Not all movies should be series, and some series should just be one movie. Whether it be the story, the director, or the budget, there's always a difference between the first, last, and middle, and inevitably that's where the train gets derailed.
When Knives out was first displayed on my Prime video screen in 2019, I was startled by the wonderful cast, including Christopher Plummer and some other favorites. This was Plummer's last film before he died and apt too, spoiler ahead...He dies in this film, but with such panache, it's easy to remember why he was one of the greats. the subtleties of Knives Out were its an ode to unusual murder mysteries such as Clue. Although I would say Clue is not as subtle as Knives out in comedy. The film was directed by Rian Johnson who also directed its sequel or series next chapter, Glass onion. In this instance, Knives out is better, even though Johnson directs both and includes a stellar cast. There is something missing in the second film that the first film portrayed so well. However, by the time we get to the bottom of what "it" could be, we will be on our way into another mystery I'd wager.
Besides the amazing cast of Knives Out, and dark brooding scenes of scenic upstate NY or quaint towns nestled in Northern Virginia, the misty intrigue of an unusual murder, and the happenstance of a rich and altogether unusual family. Knives Out, brings so many turns in the story and special detail, it was like witnessing the back end of a Wes Anderson film. Think the Royal Tenenbaums meets The Adams family. In Knives Out the main Character Marta is plagued by the fact that she thinks she murdered her friend and she can't lie because she has a tendency to vomit. What a character, Marta is played by Ana de Armas. Arma's play's naivete very well. The stress involved in the movie is made up by her acting as well as the directing. Where to vomit, how to look when you are vomiting, the light shining through the window as she listens to detective Benoit. There are so many things I want to point out about this film, I could probably write a whole novel but instead, I'm just going to list them. They are in no particular order so nothing is better than the rest.
1. The play of light and dark: many scenes were juxtaposed with lighting, foggy morning, and a crisp walk-through, looking for clues. Candlelight birthday party and remembering the party chatter. Late morning screen light while Lucy watches a television show. Each scene brings light or darkness to the overall arc of the movie. Particularly the light shining through the laundromat where Fran sits dying.
2. Every character is perfection: besides the mains, Toni Collete, Micheal Shannon, and Jamie Lee Curtis are simply divine. Daniel Craig is also quite good, but safe to say his southern accent is equal to Dick Van Dyke doing a British accent.
3. The scenery of course adds tons of character although most of the film is shot indoors around the murder. Some of the shots and scenes felt very real, as if I was there rather then watching from afar. Most of the film was shot like an an interview and it was our job as the viewer to piece all the clues from each interview together, and here my friends is where the Glass Onion went horrible wrong..well in more ways than one.
There are many cracks in the sidewalk I hurdeled myself over while watching Glass Onion. Safe it say, they were all pretty large cracks and could not be unnoticed. So I'm just going to list.
1. There were too many characters who had no actual role and neither added to the overall story. The cast was phenomenal yet again, and worked pretty well with each other including, Daniel Craig, Janelle Monae and Edward Norton. However the actors and actress such as Katheryn Hahn and Leslie Odom Jr, were pretty boring. Dont get me wrong I love both of them, but Leslie brought little to the film and when I was peicing my own clues out in the beginning with him, he soon fell away from the story. True You still need many of the other characters to flesh out the mystery however, they were so over the top in their enthusiasm it felt very undeplayed in the end. Many of the twists that were so pungent in Knives Out were guessed in Glass Onion.
2. The theme of famous people going to a deserted fancy island in the middle of nowhere to drink wine and make fun of each other is a theme I would love to stop seeing. It felt like a Jersey shore a little and we all know Jersey shore stays at the shore. Knives out had it right in location, it felt like a cozy town for a good mystery. No one wants to read People magazine and read a good mystery while finding out the best new handbag for the spring. I know they were setting themselves apart from Knives out with this story, but its a little too far fetched to be real.
3. In Knives out Daniel Craig is a detective however Marta, does just enough as a would be detective that the two become almost Sherlock and Holmes. In glass Onion, neither Craig nor Monae work effortlessly together. They are both great actors regardless and the scenes where they do work well it is easily perceived. However that being said, it felt like Monae's character which is very naive and almost school marmie in the beginning takes on two many acting styles to cope with the fact, she's trying to act not like herself...which makes it even less believable than it is. Don't get me wrong here, its still good, just not what it should be.
I wish Glass Onion held up to Knives out, but its one of many in a long line of sequals and series that does not hold up. If I could make it better and take what I've written and say, 1. take out characters that do nothing or add more intrigue to their story so the bottom line holds something from each of them. and 2. The scenes in the film were vary flat and far fetched, I'd put in some morality to make it believable. 3. The glass onion relies heavily of miscomunication and misdirection, be useful with one or the other.
Below are my ratings for both
Knives Out (2019) Foggy morning intrigue 9.2 Social cues 89% Sounthern drawl 12/16
Book meter 📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚 (9.2)
Glass Onion (2022) Drink with umbrella ratio 5/10, Props 72%, crass 8
Island vibes 🌴🌴🌴🌴🌴🌴 (6)