Weekend Round-Up: Movie Reviews (09/16/22)
Updated: Sep 19, 2022
It was a refreshing weekend at the movies with a bunch of new releases coming out with glowing reviews ahead of their release, a promising sign that we didn’t have to suffer like last week (I’m looking at you Pinocchio on Disney+). On the list this week, I decided to check out Pearl, See How They Run, The Woman King and Confess, Fletch. In this mix of original films, reboot and prequel, I ended up satisfied and fulfilled with my movie going experiences, let’s dig into it.
Earlier this year, we were treated with a new horror film by Ti West “X” and it ended up being both a critical and commercial success. We learned not long after that Ti West had already shot a prequel to “X”, called Pearl. Ti West injects new life, mythology and colors in the "X Universe" with this prequel slasher Pearl. It's not as scary or interesting as its predecessor but Mia Goth's devilish performance and Ti West's eye for stylistic violence makes Pearl quite an entertaining ride.
Synopsis: "The story of how Pearl became the vicious killer seen in "X"."
You can tell that Ti West is a lover of cinema and this transcends beyond the screen from his opening titles, musical choices and creative decisions. He's having a blast and doing his best sharing that feeling through his movies, that's why I really admire Pearl for what it is. Mia Goth delivers a fantastic 6-minute monologue and proves once again that she’s a force to be reckoned with.
It was drastically different in tone and in look than X, lots of it takes place during daytime with vivid colors (and blood) bursting through the screen. It’s something that I could probably appreciate more on a repeat viewing as I didn’t fall in love with the film, but since they already announced that there’s a 3rd entry in the trilogy coming up soon, MaXXXine, I know I’m going to watch this one again and my feelings might improve.
Initial Score: 7/10
Pearl was released in theaters on September 16th.
See How They Run
This might be my favorite of the weekend and I didn’t know much about it going in except that it was some type of Agatha Christie murder mystery. I was very surprised by See How They Run, a brilliant & meta whodunit with an electrifying sense of humor and a lot of wits. Saoirse Ronan is a firecracker and is so loveable, she really stood out in this stacked ensemble.
Synopsis: "In the West End of 1950s London, plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play come to an abrupt halt after a pivotal member of the crew is murdered."
From Adrien Brody to Sam Rockwell, everyone in this film is having fun and it’s contagious. This feels like it was tailor made for my personal taste. This film is so hilarious, delightful and well-acted, I was on board from start to finish. If you like murder mysteries you should run to the theater to go see this one! This is how I wish the Agatha Christie adaptations from Kenneth Branagh felt like: smart, funny & sophisticated.
Ultimately it’s kind of a parody on murder mysteries, so you have to be prepared for that, but like the best spoof movies in cinema, they respect the material they are spoofing and they understood how to do an engaging screenplay with high energy and entertaining characters.
Initial Score: 8.5/10
See How They Run was released in theaters on September 16th.
The Woman King
This movie is a good reminder that Oscar season is knocking at the door and for the upcoming 2 or 3 months, studios will be releasing their best movies to compete at the big ceremony of the Academy Awards. Viola Davis is a producer on the project and this has been in development for over 5 years, but it is finally hitting cinemas with an impressive production budget of $50M.
Synopsis: "A historical epic that is based in alternate history of The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries."
The Woman King reminded me of a Shaw Brothers martial arts flick with the heart-pumping training & fight sequences, the beautiful costumes, production design and attention to detail. It's like Black Panther meets the 36th Chamber of Shaolin and the MVP for me in this film was Lashana Lynch which we saw last year in 007: No Time To Die. It’s an emotional action epic with a solid message about womanhood.
Viola Davis is also extremely solid in it, of all the films I saw in the past weekend, this felt like the most cinematic experience and worthy to see on a giant screen because of the spectacle. With all the fighting there's an equal amount of heart as well, it’s a really good picture. It’s not going to end up in my personal bests of the year but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is nominated for some awards.
Initial Score: 8/10
The Woman King was released in theaters on September 16th.
If you were alive in the 1980’s you probably heard of Fletch (1985) starring Chevy Chase at his height of his career. Chevy Chase played an investigative journalist named Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher and it’s actually based on a book series written by Gregory Mcdonald. They also made a sequel a couple of years later, Fletch Lives and they were both very successful even though the sequel was not as good as the first. They recently announced that Jon Hamm would play Fletch in a new film Confess, Fletch directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland).
Synopsis: "After becoming the prime suspect in multiple murders, Fletch strives to prove his innocence while simultaneously searching for his fiancé's stolen art collection."
Good news, Fletch is back with his unusual methods and irresistible charm; I enjoyed this new Confess, Fletch. Jon Hamm's comedic timing is on-point and I was really sold on him playing Fletcher. He's still a likeable arrogant prick that likes to get into trouble and the movie was actually pretty funny.
The investigation & the screenplay itself is quite rudimentary but I think director Greg Mottola knew what he was doing by casting Jon Hamm, he's not Chevy Chase but he does bring something to the table that it is very much welcomed in this comedy/mystery. I can see why this was released on streaming instead of theatres and this might’ve actually worked better as a series instead of a movie but I enjoyed it and laughed a couple of times.
Fletch is now available on VOD and limited theaters.
What did you watch this weekend?
It was not a weekend for big IPs and superhero movies so this was very refreshing seeing all those films back-to-back, the afternoon screenings of See How They Run & The Woman King were absolutely empty, so I hope people give those movies a chance because this was legit 4 out of 4 in my book with Pearl and Confess, Fletch, I was not disappointed at all! What did you watch this weekend?