Flash Reviews 2022 Part 2

The Munsters – 7.5

Jeff Daniel Phillips owns the show in Rob Zombie’s unexpectedly awesome rebirth of The Munsters. Herman’s got rhythm, a good heart and no boundaries, and it’s good stuff. My lady was a fan as a kid, whereas I never could get past Eddie, but we both had fun with this one. We’re divided on Zombie’s filmography too, but The Munsters reboot is common ground. It’s kid safe, for the most part, genuine and funny. Moon isn’t bad, but has to try to keep up. I’m more Adams than Munster myself, but I’ll be surprised if Tim Burton’s Wednesday turns out this good. The best Halloween resurrection of 2022 is probably right here (though my fingers are crossed for Halloween Ends). Sign us up for The Munsters part 2 anytime.

Hocus Pocus 2 – 6.5

With Midler, Parker and Najimy all in, it would be hard for a better studio to go wrong. But at the House of Mouse, nothing is certain. Bits get a laugh and Bette carries the show, but the music never quite put a spell on me, so to speak. Though there’s talent and energy to spare. The supporting cast does fine, if stiffly. You could swap them out for any other Disney Channel trio and not really change a thing. Are they rich people’s kids? ’cause that would be great, D . . . Cheap gags and not much story, but still fun. Welcome back, Miss Midler, it’s nice to see you.

Hellraiser (2022) – 7.5

“Better than the original” is bound to be a high mark for any franchise entry (have I mentioned we’re about done with reboots over here?). Hellraiser 2022 raises the bar in every way, coming across as fresh and bodily-horrific as ever. FX are sharp, Pinhead is hot, and the young cast is both eager and capable. It’s never going to get all that deep on you, it is a franchise horror reboot after all, but they avoid camp and keep it twisted. The cenobites are too weak as usual, easily out-maneuvered in the end, but they’re nasty. And maybe they have eternity to kill, anyway.

The Midnight Club – 6.5

We’re only at the start of the season, but what The Midnight Club lacks in freakiness, it makes up just fine in character. Decent production, acting, and a few indications there might actually be a unique script behind it all. Hopefully I’m not the only one cheering them on, because Christopher Pike’s many young adult horror and sci-fi novels could use more adaptations. Sure, there are a few that chalk up weaker than Jack Black’s Goosebumps, but there are some that come close to Stephen King’s better work. I vote for Witch and See You Later adaptations next. I’ll be first in line. (Hopefully not the only one in line. 13-year-old me is very excited)

The Infernal Machine – 6.5

Almost as cool as Catcher In the Rye, not quite as mysterious as Memento, and a bit shy of the suspense of Secret Window or Shutter Island, The Infernal Machine is destined for the B-shelf, surrounded by imitators of better movies. And that’s a shame, because Guy Pierce’s hallucinogenic odyssey had a lot of potential. The first half is really pretty solid, but it quickly starts to falter as the revelations unfold, staggering under the weight of its own unwieldy ideas. Just a few of these ah-ha moments would be plenty, given the room to reveal and have their own power. I’ll put it on the Good Shelf anyway, if only for the cool shades, and a hint or two toward what makes genuinely good writing. It just wanted to be so much more . . . As a thriller about a man trying to make sense of an absurd universe, a theological mystery written by a merciless child of god, it could’ve been great. But then, those things would actually need to have been in there somewhere.

Elvis – 6

Speaking of machines . . . A hard look at hero-worship culture feeding on its own, elevating icons only to take them down, how the pressures of fame and greed can crack even strong characters, how gluttony is not a hero’s journey, would be timely as hell. Let alone if you give that kind of powerful true story a kicking soundtrack. Well, in any case there is also Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, and it is none of those things. An ADD main course of estate-worship without regard for reality, with only hints of Elvis’ actual music throughout. Even Tom Hanks is subpar. You’ll be hard pressed to miss Austin Butler’s rather electric performance, but it’s just as hard to call it Elvis in any serious way. I’m curious to see the rumored 4-hour director’s cut, believe it or not, because the biggest problem here is the pacing. There’s hardly a breath anywhere in the piece, and this isn’t true at all to the man, however meteoric he may have been. Maybe Elvis’ music needs to be remixed with hip hop and pumped to 200bpm in order to connect with today’s kids, but if so then maybe his story isn’t the one you’re actually trying to tell. His best work was often ballad. Elvis’ end was tragic, ugly, largely self-induced. His excess was extreme. If you want a popular, blemish-free story of a King and how he was betrayed – though for sure the man could sing – look elsewhere, no matter what Baz might tell you.

Call Me By Your Name – 8.5

Understated and gorgeous, Call Me By Your Name might be the single best piece of LGBT cinema I’ve seen this year. A coming of age journey, with great music (nod to Sufjan Stevens and JS Bach alike), and most importantly an understanding, literate heart, this is nearly fearless filmmaking, and had us both thoroughly. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer share a rare chemistry as complex, intelligent, romantic characters, and their coming together is a self-reflective love affair that surprises with tenderness and honesty. If I could get a clip of the father’s speech at the end, I’d play it for every struggling teenager and conflicted lover in the world. A+. Still, somebody ought to teach that kid how to set a dinner table . . .

The Get Down – 8

In perfectly standard Hollywood fashion, Elvis gets Movie-Of-The-Week and The Get Down gets cancelled. WTF Netflix? I’ll admit I’m late to the game, but that’s even more to the point. When we make our movies according to the flavor-of-the-month and a focus group audience poll, we make mistakes. Every. Time. Both by Baz Luhrmann, the differences here couldn’t be more stark. The Get Down takes its time, over the course of a full season of episodes, to tell a fictionalized version of the birth of hip hop in the Bronx in the 1970s. An impressive, diverse cast with talent coming out their ears. Clever, character-driven plotlines and a spot-on bumping long-form soundtrack. Add in cameos from the real players and DJs that turned the notion of a “good beat” upside down like they really did, and this is very watchable stuff. Canceled. Still entirely worth the look.

A few other tips then, to go out on:

Nogo Mofo: Moonfall, LOTR ROP, WestWorld S4, The Luckiest Girl Alive, Minions: Rise of Gru, My Best Friend’s Exorcism

Good To Go: This Is The End, An American Pickle, Bad Sisters, Turning Red (ADD warning), The Patient (by a hair), Pinnochio (2022)

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