Movie Review: The Last Duel

The new movie “The Last Duel” marks the first time Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have written a screenplay together since “Good Will Hunting”, released in 1997 and won both of them the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1998. I recently saw both Affleck and Damon on a talk show, talking about the arduous and long task of writing Good Will Hunting. According to Damon, the process took years of learning how to create a great screenplay, and over 1000 pages of trial and error. This is what it takes to create a great screenplay, which is why so few have been written. It took of all people, Harvey Weinstein to bring Good Will Hunting to the screen with his money and clout – unfortunately.

The story behind The Last Duel happened in the 1380’s in France. Amazingly this story is about a duel to the death over a woman, due to a he said – she said – over a alleged rape of a French Soldier’s wife and his best friend. This story is told in 3 parts, reminding me of a weak episode of a sitcom where 3 perspectives of a story are told almost as if the writers had trouble coming up with a teleplay that week. How and why Damon and Affleck found this obscure story from so long ago and then agreed to go through the hardships of writing and then filming a movie like this in the depressing dark French countryside for months, is the most unlikely part about this film. Then add highly respected director Ridley Scott who directed this movie that like so many films was halted in mid production during the Pandemic of 2020.

I am very surprised by the relatively high 86% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for this film, despite the good acting including relative newcomer Jodie Comer, who plays Damon’s wife. There are too many areas of slow moving boredom that in some cases can offset the good parts of this film and I did not like the 3 part perceptive idea, repeating too many areas of this story. For me, the essential problem is that the overall idea here is not big enough or compelling enough to make a movie about it. The final duel scene is impressive between Adam Driver and Matt Damon, and I was surprised at the relatively small role for Ben Affleck, who plays a King who constantly cheats on his wife.

I rank this movie as a marginal thumbs up, mainly for fans of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Movie Review: Halloween Kills

For the entire Halloween movie series spanning 12 movies starting in 1978, with one more “Halloween Ends” to be released in 2022 – we all expect a stupid movie, an idiotic plot with zero logic, including the fact that this mass murder who wears a mask just cannot be killed – no matter what. However, this new movie “Halloween Kills” breaks its own ongoing record of increasingly idiotic films and reaches new highs with this most recent very bad installment. For those expecting many scenes with Jamie Lee Curtis in this latest version, they will be very disappointed because she has a relatively small part. Its obvious that the producers decided to shoot these “last two” Halloween movies together so one could speculate that for next years Halloween Ends, Curtis will have a much bigger part.

I remember seeing “Halloween H2O” in 1998, and at the end of this bad film Jamie Lee Curtis decapitates Michael Meyers with an ax (see video) – and yet, somehow, this clear end to the series of films 23 years ago continued. How can that be? Did medical science advance to the point of sewing Meyer’s head back on? The point is, when the owner of this franchise decided to end a series of movies, that should be the end. The mass murderer is clearly and forever dead, there is no coming back from a decapitation. Or is there? Don’t cheat logic and the audience along the way, by dragging this movie franchise on forever, with one stupid movie after another for decades.

Will next years Halloween Ends be the end? Unfortunately that depends entirely on how much money it makes. If Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends make money, there will be yet another bad Halloween film in our future. If that is the case, maybe murderer Meyers has a twin or something? Or a new copy-cat murderer takes over for Meyers and then there can be 20 more years of bad “copy cat mask murder” movies.

Halloween Kills is in movie theaters and streaming on the new Peacock service. I opted for the Peacock service, saving some money for a movie that I knew in advance would be very bad. The reviews for this movie are correctly negative, as low as 42% on Rotten Tomatoes and even for the most die hard horror movie fans – I rate this latest mess of a movie, a big pass.

Movie Review: No Time to Die

As “No Time to Die” is the last James Bond role for Daniel Craig, many will forever speculate about who is the best James Bond of all time. After 5 good or very good movies, I would say that Craig is the second best Bond, after the late Sean Connery. The late Roger Moore in my opinion is 3rd, mainly for adding the most humor to the series. Pierce Brosnan is tied with Moore for combining humor and good action scenes in his films.

The issues I had with No Time to Die, is that it is way too long 2 hours, 43 minutes and it is just a good James Bond movie, not a great one. For the last James Bond for Daniel Craig, I thought it was time to come up with a great James Bond film, and this one is not a great movie.

The villain in this story is played very well by recent Academy Award winner Rami Malek – but unfortunately, despite the very long running time of this film, he has far too little time on screen. I was very surprised at the lack of a very big opening in this movie, like has happened in just about all the previous films. Things do happen in the beginning but the opening is far more subdued and never spectacular like we are all used to.

Bond’s girlfriend is played by Léa Seydoux, who has appeared in other action/spy movies, the most notable being Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, that was released in early 2012. Her relationship with James Bond is erratic, and she is missing from the entire middle part of this story only to rejoin James at the end with a big surprise. Some critics are saying that Ana de Armas has stolen this movie with her small 15 minute role at the beginning of this film. However, there is no standard Bond Girl this time around, with de Armas playing a new MI-6 spy working with James Bond. Ralph Fiennes reprises he role as M, the head of MI-6, with a surprisingly small role.

This story leaves no doubt that this is the very last James Bond for Daniel Craig, and despite the money, the long hours, dangerous stunts takes a great deal out of any actor especially after five movies. Hopefully the next Bond will be a choice as good as Craig has been, but he is a very hard act to follow.