films ever made? The frustrating subject matter aside (a comet is heading towards Earth, but the people in charge who are able to make a difference are more concerned with money and votes than actual survival) this is a very smart if a little direct satire. It’s not subtle in the slightest, but the performances are all wonderful from a very game cast, with Leo DiCaprio in the lead role doing some of his best work ever.
Choose Film 8/10

Wrath of Man (2021)

The UK finally received a Guy Ritchie/Jason Statham film inexplicably released almost a year earlier elsewhere in the world, and it’s pretty great! This is far less comedic than the results we normally get when those two pair up, but I dug it regardless. The core narrative is Statham plays a mysterious character who begins working for an armoured truck company, whose other employees include Josh Hartnett, Holt McCallany, Eddie Marsan and Rob Delaney, but when a truck gets attacked it’s clear Statham’s character has some extra curricular skills he didn’t let on about during the interview. There’s a lot more to the story, and I appreciated the way it developed and how we were informed of the various layers. The likes of Scott Eastwood, Jeffrey Donovan and Andy Garcia fill out the cast in characters that aren’t necessarily deep, but do the job required. If you’re looking for hefty female roles, this isn’t the film to go to I’m afraid, but for what this is I found it worth the wait.
Choose Film 8/10

Titanic (1997)

The in-laws were visiting for Christmas and we almost rented No Time To Die but deemed it too long, so we stumbled upon Titanic instead, a good half hour longer than No Time To Die, but that didn’t stop us. Basically, my mother-in-law said she really liked the film, and even liked the sequel where old Rose went back to the site to look at the drawing in the safe, with the men who’d brought it up from the ocean. We explained that wasn’t the sequel, that’s the bookends for the one and only film, but she didn’t believe us and we ended up watching the entire film just to prove a point. I regret nothing, because Titanic is, as ever, wonderful.
Choose Film 10/10

The Reef (2010)

Watched for Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast because it features sharks. The podcast episode isn’t up yet, but it’s not an overly positive one. This is a very simple story of five friends becoming stranded on an upturned boat in the middle of nowhere. They opt to try and swim to safety, and a great white shark has other plans in mind. The opening credits state this is based on a true story, which to me explained why it’s mostly uneventful and with the thinnest characters you can imagine undergoing some very uncinematic action, but it turns out that the true story in question has very little connective tissue to the story here, other than the number of survivors and a couple of scenes along the way. This means so much of the plot could have been improved to make this a more entertaining watch. That being said, this is easily the most realistic creature feature I’ve ever seen, aided by the use of only real shark footage and no CGI or even practical effects, but that comes at a huge detriment to the story and my attention.
Choose Life 5/10

Encanto (2021)

The latest Disney animation to arrive on Disney+, I liked this well enough but the only thing that’s really stuck with me is one of the songs, We Don’t Talk About Bruno. It’s a much smaller, less grand story than we’re used to with Disney, with no great quest or adventure, and the events taking places in and around one house, which admittedly I loved. The morals on display are pretty basic, and the culmination of the story too contrived and unclear, but it was fun enough.
Choose Life 6/10

The Last Duel (2021)

I was not in the right mood to watch this, and ended up spreading it out over a few days, but given it’s an episodic story, telling similar, overlapping events from three perspectives, I think that was an OK way to watch it, especially as my appreciation grew with each partial viewing. The haircuts are very unfortunate, the multiple rape sequences incredibly distressing, and the oft-voiced opinions of men about women from the medieval age are aggravating to the point of near comedy. Whilst Damon, Affleck and Driver are all good, Jodie Comer is the true shining talent here, I believe she could do anything, and the action is pretty great too.
Choose Film 7/10

The Lost Daughter (2021)

A New Year’s Eve watch, I can’t guarantee I caught all the dialogue because my asshole neighbours were having a very loud karaoke party throughout, and until 3am the following morning. Ahem. Olivia Colman plays a comparative literature professor on holiday who becomes entangled in the life of Dakota Johnson and her family, particularly young daughter. Meanwhile there are flashbacks to Colman’s own time as a young mother, during which her character is played by Wild Rose‘s Jessie Buckley. This is more of a character study than I usually like, as I was expecting a little more of a thriller plot, but I was captivated throughout, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directing was good and Colman and Buckley always hold my attention as they’re both incredible actors. It’s not the most eventful of plots, but it’s a fascinating look at one woman’s life.
Choose Film 7/10

I did it! That’s 2021 all wrapped up! My 2021 new releases ranking post and 2021 Year in Review post should be coming soon, wish me luck! I hope you’re 2021s were all delightful, and so far 2022 is treating you well.

3 thoughts on “How’d it go? – December 2021

  1. loved ur Titanic anecdote. u know I love it too so any excuse to watch it is acceptable to me.

    Spider verse is also my fave SM movie, but NWH is a very close second.

    Fwelt same way abt Encanto and Dont look up as u

    Still waiting to find time to watch the Lost Daughter with my wife..

    Really enjoyed Wrath of man, much better than i had expected it to be

    Keep up the great work in ’22!!!

  2. Pingback: 2021 Movies Ranked | Life Vs Film

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