THE OLD GUARD – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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For the first time in this summer of the plague year 2020, I’m not sorry to be missing all the big loud comic-book movies we’re being bombarded with in the non-pandemic alt-timeline. I like those movies — love them, mostly, even when they’re also exhausting — but they do tend to dominate the pop-culture conversation. With them off the radar this year, there’s room to breathe for a fantastic little pulp comic-book movie like The Old Guard, debuting on Netflix on Friday.

In fact, if we are ready to reconsider the superhero tentpole dynamic, flurries of explosive movies across different franchises all vying for our attention with their ever-expanding carnivals of spectacle, The Old Guard offers a blueprint: Get smaller. Give us metahumans, yes, but with more emphasis on the human than the meta. The immortal protagonists of The Old Guard are much more engaging and empathetic as people than comic-book stories onscreen often manage. The question “What would it be like to live forever?” has been asked plenty often before, but it’s baked into the story and the characters here in a way that feels as deeply authentic as such a fantastical premise can be. There’s nothing romantic — in any sense of the word — about never dying for this crew. It’s a lot of pain and loss and rage. Continue reading…

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Old Guard is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for July 10, 2020

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her AWFJ.org archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).