The classic Agatha Christie-style whodunnit murder mystery story is a genre that I have, admittedly, had limited exposure to in contemporary Hollywood productions, let alone one that is set in our present-day Trump-governed America. It was a genre I had always associated with the Cluedo board game growing up as well as the infamous Simpsons two-part episode ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns’. When I had heard that Rian Johnson’s latest cinematic outing, Knives Out would present a more playfully comedic, theatrical take on the whodunnit genre, I was initially rather apprehensive. This was mainly due to Johnson’s previous film Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) having been met with possibly the most controversial and divisive critical reception of any film that I had heard of. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Knives Out was a thoroughly entertaining and well-crafted production with a wonderfully talented cast, masterful use of staging, intricately detailed and theatrical set-pieces interwoven with a devilishly tongue-in-cheek brand of comedy and deft use of classic murder-mystery tropes.
It’s been a good nine years since Toy Story’s third installment had been released. A film that was once universally regarded to be the definitive and beautifully bittersweet capstone of the genre-defining Toy Story films. But, knowing Disney’s habit of capitalizing on its more nostalgic properties as of late, the release of a fourth installment to this beloved franchise was, more or less, to be expected, albeit with relative scepticism of its quality compared to its predecessors. With a new director, Josh Cooley at the helm along with writers leaving the project due to creative differences, and an almost 2-year delay of the film due to other projects, such as The Incredibles 2, audiences were nervous that Toy Story 4 was doomed to fall short of their expectations set by previous installments. For nine years, audiences were convinced that the potential of Toy Story had been fully realized, but with Toy Story 4, this make-believe world of charm and wonder could still breathe new life into the toys that inhabit it.
I had always been a casual fan of the Pokémon franchise. I had enjoyed the show as a kid, I still play many of the games to this day, and I even briefly got on board with the Pokémon GO craze that came about in 2016. That being said, while Pokémon, to this day is still a big hit with younger audiences, I’ve always considered it’s older demographic to be a rather niche market. Which is why I never would have expected a film concept as shockingly outrageous as Pokémon: Detective Pikachu to be greenlit. Pun intended.
During its rather explosive 11 year
run, the Michael Bay-helmed Transformers film franchise hasn’t exactly
developed a particularly stellar cinematic legacy, with most productions being
widely regarded as crass, noisy, explosion-filled, soulless Hollywood drivel
with no shortage of puerile sophomoric humour and scantily clad girls draped
over car bonnets. For the longest time, this was the status-quo for this
franchise, to the point that I’d stopped caring about investing my money in
seeing these films at the cinema by the time ‘The Last Knight’ rolled around. This
simply boils down to the fact that since 2009, the mere act of watching Bay’s
transformers films, with all their typical tempestuous bombast, incoherence and
shameless product placement was in itself an exhaustive and mentally-draining
endeavour in and of itself. This speaks volumes of the sloppiness and utter
creative emptiness that Bay had invested into these films, and the knowledge
that a big budget Hollywood media franchise is comfortable to reduce itself to
such a state is utterly soul-destroying for modern cinema as a whole.