I almost didn’t have anything to review today. For some reason, I never got around to watching a film this weekend. I guess I just spent too long trying to get through that bloody Murder, She Wrote book. I didn’t realise until Monday that I’d forgotten. So, I had the choice to write something else for today or watch something and review it in the same night. I had thought about weighing in on the Johnny Depp/Fantastic Beasts news but I didn’t know if that would go against my ban of the writer who must not be named. In the end, I picked the quickest new release on Netflix that I could find. I didn’t know anything about it but someone I follow on Instagram had watched it recently. What did I have to lose?
Jumanji: The Next Level film might be the third film to include Jumanji in the title but it is actually the fourth film in the whole franchise. It’s easy to forget that Zathura: A Space Adventure is part of the same universe. Mostly because both the writer of the original books, Chris Van Allsburg, and director, Jon Favreau, wanted to distance it from the Robin Williams film. Favreau, in particular, didn’t like the film at all and wanted to make sure that people knew it. Yet, the studio was keen to show that both films were connected and Zathura is officially the second film in the Jumanji franchise. I’d never actually seen it, though, as I was 17 when it came out. It definitely wasn’t the kind of film the 17-year-old me would have been comfortable admitting to wanting to watch. So, I decided it was finally time. After all, it got a much better critical reaction than the first Jumanji film even if it didn’t do incredibly well at the box office. The opposite of Robin Williams’ film. Was the space adventure actually better or was this another time when the critics were way off in their assessment?
Monday was Star Wars Day. It’s that day of the year where every card-carrying geek sets out to prove their geek status by mentioning it as much as possible. I mean, if you don’t post as many Star Wars Gifs as possible are you even a real fan? Speaking of real fans, it’s also a day where the hardcore fans get to moan about how much the franchise has been ruined over the years. But has it really? We get it. The loyal fans who were there at the start don’t want to embrace change. They don’t want to admit that their way isn’t the best it can be anymore. They want to say awful things about Rian Johnson on the internet because they have nothing else in their life. If it makes you feel better then go for it. But, come on, are the more recent films in the Star Wars series really that bad? I set out to solve this once and for all by definitely ranking them from best to worst. Now, I did only use the main episodes in the Skywalker saga because we have to be honest, Rogue One would have beaten most (if not all) of them had I included it. So, it didn’t seem fair to count that. Even if it does include the single greatest Darth Vader scene in the franchise’s history.
Now that Brad Pitt has been exploring space in Ad Astra, it’s become pretty clear that the Ocean’s 11 gang aren’t the best people to send into space. Matt Damon obviously had a tough time during The Martian. Brad Pitt had to face up to his daddy issues. And, way back in 2002, George Clooney was facing his own demons in Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris. The film was based on the 1961 science fiction novel by Polish writer Stanisław Lem. By 2002, the book had already been turned into a Soviet television film and a film adaptation by Andrei Tarkovsky. Though the earlier film is critically acclaimed, Soderbergh claimed that his version would be more faithful to the novel than Tarkovsky. Unfortunately, the author hated both versions. Well, I guess you can’t please anyone. With the release of Ad Astra recently, there were plenty of critics who were bringing up Clooney’s space adventure. Well, I guess the two are science-fiction films that dealt with the deep stuff. It felt right to watch it for today’s post.
I watched Ad Astra a few weeks ago but I put off writing my review. I decided that I needed a bit of time to really get to grips with my feelings about it. I mean I’m still getting over the fact that this film appears to have been named after my go-to Pizza Express order minus the chicken. And the fact that Brad Pitt, yes Meeting Joe Black Brad Pitt, was making huge waves with his two performances this year. It’s not that I think Pitt is a bad actor but he’s spent a lot of years sorting of staying under the radar. There have been a few films that have grabbed people’s attention but, for the most part, he hasn’t exactly been doing award-worthy things of late. But then Once Upon A Time in… Hollywood showed us that Brad was here to play. His role in Tarantino’s Hollywood fairy story was magnificent enough to stand-up to the powerhouse that is Leonardo DiCaprio. So, when everyone started claiming Ad Astra offered one of his best-ever performances, I wasn’t as full of disbelief as I once would have been.