Trina and Mia’s Movie Recommendations

Bored in quarantine? Check out these movies, old and new

“Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons: the Movie”

by Trina Kolas

With plans to be a twelve-episode web series on CW Seed, this idea was eventually scrapped in favor of releasing the first episode to the official website, and repurposing all twelve episodes into a 90-minute movie, which

Deathstroke Knights & Dragons: The Movie (2020) - IMDb
Photo from IMDb

 was released in August. It follows Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke: a mercenary with regenerative abilities and a deadly prowess with blades and firearms. After his son Joseph is kidnapped by the Jackal, he and his wife Adeline have to rescue him before the Jackal can exploit their son for his plans of global domination.

Although the plot is fairly simple, if not lackluster and predictable at times, the fight scenes are engaging and well-choreographed, as well as gory in several places. And in contrast to the detailed, anime-esque style of animation of previous DC animated movies such as “Superman: Red Son” or “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War,” the movie’s animation style uses thick, bold lines that are reminiscent of cartoons such as “Batman: The Animated Series.”

“Knights and Dragons” was overall an entertaining watch, if only for the fight scenes and gore, if you’re into that sort of thing. And while it took a few moments to get used to, the new style of animation was eye-catching and a welcome change of pace from the style used in the last several movies. DC has set a more violent tone with its animated movies as of late, and “Knights and Dragons” was one of the more uninspired entries into its animated universe.  However, it is by no means the worst film in its lineup.

“Superman: Man of Tomorrow”

by Trina Kolas

In DC’s wide catalog of animated movies, only ten out of thirty-nine of them had Superman as the primary focus of their stories. Live-action films and TV shows such as “Man of Steel” and “Smallville” explore Superman’s origins in their own unique ways, but neither of them focus on him in his early years as the Man of Steel, while he was still a novelty to the city of Metropolis and no one knew what to make of him. “Man of Tomorrow” delves into this concept, wherein Clark Kent struggles to decide if he should keep his powers under wraps or reveal himself as a hero, all while having to combat an energy-siphoning monster known as Parasite.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow (Video 2020) - IMDb
Photo from IMDb

Like “Knights and Dragons,” the animation style took on a more cartoony aesthetic, but was overall more pleasing to look at in comparison to the darker, more dystopian look of “Knights and Dragons.” Aside from the Kents’ small farm in Kansas, the main setting of Metropolis took on a futuristic sci-fi look that brought “Meet the Robinsons” to mind. The plot was compelling in both its story and its fight scenes, though there were a few plot points that felt contrived and formulaic, such as the Martian Manhunter “dying” halfway through the movie and coming back later, or Lex Luthor double-crossing Superman during the climax.

The small details that showed Superman didn’t quite have his act together just yet were clever and well-integrated, such as his first costume consisting of nothing but a hoodie, jeans and some goggles. He even throws around the idea of a cape by tying his red bed sheets around his neck. He later receives his iconic superhero outfit (including a cape) from his mother, who sewed the costume out of the blankets he was swaddled in when he first crash-landed on Earth. Another detail I appreciated was when questioned by Lois Lane, Superman said the “S” on his chest simply stood for Superman, rather than in “Man of Steel” when he claims it stands for hope. All of the small details added up, and although there were a few bugs here and there, it was nevertheless a fun and rewatchable superhero movie.

“Black Panther”

by Trina Kolas

With Chadwick Boseman passing away due to colon cancer in August, news outlets have been looking back on his past achievements and roles in movies, such as Jackie Robinson in the film “42” and James Brown from “Get on Up”. The role that arguably brought him to the most prominence, however, was his leading role as T’Challa: the king of Wakanda and titular character of “Black Panther.”

After the death of his father T’Chaka in “Captain America: Civil War,” T’Challa assumes the throne as the new king of the secluded, but technologically-advanced Wakanda. Right after his coronation, however, he’s forced to go after Klaue, an illegal arms dealer, and Killmonger: his estranged cousin who challenges him for the Wakandan throne.

Black Panther (2018) - IMDb
Photo from IMDb

The movie itself is gorgeous to look at, especially the main setting, Wakanda. Hannah Beachler, the movie’s production designer, traveled around Africa with director Ryan Coogler so they’d be able to make Wakanda look and feel as authentic as possible. The two of them studied the various cultures, locations and social norms found all across the continent, which lead to Beachler collecting all of her findings into what she dubbed the “Black Panther” bible: a 515-page tome that served as “a visual history and guidebook for Wakanda,” detailing everything from its technology to the history of every building in the fictional country.

Ruth Carter, the costume designer for the movie, drew on various aspects of real-life African tribes and traditions in order to create the vision she had in mind. When Carter was designing the costumes, such as the armor worn by the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s group of female bodyguards, she had to “evoke an African country that had never been colonized, one that looked toward the future but was based on a real past,” according to an article by NPR.

In addition to the engaging plot and creative integration of the vibranium technology, the arguably most interesting piece of info came from Boseman about the titular character, in an article from The Verge: T’Challa is actually the enemy, rather than Killmonger—and looking back on both of their motivations and backstories, it isn’t hard to see why. According to Boseman himself, T’Challa was essentially “born with a vibranium spoon in [his] mouth,” while Killmonger grew up in poverty, not unlike the countless other African-Americans living in low-income neighborhoods.

Boseman said it best himself when he attended an interview at Harlem’s Apollo Theater: “I don’t know if we as African-Americans would accept T’Challa as our hero if he didn’t go through Killmonger. Because Killmonger has been through our struggle, and [T’Challa hasn’t].” And in the end, the combination of a stellar cast, stunning visuals, and painfully relatable characters resulted in a spectacular movie that is a love letter to Black culture, a true work of art, and the perfect tribute to an actor who was gone far too soon.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

by Mia Dowdell

Subverting the expectations of the psych-horror genre, Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” creates a universe that increasingly gets more bizarre by leaving everything open to interpretation. The movie, which is based on the novel of the same name by Iain Reid, centers around a young woman who goes on a road trip with her boyfriend to meet his parents as the world and people around her begin to distort and change, blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) - IMDb
Photo from IMDb

 The general consensus for this movie is that it is confusing, which at times I can agree with. It has a lot to say, and it communicates these things through many details, both hidden and noticeable throughout the film. There are many interpretations of this movie, and while it is hard to discuss them without spoiling it, I can describe a theme that really stood out to me while watching, which was the idea that time passes through people, rather than people passing through time.  

The movie conveys this quite clearly through characters such as the  boyfriend’s parents, who are shown to be rapidly aging as they appear in different locations of the house. From the start of their visit, the parents appear to be in their late 50’s and by the end, they are on their deathbeds. This was very interesting to me, among many other details that were clear indicators something wasn’t right. A few other symbols stood out to me that did not fit the time theme but added to the off atmosphere. The intensely awkward dinner conversations, the young woman’s childhood photos hung up in her boyfriend’s parent’s house,  the dog’s ashes in a room when the dog itself was alive and well: all things I found very fascinating although it was very hard to rationalize them. 

The horror in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is less physical and more psychological. Throughout the movie, you see things that are slightly off and watch as these odd occurrences build up to the point of nothing else making sense anymore. The cinematography is methodical and clear, and it left me with much to think about afterward. With its thought-provoking and foreboding atmosphere, this film may be difficult to grasp but is unlike any other. 

“Phineas and Ferb: Candace Against the Universe”

by Mia Dowdell

A much-needed dose of nostalgia, the unexpected latest installment in the Phineas and Ferb franchise retains much of its smart humor while managing to keep things fresh. Even with limited advertising, fans gathered to their Disney+ accounts and left with much to say about the movie. While opinions varied from fans finding it disappointing to enjoyable, I would say the movie falls somewhere in the latter category.

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe (2020) - IMDb
Photo from IMDb

Similar to a traditional Phineas and Ferb episode, the movie begins with Candace finding her siblings having fun with their latest invention and her failing to show her mother. She complains to Vanessa until the two find themselves in a space pod to an alien planet. In regards to the plot, I cannot say that it was Phineas and Ferb’s most creative or unique adventure in the series. Centering mostly around cherishing what you have and the value of siblinghood, this movie’s heartfelt message pales a little in comparison to its predecessors, as it felt a little cheesy. 

That being said, what this movie lacked in plot is made up for in Phineas and Ferb’s classic sense of humor. Being just absurd enough for younger viewers while still catching laughs from older ones, the jokes made in this movie brought back many memories and even made me consider rewatching the show in my spare time. The later release of this movie may also hint at a possible re-launch of the show, which I would not be displeased with. 

One detail I enjoyed was how Doofenshmirtz took a break from his usual schemes to join the kids on their journey, which was unexpected. I also liked the faster pace of this movie, though I wouldn’t have expected a slow storytelling from Phineas and Ferb. I highly recommend this movie for someone looking for a quick trip down memory lane, even if it is a little juvenile. 

“Back to the Future”

by Mia Dowdell

Despite being only slightly formulaic, “Back to the Future” is a classic that any viewer will find enjoyable. The music, clothing and dialogue make this film an exciting trip to the past. This film centers around Marty McFly, a teenager in 1985 who accidentally travels to 1955 and meets his future parents. 

Back to the Future (1985) | The future movie, Favorite movies, Great movies
Photo from IMDb

The film’s plot is an interesting concept for the 80’s.  Things happening for the sake of convenience, such as Marty stumbling across his mother and father hours after arriving in 1955, were things I found to be a little cliché. However, after having seen this movie several times in the past, rewatching it was fun and definitely worthwhile. Many small details littering this film allude to occurrences in Marty’s present time. 

There are some memorable lines from this movie. In an earlier scene, Biff tells Marty to “make like a tree and get out of here,” which is an ironic spin on the phrase “make like a tree and leave.” Another moment I appreciated is the entirety of the 1.21 gigawatts scene in 1955: a combination of Christopher Lloyd’s exaggerated expressions and the absurdity of the number made this scene so distinct and unforgettable. I found it quite hard to find things to dislike about this film.

What movie are you most interested in watching?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...