Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s October 2022 Movie Thoughts: Black Adam, Smile, More

November 4, 2022 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Black Adam Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Ten months.

Two-hundred and Seventy-five movies on the year.

At my current pace, I’ll smash past my goal of 300 in the year before November is over.


And I’ll tell you what: I really need this. Because I’m going to have to do a lot of work in December to prep for the first few months of 2023. I’m trying some new articles for next year, and that’ll require a lot of TV watching and comic reading. We’ll see how it goes! But for now… let’s get into the October log!

FIRST TIME WATCHES: Smile, The Uninvited, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, The Proposal, Hellraiser, Werewolf By Night, Burn After Reading, Stake Land

Not sure why I didn’t write a full review of the newly released Smile, a movie I was desperate to stop seeing trailers for by the time it hit theaters. It’s not a brand new concept by any stretch–have you seen The Ring? Then you’ve seen this–but it’s incredibly well done. I don’t often think horror movies are actually creepy and disconcerting–maybe I have seen too many–but Smile is. Very pleased with this one.

The Uninvited was fun in that it kept me guessing, and the reveal plays out in such a way where I did want to go back and look for clues (one scene in particular I called out when it happened for its silliness when I watched it and then it made more sense later). But it’s ultimately kind of a cheating attempt at what it is doing because characters are written just to seem suspicious at points. It’s fine.

Chris Lowell is easily the best part of My Best Friend’s Exorcism, but he’s simply not in it enough. The movie suffers for that. It’s also an 80’s setting for the nostalgia hit, but it does not need to be at all. You could set this in 2022 and not lose anything of note. Look, I miss the 80’s, too, but if you are going to do the retro setting, give me a reason why you have to!

I’d always heard The Proposal was a pretty fun movie, so I decided to give it a spin. I mean… you have two top-shelf A-listers in Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock displaying good chemistry. And you give us decent supporting performers in Craig T. Nelson and Betty White. Is it anything more than a predictable, by-the-numbers RomCom? Not really. But as far as that formula goes, this is really well done!

The Proposal brought up a question to me: Is Sandra Bullock an all-time top ten actress? Her career has spanned 30 years, and she is still strong. Discuss!

I was wildly impressed by Werewolf By Night. If for no other reason than that we are deep enough into the MCU that we are doing specials featuring Werewolf By Night, Man-Thing, and Elsa Bloodstone. That’s crazy!

Michael Giacchino crafted a throwback entry into MCU lore that feels, sounds, and looks so much like an older Universal Horror film… especially the James Whale directed ones like The Invisible Man or Bride of Frankenstein. For just shy of 60 minutes, this packs in a lot of stellar work!

The new Hellraiser is frustratingly “good” and no more. It has a really boring second act (I couldn’t stop playing on my phone), but the beginning and ending are engaging enough. Aside from being a bit long and padded in the middle, it doesn’t do anything wrong. The effects are good. The acting is decent. It’s just… unnecessary.

Burn After Reading is god damn hilarious. It’s so weird that the Coen Brothers are able to make, like, No County For Old Men, but then also this. They are almost diametrically opposed kinds of films!

Brad Pitt continues to be ab absolute star in any kind of comedic role; I know he is BRAD PITT and can do whatever he wants, but I’d love to see him do even more comedies going forward. I’ve watched a lot of him this year (Bullet Train, The Lost City, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood), and I need to get through more of his filmography I’ve missed.

That leaves Stake Land as new from this batch, and hey: if you really want to watch a Zombieland rip-off about vampires and having no sense of humor… here you go!

REWATCHES: Halloween and Halloween 2

Halloween continues to be the movie I have watched more than any other. I was invited onto the Seismic Cinema podcast to talk with them because they knew I loved this and had previously judged Colin for having never seen it before.

And just because it felt necessary, I watched Halloween 2 again, also. It’s strange to me how different Part 2 i from its predecessor, but it’s still a quality slasher.

FIRST TIME WATCHES: Deadstream, Halloween Ends, Scary Movie, Under The Skin, Beverly Hills Cop, Sissy

Deadstream was a Shudder find–more on those in a few paragraphs–that lacked any suspense or big twists or outstanding moments… but after an hour of being a relatively underwhelming found footage flick, it kind of just turns and clearly starts drawing inspiration from Evil Dead. And there are worse movies to ape! The silliness of the last twenty minutes or so actually boosted this score.

I wrote on Halloween Ends at length already. What a strange, weird flick.

It’s been a while since I have seen a movie with such a large discrepancy between the jokes that land (and are hilarious) and the ones that don’t (and are rather painful) than Scary Movie.

Like, I’m not going to lie: when I laughed at Scary Movie, I LAUGHED. The problem is that it’s one of those movies that just rapid-fires jokes at such a rate that you can tell they are going quantity over quality. I’d say on the whole, it was a plus movie–short length, the stuff I liked, I LOVED–so I graded it out above average. Shannon Elizabeth’s death scene was a riot.

Under The Skin sure is a movie, man. I mean… it’s something. It’s a movie about a scantily (if at all) clad Scarlett Johansson seducing and killing men. Sounds good! But to say the movie moves glacially slow would give you a wrong idea about how fast glaciers flow. And in the last act or so, it becomes almost an entirely new movie. As a first time watch, I went 2.5 just on the absurdity of it all. I’ll never watch it again, though; the “what the hell is this?!” of it all won’t even be there.

Beverly Hills Cop is a far better comedy movie than an action movie for an Action-Comedy. It IS weird that I never got around to it before, but it was worth the wait. Eddie Murphy is so charming here, and I love that he makes the obnoxious laugh in movie history endearing.

We are BACK to Shudder (I said we would be!) for Sissy, a movie that takes a WILD turn I did not see coming, and honestly? I was afraid when it happened that it would ruin the movie. But instead, it actually makes everything a lot better. If you have Shudder, I definitely recommend checking this out! Aisha Dee shines like the sun as the lead. I really, REALLY dug this. Great ending, too.

REWATCHES: Maverick, H&KEfGB, City Slickers

There is no reason on Earth for Maverick to be over 2 hours. That’s unreasonable. You can cut swaths of this movie and lose nothing (the hanging scene and the runaway horse carriage would not be missed). That said, when the first two acts are all about Brett needing $3000 to enter the tournament and the movie just throws the money at him in a silly, cheap resolution right as the third act starts… it makes what came before feel like a waste of time.

Still, the cast is charming all over the place, and some of the humor still works.

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay is all about the sequelitis. It’s just the first movie, but less funny because you have already seen all of the jokes. And then it tries to be topical by making fun of the Bush Administration… in a movie that came out in his last year of the Presidency. So it was tired by the time this was released. And in a post-Trump world, the Bush Administration feels downright quaint.

I haven’t seen City Slickers since I was an awkward early teen myself, and all I remember was some jokes and Billy Crystal’s easy affability. It hits a LOT harder when you are 40 and have mental health struggles (though this movie is light on that and has the lame “just go out and have and get some sun” as a solution to issues like depression or hopelessness). When I was a kid, I saw dumb jokes. Now, I see relatability.

FIRST TIME WATCHES: Black Adam, The Witch, Green Room, She Will

Few movies are as indicative of how society can’t just allow new things to be average than Black Adam. All pop culture discourse wants to insist every single property is either 1/5 or a 4.5 out of 5. To see some online discussion about Black Adam, you’d think it’s either the best or worst superhero movie in history. The truth is… it’s a good movie, but nothing notably special. Pierce Brosnan is a standout, as expected. The action set pieces are mostly pretty good. The Rock works, even though he’s kept mostly dry and not allowed to show too much charm.

Aside from all that, you’ve got a family story subplot that doesn’t really add anything. Cyclone and Atom Smasher are given no characterization or anything to do. Aspects certainly seem underwhelming, but all in all? I had a good time. There is promise to be had moving forward. Let’s get Rock and Zack Levi together now.

I put off seeing The Witch for ages, and even now, I only saw it because my wife turned it on when I was in the room. It starts PAINFULLY slow, by in the second act, everything starts to get more engaging. And by the third act, I bought all the way in. Extremely well crafted and even better acted; I’m glad I ended up giving this a chance! I was not a big fan of The Northman earlier this year (and never had any interest in watching The Lighthouse), but The Witch got me feeling up on future Eggers’ flicks.

The screenplay to Green Room seems to be doing WAY too much, though. You have a story: Nazi fuckers vs our intrepid punk rock heroes. You don’t need to throw in stuff about lovers on the run or a missing baseball bat or a heroin lab. That’s all extraneous and feels like it just pads a short run time. Why do we need a story about somebody named Worm killing the girl because she was going to run off with some guy? They’re Nazis; they can kill anyone for any reason and be the antagonists.

Still… this is good. Very good, even. The tension is incredible. The performances are pretty good across the map. And seeing Patrick Stewart play a Nazi is wild.

She Will takes us black to the Shudder Roulette wheel, and… ehh. It’s just boring. I see what they were going for at points, but I just never felt invested. There were too many elements that did not need to be there. It felt like a 40 minute short movie the just got padded to death.

REWATCHES: Bloodshot, Private Parts, Trick R Treat

Bloodshot was drawn by the great Joey and Markellus at So Wizard podcast as they guested on a future episode of my Stew World Order show! Subscribe to hear our thoughts on that.

Not sure why I felt the random urge to go back and catch Private Parts again. I am sure I saw it on a list somewhere and figured… why not? There is some solid humor, and Stern is a marginally better actor than you’d think, but it’s all so… dated. Remember the 1990’s when EVERYTHING was about how “extreme” entertainment could be and what it could get away with? That got really tiring after a while.

What an absolute joy of a movie, Trick R Treat. Almost a seasonal must-watch.

Sam is a delightful original character. The way the stories coalesce to their final points is very well-done. The disorganized storytelling adds to the discomfort and eeriness of it all. I will never believe this didn’t become a franchise, but something like V/H/S did.

That’s how my October went. What were the best and worst movies you saw recently?