Blair Russell’s review published on Letterboxd:
Who can take a sunrise (who can take a sunrise)
Sprinkle it with dew (sprinkle it with dew)
Cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two
For the record, I have seen the original Candyman before (the last time was two falls ago, which was reviewed here) and it's a pretty good tale from the early 90's revolving around urban decay in the infamous Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago and a heck of a legend in the title character. I haven't watched the sequels, which was perfect for this as while Candyman '21 is a direct sequel to Candyman '92 and the events of the latter are explained, what happened in the sequels is not canon here. It will still be helpful to have seen '92 before '21. This time the movie is led by Black people behind and in front of the camera-which of course is fine with me-and I was hoping for the best. Of course, by the time I was able to see this, all the hype had died down and more negative reviews were seen, both on the Letterboxd feed of who I follow and elsewhere.
Unfortunately, this was totally “meh” overall. Its biggest sin: how incredibly unsubtle it all was. While Jordan Peele was only a producer and one of the writers, this was totally a product of his and I believe why this is SO incredibly blunt & in your face. Also, to be unsubtle myself, the movie seems to be anti-white (all the honkies you see here are not portrayed well) and for certain it is ACAB. Some will definitely agree with such a viewpoint but remember when major movies weren't so divisive like this? I'll presume that the movie's tagline “Say My Name” is supposed to remind people of “Say Her Name”, the movement where Black female victims of police brutality is recognized. By now I'm starting to believe that it'd benefit Peele if he'd learn subtlety & restraint; it wasn't my main issue w/ Us although it was one of its problems. Feeling like I was being lectured to is not always great...
Even without the obvious agenda, I've often bemoaned pretentiousness in movies... well, this follows characters in the snooty art world so of course most were absolutely insufferable and this abounds with shrill characters. A shame this did not work for me like it did many others—it has a solid cast where some have already received acclaim for other roles but most were new to me, there was striking cinematography, a nice musical score and the most unique aspect of using shadow puppets to express certain scenes-not to mention the end credits. Of course, there's also nice gore for those that dig such things. Time is spent at first getting to know these characters... yet I sadly did not dig them.
An opinion that many do share is the third act and how it really ramps things up—to the point it seems like some scenes are missing, it feels different and more than once it just seemed poor or poorly done. The topic of gentrification in Cabrini Green (which changed from an urban decay neighborhood populated by poor minorities in '92 to it being demolished then it be populated by bougie people in fancy digs) is an interesting one and that was addressed here in a fine manner. Yet I wish I could have enjoyed this more—at least it was a nice feat for this to be the first number one at the box office movie directed by a Black female director, and Nia DaCosta is only 30 years old. It was something that the first time I shook my head or sighed was right at the opening logos, which were not only done in a unique way, it had a needle drop I couldn't believe was used.