Weekly Film Recaps – ‘SLY’, ‘THE MARVELS’ and ‘LOCKED IN’ a Mash-Up of Genres this Week


Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have been competing with each other since the 80s and despite father time turning them into grandpas and friendship being the natural progression of things it was no surprise Stallone would be releasing his own biography after Arnold released his earlier this year. ‘Sly’ is now streaming on Netflix and as a lifelong ultra-fan of Stallone this documentary turned out to be much more intriguing and endearing than I had expected. Now I love Stallone, but I also know he wears his ego much more proudly on his sleeve than Arnold. However, that wasn’t the case here with a primarily reflective man looking back on an iconic career that had its share of ups and downs.

Stallone delivers the gambit in ‘Sly’ as he weaves between pride, regret, reflection, and a humbleness that he didn’t have during his run in the 80s and 90s. But really my main takeaway from ‘Sly’ was that Stallone at his core has always been an artist inside an action hero’s body. Acting was what brought him fame but Stallone’s love for writing and his methodology of storytelling is clearly his true passion. Unlike Arnold who is a business man and a competitor, Stallone is a creative mind, his art consumes him, and I can respect that. And in the end ‘Sly’ wasn’t nearly as self-righteous as I feared, in fact this wasn’t the tone at all. Instead, we get to see a man in his golden years giving us a peek into not just an illustrious career but an added perspective to his process of creating stories and how much he dives into these projects. So even the most diehard of Stallone fans can sit down and learn something new about their hero when watching ‘Sly’.

Grade: A

DIRECTOR: Thom Zimny  DISTRIBUTOR: Netflix  RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes  RATING: R (For some language)  YEAR: 2023  LANGUAGE: English  GENRE: Documentary/Biography

‘Sly’ (2023) Courtesy of Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

‘The Marvels’

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I have been suffering from superhero fatigue and all the drama associated with comic book movies for some time. Despite some of its silliness I did enjoy ‘Captain Marvel’ and I like Larson as an actor despite her feeling a bit too stiff in this role. So, I went into ‘The Marvels’ with an open mind hoping to have fun and unfortunately, I must say this was a massive letdown. It’s overtly juvenile, there aren’t really any arcs given to the characters to invest in, and the story for the most part makes little to no sense. Resulting in a predictable superhero saga filled with digital effects and generic fight sequences that feel like nothing more than empty calories.

Larson’s inclusion in this movie feels completely chopped and incohesive. The villain is probably the weakest ever in the MCU so there are no threats, there are no stakes. It’s a barrage of recycled team building, childish jokes, and it’s all far too uninteresting. Samuel L. Jackson feels like he’s acting in one of his credit card commercials, and I did enjoy the performance from Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan. Sadly ‘The Marvels’ is one of the first MCU films that has required homework because I didn’t watch ‘Ms. Marvel’ on Disney+ so I had no idea who she was, how she was incorporated into things, or much like Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau, how she got her powers exactly to begin with. Instead, it’s the usual comic book tropes Marvel has relied on since being purchased by Disney only the writing in this one is of a much, much lower tier.

Grade: D+

CAST: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Samuel L. Jackson, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Park Seo-joon, Zenobia Shroff  DIRECTOR: Nia DaCosta  WRITER(S): Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, Elissa Karasik  DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures  RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes  RATING: PG-13 (For action/violence, and brief language)  YEAR: 2023  LANGUAGE: English  GENRE: Action/Adventure/Fantasy

‘The Marvels’ (2023) Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

‘Locked In’

Nour Wazzi’s ‘Locked In’ on Netflix feels like a cheesy 90s erotic-thriller (I mean ultra-cheesy) mixed with a two-episode arc of an equally kitchy soap opera like, ‘Passions’ (…I would assume). The acting is fine. No one really steals the show or feels overly unique. However, they’re all pretty, so it works for the needs of this quick moving lust driven mystery. Plus seeing Famke Janssen back in front of the camera was fun, despite her deserving far better roles than this. The ridiculous story is unpredictably predictable, and it delivers many more twists and turns than actually needed. With a TV-MA rating that all but completely sanitizes the intended erotic atmosphere.

The steamy love scenes are half hot – half humorous and definitely safe for work. ‘Locked In’ is one of those movies you should know exactly what you’re getting into when sitting down for. It’s a mess of sex, betrayal, friendship, secrets, microwavable love, more sex, with murder at the core. And the result is an unintentionally comical exploration of a crime of passion. That manages to be oddly entertaining to sit back and plot predict with your watching buddy. It’s not a good film, or at least an overly ambitious one, but it sort of is the definition of guilty pleasure trash cinema that is instantly forgettable but mildly enjoyable in the moment.

Grade: D

CAST: Famke Janssen, Rose Williams, Alex Hassell, Finn Cole, Anna Friel  DIRECTOR: Nour Wazzi  WRITER(S): Rowan Joffe  DISTRIBUTOR: Netflix  RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes  RATING: TV-MA (Sexual situations, no nudity)  YEAR: 2023  LANGUAGE: English  GENRE: Horror/Mystery/Thriller

Locked In. Alex Hassell as Dr Lawrence and Rose Williams as Lina in Locked In. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Anthony J. Digioia II © 2023 SilverScreen Analysis