We’re through President’s Day Weekend, and we’re starting to get some bigger releases. This week’s offerings include a horror re-boot and Tom Holland spending time falling out of airplanes without a Spider Suit. Here’s a look at all the new movies I saw this week! If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
Synopsis: One of five documentaries nominated for an Academy Award and for an Independent Spirit Award, this documentary is streaming on Paramount+. Filmmaker Jessica Kingdon takes a look at the economic situation in China. This isn’t a film that focuses on a single or a group of subjects, and it doesn’t feature a lot of dialogue. It’s more of a cinematic take at the pursuit of the Chinese Dream. It’s about those that try to move ahead in a culture that prizes innovation and productivity above all. There are some beautiful shots into this observational-style film. Those that appreciate this kind of filmmaking will be at home. I thought it was an interesting approach but I couldn’t help but want more of a narrative through line. It’s interesting but not as compelling as some of the documentaries I saw from 2021.
Downfall: The Case Against Boeing (Netflix)
Synopsis: Another documentary, this a 2022 film released on Netflix. It looks at Boeing and how the alleged priority of profit over safety impacted the company and could have contributed to issues with the 737 Max. This includes two crashes that occurred within months of each other. The film comes from director Rory Kennedy and counts Ron Howard and Brian Grazer among its producers. It’s an interesting exploration of the topic and features a statement from Boeing at the close. It also looks at the outcome of the case which will likely leave many feeling less than satisfying. It’s an interesting look at the case, though it sometimes feels more like a news magazine than a documentary. This feels like one of the interesting stories that find its way to Netflix and help us understand more about what’s going on in the world.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for some strong language.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Netflix)
Starring: Elsie Fisher, Sarah Yarkin, Jacob Latimore, Mark Burnham, and Olwen Fouéré
Synopsis: Bringing back classic horror stories in new ways is all the rage. It happened with Halloween in 2018, with Scream in January and now with Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In each case, the filmmakers are trying to make a requel, connecting a new generation of characters to those from the original. In this case, Texas Chainsaw Massacre begins with a recounting of what happened in the original in the 1970s and brings back the sole survivor of that film—Sarah Hardesty (Fouéré). It’s made clear Sarah has spent years hunting Leatherface, which has left her hardened as like a warrior. Meanwhile, a group of young people led by Melody (Yarkin) and Dante (Latimore) have snapped up a small Texas town that has been abandoned. They’ve arrived to sell it off at auction to a group of young entrepreneurs hoping to rebuild it as something different. There they find a woman (Alice Kridge) and her son (Burnham) still living into the broken-down old orphanage. The boot her out, but she is in poor health and dies. That sets her mysterious son upon them and those who’ve come to take his town. This one wants to capture some of the glory that films like Halloween and Scream won, but it doesn’t know what it’s doing. The story is terrible, the arc for Hardesty is an embarrassment and the new characters don’t pop. This is a film that exists solely to string together ultra-violent sequences. If you’re looking for gore, this one has it in spades. If you’re looking for a good movie-going experience, you’re out of luck. This is dreadful and a mess.
Rating: Rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, and language.
Starring: Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Lindon
Synopsis: Director Julia Doucournau delivers a follow-up horror thriller to her 2016 film Raw. This one centers on Alexia (Rousselle), who as a child was in an accident that left her with a plate in her head. As an adult, she has an interesting relationship with cars and a savage side that quickly gets her into trouble. Looking to get away without being found, she assumes the identity of Adrien, a boy missing for 10 years. She finds refuge with his father, a fire captain named Vincent (Lindon) who is seemingly willing to overlook some discrepancies in Adrien’s story. This one is different. From the jump you get some sequences that will challenge your perceptions and expectations for the genre. This one features a unique story and some unsettling moments. The performances are solid but how you feel on the story will likely determine how you feel about the film. Honestly, this was a bit too weird for me.
Rating: Rated R for strong violence and disturbing material, graphic nudity, sexual content, and language.
Starring: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, and Antonio Banderas
Synopsis: Based on the popular video game series, this is the perfect kind of action-adventure to drop on President’s Day Weekend. It features Holland as Nathan Drake, the focal point of the stories, pairing him with Wahlberg in an adventure that spans the globe looking for lost treasure. The film is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who directed the action-comedy Zombieland, and features plenty of big set pieces and a fun third act. Holland is great in the lead role, and his pairing with Wahlberg works well. As a fan of the Indiana Jones/National Treasure type films, this was right in my wheelhouse. I wasn’t familiar with the games, so likely didn’t grasp all the villains being faced, but I enjoyed the adventure. I liked Ali in a supporting role, while Gabrielle made for a decent villain. Banderas character is somewhat woefully under-used, but that’s a minor complaint in a film like this that aims to provide spectacle, escape and some fun. It achieves those aims, delivering a President’s Day release worth checking out on the big screen.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence/action and language.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.