Double Feature: Minions (2015) & Monster Trucks (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature!

I feels like a while since I’ve actually done one of these. If you’ve seen my What’s Up, I’ve actually seen quite a few films just never seemed to get time to write one up. Either way, I needed something light and fluffy so I went to the Family and Children part of Netflix and chose these two on two separate days. Maybe the stress and brain deadness helped me enjoy them more than I would normally would which puts it in a class of their own.

Either way, Minions and Monster Trucks were both movies on my list that I wanted to check out and I did. Let’s go!

Minions (2015)

Minions

Director: Kyle Balda & Pierre Coffin

Voice cast: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carrell, Pierre Coffin

Minions Stuart, Kevin, and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a supervillain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world. – IMDB

Minions have definitely made a name for themselves as the silly sidekicks in the Despicable Me movies. The biggest question when this movie was announced was whether they were able to carry a movie by themselves with their random gibberish talk and unknown past. Of course, Minions focuses on this point and gives them an origin story. Why not, right? Everyone is doing it and it seems that they are well-deserved especially since Penguins from Madagascar also got their own film just before (I think..don’t quote me on timeline of movie releases). With that said, while the origin story of Minions does feel a little odd and generic, they are still them. They offer a kind of entertainment that comes with the family entertainment category and works in the world of villains as they represent their group to find a worthy villain to follow and end up at Villain Con.

Minions

Its hard to not like Minions. To be honest, I started the movie without a lot of expectations. However, it did offer the entertainment I wanted but with a few surprises along the way such as the excellent voice cast they had for the other characters from Sandra Bullock’s Scarlet Overkill to her husband, Herb voiced by Jon Hamm. While I believe I had learned about those before the movie and I only remembered it when they appeared as they are the main villainous roles here, the big surprise for me was the voices of the Nelsons, a family of robbers that give them a lift to Villain Con where it was voiced by Allison Janney and Michael Keaton. They have such distinctive voices, especially Allison Janney that I knew right away it was her and just loved it. Since we’re on the topic of voice acting, Minions having their own film does highlight their mesh of languages from moments of French to Spanish and probably other ones that we personally don’t know.

Overall, Minions was an entertaining movie to say the least. Was it necessary? Probably not. I still like them more as the Despicable Me sidekicks characters. However, this movie did have a great voice cast for its other characters which gave it a fun touch which worked in its favor a whole bunch. But then, it could be because I like Sandra Bullock and Allison Janney a ton.

Monster Trucks (2016)

Monster Trucks

Director: Chris Wedge

Cast: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Holt McCallany

A young man working at a small town junkyard discovers and befriends a creature which feeds on oil being sought by a fracking company. – IMDB

Cheesy family entertainment is really what Monster Trucks is. Its pretty dumb when I think about it now but somehow, it still was a pretty fun little flick. Perhaps its because Jane Levy is pretty cool and I’ve enjoyed her films from Evil Dead (review) to Don’t Breathe (review) and its nice to see her not in something horrifying. The story in Monster Trucks is very simple and basic so great for some brain shut off time while keeping very much to the family entertainment as there isn’t any vulgar language or even a lot of romance for that part. The main focus was really on the creature here, simply named Creech by Lucas Till’s character, Tripp. Creech is something of an odd creature that flew out of a fracking operation as they discovered some oil-feeding creatures. There are your normal set of cast of characters as the big bad corporation sends out their meanest hencemen to hunt down Creech so to keep their operations going. There’s the scientist who has had enough of the crappy ways and wants to do good for these creatures. And of course, a little bit of teen romance as Jane Levy’s smart nerdy girl role, Meredith bonds with Tripp over the many adventures with Creech as they hide him out in the broken truck and he runs it with his many tentacles.

Monster Trucks

Among the action and chase sequences and over the top moments, the true treasure that I loved the best was definitely Creech. It was dorky and hilarious. While it couldn’t talk, it had so many expressions. It reminded me a lot of something like Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. The toothy smile and the fascination for doing adrenaline rush things along with its crazy stunts and having so much enjoyment out of it while scaring the heck out of Tripp. The movie was never in the control of Tripp or Meredith, it was all Creech’s show and its that unpredictability that makes this rather generic film have a little heart and quite a few laughs. Its always fun to learn about new creatures and their designs and that is what gives Monster Trucks its uniqueness.

Overall, no, Monster Trucks is not a masterpiece or maybe not even good in many aspects especially in its generic storyline. However, its creature Creech is the star of the show and along with some cute and clueless moments between some of the characters, it makes some harmless family entertainment with some laughs and simplicity.

That’s it for this week’s family themed double feature!
Have you seen Minions or Monster Trucks? Thoughts?

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Game Warp Podcast: The Cave – Review

And we are finally back on track.

Well, everything is kind of relative, right? The little detour because of our mostly technical (but other issues did occur) situation finally seems to have been caught up. We’re only about a week later than usual for the featured reviews and that is pure awesomeness in my mind at least.

With that said, 2013’s puzzle platformer The Cave, developed by Double Fine Productions was our March featured game. Its one that I dabbled in years ago in the demo and kept waiting for a discount and always forgot or just missed it. Whichever it was, I finally got to check it out.

In this podcast, we review it and discuss what works and what doesn’t.

Thanks for watching!

Have you played The Cave?
Subscribe to the channel if you enjoyed and not miss any of our future reviews & playthroughs or feature pieces!

Double Feature: F*&% the Prom (2017) & Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Back full power into the alphabetical train, the next two films in the double feature

F*&% the Prom (2017)

F The Prom

Director (and co-writer): Benny Fine

Cast: Danielle Campbell, Joel Courtney, Cameron Palatas, Meg DeLacy, Aidan Alexander, Michael Chey, Brendan Calton, Nicholle Tom, Jill Cimorelli, Madelaine Petsch

Maddy and Cole were inseparable friends until high school started and Maddy became the most popular girl on campus. When she starts feeling lonely and heartbroken, she reconnects with Cole and the duo conspire to destroy the ultimate teen popularity contest – the Prom. – IMDB

If it wasn’t for the sporadic releases of movies like The Edge of Seventeen (review), Easy A (review) and even The Duff (review), I’d have written off teen comedies in general. Netflix Originals in general have been fairly cool but when it comes to teen comedies, it seems they are not really finding the unique angle to take quite yet. I can’t remember the title of the last one I saw that was a disappointment..gimme a sec..#RealityHigh (review).

F the Prom

F the Prom is absolutely better than that one. It has hints of some of the older teen comedies but unfortunately, does fall flat and gets rather generic. You can’t shame it for at least doing like a Carrie style scene or having a ragtag team of bullied kids. The film is okay for what it is. There are some funny parts and I think Madeleine Petsch fits into the mean girl character (just like she is in Riverdale). I’m guessing this movie is more for this generation as it fits in a lot of social media and lets just say, I’ve been out of high school for almost 15 years now so to be honest, I laugh at some of the overexaggeration of say selfie-taking (since I always feel weird about it) and the emojis and whatnot. Either way, point is, F the Prom might have something and might have its demographic but its not for me and other than some little chuckle moments, I thought it was fairly generic.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

guardians of the galaxy vol.2

Director (and co-writer): James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel(voice), Bradley Cooper(voice),  Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Sean Gunn, Sylvestor Stallone

The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. – IMDB

Its really hard to not love the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 even when there are some of the normal downfalls I feel about MCU movies. For one, their soundtrack is fantastic and it remains that way in the sequel. On top of that, the ragtag team’s follow-up is one that shows them both bickering but also in the depths sees them forgiving towards each other in their stubbornest or dumbest moments. In fact, its because of their mishaps and their differences that give each of this team so much character and uniqueness and makes them both lovable and fun to watch. With that said, I don’t think in my limited film knowledge would I find so much joy in watching a little baby tree stump who only says three words over and over again. And not to sh*t talk Bradley Cooper but every time Rocket Raccoon talks, I forget that its Bradley Cooper and wonder who does such a great dynamic voice.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

Aside from the strength in the key characters, The Guardians along with some of the new additions to their team, we do also meet some cool characters and cameos. Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn, playing Yondu and his right hand man Kraglin, get a bigger role here and we learn more about The Ravagers. Alongside that arc, we also see a cameo from the awesome Sylvester Stallone. We love Stallone over here, so its always great to see him in all kinds of projects. He only had two scenes but its still really great. The Ravagers is something of a side arc while the main arc really goes to both the Guardians being chased down by the Sovereign, lead by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and Peter Quill’s father, Ego (Kurt Russell) showing up. I recently saw Elizabeth Debicki in Cloverfield Paradox (review) who was fairly decent. She’s alright in this one although to be fair, in terms of villains, Guardians still is quite lackluster as always, maybe its because we know our heroes are always going to be victorious. With that said, the Sovereign is an interesting galactic race to see especially when they battle like going to the arcades. On the other hand, Ego is a decent turn of events and introduces also the pretty funny Mantis (Pom Klementieff). The planet is beautiful and they have their own mystery as to what happens with it all.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun ride through the galaxy as we see the Guardians save the galaxy another time. This time, there are fun characters, Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone with some new funny additions like Pom Klementieff as Mantis. On top of it all, the best moments is absolutely with Rocket and Baby Groot who have some adorable moments especially when Baby Groot does a great dance around as the Guardians fight a interdimensional monster. Just from that first scene, it already sets a tone for what to expect in the rest of this action adventure.

Double Feature: Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (2017) & Equals (2015)

Time for the next double feature! I’m aiming for a double feature every week now! Exciting stuff, right? Yay to organization! As usual, these are quite alphabetical randomness. Deidra and Laney Rob a Train seemed like a fun movie and Equals seems like a more dramatic romantic thing. I’ve been having this desire to bring some justice to figuring out whether Bella is a bad character or whether its Kristen Stewart. You might see a few more of her movies popping up here as I try to find more of her movies depending on what Netflix has to offer obviously.

Let’s check it out!

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (2017)

deidra and laney rob a train

Director: Sydney Freeland

Cast: Ashleigh Murray, Rachel Crow, Myko Olivier, Tim Blake Nelson, Danielle Nicolet, David Sullivan, Sasheer Zamata

After their mother ends up in jail, two sisters turn to train robbery in order to support their family. –IMDB

Heist, coming of age and a rag tag family brings together Deidra & Laney Rob a Train. Its about sisterhood and high schools as much as surviving and sustaining their living conditions. In many ways, Deidra and Laney Rob a Train was a pleasant surprise. While it had some flaws, the film was a lot of fun to watch. Their inexperience and how their youth brings in some interesting choices for their props and such in their robberies. At the same time, their family consists of a mom who breaks down at the beginning. Their dad turns out to be this bad influence full of bad records which poses as a bad father figure and can lead to why they are pushed into a rather extreme way to try to keep up with their expenses for the sisters. At the same time, the sisters here also show maybe not enough of their sister relationship but does give each of them their own space for the characters to grow as Deidra prepares to head to college and Laney tries to find the confidence she needs to see herself in a different way and not get trampled on and looked over.

At the same time, being a heist/crime film, these girls’ train robbing days are interrupted by the appearance of a train investigator (or whatever his title is) Truman who starts sniffing around to figure out who the perpetrators are as he hunts around. While Truman is somewhat of a goofball, his appearance only emphasizes how we’ve bonded with Deidra and Laney and start feeling a sense of anxiety for whether Truman will catch up with them and what will happen when and if he does.

With a fair share of fun and ambition, along with some coming of age plots and family, Deidra and Laney Rob a Train is a nice Netflix Originals to catch. It definitely exceeded my expectations and hits a lot of the feel-good moments with some of the humor here which works pretty well. All in all, a very worthy movie to check out.

Equals (2015)

equals

Director: Drake Doremus

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart, David Selby, Guy Pearce, Jacki Weaver, Kate Lyn Sheil

In an emotionless utopia, two people fall in love when they regain their feelings from a mysterious disease, causing tensions between them and their society. – IMDB

It seems that my connection to both Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart performances are very one toned love stories, Warm Bodies and Twilight respectively. With that said, the story told here is something of a Romeo and Juliet forbidden love sort of scenario. The futuristic world achieves peace through eliminating emotions and feelings which are thought to be engineered between conception and birth so when someone has this, they have Switched-On Syndrome (aka SOS). Not surprisingly, Silas (Nicholas Hoult) and Nia (Kristen Stewart) both end up having different stages of SOS and are attracted to each other but need to hide it away. There’s a lot to like about Equals. The futuristic world and the idea of it works to a certain extent, the color palette in the scenes also complement to the mood a lot and then there’s the soundtrack that also works well, particularly in the scenes where Nia and Silas spend time together and embrace their feelings in secret.

However, there was a shred of weird sense as I watched Equals that something didn’t work and yet I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart was decent. They worked for the material provided to them. Although, there was a few scenes that Nicholas Hoult’s character felt odd in the beginning but did seem to grow on me as the movie moved along. Perhaps a portion of oddity had to do with the fact that this future had a lot of ignorance to make what seemed incredibly obvious between Silas and Nia especially as their feelings grew stronger and it feels slightly contrived. At the same time, the futuristic Romeo and Juliet does work except the ending felt like it wanted to be different but actually might have made it more predictable. Although, there is a supporting role with Guy Pearce and  personally like him a lot although his roles are usually not enough to show off his acting. Either way, I appreciated his role here.

Overall, Equals is an alright film. I have mixed feelings about it. Technically, cinematography, soundtrack and world building, it does such a great job but when it comes to the story, it is more generic which makes the characters and their acting also be reduced to more generic qualities. However, in the grand scheme of looking at Kristen Stewart works, this one is alright.

Moana (2016)

Its a lovely Sunday morning! Nothing like talking about some Disney! Today’s we look at 2016’s Disney film, Moana.

Moana (2016)

moana

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams

Voice Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches Moana’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the Demigod to set things right. – IMDB

The 2016 Disney film went to Moana. There was a lot of love for it because of its story and its strong female character and that this story isn’t the traditional princess finding a prince story but an independent girl following her destiny and saving her island. For all the above, I do like Moana a lot.

moana

 

Is Moana my favorite Disney movie? It isn’t. I can think of a few that are better crafted. However, it is a solid entry and a nice way for Disney to embrace the stronger women image. We had started seeing it in Frozen with Elsa and now at Moana, she truly is doing what she can without the added love story (like in Mulan). There is nothing wrong with love stories and for my own roots, I loved to see Mulan get its spot in Disney even if the story was never about love but about her courage, bravery for her family, much like Moana’s is. Seeing that Moana took the angle to simply avoid the love story angle and be about her getting over her obstacles was a really nice take. Moana also is colorful and visually appealing. It has to do with the warm setting and the vast open sea adventure that she takes. It still has the magical element which works well. In terms of characters, it also has of course, Dwayne Johnson who plays Maui, the demigod who caused all the problems in the first place and she has to find to fix it all. There are some cute sidekicks like the Moana pig and a silly one which is a weird and dumb chicken called Heihei. The grandmother plays the other role as an inspirational figure and something of a guiding light.

moana

 

Finally, a Disney film isn’t one without its musical elements. Moana definitely has a few fun and catchy songs. Our house is obsessed with You’re Welcome. The mention of it usually has that song stuck in our head for a while (guess what song is in my head now…). I can’t say that I love the soundtrack all that much though. It has some fun songs but nothing stuck a whole lot. But that might be because its so new and I haven’t watched it a ton of times. As nicely constructed and visually appealing as Moana is, its still somewhat of a good but not great experience. I love what its trying to do and it honestly all works together but somehow, I feel like its missing a certain grab for myself and I’m not completely sure why.

However, putting my own preferences aside, Moana is a well-crafted film. Its one that will have elements for both adults and children alike especially with its colorful environment and fun songs as well as its inspiring and silly characters, both human and animals. Its is a nice direction for Disney to take and I appreciate all of what it has achieved with Moana. Hopefully, we will be seeing more of these sort of films which help empower women characters and send them on some fun and adventurous quests.

Remy’s Dilemma by Andrew Snook

Remy’s Dilemma is another book that I picked up at Toronto Comicon last year. It has been sitting on my desk for a while in the TBR pile and I finally decided that it was time to start it.

Remy’s Dilemma
By: Andrew Snook

The world is coming to an end. That’s what Remy Delemme believes, anyways. While double-checking his lifelong to-do list to ensure he has led a rich life, he realizes he hasn’t come close to completing his goals. Panicked and short on time, Remy embarks on a chaotic road trip to complete the most important item on his bucket list – finding the answer to man’s greatest question. There’s just one problem. Detective Tobias Gray, the most respected criminal profiler in the Toronto Police Department, thinks Remy is a serial killer; and he’s not the only one who has come to that conclusion. Armed with a green crayon, smiley-faced stamp and a pack of cigarettes in a race against time, Remy carves a path of hilarious destruction, baffling and infuriating the police, his government and every other person he encounters. – Goodreads

From start to finish, Remy’s Dilemma is odd. Its so very odd. It all dials down to Remy’s character and all the things that happen around him that are both out of this world and unexpected. Sometimes it was purely nonsensical. However, while it did take a while to adapt to the oddities of the story, once you do, it is quite a mesmerizing read if not to just see what happens to Remy and how he manages to achieve his bucket list before the end of the world. To be honest, reading this book reminded me a bit of when I read Mailman by J. Robert Lennon.

Being in Canada all my life, its hard to not feel a little more connected to this book. The author Andrew Snook does a great job at setting up this alternate reality or maybe a future scenario of Canada being broken down where the province of Quebec has finally broken apart from Canada and turned into their own countries. Only those quite familiar with the situation will feel the connections of it all which somewhat adds on to the absurdities of what this book gives to the readers, especially when you consider that his lifelong to-do list might seem quite normal but then he manages to tick off a few of these boxes on his little road trip and for a few categories multiple times. The structure of the book follows both Remy and Detective Tobias Gray both having their own ways of measuring their progress be in figuring out the suspect or getting closer to doing everything on the bucket list.

As silly and as crazy as this road trip with Remy becomes, the story never forgets to shed a little bit of a deeper light on its main character. As the story pulls to the ending, we start seeing something of a glimpse of what perhaps motivates Remy even if it is in somewhat of an unrealistic way. Why would this be realistic when almost everything else that has happened to him also is quite unrealistic and fairly nonsensical. Remy is a very colorful character full of weird decisions and its almost like he’s the guy who walks around and explosions follow him in those CGI heavy movies. Of course, while Remy is an intriguing character, the book is full of other characters like Tobias Gray who also has quite some depth to his character and brings some more serious vibes to the story. However, the story is also scatter with this cameos of characters that Remy encounters that all have their entertaining aspects.

Remy’s Dilemma takes a little getting used to its oddities at the start but it is also these oddities that escalate during the story that makes it a page-turner. Its a fast read. However, its setting might prove to be a little more welcoming to Canadians (particularly living in Ontario and Quebec). However, the geographic story doesn’t quite make that much of a difference here as the characters and scenarios more than makes up for all the entertaining elements. I can’t help to think that Remy’s Dilemma might not be for everyone as it is a rather dark humor sort of story and humor is quite subjective to everyone.

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?