Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Lets just get this out of the way before we start, I have watched about 20 minutes total of any King Kong movie and I only have this image of him climbing the Empire State Building or Chrysler Building or something or another. But I love creature features and giant monsters interest me so this felt like it was right up my alley.

With that said, let’s check it out!

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Thomas Mann

A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden. – IMDB

Kong: Skull Island is pretty much my first visit into the King Kong universe and let me tell you, it was a thrilling as ever ride. Visually, King Kong and the Skull Crawlers and the other giant creatures here are amazing to look at. The location is also very beautiful which further emphasizes that the more beautiful the place is, the deadlier the creatures in it are. There are exceptions to the equation obviously but Kong: Skull Island is just beautiful to look at with its lush forests and mountains and waterways. Its really very pretty especially the first moment the team breaks through the layer of storm and enters into this paradise. Of course, the next moment turns into hell as their seismic things cause the king of the place to come and attack them and we soon learn, Kong is not the enemy.

Kong Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is quite the action adventure. There’s a lot of suspense as they learn about the truth on Skull Island and what makes its inhabitants fearful. Kong is really just the king and the protector of his land. However, just like any kingdom, other creatures want to take him down. Skull Crawlers are very competent as a villain in their serpent ways. In fact, if we were to talk about villains, humans are probably the darker ones here. Everything starts with John Goodman’s character Bill Randa and his assistant that asks to somewhat tag along to check this island before another country heads out there and discovers it before they do. Of course, they soon realize he has his suspicions that he’s kept hidden to himself and soon, they are caught up on this island and trying to make it to the retrieval spot before they are abandoned here. The teams are separated and each seem to have their own agenda. The mystery and suspense works very well to keep the movie well-paced especially since the unknown territory and villain contribute a huge part to wondering what the true danger is and how to protect themselves and escape.

Kong: Skull Island

The cast here is also pretty impressive. Of course, its hard to deny any of their talent here. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly all have outstanding performances in their filmography to back them up and they all delivered great performances in Kong: Skull Island. I honestly would love to see Tom Hiddleston as his character James Conrad here in more films. He’s pretty bad-ass and very smart. It feels like this character has more to be discovered. It feels like Brie Larson hasn’t had any action films to date, or at least I haven’t seen any of them if there are and somehow she fits very well in this story as a daring photo journalist who can carry her own. John C. Reilly brings a slight comedic value to the otherwise serious and tense situation as well as Thomas Mann’s character who jokes around quite a bit. If you talk about human villain, Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Preston Packard hits the extreme notes in Kong: Skull Island as a man who lets wanting to stand up for the men he lost hide his reason and judgement. In many ways, I can’t say that his character didn’t at some point remind me of the nostalgic moments with Deep Blue Sea. Its probably just me though.

Kong: Skull Island

There’s a lot to love about Kong: Skull Island. The characters are great, the setting is beautiful, the creature designs are done so impressively and the story is pretty decent as well, filled with suspense and adventure. There were quite a few mixed or lukewarm reviews throughout the year and it made me not too sure about where to place this especially since I have no previous visit into the King Kong universe so it turned out to be an awesome surprise.

Have you seen Kong: Skull Island? What did you think of it?

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Fast Convoy (2016)

Fast Convoy (2016)
original title: Le Convoi

Fast Convoy

Director: Frederic Schoendoerffer

Cast: Benoit Magimel, Reem Kherici, Tewfik Jallab, Mahdi Belemlih, Amir El Kacem, Leon Garel, Sofian Khammes, Foed Amara

A “go fast” convoy shipping a ton of cannabis Malaga in southern Spain is disrupted following a shoot out that results in the kidnapping of a tourist. – IMDB

Fast Convoy is a French action thriller that takes us on a road trip along side a 4 car convoy containing 7 men as they traverse from Spain to France in hopes of delivering the drugs to the Mahmoudis. With an array of different characters and a situation that quickly takes a turn for the worse after a well executed setup, this thriller keeps its intensity for the majority of the ride however its ending does leave a little to be desired alongside a somewhat convoluted plot.

Fast Convoy

Fast Convoy excels in several aspects. Its score is incredibly suitable for the thriller. Used in various parts, it gives a combined feeling of a James Bond film  and Speed film. It creates a sense of adventure simply with the score itself. Paired up with the hues used for their cinematography and the winding roads and locations, it is beautifully mesmerizing to be on this dangerous road trip even if it focuses more on the convoy. The cars focused here are also very nice which gives the chase scenes a lot of presence as the characters speed down the highway to their destination. This thriller is best looked at in three parts. Its first gives the audience an idea of the men involved in this business over the three cars cleverly switched over with their phone calls with each other highlighting not only their conflict but their personality as it often resulted into petty conversation which is often the comedic relief needed to cut the intensity that slowly builds not only between its characters but the situation. This leads to the second part where the bulk of the thriller is felt with the action and thrills truly take place between the cars as they aim to resolve the problem and get everyone and of course their expensive cargo to their destination and the team starts having their split views and worries about what is going to happen. Finally, the third part unfolds and pieces together the plot the whole time with the intensified final escape. The structure here works very well, in fact building the intrigue is what Fast Convoy does very well. The plot progresses at a decent pace however where it falls flat is how it chooses to wrap it up rendering the film slightly convoluted.

Fast Convoy

The strength of the film lies heavily on the characters of the seven men in the convoy. The cast here does an outstanding job in portraying the colors of the characters as each of their personalities vary and the pairings in these cars work to not only add some humor but through their conversations endear the audience to them. Some may appeal more than others but that is how it should be so that when the finale rolls in, there is someone that the audience is rooting for. While only playing the mysterious backup man Alex, Benoit Magimel is absolutely the standout role here with possibly the most experience in this cast as well. He brings the style and the action despite not having a lot of dialogue but still showing how clever he is. In the other cars, the leader Imad  (Tewfik Jallab) is paired up with a clueless driver Reda (Sofian Khammes) who dives into the somewhat sillier questions, for example engaging in a discussion about why there are grenades in their trunk and not in the front to help surprise attack anyone if needed which turns into a memorable hilarious moment. On the other hand, the other car  carries two men who clearly have the banter dialogue set for them. Yacine (Amir El Kacem) and Remi (Leon Garel) both are charming to watch as they seem in the most casual situation but also the most opposite in personality as their petty chat makes it feel unnecessary. While the film focuses on these seven men, they also add in an extra piece of the equation with seems a little unnecessary as the film progresses which has the right intention but not the perfect execution as they focus on talking about kidnapping a woman, Nadia (Reem Kherici) who does next to nothing in the film making her role rather pointless with the exception of a few parts.

Fast Convoy

Overall, Fast Convoy does a great job at executing an intense and gripping story that starts off with a great set-up and ramps up the pace as it goes along complimented by a great score to build the mood. The cast does an outstanding job of portraying its characters which each have their unique personality to make this convoy feel complete especially Benoit Magimel who delivers through and through. It uses casual conversation to build these characters cleverly but also not waiting too long to keep the action and thrills rolling in fast. Its main downfall is its lacklustre ending. However, Fast Convoy does offer up a great time with style and fast-paced action and for that, its well worth a watch.

Opening on VOD in US & CANADA Nationwide on Tuesday, December 5 on all major platforms including iTunes, Sony, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.

TV Binge: Once Upon a Time (Season 5, 2015)

Moving right along in the incredible attempt to catch up with Once Upon a Time, I wrapped up Season 5. Once Upon a Time continues to twists up some of the tales and puts together some interesting pairings which is one thing that I love the most about the show. Plus, after so many years, its hard to not love a lot of the characters. It also helps that last year I did end up going to visit the little town that its shot in in Vancouver and totally fangirled which makes seeing Storybrooke so much more personal (in my mind).

Once Upon a Time (Season 5, 2015)

once upon a time s5 poster

Creator: Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis

Cast: Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle, Jared Gilmore, Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Colin O’Donoghue, Emilie de Ravin, Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire, Liam Garrigan, Greg Germann

 Maybe its the fact that hopping back to this that I forgot how packed Once Upon a Time but Season 5 feels like there is a vast amount of characters that traverse the path in the few villains they do cross. As a little season 5 recap, the season picks up where the 4th ends with Emma taking the responsibility to be the Dark One and gets sent back to The Enchanted Forest. The rest of her family finds a way back and they eventually end up in Camelot where they meet King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. They have a secret to complete that involves the search for the Dark One. Somehow they get sent back to Storybrooke and Emma has lost the fight and has embraced has her dark side while wiping away everyone’s memory. A course of events sends Hook to the Underworld where they also follow and get trapped by Hades and confront some of their own people they have lost. When they do find a way back to Storybrooke, they get tricked and sent to The Land of Untold Stories where they meet the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think that about covers the general outline.

once upon a time s5

Season 5 is crazy packed as everyone embarks on a journey about their value and whether they are good and evil and being okay with who they are. Some extremities are taken which of course take a turn for a bad the lingers into the next season. Fairy tales are about happy endings and if Once Upon a Time has taught us anything, its that they are quite the rare occurrence in the show especially when it involves Regina and Emma. Being the Savior or a Villain both doesn’t give you the merit to have the happy ending. However, Season 5 may feel packed but its great to see the twists on these characters. In fact it expands on these characters as they also meet Merida and help her with her quest to become queen of Dunbroch.  We flash back to see Mulan and Red Riding Hood and Dorothy and their connection to everything. Of course, it wouldn’t be this show without Rumplestiltskin and his secrets along with trying to get back Belle which also sees a twist on her story and Gaston. Snow also once knew Hercules as well. We see some characters exit the show as well as the Underworld allows some characters to eventually either move on in a good or bad way. Thinking back to the season feels really busy but at times, that is what works to keep us on our toes and always learning that this world still has a lot to offer as they can breakaway from the fairy tales as well as take characters from classics. That is the magic of why I love Once Upon a Time.

once upon a time

The villain this season did have quite a spark. I have to say that in the few times that I’ve seen Greg Germann, he’s always been so fun to watch. This time, he plays Hades and not only does he resemble how Hades looked in Disney’s Hercules but he does take on that villainous role really well. Talking about villains, while I did enjoy the whole Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde bit, the way Mr. Hyde talked was so grating and annoying. If anything, that was the only thing I didn’t like about this season. Once Upon a Time also has these villains that are truly horrible and ruthless. However, they also have this story that gives them a moment of hope for redemption and its always that unknown of whether it will happen or not. Another point of why I do like Once Upon a Time a lot is dealing with the character development and this season may be busy but a lot of the characters had their moment to truly see their thoughts and things they haven’t been able to let go of and in many ways, they did embrace themselves.

once upon a time

Overall, Season 5 was a lot of fun. While you could argue that the huge amount of characters made the story very scattered, somehow it still works very well to keep it fun and adventurous to watch as our characters grew and truly embraced issues that bothered them and confronted their monsters both mentally and physically. A really nice collection of villains and heroes in Season 5 and I’m looking forward to watching Season 6.

Double Feature: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) & Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

And we’re back with another double feature!

This time its a Netflix  watch paired with a rental. We’re looking at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and Kubo and the Two Strings. I’ve been looking forward to watch these two so its nice to have them done and over with.

Let’s check it out!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)

teenage mutant ninja turtles out of the shadows

Director: Dave Green

Cast: Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Laura Linney, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Tyler Perry, Brian Tee, Brad Garrett

After facing Shredder, who has joined forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman and henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady to take over the world, the Turtles must confront an even greater nemesis: the notorious Krang. – IMDB 

If you missed my review of the first Teenage Mutant Teenage Turtles review, check it out HERE.

To be fair, if you didn’t read the review of the first movie, I enjoyed it as in I like the entertainment factor of it all. I’m always a fan of the shut off your brain and just go on the ride type of movie. Its also the reason why some of my favorite franchises that I’d gladly sit down to watch in the background is Resident Evil and Fast and the Furious. I even like most of the Transformers movies. With that said, I’m still a little iffy with Megan Fox as April O’Neill however, I’m a huge fan of Stephen Amell even after I am currently at least 2 seasons behind from Arrow. This one had a cast that I’m overall a little on the fence about since I don’t quite get the Tyler Perry hype as he’s never seemed to do anything I’ve liked (at least nothing off the top of my head). Now that I’ve laid out more than enough foundation, Out of the Shadows was pretty okay.

teenage mutant ninja turtles out of the shadows

It was definitely entertaining and action-packed. The story was pretty normal with nothing incredibly unique although I did like the fact they had the serum to make those villainous beasts which was the warthog and the rhino. I’ve always like their kind of odd humor of these films and for what it is, there are some pretty awkward moments but it still works to a certain level. To be honest, I liked the Stephen Amell and the turtle moments a lot. We always see the Turtles hiding away and for those of you into video games, Injustice 2 just launched them as superheroes in a way and I feel like this movie did a little something to make them known as the turtles who protect their city in the shadows like vigilantes which you know, is how most superheroes start out in origin stories.

With all that said, this is no masterpiece and I think I enjoyed the first movie more, however, there are some redeeming aspects here that made it worth my while. I like turning off my brain so I enjoyed it for its humor and its entertainment factor.

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

kubo and the two strings

Director: Travis Knight

Cast: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, Brenda Vaccaro

A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armour worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past. – IMDB

Kubo and the Two Strings had so much praise upon its release (and even before). Was it all completely merited? Maybe I wasn’t as big of a fan as a lot of people out there however, Kubo and the Two Strings is above everything incredibly charming. Its art and character design and the music are all so beautiful. The story is a tad generic however, the colors and the use Kubo’s magic was, for lack of a better word, magical. It was hard to not fall in love with everything on screen. Perhaps its the origami and the really nice use of the musical and storytelling elements of it all, I felt a bond with the story. However, the story did have a few pacing issues for myself.

kubo and the two strings

Aside from that, the standout of this was also the voice cast which included Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron both great actor and actress respectively and it might be the first time (at least that I’ve heard them) in animated films and only hearing their voices. The voice cast here was really nice with some impressive names. Aside from the two above, there was also Ralph Fiennes and Rooney Mara who both did a fantastic job as well in their more villainous roles.

Is it an incredible film? Maybe not. However, it is a beautiful film visually and artistically. For that, its absolutely worth a watch.

This wraps up the double feature!
Have you seen these movies?

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Aren’t we feeling like the youngsters? Haha! It seems Jigsaw was given up and Les Affames was also given up for this month’s movie at the theatres and I ended up heading out to see Thor: Ragnarok with my friend. I’ve mostly been on track with the MCU films with a few exceptions like Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Let’s check it out!

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

thor ragnarok

Director: Taika Waititi

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins

Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization. – IMDB

The MCU timeline has only gone through 2 years since the last we’ve seen Thor however, the previous movie, Thor: The Dark World has been four years. It is perhaps one of the first Marvel movies that I’ve gone in very blind. While Thor movies aren’t exactly very strong to the Marvel films, its always a fun time and its a very important factor of why I feel Marvel has been successful. Finding humor and blending it with a right amount of action helps form these characters and in Thor: Ragnarok, it is no different. The humor is fantastic especially with a lot of familiar faces and a few new ones. These blockbuster superhero movies have grown to be a norm to have incredibly long run times and it still is one of the criticisms I tend to have because it drags on in some parts however, Thor is also full of laugh out loud moments that it never falls flat for too long before it gets you immersed or simply having fun again.

Thor: Ragnarok

One of the best things about Marvel is that it knows that the fun in the movie, particularly in a blockbuster superhero film is simplicity. Sure, it takes a few turns here and there but everything works when its straightforward. There’s an issue then a dilemma then the superhero hits a snag that he or she needs to come back from and figure out a saving the planet or world or city solution. Nothing wrong with a little formula when you can get the tone right and the characters to be charming and engaging to watch. Thor: Ragnarok does all of that right and part it goes to having those engaging characters. Thor is always a joy to watch and with Loki being there as well, its always a fun time to watch their brotherly bickering even as they mock each other on their predictable characters. Being self aware is so important sometimes and that is the charm of it all.

Thor: Ragnarok

With that said, aside from Thor and Loki that Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are so fantastic as, the other characters all have their parts. Familiar faces go to Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Idris Elba as Heimdall. Making an appearance here and some very odd funny moments is The Hulk and of course, his human counterpart, Mark Ruffalo. All delivering on their roles very well. However, its great to see some other faces here as we learn a little more about Thor and Asgard’s history and of course the little sidetrack they make into The Grandmaster’s wastelands. The Grandmaster is played by Jeff Goldblum. Its been so long since I’ve seen Goldblum in anything but he takes on The Grandmaster with so much character in the most eccentric way. The awkward moments were the centre of a lot of the comedy here. A little younger in the cast was Tessa Thompson joining into the cast as Valkyrie who was a very different type of role than what she’s done in the past and I mean it in the best way. She’s a bad-ass lady and can definitely carry her own.

Thor Ragnarok

Its impossible to get through superhero movies without a mention of the villain. Except, Marvel movies have the fault of making incompetent villains who lack depth. Point exactly is that I can’t remember for the life of me what the name of the villain in The Dark World is. I think it starts with a “M” but all I remember was that he wasn’t really key to anything. Thor: Ragnarok is a little better mostly because Hella is the sister of Thor. She’s the secret of Asgard when Odin was much more ruthless. Nothing like sibling rivalry to get things heated up. Hella is played by Cate Blanchett and while a lot of her scenes were truly just amplifying how incredibly powerful she is, leaving it a little empty, its still Cate Blanchett and she is a fantastic actress that adds a little something to the role. Now, I’d be lying if her get-up didn’t remind me a little of Maleficent however, Hella is a dangerous villain all on her own, especially with a right hand man played by Karl Urban who never quite gets the depth in his character.

Overall, I have my criticisms about this movie but they feel a little like I’m nitpicking because Thor: Ragnarok is downright fun and packed with some cool action and awkward humor. Its villain is more competent and its humor is spot on and the characters are versatile and awesome. Thor: Ragnarok has its little issues and a lengthy runtime but it is my favorite Thor movie so far.

Have you seen Thor: Ragnarok?
Talking about lists, I’m definitely thinking of putting together a list of best to worst for the Marvel movies. Good idea?

Double Feature: Knight and Day (2010) & Bang Bang (2014)

Welcome to another double feature!

This time we have a deliberate pair-up. Knight and Day was released in 2010 and is a through and through Hollywood production with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. According to Rotten Tomatoes (and a few people that I mentioned to), it isn’t really that well received. Which makes it weird that it was turned into a Bollywood film in 2014 called Bang Bang! starring familiar faces like Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif, both of which I’ve seen movies of before. You’d think that I saw Knight and Day first but I actually saw Bang Bang first and then decided to give the original a shot to see how they compare.

Knight and Day (2010)

Knight and Day

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Jordi Molla, Viola Davis, Paul Dano

A young woman gets mixed up with a disgraced spy who is trying to clear his name. – IMDB

Knight and Day is pretty much and action comedy with hints of romance. Its a fun ride with some awkward moments. You can never fault Tom Cruise for not delivering on action but how can we be satiated when we have the last two Mission:Impossible, right? With that said, there seems to be forced dialogue and some things that don’t always flow well along with characters that try to be deep but never quite hit the potential. It might simply be the fact that Tom Cruise has always been a cool dude so when he is doing the passive thing or saying some sarcastic or some misplaced encouragement or whatnot to Cameron Diaz’s character June, there is the rare moment that it works but mostly, it doesn’t seem to fit the character too well or maybe its because its Tom Cruise and it doesn’t fit him. Always a danger of this happening when using huge stars.

Knight and Day also has some familiar faces like a cameo by Gal Gadot. Viola Davis is the Director who is the head of the good side, aka managing the spy and her mission is to catch Roy who has gone rogue. Then you have Paul Dano who is the nerd kid who invented a powerful something that everyone is after. Possibly, the most fun is in the final act particularly after a truth serum is used. Cameron Diaz has always been a hit and miss. For example, I didn’t like Bad Teacher but I love The Holiday.

Overall, I honestly don’t have much to say about Knight and Day. Its good for a watch and it was fun and entertaining but something didn’t feel right and the more I think about it, it might just be awkward dialogue and my not seeing Tom Cruise as this character.

Or it could be that I saw the remake first…

Bang Bang (2014)

bang bang

Director: Siddharth Anand

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Pavan Malhotra, Danny Denzongpa, Javed Jaffrey, Jimmy Shergill, Vikram Gokhale

A young bank receptionist gets mixed up with Rajveer Nanda, a man who has a mysterious background. – IMDB

Some of you know that with Netflix having more foreign films, I have opened up my world slightly and slowly to Bollywood films. They do take up a ton of time but its usually a decent experience so far. I am a fan of Hrithik Roshan since Dhoom 2 (review HERE). The man is like the whole package and some and in Bang Bang, he proves that he can also be almost like Tom Cruise. Knight and Day being a Bollywood remake is the perfect fit. The corny dialogue and the serious and fun but over the top action: it works here so well. The key here is that Bang Bang keeps a tone that is very light-hearted. To be honest, the Bollywood singing and dancing parts are used quite sparsely in comparison to other films so it makes it possibly even an easily entry point for those that feel less inclined because of these usually odd transitions. I always find Bollywood musical segments appealing to watch. This one is absolutely no exception especially because both Katrina Kaif and Hrithik Roshan got the moves.

Bang Bang only changes the story a little as in its stealing a diamond Kohinoor and that its a more personal affair than the original. At the same time, Bang Bang also remakes some of the scenes almost exactly the same. In fact, some of the dialogue is also incredibly similar. If you went into Bang Bang having already seen Knight and Day, a good at least 70% of this will look familiar. Bang Bang definitely does lack originality on that front. There is no denying it, especially in many scenes like the beach scenes where only the escape is different or how the attack was constructed. Same applies for the final scene that I loved so much in the original.

However, what Bang Bang makes up for is the charm that it has with Hrithik Roshan playing Rajveer and Katrina Kaif playing Harleen. Somehow, the music and dance and their personalities truly shine and match with this story. Its a much better fit for these characters. There is some cheesy moments but it also comes with the expectations and Bollywood films that I’ve seen tend to be structured in this way tonally. It just blends very well together with what this type of story tried to achieve. Of course, Indian cinema has changed now and there are horror films and other more dramatic entries and especially more action which is void of the whole Bollywood musical thing.

With that said, I like Bang Bang more than Knight and Day. I like Knight and Day for its finale whereas Bang Bang was much more of an overall experience.

Have you seen Knight and Day and/or Bang Bang?
Also, if you did see it, I made a little banner for this double feature. What do you think about it?

Fantasia Festival 2017: Bushwick (2017)

Bushwick (2017)

bushwick

Director: Cary Murnion & Jonathan Milott

Cast: Brittany Snow, Dave Bautista, Angelic Zambrana, Christian Navarro, Arturo Castro

When a Texas military force invades their Brooklyn neighborhood, 20-year-old Lucy and war veteran Stupe must depend on each other to survive. – IMDB

Bushwick sets in an intriguing scenario if the southern states would be persuaded by Texas to join in to overturn the government. Their plan is to use insurgence to forcefully takeover unwilling cities. Their next target to get the Northern states was to make a small city of Bushwick located in New York. As the insurgence starts, we fall on scene with Lucy, played by Brittany Snow on her way to her grandmother’s house to introduce her boyfriend. It doesn’t take long before they head out and realize that something is very wrong and separated from her boyfriend almost immediately from the start, she has to avert danger. Luckily, circumstances lead her to meet Stupe, an ex-Marine who knows everything she doesn’t about survival and has a few guns to protect as well and who reluctantly agrees to take her to her destination, while trying to figure out what actually is going on.

Bushwick is a tight and tense ride. While the subtext is the insurgence from the private military force which terrifies the city itself and is the centre of all the danger, the best part of it all is truly the unlikely team in Lucy and Stupe. Together, the character development here and how they bond together throughout the film which is really only set over a few hours was compelling and engaging. One of the best parts of Bushwick is how they chose to film it. It has somewhat of a found footage way even though it isn’t. The start of the film is the best example as they choose to begin using the angle of the helicopters scanning the city from above. However, the best parts is how it chooses to follow the characters. We never seem to follow them directly in back but in fact, it chooses to go watch their feet as they scurry from location to location. It creates a sense of suspense as the camera plays with what we can see and in turn allowing us to be shocked just as the character by the unknown situations ahead.

Lucy and Stupe are two very different people. In fact, the story focuses on their story while not making it too dramatic and keeping it with the action. In fact, it focuses more on the situation at hand and how they work together to get themselves out. Because of this, there may be a difference in tone throughout the movie. While it may seem to make us wonder how serious to take Bushwick, it is well-timed and particularly makes Lucy’s character more believable when she makes some silly decisions in the beginning that may end up having serious consequences. As the movie moves along, their character growth and the value of their team is what will keep it intriguing as they see what this insurgence has caused the people around them especially the reason why a small town like Bushwick was targetted. Brittany Snow and Dave Bautista pull out some of their best acting in this one and delivers two great performances.

Talking about the reason of why Bushwick is chosen make this film seems like an obvious social commentary of sorts. It reflects perhaps the disagreements and wars about the values and beliefs of Northern and Southern states in America. However, the more prominent one is the fact that Bushwick represents a lower class multicultural community which seems like they are disjointed because of that and make them an easier target. However, surprisingly the film takes a turn of how the city’s different groups each may react differently to the insurgence but still survival may just bring everyone together. Going deeper into the message this may convey will enter spoiler territory so we’ll refrain.

To be honest, Bushwick is an interesting premise and it does take the path of some contrived moments. There may even be some predictable happenings that are meant to shock however, it also succeeds in creating an engaging experience by delivering characters such as Lucy and Stupe that make us want to cheer for them to get out of this ordeal. There are quiet and dramatic moments to help see a deeper side of the characters as well as endearing bonding moments, added in with a few comedic moments to slice through the tension a little. All of these moments tie in very well together. There is no doubt in the end that this is meant to be taken with a serious tone and for the most part everything fits together for an action and suspenseful watch through Bushwick. Its not so much about the politics of it all as it is about survival. Just for the performances and the premise and setting, Bushwick is worth a watch.