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The Scarlet Ink

November 2023 Triple-Review: The Marvels, Priscilla, and The Killer


The Marvels 

The Marvels has been getting almost universal hate, which is very funny to me, as probably very few of the people panning the film even saw it. This movie is looking to be one of, if not the biggest bombs of the year, which is a very big statement to make when we’re in the year of The FlashBlue Beetle, Shazam! 2, Haunted Mansion, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. This is one of the biggest problems in the industry right now- these massively inflated budgets end up bombing because of poor marketing and reviews, and they’re written off as failures. Now, are any of these films really that good? No, but a couple of them are at least pretty decent, and The Marvels is one of those. People were very iffy on this one from the second the first trailer released, but I was honestly kind of anticipating it. I thought it looked like a fun time, especially since it was starring some of the MCU’s most entertaining characters. This ended up being exactly what I expected (and wanted): a lighthearted, enjoyable, and just overall pretty decent superhero movie. I have been extremely critical of the MCU’s last few years, but I genuinely had a lot of fun watching The Marvels.

While I think it’s important to recognize the franchise’s countless issues, I’m still a Marvel fan. It seems like the increasingly popular move is to write off the franchise and jump off the bandwagon, but I’ll stick around (at least, for now). I could write an entire article about the MCU’s problems, but I’m really not interested in that. I recognize all of them, and agree with many, but I think it’s ok to still like this series. The main issue is that there’s just way too much. I haven’t even started Loki season two yet because there’s such an oversaturation of Disney content, and I really loved season one. We are getting way too many Marvel and Star Wars movies and TV shows, and it’s getting difficult to keep up with. I believe that to be the second reason The Marvels is flopping- oversaturation. These movies can’t really stick out from each other anymore because of how many there are; they’re not events like they used to be. Even Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which has been praised as one of the best of all of them, didn’t feel as big as it should have been, and I didn’t even like it that much.

This did become something of a Marvel rant, but I don’t want that to take away from the fact that I did like The Marvels for what it is. I seem to be the only one that feels this way, but I do nonetheless. Again, it turned out exactly how I expected and wanted it to be. If we can’t get great films for each MCU entry, I’d appreciate it if they’d be more like this: simple, fun, but not bad entertainment. I recognize the fact that it’s really not great, but there is still a lot more heart in this film than there is in some of the recent superhero films we’ve been getting (anyone see that Madame Web trailer?). The action is surprisingly pretty decent, the plot is fine enough to keep you entertained, and the performances are energetic and fun. 6.5/10.


Sofia Coppola is, admittedly, a director I never had a whole ton of interest in. I hadn’t completely written her off or anything, but I had seen Lost in Translation, arguably her most famous, and wasn’t a fan. However, I saw that my local theater was still showing Priscilla last weekend, and decided to catch a showing since there was nothing else to see. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this, as it was getting good reviews, but the thought that Coppola’s style might not be for me had definitely occurred. This ended up not being the case; I found Priscilla to be a very well-made film that tells the story of Priscilla Presley in a respectful manner. It’s a very upsetting story, and Coppola does not sugarcoat it at all. Elvis Presley is a very frightening person in this film, portrayed brilliantly by Jacob Elordi. He essentially grooms Priscilla before neglecting and abusing her, and forming something of a pill addiction in her. It’s a very tragic story, and I’m happy that I was able to learn more about something I was pretty unfamiliar with from a film this well-made.

The biggest compliment I can give this film is its performances. As I previously mentioned, Jacob Elordi makes for a fantastic Elvis. He knows when to be the charming and charismatic performer you’d expect, and when to turn off that charm and become the film’s true antagonist. In the first portion of the film, it’s almost easy to ignore how creepy he is because of how likeable and inviting he appears. Of course, as the story plays out, he shows his true colors, and delivers some genuinely disturbing lines. Cailee Spaeny was an actress I was unaware of before this, but her role of Priscilla has made me interested to see her in films like Vice and Bad Times at the El Royale, and the TV series Devs. Her performance mixed with Coppola’s directing is what makes this film so effective; we watch her spend so much of her time wandering around an empty house, a prisoner to a home that Elvis barely lives in. The film has a certain emptiness to it that really drives home Priscilla’s experience; she was groomed and placed into this lifestyle of fame, only to be left alone while her husband goes around doing whatever, not paying her any attention. We watch her personality from the beginning of the film be crushed until she’s a husk of her former self, which she finally starts to fix towards the end. If it wasn’t obvious enough, the midpoint of the film presents us with Priscilla’s high school graduation.

The Killer

Warning: Spoilers for this one

David Fincher is one of my biggest blind spots when it comes to film. I’ve seen a few, but only a couple of the ones I have seen are what most would consider essentials of his filmography, Se7en and The Social Network. I had heard that this was something of a self-reflective project, which made me a little apprehensive to watch it, based on my severely lacking knowledge of Fincher’s filmography; but, I decided to watch it anyway, and did enjoy it a lot. There’s a lot to praise here, but first, we need to get this out of the way: The Killer is a movie about how embarrassed David Fincher is to have directed Fight Club. Now, I haven’t seen Fight Club (I know), but I do know what a large portion of its fanbase consists of- teenagers who take the completely wrong message away from it and make it their entire personality. It’s something of a joke to have Fight Club, Drive, and Blade Runner 2049 in your top ten; not because they’re bad movies by any means, but because of the certain stigma surrounding their fans. You know exactly what I’m talking about: self-proclaimed ‘sigma’ males that view themselves as superior to everyone else and probably make really insensitive jokes; it all goes back to the whole idea of the ‘literally me’ character. Of course, I’m generalizing a bit here, but this crowd is exactly what Fincher is making fun of in this film.

Michael Fassbender’s Killer is a professional hitman who regularly eats McDonalds, rents WeWork spaces to plan his killings, complains about AirBnBs and ‘normies’, listens to The Smiths, buys his murder tools off Amazon, creates various fake identities named after sitcom characters, and also seriously sucks at his job, all while taking himself completely seriously. He’s a complete joke, and it’s obvious from the opening scene; we’re shown The Killer explaining how cool and good at his job he is while preparing for an assassination. It goes on for quite awhile, and we see how seriously he supposedly takes his work- only for him to completely miss the first shot he takes in the entire movie. It’s the initial reveal to the audience of how bad he is at this, and it’s hilarious to watch him constantly screw up. The Killer himself is a parody of  Fight Club‘s fans; or, at least, the ones I discussed earlier. Those people who approach life with a semi-nihilistic viewpoint that try to engage with society while also trying to be above it. For example: eating McDonald’s, but removing the top bun, and reassuring yourself of your support of a corporation worth around two hundred billion dollars by claiming that it’s cheap protein. You’re doing something everyone does, but taking that extra step to make yourself believe you stand out and aren’t some sheep. Every one of Fincher’s films that I’ve seen have had a lot of dark comedy in them (and I’m sure the rest of them do, as well), but this is easily the funniest film of his I’ve seen.

Main point aside, I found The Killer to be a very technically impressive film. The opening credits display an incredible score set to a montage of sleek visuals, setting the tone the film holds throughout; I’d be surprised if the score doesn’t get some recognition at the Oscars next year. I also really appreciated the sound design present in this film- when somebody dies, you feel it. A couple moments that really stood out to me in this category are the nail-gun scene and the neck-snap scene; both were very nasty, giving some really incredible sounds to go with them. A couple of the kills here made me jump a little- the neck-snap got me pretty good, as did the headshot towards the end. They come so quickly and are so brutal that it just caught me off guard. And, of course, I can’t talk about this movie without talking about the duel between The Killer and The Brute. This was quite possibly the best fight scene I’ve seen in a film this year (although I haven’t gotten to John Wick 4 yet). Every punch has so much weight to it; they beat each other within an inch of their lives, and the whole scene has such a feeling of desperation to it. I’d definitely recommend checking out The Killer, whether you are or aren’t familiar with Fincher. I haven’t seen more than four or five of his films, and I still got a lot out of it. It’s really not too deep, and I always enjoy films where directors examine their own careers.

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