It takes a very easy ("lazy," if I'm being less generous) approach with the relationships and themes, so there's no emotional depth to it, but James Marsden and Sonic are charming enough and Jim Carrey brings the perfect amount of Jim Carreyness so that he's silly without taking over the whole production. It's a perfectly fine, fun movie based on a kids' video game.
43. Three Christs
Three Christs does spend a little time talking about the traumas that sent Peter Dinklage, Walton Goggins, and Bradley Whitford looking for other personalities to take on, but it's mostly interested in the methods that Richard Gere uses to help them. It doesn't even care that much about the concept of identity, though it does make superficial connections between the title characters' mental illness and the healthier, mundane wisdom of not letting other people define who you are. I would have loved to see that examined in more detail.
But even if the movie's not what I wanted it to be, Dinklage, Goggins, and Whitford are so good in their roles that I got invested in their characters and in Gere's attempt to treat them humanely. It's not a profound movie in any sense, but I never regret an opportunity to practice empathy. Although, even as an exercise in compassion, Three Christs can be overly melodramatic (with Kevin Pollak's role as the head of the hospital being especially two-dimensional).
42. The Lodge
That said, the mood is great and The Lodge has all the right gothic influences. It's about a stepmom who has to spend some time alone with her husband's kids, dealing with the specter of a former wife like in Rebecca. And the kids may or may not have some extra, sinister knowledge like in Turn of the Screw. There are also elements of Gaslight, so all the ingredients are here for something great. But they're mixed with unbelievable characters who kept me from getting too interested in what happens to them.
41. The Owners
If you've seen the movie Don't Breathe where some young delinquents break into Stephen Lang's house and come to regret it, The Owners has the same premise. But it takes a different approach with the creepy homeowners, so instead of a tough old badass, they're a kindly, old couple. I don't like the ending, but everything up to that is captivatingly bonkers and enjoyable.
One thing that really bugged me though was the unnecessary and extremely distracting change in aspect ratio right at the end when everything's coming to a head. Suddenly going from widescreen to a little square box yanked me right out of the film (literally, since I had to actually stop the film and manually adjust my screen so that the box would at least fill as much space as it could). And this, just at the point when I should have been most engrossed. I thought it might have been just the copy I watched, but pretty much every review I've read mentions the same thing.
40. Blood and Money
I wish the script was better. It starts off pretty good. Berenger's character has a lot of weaknesses that I enjoyed seeing revealed. The best parts of the movie are when he's interacting with other hurting people. There seems to be little chance that anyone's going to fix anyone else, but I had some hope that maybe someone would be comforted by the end.
Not so much though. The last half of the film is a mix of survival movie and crime thriller that wastes the earlier character stuff. And while it's not bad - Berenger is slow, but the bad guys aren't very smart or even good shots, so it evens out - I'd gotten my hopes up about feeling something about the end and the movie let me down.
That all said, Tenet's time-travel mechanics aren't as cool as the film thinks they are. I'm not enough of a technical nerd to really appreciate the skill and effort that went into creating those sequences; I just care about how they serve the story. And the story is pretty rough on first viewing, for a number of reasons throughout the filmmaking process starting with the script (Branagh's motivations are so trite) and going all the way through the final stages of production (especially around sound design).
I don't doubt that the plot all makes sense when deeply studied, but as much as I enjoyed watching Washington, Pattinson, and Debicki try to save the world, I never really cared about any of them enough to want to go back and figure out the nitty-gritty mechanics of whatever was going on. I picked up enough to enjoy the adventure and I think that's all the effort I'm going to give the film.
38. The Sunlit Night
37. Guns Akimbo
36. The Turning
This one put me on a Turn of the Screw kick for a lot of 2020 and I'm still not done with it. I read Henry James' novel a couple of years ago and was fascinated by it. I hated it while I was reading it, but started warming to it by the end. And then after I had a chance to sit with it for a while, I liked it quite a bit, realizing that there are multiple ways to read it and that the most frightening ones are the least supernatural.
I was curious about how The Turning would interpret it: Straight-up ghost story or psychological horror? Sadly, it tries to have it both ways, but not in a subtle, ambiguous way like James' novel. Instead, it decides to just give two, conflicting endings: one supernatural and one psychological. It's a bold move, but unsatisfying.
On the way there, though, I enjoyed the performances, the mystery, the setting of the mansion and its estate, and the tension. There are a lot of jump scares, but they worked to make me almost as much of a nervous wreck as Mackenzie Davis' beleaguered character.
I don't understand the need to set the film in the 1990s, but that's a minor head-scratch. Whatever the reason for the decision, the film worked just fine in that time period. I'm looking forward to watching it again after I finish the other adaptations on my list and see if the comparison helps or hurts this one.
35. Come Away
Come Away is marketed as a prequel to Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, but it doesn't really work that way. And I don't mean from a geeky, continuity perspective. It's just that the film is interested in other things than connecting the two stories or creating a new origin for them.
And that's not bad, because what the movie is interested in - a family's grieving in a variety of ways - is moving. The literary references are mostly just peppered on top of that to add some flavor. As a story of a family's painful struggle after a tragic death, I like it a lot. It's got some beautiful moments and not just visually.
But somewhere in there the film does want to comment on the two stories it's connecting and that's the part I have a hard time with. Both Peter and Alice escape to other worlds (at the very end of the film and off camera) and only one of them of course comes back. Alice visits Wonderland for a short period while Peter will remain in Neverland forever. My problem is that the movie doesn't seem to have a point of view about either decision. Is Alice more honorable for returning to reality? Are we meant to admire Peter's ultimate escape? Come Away asks the question, but if it offers any answers, it's quite subtle about it. I may like it more if I watch it again, but for now I'm a bit dissatisfied.
34. Hunter Hunter
My problem is that I wasn't paying enough attention to the clues and was completely, jarringly blindsided by the third-act revelation. And that revelation is so unexpectedly dark that it made it even harder for me to keep up. Or really to even want to.
But it's a genius piece of filmmaking and maybe one day I'll be up to revisiting it.
33. Color Out of Space
The movie's visuals are gorgeous from the landscape photography to the effects of the weird, vibrantly colored plants and insects that appear after the meteor has landed. And I enjoyed the early scenes getting to know a little about the Gardners' personalities and their relationships with each other. The film needs more of that.
Mom Joely Richardson doesn't get enough attention and I'd like to have a better handle on the family's financial situation in general. Richardson is super concerned about her online business and clients, but Nicolas Cage doesn't seem to share her anxiety. Is that because he's callous or because she's over-reacting? Clues point to his being insensitive, but he's very tuned into her in other ways, so I have a hard time reading the couple. Same goes for their kids who go back and forth between quirky and seriously troubled.
That shaky foundation is especially tough to build on when the story is about breaking the family down and putting them through an appalling amount of stress. It's hard for me to care about what's happening to their relationships when I don't fully understand what their relationships were before the meteor hit.
Tommy Chong is awesome, but way underused as a hippie scientist squatting on the Gardner's property. And I liked the idea of including Lovecraft's narrator (a land surveyor in the short story; a hydrologist in the film) as an observer and would-be helper to the family's tragedy. That character doesn't really go anywhere either, but the building blocks are here for a great adaptation if only they were put together better.
32. Wonder Woman 1984
The problems with the plot are a huge part of the movie and the reason it's so low in my rankings, but I love the character of Wonder Woman in general, I especially love Gal Gadot playing her, I love Chris Pine's Steve Trevor, and their relationship in this is real and emotional in spite of the weird way the movie brings Trevor back.
Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal are great at what they do even if these aren't my favorite versions of either character. And that mid-credits cameo at the end... mwah!
31. The Wolf of Snow Hollow
But while I didn't care for it as a mystery, I do love the idea of a deputy with anger issues hunting a werewolf (which is often symbolic of unrestrained emotion). It works as a character study and family drama with a cool monster element to liven it up. And I especially love Riki Lindhome as another, more stable deputy working the same case.
30. Gretel and Hansel
Even though the look of the film doesn't always connect with me, I appreciate the thought that's gone into the story and what themes can be coaxed out of it. "Coming of Age" doesn't satisfactorily summarize it. The movie sees growing up as a dark, violent process and not just for loss of Innocence. There's a lot the movie wants to say and I'm not sure if my not picking up all of it is my fault or the film's, but I'd enjoy revisiting it at some point to see.
Certainly the cast is perfect for me from Borg Queen Alice Krige as one aspect of the Witch, Jessica De Gouw (from the excellent TV series Underground) as another aspect, and Nancy Drew / It Girl Sophia Lillis as Gretel.