June 29, 2023

“Nimona” is a Thrilling New Standard for Family Entertainment (Review)

As a queer, gender-fluid person with big thighs and a tendency to talk more than I should, I’ve always identified with cartoonist ND Stevenson’s work. Netflix’s futuristic fantasy Nimona, an animated adaptation of Stevenson’s 2015 graphic novel by the same name, is no exception.

Image courtesy of Netflix

follows the journey of Ballister Blackheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed of Rogue One and The Sound of Metal), a former knight misbranded as a villain, as he joins forces with a spunky shape-shifter named Nimona (Hugo’s Chloë Grace Moretz) to clear his name.

I was impressed with how the animators translated the 2D drawings from the graphic novel into 3D animation for the film. The art is unique and the animation feels very fluid. It’s a different spin on Stevenson’s characters in a new style, while preserving important parts of the character design. I loved seeing Nimona as a punky delinquent covered in piercings, but I also love that she retained her big thighs and partially shaved head from the comic. It feels fresh and new, while still true to the source material in the ways that matter.

“The Witcher” is Running Low on Bloodlust (Season 3 Vol. 1 Review)

Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher has, in the last year, been through the promotional ringer. For a variety of reasons, it was announced that star Henry Cavill (a self-admitted fan of the show’s source material, and one of the series’ initial draws) would leave the show after its third season, to be replaced by Liam Hemsworth. That news, and the fact that it was announced so early, casts a long shadow over Cavill’s last season, which has been split into two parts by Netflix, undoubtedly (among other reasons) to milk his remaining time as Geralt of Rivia. I speak for many other Witcher fans that he is usually one of the best parts of the show, and his exit has the potential to strip it of what made it great in the first place.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Alas, we won’t know for sure how Cavill’s tenure ends until the second half of the season drops in July, but until then, we have a definite jumping-off point for his final arc. And it pains me to say it — I liked Season One, and adored Season Two — but The Witcher is rapidly losing a lot of the steam it gained in the first two seasons.

June 28, 2023

“You Hurt My Feelings” is an Inoffensive, if Lackluster Relationship Dramedy (Review)

It can be tricky to know what type of story can sustain a film’s runtime, especially one with a basic premise that sounds more like a short film or a sitcom episode. Such is the case with You Hurt My Feelings, a new comedy-drama from A24 that makes no apologies for its capacity of brevity.

You Hurt My Feelings features Tobias Menzies (Game of Thrones) as therapist Don, husband to novelist Beth, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who still finds time to star in more modestly-budgeted films, even as she begins to make her mark on the blockbuster Marvel movies). They have a near-perfect marriage, anchored by great communication, an adult son (Mrs. Fletcher’s Owen Teague) still in their life, and a close relationship with Beth’s sister’s family. But that begins to unravel when Beth inadvertently hears Don’s honest opinion of her latest book, which doesn’t align with what he had told her about it. A misunderstanding follows, and you might be able to figure out how the rest goes.

You Hurt My Feelings runs a tight 93 minutes, and packs every facet of relationship drama it can into the time it has. It’s the latest feature from Oscar-nominated writer/director Nicole Holofcener, who made her mark on the film scene with 2018’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?. Like that film, You Hurt My Feelings is driven by its central cast, all with commanding presences and the ability to expertly juggle comedy and drama, oftentimes in the same scene.

June 24, 2023

“Asteroid City” is a Methodical Filmmaker at the Top of His Game (Review)

Given time and opportunity, the best filmmakers are able to hone their craft and create a unique reputation for themselves within the cinematic sphere. It’s difficult to think of a modern director with a more recognizable visual style than Wes Anderson. A slew of AI-generated videos have recently attempted to capture said style, but what those lack are the soulful core of what Anderson imbues every frame of his films with, and that sort of thing is impossible to digitally replicate.

Anderson’s latest is Asteroid City, which I see as the culmination of years spent establishing and sharpening the aforementioned style. It features an impressive cast of both Anderson regulars and newcomers alike, all of whom are fully committed to the very particular way of speaking and acting that has come to define Anderson’s characters. What sets Asteroid City apart is that, while some of his other films occupy a specific world all their own, here there is a narrative purpose behind the strangeness, which brings a whole new dimension to what we’re seeing. There doesn’t always have to be a story-motivated reason behind the design, but in this case, I find it fascinating that Anderson has decided to go that route, and I wonder what it could mean for the stories he decides to tell in the future.

June 4, 2023

Go “Across the Spider-Verse” in an Astounding Multiversal Sequel (Review)

In 2018, Into the Spider-Verse blew away any preconceived notions of how a Spider-Man movie, and even a superhero film in general, should operate. It introduced Miles Morales, the first Black Spider-Man, to mainstream filmgoing audiences. It completely flipped the expectations of how animation can behave on the big screen.

Unsurprisingly, it also cleaned up at the box office. A sequel was inevitable, and after a hefty half-decade wait, Across the Spider-Verse is now upon us. Nearly half an hour longer than its predecessor with a monumental weight on its shoulders, this may be the most pressure a superhero sequel has ever been under (excepting, perhaps, Avengers: Endgame). It had to deliver in ways that were previously unprecedented.