Double Feature: Colossal (2016) & Flatliners (2017)

Time for a little non-Valentine’s Day double feature. Its been a little bit of an overloaded day. But I’m falling behind and really want to catch up. We can all take a little break from the marathon and on lovey-dovey films for a while. Plus, Colossal and Flatliners have been sitting for a week or two in my queue and I really wanted to get it out of the way. I am slowly also catching up with 2017 movies whenever they are available. Colossal is on Netflix so let’s check these two out!

Colossal (2016)

colossal

Director (and writer): Nacho Vigalondo

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson

Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon. – IMDB

I heard so many great things about Colossal before I sat down to watch it and still didn’t really know what it was all about. However, I’m a fan of Anne Hathaway and it looked pretty fun so here we are. Nacho Vigalondo is an odd director to say the least. He writes these scripts that go in one direction and then take a sudden change in direction, particularly in tone, super fast. I felt that way about Open Windows (review) and I feel that way about Colossal. However, Colossal is an pretty incredible movie. As I think about it more, the more I feel that this movie was done so well. In the beginning, Anne Hathaway’s Gloria is somewhat of a wreck and she meets Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis back in her hometown and they become friends along with a few of his buddies. Everything is fine and dandy as they get her settled in as she tries to rekindle her romance with Tim (Dan Stevens) to prove that she’s taking control of her own life. At the same time, they soon realize that there is a monster terrorizing Seoul and its one that has returned after many years before which she soon learns is linked to her.

Colossal relies a lot on surprising its audience with the unknown factors and taking it those twists it shows. As crazy as the ideas here are, it works really well together. The tone shift works to the advantage of the film. The main cast is truly focused on Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis and boy, do they deliver in spades. That is probably the best part of the film as we watch these two characters develop as the story unfolds. Its truly quite awesome! The uniqueness of the story and the elements it puts together is just pure fun.

Flatliners (2017)

flatliners

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland

Five medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife. – IMDB

Before I start, I guess its good to note that I haven’t seen the original yet therefore I have no comparison to how this remake or reboot or whatever you call it, is. With that said, Flatliners is one of those movies that makes you feel a little let down. On one hand, I’m pretty happy with the cast themselves. Ellen Page and Diego Luna should be a seller already. Add in some TV stardom from Nina Dobrev who is slowly moving into more films in 2017 with XXX: The Return of Xander Cage early in the year and some other films here and there before that, she just seems to need the right movie to show off that she’s more than Elena from The Vampire Diaries. The idea and concept behind Flatliners is a really neat idea. The idea of encountering death and facing something that shouldn’t be crossed as they treaded darker and darker into some kind of limbo as they tested the boundaries. It was all very clever in the beginning. And that is exactly the problem here, the plot dies out so fast. It just starts going downhill because the movie loses its objective and its momentum and seems to fall flat as the cycle of them reviving each other was pushing further to the boundaries but the cycle was always the same over and over again.

Flatliners seems to forget which genre it wants to embrace. On one hand, it has moments of thriller/horror elements but those never last long enough other than jump scares to make it feel very effective. The dark limbo world they go to worked for a while until it was very predictable to see what was going to happen next. The characters also didn’t have much development. Sure, there was a slight understanding of their personal dark secrets but its all very on the surface because the rest of the time when they were dying or reviving each other, they were drowning in their liberated mind drinking and partying with less and less clothes on. If thats what an added knowledge means, then maybe this experimental revelation might be a little wasted on this group of medical students.

I really wanted to like Flatliners and it started out pretty strong. I only wished it had managed to keep that momentum and develop their characters more. In general , it all dials down to their execution. This was quite the disappointing movie unfortunately.

Netflix A-Z: The Book of Life (2014)

I love animation.  Simply love it! Its probably one of my favorite genres.  Funnily enough, I’ve taken a long break from watching it. Who knew after the podcast for Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart over at David’s That Moment In, I started craving a little more.  If you missed that podcast, you can check it out HERE. When compiling the Netflix A-Z in this first round, the first letter on my list with B was The Book of Life.  I have no idea what it was about but it looks pretty so I added it right on. After my streak of a few bad movies, I was ready for something good.

Before we move on, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the comments in the first post for ATM introducing this segment! I was great! How many of you considered this one after (or before) the few hints I dropped in the comments? Did this one just go over your heads or did you suspect it could be this one?  I promise you I was very careful in making sure that each Netflix round will include lots of different genres! 😉

Let’s check it out!

The Book of Life (2014)

The Book of Life

Director: Jorge R. Gutierrez

Voice cast: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate Del Castillo, Ron Perlman, Ice Cube, Christina Applegate, Hector Elizondo

Some kids go on a school field trip to the museum.  Their tour guide takes them into a secret part and tells them a story from the Book of Life about the ruler of The Land of the Remembered, El Muerte and the ruler of The Land of the Forgotten, Xibalba who sets a wager that whoever wins will get to own the other’s land.  This wager was on three kids, Maria, Manolo and Joaquin and who Maria will choose to marry when she gets older.  After years of being apart, Maria returns home to find Manolo and Joaquin grown up and different however, the city is plagued by Chakal’s bandits.  Who will she choose to marry and who will win the wager?

The Book of Life

 The Book of Life kind of came and went out of theatres without me giving it much thought.  However, it do love folklores and sharp colors in animation so after remembering a few of the reviews, which are relatively positive if I remember correctly, I decided to give this a go. Its definitely not a disappointing animation.  I love the colorful visuals and every single set  in the story is absolutely lovely and wonderful.  The characters also have a lot of detail and I just can’t say enough for how awesome it looks. Whether its the Land of the living, remember or forgotten, they all have their own features that make them very appealing. Also, the music is very suitable and equally charming as the surroundings from rehashing some popular hits to having some nice guitar solos and whatnot.  It added a fun element to it.

The Book of Life

The characters and voice cast is done pretty well also.  Channing Tatum was an interesting choice for Joaquin because he doesn’t exactly have a Mexican accent or anything however he keeps the character dynamic and fun in an extremely macho way. While, Diego Luna who I’ve only ever seen in one movie before in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights so I can really picture him as Manolo.  While, I was a little worried about Zoe Saldana being Maria Posada but she turned out to be very good at encapturing the female character who wants to break out of the traditional woman mold and being a strong lady who can take care of herself and choose her future. Xibalba and La Muerte also was done very well especially playing off her other’s parts to make it flow.  However, my personal favorites are shots back to the kiddies going on the field trip that are placed skillfully throughout the telling of the story Manolo, Maria and Joaquin.  Those were some of the most hilarious parts. And the role that Ice Cube did for Candle Maker was awesome!! 😉

The Book of Life

However, while The Book of Life may have charming characters, great music and particularly enchantingly beautiful visuals, it lacked a little substance to the story.  Honestly, I found myself bored a few times.  It seemed like it was predictable and not particularly entertaining to watch the story unfold.  The only reason that had me continuing to watch this was because they built good characters and it was just too nice to not look at. I felt like there should be a few more laughs but those only did come in random parts with the kids on the field trip (as mentioned before) or Joaquin’s reaction (in a very Gaston manner, if you know what I mean). And the whole Land of the Remembered part was the best part because of the new characters introduced that were pretty funny as well.

The Book of Life could’ve had a better story but the visuals alone is worth a viewing.  It stays light and entertaining with a decent amount of laughs and more frequent as the movie progresses.  There is a certain charm to it that might just pull you in.

Have you seen The Book of Life? What did you think of it? 

C is coming up next.  Any guesses? Hint: Think an older movie in the early 2000s 😉

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)

Last August, I kicked off my  Recommendations month with Dirty Dancing.  I seriously regretted not ever seeing that one earlier.  It was my first viewing and it turned out to be so much fun.  You can check out my review HERE! This weekend, I decided to watch it while I was baking.  I love Patrick Swayze a lot even though he did most of his epic acting when I was really young.  Still, he’s a charming man and him as Johnny Castle makes me swoon.  So, i figured that I’d sit down to give Dirty Dancing: Havana Night a shot also.  My boyfriend kept telling me he heard it was really bad, but still, why not, right?

dirty dancing havana nights posterDirector: Guy Ferland

Cast: Diego Luna, Romola Garai, Sela Ward, John Slattery, Jonathan Jackson, January Jones

In 1950s, Katie (Romola Garai) moves with her parents (Sela Ward and John Slattery) and younger sister to Cuba as her father has been expatriated there for Ford. In the hotel where her and her family stays, she meets by chance a young teenage waiter, Javier (Diego Luna).  Later, on her way back from schoo, she sees him dancing among a group and starts talking to him.  After he escorts her home for her safety and gets seen, Javier ends up losing his job.  Afterwards, Katie learns that there is a dance contest that could win a lot of money and invites Javier to be her partner and win the contest so that he could take care of his family.  As they start to find their rhythm and style for the dance, they start to fall in love.

dirty dancing havana dance

I kept thinking Havana Nights was supposed to be a sequel but it isn’t because its set before Dirty Dancing was.  Then, I mean, it must be a remake but set in a different location and it wasn’t really that either and then well, its not even a prequel because they have an older Patrick Swayze in it (since it was made in 2004) and Dirty Dancing was in 1989 (if I’m not mistaken).  Either way, I don’t know what it is and even if its necessary.  Lets just say that, as I was getting pictures and stuff for this post, I realized that deep down I liked it more than I actually thought I did.  Its nothing phenomenal like Dirty Dancing but its not all bad.

ddhn dance

One good part of it was the Cuban music and the dancing.  I really liked those sequences a lot.  It was fun and sexy for the most part.  That was when the characters were elegant and cute and had a lot of chemistry. On the other hand with that said, it also means that I thought the story was choppy.  It was like, wait, huh? What happened? Now they’re together? When did that happen? It could be just being not being too involved in the first bit and then when they started the dancing, I started feeling more drawn to watch it.  Granted, they do have a lot of really cheesy parts and that comes to my second point.

dirty dancing hn dance

I’ve never seen Diego Luna before in anything but I have to hand it to you. He’s not handsome or attractive but he has a nice charm going on. I thought he was a much better actor than his partner played by Romola Garai.  It probably has to do with the fact that he’s the one that familiar with the culture they are exhibiting here, kind of.  I mean, at the very least, he has a Spanish accent (or what sounds like one).  And he has the dance style and what not that works for it. Romola Garai wasn’t as good.  She’s a pretty good dancer but her acting didn’t appeal to me as much.  It also didn’t help that their love story was a bit all over the place but like I said, the dancing and their chemistry together doing their sequences made it a lot better.

dirt dancing havana patrick swayze

Okay, I mentioned my third point already up there and that there is a small role for Patrick Swayze.  He’s not the young and charming Patrick Swayze that played Johnny Castle but hey, he can still bust a move and he’s still charismatic as ever. Seeing him in this, even for the little bits here and there made me a whole lot more interested 🙂

Overall, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is probably not a necessary non-remake/sequel/prequel but its an average movie.  It provides some well-choreographed dance sequences and some energetic Cuban music.  The young love really grows through their practice sequences.  The downfall is the choppy story and honestly, the ending kind of sucked.  No guarantees on this one its not one I’d exactly recommend but it provides decent entertainment when you have nothing else to watch and want some nice happy music 🙂

Have you seen Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights? Any thoughts? What do you think this is (or maybe you know) a remake or a prequel? Or maybe its just an excuse to drag in more audience?