Chris has written 7 reviews for films rated ★★ during 2020.

  • Happiest Season

    Happiest Season

    ★★

    This is one of those movies that concentrates on the wrong storyline. Kristen Stewart and Aubrey Plaza are both supremely charming, their characters are layered and I was actually invested in the relationship that was developing between them. Instead we spend most of the running time watching Stewart's absurdly tolerant character going through emotional turmoil caused by the gaslighting actions of her narcissistic girlfriend (who played with all the charisma of a lobotomy patient by Mackenzie Davis); as a result,…

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    ★★

    Another play adaptation that suffers from the same problems that usually plague these transitions to the silver screen; lacklustre direction, thin characterisation, clunky editing and stilted dialogue. This does boast some good music as well as solid performances from Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis who try their best with the limited material. Still, nothing here convinces me that this ever needed to leave the stage.

  • Frozen II

    Frozen II

    ★★

    Frozen II is yet another belated sequel that struggles to justify its existence. It has some positives as the animation is beautiful, the songs are catchy and I will give it props that it builds on the world that was previously established.

    However, the narrative structure is messy and so much of the storytelling involves bland fantasy rigmarole that gets tiresome quickly. Elsa is the only character to get any development as everyone else is reduced to one trait only…

  • Batman Returns

    Batman Returns

    ★★

    Batman Returns sees Tim Burton dive head first into gothic expressionism to craft a sequel that is much more to his sensibilities. But that is the main problem. This film is supposed to be about Batman, his name is in the title, yet he's barely the focus and the whole thing comes off more like a pity party for a bunch of grotesque caricatures.

    I can understand the appeal. This kind of bizarre mainstream film rarely gets made, especially in…

  • Batman

    Batman

    ★★

    The cultural influence of Tim Burton's Batman cannot be denied, but it is an ideal example of style over substance. Both plot and character are thrown out the window in favour of things that look 'cool' but serve no purpose beyond that.

    The problems start with the flat screenplay by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren (did your name have to rhyme to write on this?). I'm willing to give comic book movies leeway in this area, but the film's lack…

  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

    The Trial of the Chicago 7

    ★★

    A timely but lacklustre effort from Aaron Sorkin. Directing clearly isn't his strong suit given how bland this is visually with flat editing and dull compositions. Even his typically sharp writing style doesn't really work here. The drama feels very sensationalised with all the tropes of the courtroom drama ticked off one by one and the film as a whole ends up feeling weirdly centrist considering the subject matter.

    The performances range from good (Mark Rylance, Michael Keaton, Yahya Abdul-Mateen…

  • The Devil All the Time

    The Devil All the Time

    ★★

    A grim southern gothic that bites off more than it can chew. The story itself is messy and feels like a number of different stories awkwardly mashed together. There is little narrative focus which results in plotlines starting then stoping with little rhyme or reason, making it difficult to get invested. It tries to craft some thoughts on the repercussions of violence and religious corruption but it doesn't appear to have anything to say beyond surface-level statements.

    The cast is…