Posts Tagged Reviews

Movie Mayhem – A Quiet Place Part II

A Quiet Place Part II — Directed by John Krasinski; Starring Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cillian Murphy, and Djimon Hounsou

The anticipation is over. Originally slated to premiere nationwide in March 2020, A Quiet Place Part II, like the majority of other films in 2020, went the way of the year-long hiatus, hoping eventually, they could reap the benefits of our patience. Unlike other studios in the last few months, Paramount chose not to do a day-and-date release of the A Quiet Place sequel, choosing instead to do an exclusive theatrical run. This will be a gamble, as a lot of people are still hesitant to get back into theaters, but as the summer heats up, and we see the official start of the summer movie season, it will be interesting to see if more than just hardcore moviegoers believe this film is the one to get them back into the cineplex. If you are still on the fence on whether to wait for this to hit streaming, let me say that I do believe that A Quiet Place Part II is definitely worth the risk of heading back to theaters.

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Movie Mayhem – Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Spiral: From the Book of Saw — 2021; Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman; Starring Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Dan Petronijevic, Richard Zeppieri and Samuel L. Jackson

The Saw franchise did two things when it first launched with Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell stuck together in a filthy bathroom: 1) it launched what would eventually be termed the “torture porn” genre; and 2) it set itself apart from that same genre. As opposed to films like Hostel and The Devil’s Rejects, which killed for the sake of killing, Saw gave John Kramer (Tobin Bell), a strong motive for what he did to his victims. Though the franchise ultimately devolved into a state of torture porn, the original three films, and 2018s Jigsaw, highlighted how John, aka Jigsaw, gave his victims a chance to redeem themselves and live a better life. This doesn’t condone his methods, but at least there was a reason other than simple blood lust. Spiral: From the Book of Saw, attempts to expand the Saw universe with a story that tries to emulate the reason for killing its inevitable victims, but still borders a little too close to what makes torture porn itself such an uncomfortable genre.

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Movie Mayhem – The Mitchells vs. the Machines

The Mitchells vs. the Machines — 2021; Directed by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe; Starring the voices of Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric André, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett and Olivia Colman

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first saw the trailers for The LEGO Movie. Up until Phil Lord and Christopher Miller crafted a beautifully referential work where everything was awesome, the LEGO movie franchise had been relegated to straight-to-video and cable movies and shows that were good-natured fun for the kids but didn’t have much pop behind them. Lord and Miller followed this up as producers of several films, including the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, in which Lord was also a writer. With these, and many other films in the duo’s prolific list of film and television credits, they have mostly been in control of the narrative. With Netflix’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines, producers Lord and Miller take a bit of a back seat, providing the film with a good bit of clout, but ultimately handing over the majority of creative control to relative newcomers Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe.

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Chaos Movie Awards 2021

With all the studios halting production and theaters closing around the world for the majority of the year, one had to wonder if Hollywood would even have anything to award this year. Luckily, streaming had already made a big impact in the film industry (garnering over 24 nominations last year and a whopping 47 nominations this year, 34 by Netflix alone), so there was never going to be a complete absence of options to choose from when it came to new and exciting material.

I do have to say up front, I didn’t see a lot of the movies that were eventually nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so attempting to pick winners will be somewhat difficult for me this year. When did that stop anyone from trying, though. Below are my picks for who will and should win at this year’s Academy Awards, and as usual, a few of my own awards for other films I thought should be highlighted.

My Picks

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Movie Mayhem – Voyagers

Voyagers — 2021; Directed by Neil Burger; Starring Tye Sheridan, Lily Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead and Colin Farrell

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the… wait. Sorry. Wrong Voyager. This Voyagers is not about a team of explorers navigating the vastness of space, but instead a group of kids, manufactured and raised to take an 86-year journey to another planet that they know nothing about except for the fact that it has oxygen and water. These types of films always make me question why we, as a human race, are so arrogant as to believe these types of planets are uninhabited and ripe for the taking. Just because we once did the same in America does not make us entitled to expand to wherever we want – as if populating another planet won’t go horribly wrong, even if it is uninhabited by another thinking, feeling race of beings.

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Movie Mayhem – The Unholy

The Unholy — 2021; Directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos; Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, William Sadler, Katie Aselton, Cricket Brown, Christine Adams and Cary Elwes

When dealing in any genre, there are a typical set of rules that must be adhered to in order to create a story that everyone can easily follow, relate to, and understand. When done well, viewers generally will not notice this design; when done poorly, the model sticks out like a sore thumb. This is especially true in the supernatural horror genre, which is one of the easiest to emulate, but the hardest to appear original. There’s also a high expectation level for the effects, whether CGI or practical, to integrate seamlessly into the story so as not to hinder the overall enjoyment of what is usually a simple, routine story. In the case of The Unholy, the plot and character elements are all in tact as they should be, but some of the direction leaves many of the necessary scares wanting.

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Movie Mayhem – Nobody

Nobody — 2021; Directed by Ilya Naishuller; Starring Bob Odenkirk, Aleksey Serebryakov, Connie Nielson, Christopher Lloyd, RZA and Michael Ironside

When I first saw the trailer for Nobody, my first thought (as it was for probably many others) was that it was going to be a not-so-subtle mix of John Wick and Taken, with maybe a little bit of Falling Down thrown in for good measure. After all, based on the trailer, the movie was going to be about an ordinary man with extraordinary skills who finally snaps after living a fruitless, mundane life. Last week I reviewed Cosmic Sin, which I deemed too unimaginative to be anything more than a ripoff of a whole lot of different films. Does that mean Nobody was going to fall into that same trap? Fortunately, it doesn’t. Although the summary I wrote above isn’t too far off from the actual plot of the film, there is more going on here than simply retreading what’s come before.

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Movie Mayhem – Cosmic Sin

Cosmic Sin — 2021; Directed by Edward Drake; Starring Frank Grillo, Bruce Willis, Brandon Thomas Lee, Corey Large, C.J. Perry and Perrey Reeves

It has been a bit of a running joke that Bruce Willis has all but checked out. Not from acting, but from caring. Much like Nicolas Cage, Willis works feverishly, starring in multiple films every year that go straight to DVD, on-demand or streaming services. Unlike Cage, who puts every ounce of passion into each project no matter how horrible it ends up being, Willis tends to provide laid-back, tired performances that hint at his only being there for the paycheck.

This tendency for laziness doesn’t stop at actors. It’s also found in filmmakers, directors and of course writers. Just like an actors performance, if the writing is lazy, it can upset you, aggravate you. Not because the film was bad or you wasted a couple of hours on predictable, unimaginative drivel, but because you know there’s more there that could have been done and that there are plenty of people willing to work much harder to create a great product, despite whether or not it ultimately turns out a horrible mess. That’s what I see in Willis’s new film, Cosmic Sin, where it doesn’t seem anyone involved cared much about creating anything but a passable science-fiction facsimile.

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Movie Mayhem – Chaos Walking/Cherry

Chaos Walking — 2021; Directed by Doug Liman; Starring Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen and Demién Bachir
Cherry — 2021; Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo; Starring Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jeff Wahlberg and Jack Reynor

Not many knew of Tom Holland before he arrived on the scene as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Since then, Holland has become a household name, yet he hasn’t seen a whole lot of screen time outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and some voice-work in high-profile movies like Spies In Disguise and Onward. In every such case, Holland has built a reputation for playing nervous, geeky-tech kids who are more anxious about asking out the pretty girl in school than confronting the evil that wrecks havoc in his life. Chaos Walking and Cherry, two films that premiered over the last couple of weeks, give Holland a chance to break from that stereotype and prove that he has the chops to live outside of the fun-loving, nerdy persona.

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Movie Mayhem – Boogie

Boogie — 2021; Directed by Eddie Huang; Starring Taylor Takahashi, Taylour Paige, Pop Smoke, Pamelyn Chee, Perry Yung, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., and Mike Moh

When you think of sports movies, whether baseball, football, basketball, hockey or even golf, there is one word they all have in common — inspirational. Sports films deal in inspiration like a stockbroker deals in cash. A player learning a valuable lesson, a coach going through a mid-life crisis, or a team of misfits overcoming their insecurities to win the big game against the “better” athletes, it doesn’t matter; sports films make it their purpose to give those who are essentially broken a chance to prove themselves and become a winner. Unfortunately, the new sports drama Boogie plays into none of that, essentially stripping its story of anything inspirational and washing the whole thing in the sour nectar of gloom.

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