FANTASY ISLAND (2020)

Directed By: Jeff Wadlow
Written By Jeff Wadlow, Chris Roach & Jillian Jacobs 
Based on the television series “FANTASY ISLAND” Created By: Gene Levitt  Cinematography: Toby Oliver 
Editor: Sean Albertson

Cast: Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen, Mike Vogel, Austin Stowell, Kim Coates, Michael Rooker, Robbie Jones, Parisa Fitz-Hanley, Ian Roberts

The enigmatic Mr. Roarke makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. But when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives.


don’t know exactly who the audience for this film is supposed to be. Though whoever it is I am sure wasn’t envisioning a horror film.

The film sticks to the horns of fantasy island whereas the guests get to live out their fantasies only with some kind of twists involved that they didn’t foresee. 

The film is rather simplistic but thinks It’s clever by having a big reveal. Only to take away any credit it might have built up which was little, to begin with. As it feels generic. 

This might have been noteworthy if made in an earlier era. Which it feels like it comes from more than the 1990s. Though now instead of high concept it feels like a horror script thrown into a familiar tv show, for recognition and comes off as disposable and barely noteworthy.

It’s a shame because the film has a good cast. At least it gives actors who are usually relegated to supporting roles some room to shine even if the film is an ensemble. 

Should have been suspicious when seeing Michael Pena in the lead as he is a good actor, but always seems tied to these disappointing cinematic reboots of more niche television shows, that you would never imagine becoming films. 

Though the premises of fantasies seem kind of simple and then once the twists come. They seem to come from shows and movies we have seen before. Especially the revenge fantasy involving the bully from childhood. Where all of a sudden a monstrous huge surgeon becomes a slasher. 

I can understand if it was just trying to be the greatest common denominator entertainment but here other than the lush visuals of the landscapes. The film just feels like it is going through the motions where once everything. Seems tied together still feels like a waste of time. 

As even the fantasies come across as cheap. For a film based on the supposed imaginations of its characters. The film seems to have no imagination of its own

In the end, it feels like a cash In Done quickly and doesn’t even Impress with its gold visuals or fantasies 

Grade: F

WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020)

Directed By: Patty Jenkins
Written By: Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns & Dave Callahan
Story By: Patty Jenkins & Geoff Johns
Based on characters from DC Wonder Woman created By: William Moulton Marston
Cinematography: Matthew Jensen
Editor: Richard Pearson

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Lilly Aspell, Natasha Rothwell, Ravi Patel, Stuart Milligan

Diana must contend with a work colleague and businessman, whose desire for extreme wealth sends the world down a path of destruction, after an ancient artifact that grants wishes goes missing.


This is a film that is all over the place and feels bloated because of it. Making it hard to follow at times and confusing overall.

As it appears a lot of energy was thrown into this film but it feels unfocused. So much that it stands as an Art Deco piece more than anything.

As even with two villains who actually connect to each other in storylines. Kristen Wiig makes a good villain but Pedro Pascal gives the better performance.

The plotline Reminds one a lot of SUPERGIRL the movie of a seemingly desperate person who gets the power of the gods and goes crazy with power and involves a lot of gaudy designs around them. 

The quantum leap part of the film again reminds one of the 1980’s but also makes you in the audience roll your eyes.

What was charming about the first film was not only the time period and when it was set and having her obviously trying to fit into a more comedic effect but was also empowering. While allowing you to laugh along with the other characters who are encountering this confident woman and don’t know exactly how to react.

Here she is around but has grown into the time period and knows how to keep a low profile. Even though how no one Figures out her identity it vague but it is also explained that she usually destroys any evidence of herself. 

While it tries to immerse itself In the 1980’s culture and fads it seeks here more as a place for design and jokes more then it need to be. Though with the excess it does feel like a film Set during those times 

By having her love story repeat itself here it serves as a means to an end when it comes to the final act but again feels like repeating.

If that wasn’t enough while the action sequences are grand. They didn’t feel noteworthy or impressive. Strangely they feel safer. In Other words very DC Comics movie. Where it all seems to be more about marketing. They try to make it an emotional film for the characters. As well as making them identifiable, but that seems o be the weakness of most of their superhero films. Making the character identifiable.

Some might fault Gal Gadot and her performance, which I find hard as she isn’t asked to do much acting most of her screen time is more dedicated to stunts and action sequences.

One also feels that the reason the movie might be scoring so low is that it was supposed to be a major release in a year that has hardly had many. So that this was looked forward to and had a lot riding on it. Unfortunately, it didn’t satisfy many people hopes, and Interpretations 

Even the opening scene which wasn’t truly needed but allowed the film to show off other kick-ass women in an action element. Competing but not each others enemies and to teach a moral lesson of taking shortcuts. Though even the action in these scenes feels confusing as the camera is everywhere and constantly cutting. 

By the ending it felt more idealistic and more of a feel-good moment for the audience if the good we can all do. Even if set in the 1980s the days where greed and consumerism

Seemed to reign. 

Grade: D

AVA (2020)

Directed by: Tate Taylor
Written by: Matthew Newton
Cinematography: Stephen Goldblatt
Editor: Zach Staenberg

Cast: Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Common, Colin Farrell, Ioan Gruffund, Geena Davis, Jess Weixler, Diana Silvers, Joan Chen 

Ava is a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organization, traveling the globe specializing in high profile hits. When a job goes dangerously wrong she is forced to fight for her own survival.


The film offers an interesting character where you wish she had a more exciting tale to go with it. So that it feels like you have a good lead character looking for a better film.

Jessica Chastain is full of energy here. Though the film and character strength are not too much of a challenge for her. 

The film soon gets to the point and stays there. Where you have no doubt what will happen. Even though for a film that is supposed to be an espionage tale it feels more small-town gritty. Like more of a mob tale

The filM comes across at times as mroe domestic drama and not as interesting as it thinks it is. With some action scenes that take place In Interiors particularly small rooms. Make the film more small scale yet fits the Netflix action aesthetic. 

The casting of Geena Davis playing the mother to a character similar to the assassin Charli Baltimore she played in THE LONG KISS GOOD NIGHT. Which makes it feel a bit like stunt casting. 

Unfortunately, this is another middling movie from director Tate Taylor that sounds mroe interesting and fun than it actually is.

The film includes a strange romance that doesn’t seem like it would hav been that exciting even if it had made it to theaters.

The film tries to be different by offering a mroe domestic story, but it feels like I needed melodrama. To make you identify snd care more about the characters. Especially the more supporting ones 

Nothing really sets this movie apart from average and familiar. Though it does leave itself open to sequels that hopefully would flesh it out especially the supporting characters. Who gets no chance to shine here it seem to be set up for greater things later in the film Only for nothing to really happen.

Sort of like the movie FASTER which left itself open to spinoff sequels but wasn’t quite as popular that was expected. So this is most likely a solo effort. Though a sequel Would help improve on the material.

This film seems like it could have been more fleshed out and given for room. Especially with it’s more recognizable cast. Who all end up here for a paycheck more than anything.

GRADE: D+

#ALIVE (2020)

Directed By: Il Cho

Written By: Il Cho & Matt Naylor Cinematography: Won-Ho Son Editor: Min-Kyeong Shin

Cast: Yoo Ah-In, Park Shin-Hye, Jeon Bae-Soo, Hyun-Wook Lee 

The rapid spread of an unknown infection has left an entire city in ungovernable chaos, but one survivor remains alive in isolation. It is his story.


The range of what movies can trigger me or do trigger me unfortunately is growing. Even films that might not have bothered me before. This pandemic has changed me and others quite a few others.

Though truthfully before movies like THE ROCKER and SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE would as they hit a little too  close to home. Just as UNITED 93 did after 9/11. 

These days it makes it harder to enjoy my preferred genre of horror at times. As usually we watch movies as a means to escape or experience magnified consequences and outcomes from simple decisions.

So that when it comes to this movie or zombie films in particular recently (As well as post apocalyptic) one has to tread carefully. Especially as when the pandemic first hit everyone wanted to watch and/or rewatch these films. Now, all it does is more serve as a reminder for some and more and more people who want to see something to escape. 

Each zombie film might feel the same or offer the same experience or theme, but they also usually involve some aspects or ideas not previously seen to explore. Even if by not zombie films feel all too familiar. Liek vampires before them they feel like too much of a known commodity. Maybe werewolves are in the come up for examination or popularity. As there are few and even fewer good ones when it comes to them.

Thankfully this film is better and more than What the audience might be expecting. If this doesn’t bring back the popularity of a scythe as a weapon. One doesn’t know what will.

This film luckily isn’t heavily dependent on CGI. As it feels more organic with practical special effects.

For a while, the movie seems liek it will be a one man show. Struggling to survive alone and figure things out for himself. Then all of sudden he learns he is not alone and struggles to communicate with someone else.

The film ends up offering more than expected. While it proves that one can still breathe life into the zombie outbreak arena or an episode of THE WALKING DEAD International. 

As this film is a survival tale and a message of hope 

Grade: B

SHITHOUSE (2020)

Written & Directed by: Cooper Riaff Cinematography: Rachel Klein

Editor: Autumn Dea & Cooper Raif

Cast: Cooper Riaff, Dylan Gelula, Amy Landecker, Logan Miller, Juan Wolf, Olivia Welch, Joy Sunday, Abby Quinn

Among thousands of kids trying their best to make college work, Alex feels alone and depressed. Home is 1500 miles away and he’s struggling to find a reason not to go back. Maggie, Alex’s sophomore RA, has been crushing college since day one. Today though, Maggie is dealt an unexpected loss. After a party at Shithouse, Maggie wants some company and finds it in Alex. Two young people raised in very different households, Alex and Maggie challenge each other and grow up together.


This film is Personal but feels universal definitely something those who have experienced going away to college can identify with and about being young and away from. Home and making. Your way in the world alone. I

As well as a film that offers a follow-up to movies where you spend a great night with a person and make a connection. You just can’t help but care about these characters. 

The film moves naturally. Where it deals with being new in a new place and situation trying to relate with strangers when you are naturally shy and introverted. Then once you do meet someone new and make a connection and hook up. The day after Or the aftermath of what happens when someone doesn’t feel the same way or avoids it all Together When you Might feel that it was more then it was to the other oerson

As at times you can be more open to strangers you just met and not have to worry about being judged as much Metaphorically when he decides to finally clean his room. He is cleaning up his life and his problems.

The film is awkward and sincere and speaks in the way only someone that age and still there and knows the territory can. It might be a singular piece of sorts though can definitely be identifiable for those who are lonely at any age only here through the filter of a young male alone at college. The film and the lead are not afraid to humiliate themselves for an honest emotional moment or reveal.

Though shows growth and not one-sided I was hoping maybe that we would see her side more like the first half of this tale the second half her’s. The film kept taking turns that were more unexpected 

I didn’t want to believe the hype when it came to this film but was totally charmed by this film as maybe I could relate at this age. The fantasy of this dream comes true. As it isn’t a hard-hitting drama but the type of story and characters that an audience can relate to in some kind of way. As either somewhat personal or know somebody like them. 

This reminds me of the indies from my youth (the 1990s) where you would hear the heavy buzz about a film and then go to the theater to see it and it feels more like a privilege to see more than anything. Like someone showing you something personal or sharing their journal or art 

It’s not the first time or the last we will see a movie like this. it feels all the more genuine done by not someone looking back in nostalgia at it but by a filmmaker who experienced it more recently and trying to tell the tale.

Even if many his age or film students are making films like this one feels the most sincere. Look forward to more films from writer/director/star Cooper Riaff

As it seems as he develops and gets more experiences. So will his films and body of work. 

Grade: A-

THE ARGUMENT (2020)

Directed by: Robert Schwartzman
Written By: Zac Stanford
Cinematography: Michael Rizzi
Editor: Max Goldblatt

Cast: Dan Folger, Emma Bell, Tyler James Williams, Maggie Q, Cleopatra Coleman, Danny Pudi, Karan Bear, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Mark Ryder, Marielle Scott, Charlotte McKinney 

A couple gets into an argument at their cocktail party that escalates until it brings an abrupt end to the festivities. They and their guests decide to re-create the entire night, again and again, to determine who was right.



This is a film that just keeps building as it goes along. The energy starts to lick up and so do the laughs. 

The film starts off funny then becomes a screwball comedic free for all by the end. As it continuously keeps raising the stakes. As the film stays unpredictable so It really comes up to speed in the second act. As the first is needed to set up the story and relationships.

As in each iteration, we get more information even though they are trying to recreate everything all over again there are different interpretations, inflections, and deliveries.

One can identify with overly examining events, words said, and themes. Pulling back another curtain offering another reveal which dissects the situation to offer more insight.

Though the cast is all great,  Actress Cleopatra Coleman is a comedic highlight throughout. As she goes from being sexy, funny, insecure, drunk, over the top, emotional 

The film is clearly an absurd farce at times that deals with egos and also examines the nature of memory relationships, body language, and things left unsaid. 

It turns a bit obscure and even making a play in itself. Allowing real participants to be able to examine themselves. Not to mention what others might think and drag even more people into it. This time actors who are so and that it becomes comedic in itself and even them picking up on some subtle relationships and offering theories themselves.

It is also a film that offers up a commentary on entitlement. As each of the characters tries to be humble and some think themselves lowly when actually they have plenty of what others would envy. Which really comes into play during the third act. 

Grade: B

BANANA SPLIT (2020)

Directed By: Benjamin Kasulke
Written By: Hannah Marks & Joey Power
Cinematography: Darin Moran
Editor: Brendan Walsh

Cast: Hannah Marks, Liana Liberato, Dylan Sprouse, Luke Spencer Roberts, Jessica Hecht, Jacob Batalon, Steve Little

Over the course of a summer, two teenage girls develop the perfect kindred spirit friendship, with one big problem: one of them is dating the other’s ex.


Though the film seems to start out as a romance. It quickly becomes a comedy that is more about the power and intimacy of friendships. How they have their own kind of romance about them.

The film seems like it is headed into a screwball comedy where the main character tries to get her ex-boyfriend back by befriending his new girlfriend or most be a film of unrequited love but it does turn into a romance that shows the growth of a friendship rather than some romantic triangle. 

One that grows from the bond of both loving the same guy and also just getting along and getting to know one another.

The inclusion of his best friend in this secret and giving him his own place in the story is welcoming. Instead of usually being the third wheel or a driving force at first and then an afterthought.

This is another movie like SLASH where actress Hannah marks stars and you can’t help but fall for her character. She’s funny, enchanting, self-deprecating, intelligent, and beautiful. It also helps that she is the co-writer of the film. 

Being that they are high school seniors or is understandable why they might not exactly be fully formed characters and the intensity the characters have over something. That feels a bit trivial. The film also adds the deadline of marks character leaving for college in the background gives the film a countdown timetable.

The film just has plenty of energy and charm. That leaves it relatable and doesn’t talk down to it’s the audience. It has the spirit of a true teen film dramatic yet usually funny.

The only parents or adults the film shows are mark’s Character’s family with whom she has a wisecracking rapport.

Sex isn’t necessarily treated as precious or fragile in this movie more matter of fact. Though not overabundant. 

The characters here freely make mistakes and are wrong at least half the time. So it’s refreshing to have characters not always doing the right thing or even wanting to. 

There is no real villain but also no clear hero. It’s more a slice of life. As it is subtle and doesn’t show off and has a lot of heart. Not to mention an emo/pop soundtrack that is sugary sweet yet emotional and quite catchy.

The film is open-ended enough for anything to happen to and for the characters. 

Grade: B

PROJECT POWER (2020)

Directed By: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

Written By: Mattson Tomlin

Cinematographer: Michael Simmonds 

Editor: Jeff McEvoy

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Rodrigo Santoro, Courtney B. Vance, Colson Baker, Amy Landecker, Tait Fletcher, Andrene Ward-Hammond, Kyanna Simpson 

When a pill that gives its users unpredictable superpowers for five minutes hits the streets of New Orleans, a teenage dealer and a local cop must team with an ex-soldier to take down the group responsible for its creation.


The film tries to distinguish itself from other superhero films. That tries to preach against having absolute power and also how drugs can be dangerous to you and leave you being out of control and hurting those you never planned to.

Then the movie shows that the only way to fight fire is with fire. Where the heroes aren’t junkies but need these powers to defend and defeat those who do.

While also trying to be a little more gritty and somewhat realistic over other hero tales. That tries to be a little thriller dressed up with minor fantasy elements.

The film tries to be more realistic and show the danger of too much power and how it can feel like a drug or like an addiction either way corrupting those who use it too much.

The film comes across as more conspiracy driven throughout. While also being overly stylish. It throws you off with the realism but then once the fantasy elements come in they then feel too outlandish.

Jamie Foxx doesn’t use the drug until the end when it is convenient and has this omega power that is stronger than most. 

The film set up a villain only for there to be another few more actually who are rather weak after the one we are introduced to and aren’t as engaging. They actually come off more as random.

The film feels derivative as it is obviously made mroe for a younger urban audience. It lacks a moral or lesson that most superhero films have and worse it feels by the numbers and convenient most of the time.

In the end it rubs rather basic except for it’s more rundown surroundings than I try to give the film more personality as well as attitude. Though at least it tries to have a positive ending. 

GRADE: C

THE OLD GUARD (2020)

Directed By:  Gina Prince-Bythewood
Written By: Greg Rucka (Based on the graphic novel series created by him)
Cinematographer: Barry Ackroyd & Tami Reiker
Editor: Terilyn A. Shropshire

Cast: Charlize Theron, Kiki Layne, Chiwetel Ejofer, Matthias Schoenaerts, Harry Melling, Marwan Kenzari, Lucia Marinelli, Ana Maria Marinea, Veronica NGO, Natcha Karan, Shala Nyx 

Led by a warrior named Andy, a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile, the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary.


While one is happy to see director Gina Prince-Bythewood taking on a new genre and having a superhero and more action-oriented film than her previous films. This film isn’t quite the revelation one was hoping for.

Especially as a fan of her films before this, she does an adequate job but it doesn’t feel like anything special. It feels more typical but proves she can handle a genre movie

The action is violent yet feels satisfactory then great. As it seems more contained and smaller compared to films of this type. As the

Action sequences in this film Usually take place indoors. As the characters try to keep their identities secret. So they have to stay undercover and the action never offers that pizazz one might look for. 

The film at least offers a more international flavor. As the action comes off as covert and more espionage based my 

The film is based on a graphic novel. As it does feel like a comic book, that tries to tap into the reality and drama of certain situations. Which allows the film to have some heart and melodrama.

What is different and welcome from the film is the female Characters more take center stage. As they are more natural protagonists, heroes and also have more action scenes.

Each one has their own and even on group action scenes they more take the lead.

While Charlize Theron plays the world-weary leader like a first-class action and dramatic star. The film is stolen by the new recruit Kiki Layne

It makes one wonder when watching something that is overly praised but one only Finds it passable or entertaining enough. Is one expecting too much or is one holding the film To a certain standard that it might never have had a chance of ever achieving.

One of the problems not only with this film but a lot of action and superhero films coming out. Is a lack of a memorable villain. Here the villain proves to be a challenge but more comes off as a twerp. 

A villain is supposed to be a way to hate but should also be interesting to a certain degree. Here you can’t wait for them to dispose of them And move on. As this villain doesn’t Even seem either up to the challenge or even worthy of truly being a challenge. Once finally introduced after a bunch of false leads through a whole load of espionage You feel like,  this is it? 

This ends up being a nice film That feels like a beginning to a franchise but works open-ended as it is though makes the stakes feel big and sticks to them. 

Grade: B- 

JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT (2020)

Written, Edited  & Directed By: Kevin Smith
Cinematography: Yaron Levy 

Cast: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Fred Armisen, Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, Chris Jericho, Shannon Elizabeth, Rosario Dawson, Harley Quinn Smith, Joey Lauren Adams, Diedrich Bader, Craig Robinson, Justin Long, Donell Rawlings, Aparna Brielle, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Johnny Bananas, Joe Manganiallo, Karruche Tran, Melissa Benoit, Jason Biggs, Adam Brody, Val Kilmer, Kate Micucci, James Van Der Beek, Redman, Joe Reitman, Alice Wan, Brian O’Halloran, Tommy Chong, Keith Coogan, Molly Shannon, Dan Folger, Ralph Garman, Chris Hemsworth, Frankie Shaw, Treshelle Edmond 

Jay and Silent Bob inadvertently sign away their names and rights to the new Bluntman and Chronic movie. Now they head to Hollywood to stop the film from being made. Along the way Jay discovers that he is a father.


The film is a road-trip comedy. Where the story is there to explain and get the audience to the journey. Yet the reasons are more ridiculous.

It’s also a movie where half the fun of it is sporting the cameos and so-called guest stars

This is a film that is hard for me to review. Because as much of a fan as I am of Kevin Smith and his movies. At this point, he truly doesn’t care about impressing anyone outside of his fan base really or necessarily making more conventional films. At this point, he has a large following film-wise of usually the same age group most of his films are aimed at. Through podcasts, comic books as well as directing television shows. So that when he makes films it is for a niche audience of loyal fans and followers. So that it shows he is thankful and appreciated their loyalty. This is why for me it usually feels like a Joy to watch any new film he has ou

As usual, one has interest though more and more it seems like a chore. 

As with many different aging comedians like Adam Sandler and to a degree Eddie Murphy. He is willing to try new things once in a while but also seems like he is going after a young audience or the same audience he has always had only the next generation of them. By making his movies more for teens and kids. As they get juvenile and raunchy humor with big words but also as they get older they will find themselves loyal and beholden to him

As they grew up with his films. Planned or not. It also helps that he comes off always like a decent regular guy. Who just happened to get his dream job.

He also has always seemed to have a self-deprecating sense of humor and as he gets older he sharpens and aims for himself more and more. 

So that if you are a fan of his films and humor. You should enjoy this film. If not it might be a little harder for you to enjoy. As the fun of this movie is having previous knowledge of the characters and situations. Catching up with a lot of them over the years.

The film feels like a gift to his audience. As it brings back his most popular characters again for their own movie. A kind of sequel to JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK. Only as it seems to be directed to serve a younger teen audience. As well as hand it off to the next generation of characters and but like his previous film this feels like a present to pass on to his daughter. Who stars in this film And is a fine presence and likable. As she has appeared in many of his films previously and starred in YOGA HOSERS. Which thankfully this film is much better then. 

The film and its humor is still profane. Yet it still satirizes the characters as well as some of the actors participating in personal triumphs and give a reunion of sorts for various view askew character to appear throughout. As it shows just an exuberance of joy and goodwill which is how he also seems to snag some big names in self-deprecating cameos. 

The film ends up being crude yet fun it stays entertaining even if it feels a bit long and excessive. Also, he seems sometimes to be too hard on himself when being self-deprecating. 

The film stays purely comedic throughout in a more silly slapstick way and offers the young female characters not only a point of view but a chance to shine. Where the film isn’t all about sex nor focused on them more as sexual objects. He actually makes the characters and more part of the action. Which shows some growth for him. Not that he was a huge misogynist before or anything but wrote what he knew and characters more like himself. 

Your knowledge of his previous films will affect your enjoyment of this one. If you are a fan this will be a slam dunk, but if you are a critic of his previous work this will not be the one to convince you otherwise. 

Grade: C