Powerful Women of FQ21

While I won’t be trying to cover all of the powerful women whose characters were part of movies I watched during Film Quest 2021, I wanted to highlight a few of them. I selected movies that are either lesser known or movies from years past that I just got around to seeing. My apologies to Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, and Natasha Romanov. Even though I really enjoyed Zack Snyder’s Justice League, The Suicide Squad, and Black Widow, this is the only time they’re referenced here.

MOXIE!

This movie had so many strong female performances, had such a good message, and was so well done that I’m surprised it’s not being talked about more. Through its lead, Hadley Robinson, it delved into the life of a teenager who starts an underground social movement to affect change, and the variety of ways other young women (and some young men) responded to it. I was surprised at how much depth the other characters got, especially with the runtime of less than 2 hours. It captured many aspects of the high school experience as adeptly as I’ve seen in recent years and hit on some significant issues while having some laughs along the way. It actually pairs quite nicely with a limited series on HBO called “Grand Army”, which dealt with quite a few of the same topics but in a much harsher, grittier way. I’d recommend both, but MOXIE is the type of movie I’d watch a couple more times and happily recommend to just about anyone.
My Rating: 90 out of 100

Okja

If I told you what OKJA was about, you’d potentially be less interested in seeing it. I know I had heard some hype about it being good, but then when I looked it up, I saw the movie poster and my interest deflated enough that it took a backseat to other movies. A couple years later, I find myself having seen it and totally willing to recommend it to others. If you’re someone who likes pets, all the better, because this film captures the relationship between a young woman and her pet in a really heart-warming way, and then goes to show the lengths she’ll go to protect it. It’s currently my 6th favorite film of 2021 and will very likely finish out the year in the Top 10.
My Rating: 88 out of 100

Kate

Japanese culture, both traditional and contemporary, have always intrigued me. So has Mary Elizabeth Winstead since her role as Ramona Flowers (in SCOTT PILGRIM Vs THE WORLD). So when I saw she was playing an assassin in Japan in the trailer for KATE, it was a no-brainer. This movie is absolutely not for those who might be squeamish about gore related to gun-play (and some knives, maybe a sword or two), but I loved it. Winstead tackles the action scenes superbly, especially because she is not just performing them, but she’s also portraying someone who is getting increasingly more ill due to having been poisoned in the movie’s first act. As someone who has watched professional wrestling for 30+ years, it’s always nice to see someone add the effects of the fictional injuries to their performance. Last year’s BIRDS OF PREY movie opened my eyes to just how great Winstead could be in gritty, bloody action movies, and KATE is just further proof that she is absolutely an action movie star.
My Rating: 87 out of 100

Jolt

In some ways, JOLT felt similar to KATE; a woman is highly skilled at inflicting pain and death and her mission involves climbing the ranks of baddies to reach the big bad to extract a measure of revenge. The premise, however, diverges into an interesting path: her body chemistry is such that she’s a powder keg of violence, which she self-regulates through use of a device that provides a literal “shock to the system” to help her calm down. Everyday common annoyances make it difficult for her to form lasting relationships, so when a promising new relationship ends with someone else killing the man she was falling for, she decides to take on the organized crime organization responsible. While I found myself enjoying this more than I expected and finding a surprising amount of quality strewn about, it’s still a bit difficult to believe that Kate Beckinsale plays the main character, as it seems like the role might be beneath her. In light of the Underworld film series having been finished 5 years ago, it’s not completely unbelievable that she’d be interested in this, which left enough on the table (perhaps unbelievably so, given the premise) for sequels. If there’s a JOLT 2: JOLT HARDER, I’m there for it. With or without what would be an epic tagline.
My Rating: 80 out of 100

Gunpowder Milkshake

An abundance of style, an overwhelming amount of gunplay, and a bit of “substance” strewn about, GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE is a wild ride that felt sooooo close to being amazing, and yet… wasn’t. There were plenty of great actresses proving that women can absolutely be badasses, with Karen Gillan continuing on what she has shown in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with the Jumanji movies, Lena Headey showing that she can be a tough opponent in ways she didn’t show in Game Of Thrones, and the trio of Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeow, and Angela Bassett were great together. The script felt like it could’ve maybe used another edit or two, with some scenes feeling like they could’ve used another take. Still, lots of fun to be had, plenty of great cinematography and set pieces to enjoy, great fight choreography, and it left me hoping for sequels.
My Rating: 80 out of 100

Guns Akimbo

Okay, so the main character of this movie is portrayed by Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, and his love interest in the film doesn’t have many lines – none of which are really of much substance at all – so why is GUNS AKIMBO on this list? Because Samara Weaving, in the role of Nix, is one of the most badass characters in a movie I’ve seen in years. She absolutely holds her own in a fight with anyone from Kate, Jolt, and Gunpowder Milkshake. In fact, she’s probably the main reason for watching this movie. She and Radcliffe work well together, and there’s enough humor mixed in with the ultra-violent, gory action sequences that, if you’re not squeamish, you’ll probably enjoy the movie. Definitely a popcorn flick with not much substance, but sometimes mindless entertainment is good.
My Rating: 70 out of 100

I Care A Lot

I did not care for this movie. A lot. But that’s the power of its lead, Rosamund Pike. She’s incredible in everything I’ve seen her in, even when she’s in a role like this one where you’re supposed to hate her. A lot. When I was approaching the end of this movie, I realized that I didn’t like any of the mostly well-written characters in the film, none of them really acting as a protagonist, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end, or how I would’ve wanted it to end. I’ve heard a lot of people online talk about not finishing the movie (despite glowing about Pike’s performance), and I can’t say that I blame them… although I always finish watching movies that I start. And I’m glad I did, because the ending kept me from completely hating it.
My Rating: 70 out of 100

Supergirl

I was a huge fan of Superman as a kid, and I’ve enjoyed each of the movies featuring him since then (even the ones which spawned social media movements to get directors cuts released), so why is it that I hadn’t seen the Supergirl movie from 1984 for 37 years? Because it was really bad. Its reputation is well deserved. Its plot was largely non-sensical, the characters really bland, and the special effects didn’t even measure up with the Christopher Reeve Superman films despite being created essentially at the same time. It’s easily one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.
My Rating: 40 out of 100

See You Yesterday

Okay, so not every great female character on this list has to be a gun-wielding badass. The main character in SEE YOU YESTERDAY is a bright young woman who has figured out time travel before even learning how to drive, and she attempts to use that power to help keep her brother from being killed. There’s some good social commentary in here about the interaction between police and minorities, and I like how it also serves to support the notion that females and minorities can be great at science, technology, engineering and math. The film itself was a bit unpolished and the script could be improved, but I enjoyed the ride, it had more substance than a few other movies on this list that I also enjoyed, and I would definitely recommend it.
My Rating: 84 out of 100

kid 90

I had heard that Hollywood has been rough for young performers, and that some terrible things have happened over the last 40 years, but never has it been presented to me in such a personal way as with KID 90. Soleil Moon Frye bravely collaborated on this documentary full of interviews and home video footage to show what life was like for the PUNKY BREWSTER star and her friends and peers. It was surprising how many of them died along the way, and it was brave of her to step forward and share her experiences, especially because she admits to some of her shortcomings along the way. Perhaps audiences younger (or significantly older) than myself won’t feel a connection to this film the way I did, as the actors and actresses discussed in this were the stars of the movies and tv shows aimed at my demographic at the time.
My Rating: 80 out of 100

Alita: Battle Angel

While I vaguely remember hearing about this film when it came to theaters a couple years ago, it was never high enough on my priority list to see it until it got questionably high ratings on my movie rating aggregation site, Half Popped Reviews. After watching it, I don’t know that I’d consider myself to be part of social media’s “#AlitaArmy”, but I am hoping for a sequel. This film reminded me a bit of the Mega Man video games I used to enjoy, mixed with some ROLLERBALL and some dystopian class warfare movies, and it blended it all nicely.
My Rating: 84 out of 100

Promising Young Woman

Each and every time I’ve seen a movie with Carey Mulligan she gives a fantastic performance, and this script gave her plenty with which to work! Working out her grief and seeking a measure of revenge, Carey’s character pretends to be naïve and walks the line of sanity while being a driven, highly effectual woman on a mission. I will be looking forward to seeing more of writer/director Emerald Fennell’s work, which I only recently realized was to include a comic book character absolutely deserving of her own movie, the Justice League Dark magician (sorceress?) Zatanna.
My Rating: 90 out of 100

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s