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Four Short Reviews: Zendaya shines in ‘Challengers,’ Ryan Gosling excels in ‘The Fall Guy’

1. “Challengers”

“Challengers” (2024) is directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist. The film centers around three characters that have two things in common: their connected relationships and tennis. Zendaya plays Tashi Duncan, an elite tennis player turned coach. O’Connor plays Patrick Zweig, Tashi’s first boyfriend before she eventually marries Art Donaldson (Faist).

Patrick and Art used to be best friends before meeting Tashi. After Tashi ended her relationship with Patrick, tension and jealousy grew among all three parties until Tashi eventually married Art. This caused Patrick and Art’s friendship to crumble, resulting in the two never speaking or seeing each other for several years.

Years later in 2019, Tashi made Art play in a challenger event to regain his confidence after a recent losing streak. Tension rises when Art finds out that Patrick is his opponent in the event.

The idea for a movie like “Challengers” is not new, as there have been countless movies depicting love triangles from many different filmmakers. However, this movie is directed by Luca Guadagnino, so the audience is not going to see a standard love triangle drama. Instead, the audience is treated to a film filled to the brim with brilliant filmmaking and acting.

Zendaya, O’Connor and Faist are all incredible. Their characters are grounded and feel like believable people, but the standout is without a doubt Zendaya, who is given a lot to work with. It’s refreshing to see her receive recognition in a movie not a part of a multi-million dollar franchise like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or “Dune.”

It would not be shocking if people started calling her turn as Tashi her best performance in her career so far. She is phenomenal and bounces off O’Connor and Faist’s characters greatly. This movie would not work if any other actor played Tashi.

Another thing worth noting is the outstanding original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Reznor and Ross have collaborated with many directors, most notably with David Fincher. An issue that can arise, however, is their scores sounding too similar. In “Challengers,” the problem is obliterated. The score for the film is one of the most ambitious works they have ever done.

The camera movement and direction by Guadagnino are top-notch. The way he directs actors playing tennis is unique and engages the audience with what is happening. It feels like the audience is playing the sport as well.

“Challengers” has more reasons why it should be watched other than those three specific points. If it is playing in a local theater near you, please do yourself a favor and watch one of the best films of 2024.

Rating: 4/5

2. “Sasquatch Sunset”

“Sasquatch Sunset” (2024) is a surreal comedy film directed by Nathan and David Zellner. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Christophe Zajac-Denek and David Zellner as unnamed sasquatches. Its plot is pretty much nonexistent, following the four sasquatches as they try to connect with other sasquatch families over a lengthy time period.

A film like “Sasquatch Sunset” is an anomaly in and of itself. The film having two recognizable actors to play sasquatches, Eisenberg and Keough, is a great achievement. Other achievements are the makeup and costumes done for the sasquatches. The visuals are so well done that the audience is unable to tell which actor portrays each sasquatch.

The film also excels in making the audience feel uncomfortable and disgusted. The sasquatches do things that will make anyone watching hesitate in eating or drinking whatever refreshments they bought.

There is not much more to say about “Sasquatch Sunset,” other than it is a remarkable movie because of its existence and is not a bad movie. If you’re into sasquatches, then checking out this movie would be good for you.

Rating: 3/5

3. “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” (2024) is directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Henry Cavill, Alan Ritchson, Eiza González and Babs Olusanmokun. The action comedy film is based on Winston Churchill assembling a rag-tag group of mercenaries and outsiders to neutralize Adolf Hitler’s fleet of German U-boats during World War II.

The leader of this team is Gus March-Phillips (Cavill), whose performance is the best aspect of the movie. With this and his role in Matthew Vaughn’s “Argylle” (2024), Cavill has been pushing for roles that allow him to be free and have fun with the character he’s playing.

Cavill has so much charm and charisma with playing the character, bringing Gus to life. Unfortunately, that is the only thing this film did exceptionally well with. “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” felt like a watered-down version of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” (2009), and was an average action movie. The action sequences are fine but are nothing new or exciting.

None of the other cast members do a phenomenal job with their roles as well. It feels like this movie could have been better in the hands of another filmmaker. Ritchie is a good director, but his style for a story like this does not jell well.

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” is a standard movie at the end of the day. It has some moments of levity and a brilliant lead performance by Cavill, but nothing else. Maybe this film will please other movie-goers in a way it didn't for me.

Rating: 2.5/5

4. “The Fall Guy”

“The Fall Guy” (2024) is an action comedy film directed by David Leitch starring Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Winston Duke. The film is about a Hollywood stuntman named Colt Seavers (Gosling) as he tries to find an acclaimed movie star named Tom Ryder (Taylor-Johnson) while trying to get back with the love of his life, director Jody Moreno (Blunt).

This movie is the definition of a crowd-pleaser. It has a lot of heart and care put into its production and features many well-choreographed action and fight sequences. The film also has an amazing lead performance from Gosling, who kills it as Colt and makes the character extremely likable from the start.

The audience only wants one thing for him: to reconnect with Jody and for their relationship to prosper. Gosling perfectly plays the type of guy the audience loves seeing win in the end, making the Gosling casting choice an outstanding decision. 

Other performances like Blunt’s Jody and Taylor-Johnson’s Tom Ryder are also fun to watch on screen. The movie’s script gave all of the performers involved a chance to shine. A great example of this would be Duke’s performance as a character named Dan Tucker. He may not be as important to the plot, but his moments do not go unnoticed by the audience.

“The Fall Guy” is a great time, and a perfect movie to kick off the 2024 summer. If you are a fan of action and Gosling, go see this as soon as you can at a theater near you.

Rating: 3.5/5


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