Hollywood IN REVIEW 2021

  • 25 Dec - 31 Dec, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

With the world finally returning to a somewhat normal version of what it was before Covid-19, 2021 has been a year of ups and downs. Following suit in the entertainment industry, there have been many hits and misses that have left audiences both stunned and confused. As we move into the new year, here’s a look back at the list of 10 hit and flop flicks from 2021. Read on:

Hits (the ball out of the park!)

Drive My Car

Art provides a vehicle for communicating that which might otherwise be difficult to express. Nonetheless, in Drive My Car, achieving true understanding – of each other, and one’s self – remains a difficult prospect. This superb three-hour drama charts Tokyo actor and theater director Kafuku as he navigates a thorny relationship with his wife Oto and, following an unexpected tragedy, embarks on a stage production of Uncle Vanya – a play that shares many similarities with his own situation – with a disparate group of actors in Hiroshima. Kafuku’s odyssey is marked by innumerable car rides, many of them with hired driver Misaki behind the wheel, during which he diligently rehearses lines with a cassette recording made by his spouse. Storytelling is a two-way street in this patient and poetic drama, which employs long, unbroken conversational scenes that highlight the way in which we seek to comprehend our mysterious and secret selves through back-and-forth dialogue. Hamaguchi poses no answers about the questions he raises, instead telling a tale that is itself about the complicated, and, frequently inconclusive, nature of engagement.


An adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 sci-fi novel, Denis Villeneuve’s film is gargantuan in every respect, setting its tale of intergalactic political intrigue, chosen-one prophesy and coming-of-age adventure in concrete palaces, circular chambers and alien deserts that seem to go on forever. From the monolithic ships that transport characters to strange new worlds, to the sand worms that lurk beneath the surface of inhospitable Arrakis, to the thunderous roars and oppressive silences of Hans Zimmer’s score, Villeneuve prizes overwhelming size. That goes for his narrative as well, which recounts the journey of young Paul from heir-to-the-throne to would-be messiah after his father is awarded control of sandy Arrakis and its valuable spice reserves. Treachery, terror and warfare ensue, all of it thrillingly staged by the director, who – with the aid of an all-star cast featuring James Brolin, Jason Momoa, Stellan Sarsgård, Javier Bardem, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson – crafts a Middle Eastern-influenced odyssey that feels legitimately mythic.

The French Dispatch

A love letter to The New Yorker and its particular brand of erudite journalism, The French Dispatch is another Wes Anderson effort brimming with idiosyncratic humour and charm. Employing the symmetrical compositions, jaunty pop tunes, and spirited wit that have become his trademark, Anderson’s film is both about the fictional publication The French Dispatch – headquartered in the madeup city of Ennui-sur-Blasé and overseen by departing editor Arthur Howitzer Jr. and a dramatisation of its final issue. In those segments, an illustrious cast navigates droll scenarios that champion the virtues of painting, media, cooking, theater, revolution and, of course, the movies. Anderson’s fondness for eccentric cinematic storytelling can be felt in every one of his immaculate images, animated interludes and deadpan asides, all of which are in tune with his characters’ desire to tell their tales in whatever unique and honest way they see fit.

Cry Macho

Clint Eastwood’s movies are almost always best when they star their director. Back in the literal saddle for the first time in decades, the Hollywood legend’s latest finds him playing a broken-down ex-rodeo star named Milo who, to repay a debt to his former boss, travels to Mexico to retrieve the young man’s son Rafo. The two embark on an odyssey back to the States with his fighting rooster Macho in tow. Eastwood underlines Milo’s virility at every turn – he punches out a bad guy, holds an adversary at gunpoint, tames wild steeds, and proves irresistible to the ladies – but simultaneously has him comment on the emptiness of violent machismo, which has left him with nothing but loneliness, heartache and regret. An adaptation of N. Richard Nash’s novel, the movies moves at the same pace as its 91-year-old headliner, the film moseys along from one minor incident to another, playing a familiar Western tune with sweet sensitivity.

The Card Counter

The story of a tormented man of ritual who writes his thoughts of grief and regret in his journal, and who seeks redemption and solace through companionship and blood, The Card Counter is a kindred spirit to many prior Paul Schrader films, and something like a direct companion piece to 2017’s First Reformed. The aptly named William Tell is an ex-con with a dark past who now makes his monotonous way through life earning a living as a small-time card-counting gambler. His path is altered by run-ins with La Linda, an alluring financial backer, and Cirk, a college dropout with an ugly connection to William. The unlikely trio are eventually united on a mission to not only win big at the blackjack tables but, more importantly, to achieve a much-coveted, if elusive, measure of peace, healing and salvation.

Misses (the spot)

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

The Hitman’s Bodyguard was a reasonably enjoyable movie, largely thanks to the casting of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson who gelled well together. However, there was really no need for a sequel, and after seeing this badly scripted effort, you will probably agree. This time, Salma Hayek joins the cast, as a con artist who coerces Reynolds’ bodyguard into rescuing her hitman husband after he lands himself in trouble with mobsters. So far so good. The movie complicates itself with a tiresome plot about a Greek terrorist mastermind who wants to destabilise Europe after the EU places sanctions on Greece. Needless to say, the hitman, his wife, and his former bodyguard become embroiled in a plot to stop him. The action isn’t as good as that seen in the last movie and the jokes aren’t as funny either. Very talented actors are stuck with a script that simply isn’t fun and the movie plods along in a predictable fashion.

Tom and Jerry – The Movie

Once again we have a live-action/CGI hybrid featuring beloved cartoon characters from our past. And once again, we have another disaster on our hands. After the disappointing failures that were Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, and Woody Woodpecker, it was pretty much expected that this would be bad, and the final result confirms these expectations. In this movie, the famous cat and mouse duo get up to their usual hijinks as they cause havoc in and around a Manhattan hotel. The animation is fine but it doesn’t quite gel with the live-action backdrops, and this creates major problems whenever Tom and Jerry have to interact with the human stars of the movie, which include Chloe Grace Moretz and Rob Delaney. All could be forgiven if the movie was funny but sadly, it isn’t. Considering the original cartoons were hilarious, this is a real shame.

Cosmic Sin

This sci-fi disaster lives up to its name as it’s bad on so many different levels. The writing is weak, the special effects are poor, and the acting is largely awful! It’s Bruce Willis’ performance that is the worst. This once well-regarded actor has made a habit of turning up in low budget movies and sleepwalking his way through them. It’s safe to say that Willis’ career has now died hard, which is a shame when you consider the quality of the movies he used to star in back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Of course, you may still be tempted to watch the movie if you’re a sci-fi fan, regardless of Willis’ contempt for his audience. The plot, while hardly original, promises a few moments of action as Willis and his space crew go up against a hostile alien civilisation. But believe us when we say you shouldn’t bother.


Hands down the worst movie of the year is Vanquish. As an action movie with barely any action and a plot that could be written on the back of a cornflake, this is truly awful stuff and is best avoided. The movie stars Ruby Rose who plays a caretaker to Morgan Freeman’s ex-cop and is another effort to turn her into an action star. The plot involves our protagonist going on various escapades after she is blackmailed by Freeman, who kidnaps her daughter. Why he does this isn’t worth discussing, as there is no clear explanation of his motives, other than the fact that he’s not the hero ex-cop that many people consider him to be. The movie is a terrible waste of Freeman’s talents. Look elsewhere for your action kicks and give this one a miss. It’s a badly directed, badly acted, and badly scripted movie that has absolutely nothing of merit to recommend.


Did we really need another Cinderella story? Much less one with James Corden in. But here we are again, with Camilo Cabello as Cinderella in this boring and messy musical adaptation. Despite being another rehash of the classic story, there are differences here. This time, Cinderella is a dress designer who wants to start her own business. The ugly stepsisters aren’t particularly ugly. And the wicked stepmother isn’t all that wicked. Why these changes? Well, the movie is all about girl power and so desperate is it to be a feminist take on the original, that it sucks all that was good out of the beloved fairytale. Of course, if you’re a fan of musicals, you might get some pleasure out of this. The singing rarely stops so you may be happy with the karaoke tunes that are belted out at regular intervals. However, they aren’t enough to paper over the heavy-handed script that places too much focus on female independence over any semblance of movie magic.