Metal Lords (dir. Peter Sollett, 2022) – Two high schoolers attempt to complete their death metal band with a cellist ahead of the upcoming Battle of the Bands.
In 2003, the School of Rock made its name. Guitarist Dewey Finn, while impersonating a substitute teacher, put together a band of talented high school musicians and turned their classical training into rock fuel in weeks. Despite his initial self-serving intention to win the Battle of the Bands, he soon inadvertently brought out the best in them. The coming-of-age masterwork remains celebrated almost 2 decades later today, cementing its place as an all-time best for many.
At first glance, Metal Lords seems to mirror the Richard Linklater film like a spiritual sequel, only for a heavier genre. The competition this time comes down to high school duo Kevin (Jaeden Martell) and Hunter (Adrian Greensmith), the founders of experimental death metal band Skullfucker. The only trouble? They are missing a bass player, and they aren’t exactly the most popular kids in school.
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Fresh (dir. Mimi Cave, 2022) – Noa’s dating life takes a turn when she learns about her new partner’s unusual appetite.
Ask any woman about her online dating experiences, and you are bound to hear more than a few horror stories. Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) has had her fair share, which might explain her eagerness to jump at her chance at love when she meets a seemingly decent man – Steve (Sebastian Stan) – in real life.
After all, their meet-cute in a supermarket aisle feels like the perfect set-up for a happily ever after. That is even if her best friend Molly (Jojo T Gibbs) calls red flag on his suspiciously quick moves and absence of online presence. Is it possible that Steve may be hiding something more? By now, any discerning viewer would be nodding along to Molly’s doubts.
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Everything Everywhere All at Once (dir. Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, 2022) – A middle-aged woman finds herself dragged into a strange multiverse, where she gets a glimpse into her alternate lives.
Undone taxes, a crumbling marriage, an estranged mother-daughter relationship. Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is struggling to cope with everything around her and she is starting to feel like her best will never be enough. As the pressure builds, she feels her reality slipping away. A web of parallel universes awaits her, each a glimpse into the lives she could have led.
One minute she takes on the persona of an action movie star and the next, an ordinary everywoman with edible hotdog fingers. Worsening matters is the danger that lurks in the multiverse as a weapon has surfaced in the form of a… bagel? It is almost impossible to describe the plot of Everything Everywhere All At Once without sounding like a raving lunatic.
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The Batman (dir. Matt Reeves, 2022) – When a sadistic killer begins to murder key political figures in Gotham, the Batman steps in, only to uncover a larger ploy against the city.
It is a constant stagger back to square one for the DC Cinematic Universe as the studio introduces its 3rd major iteration of the caped crusader in just under two decades. There seems a reluctance to move past its tried and tested characters, even as Marvel races past and starts dipping into its backlog – to resounding success for the most part.
So we get The Batman. Again. Albeit this time, there is a promising director at helm. Matt Reeves’ take falls somewhere between his recent predecessors, grounded in its world-building and villainy, balanced with a tonality suited to its comic book origins. It fits Gotham well enough. His film noir influences hold merit, picking up where Darren Aronofsky’s Year One project fell through years ago.
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The Adam Project (dir. Shawn Levy, 2022) – After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-travelling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his younger self for a mission to save the future.
The predestination paradox posits a scenario where an individual travels back in time to prevent an incident, only to cause the said event, inevitably closing the causality loop. It all makes for some intriguing on-screen storytelling with potential for twists and turns, as several genre films had shown. The Adam Project isn’t that kind of time-travel movie.
The story’s DNA shares more in common with a breezy fun space adventure than a thought-provoking mindbender. That is to say, there isn’t much in the way of narrative depth. Having said that, if the former is what you are in for, a treat is what you will get.
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Photocopier (dir. Wregas Bhanuteja, 2022) – A first-year university student loses her scholarship after her drunk selfie was circulated online, but she has no recollection of the night’s events.
Sur (Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon) cannot recall what went on at the party last night. The only trace of it is her drunk selfie that had been posted online and had cost her a full scholarship. Suspecting something else amiss, Sur seeks help from her childhood friend Amin (Chicco Kurniawan), who works as a photocopier on campus, to access her classmates’ mobile phones and find out what really happened.
The crime mystery gradually unfolds, but the answers are much more complicated than one may expect. Her sleuthing soon uncovers the horrible truth, involving crimes of sexual assault and a series of cover-ups. Yet no one seems to believe her. The credibility of every moment of doubt perturbs the audience, especially as we see how easy it can be to discredit a powerless victim.
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