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To All the Boys: Always and Forever | Review

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Netflix concludes it’s To All the Boys trilogy with another enjoyably lukewarm picture, as Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) enjoy their final year in high school and prepare to move to Stanford University…until Lara Jean does not get in. The couple must now figure out a way for their relationship to grow, as they will be spending the next four years “apart.” After the highly enjoyable To All the Boys I Loved Before, there was no need for a sequel. Most of the film’s “loose ends” were tied, and Lara Jean ended with Peter and hopefully lived happily ever after. However, two more books were written, so there must be two sequels! 2020’s P.S. I Still Love You felt completely pointless, adding another character to “spice up” the will-they/won’t they [re]-end up together for Lara Jean and Peter. Obviously, they ended together and lived happily ever after [for good this time]. Apparently not! Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky are back for another round of will they/won’t they faux problems for the sake of good ol’ Netflix views (if that means something nowadays).

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There is nothing new or original that Always and Forever offers in its structure, but the film more than makes up for it due to its infectious charm from its lead actors. We already know how it’s going to end. No matter what “challenge” is thrown at Lara Jean and Peter, they will stay together…always and forever (no pun intended, but you can figure that out on your own just by reading the title). However, it’s extremely easy to be swept away by Lana Condor and Noah Centineo’s performances. Their chemistry is as good, if not better than the quintessential Young Adult on-screen couple: Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez from High School Musical. Always and Forever also shares a similar plotline than High School Musical 3: Senior Year, minus the musical numbers, where the teens learn never to “stick to the status quo” and pursue their dreams, no matter what is holding them back or what can stop their relationship from GROWING.

I emphasize the word “growing” here, as it is a recurring word spoken by John Corbett’s Dr. Covey, who acts as Lara Jean’s personal Tony Robbins (Robbins has always said: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying”). The entire script feels taken from bits of Tony Robbins’ seminars, especially on relationships. It essentially proves Robbins’ theory that the quality of your life equals the quality of your relationships. Without a “solid” relationship, you won’t have a great quality of life, and you won’t GROW as an individual. These are all facile ways to look at life and relationships, which renders the movie’s analysis of relationships quite superficial and deprived of any originality. That being said, Corbett has an excellent on-screen presence and retains his wonderful presence from the My Big Fat Greek Wedding movies. Am I reaching when I’m saying that Corbett, as Dr. Covey getting married, could reference his most-known film? Most likely, but I haven’t read the book.

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Always and Forever doesn’t delve into terribly formulaic clichés, as much as its predecessor did. The film does contain some effectively emotional scenes, particularly involving Peter’s arc with his father (Henry Thomas), who wants to reconnect with him after never being a part of his life. The sequence where they meet for breakfast is particularly heartbreaking, as Centineo brings a welcomed sense of levity and drama to a script filled with soap-opera sappiness. When Lara Jean tells Peter she didn’t get into Stanford but is going to Berkeley, he takes it pretty well, and the clichés of “how are we going to make our relationship work when we’re one hour (gasp!) away” aren’t present. However, it’s when Lara Jean tells Peter that she finally wants to go to NYU after falling in love with New York’s vibrant, unpredictable lifestyle that the sappiness comes into play and every YA rom-com cliché possible tumble down all at once…which culminates in the most predictable finale of the year, since it’s the 1000th romantic comedy to end with “happily ever after,” that never *properly* gave us moments of character GROWING.

Still, To All the Boys: Always and Forever isn’t a flat-out terrible film, mainly due to Noah Centineo and Lana Condor’s dynamite chemistry and earnest humor that complement both performances. Did it need to be three movies? No. Are all three movies distracting enough? Yes. If I’m bored, should I watch it? If there isn’t anything to watch, sure, but watch what you want to watch. There are worse romcoms than the To All the Boys trilogy if that’s what you wanted to know. And if by some miracle, a fourth one is made, I’d watch it…though I sincerely hope Netflix leaves it alone. Rock on, Covey.

To All the Boys: Always and Forever is now streaming on Netflix

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Adventure

Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece

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Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.

Plot

Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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Entertainment

A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil

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Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

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Reviews

‘I Love You, Guys’ Review | A Poignant Exploration of Celebrity Vulnerability and Human Resilience

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We are living in an era where celebrities are worshipped like deities and sometimes, people forget that he or she is also a normal human being. If we feel happy or sad at certain moments, they do as well and even though a lot of people always surround them, they get vulnerable too. Although a lot of filmmakers forget to show that aspect of their lives, Billie Melissa Rogan takes the bold approach of showing the truth. Her directorial debut, ‘I Love You, Guys,’ is a poignant story about a celebrity fighting her inner self to maintain her celebrity image. The result is a stunning piece of art that resonates long after the end credits roll in.

The short film opens with a profound close-up of the young singing sensation named Sky (Becky Bush). She has made a name for herself by making and singing really exceptional songs. As a result, she is adored by her fans. Even though it feels like Sky has everything she wants, viewers see her submerged in a bathtub as she tries to battle her anxiety. Just then, Sky gets a phone that she’d be performing state-side. Now, that’s where we get to know about her vulnerable state for the first time. Although she says that she is really happy with the above-mentioned news, her face tells a different story. Despite her impending stardom, Sky has not started to feel the massive weight of mounting pressure, a sentiment audiences get to see in her conversations with bandmate Ryan (Pedro Leandro) and girlfriend Taylor (Celi Crossland).

Becky Bush in a still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

As the story moves forward, we get to know that ‘I Love You, Guys’ is about the fragile nature of the human spirit as much as it is about celebrity culture. It not only navigates themes of depression, it also highlights the turbulent emotional journey of Sky. One of the best aspects of the film is how Rogan masterfully brings Cory Varney’s screenplay to life. She managed to capture every minor detail of Sky’s emotions with utmost precision. Despite the fact that it is her first-ever film as a director, we get a sense that we are watching a flick helmed by a seasoned filmmaker.

Another aspect that makes this film such a compelling watch is its cinematography. Jenni Suitiala has done a phenomenal in showing expressions through vibrant colors and Rogan has made full use of the settings to give viewers a visually striking film. Whether it is heated arguments or silent moments of despair, each frame feels authentic and draws audiences into Sky’s personal life.

Apart from Rogan’s direction, Varney’s script is this film’s biggest strength. The writer has undoubtedly done a stunning job of showing the humanity of these characters. There’s a reason why Sky’s struggles feel very personal and it is because we have endured such moments in life. Moments where we doubt ourselves even when we know we are more than capable of doing a particular thing. Not every smiling person is happy. Sometimes he or she is smiling just so that no one finds out about the tough times they are going through.

A still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

Acting-wise, Becky Bush has given a performance that is surely going to open several doors for her. She delivers a magnificent performance by infusing Sky with a beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength. The way she manages to convey an innumerable amount of emotions is spectacular. I believe this is one of the most apt depictions of mental turmoil. Meanwhile, Pedro Leandro and Celi Crossland are just as spectacular. Every interaction between the characters feels genuine and nuanced.

All in all, ‘I Love You, Guys’ is a testament to how resilient a human spirit can be. In just 15 minutes, Rogan, Varney, and Bush take viewers on a journey that’s thought-provoking and talks about a subject that no one talks about. The writing, direction, and performances achieve a lot more than just viewers’ attention. The film offers a compelling examination of the human cost of pursuing fame and success. A poignant story that touches on themes of ambition, relationships, and self-discovery.

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