Double Feature: The Platform (2019) & The Predator (2018)

As I took a few days off to get my mind back on track and figure out what needs to be written (because I basically forgot after Fantasia Festival), we’re back on the double feature! As we gear into October’s Halloween Horror month, I’m leaving some horror on Shudder for next month so we’re focusing on the rest of the alphabet with only Netflix choices and maybe some shortcuts along the way.

Picking up where we left off, its time for the P selection. The first is a Netflix movie called The Platform and paired with the fourth movie in the Predator franchise called The Predator. Let’s check it out!

The Platform (2019)

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Cast: Ivan Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale, Alexandra Masangkay, Zihara Llana

A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. One only food platform and two minutes per day to feed from up to down. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole. – IMDB

The Platform is a Netflix Original Spanish sci-fi horror film which works a lot like Snowpiercer where its moving horizontal through a train, this one moves in a vertical structure via a platform that passes from the top levels to the lowest levels. As a man gets trapped there, his conversation with his cellmate becomes one where he starts to notice the patterns and the system and wants to fight for a change to actually survive this ordeal. The backstory and mystery of why these people are there and how do they get out is all a key part to the story. Sure, the platform itself plays a big part as the people shift every while from one level to another so that they can experience the upper and lower levels and the ugly and selfish side of humans in the face of survival.

Netflix automatically started the movie in its dubbed English version for myself which was a decent experience. It would be interesting to watch it again in its original audio. Overall, The Platform is a pretty good film. It builds up on the mystery and the intensity of the situation pretty well and has a decent pacing and execution throughout.

The Predator (2018)

Director (and co-writer): Shane Black

Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey

When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled scientist can prevent the end of the human race. – IMDB

There are days I wonder why we just keep going back to making more and more of a franchise when it should’ve been left at the first movie. It sometimes feels like Predator is one of those situation, maybe because I’m also not a huge fan of this franchise in comparison to Alien franchise, I guess. Although, credit where its due, Predators (review) was a pretty fun one even though I think some people wasn’t a big fan. Back on track to this one, the story here is far-fetched and it runs rather off track the further it goes. The only thing that worked for it was the ragtag team and the twist of the concept of the predators end-game although the whole “twist” of what they wanted wasn’t exactly a twist but fairly obvious.

I don’t hate on this completely since I thought Olivia Munn’s character was fairly resourceful and there’s some familiar faces with Thomas Jane and Keegan-Michael Key, two people that I rather enjoy in movies. Then there’s the little boy played by Jacob Tremblay who right away is different but intelligent for his age. The characters do work rather well. Its a pity that the story gets a little odd especially when the Predator world starts showing up with alien pups which was supposed to add some humor which it kind of did at times especially with whatever it would fetch back.

Its a fairly flat experience. Its not good but not horrible either. There are some glaring issues with it for sure but then, the director definitely has a special place for this movie as it puts in some references to the original film (or at least a very obvious one).

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films?

Double Feature: Jigsaw (2017) & Jack Frost (1997)

Up next for double feature is the J selections!

Jigsaw (2017)

Jigsaw

Director: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig

Cast: Matt Passmore, Tobin Bell, Callum Keith Rennie, Hannah Emily Anderson, Cle Bennett, Laura Vandervoort, Paul Braunstein, Mandela Van Peebles, Brittany Allen, Josiah Black

Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one suspect: John Kramer, the man known as Jigsaw, who has been dead for over 10 years. –IMDB

Seven years after the seventh movie of this franchise, Jigsaw arrives. I’m not going to lie that I was a bit skeptical about how this could go considering that I found the last few movies of Saw a little bit meh. It still had some fun elements but it had a significant drop in horror value since the first Saw movie. To be honest, what is there to expect from Jigsaw? Its an attempt to revive the franchise and it picks up over 10 years after John Kramer is expected to be dead. For the most part, it does work pretty well and exceeded my expectations from it. It was a fun time with some decent traps and the whole twist at the end really comes together as its both a police chase and the game playing out together.

Jigsaw’s good bits are definitely in the escape room style and goes somewhat back to its roots. In this one, the group all start chained together and starts to realize that they all have some crime that has caused them to be in this position and its their way to admit those faults, whether they can get out or not is of course, pretty much set in the game. Each of these games as they move from one room to the next is a step more dangerous than the previous one and its a good structure. It brings in a lot of tension mostly from how each of these games play out because honestly, the outcome of these characters are fairly predictable for the most part. Plus, the gruesome and extremity of each trap is usually where movies in this franchise excel and this one is no exception.

The whole police section of the movie that plays as the outside factor of tracking these captured victims is a whole other level. It all dials down to figuring whether its Kramer behind all this as well as finding each of these victims and ends up where it all starts and cycles back into a twist as the story comes together. The story itself, especially the twist, was quite fun as a reveal. It became a little more apparent where it was going but then there was still a bit of surprise and cleverness which is always appreciated. Jigsaw was a fun comeback for the franchise and it’ll be interesting to see where they take it from here.

Jack Frost (1997)

jack frost

Director: Michael Cooney

Cast: Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Ellen Seeley, Rob LaBelle

After an accident that left murderer Jack Frost dead in genetic material the vengeful killer returns as a murderous snowman to exact his revenge on the man who sent him to be executed – IMDB 

I’ve been some pretty odd choices for Shudder, most of them being quite random. The J selections on Shudder is rather limited and it was between Jack Frost and another French horror that I’ve heard mostly bad things about so here we are, heading back to 1997 to watch the horror Jack Frost. This one is silly and low budget. There’s not a whole lot to be scared about and its not extreme or anything.

There’s a lot of overacting and a lot of it is really odd, especially in buying into a killer snowman deal. Sure, there’s a little more to it than that but still, its watching a snowman, cut to a puddle of water and then hear some sound effects of it moving into another area. The connection of water and snow all comes into play in its different forms and in that sense, it does make a snowman a pretty lethal deal if it can move like it does. At the same time, its a bit hard to buy into it since this is some guy who gets hit by some experimental acidic solution.

Luckily, the movie itself doesn’t seem to take itself very seriously as this is categorized as a horror comedy. The whole idea of it is being mostly entertainment and the so bad its good variety. Jack Frost is very bizarre and I’m not exactly a huge fan of it. It has its fun moments because of the obvious low budget and how its all executed. Its mostly pretty ridiculous in some of those plot points and how the people get killed which makes it all the more funnier, in the laughing at the movie way and not the having a lot of fun way.

That’s it for this double feature!
A good pick and a meh pick, right?
Have you seen either of these movies? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Child’s Play 3 (1991) & Child’s Play (2019)

Welcome to the second half of the Child’s Play double feature. If you missed the review of the first 2 movies, you can find it HERE. I’m know that I’m missing a few other movies between Child’s Play 3 and the 2019 remake/reboot (whatever you want to call it). Either way, this is the pairing that I’ve gone with. Let’s check it out!

Child’s Play 3 (1991)

Child's Play 3

Director: Jack Bender

Cast: Justin Whalin, Perrey Reeves, Jeremy Sylvers, Travis Fine, Dean Jacobson, Brad Dourif, Peter Haskell, Dakin Matthews, Andrew Robinson, Burke Byrnes

Chucky returns for revenge against Andy, the young boy who defeated him, and now a teenager living in a military academy. – IMDB

I’m not going to lie that Child’s Play 3 is the one in these four movies of the franchise that I feel is the foggiest as I’m writing this. In some ways, it feels also very similar to the first film mostly because Chucky employs the same schemes to try to get back his life. In reality, if there is anything to truly appreciate about Child’s Play is that its killer doll has one goal (or well, 2): to get back a human body and to track down Andy. In this one, he uses his same schemes towards another young boy but unlike before, Andy is now a teenager and uses every way he can once he finds out to protect the little boy.

Child’s Play 3 is okay. It is third in a franchise and changes the setting to the military academy. There’s still a lot of people that fall into the trap that Chucky presents. At the same time, it is also quite predictable to watch. In some ways, its pretty on par with the sequel however still lacking the quality of the first one. Perhaps, its just that the freshness of the killer doll elements is not changed around as much. Its really a question of whether Chucky will succeed in his ploys.

Child’s Play (2019)

Child's Play

Director: Lars Klevberg

Cast: Gabriel Bateman, Aubrey Plaza, Trent Redekop, Beatrice Kitsos, Ty Consiglio

A mother gives her 13-year-old son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature. – IMDB

As we get remakes and reboots of all the horror films of 80s and earlier, everything is just spilling back onto the scene and its a great time to revisit those original films, like in the case of this one where this 2019 remake was the reason that I even started watching Child’s Play in the first place. 2019 Child’s Play is very much set in the present as it turns Chucky into a corrupted AI turning him into a malicious killer doll. In concept, this is the way to translate this film into the current technology and times.  Its not quite as satisfying in goal especially since the malicious AI plot is done rather frequently in current horror or thriller films. What gave Child’s Play the edge of a voodoo and actual human soul transferred into a killer doll gives this one less purpose perhaps. I just wonder if there was no comparison of the original and we took this solely as a standalone film, would it have seemed better in the world of corrupted AI film.

The general expectation of a remake/reboot is that it will not be quite as good as its original. In the case of Child’s Play, its just too easy to figure out. Instead of having some well-built moments and some creepiness, here it falls into a lot of predictable jumpscares. It succeeds at startling momentarily sometimes but in terms of being scary, it just doesn’t quite get there. Its not a horrible movie though and still quite at par with the quality of the second and third movie.  Its a rather lackluster movie experience. There are pacing and execution issues. Although the AI element is done alright. Set in another circumstance, maybe it would have done better. 

That’s it for this double feature!
I feel like Child’s Play franchise (at least the four that I’ve watched so far) is not really my cup of tea. The first movie does well and then the next 3 are all pretty much at the same level of rather indifference

What are your thoughts on the Child’s Play franchise? What’s your favorite movie of this franchise?

Double Feature: Child’s Play (1988) & Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time is part one of a 2-part double feature of the same franchise. I know I’m missing a few films to complete the franchise but they aren’t currently available on any of the streaming services and I didn’t want to rent them. First up is the original 1988 Child’s Play and its direct sequel, Child’s Play 2. I’ve actually never seen Child’s Play so first time watch for this franchise. Let’s check it out!

Child’s Play (1988)

child's play

Director: Tom Holland

Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif, Dinah Manoff, Tommy Swerdlow, Jack Colvin, Neil Giuntoli, Alan Wilder

A single mother gives her son a much sought-after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer. – IMDB

As I go through the many horror franchises over the years and understand the horror movie genre a little bit better, its really great to finally see Child’s Play and see this killer doll called Chucky come to life. In fact, there is a lot to love about Child’s Play and while the effects themselves are very much 80s, the origins of how Chucky becomes the killer doll and the lore behind it as well as the whole bonding with a boy and manipulating him while killing still manages to add quite a bit of tension. It has a lot to do with how everything is rather well-executed.

Chucky has always been this very popular link to possibly the origins  of killer doll slashers (or one of..I’m not very well-versed in killer dolls). There are some interesting kill moments here and its creative to say the least. At the same time, Chucky is one of those villains which has an understandable revenge plan that links to the beginning and lets the audience in on the secret while watching the characters being deceived or misled or end up in bad situations. On that level, Chucky is a fairly smart villain and the backstory itself makes him legit. If you think about, Chucky’s kind of like if Pinocchio went bad except Chucky really just wants to get back into his human form to undo the voodoo ways he had to use to not die in the first place.

Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Child's Play 2

Director: John Lafia

Cast: Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter, Gerrit Graham, Christine Elise, Brad Dourif, Grace Zabriskie, Peter Haskell, Beth Grant, Greg Germann

While Andy’s mother is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, the young boy is placed in foster care, and Chucky, determined to claim Andy’s soul, is not far behind. – IMDB

I’m always a little wary on sequels nowadays, especially when it comes to long-winded franchises that started in the 80s. Child’s Play 2 picks up 2 years after after the events of the first movie. Andy is sent to foster care and while no one believes in the whole story about the killer doll, Chucky finds a way to get back to him after being revived at the Play Pals factory in an effort to relaunch the doll after the negative publicity. Of course, as the remains of Chucky is put back together so does the villain possessing it and it sets off once more to find Andy and capture his soul before he becomes one with the doll exterior. Its a bit of the same thing as the first movie just in that this one has a slightly older Andy who acknowledges the dangers and tries to save himself so the differences are still there in terms of plot.

It still is a decent watch if not a little familiar and predictable. However, the characters here and choosing to follow the plot from the first makes it feel grounded and believable. The logic behind Chucky and how long he has to capture Andy’s soul and how all that works is a bit blurry. At the same time, Chucky still has quite a few moments to find his ground and still is a pretty decent villain in the situation. The only issue with this film is just the familiarity of it. The final act was however quite decent as Andy finds an ally that believes him and it all goes back to a dangerous location for the finale but a fitting location as well.

Child’s Play 2 is not quite as strong as the first one but its still a decent sequel. It has a lot of good elements to it and still relatively well-executed.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen the Child’s Play franchise? Thoughts?
Part 2 of the Child’s Play double feature is coming up soon! 

Double Feature: Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) & What A Girl Wants (2003)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time is a rather female character driven combo with the Barden Bellas final hurrah in Pitch Perfect 3 and Amanda Bynes in What A Girl Wants. It seems like a decent pairing, don’t you think?

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

pitch perfect3

Director: Trish Sie

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Hailee Steinfeld, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, John Lithgow, Matt Lanter, Guy Burnet, DJ Khaled, Ruby Rose

Following their win at the world championship, the now separated Bellas reunite for one last singing competition at an overseas USO tour, but face a group who uses both instruments and voices. – IMDB

Pitch Perfect 3 has really just been riding on the success of its first film (review) but for myself, it feels pretty much like the Step Up franchise. In Pitch Perfect’s case, its all about the acappella musical elements and the charming cast of Bellas that come with it. Pitch Perfect 3 is a farewell movie and while the story itself is rather disposable as its yet another competition that they need to try to win but this time, its a little different because its about finding closure for all of the main players: Becca, Chloe, Amber, Amy as they move on with their lives from this family to each seeing those problems that make them who they are. Its a bit messy and brushed over quickly for all those involved, mostly because for most of them they never had tackled personal problems for these characters.

Looking at the cast here, which retains itself from the Barden Bellas of Pitch Perfect 2 (review) but as they exit their lives after university and the many struggles of finding their own identity and purpose after their success, each have their own path right from the start and of course, their own issues that make them want to go on this final hurrah for them to compete again together. In many ways, Becca has gone full circle from the beginning to the end of this film where she finally finds success in what she wanted at the start in some form but now its her loyalty to the Bellas that holds her back, a bit of a reverse situation. Bellas is a wonderful little group of friends as they are unique in their different ways and different backgrounds, nothing more apparent than in this one, even if it does piece it together oddly.

Of course, aside from the Bellas, we still have the supporting characters including the staple characters of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins characters who have that additional comedic relief. On top of that adding in some other talent from DJ Khaled playing himself and a few side characters with Matt Lanter as the Bellas military guide and something of a bodyguard. The other groups competing for that one spot include Ruby Rose playing the lead singer of Evermoist. I remember that year, Ruby Rose ended up in three different movie sequels which was pretty fantastic as I love her style even if the Bellas were the main focus here. Of course, you also had John Lithgow sporting an Australian accent as Amy’s dad who “isn’t a very nice man”(quoting the line she uses to describe him).

Overall, Pitch Perfect 3 is quite a mixed basket but the musical elements are still there if you like these movies. The Bellas are still quite fun to watch and they get themselves into some serious trouble and Amy really steps up. At the same time, Its the right time to wrap this whole thing up and they do it really well in the credits with what looks like bloopers and extras from the production of the three movies together which is a nice path down memory lane.

What A Girl Wants (2003)

what a girl wants

Director: Dennie Gordon

Cast: Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston, Eileen Atkins, Anna Chancellor, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver James, Christina Cole

An American teenager learns that her father is a wealthy British politician running for office. Although she is eager to find him, she realizes it could cause a scandal and cost him the election. – IMDB

If you put together a dash of Mamma Mia (review) and then adds in a dose of The Princess Diaries, you will get something like What A Girl Wants but maybe a little less refined. Rightfully so because this was movie before Lovewrecked (review) earlier than the movie that I knew Amanda Bynes from, She’s All That. However, it does feel that Amanda Bynes always has that same type of character that she played really well in the 2000s teen movies that just seemed to work for her. Along with that, she did have Colin Firth playing her father with does boost this movie a little despite its rather run of the mill story.

With that said, Amanda Bynes plays Daphne, an American teenager who ends up reaching out to his British wealthy politician father who doesn’t know he exists. While she doesn’t want to lose her unique personality and herself in this new world, she soon realizes that to exist in her father’s world, she may have to in this part fish out of water story as well with adapting to some of the British terms and upper class etiquette. Colin Firth playing her father actually is an opposite type of character who is more reserved and contains his feelings and affection as well but soon also shows the side of him that Daphne’s mother loved, especially as the whole secret of who broke apart her parents in the first place comes to light and a few secret motives, that are actually quite obvious reveals itself.

There’s not a whole lot to say about What A Girl Wants. For people who like Amanada Bynes, this should fit the bill as its an earlier roles of more popular roles like She’s The Man but its still very much her style of humor and acting. At the same time, there are some very predictable moments and the script isn’t that great but it has some fun moments and Amanda Bynes’ character Daphne has some good empowering characteristics that I did like. Some good, some bad, I’d say its somewhere in the middle: pretty much one to save for a rainy day.

Thats it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films?

Halloween Double Feature: The Purge: Anarchy (2014) & The Purge: Election Year (2016)

DOUBLEFEATURE (70)

Due to some changes, the second double feature got changed and I ended up moving up The Purge franchises second and third film, The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year, which has been a long overdue revisit to the franchise after watching the first film years ago. I liked The Purge relatively a lot but was a little skeptical on how sequels would work with it so lets see how these two sequels did *crossing my fingers that we are are getting closer to horror territory*.

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

The Purge: Anarchy

Director (and writer): James DeMonaco

Cast: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoe Soul, Jack Conley, Michael Kenneth Williams, LaKeith Stanfield

Three groups of people intertwine and are left stranded in the streets on Purge Night, trying to survive the chaos and violence that occurs. – IMDB

Arugably not as star-studded as the first movie The Purge (review) with Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, The Purge: Anarchy actually doesn’t have quite the same type of home invasion horror but rather changes into a downtown street level type of Purge as a few groups of people end up in the streets during the Purge night and ends up being saved by Sergeant, played by Frank Grillo. While it still have the chase element, the horror elements are rather less however retaining the Los Angeles location from the first movie.

The Purge: Anarchy is actually quite slow overall. There is action going on but it always feels like the pacing isn’t particularly great. Taking it to the streets is a good idea as that is where the danger is and makes the scope bigger onto the people and citizen and the different elements on a societal levels. It gives a depth to The Purge tradition and structure. That’s the part that does work for The Purge: Anarchy and makes this sequel work more.

Another big plus for The Purge: Anarchy definitely goes to Frank Grillo who lead a lot of this film as Sergeant who ends up taking care of the  two families that he ends up helping out while having his own agenda. Its a character that definitely was appreciated in this whole thing as it pulled together the human elements as well as the action elements which is great because he ends up also being there in the next film of The Purge franchise. Is it very horror scary? Not really, its more of the action thriller drama sort of deal with some horror in terms of being chased and hunted down.

The Purge: Election Year (2016)

The Purge: Election Year

Director (and writer): James DeMonaco

Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty  Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor

Former Police Sergeant Barnes becomes head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge. – IMDB

The Purge: Election Year takes another angle of the near-future world of where it takes place. This time showing the political angle of the this era as The Purge for the first time has no limits on who can be killed during The Purge, opening it up to the political figures as well. Taking it to another level of this world which adds some more depth from where the franchise has gone. Another link here is Frank Grillo, which reappears giving this a timeline of 2 years later from The Purge: Anarchy (and at one point refers to it) and now doing security detail for the opposition party leader, Charlie Roan.

The Purge: Election Year has a lot more horror as it shows a lot more “purging” moments around the city which has everything from beheading to hanging to lit up cars to crazy young adults and all kinds of things bloody. It adds to jumpscares and amplifies the whole purging experience (which the previous film lacked, in my opinion). At the same time, it also manages to balance out the action elements in the chase as they try to protect Charlie Roan from being caught by the opposing parties and the New Founding Fathers. It shows more of the unwritten rules during Purge Night as well as the secret organizations that are also against the Purge and the different goals they have. Most of all, now its about weapons and such with lots of gun fights and the likes but Frank Grillo also gets to show off some hand to hand combat and its a different pacing but adds to the variety of action here.

The downfall of The Purge: Election Year are some very disposable and annoying characters added in, like the over the top performances from the opposing guy which is a minister and seems like he’s a crazy person by the end. It was a bit over, just like the lit up car with the young girls, specifically the character of Kimmy which was just ridiculously over the top, out of her mind and got rather annoying. The crazy is supposed to be scary but I’m not quite sure it had that effect. Luckily, they do balance these smaller characters with some pretty good main characters from Charlie Roan (played by Elizabeth Mitchel) and Leo (Frank Grillo) paired with some fantastic characters that they meet from deli owner Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson) who does a great team with Leo and was one of the best performances here along with his employee, Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) who also added and the badass lady nicknamed Pequena Muerte, Laney Rucker who is also really great.

Overall, The Purge: Election Year does a good job. It still goes through a lot of the same motions of how these films are structured but the story does elevate itself each time a little more to give more depth from different angles and learn more about the society. This film kind of wraps up this whole Purge business so when the chance presents itself, its time to go back to the next film which is the prequel The First Purge of how it all started.

Halloween Double Feature #2 is done!
Are you a The Purge franchise fan? Thoughts? Which is your favorite film from this franchise?

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

Hobbs and Shaw

Director: David Leitch

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Eliana Sua, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano

Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity. – IMDB

The ninth film in the Fast and Furious franchises heads into a change in gear as it turns around to focus on what used to be two side characters that rose over the last few films: Luke Hobbs, appearing first in Fast Five and played by Dwayne Johnson and Deckard Shaw, who made his appearance as a cameo in the 6th part and was the baddie in the 7th. Hobbs and Shaw are definitely fan favorites despite not being in the leading roles in the previous films. Breaking free (mostly) from racing and heists, this one puts them on the other side of the table as they are recruited to retrieve a stolen virus suspected to be taken from Shaw’s MI-6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) when she only did it to prevent it from getting into the hands of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) but causing her to have a limited amount of time to take it out of her body before it kills her and the world. A true everyday hero story, right?

Its important to go into Fast and Furious films with rather simple expectations of being fulfilled by mindless entertainment. With Hobbs and Shaw, its expected also that it rides heavily on the love of these two characters specifically. The story takes the time to make this a little bit more of a personal adventure for the two as each of their families and backgrounds get revealed a little deeper from their family relationships, sibling rivalries and such. There are some absurd scenes and illogical moments but it all comes with the Fast and Furious title and is also expected. Hobbs and Shaw did everything that was expected of it, which is pretty good.

Except…Hobbs and Shaw also has a ton of flaws. Nothing about those expectations that were met but rather, in its polish of it all. For one, it runs quite long and in some parts does overstay its welcome. One of the main deals is that the Hobbs and Shaw insult sequences start off to be quite funny but as it happens over and over and over again, it does tend to be less so. At the same time, it also underuses a great villain role like Idris Elba which is like Terminator with a Transformer bike as Brixton Lore and yet, he never reaches the level of dangerous villain that would have been expected probably because of not so much screen time and most of it being caught in enhancements, chase scenes or fight scenes making his character fairly shallow (not sure if thats the right word to use here).

Talking about those fight scenes. On one hand, its great that everyone here has the ability to do the scenes and there is an attempt of keeping it a lot of close combat melee and such with props and whatnot. It has a nice angle with the finale which was a big one to say the least that had its great bits. When not in the chase scene or anything else, the big fight which was especially apparent compared to the previous scenes was the amount of cutting shots as the camera moves around too much, making the scenes less immersive to watch because there was no flow. It was honestly a bit too much with the size of the scene and amount of action going on.

Overall, Hobbs and Shaw is fairly on par with my expectations and also has elements that was slightly disappointing. Disappointment is a hard thing to get over with, possibly worse than a bad movie in general. Fact is, Hobbs and Shaw is still fun entertainment and it still has a lot of decent moments and funny one liners and comedic comebacks. The acting is alright and falls in character with these two characters especially and its hard to not love Hobbs and Shaw’s family like Shaw’s mother is played by Helen Mirren or especially Hobbs mother who commands her family by waving a flip flop around. Thing is, Hobbs and Shaw, if you look at it, is like a reboot of The Fast and the Furious but without the focus on cars and heists and yet for these two characters, its about family and two rivals finding friendship together right down to the romantic angle. It stays true to the values of the franchise, which is okay. At the same time, it does need some credit for bringing in some fun cameo roles like Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart for example.

Be sure to check out The Lambcast episode where I was guest on for a discussion/review of Hobbs and Shaw HERE.

Triple Feature: Jaws 2, Jaws 3 & Jaws: The Revenge

Welcome to the rarely seen Triple Feature! A little change in pace in things as the Jaws franchise being available on Netflix lead us to watching the sequels back to back to back. With that said, there are only so many words I can say about these sequels so I’m going to jump right in!

Jaws 2 (1978)

Jaws 2

Director: Jeannot Szwarc

Cast: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Joseph Mascolo, Mark Gruner, Ann Dusenberry, Barry Coe, Gary Springer, Donna Wilkes

Police chief Brody must protect the citizens of Amity after a second monstrous shark begins terrorizing the waters. – IMDB

In this sequel of Jaws, Jaws 2 takes us into a good time after the Jaws events (it can only be expected as the councilman doesn’t seem to care about it anymore). As the town has recuperated slightly and moves forward, Chief Brody yet again starts suspecting that there is another shark attacking and yet no one seem to believe him. Jaws 2 is a pretty good premise to start off and in general, executes the movie pretty well. While its not quite the character depth or sophistication of the first film, this sequel directed by Jeannot Szwarc is pretty much a decent success and a real thrill to watch for the majority of the time, with some exceptions character-wise.

Its great for one to see the sequel bringing back familiar faces and at the same time, still giving it the same location and Chief Brody’s family. This time it gets slightly more personal. With the first movie, Chief Brody becomes a more-fleshed out character and can now be diving into other aspects and this one, we see how he interacts as a parent and the heaviness he has for his duty to protect especially seemingly being the only person that has learned from the previous shark situation that happened and making precautions than everyone else. In that element, we don’t only get to see Chief Brody as different situations that the audience gets to see gets brought to his situation reinforcing his belief that there is a second shark haunting the waters while at the same time, there is a focus on his older son Mike who has gotten a liking for sailing with his other teenage friends as well as trying to show off to get a girl’s attention. As expected, these sailing trips will uncover and also be the focus of where trouble hits at a certain point and Brody ends up heading to the rescue despite his lack of knowledge of driving a boat.

To be fair, there’s a whole lot more of good here. There are some great shark attack moments and a decent build of tension. The story itself, while a bit predictable, still manages to be a fun shark movie to watch as it has a few tricks up its sleeve. The teenagers are mostly fun to watch. The one exception, which is my main complaint about the film, would be one of the girls is incredibly annoying to watch. Overall, its a decent sequel effect and one definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.

Jaws 3 (1983)

Jaws 3

Director: Joe Alves

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Simon MacCorkindale, Louis Gossett Jr., John Putch, Lea Thompson, P.H. Moriarty

The sons of police chief Brody must protect customers at a SeaWorld theme park after a thirty-five-foot shark becomes trapped in the park with them. – IMDB

Not sure how many years after the 2nd movie this takes place but Brody’s sons are already adults now. In this third movie, Jaws takes its set to SeaWorld. Jaws 3 is meant to be in 3D and for that, there are a lot of crappy, out-dated and forced 3D shots done that really makes it feel like its trying too hard. To be fair, Jaws 3 has a decent premise. Nothing is more at stakes than the idea of being trapped in an area with a shark and for that, the story does work. Its the execution here that has a lot of issues whether logically or just how the story spirals. There is a theme park element here as well as a mother shark seeking its baby element as well, put together while its a fairly commonly used outline, does have potential to be done well.

Jaws 3 does give us Dennis Quaid in one of his earlier roles where he also does take the lead as Mike Brody while Sean is played by John Putch, who at the time took up his first movie role in his career with this movie. Mike and his girlfriend Kay (played by Bess Armstrong) have a good deal of screen time as they play key roles in the park as the engineer and the biologist respectively. Their roles are portrayed well. While with any theme park movie, you always have the rich boss, Calvin Bouchard (played by Louis Gossett Jr.) who makes bad decisions that makes a lot of situations worse.

Its hard to say outside of the forced 3D elements here where things ultimately fail. Perhaps its because the story lacks enough depth to make it feel like a good shark movie. Maybe its the fact that we never learn enough about Mike or Sean Brody to make them characters that we care about before they are headed straight for danger. Or it could attribute to the fact that there are some close-ups of the shark attacks that make the shark extremely animatronic or robotic, just the opening and closing of the jaws itself. However, it has some nice points and that is the emphasis on the cleverness of dolphins and their instincts to save humans in times of danger during shark pursuits. Overall, Jaws 3 is many steps down from its former two films. There are good elements and a lot of flawed ones but I think one of the main issues is that the ending feeling is that its pretty much forgettable.

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Jaws The Revenge

Director: Joseph Sargent

Cast: Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, Karen Young, Michael Caine, Judith Barsi, Mitchell Anderson, Lynn Whitfield, Cedric Scott

Chief Brody’s widow believes that her family is deliberately being targeted by another shark in search of revenge. – IMDB

Jaws: The Revenge is the 4th instalment of the Jaws franchise. After Jaws 3, its hard to have too much hope about this one being better. Out of the original cast, Lorraine Gary returns as Chief Brody’s wife but as we can see, Chief Brody has passed on leaving her a widow. Adding salt to the wounds, Sean starts off the movie on Amity Island who has followed her father’s footsteps as a police officer and gets killed by a shark. Because of this loss, she ends up moving to Bahamas to live with Mike however the haunting fear of water and how sharks are out to get her family bothers her. Let’s first start this off by the fact that this script doesn’t seem to match with the previous one where Mike had mentioned how Sean doesn’t like to be on Amity Island which is why he didn’t study on the island so why did he go back? Then you think about what shark is revenging on her family because in our memory, every shark has died in the previous movie. Either way, just a few points to think about how the story in the beginning already has its plot holes.

Lets say that we look past that and accept for the way it is. There are still some annoyinh characters here from Lorraine Gray who overacts a bit. At the same time, Mike’s buddy, Jake is supposed to be a fun character but also stands close to the line into annoying as his dialogue feels very rinse and repeat. Theres a whole emphasis on the relationship between Mike and his wife which doesn’t seem to matter much other than give the movie some character building but then, Mike Brody has been a character in each of these films just at a different age. One thing that did bring my heart up a little is seeing Michael Caine here who brings some character to the film as a whole.

Jaws:The Revenge seems unnecessary and forced. The story doesn’t seem to flow with the previous film and then has this element of never giving intriguing characters. If this film didn’t take itself seriously, maybe I wouldn’t either and then at least there would be some fun.

That’s for this rare triple feature!
Have you seen any of the Jaws sequels before?

Double Feature: Star Trek: Beyond (2016) & Baby Driver (2017)

double feature

We are nearing the end of the year which means I’m going to try to get a lot of these backlogged movies reviewed. While I did write a review over on Weibo for Baby Driver already, I haven’t done one here and I’m not going to lie that Star Trek Beyond was a few months ago so its starting to get a little blurry.

Star Trek: Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim

The crew of the USS Enterprise explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy, who puts them, and everything the Federation stands for, to the test. –IMDB

After the last Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness (review), I had my reservations about this one. For one, the first and the second had this conflict in tone and humor. There was this narrative that worked but the villains felt underused or not quite as effective. Thinking back now, it felt like a fairly unsatisfying and forgettable movie experience save for some of the returning cast who had roles which were quite fun to watch. Star Trek Beyond however takes a different approach. It may have to do with the fact that Simon Pegg doesn’t only appear in the film but also does the writing for this one. It also helps that Justin Lin, a director that I like a lot in the Fast and Furious franchise takes the helms of this sequel. A lot of the factors makes this one such a fun and entertaining movie experience that reminds me a lot of the fun I had in the first Star Trek film.

Star Trek Beyond resumes the familiar roles. Its a good thing because for those who have been following the franchise, its a nice little team that we know the personality of. There is this well-oiled machine dynamic despite the issues they encounter. Everyone delivers it very well. I completely had forgotten that John Cho was in this as well especially since I had just seen him in Searching (when I saw this movie in August or something..Searching review here). Then of course, we have Anton Yelchin that is still such a huge loss in my heart because he is so incredibly talented. However, I think what deserves a mention here are the new additions. The first is the girl on the planet they land on called Jayla, played by Sofia Boutella who has such a fantastic character design appearance wise and her weapons and Sofia Boutella does a great job. On top of that, mostly unrecognizable except for his voice is Idris Elba who plays the villain, Krall. He still feels a little underused but the presence is very much there.

Baby Driver (2017)

baby driver

Director (and writer): Edgar Wright

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Lily James, Eiza Gonzalez, Kevin Spacey

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. – IMDB

Every once in a while we get a new gimmick and it works for some and doesn’t work for others. Baby Driver utilizes the constant soundtrack in Baby’s life to  work around it. It starts off fairly fun and charming, if a little odd especially when he turns on the wipers for no reason but to match the lyrics or sounds or something. There is a charm to it all. However, Baby Driver reminds us how sometimes soundtracks are used sparingly for a reason because it accentuates a scenes. As clever as the idea itself and how the execution works in some parts, it doesn’t translate to everything. There is no doubt that the soundtrack is really good, except I would have liked to not be overloaded with music so much.

Baby Driver

As charmed as I was with the use of music and soundtracks and how that was executed well enough, the story here is fairly basic. Its actually not even very fleshed out for any of the characters. Its almost like the gimmick is the reason for the whole thing. The action sequences are done pretty good though and the bombastic characters played by Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez and Jamie Foxx all are quite memorable. When things get dicey though, the characters are really just shells and the story is pretty much on rails following everything as expected and predicted.

Is it as awesome as it seems to be for a lot of people? For myself, I don’t really think its that well-rounded. There are aspects that stand out and as much as I like the music and cars and this one delivers two things I love, it somehow outlived its hype. Its not a bad idea and its a fun little experience but somehow it just lost its charm in the second half.

Sunday Lists: Resident Evil Franchise, Best to Worst

Video game adaptations is pretty huge. There aren’t a whole lot of successes but Resident Evil has been the franchise with quite the longevity. Whether you like Paul W.S. Anderson, are a gamer or a big fan of Mila Jovovich, Resident Evil has its appeal for some mindless entertainment especially in all its sequels. Being a fan of the franchise, I have my reasons to love everything that people may hate about it. While they have its flaws, the entertainment level is still there depending on the film. I’ll have a video game adaptations ranked or faves coming out soon as I build up on what I’ve seen.

Resident Evil (2002)

Resident Evil

The original Resident Evil is absolutely the best one out of these Resident Evil. Its a bit more slow burn and focuses more on horror than action while still having that balance and relates the most to the video game franchise that it is basing itself on. The sequence of events and the zombies and the transformation is the origin story of where it all began and how Mila Jovovich’s Alice starts. Of course, the starting point of Alice is really where the heart of this franchise lies and because of that, this takes top spot for creating this iconic female character with her one liners and her straight face. For some, it just seems like bad acting but over the franchise, its grown on me and I think it works so well with the character of Alice.

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) Review

resident evil retribution

It took a few movies to get back the  fun of Resident Evil franchise back in order. Something always felt a little off but the movie to pump me back up was Resident Evil: Retribution. At this point, it was pretty much an action film. Alice is a bad-ass female character with all the weaponry she has. In this one, she wakes up in a facility that she learns is a replica of a beautiful life and soon meets up with some characters from the video game which has taken too long to show up in the movie. Its fun little action romp with over the top action and one liners. Perfection it is not but entertaining as heck.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017) Review

Resident Evil the final chapter

The Final Chapter makes it here because of its wonderful coming together of important cast members but also because it wraps up all the loose ends from the entire franchise to end the story for Alice. There’s still a lot of action and some suspense and pays homage to some scenes from the first film. Alice is great to watch and the cast works really well. With that said, going back to where it all started makes a great deal of sense for film and its always been the strongest location for the setting and the Red Queen has always been the strongest villain even more than any massive size and oddly morphed zombies would ever be.

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

Resident Evil: Extinction

To be honest, I’ve always ranked this third installment and the fourth on something of the same spectrum. They both have obvious flaws but fill a different purpose to the story with some iconic characters from the video game franchise coming in play. However, Extinction benefits from a change in setting to the desert where it shows how the world has suffered from the outbreak at Raccoon City.  It sets up the devastation that has swept across the world and how the Umbrella Corporation under the wings of Chairman Wesker and the science mission they have to try to fix the world lead by Dr. Isaacs comes into play and forms their roles. There is a look at all sides of the situation. Alice is incredibly cool here with her motorcycle and meets up with some fun characters. Action and something of a feel-good zombie film for the most. There are some dialogue issues but its starting to shape to what the next few movies embody.

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

Resident Evil Afterlife

For almost the same reasons as Resident Evil: Extinction, I like this one. At this movie, I made a revelation that Alice’s outfits are almost as iconic as the entertainment value of the movie. Plus, its always impressive to see how extensive these mutated zombies can go. However, this movie doesn’t go so much into the zombies. This one is a fun one just because its the first movie after the first movie where Paul W.S. Anderson takes back the reins and we can really feel the tone that makes it very fun. At the same time, he seems to understand this gaming franchise so we see a lot more of the video game characters is. The story fits in with the direction the third set.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

The most forgettable of the live action franchise has to be the direct sequel of Resident Evil called Resident Evil Apocalypse. Alice is fantastic as always but the story itself felt forced and it lacked the entertainment value that the later movies that followed had. It seemed like they weren’t quite sure what direction to it.

Other Resident Evil films (not seen yet):

  • Resident Evil: Degeneration (animated 2008)
  • Resident Evil: Damnation (animated 2012)
  • Biohazard 4D-Executer (short film 2000)
  • Resident Evil: Vendetta (animated 2017)

Are you a fan of the Resident Evil franchise?
How would you rank this franchise from best to worst?