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How It Ends Review | Sundance Film Festival

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We’re now getting to the point where lots of the films that were made during lockdown are starting to be released and How it Ends is a pre-apocalyptic comedy/drama that sounded really good on paper and was one of my most anticipated films for the entire Sundance Film Festival but the finished product is just a complete waste of potential and lacking anything interesting or exciting.

How It Ends is set the day before an asteroid is set to destroy the world and Liza, played by co-writer and co-director Zoe Lister-Jones, is invited to one final wild party before the world ends. But after her car gets stolen and wanting to tie up loose ends she has with family and friends before the apocalypse, she journeys across Los Angeles by foot. She’s not alone though as she’s accompanied by her quirky, metaphysical younger self played by Cailee Spaeny. The two of them tour across the city running into a whole host of familiar faces along the way before the world is set to be destroyed.

The film starts off fairly interesting and it began with a few jokes that I found quite funny and it immediately sets off with this quirky tone and for the first twenty minutes or, so I was quite entertained by it. The film has quite a short runtime of just 82 minutes and so the first quarter of this film was intriguing and set it up to be a really interesting film.

But that’s when it starts to go downhill. Once Liza and her younger self begin their journey across LA it very quickly becomes clear that the rest of the film isn’t going to be anything exciting or entertaining at all. The rest of the film just became a series of socially distanced celebrity cameos. The two lead characters would turn a street corner and bump (not literally) into another familiar face that you might recognise and then proceed to chat to them for a few minutes.

They meet some interesting characters along the way including Olivia Wilde, Helen Hunt and Bradley Whitford who looks like he’s just walked off the set of his other pandemic-made film Songbird. And very quickly, these short snippets get tedious and dull as the majority of the jokes don’t land and it just becomes uneventful when you’ve got the same sort of thing happening over and over again.

On paper this film sounded quite similar to 2013’s This Is the End which actually really surprised me with how good it was but the reason why that film worked and How It Ends doesn’t it because This Is the End was actually a lot of fun and really entertaining. How It Ends had so much potential to make a really fun pre-apocalyptic film with lots of celebrity cameos but instead it just became scene after scene of unfunny encounters with another random actor that you might recognise from a couple of other things.

Whilst it’s impressive that they managed to shoot this entirely during the pandemic, it is very clear that this is the case. Every time the two leads encounter another person they’re always standing a couple of metres apart and sometimes the blocking and framing wasn’t particularly good, probably due to the nature of everyone involved trying to adhere to social distancing rules.

How it Ends had so much potential but it just took all the fun out of the end of the world. It sets itself up to be a really enjoyable and entertaining time but ultimately it doesn’t deliver on any of that and is frankly quite dull to sit through. It’s not the worst film made during the pandemic but it’s definitely not the best.

★★☆☆☆

How it Ends premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the Premieres section.

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Adventure

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest

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Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a deadly serious comedy film about friendship and arcade games that’ll surely put a smile on your face and tug at your heartstrings. Set at Bip Bip Bar, it tells the story of a group of unlikely heroes aka friends who help Kim Cannon Arm attempts to be the first in the world to play Gyruss an arcade machine from the early 80s for 100 consecutive hours. The film showcases these heroic outsiders with dreams about becoming legendary world record holders. 

Watching Kim and his friends embark on this quest was certainly like preparing for a marathon as Kim’s friends make him get an annual physical checkup from the doctor, It was easy to get swept up and share their excitement. Director Mads Hedegaard introduces these bunch of endearing misfits who truly make up a kind and supportive community. We learn several details about each of Kim’s friends including careers, favourite games, bands, family life and plenty more. Each are unique and the Documentary made me feel like I’d known this group my whole life. 

The film is also able to capture the gaming atmosphere as it blasts through the 80s with synths and neon lights, which created a stylised, exhilarating journey into Kim’s brain and the world of Gyruss. Montages and Iron maiden tracks also feature and “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler features, which to me represented each member and the story which was ultimately made for pure entertainment. 

Themes of achieving success is a presence in this documentary as it has scenes filled with pure joy, sentimental bliss and deep philosophical moments of the loss of a friend and acceptance. As we watch Kim make his way through hours and hours of his challenge we see his friends are always with him for comfort and to help keep track. They play Iron maiden music to boost his moral but its clear to me that with friends like this, Kim has already won. 

https://youtu.be/d-AidtIZF64

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Comedy

A24 | Red Rocket – Official Trailer

Finding himself down and out in Los Angeles, ex porn star Mikey Saber decides to crawl back to his hometown of Texas City, Texas, where his estranged wife and mother-in-law are living. Just as this dysfunctional family seems to be making things work, Mikey meets a young woman named Strawberry working the cash register at a local doughnut shop. He falls right back into his old habits.



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Genre:

Comedy, Drama

Release Date:

2021

Director:

Sean Baker

Cast:

Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Brenda Deiss

Plot Summary:

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Comedy

Don’t Look Up | Official Trailer

The story of two low-level astronomers, who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet earth.



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Genre:

Release Date:

December 24, 2021

Director:

Adam McKay

Cast:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Timothée Chalamet, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett

Plot Summary:

The story of two low-level astronomers, who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet earth.

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