King Arthur & the Masters of Sherwoods Princess Brides of Skeletor

As I sit here in the empty theater,the credits for Guy Ritchies latest epic scrolling down, I find myself at a loss to critically analyze this film. It’s also impossible to spoil since anyone who has scene a sword and sorcery epic since the nineteen eighties has seen the three or four stories that were frankenstiened together in this movie many times before.

Was the movie competently shot, edited, scored and acted? Sure. Was the attempt at making the Arthur legend racially diverse with important roles for women welcome? I should say so. Was the film entertaining throughout? Mostly.

My own entertainment aside, I can not help but feel the filmmakers have sold the audience a false bill of goods. Promised was a radical Guy Ritchie reinvention of a legend and what we get is a hodge podge where multiple legends are repurpoused to suit arthurian lore.

Imagine if Moses was born in Medevial England, sent down the river and after growing up he pulls excalibur from the stone, forms a band of merry men who hide in the woods, then runs through a dark forest fighting R.O.U.Ss(I don’t believe they exist)then after the power of true love awakens his ability to use the sword, he storms castle greyskull… I mean Camelot, and has a huge boss fight with Skeletor who is getting evil help from Ursila the sea witch. This is not even an exageration. It is an accurate beat for beat description of the proceedings. 

The entire movie plays like a live action meme meant to enrage nerds by invoking several wholy seperate mythologies… See example below. 

 I almost expected an after credits scene where God herself came down from the heavens with a vision of a cup for  Arthur to seek in a quest. Sadly no such scene occurred. I still hold out hope for a sequel where Arthur raids tombs while searching for mystic relics and fighting time displaced nazis in a reimagining of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Sleight: Review or Illusion

Like magic, movies are  illusions meant to capture our imaginations and engage our senses. Sleight is a film that does this with a story that has heart and pulse pounding stakes.

This movie is directed by J.D. Dillard and is written by himself and Alex Theurer. It tells the story of Bo played by Jacob Latimore who is a young street magician and gifted engineering student who takes up a life of crime after the death of his mother leaves him as the gaurdian to his younger sister.

The film owes alot to the superhero genre but breaths new life into it as well. Never do the proceedings get bogged down in expository diolague dumps but rather allows the visuals and characters actions to drive the plot organically and trusts the audience to understand whats going on even when the sci-fi elements ramp up in the third act.

Latimore gives an amazing performance as a gifted but troubled man doing his best but clearly in over his head when the consequences of the choices he has made prove to be more than he bargained for. The entire cast give great supporting work in this story about a man trying to do the right thing in a bad situation and gives him a great arc of redemption.Special note must be given to Dule’ Hill in a chilling performance as the villian of the piece. What begins as an understated performance evolves into a character of menace and dread.

The cinematography, editing, and score all combine to deliver an emotionally effecting and almost perfectly paced experiance. Sleight has a very brisk ninety minute run time and could have used a few aditional scenes to really flesh out the world and lives of the characters but thankfully a final sequence promises further and bigger adventures to come.

If Sleight is playing near you definatly go see it and support great filmmaking so that we can get more original entries in this genre and more stories in this world by this creative team.

Suicide Squad:An Exercise In Narrative Harakiri

This film tries to hit the same strides as movies such as Escape from New York and Assualt on Precinct 13 but harsh tonal shifts make it feel more like Breakfast Club meets Scooby Doo. Both scenarios would have made for a fantastic movie going experiance but the structural and narrative problems of Suicide Squad are nearly as insurmountable as the villians the title characters face in thier first outing in the DC extended universe. 

We begin with an introduction to each of our main characters with a mix of flash back and clunky exposition that drags the structure and pacing down as every time the audience is asked to engage in a proper narative through line the backstory ends abruptly and we are brought back to the present. Each flash back eludes to enough material for an entire films worth of story and only the characters of, Deadshot, Harley Quinn and El Diablo are treated to these scenes. The rest of the cast is relegated a few lines of expostion to establish the characters, mere moments before they are relevent. 

The most glaring example would be the character of Katana whose deep and rich history is  glossed over in a handfull of throwaway lines. 

This wouldn’t be that much of an issue if the characters were allowed to interact in such a way that would justify any emotional connection between them. It’s here where the sloppiness of the editing and pacing really comes through. It seems clear that alot of the connective tissue and scenes of the squad bonding have been cut out and the resulting “family” they claim to have become by the end, is  justified by what can only be described as emotional jump cuts in the narrative.

The structure of the film would have been much better served had the extended flashbacks been removed and more focus on character interaction had been a priority. None of these issues are helped by the flimsy plot, and villian whose motivations are almost nonexistent. Echantress is given an introductory montage but quickly succumbs to “lets destory the world because, reasons” syndrome that seems to be plagueing most recent blockbuster movie bad guys.

The films cinematography also leaves something to be desired as the film lacks much sense of scope and all the major action sequences seem to be constructed in medium shots and close ups with very few,if any, wide or establishing shots.  

The sets, costumes, and performaces all do justice to the source material. It’s just a shame the movie surrounding all that wasn’t better constructed. Viola Davis gives a superb performance as Amanda Waller and presents a chilling and rich characterization without the need for extended flashbacks or clunky exposition. If only the filmmakers could have struck that same balance with the rest of the cast.

As it stands, intriguing visuals, excellent acting and some fun DC extended universe world building make this worth watching. But sloppy structure and pacing keep Suicide Squad from greatness.

Zootopia:When Animals Teach Us About Humanity

Zootopia is a hard hitting crime dramedy for kids and adults alike.  It takes topics that can be uncomfortable to talk about and brings them to light in an entertaining way that delivers an impactful and relevent message to its viewers. Continue reading