Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Catherine Keener

QuickView: The Adam Project (2022)

“Sometimes it pays to be a nerd, guys.”

Louis Reed

Since the underwhelming Bright in 2017, Netflix has been chasing a big budget action film success in vain. Yet, with big name stars drawing high streaming figures, Netflix now seems content with a regular cadence of generic and largely forgettable films instead, and that is the mould for The Adam Project from director Shawn Levy (teaming up again with Ryan Reynolds after last year’s Free Guy). Its loose time travel mechanics are forgivable but its greater flaw is laziness in establishing its sci-fi world. We never really get a sense of the stakes in 2050, or how the existence of time travel has changed the planet, and a direct reference to The Terminator serves only to highlight The Adam Project‘s comparatively weak world-building and derivative story. The action is competently choreographed, with a few memorable moments using futuristic energy and sonic weapons. A more serious tone also allows Ryan Reynolds to deliver a more emotionally nuanced performance than Free Guy, particularly in the regret Adam feels when faced with how he treated his mother as a child. Unfortunately, with the exception of Walter Scobell as his younger self, the excellent supporting cast is wasted on characters that are never developed beyond sketches. The Adam Project is enjoyable but will be forgotten within a few months.

6/10

QuickView: Cyrus (2010)

Cyrus poster

“Been in kind of a dark, existential place, to tell you the truth and then… I met your mom.”

John

The marketing and casting of Cyrus created expectations for an offbeat comedy, confusing audiences who received more of an unsettling indie flick, written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass. John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill both offer surprising performances, Hill through understated creepiness, whilst Reilly flexes his nuanced acting abilities in role of an affable, neurotic and world-weary man with hints of the star turn he would take a few years later in Wreck-It Ralph. Marisa Tomei deftly makes the unusual central relationships believable. The film flounders structurally, taking over an hour of its 91-minute running time to set up the conflict between John and Cyrus, leaving its final act feeling hurried and lacking in any real depth. On the other hand, the time devoted to John and Molly’s relationship ensures that the audience remains invested in its success. Cyrus flirts with a darker tone but never really commits, resulting in a pleasantly unusual film without the edge it might have had in different hands.

6/10

QuickView: Incredibles 2 (2018)

Incredibles 2 poster

“Done properly, parenting is a heroic act… done properly.”

Edna Mode

In general, Pixar’s return to previous properties with increasing frequency has indicated a level of creative stagnation. Incredibles 2 marks a rare departure, a sequel that seamlessly continues from its predecessor with the same imagination, warmth and wit. This is no doubt due in large part to Brad Bird’s return for writing and directorial duties after a brief foray into live action (the excellent Ghost Protocol and the less successful Tomorrowland). It provides an experience like spending time with familiar friends, and ensures that the film’s heart remains its family-centric story — Elastigirl balances working motherhood with an inability to let go of home life, Mr Incredible struggles with a sense of emasculation in his new childcare role, the children feel restricted by the needs of their demanding younger sibling — rather than mutating into an overblown action film at the expense of character moments.

8/10

QuickView: Get Out (2017)

“This is uncharted territory for them. You know, I don’t want to get chased off the lawn with a shotgun.”

Chris Washington

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut wants to get under your skin in every sense. As is often the case with high concept horror, the less you know going in the better. Thematically, though, this is about the racial paranoia of being a minority in a white space — Chris reads into every cue, is made uncomfortable by the most casual of remarks, but is constantly second-guessing his own reading of the situation. It is an astute depiction of how exhausting such social interactions can be. The film’s opening scene is a statement of intent, with a black man walking through an affluent suburb, trying to avoid confrontation and clearly terrified of being shot. Like his comedy writing with Keegan-Michael Key, Peele is intent on confronting contemporary racial issues directly in order to provoke discomfort and conversation. In that, Get Out is a resounding success.

9/10

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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