We prepped by rewatching part one, where Kittridge was a standout, just the gov’t boss who has to say all the plotty dialogue, but he turns it into a twitchy physical performance, so we were psyched for his big return. I think I got the plot here, but not the allegiances – Cruise and Kittridge are both trying to destroy the world-domination superconnected AI, but Kittridge’s guys (Shea Wigham from a lotta shows and a guy named Tarzan from Top Gun 2) keep shooting at Cruise. Thief Hayley Atwell is a welcome addition, comes fully onboard just as Rebecca Ferguson checks out. Rhames and Pegg are trying to be the tech help when tech can no longer be trusted. Weapons broker Vanessa Kirby (soon to be Joaquin’s Josephine) is excellent as herself and her mask-self. Human baddie Gabriel (Esai Morales of The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit) is both an AI stooge and a boogeyman from Cruise’s pre-agent past, who falls out with his muscle Pom “Mantis” Klementieff at the last minute. After a thousand sleight-of-hand tricks, Cruise has the key and knows it unlocks a beta version of the AI in a sunken submarine… somewhere in the world.

John Woo’s follow-up to Blackjack, a Dolph Lundgren movie I’d never heard of before this moment. But he was obviously chosen based on his Face/Off experience in mask-based deception, and his ability to make dudes look extremely cool riding motorcycles, wearing leather jackets and sunglasses, kicking ass surrounded by explosions, jumping through the air whilst firing two guns.

Thandiwe Newton bounces between hero and villain (Dougray Scott of Ever After). Anthony Hopkins too embarrassed to be credited as the mission leader even though his other credit that year was the Jim Carrey Grinch movie. Aussies: Ving is joined by John Polson in the chopper and the baddie is assisted by finger-trauma Richard Roxburgh. Evil henchman William Mapother had been in Magnolia, but I think not in the Cruise scenes, and the scientist who sets off the whole plot by creating a supervirus runs the costume shop in Eyes Wide Shut. Bad guys just want to spread the virus across Sydney after securing stock options in Brendan Gleeson’s chem company that will manufacture the cure, and stock options are a boring reason to get the whole IMF on your ass, killing you and your friends, but at least they do it in style.

JW kills some guys in desert, incl The Elder. Whitebeard Harbinger Clancy “Mr. Krabs” Brown tells McShane the hotel has been condemned, then the Marquis kills Cedric Daniels, blows the place up, and sends blind swordsman Caine after JW. Every scene dramatically drawn out – you get the sense that everyone is playing their assigned role according to fate, except for this fuckin’ Marquis guy, who is annoying and evil.

The Osaka hotel goes down next, Hiroyuki Sanada in charge and his daughter Rina Sawayama in the Cedric concierge role, while a dog-loving bounty hunter called Nobody sits back, waiting for the bounty to get high enough to go after JW. Deals are made: Marquis fucks up Nobody’s hand (why would you do this to a hired assassin) and gets him after Wick, and JW agrees to take on a big metal-teethed dude named Killa to get back into his Russian family’s graces so he can duel the baddie. RIP the big baddie and also Wick – happily, this movie was much better than part 3.

As the Marquis, Bill is the campy Skarsgård, who gets murdered in Barbarian before the even campier Justin Long appears. Blind Donnie Yen was in the Ip Man series and some stuff I’ve seen but don’t remember (Iron Monkey is due a rewatch). As “Nobody” (a Ghost Dog reference), Shamier Anderson, who has been in unrelated movies named Bruised and Bruiser. The guy with the metal teeth, that’s Scott Adkins, the dude you all love so much? Y’all really want me to sit through a Jean-Claude Van Damme sequel to see more of this guy?

Some of the most daredevil action ever filmed, with the all-time flimsiest setup (the cops say drug smuggling is out of hand, requiring some kind of “super cop,” so Jackie Chan is called in). Maggie is left behind to be annoying alone, while Jackie springs a criminal from prison to gain his trust, then Michelle Yeoh pretends to be Jackie’s sister and saves their asses when they get busted while undercover. It’s a 1992 action movie, which means there are bazookas, and really too many things get blown up. But damn, Yeoh jumps a motorcycle onto a moving train.

Carrying on where we left off from 1.11, and the wikis confirm that the stuff I didn’t remember from the series (suicidally British pilot Mari) is new to the movies. Doubling down on the Christianity stuff and the teen nudity. Asuka jumpkicks an angel to death, then when her robot becomes possessed, the bosses remote-pilot Shinji’s eva and beat the hell out of her. Some good action, slowed down by a couple of lame pop songs – and it’s fun that the subtitles only translated song lyrics in the final scene instead of the dialogue that might’ve explained what is happening.

There’s a literal glass onion, and the Mona Lisa, and a revolutionary new source of fuel, and they all explode at the end. Good 2-part structure (and 2-part Monae), nice how it starts over zoom chats then wriggles out of covid restrictions using movie-logic. Katy’s first time at Movieland.

The Roller Coaster Sequel. After the big funhouse setpiece, M.E. Winstead (the girl with hair like this) and her late bestie’s bf Kevin (a guy from The Ring Two Remake) survive, along with two goths (I’m about to see him in Ginger Snaps, she was in a Queen Latifah movie), a jock (Texas Battle of Wrong Turn 2), and two girls named Ashley who will soon die in cranked-up tanning beds, leading to a great edit to their coffins. Winstead figures out the pattern just quickly enough to find each person moments before their deaths, while being stalked by a goth, until something happens, I forget what, and they all think they’ve escaped, until a haha coda on an NYC train.

Our heroes, too late to save the jock:

Little sister Julie in front of a Carolyn Mark poster:

Very funny and enjoyable movie, obviously a must-see motion picture, but it loses something – part one was original, and part two carried a previous character forward and developed the idea, but then this is just part one again, almost a remake, the previous movies only existing diegetically in a web search jumbled in with 9/11 conspiracy theories.

The latest reboot is a Hulu Original from Serbia – not promising, but we only get one Hellraiser movie every five or six years now, so better give it a shot. Does a good job following current trends: it’s too long (the longest Hellraiser by far), the dialogue gets buried under bassy music/fx, it’s got trans representation, gay characters quoting Lord Byron, and young people with trauma.

New box, new rules – box has six configurations, solver has to make six sacrifices then can choose from six rewards. Playboy art dealer (not that one) has box in prologue, prays to Leviathan and disappears. Years later, drug addict’s new bf, secretly working for art dealer, leads her to box. Conveniently for the box’s rule of sixes, we’ve got nearly that many characters: addict, her bf, her brother, his bf, their weirdly loyal roommate. Brother goes first, the movie showing us glimpses of demons and shifting walls then vanishing the kids offscreen, then we get a freebie sacrifice by visiting the art dealer’s box-supplier in hospital, then goes the roommate, then another freebie as she stabs a cenobite (!). Perhaps I lost count, but the traitor goes to hell, the man hiding in the walls ascends and is flayed into a rad cenobite, and the addict chooses life and walks away.

From the director of Night House and writers of Super Dark Times. Lead girl is from one-take horror Let’s Scare Julie, the brother is from a couple TV movies where he plays guys who are too powerfully handsome, his bf from a Scooby Doo spinoff prequel, her bf an American Animal, the art dealer from Elektra, the roommate is Ciaran Hinds’ daughter, original box-deliverer was in the latest Blade Runner, and head hell-priest cenobite from Neon Demon.

Charles Bramesco on twitter:

There’s no belief in pleasure here, Barker’s conflicted psychosexual overtones replaced by the deadening, simply opposed evils of drugs. Instead of a perverse negotiation of desires, everything is motivated by the logistics of getting poked by a box. And for the love of god (a malevolent giant rhombus, as we all know), will someone turn on a fucking light and let me get a good look at the clearly labored-over cenobite designs.


This needed to be way hornier. Hellraiser movies work better when they’re about getting a bit carried away with your kink than when they’re about some monkey’s paw thing, or owning the cenobites with facts and logic.

Campy from the opening scene, a police evidence locker with Freddy/Jason/Michael artifacts in view. Humor isn’t always what we want from horror sequels, but this murderer-possessed-doll franchise had worn itself thin by part three. Creator Don Mancini didn’t even bring on new writers (not credited ones, anyway), just a director (Ronny of The Bride with White Hair) and actor (Jenny Tilly of Bound) who could bring this thing over the edge. There’s more visual interest over the opening credits than in entire Branagh movie (good music, too).

Tilly is the pre-doll Chucky’s badass girl, who is friends with fake-goth Alexis Arquette (a Patricia/Rosanna sibling) and neighbors with a young dude named Jesse, who is dating Katherine Heigl (whose cop dad is John Ritter), also friends with Nickelodeon kid David. This provides a steady stream of dupes and victims as the central story progresses: Tilly and Chucky’s reunion, betrayal, her death by electrocution watching Bride of Frankenstein in the tub (yes this is the third in my Frankenstein triple feature) and ensuing dollification.

Further references to Hellraiser (arguably, when John Ritter catches a car airbag full o’ nails) and Natural Born Killers. A couple of swingers die via the shattered ceiling mirror trick from A Very Long Engagement (but six years earlier and on a waterbed). One of the Hocus Pocus witches plays a hotel maid. “Kiss my shiny plastic butt” a year before Futurama premiered. The dolls die as usual: “We belong dead… goodbye darling, I’ll see you in hell.”