2021 Reviews: The Human Voice / Mortal Kombat / Nobody / Willy’s Wonderland

I didn’t hate any of these movies.

The Human Voice

I don’t think any living filmmaker understands the human condition as well as Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar, but his latest 30-minute short starring the impervious Tilda Swinton seems oddly out of place in his emotional juggernaut repertoire. What I mean is Pedro generally makes films about deeply rich human beings and The Human Voice (the only one of his movies with the actual word “human” in it) seems maybe the least human of the bunch. We never really get to know Swinton‘s character who is the only person in the movie because besides just being on a one-sided phone conversation, everything in the movie is completely swallowed by the overwhelming but gorgeous color palette and scenic design. When it was all over the only thing I took away with me was “wow! that movie looked beautiful!” which in the beginning of the year season of mostly underwhelming or downright offensive studio releases, might be good enough. Grade: B (streaming on HBOMax)

Mortal Kombat

I didn’t hate it. I really didn’t hate it. This is one of the most aggressively stupid major studio releases of the past couple years, complete with terrible dialogue and nonsensical pop culture references (is this Family Guy?) brought to life by even worse actors, a plot that teeters on being incoherent and an err of overall seriousness that betrays the inherent campiness of the game. But the one thing the movie does absolutely right is the obscenely violent fight sequences, from Kung Lao slicing motherfuckers in half with his giant razor fedora, to Sub Zero freezing people’s body parts and snapping them off, to Mileena (pictured above) fulfilling a dentist’s worst nightmare. The only thing that sucks about these fight sequences is that there is simply not enough of them. No one plays Mortal Kombat for the plot, so why would anyone see the movie for one? Less talk-y more fight-y, please. Grade: C (in theaters & streaming on HBOMax)

Nobody

As great as it is to see the immensely talented Bob Oedenkirk finally get the star treatment he deserves, I was really expecting more out of this movie given the players involved. What I got was Diet John Wick. It’s not that any of the performances are bad or that any of the action is less than very entertaining, it’s just that nothing really sticks out as memorable. The villains are stereotypical Russian baddies that would seem more at home in a 90s action thriller and we never really get know Oedenkirk‘s character that well, he’s basically just an amalgamation of several roles Oedenkirk has played before. The movie could have benefitted from more silliness and extravagance like the John Wick series achieved with the whole hotel subplot and the underground society of hitmen – not to mention the utter hilarity of a world where the whopping majority of human beings are contract killers. I doubt I’ll revisit this one. Grade: C+ (in theaters & $19.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

Willy’s Wonderland

Willy’s Wonderland is a super bizarre and at times extremely desperate wannabe cult film about a Nicolas Cage type getting stuck in a small town kids pizza restaurant where he has to battle Rock-afire Explosion animatronics possessed by a cult of child-killing pedophiles. But he also has to deep clean the pizza place while fighting these demonic robots. It’s an insane premise that could have been a million times better if the movie had just taken the leaps of faith a film this bizarre requires of the filmmaker. What we get is a consistently brutal, sporadically hilarious but always entertaining horror comedy that will have you singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” all the way home. Grade: B- ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

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