Posted in Discussion, Film, Review

Should We Listen to Pre-Release Film Reviews?

When it comes to high budget, highly anticipated films, we are anxious to know if all the hype is worth it. Whether to spend our hard-earned time and money, on the next ‘sure to be game changing’ cinematic experience. When first reactions hit the internet, we hold our breath in anticipation of the ultimate answer. Is it good?

As we approach the tail end of 2017, we reach the point where some highly anticipated films, are right around the corner. From Marvel’s Thor Ragnarok, to the star powered Murder on the Orient Express. DC’s long-awaited Justice League, and Steve Carrell and Emma Stone lead Battle of the Sexes. On top of the that, the cultural juggernaut that is Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and even the nostalgia filled Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You? As media consumers, and franchise fans, find ourselves anxious, and primed with day one tickets in hand. Hoping and praying for a film that lives up to our expectations. Often, especially with the likes of Justice League, a few lucky fans will get pre-screenings, weeks, or even months before hand. Followed by the much beloved, and exciting press screenings, a few weeks before the films hit theatres. When coverage hits the newsstands, and the internet at large. We find ourselves scrolling through pages and pages, hoping to learn that we are in for the experience of our lives, on the big screen.

However, should these pre-release reviews be taken to heart? Should we listen to them?

Take for example, the release of Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice in March of 2016. A few days before the films released, the internet was franticly diving from one review to another, trying to discern the truth from biased opinion. Was the film going to be everything we hoped for? While many of the reviews did lay into the film fiercely, there were outliners that praised the film as “an impressive start to a new superhero movie franchise”, commenting on how it’s “genuinely exciting for the evolution of this new DC Comics cinematic world in the coming years”. See Business Insider UK for full review. This divide in reviews, granted, causes greater discussion online before the film’s release. But also brings into question the reviewer’s actual opinion on the film. While it’s 100% possible that those that gave the film glowing reviews pre-release, do genuinely see the film in a different light than the others. It’s also possible that they are doing it for more selfish reasons. Namely, getting their name, magazine, or website into the film’s good books. Creating a favourable connection with the films production company for future releases, or trying to get their name on the films poster or new trailers.

An example from this site, is that of the 2017 horror film, Wish Upon. During the press screening for the film, most people in the room during the film, groaned or laughed at points when we were supposed to feel fear. With one reviewer even walking out mid-way through the film. Brief discussions after, gave the general consensus that while some enjoyed the poorly executed scenes as a source of comedy, and others found the whole thing to be a boring mess. Most people in the room, consisting of a variety of ages and backgrounds, agreed that the film was below average. Many of the reviews from independent outlets echoed this on the day the reviews were due for release. Our review can be read here. However, looking at the well-known, and often trusted film site and magazine, Empire, gave the film 4/5 stars, summing up the film briefly. With Empire being a more trusted site by many, it brings to mind the question as to whether or not this was the reviewer’s genuine feelings towards the film. Or the magazine wanting to keep a good connection with those involved with the film?

With the very recent release of Blade Runner 2049, many news outlets and reviewers, were quick to label the film as a “blockbuster”, or “a modern masterpiece”. While the film is certainly stunning, very well done, and well worth it’s run time. It became somewhat worrying to see how quickly many sites and reviews, jumped to the phrase “masterpiece”. Those that referred to it as a blockbuster before release, maybe shocked to find that the film is in fact underperforming at the box office. Many people rely on pre-release film reviews to shape whether or not they will see an upcoming film. Especially those with a limited income. So, the question still stands. Should we take pre-release reviews with a grain of salt?

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Posted in Film, Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Taron Egerton (Eggsy), Mark Strong (Merlin), Colin Firth (Harry Hart), Julianne Moore (Poppy) and Elton John

Release Date: 20th September 2017

In 2014, we were treated to the magnificent fun that was, Kingsman: The Secret Service. Based on the comic by Mark Millar, and Dave Gibbons. Director Matthew Vaughn, brought us an over the top action comedy, of the likes that we haven’t seen since Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. Full to the brim with over the top violence, extremely likable characters, and a self-aware style that one the hearts of viewers. With the announcement of a sequel, fans were eager to revisit the world of the Kingsman, and see what adventures were next for Galahad, Lancelot, and Merlin. With the release of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, fans have just one question. Does it live up to the original?

In short, no. But not for lack of trying.

Picking up some time after the first film. Eggsy continues as Agent Galahad of the Kingsman. Living with his girlfriend, and trying to impress her parents, he comes back to find the Kingsman destroyed, the shop devastated, and everything he knows in ruins. Attacked by assailants, and alongside Merlin, they find themselves traveling to Kentucky, USA. Seeking out The Statesman, their American cousins. When a plot is revealed by reclusive megalomaniac to kill drug users worldwide, the Statesman and Kingsman team up to save people they care for, and their own interests.

The success of The Secret Service, was unprecedent. A perfect mix of action, comedy, characters and violence. It’s hard to pin down what it was that made us sit up and pay attention. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why The Golden Circle takes a very safe route with its plot. Banking heavily on the most memorable scenes of the original, and that our love for Eggsy, Roxy and Merlin would see the audience through. Add on the inclusion of a fan favourite, thought dead, that was sadly spoiled by marketing. A fact that even the director, Matthew Vaughn, takes great issue with. The Golden Circle comes off as a good knock off of the original. Not as good, but a decent effort at replicating, not continuing. Something that is hard to dismiss when watching the two, one after the other.

It’s hard to top the plot and villain of the original film, though not impossible. But upon meeting, or rather ‘meat-ing’, Julianne Moore’s Poppy, we hope for someone as interesting as Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine. Instead, we find an almost generic psychopath, with a touch of Martha Stewart thrown in. While Julianne Moore is a fantastic actress in her own right, and she plays her role well, the character doesn’t live up to what we expect from a Kingsman sequel.

In The Golden Circle, death means little. It comes quick and early to those we care for, only to be disregarded by the half way point, with the introduction of the Statesman, and the return of Harry Hart. While both are valid plot points, having both together in the same film cheapens the experience.

With the introduction of The Statesman, we get a whole new crop of characters set to help Eggsy. Heavily publicised was the addition to Channing Tatum to the cast as Agent Tequila. While Tatum’s appeal may split with audience, given his usual demographic. You will be pleased to know that his overall appearance is brief, while still getting in a dose of fan service for those anxious to see him.

While the film carries on with a similar tone of humour, it does little to top the first. Attempting to top the shock and humour of the original’s final pre-credits scene, with an honestly uncomfortable, almost sex scene. The violence and action scenes continue to amaze; however, they feel strung together. Like your wishing the plot would just hurry up and get to the next great fight scene. Certainly memorable, but far from the draw of the original.

While certainly not a bad film, it’s hard for it to stand with the original. Enjoyable, fun and action packed, with plenty of fan service. But falls short of its older brother.

Posted in Anime, Film, Review

Death Note (2017)

Director: Adam Wingard

Starring: Nat Wolff (Light Turner), Lakeith Stanfield (L), Margaret Qualley (Mia Sutton), Willem Dafoe (Ryuk)

Release Date: August 25th, 2017

American adaptations of manga and anime, have been far more miss than hit. This year saw the atrocious Ghost in the Shell. 2009 gave us the frustrating Dragonball Evolution, and it feels like every year, we are threatened with an Americanised Akira. It’s frustrating to understand why an adaptation just hasn’t worked yet. Sure, it’s easy to blame it on a cultural difference, but at their core, the anime being adapted have still managed to make a cultural jump in the first place.

While arguably in development since 2007, in April of 2016, it was announced that Netflix would be releasing a live action adaptation of Death Note. Written by Tsugumi Ohba, and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, Death Note was a psychological thriller, with a touch of dark fantasy, originally published by Weekly Shonen Jump, between December 2003, and May of 2006. Death Note tells the story of Light Yagami, an over achieving high school student, from a loving family. The son of a police detective. During class one day, he spots a mysterious book fall from the sky. The Death Note. Upon retrieving the book, Light discovers a list of rules written inside, stating that “The Human whose name is written in this note shall die”. Finding it a sick joke at first, especially when reading through the rest of the rules. Light finds himself compelled to try it at least once. Flipping to the news, Light finds a school being taken hostage. Upon writing the criminal’s name, Light learns that the book is indeed real. Discovering the books origin, as a tool of the Death God, Ryuk. Light vows to use the book to bring justice to the world, with the Ryuk by his side, anxious to see what a human would do with that power. When his killings start to become recognised, the series becomes a cat and mouse game between Light, now known as the serial killer ‘Kira’, and the world’s greatest detective, L.

From its original manga run, the series has been adapted to a beloved anime series, four Japanese live action films, and a tie-in miniseries. So, when Netflix announced that the American film was finished, and being released in 2017, it seemed reasonable to ask why. However, come August 25th, 2017. It was released upon us, to mostly negative reviews.

Going into this new film, it’s worth saying that, I have no experience with the anime. My introduction to the series was the original manga, before diving into the first three live action films from Japan. Death Note (2006), Death Note 2: The Last Name (2006), and L: Change the World (2008). Then reading the two novels, Death Note L: Change the World, and Death Note Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases. When it came to an American version of the series, I wasn’t expecting something completely faithful. In fact, I would be disappointed to get the same exact story again. What mattered to me was that it was able to live in the world the source material created. It didn’t need to stay faithful to every beat of the original story, but it had to be faithful to the tone and heart.

So, after finally watching the Netflix Death Note film, what did I find. Exactly what I expected. A bad version of the original story. Granted, I found several changes I genuinely liked, but at the end, it was still an imitation of a story we’ve already seen at its heart.

The original character of Light, is very Japanese at his core. He is a product of a Japanese culture. The need to work hard and succeed engrained in him from a young age, and it explains so much of his character. Outside of that, Light also lives in a justice heavy society. In Japan, there justice system is pretty strict. If you find yourself in a Japanese court of law, if you are accused of a crime, you have a roughly 95% chance, of being found guilty. When you take a character like Light, and place him as an American teen, you will not have the same character. However, this could have been compensated for. Instead, we got a character that better resembled Misa. In an interesting twist, the films version of Misa, renamed Mia, is a better Light, than the one we got. This does give us a twist on the original story, that would have been fascinating to see developed. However, the film suffered by not taking its own direction.

A note of praise I can give to the film, is its horror elements, and the portrayal of Ryuk. In the latter half of the film, we get this sequence set in an abandoned mansion. The director’s background in horror films, pays off completely, with the ambient and creepy tone that works extremely well. With Ryuk, he is kept perfectly in the shadows, giving off the truly creepy and other worldly tone he needs. While he was shown in full view in the Japanese live action films to a decent effect, he works wonderfully here. Especially when voiced by the equally creepy William Defo.

Overall, the film is just ok. Works as a background film, but not something to be revisited, or held to the same standard as the manga. Worth a watch, if you are curious, but don’t expect to be pleased. Die-hard fans especially, will find plenty to hate with this film.

Posted in Anime, Book, Film, Review

Ghost in the Shell by Andrew Osmond (2017)

  • 91BSdFVo4jL120 pages
  • Release date: 11th September 2017
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published by: Arrow Books

The cult classic Ghost in the Shell, has often found itself the centre of discussion among fans. Its impact and themes. The films significance in the modern landscape. However, it’s hard to find a single work that highlights its importance, as Andrew Osmond’s Ghost in the Shell. An incredibly engaging, and well researched look at not only the cult classic film, but the franchise, and impact it has had through the culture.

Osmond approaches this book with a passion and the intention of allowing even the most novice of Ghost in the Shell viewers the opportunity to enjoy and engage with the books subject. Opening with essentially a first-time viewers perspective of the opening few minutes of the film. Noting the praise and acclaim the film achieved, even early in its life. Osmond expounds on the films infancy, by describing the culture and time to which it is born into. Citing the state of otaku culture and the Aum Shinrikyo terror attacks in Japan, and how the West viewed Anime at the time. Referring to them as ‘Manga movies’, or ‘Japanimation’. This provides a much-needed context for the reader as to why and how Ghost in the Shell gained such significance.

The film is broken down in a digestible manor, so that no reader will feel lost along the way. Osmond comments on the characters and plot points with an attention to detail, significantly towards the film’s central protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi.

“For example, after the ‘assassination’ prologue, Ghost’s titles show the creation of Kusanagi’s cyber-body. We see it as an anatomist’s dummy of fake skin and bone, flushed through vats of liquid, clothed in fast-setting flesh. All this suggests a Frankenstein creature, a horror film Other. But as the sequence ends, and Kusanagi is lifted up fully formed, we don’t see some lab-coated Pygmalion admiring his sculpture – ‘She lives!’. Instead, we cut to a close-up of Kusanagi awakening in darkness. We were in her head all along, as she dreamed her body’s creation. She moves the fingers of one hand slightly, as if asking, is this my hand? Is this my body?”

Osmond explores how her femininity and sexuality are put aside. Blurring gender lines, in moments of intense strengths and sacrifice. These discussions extend to comparisons of her counterparts. Such as Trinity in The Matrix franchise, and Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This also encompasses the franchises lore, such as the impact and importance or cyber-bodies in the cyberpunk genre.

The book does not limit itself to just the films themes, characters, and impact. But extends to the creative minds that birthed the film and franchise. Discussion of the film’s director, Mamoru Oshii, ranges beyond simply his filmography. Extending to popular consensus, his frequently used themes through his work, and the man himself. His diversity in mediums, interests and personal history. The chapter dedicated to Oshii, reads like a love letter to the forgotten works of a master. Overshadowed by the books subject. With a wonderful look at Oshii’s work on the Patlabor series. The only major subject that feels skipped over, is Oshii’s 1999 film, Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade. A subject that is likely to merit its own book in a similar vain to this one.

Given how private Masanori Ota presents himself, going as far as to use the pseudonym Masamune Shirow. It’s surprising how well Osmond dives into the franchises original author. Discussing his secluded nature, themes and works. Drawing particular attention to Shirow’s playful and wacky sense of humour, something largely ignored in adaptations. Focus and time is payed to Shirow’s other praised franchise, Appleseed. Highlighting, especially, the difference in publication. Osmond breaks down Shirow’s 350-page manga, in a similar manner to his discussion of the films plot. This is a necessity, given how well and thoroughly he examines the adaptation process. Taking the world and characters Shirow crafted, but injecting Oshii’s own brand of philosophy and themes, and examining how this effects the original material.

Time and attention is given to many important, but largely unsung figures in the films creation. Figures such as character designer, Hiroyuki Okiura. Animation director, Toshihiko Nishibubo, and art director, Hiromasa Ogura. Osmond takes great care in communication the amount of work that went into the films construction. Outlining fine details from Mechanical design, scripting and music. To even the process of dubbing and localisation. Something we rarely see approached and discussed when it comes to Ghost in the Shell.

With absolutely stunning cover art by Chris Malbon, and the loving research of Andrew Osmond. Ghost in the Shell from Arrow Books, is a fantastic look at the cult classic film, and a must read for avid fans, and the curious mind willing to traverse the vast net that is Ghost in the Shell.

Available from Arrow Films here.

Posted in Film, Review

The Dark Tower (2017)

Adaptations walk a hard line. On one side, they have the long-time fans of the source material, anxious to see what characters and plot points are cased aside and changed. While simultaneously creating something appealing to the public. Appeasing both the ravenous fans, and blockbuster devoted public, in an attempt to make back their money, and win the summer box office.

Adapting Stephen King’s work to the big screen, is nothing new. Starting with Brian De Palma’s Carrie in 1976, up to The Dark Tower, Gerald’s Game and the remake of It in 2017. Many have been exposed to the work of King, without ever picking up a single brick sized novel. King’s storytelling, and worlds have become well known and treasured to many, through multiple mediums. While many of his stories, such as The Shining, Christine, and The Green Mile are all celebrated works, none are more praised than the world and legacy of The Dark Tower series.The-dark-tower-movie-

Born of seven original books in the series, followed by an eighth in 2012, and a series of prequel comics, written by Robin Furth and Peter David, with stunning art by Jae Lee. The Dark Tower is a celebrated series, mixing the genres of dark fantasy, science fantasy, horror and westerns. King has described the series as his magnum opus.  With legions of devoted fans to the series, the thought of a big screen adaptation is both exciting, and nerve racking.

When adapting such an expansive and well-loved work, it may well be best to take a more lenient approach to adaptation. Carrying the tone and spirit. Conveying what captured the original fans attention. An example of this can be seen with the two adaptations of The Shining. The Stanley Kubrick adaptation is highly praised, and adored the world over. However, it breaks away heavily from the source material, only carrying the soul and characters through to the end. Years later, an adaptation was created as a two-part series, that stayed as faithful to the source material as it could. This version is universally panned for its extended and unnecessarily excessive dialogue, and poor attempts at horror. The Dark Tower is in no way a completely faithful adaptation. Instead, it takes its cues from the Kubrick version of The Shining, and takes the characters and spirit in a somewhat different direction.The_Dark_Tower.0

The film takes place in two worlds. In modern day New York, and the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is home to the Gunslinger. In our world, the film follows the young Jake Chambers, as night after night, he experiences dreams of another world. A world where children are strapped into a machine, their screams combine, energy bursting out of a machine. A dark tower suffering damage. Faceless men. A Man in Black, and a Gunslinger roaming the desert. The more the dreams happen, the stronger the earthquakes that hit New York. As his mother and stepfather attempt to send him away to get help, he finds himself pursued by the faceless men of his dreams. Finding an old house he sees in his dreams, he is transported to the world he has been dreaming of, and the Gunslinger. Roland Deschain of Gilead.

Ultimately, The Dark Tower is a thoroughly enjoyable film in its own right. From it’s opening moments, it sucks you in, and keeps your attention throughout. Something that’s rarely seen lately. Acted well throughout, with the obvious stand outs of Idris Elba as Roland, and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black. Though the young Tom Taylor does a fine job of emoting in the role of Jake, a demanding role, that he carries well. Idris Elba plays Roland as a warn and scarred man. One who has clearly been burdened by his past, carrying the weight of being the last of the Gunslingers. McConaughey’s Man in Black comes off at times as a 12a version of Jessica Jones’s Killgrave. Especially when giving commands to random strangers in the street. However, the character is still engaging, and makes for a compelling and truly threatening villain. Together, with a memorable, and strong supporting cast. They greatly anchor the film.

Enjoyable throughout, and highly engaging, with numerous Easter intertextual references. The Dark Tower takes the dense and expansive world King created, and provides a thrilling and satisfying film.

Posted in Film, Horror, Review

Wish Upon (2017) – Review

 

MV5BMTgwOTY5NDMwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTg5NDE4MTI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_The word’s ‘Be careful what you wish for’, pops up often in life. As kids, we usually hear it at Christmas when we loudly shout, “I wish it was Christmas every day!’. When we grow up, we realise just how expensive that would be, and how little would get done in the world. The moral is hammered into us in movies, cartoons, and comics, to the point that we are almost sick to death of hearing the phrase. So, if someone wants to approach the subject, they must consider the angle of approach. How do they make the story relevant? How do you make the audience care about the consequences? Do you include a magic gene voiced by a beloved comedian or not? With John R. Leonetti’s Wish Upon, these are all very real concerns. Unfortunately, they are ignored, rather than listened too.

The story centres around a teenage girl, Clare Shannon, played by the surprisingly talented Joey King (Independence Day: Resurgence), as she tries to navigate her everyday life. Raised by her clichéd embarrassing father, after the suicide of her mother, and attending a high school where she is bullied daily by the popular crowd. Clare comes home one day to find a Chinese puzzle box her father has found, waiting for her on her bed. Due to the convenient fact that she takes Chinese language classes, she is able to make out the words ‘7 wishes’ inscribed on the front. On a whim, while crying over the day’s events, she makes a wish for revenge upon on of her tormentors. The next morning, she learns of her bully’s sudden illness, and while basking with her friends in a day of peace, she begins to wonder if the two events are related. The events that build up afterwards, follow Clare as she moulds her life to her will, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. Followed along by her two ‘friends’, her uninteresting ‘love interest’, and her unrealistic crush, turned stalker. With predictable deaths and wishes, left, right and centred, and an easy to guess ending, Wish Upon begs for your attention, and for you to care about what happens to the characters. The ending itself gives far more than a wink and a nod to possible sequels, attempting to join the pantheon of modern horror franchises. Finally beating you around the brain with an annoying, and unsuited pop song. Somehow on the same level as following up a brutal James Bond action sequence, with a dry, drab Madonna piece.

While primarily a horror flick, the actual deaths are laughable in their delivery. With one, very tasteful exception. The characters, while occasionally shining through in moments, are largely generic and one note. It feels like the films real horror, comes from the characters themselves. There utter lack of caring when they learn the truth, and how selfish they can be. While possibly a commentary on the millennial generation and their supposedly selfish whims, it’s a point against morality more than anything. The films tone is all over the place, and unfocused. While it feels as though this is done to make the deaths more shocking, it’s handled poorly. Creating instants of sudden whiplash, or fits of laughter at what is supposed to be a serious or emotional moment.

For those curious enough, it’s a film that serves as a teaching point for how not to use mood and atmosphere, and an example of stereotyped characters. However, there are plenty of other films worth your time. This film should not be encouraged to start a franchise anytime soon.

 

Wish Upon, released by Orion Pictures, is in cinemas on July 14th in the USA, and July 28th in the UK.

Posted in Anime, Film, Review

Return to: Rebuild of Evangelion 1.11

I fall in and out of love with anime. Now, it’s more like that friend you see every now and then. You enjoy their visits, and you love spending time with them, but too much of them drives you insane. On a whim, I decided to revisit the first film in the Rebuild of Evangelion series. A planned set of four films, that reimagined the plot of the 1995 series and follow up films. Telling the story, the director claims he originally intended.

The series has become a cult classic, along with titles such as Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, and Serial Experiments Lain. Prompting discussion of the films themes of depression, the religious allegories, and the overall meaning of the series ending. While there is a lot of debate as to whether the show deserves the praise, it’s more than fascinating to go through first hand and join the debate. The show provides countless topics of discussion, as well as examples of storytelling, as well as the story of the shows production.

Fans of the series, upon hearing of the Rebirth films, were delighted to get both another piece of the puzzle, and a fresh look at the overall story. Currently, three of the proposed four films have been released, with the fourth delayed while the director finishes other projects. The new films provided the director, Hideaki Anno, with a fresh palette to start over. Reintroduce the main characters, and define them from the start, before moving to the existential nightmares that await them in later films. The first film, Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone, essentially retells the events of the first 5 episodes. Going from Shinji first arriving in Tokyo-3, reuniting with his estranged and cold father, meeting the other members of the organisation Nerve, piloting the EVA Unit 01, and defending the world and the city of Tokyo-3 from the 3rd, 4th and 5th Angels.

While the opening five episodes work well as a self-contained arc, and an opening to the new films. When re-watching Evangelion 1.11, I couldn’t help but feel that the lack of time the film has compared to five 20-minute episodes, gives less weight to the films events. While some scenes, such as Shinji walking in on Rei are still handled strongly, with the appropriate amount of pacing given to allow the full impact of the scene. As well as the film’s climax, and the beautiful final conversation between Rei and Shinji. I can’t deny that I tear up with the line “Why don’t you just try smiling?”. However, it’s the small scenes in the original show that made the characters, and gave weight to their choices. The relationship between Shinji, Toji and Kensuke, seems generic and rushed in the film compared to series. The iconic scene of Shinji being taken away, and running back and screaming at Toji that he doesn’t blame him for hating him. That he deserved to be hit, that he feels like a coward, a wimp, sneaky, and dishonest. That moment of weakness is a defining point in their relationship, as well as the moment between Misato and Shinji at the station, when Shinji makes the active choice to stay. Aside from Shinji’s night walking the street, none of these moments are included in the film. Their lack of inclusion leads the audience to question why Shinji just doesn’t leave if he hates the situation so much. That scene of his declaration, and decision to not get on the train is his defining moment in what mater to him, and what he is willing to lay his life down for.

While the first Rebuild film is fine overall, with stunning visuals, and the return of many of the original voice actors, both Japanese and American. As a starting point for the new films, it does what it needs to, as well as introduce a few new elements early, such as Lilith’s location. But compared to those original five episodes, it lacks heart.