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Meander (2021)

What I got was an interesting story – this I cannot deny – but ultimately it was unfortunately a story which didn’t really seem to lead anywhere.




I really enjoy a claustrophobic film. Cube, Saw, Nine Dead, Moon, The Purge, Dredd. All films which are set in a single location. It forces the writer to do something with the story instead of shifting the focus from place to place and I love it. 

So when I found Meander (2021) I was especially happy – especially because it had a few striking resemblances to Cube. 

What I got was an interesting story – this I cannot deny – but ultimately it was unfortunately a story which didn’t really seem to lead anywhere.

After getting a car ride from an unknown man, Lisa wakes up in a tube. On her arm is strapped a bracelet with a countdown. She quickly understands that every 8 minutes, fire burns an occupied section. She has no choice but to crawl into safe sections to survive. To know why she’s there and how to get out, Lisa will have to face the memories of her dead daughter…

What then happens I find difficult to describe. I’m sensing that the writer keeps it vague and keeps a lot of answers to himself because, I’m guessing, the film focuses on the journey as opposed to the destination? 

Fortunately, the film doesn’t take long to actually get into it – Lisa throws out her book of “how not to get murdered” by accepting a ride from a complete stranger, and as luck would have it, happens to get into the vehicle just as the radio announcer is giving a detailed description of a serial killer, who just happens to be the driver. A struggle ensues and we get a cut to black. Lisa then wakes up in a tube with a fancy new watch, which displays a countdown, which signifies when the pipe is purged in fire. She’s then to traverse the tube and it’s hazards to escape, only to find that escape was never an option. Along the way she encounters the transfigured driver / serial killer from earlier and gives him his just desserts. Said hazards include things like barbed wire and acid – your typical Saw-esque traps, and finally a visit from her long-dead daughter. During all this an… alien? Robot? Hybrid of the two? Keeps appearing to either heal or deliver a coup-de-grace to Lisa, who keeps hovering between her two options.

We then reach the film’s climax – where reaching is staggering and climax is a disappointing conclusion.

As I mentioned earlier – escape was never an option, so after watching Lisa go through an hour’s worth of torture porn she hits what she thinks is the sky – and I mean literally hits, because it’s just a screen. The next thing we know, Lisa has been teleported to another planet (really) with her long-dead daughter where you get a line so cheesy and expected it makes you want to punch yourself or the screen right in the face.

“Did I die?” Lisa asks her daughter.

“Your body died many times,” her daughter replies.

“What do I have to do now?” Lisa asks,

“Live” replies her daughter.


At the end of all this, we still don’t know for sure whether Lisa was alive or dead – the murderer at the beginning did stab her so this could’ve all been purgatory, or some sort of coping mechanism. The alien/robot thing, we’ve no idea what it was, nor do we know what the creatures in the pipe was, or even what the pipe was. Was it all part of some scheme an alien with a superiority complex cooked up? Did her daughter get brought back to life? The attempt at ambiguity is simply frustrating.

Meander is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.

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Maleficent (2014)

“Maleficent” is a film that, against all odds, manages to be both a visual masterpiece and a decent retelling of a story we all thought we knew.



Maleficent ScreenDim Review

“Maleficent,” the film that dared to drag one of Disney’s most deliciously evil villains into the harsh light of protagonist glory, surprisingly doesn’t completely face-plant. Instead, it offers a twisted fairy tale that’s as visually stunning as it is begrudgingly engaging, despite its earnest attempts to soften a villain who was perfectly fine being terrifying.

Angelina Jolie, with cheekbones sharp enough to cut glass and a smirk that could freeze hell over, absolutely owns the role of Maleficent. She brings a depth to the character that the script barely deserves, turning a simple tale of revenge into a complex story of betrayal, heartache, and the kind of redemption arc you’d usually roll your eyes at—if anyone else were leading the charge. Jolie’s performance is so magnetic that it almost, almost makes you forget the film’s occasional lapses into saccharine territory.

The plot is as predictably Disney as getting a song stuck in your head: a young, innocent girl (Elle Fanning’s Aurora) is cursed by a not-so-wicked witch with a heart of not-quite-stone. The twist? The witch starts feeling maternal. Yes, the film takes our fearsome Maleficent and gives her a backstory that justifies her malevolence with a broken heart. Because heaven forbid a woman just wants to be evil without a sob story, right?

Yet, under the direction of Robert Stromberg, “Maleficent” shines when it least tries to adhere to the traditional fairytale narrative. Stromberg, wielding CGI like a kid in a virtual candy store, crafts a world so lush and vibrant that it feels like stepping into a dream. Or a high-budget video game. The creatures of the moors, from tiny flower pixies to massive tree warriors, are rendered with such loving detail that you can’t help but wish they had more screen time as opposed to the humans.

Supporting Jolie is a cast that does what they can with what they’re given. Fanning, as Aurora, is all wide-eyed innocence and benevolence, bringing a much-needed lightness to the shadowy moor that Maleficent calls home. Sharlto Copley, playing King Stefan, tackles his role with a scenery-chewing gusto that borders on the maniacal, serving as a stark reminder that no one does unhinged quite like he does.

The real scene-stealer, however, is the visuals. The cinematography is a feast for the eyes, with each shot framed to perfection, showcasing the fantastical world in all its glory. From the dark depths of Maleficent’s haunted forest to the sunlit beauty of the human kingdom, the film ensures that if you’re not entirely sold on the story, you’ll at least be busy gawking at the scenery.

Despite its flaws—like a script that sometimes reads like a motivational poster for misunderstood villains—“Maleficent” is undeniably entertaining. It takes a well-known story, adds a few twists, and spins it into something that, while not entirely new, is refreshingly different from the typical fairy tale fare. The music, composed by James Newton Howard, carries the emotional heft that the screenplay occasionally lacks, weaving a sonic tapestry that complements the film’s grandeur.

“Maleficent” is a film that, against all odds, manages to be both a visual masterpiece and a decent retelling of a story we all thought we knew. It takes a character who was once the epitome of unadulterated evil and turns her into something more nuanced, more complex, and, dare I say, likeable. It’s the sort of film that, despite your better judgment and your initial resistance, charms you into submission. So go ahead, give it a watch—just don’t blame me if you end up siding with the dark fairy over the sunny princess. It’s that kind of movie.

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Cruella (2021)



Cruella ScreenDim Review

As the credits rolled on “Cruella,” the latest attempt by Disney to turn villain backstory into box office gold, it became painfully clear that the studio might have finally jumped the sharkskin-covered, punk-styled bandwagon. This film, which endeavors to tell the origin story of Cruella de Vil, the fur-loving villainess from “101 Dalmatians,” manages to be both a visual spectacle and a narrative disaster—a paradox that not even the fabulous Emma Stone can reconcile.

Emma Stone, an actress known for her dynamic presence and ability to inject genuine emotion into her roles, takes on the dual identity of Estella and Cruella. Stone’s performance is, without a doubt, the highlight of the film. She delivers each line with a deliciously devilish panache that almost makes you forget the film’s many missteps. Almost. But even Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly might raise an eyebrow at the heavy-handed delivery of a script that feels more cobbled together than Cruella’s DIY punk ensemble.

Supporting Stone, we have Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry as Horace and Jasper, respectively. Their performances aim for comic relief but land somewhere between cartoonish slapstick and eye-rolling predictability. The chemistry among the trio is palpable, yet their talents are wasted on one-dimensional characterizations that give them little to do beyond chasing after their increasingly erratic leader.

Director Craig Gillespie, who previously gave us the sharply crafted “I, Tonya,” seems to have left his directorial acumen back at the ice rink. “Cruella” is a chaotic jumble of ideas that feels like someone threw darts at a board labeled “Things People Might Like” and just went with wherever they landed. We have slow-motion walks set to anachronistic rock anthems, montages of fashion design that scream for Instagram recognition, and a villainous turn by Emma Thompson that is so camp it should come with its own tent and sleeping bag.

Speaking of Thompson, she plays the Baroness, the fashion icon and primary antagonist, with as much icy disdain as the script allows. However, even her seasoned snarl cannot save the narrative from its own worst instincts, which include muddying its moral message with mixed signals about feminism, capitalism, and revenge. The film tries to paint Cruella as a misunderstood anti-heroine, using her tragic backstory to excuse increasingly questionable decisions. This reimagining might have worked if the film didn’t seem so confused about whether it wants its audience to root for or against her.

The plot, thin as the paper it was penned on, attempts to weave together a tale of betrayal, revenge, and haute couture. Yet, it fumbles each thread, leaving us with a tangled mess that not even a seasoned seamstress could salvage. We dart from one set piece to another, from raucous punk rock parties to stilted high-society galas, each scene vying to outdo the last in spectacle while the story’s coherence goes out the window like last season’s fashion.

The film’s one saving grace, if it can be called that, is its visual aesthetic. The costume design by Jenny Beavan (Yes, I actually looked it up) is nothing short of spectacular, offering a parade of outfits that will surely be replicated by cosplayers and Halloween enthusiasts for years to come. London’s grimy, gritty streets in the 1970s are rendered with a level of detail that provides a stark contrast to the glossy world of high fashion, making “Cruella” a treat for the eyes, if not for the mind.

And then there’s the music. Oh, the music. It seems no scene is complete without a rock anthem blaring in the background, each song selection as on-the-nose as the last. (Sympathy for the Devil, One Way or Another, These Boots are Made for Walkin’) While the tunes themselves are undeniable classics, their integration feels so forced and frequent that one might wonder if they stumbled into a particularly moody, fashion-forward music video rather than a feature film.

In the end, “Cruella” is a film that tries desperately to be all things to all people: a gritty origin story, a lavish costume drama, and a biting social commentary. Unfortunately, it succeeds at none of these. It’s a prequel that, like its protagonist’s signature black and white hair, is polarized between what it could be and what it actually is. One can’t help but feel that in trying to fill in the backstory of one of Disney’s most iconic villains, the filmmakers forgot to make her story compelling—or even coherent.

So, if you have an afternoon to kill and your only other option is watching paint dry, “Cruella” might just be the more colourful choice. Just don’t expect to walk away with anything more than a fervent wish that Disney might one day leave well enough alone and stop trying to humanise characters who were far more interesting as unapologetic villains. Better luck next heist, Disney.

Cruella (2021)
3 ScreenDim Score
“Cruella” is a film that tries desperately to be all things to all people: a gritty origin story, a lavish costume drama, and a biting social commentary. Unfortunately, it succeeds at none of these.

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Imaginary (2024)

The second half of the movie decides to opt for an expository dump that feels like reading the film’s Wikipedia plot summary out loud.



Imaginary Review

“Imaginary” (2024) kicks off with the potential to be the dark horse of psychological horror, only to gallop headfirst into a wall of clichés, transforming what could have been a sleek, shadowy steed into, well, a bit of a donkey show. This film, promising a sinister dive into the world of childhood fears and imaginary friends, unfortunately ends up as a guided tour through every horror movie trope the genre has ever coughed up.

The journey begins with Jessica, a children’s book author whose nightmares are about to leap off the page and into her real life, thanks to a stuffed bear named Chauncey. This isn’t your average teddy bear picnic; it’s more like a bear trap for any semblance of original storytelling. The setup has all the trappings of a classic horror flick: a new home with a creepy past, a child bonding a little too enthusiastically with an inanimate object, and night terrors that have more screen presence than the living characters.

For a moment, it’s like the film is building something genuinely spine-tingling—Jessica’s haunted past, Alice’s eerie new friend, and a series of disturbing events that suggest we’re in for a thrill. But just as you’re about to commend “Imaginary” for its daring, it veers off into the realm of the painfully predictable. The second half of the movie decides that subtlety is out of style and opts for an expository dump that feels like the cinematic equivalent of reading the film’s Wikipedia plot summary out loud.

Gloria, essentially the plot’s mouthpiece, might as well start with “Previously on ‘Imaginary'” for all the finesse she brings to the unfolding story. And as we’re dragged kicking and screaming into the Never Ever realm, you can’t help but wish you’d been left behind in the safety of the mundane world, where the scariest thing is the prospect of sitting through another horror cliché.

The film’s climax, intended to be a crescendo of fear and revelation, instead feels like being stuck on a merry-go-round that’s lost its charm. You’re just going in circles, past the same old horror scenery you’ve seen a thousand times before. The attempt to weave a complex narrative about childhood trauma, imagination, and family bonds ends up tangled in its own web, leaving viewers not so much scared as they are exasperated.

By the end, “Imaginary” doesn’t just jump the shark—it performs a lackluster somersault over a pool of every horror film it tries to emulate, landing with a splash that leaves you drenched in disappointment. The only thing scarier than the movie’s antagonist is the realization that you’ve spent 90 minutes waiting for a twist or turn that could redeem the whole endeavor, only to be left with the sinking feeling that the real horror was the missed potential along the way.

“Imaginary” could have been a mesmerizing exploration of the dark corners of our past that haunt us. Instead, it opts for a joyride through the amusement park of horror clichés, leaving us not with the exhilarating fear of a rollercoaster’s drop but the queasy regret of a ride on the teacups. The best thing about this movie was the fact that it ended.

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