Make a different movie.

Images courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

Suicide Squad (Ayer, 2016) hit theaters after more than a year of fanfare, polarizing audiences who loved and hated it for a wide breadth of reasons.

Five years later to the exact weekend, The Suicide Squad (Gunn, 2021), a remake/sequel/reboot meant both for the people who loved and hated the first movie, arrives like a burger you sent back to the kitchen because you asked for no mustard that someone clearly just scraped off with a knife and still has big flecks of mustard all over it. It is the exact same movie with many of the exact same problems.

Corto Maltese- To quell an unfriendly regime coming to power, a very stupid CIA agent called Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles another iteration of Task Force X, a group of dangerous inmates who have bombs injected into their heads and perform dangerous missions in exchange for time off their sentences if they survive. Waller has the American military at her disposal, but she chooses to send a bunch of unwilling, untrained and undisciplined slaves who already hate her personally instead.

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It’s OK if you didn’t get ‘The Green Knight’

It’s difficult to pull a single image out of The Green Knight – almost every image is bold, regal and immediately identifiable. Images courtesy A24.

9/10 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight completes the evolution of distributor A24 from a distribution conglomerate, which simply bought festival films to pump and flip into theaters, to a production company, to a brand and finally to its own genre of film, which this film demonstrates can now be built from the ground up instead of acquired. It’s a critical mass of surface-level similarities and personnel overlap with the production company’s most iconic horror films, particularly The Witch and Hereditary, so much so that it feels like it takes place in the same world as those movies, but applied to a completely different setting and intent.

Well, that’s sort of an illusion. What’s really going on is indie filmmaking has centralized on several distinct conventions, such as naturalistic lighting and color grading, slow pace, similar sound design, Old Testament anxieties and religious obsession, witchcraft and heavy use of blood – and semen! – across several directors and productions, and A24 is such a dominant player in the distribution scene of these movies in particular that they seem to be the ones driving this genre when it’s really a large-scale fashion trend coming organically from a fresh crop of filmmakers. A24 has in turn been dedicated to this crop of filmmakers, including Green Knight writer/director/editor/producer David Lowery, whose breakout critical success A Ghost Story remains an important part of this semi-genre’s iconography.

I didn’t really get A Ghost Story – in hindsight, it went completely over my head – and I don’t really get The Green Knight either, and that’s OK. Most movies I “don’t get” in one sitting feel like there isn’t much there, but there’s clearly a lot to The Green Knight.

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‘Jungle Cruise’ is a boring, homosexist dumpster fire

Because when you’re the producer, you get a makeout arc with Emily Blunt. Images courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

1/10 Jungle Cruise is a limp imitation of past Disney success that nobody seemed to know what to do with.

1917, as diseases that were responsible for a third of all military casualties in the Great War ravage the trenches- English botanist Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) believes she has found a map to the Tree of Life deep in the Amazon rainforest, the leaves of which she assumes will revolutionize medicine. She and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), who serves as her surrogate to operate in men’s spaces, steal away to Brazil and hire skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson, who also produces) to see them downriver, but they are pursued in a U-Boat by Prince Joachim Franz Humbert of Prussia (Jesse Plemons), who wants to claim the tree’s power for Germany. As they progress into the jungle, they also anger the undead conquistadors who charted their initial path.

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Stop what you’re doing and go see ‘Snake Eyes’

Two betrayals. Images courtesy Paramount Pictures.

9/10 Snake Eyes is the movie people like to pretend MCU movies still are.

An underground street fighter known only as Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) drifts from job to job down the West Coast looking for the man who killed his father. A Yakuza boss named Kenta (Takehiro Hira) offers him the information in exchange for a complex service. Snake dives into a treacherous international underworld, playing both sides in a family grudge between the Yakuza and the Arishkage clan, keepers of an infinity stone the Jewel of the Sun, a fist-sized citrine with the power of, oh it’s just an infinity stone.

Coming up on two years ago now, legendary director Martin Scorsese lit the internet on fire when he said Marvel movies aren’t “cinema,” which led to a lot of different takes. Snake Eyes is the character-driven, within-boundaries offering that still scratches the itch for that gaudy, cartoon-come-to-life feeling, the 2021 proof that these elements can coexist. Comparing it to something like Black Widow, Snake Eyes laps it both in terms of human drama and crazy comic book action.

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M. Night can’t handle interesting ‘Old’ premise

One of the consistent downfalls of Shyamalan’s career has been his consistent branding as a horror filmmaker when his movies mostly don’t fit that genre at all. Part of the reason is his obvious talent for gruesome imagery, which he brings to full bear in Old. Images courtesy Universal Pictures.

4/10 Like many, I’ve spent the past year looking for shining glimmers of normalcy wherever I can find it. I took in the Super Bowl, like I do every year, hunting for movie trailers, listing who’s confident enough to shell out for this advertising space and whether or not they present something different for this broader audience. The only trailer in Super Bowl LV was for M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, which all the way back in February 2021 came with an aggressive “only in theaters” tagline.

In Old, a handful of vacationers at a tropical resort are invited to a pristine private beach that only certain clients are made aware of. The alcove is a trap, a singularity in time that causes anyone who enters to age at a rate of two years per hour, from which they cannot leave. The vacationers suffer and die as parents’ medical conditions, ranging from terminal illnesses to just the knicks and knacks of an aging body, rapidly accelerate, and their children gallop through puberty and young adulthood.

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