[REVIEW] The Batman or The Bat-Meh? (Spoiler Free)

Coming out of the new film from DC and Warner Bros, The Batman, those around me were full of strong opinions. Some were very vocal about their dislike of the film, saying they hated it, and others seemed to really enjoy it. Then there is me with the hardest opinion of all, decidedly mixed…

Let’s talk about the positives. To begin with, director Matt Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser have made a good-looking film that leans into the crime noir aspects of the Batman mythology. This is a gritty, brooding, Batman that is actually putting clues together as he spies on the lowlifes of Gotham.

The cast is also impressive, as is the makeup and costuming. Colin Farrell is practically unrecognizable as a mafia kingpin version of The Penguin. Paul Dano is chilling as a serial killer version of The Riddler, and Jeffrey Wright is a terrific James Gordon.

As for our Dark Knight, Robert Pattinson does a good job with what he is given. This is a brooding, quiet, outcast, reclusive version of Bruce Wayne and who’s father seems to have had all the people-pleasing skills of the family.

This is, however, where we get into our problems. The way they have written Bruce in the story doesn’t give Pattinson much to work with. The character is stagnant and does more meaningful staring than actual growth. It’s almost episodic in feel despite it being nearly 3 hours. He starts out as Batman, and he works on solving the case of the Riddler, and that’s it.

And that’s the main issue with this film, the script. The story is extremely one note and doesn’t develop characters we care about or become emotionally invested in. They put the pieces together for the case, but that’s fairly predictable and bland. If this was just a generic detective movie without the iconic IP, I don’t think there would be much interest in the story or characters.

The last 30 minutes do put together some impressive set pieces and like I said Dano makes for a chilling villain, but I wish they had taken the time to develop Bruce as a real person with feelings and emotions. Even in a dark and brooding film noir, there still should be moments where the characters breathe and connect.

The closest we get to any of that is the relationship between Zoë Kravitz’s Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and Bruce, but even that is mostly putting the pieces together on the case and not a real romance.

Perhaps I am coming across like I hated The Batman, which again, I did not. It has too many impressive pieces to hate, but I think it could have been much better with a more nuanced and engaging script. If you love it, I understand why. If you hate it, I understand why. For me, I’m very meh on it.
But I have to pick a side…
5 out of 10
Frown Worthy

Blind Spot 74: About Time

When I announced this year’s Blind Spot picks probably the biggest surprise was my February pick of About Time. Being somewhat of a rom-com expert people are always caught off guard when I admit to some favorites I haven’t seen. A lot of times they are R rated films, which for a long time I didn’t watch. Such is the case with About Time. It’s an R rated film for sensuality and language, which I didn’t see when it came out and I just never got around to seeing it until now (the gift of this Blind Spot series!).

Well, now I’ve seen About Time and…

I loved it! It totally lived up to the hype! But now that I’ve seen it I wouldn’t describe it as a romantic comedy. It’s more of a family movie than anything else.

About Time tells the story of a young man named Tim played by Domhnall Gleeson who discovers on his 21st birthday that all the men in his family can travel back in time to moments they have lived before. This allows them to make tweaks in the timeline that can help their lives without causing too much of a space time continuum disruption.

The main romance of the film is when Tim meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and falls hard for her. He then uses his time travel to help ensure he is in the right place at the right time to win Mary over. This could have been creepy (especially when Margot Robbie’s Charlotte enters the scene) but it’s played with just enough heart to be endearing.

Like I said, most of the film is about family more than romance. This is true for Tim’s family with Mary and his birth family. I loved Bill Nighy as his Dad (he is always the best). I also loved Tim’s relationship with his sister Kit Kat. The bond between a brother and sister is rarely explored in film, so I appreciated the tender scenes between them and how he tries to help her in any way he can.

About Time is one of those films which will tug on all the emotions. It’s very funny, sweet and a real tear jerker. It has a little bit of whimsy but then also feels grounded and easy to relate with. It will make you wonder what you would change if you could tweak a few little things in your own life?

I really enjoyed this one. What about you? Is About Time a favorite of yours? Let me know in the comments section

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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‘Uncharted’ and ‘DOG’ REVIEWS

Hey everyone! One of the happiest recent developments for me as a film critic is a return to my normal film-watching schedule. This of course means watching some good movies, some bad movies and some mediocre films. I don’t always review those films on this blog. Sometimes I cover them on my podcast both Rachel’s Reviews and Hallmarkies. In fact, you can find my reviews for Marry Me, The Book of Love and I Want You Back at Hallmarkies.
All that said, here are my quick thoughts on 2 recent releases.

If my readers could have seen my face while watching Dog they would have seen looks of bafflement and exhaustion. I’m not entirely sure what I expected in a veteran and his dog movie but it definitely wasn’t this.
As I was watching I asked the question- who was this made for? Aren’t most people going to a see a movie like this expecting a sweet and sentimental story that will make them cry? Instead we get a bizarre movie that has sexual innuendo, drug use, impersonating a blind man, racial profiling and more. The humor is broad and over-the-top, which was so off-putting when combined with the more emotional moments.
The dog Lulu is cute (I guess played by 2 dogs) and the ending is effective but most of the road trip was very badly done. Channing Tatum tries his best but he can’t save Dog from its bizarre, muddled, and tone deaf script.
2 out of 10
Frown Worthy

It will be no big surprise to my readers I have never played any of the Uncharted games. Nevertheless, I heard from many friends of its potential for a movie adaptation. From what I’ve gathered it’s similar to Tomb Raider but even more cinematic in its approach.
Now after much delay we have the movie version with Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg and it is…thoroughly average. It’s not an awful adventure film but it’s nothing special either. I’d put it below the recent Tomb Raider movie and that was just ok.
The main problem I had with Uncharted is everything is too easy for our protagonists. For example, in a long treasure hunting sequence under a city they stumble upon each clue quite easily. They always have the key, that key always works, and in one case the lock is hidden in plain daylight inside a Papa Johns!
There’s another instance where a cave loaded with treasure is clearly visible for all to see off of the coast of a Filipino island. We are supposed to believe nobody has been in that cave for 100s of years. In these kind of adventures you want the quest to at least be challenging to our heroes.
Most of the casting in Uncharted is also wasted. Wahlberg and Holland are fine but Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali and Tati Gabrielle are all under-written. The special effects are fine but there is some green screen work that takes us out of the big action scenes.
I don’t want to be too critical because there is fun to be had in this movie. It’s just all something you can find in a million other films, which is disappointing. I’d say stay home and watch one of those or go see the latest Spider-man movie again. You can wait to see this latest video game adaptation on your console at home when it goes to streaming.
4 out of 10
Frown Worthy

Current Mini Reviews (Death on the Nile, Moonfall, Honey Girls)

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. I have 3 movies to review today and all 3 I have mixed feelings on. Even as I write I’m not sure whether I will go smile worthy or frown worthy on any of them. That’s the tough part of the dichotomy of fresh and rotten on rottentomatoes. Sometimes movies are in the middle but I have to decide where I land!

Anyway, I will do my best so here are the reviews:

Honey Girls

Honey Girls is a teen musical starring Ashanti that premiered on Netflix this month. I wanted to see it because it features Lilah Fitzgerald and Cindy Busby in supporting roles- both actresses I have interviewed and enjoy their work. The film stars Ashanti as a big pop star who is hosting a talent search to find a new teen star. She started out in a girl group but she left them to be a big star.

It’s obvious watching Honey Girls it is made for pre-teen and teen girls who enjoy franchises like High School Musical and The Descendants. Ashanti is believable as the star and the girls are energetic and fun. Enjoyment of the film will depend on how much you like the music because there are a lot of long songs. None of them stood out to me but I’m not the target audience.

This film kind of reminded me of Jem and the Holograms but better than the most recent live action version of that series. What drags it down is some of the acting is poor and like I said the musical sequences are really long and not that memorable. However, if it sounds like your kind of thing you will probably like it. If not it won’t win you over.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Death on the Nile

I wasn’t the biggest fan of our last mystery with Agatha Christy penned detective Hercule Poirot, Murder on the Orient Express. I think part of the problem is I had read the book and seen several adaptations so I was more aware and invested in the story (and knew the mystery beforehand). With Death on the Nile this is not the case so I was able to see it with more fresh eyes. I also think generally it is a better film than Orient Express despite them both having their flaws.

In Death on the Nile we meet up with Poirot in Egypt attending a honeymoon trip for a young heiress played by Gal Gadot. The problem is it takes so long for the story to get to the boat and the death in the title. We even get a very unnecessary Poirot backstory about why he has a mustache- did anyone need that?

It literally takes an hour to get to the mystery! That said, when it does I enjoyed it. The cast is great and I liked putting the clues together (it’s fairly obvious who did it but still fun to watch Poirot figure it out).

Given the filmmakers had 2 extra years to work on the film it’s surprising how sloppy aspects of Death on the Nile are. The green screen is badly done and the editing is choppy throughout. I also thought 2 scenes where characters were supposed to be sexy (dancing and then making out on a pyramid) were staged very awkwardly and not steamy at all.

All that said, I still had fun with the mystery of Death on the Nile and the cast elevates the material they were given making for an overall enjoyable experience at the movies.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy


I am not the biggest Roland Emmerich fan. His big, bombastic films are usually more boring than exciting. Even his biggest hit Independence Day is not one I love as much as most people. So needless to say I went into his new film Moonfall with some skepticism. Now that I have seen it I can say it’s not a good film but it is kind of fun in a nutty way.

Watching Moonfall reminded me of a 2 part, bigger budgeted episode of Doctor Who– especially the last half where it goes way sci-fi alien story on us. It’s about a world where the moon is getting closer to the earth and if they don’t find a way to stop it than everything will be destroyed. Patrick Wilson and Halle Berry play astronauts that had a falling out and must reunite to save the world along with a conspiracy theorist played by John Bradley. We also get Michael Pena, Charlie Plummer (who I love) and more.

The problem with Moonfall is not the nutty plot but the terrible dialogue. I kept laughing throughout at the lines Emmerich gave the actors. It’s bad and yet it kind of made it more campy and endearing at the same time. It’s hard to explain but I left the theater having been entertained and smiling. Sometimes it is nice when Hollywood goes big dumb spectacle and that’s what Moonfall does.

If you like Moonfall check out the Chinese film The Wandering Earth. The films are very similar.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

So there you have it. Gave mild recommendations to all 3. Maybe I was just in a good mood? Who knows! If you seen any of them let me know what you think.


[REVIEW] Therapy Dogs or I’m Glad I’m Not a Teenager

As you all know I recently finished covering the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. For the most part it was a disappointing festival with nothing that is likely going to stand out by the end of the year. It’s ironic that one of the most successful “Sundancy” films I saw this week, Therapy Dogs, is going to be released at the Slamdance Film Festival instead of Sundance.

In the film director Ethan Eng takes an underground documentary approach to a narrative chronicling him and his friends senior year of high school. They tell their friends it is a high school yearbook video but it’s actually a feature film.

This is the kind of movie you used to get at Sundance all the time. Friends making a movie together and capturing an authentic look at their worlds. Now it is far too much of the Netflix/Amazon films that don’t feel particularly grounded.

Therapy Dogs at times feels too raw and authentic. It will certainly make you glad you aren’t a teenager today. The drug use and other damaging behavior can be quite shocking. There is also a scene in a strip club that was way too long and felt like part of a different movie.

That said, there are a lot of sequences that feel genuine. One of my favorite parts was all the promposals and any time you see the dance and choral performances at school. As hard as high school can be it is a time where you can explore your talents without the weight of a career or family to worry about.

Eng says at the beginning of the movie “It’s the movie you all deserve…the truth about high school.” and I think that is true. Watching Therapy Dogs reminded me of the brilliant documentary Minding the Gap, where director Bing Liu follows his friends in a documentary for many years. It’s a similar dynamic here where you get to see how these teens live and how most of the preconceived ideas people have aren’t true. For example, they show the partying and then there is a big title card that says ‘Parties Suck’. It’s that contrast between behavior and actual emotion which makes Therapy Dogs a fascinating watch.

Therapy Dogs is a hard R rating but in fairness so is high school. You can watch it on demand as part of The Slamdance Film Festival right now (passes are only $10)

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy