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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

‘Abigail,’ ‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’ master fun cinema

Actor Henry Cavill attends the premiere of “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” at AMC Lincoln Square, Monday, April 15, 2024, in New York. Both “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” and “Abigail” succeed at being fun cinema. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

After a decade of multi-hundred million dollar budget superhero movies making up the cultural zeitgeist, the mid-budget is slowly making its comeback. 

Mid-budget movies have a budget between $10 million and $75 million. 

This weekend alone two mid-budget films released: “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” with a $60 million budget, and “Abigail,” with a $28 million budget, according to Variety

While neither film is a blockbuster or cinematic masterpiece, I was very excited to see these films hit the silver screen. Their releases show that studios are starting to realize there is actually an audience for non-serious, fun films.

“Abigail” follows a crew of hardened criminals who are tasked with kidnapping a young girl and holding her hostage until her family can pay a $50 million ransom. 

The film takes a weird spin when – spoilers here – Abigail morphs into her vampire alter ego and starts to slowly murder the crew who kidnapped her. 

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” follows a crew of criminals in World War II as they try to sink Nazi supply boats during a covert mission while avoiding capture from both British and Nazi soldiers. 

The film is based on a real story – allegedly the one that inspired the character of James Bond.

What both of these have in spades is character. 

Neither are filmmaking masterpieces, but they are both fun and certainly worth a watch.

“Abigail” is an epic turn on the slasher genre that is, at moments, laughably violent and over the top. Its cast does not portray real characters; rather, Alisha Weir’s Abigail is a wild ball of energy that manages to be full of terror and humor. Angus Cloud and Kevin Durand perfectly fill the role of the idiot criminals, while the leading Melissa Barrera comes off her “Scream” firing in tune with the exact amount of over-acting a film of this nature needs. 

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” blends “Deadpool”-like anti-heroism with the standard WWII mission film and creates a perfect weekday random Netflix click. 

Now, for some, this may be a diss. In my eyes, it is anything but. There needs to be fun movies, movies to watch when the serious and deeply academic classics simply don’t do. Why watch Bergman when Bruckheimer fits the mood?

Henry Cavill’s Gus March-Phillips is intelligent enough to make sure missions go according to plan but still has enough bad-guy energy to make the character have the necessary chaos. 

Eiza González’s Marjorie Stewart and Cary Elwes’ Brigadier Gubbins are solid side characters. González plays Stewart with a precise mix of bombshell beauty and secret agent smart, something the character desperately demands; Elwes hits the trope of the bold yet distant commander in the bull’s eye, mastering the art of ensuring a fun yet serious mission.

Neither of these films will break box office records, nor do I expect them to become huge cult classics. They simply aren’t that type of film. I have no expectation of either film being someone’s favorite. 

Still, they are perfectly enjoyable, which is exactly what they should be. There’s no way to sustain watching masterpiece after masterpiece. Instead, mix up your constant rewatch of “The Godfather” or your dive into Ozu with something fun and simple.

I think “Abigail” or “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” can do just that. 

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