MOVIE: Artemis Fowl (2020)

Artemis Fowl Year: 2020 Rating: PG Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours When I first saw the trailers for Artemis Fowl (2020), I was intrigued enough to pick up the book and read it. With its continual delays, I was able to also read through the first five books in the series. This may have helped me understand what Disney was trying to do with this, but it doesn't excuse their butchering of the source material. I can only imagine how confused people who hadn't read a single word of the books would be, and I was right on the verge with them. What gets me is that, as a fairly short book, Disney could have made a perfect adaptation in a scant two hours. Instead, they decided to cram so much "sequel potential" into 95 minutes to lose focus on any of the stories they were trying to adapt simultaneously. I also understand how the movie version is inclusive of all races and genders,...
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MOVIE: Soul (2020)

Soul Year: 2020 Rating: PG Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours I'll give Pixar credit: they know how to make trailers that give away almost nothing about what the plot is. Sure, I could roughly gauge what Soul (2020) was about, but I could never have guessed it would be this deep. Of course, when dealing with concepts as heady as the afterlife, Pixar had to really balance the line between adhering to any particular religious belief. Be prepared to tear up at least a few times because Soul can hit hard when it comes to life itself. As is the case with any Pixar film, I usually watch for CGI modeling/technology advancements. In Soul, they took the time to perfect the look of some of the most difficult hair to animate, and it shows. This isn't to say that we're getting closer to jumping the uncanny valley (of which they can probably do by now) because this would also ignore the mind-bending "architects" who...
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MOVIE: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things Year: 2020 Rating: R Length: 134 minutes / 2.23 hours Perhaps I should have learned my lesson from when I watched Synecdoche, New York (2008). I have appreciated plenty of Charlie Kaufman's films, but only when he's the writer. Not the director. Or maybe this is a more recent change, as some of my favorite Kaufman films were released before 2005. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Being John Malkovich (1999) are some of my favorite films, with Adaptation. (2002) being at least something that I understood (despite its extremely meta nature). I'll admit that I thought I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) was initially about suicide by its title. As I started to watch, I thought I would be getting a thoughtful look at the midwest's mundane nature (a la Nebraska (2013)). Then a bandage switched sides on a character's forehead. From that point, everything became much more bizarre—to the point where I stopped even trying to...
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MOVIE: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan Year: 2020 Rating: R Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours Over the years, I've found two types of people: those offended by the original Borat (2006) film and those who find it funny. I'm probably in the latter camp, mostly because I can appreciate how politically incorrect comedy can be "safely" created by introducing a cultural/language barrier. 14 years later, and I'm certain that the people who didn't find the original Borat funny won't find the humor in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020). As an American, it's amusing to see our foibles pulled out as the butt of the joke in this film, especially after we've made fools of ourselves through the last decade of partisan politics and recent refusal of science and common sense. And while Borat Subsequent Moviefilm still relies on physical and sexual humor that is awkward to watch, there are moments of pure genius...
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MOVIE: Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)

Bill & Ted Face the Music Year: 2020 Rating: PG-13 Length: 91 minutes / 1.52 hours One thing I hate about trilogies is that sometimes movies don't need to be trilogies. If everything has been covered in the previous two movies (or even the first movie), the only reason for any additional films in the franchise seems to be for the sole purpose of making money. What's worse is franchises that release their third movie long enough after the first two that it's more of a nostalgia trip/reboot than anything that adds significantly to the lore. What's perhaps most disappointing about Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) is how I had high hopes for it. Granted, my nostalgia for Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bogus Journey (1991) mean that I hoped there would be a significant shift in Face the Music that would explore something new that might have developed in the last 30 years. Instead, Face the Music treads all the same territory from...
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MOVIE: Enola Holmes (2020)

Enola Holmes Year: 2020 Rating: PG-13 Length: 123 minutes / 2.05 hours When a character like Sherlock Holmes is already written, you do the next best thing: write fanfiction. Enola Holmes (2020) feels like an author-insert fanfiction of the famous detective stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. While this would be a mark against any other story, it works here and creates an amusing plot that was fun to watch. Sure, the mystery wasn't at the level Sherlock Holmes would normally solve, but Enola isn't necessarily Sherlock. Of course, I don't know if this story would have worked as well if there wasn't the tie-in to Sherlock Holmes. As for the actors, no doubt on retainer from their other Netflix projects, Henry Cavill (The Witcher) is a passable Sherlock but wasn't given quite enough screen time to really show his talents. The star of the show is definitely Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), who has certainly shown that she's not only good at playing...
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MOVIE: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Sonic the Hedgehog Year: 2020 Rating: PG Length: 99 minutes / 1.65 hours As someone who grew up with the original Sonic video games, I was highly skeptical of this film adaptation. There's not much plot behind a game that's basically: move right as fast as possible and defeat a robot-making madman. Granted, Sonic has developed a little more depth to its lore over the years...but not much. The appeal of the character in the '90s was his attitude, and I have to admit that his movie does capture that attitude quite well. For a video game adaptation, Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) isn't terrible, which is saying something. I can only imagine the nightmare-inducing original design for Sonic, though. However, it's still not the greatest movie ever for the genre of video game adaptations. I did appreciate the little "slow-motion" moments, as well as the practical use of the rings as teleportation devices. Jim Carrey's Dr. Robotnik was passable, if not a little too goofy/sinister...
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MOVIE: Birds of Prey (2020)

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) Year: 2020 Rating: R Length: 109 minutes / 1.82 hours I will admit: Margot Robbie is perfectly cast as Harley Quinn. The fact that she even got her own movie after her debut in Suicide Squad (2016) is a testament to this. That being said, she's a bit of a shallow character past being "Joker's girlfriend." Look no further than Birds of Prey (2020) to see what I mean. If it were truly a Harley Quinn standalone film, it wouldn't have needed the sub-plots of a handful of other characters to make the running time long enough. As it stands, Birds of Prey is meant as a sort of "origin story" for this titular team of female heroes. The fact that it needed Harley Quinn to make it marketable is a bit of a disappointment in the ability of the writers to create a story that would give these women agency without resorting to...
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MOVIE: Tenet (2020)

TenetYear: 2020Rating: PG-13Length: 150 minutes / 2.50 hours I'll admit: I probably have to watch this movie again. I'm usually pretty good at unraveling a Christopher Nolan movie when I watch it for the first time. Not since Memento (2000), have I had such a difficult time piecing together the intertwining timelines. At least with Memento, I was aided by the black-and-white sections. In Tenet (2020), time moves in both directions in the same scene. Sure, this is a visually-stunning feat, but it's often a slap in the face of the Grandfather Paradox, which Tenet simply waves away with a shrug and a "don't worry about it." What's interesting is how moments of foreshadowing in this film triggered my "lightbulb reflex" each time the corresponding portion of the plot came into focus and gave me the "aha moment." I'm sure I'll pick up more of these when I watch it a second time. As it stands after a single viewing, my mind...
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VIDEO GAME: Animal Crossing – New Horizons (2020)

Animal Crossing: New HorizonsYear: 2020Rating: ETime Played: 195+ hours I’d never had any interest in the Animal Crossing series before New Horizons came out. I didn’t get the point of it. There didn’t seem to be any objective other than paying off a loan to a capitalist raccoon. That being said, when I saw the first trailer for New Horizons, my interest was immediately piqued. While the graphics were sharp and adorable, the crafting and terraforming mechanics seemed to give me the flexibility I’d want in such a simulation game. And while there is plenty to do in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, at a certain point, it becomes a repetitive chore. By now, this game is my most-played on my Switch. I’ve put in the time and effort to build a 5-star island and have long paid off my house (thanks to a fortunate week in the “stalk market”). I have orchards full of the different varieties of trees, flowerbeds on their...
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MOVIE: The Gentlemen (2020)

The Gentlemen Year: 2020 Rating: R Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours I’ve enjoyed a good portion of Guy Ritchie’s filmmaking. While many of his more recent movies rely on franchise appeal (Sherlock Holmes (2009), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) and Aladdin (2019) are of note), I usually associate his style of filmmaking with the British heist film (like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000)). Consequently, I was looking forward to seeing his recent film, The Gentlemen (2020), as it seemed to be a return to the kind of filmmaking that attracted me to Guy Ritchie films in the first place. Unfortunately, it seems Ritchie has been away from his core movies for so long that he’s almost forgotten how to make them. The meta framing with Hugh Grant and Charlie Hunnam was clunky enough that even Hunnam’s character was getting bored with the “telling” in the exposition provided by Grant’s character. Sure, there were a few neat twists here and...
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MOVIE: Onward (2020)

Onward Year: 2020 Rating: PG Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours I always look forward to Pixar films, mostly to see how visually stunning a movie created entirely in a computer can look with each passing year of technological and programming advancements. The other reason I will always go to see a Pixar movie is their dedication to a good story. Sure, there have been some missed steps over the years (The Good Dinosaur (2015) being the latest example), but their track record has been good enough to warrant me seeing their films in the theater. While I was looking forward to this year’s offering of Onward (2020), the result felt a little lackluster overall. Choosing to explore a storyline with a deceased parent was odd in that it felt like something that had rarely been addressed in movies geared toward children while also having a strong “after school special” vibe to it. Either way, putting it in a pseudo-Monsters, Inc. (2001) fantasy world was a fun way to...
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