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The Kissing Booth 3 Review | Mawkish and Horribly Manipulative

A disaster from all parties involved.



“Oh, thank Christ it’s over,” said yours truly as the blooper reel came to an end in Vince Marcello’s The Kissing Booth 3, based on Beth Reekles’ Wattpad series of the same name. Unfortunately, Wattpad doesn’t equal literature, but Netflix, a studio desperate for content, decided to bring it to the mainstream by adapting Reekles’ series into a trilogy of films. The result proved highly satisfactory for the streamer: it’s their most successful franchise yet, pandering to teenage girls who look for wish-fulfilling entertainment with good-looking stars and a series of faux-problems that can be resolved through one apology sequence. The Kissing Booth 2, which had a 132-minute runtime (longer than Citizen Kane, heh) attached to it, was chock-full of faux-problems and egotism, in which every character desperately craved for attention and made others feel bad about their own existence if they didn’t spend enough time with them.

At least the previous two films had a story behind these faux problems. The first film was the blossoming of Elle (Joey King), and Noah (Jacob Elordi)’s relationship through a Kissing Booth. In contrast, the second film showed their relationship fizzle with the arrival of Chloe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) in Noah’s life and Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez) in Elle’s life. In The Kissing Booth 3, there is no story. Instead, Elle, Noah, Lee (Joel Courtney), and Rachel (Meganne Young) volunteer to take care of Mrs. Flynn (Molly Ringwald)’s beach house, as it’s going to get demolished by the end of summer. Elle and Lee decide to make their summer bucket list before she moves to Harvard, but Marco stumbles upon Elle’s life again, desperate to regain her love, while Noah wants to control her feelings towards him. It’s a baffling film to watch, but then you remember that it’s all based on a Wattpad series, which is exactly why this trilogy was never going to be good in the first place.

The basis of The Kissing Booth franchise are characters that don’t know better than thinking of themselves the entire time. When they think they’re doing it for others, they keep complaining about it until the “other” in question feels bad about existing. In this film, everyone is going after themselves in ways I never expected. Everyone creates drama for absolutely nothing, going so far as to purposefully hurt the “other” so that said person can appear as abusive. Noah Flynn, in particular, is the most controlling character of the entire franchise. In the second film, as Elle needs space, he pretends to be his father (Brad Jennings) on the phone to talk to her. In number 3, he’s so jealous of Marco’s super masculine qualities that he’ll try to literally kill him in a Go-Kart race. When he is left unharmed (and even wins the race, mind you), Noah’s only goal will now be to provoke Marco so he can appear controlling towards others.

I’ve never seen a character who desperately wants to control the lives of everyone around him because he feels so insecure about himself. And here’s the thing: Jordan Elordi has no charismatic qualities whatsoever as Noah. He’s shirtless all the time and for absolutely no reason too, but he has quite literally nothing to offer to Elle. Heck, I have no idea why they fell in love in the first place: he’s erratic, frequently gets into outbursts of violence, and always makes Elle feel bad about her life choices. That’s right, how dare does she spend time with her best friend before they live their own life for the first time since they’re born? She should only spend time with me! And as more new people get into Elle’s life, she doesn’t want to accept that her friend is moving on from her since it’s supposed to be all about ME! Notice how many characters say “I” or “my” in the film; it will astound you just how poorly conceived everyone is and how horribly manipulative Marcello and Jay Arnold’s script truly is.

There isn’t a point to any of the sequences presented in The Kissing Booth 3. Many of them will make you go crazy, particularly one involving recreation of Mario Kart through Comic-Con level-cosplays, fake bob-ombs, and bananas to attack its opponents (you may think I’m kidding, but you wait until you witness it. For reference, this is the scene where Noah wants to kill Marco over his feelings towards Elle, even though those said feelings are friendly, and nothing else), or a Volleyball competition between Marco and Noah that ends in a Hallmark-lite fistfight. All of these sequences are here to create fake tension and drama, for them to be easily resolved in half-baked apology sequences or scenes where the characters realize that, in conclusion:

“It’s not about me. It’s about WE.”– Anthony Robbins

Some realization. And it takes innumerable tedious sequences for the characters to get to that point because they’re so wrapped up in their own self-interests that they can’t realize the harm they’re doing to others. None of the acting is particularly memorable; even Joey King & Joel Courtney, who usually had enticing chemistry together in the previous two films, don’t hold their own here since they’re continuously fighting over what they think is right for themselves. When Elle isn’t going to Berkeley anymore, Lee decides to befriend someone else (who will go to Berkeley) and ditch Elle for his own self-interest since she hasn’t respected the fake rules they made up as a child. Yeah, the rules are another way to make Lee and Elle feel bad about their own existence when both characters need space: “What about Rule #? Or Rule #?” It’s particularly annoying when you realize that these rules were conceived when they were kids, and their refusal to grow up has made them the most selfish characters in any teen film I’ve seen in recent memory.

If you’re a teenager aching for wish-fulfilling fantasies on teenhood and high school, maybe you’ll adore The Kissing Booth 3’s presentation on the drama that arises when the main characters are asked to move on from teenhood to adulthood. But the film is horribly manipulative as it continuously makes the protagonists (and the audience) feel bad about their own existence to spend more time with one self-centered protagonist after another. The only character that awakens from their egotist self is Molly Ringwald’s Mrs. Flynn, whom, in a burst of rationality, realizes that maybe the beach house isn’t worth selling after all (of course, as soon as she says she’s selling it, you don’t believe she’ll go through with it). Well, good for you, but maybe this franchise wasn’t worth adapting to film after all. Oh wait, anything related to fanfictions and Wattpad shouldn’t even be transposed to another mode of entertainment. Now that would be something.

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The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar Is Wes Anderson’s Delightful Take On Roald Dahl’s Sweet Story



Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in Roald Dahl's 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' (Netflix)

Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson have both left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of generations. Dahl’s timeless stories have enchanted readers for decades, while Anderson’s groundbreaking films have pushed the boundaries of cinematic storytelling. Their unique talents and shared appreciation for the power of literature have now converged in Anderson’s latest masterpiece, the modern short film adaptation of Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Anderson, known for his extraordinary attention to detail and distinctive visual style, brings Dahl’s adult-friendly tale to life in a truly captivating way. With a star-studded cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley, the film stays true to the author’s original text, with the actors delivering their lines directly from the page. This dedication to the literary essence of the story sets the stage for Anderson’s exceptional storytelling.

Dev Patel as Dr. Chatterjee, Sir Ben Kingsley as Imdad Khan and Richard Ayoade as Dr. Marshall in Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Following his previous successful adaptation of Dahl’s work with the Oscar-nominated The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson is poised to once again captivate audiences with The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. In a mere 37 minutes, this short film manages to deliver a delightful and heartwarming experience that can beat any full-length feature film. The commitment and power of the A-list cast shine throughout, ensuring a resounding success on multiple levels.

From the very beginning, Fiennes embodies Dahl himself, narrating the tale as he seamlessly transitions between the comfort of his home and the picturesque outdoors.  By applying freeze-frame techniques and cleverly staged tableaus, Fiennes and his fellow actors walk through different sets that are magically transformed by on-screen “stagehands” right before our eyes. This dynamic interplay between reality and cunningness is a testament to Anderson’s growing fascination with the theatrical aspects of filmmaking.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar not only captures the imaginative essence found in Dahl’s works but also showcases the filmmaker’s mastery of visual storytelling. Each scene is meticulously crafted, with Anderson’s staging drawing heavily on theatrical influences. Costume changes happen seamlessly on camera, resulting in Ben Kingsley’s Khan humorously questioning the whereabouts of his mustache. Furthermore, practical effects, including a delightful box trick, add to the mesmerizing experience of witnessing the film’s creation unfold before our eyes.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar and Ralph Fiennes as the policeman in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Anderson’s choice to create a short film rather than a feature-length production proves to be a stroke of genius. The pacing remains consistently engaging, ensuring that viewers remain captivated from start to finish. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a visual feast, an entertaining experience, and, above all, a whole lot of fun.

When it comes to acting, it’s so hard to pick a standout because whenever an actor comes on the screen, he or she gives a performance that stays with you. Benedict Cumberbatch is magnetic in his portrayal of Henry Sugar and mesmerises you with a performance that shows his acting prowess. Ben Kingsley shows us why he is one of the greatest actors of all time. His monologues are truly special. Meanwhile, Dev Patel and Richard Ayoade are the magical new entrants in Anderson’s world of magical stories. Both of them are brilliant in their respective roles.

On the other hand, Ralph Fiennes showcases his versatility by embodying Roald Dahl in the most fantastic way possible.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Roald Dahl’s rich storytelling finds new life through Wes Anderson’s innovative cinematic techniques. Their creative collaboration results in a short film that is visually pleasing, emotionally compelling, and brimming with the charm and magic that have made both artists legends in their respective fields. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is not to be missed, as it brings together the best of Dahl and Anderson, leaving audiences enraptured by its undeniable allure. Experience this enchanting journey, and let yourself be swept away by the power of imagination.

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Expendables 4 Movie Review | Explosive & Funny!



Expendables 4 (Lionsgate Movies)

The following piece was written during the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie material being covered here wouldn’t exist.


A new generation of stars join the world’s top action stars for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Expend4bles. Reuniting as the team of elite mercenaries, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Sylvester Stallone are joined for the first time by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia. Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. But new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.

Iko Uwais as Suarto Rahmat (Lionsgate Movies)

The Expendables Film Series

I highly recommend catching up on the other movies in the Expendables film series.

Expendables 1 (2010)

The only life they’ve known is war. The only loyalty they have is to each other. They are the Expendables: leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Couture), and precision sniper Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren). Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas). But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice, one that might redeem their souls or destroy their brotherhood forever.

The Expendables Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 2

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) — with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard — are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time — six tons of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that’s nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. That is done the Expendables way….

The Expendables 2 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 3 (2014)

In The Expendables 3, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. In order to defeat Stonebanks, Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

The Expendables 3 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Movie Review

Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Sylvester Stallone bring the explosive energy needed to give us an explosive performance on-screen. The new members, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia bring in a breath of fresh air with new attitude and fighting styles to keep us entertained. This movie is the fourth in the Expendable film series, but there is definitely no clear link between this movie and the prequels. Each movie in essence is a new mission and Expendables 4 can be watched without watching the previous movies. I suggest watching the previous three movies to experience the explosive action that you get when you combine our favorite action heroes.

Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, leader of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 4 was great and delivered yet another action-packed mission filled with awesome fights, humor, cultural references and explosions. However, it wasn’t difficult to spot the main villain and there aren’t much surprises in terms of the new action stars who join this mission.

The movie starts us off with the Expendables in a race against time to retrieve nuclear warheads, but the mission goes south and instead of sticking to orders, one of the soldiers attempt to save his team member instead, which results in a failed mission and a casualty. The story follows the combination of accomplishing the mission while delivering a can of revenge-based whoop-ass. The last fight isn’t as explosive as the cast but still manages to deliver a plot-twist finale.

Megan Fox, Andy Garcia & Jacob Scipio, some of the newest members of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

A future sequel should really consider a completely new group pick up the baton and leave us in suspense as to who the new heroes and villains could be. I love a good surprise with a side of plot twist in any movie.

There is no post-credits scene, so no need to wait till the very end. The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the plot twists you can expect from the movie. Overall, my rating for Expendables 4 is a 3.5 out of 5.

Make sure to watch at a cinema near you!

Expend4bles Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

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Sung Kang’s ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a Campy Horror-Comedy With Superb Performances



Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen in 'Shaky Shivers' (Cineverse)

If you thought that Sung Kang can only thrill you with amazing car stunts, then you are wrong. The acclaimed star is set to take you on an entertaining ride with his directorial debut titled ‘Shaky Shivers’.

The latest horror-comedy film marks the feature directorial debut of Sung Kang, renowned for his roles in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise and several other big projects. The movie stars Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen, with an ensemble cast including Jimmy Bellinger, Erin Daniels, and Herschel Sparber.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

From the very beginning, ‘Shaky Shivers’ grabs hold of your attention with the comedic chemistry between lead actresses Brooke Markham (Lucy) and VyVy Nguyen (Karen). Their hilarious banter and dynamic friendship draw you into their world of magic, mayhem, and monstrous encounters. While a few other characters make appearances, the heart of the film rests on the shoulders of Karen and Lucy, whose relatable and believable friendship makes the story even more bewitching.

One of the best aspects of the film is how Sung Kang skillfully directs the title despite limited cast and limited settings. It still manages to keep audiences engaged and entertained. Kang also pays homage to classic horror films like ‘American Werewolf in London’ and injects fresh energy into the scenes while showcasing his comedic flair.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

If you are one of those who enjoy unapologetically goofy and fun movies, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is undoubtedly a fun watch. Embracing its campiness, the film doesn’t try to be anything other than an enjoyable ride filled with supernatural elements. The characters have a helpful book of spells that they use to solve problems, which adds a clever and funny element to the story that will make you laugh..

While categorized as a horror-comedy, ‘Shaky Shivers’ leans more towards comedy than horror. However, don’t worry, as the supernatural beings like werewolves, zombies, and witches make their presence known throughout. The practical effects and impressive monster makeup, reminiscent of old-school horror flicks from the 70s and 80s, immerse you in a world of creatures and enchantment.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

The plot of ‘Shaky Shivers’ escalates in an exciting and compelling manner, filled with unpredictable twists and goofy surprises.  While it may not leave you terrified, the perfect blend of supernatural ambiance and comedic moments guarantees plenty of laughter and enjoyment.

In conclusion, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a must-watch horror-comedy that delivers on laughs, friendship, and supernatural encounters. With its engaging storyline, talented cast, and Sung Kang’s impressive directorial debut, the film is a delightful addition to the genre. So grab a large tub of popcorn and take your family for this fun-filled ride.

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