What’s Up – Week 20: New Things, Old Things and Catching Up

20 weeks into 2019 already! Spring is finally showing its face and as I go out to do more things, some of these bits might get slowed down a little bit. Its still a little too early to know but I’ve been transitioning between different elements of life and somewhat swapping my routine a little. As some TV series also winds down, I’m thinning it out a little to try to get some extensive backlog out of the way. It won’t reflect here but gradually, as Montreal events start coming into play as well.

READING

crossline

Currently reading: Crossline by Russ Colchamiro

I’ve been getting hit with some spring fatigue so I’m still reading Crossline at a very turtle pace, which needs to be remedied because I have another book lined up that needs to get started by the end of next week. Crossline is pretty good but I’ve been also watching movies with similar themes that I’m not sure if I’m getting an overdose of sci-fi. Keeping an open mind and I’m only slightly past the quarter mark in the book so its just the set-up phase done and things are started to unravel.

PLAYING

The Witness

Currently playing: The Witness

For a moment, I honestly thought this week would be no gaming at all except maybe some mobile game titles to fill up some space here. Those are going well but I like to keep it a little mysterious for the mobile games roundup segment. However, the husband started up The Witness last night and we played a few puzzles together, which was pretty cool. I’m probably going to start it up on my own also and play some of the puzzles also.

WATCHING

  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)
  • Europa Report (2013) – rewatch – Review

I’m not going to lie that this list kind of probably should add in rewatching Jaws 2, 3 and The Revenge to refresh my memory for the Triple feature HERE. However, I won’t because I honestly just played it in the background to remind of the story and dialogue and wasn’t actually looking at the screen. So we are left with two films. One is a rewatch for an upcoming podcast which is Europa Report, a little found footage-esque sci-fi film. Trying to get things done in advance is always a good thing. And as I’m still a tad behind on the double features, I’m also trying to save up some more movies gradually and moved onto the M selection. I’m using a general of movies in my list that are rated badly but still I would like to watch so I ended up checking out The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I love Shadowhunters, the TV series thats in its last season (if it hasn’t already ended) so seeing how the movie interpretation would be. I’ll share my thoughts on it in the double feature but lets just say, when the background world or lore is too heavy, its hard to just rally it all up in 2 hours and hope that its not convoluted.

BINGING

Put Your Head On My Shoulder

  • Dream Space (Season 1, 2019)
  • Put Your Head On My Shoulder (2019)

Currently binging: Le Coup de Foudre, Go Fridge (Season 5), Great Escape, Produce Camp 2019, Nailed It (Season 3)

Two TV series done this week. I’m feeling quite accomplished. One of them is a Chinese social variety show called Dream Space which is something like a matchmaking show which takes a look at romance and opening up a space for single women and men to focus solely on their romantic sides for a few days. I’ll write about this variety show even if I don’t for others because its worth it. I have a few thoughts on this one and they are having a season 2 already getting new candidates so I’m pretty excited to see how it changes. As for dramas, Put Your Head On My Shoulder wrapped up as well and its a nice little dose of cuteness along the line of the A Love So Beautiful universe and they make a point at the final episodes to address that to clear up some of the suspicion that people have been having. More on that in the TV binge at some point….

Most of the things currently binging is still very much the same. The only new addition is Nailed It which released its Season 3 on Friday. Because there were too many other stuff to take care of, its probably one of the first seasons that I didn’t finish it in the first weekend but we’re about 6 episodes in so its not a whole lot left to watch but its still very fun. The only other one I want to talk about is Great Escape which is heading into some more intense escape room experiences and its getting very intriguing to say the least.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

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Double Feature: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016) & Life (2017)

Next double feature comes at us with nothing too in common. For the K selection, I chose Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV which came out as the story leading to Final Fantasy XV’s video game release. For the L selection, which you will notice is going to be the first of 2 selections (the second title paired up in the next double feature with the M selection) is the 2017 sci-fi film, Life, which got relatively low ratings but remains intriguing to me.

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

Director: Takeshi Nozue

Voice cast: Aaron Paul, Lena Headey, Sean Bean, Adrian Bouchet, Liam Mulvey, Alexa Kahn

King Regis, who oversees the land of Lucis, commands his army of soldiers to protect the kingdom from the Niflheim empire’s plans to steal the sacred crystal which gives Lucis its magic and power. – IMDB

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is the story that takes place before the events of Final Fantasy XV. The ending of this film introduces the four main characters in the game however doesn’t show them anywhere else in the film. With that said, this story takes a look at the kingdom and the threats as well as the soldiers abilities. Video game adaptations or even films derived from a game always has the difficulty of just appealing to those familiar with the franchise or the story. In this case, while Final Fantasy has had a lot of games so far and is a successful franchise, FF15 is a different story with different characters so the idea of making this film is a good one however the execution might not have been done quite as well as the story feels convoluted.

Voiced by Aaron Paul as Nyx, Lena Headey as Lunafreya and Sean Bean as King Regis, the character voiced here are done pretty well. At the same time, the visuals of the kingdom and even the action itself as well as the character design all are appealing. However, where this movie does fall apart is that the script isn’t written well, some dialogue feels very rigid and the story flow feels a bit slow where some parts actually start feeling a bit boring and slow.

Final Fantasy may be an overall pretty great gaming franchise however, its movies have mostly been lacking except for maybe one. Therefore, Kingsglaive might not be a good movie but I also didn’t expect to feel all that much different when I finished with it. Its visually appealing but everything else falls short in the spectrum of things.

Life (2017)

Life

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dykhovichnaya

A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars and now threatens all life on Earth. – IMDB

Life’s one of those films that I’d chalk up their general lack of box office or negative reviews on expectations and the fact that their trailer reminded the audience of an Alien rip-off. I’m not going to argue that I wasn’t affected by the trailer hence why I’ve put off watching it for so long. However, putting aside the similarities of sci-fi films and comparing it to the very fantastically done ones like Alien, Life is a pretty solid sci-fi film. Its quite entertaining that most sci-fi films in the Alien veins reminds us of the fascination of finding that we are not alone in the universe but then quickly wishes that we were because foreign extraterrestrial organisms are probably going to be much more lethal and a good part of it has to do with it being unknown. In that sense, Life’s best attributes is giving us an organism that develops and grows exponentially in a short frame of time and we learn about it just as the characters stuck in the spacecraft is at the same time.

Life is also quite good in the sense that its paced fairly well. The background music is done well especially to boost the atmosphere. With that said, the atmosphere and environment is controlled and the use of gravity and space is also done quite effectively. There is a good deal of tension throughout the film and it has a lot to do with the setup of the film being in a closed space within another closed space for a good part of the film.

Overall, Life is actually pretty good. If you can set aside some of the similarities it does have and see some of the things that are done differently. The quality of the film is definitely still there. There are tense moments and intriguing moments and the pacing is very fast paced so it helps propel the film forward without giving much time to think too much about the things in depth. Maybe its because I went into this one with lower expectations but its one that I’d gladly sit down to watch again. There are issues with it and it has to do with some of the very familiar characters which also don’t truly get a whole lot of depth because we don’t spend too much time with them before things get bad.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

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: The Incredible Hulk (2008) & Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Next up in the double features, we head into a Marvel Cinematic Universe double feature as I try to catch up with all the movies that I’ve missed to date. Also, one of the reasons why I haven’t gone to see Avengers: Endgame in theatres as almost everyone has. Pairing it with my I selection on Netflix, The Incredible Hulk is a rental that I got for cheap and chose to see what the latest version of Spider-Man is like, because we’ve had a lot of them in the past 15 to 20 years. If its the first time being here, I have no basis on comic book adaptations or how it is there and only the movies so if you want to share your knowledge about how characters and villains are and how they are adapted in terms of these movies, feel free to share it in the comments below but  I’m not comparing to the source material.

Let’s check it out!

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

the incredible hulk

Director: Louis Leterrier

Cast: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell

Bruce Banner, a scientist on the run from the U.S. Government, must find a cure for the monster he turns into, whenever he loses his temper. – IMDB

Its quite incredible to think that The Incredible Hulk is the second film in Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films especially since he’s essentially become a supporting superhero in the films that follow with no sequel. However, it is understandable as this one outlines how he became Hulk. The Incredible Hulk portrayed Edward Norton is pretty much different from the one that reappears in The Avengers portrayed Mark Ruffalo. The Incredible Hulk isn’t a bad film, in fact, it lines up quite well the style that Marvel was doing in Phase One. There is some dark humor and then some deeper moments. Hulk is a pretty sad origin story as he has no control over his actions when he transforms and turns into a beast. In that sense, the story here is done well. Plus, its paced fairly well. The best part here does have to go to Tim Roth playing a fairly adequate villain (and I don’t quite acknowledge a lot of the villains much). However, it still feels slightly far-fetched in the sense of the motives of Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) and Abomination.

Its not that the movie itself isn’t enjoyable. The Incredible Hulk feels a bit disjointed in its storytelling in general. The story doesn’t lean too much on the origin and never dives too deep in the relationship side nor does it go very deep on the disapproval and the issues with the General and then it never really explains the reasoning behind Tim Roth’s Emil Blonsky and Abomination. However, the movie does offer up a lot of action and there’s some cool moments here which work to make this a fun movie to watch.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

spider-man homecoming

Director: Jon Watts

Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon

Peter Parker balances his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens with his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man, and finds himself on the trail of a new menace prowling the skies of New York City. – IMDB

I’ve lived through three changes in Spider-Mans already. To be honest, Spider-Man is about the most familiar superhero now other than Batman at this point. Another very fair point is that there is something  about being quite skeptical about how successful this Spider-Man will be and what makes him different. Of course, we’ve already had a snippet of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man due to Captain America: Civil War (review) who was adequate enough with that dose of geeky humor. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is not too different from the first films of both Spiderman (Tobey Maguire version) or The Amazing Spiderman (Andrew Garfield’s version) in the sense of say humor and personality. However, this one changes because we don’t see how he became Spider-Man which is a nice step because after so many, most people already know but rather takes the path of his feelings after the events of Captain America: Civil War and coming to terms with his desire to be more helpful rather than stay in his everyday routine as Ironman would like him to do. However, as dynamic as Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. add to the humor of the film, its feels underused in the sense of Peter Parker and his best friend because there is a nice friendship bond with that as well.

One of the things I also did enjoy with this one (similar to The Incredible Hulk) is Michael Keaton as The Falcon. For one, the villain design is really nice. The Falcon still doesn’t have that sort of evil villain sort of feeling to him but there is this nice mesh of bringing together past events and technology to create this character and the many situations that Spider-Man encounters because of it. At the same time, it gives this Spider-Man a real sense of learning a few qualities to become a part of The Avengers and realizing when he feels that he is ready for it and how it ends gives it a sense of the coming of age of Spider-Man. The direction and the characters and even the humor works overall in Spider-Man: Homecoming. However, the issues with it is that the film does feels at times a bit dragged out and long (but then I have issues with a lot of these superhero films being too long).

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

Double Feature: Gods of Egypt (2016) & Holidays (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature. This time, we’ve landed coincidentally on two 2016 movies. Our G selection is one that had some pretty bad reviews when it came out and that is fantasy action film, Gods of Egypt. The H selection is horror anthology Holidays directed by a good few directors, one of their headlines being Kevin Smith.

Let’s check it out!

Gods of Egypt (2016)

Director: Alex Proyas

Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton, Nikolaj  Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Elodie Yung, Rachel Blake, Bryan Brown, Chadwick Boseman

Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. – IMDB

So…Gods of Egypt…not sure where to start with this one. The cast here is pretty good and probably one of the reasons why I decided to at least give this a shot. Sad enough though, this movie is a lot of flare and not a whole lot of substance. Its actually not even a lot of fun to watch because its pretty boring and stupid. Gods of Egypt is one of those films that remind me of previous bland experiences like Clash of the Titans (the remake) and The Immortals (which I also disliked both of these). It bases itself on playing with the various gods of Egypt (as per its title) and uses a fairly basic story where Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is an pretentious god who eventually gets his throne taken from him when he gets blinded by Set (Gerard Butler). In the process, Set puts Egypt into this world where everyone needs to gain whatever value or money in order to get a better afterlife. In desperation to save his love of his life, the mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites) tries to get Horus to stop his self-loathing and help him get back his sight (aka his powers) so that he can get back the throne and hopefully make Egypt better again.

There’s some romance and some bromance and some good versus evil and some personal character development. Its not clear who is the hero here or who is the main lead and the story is as predictable as it sounds. There’s a whole lot of plot holes and its pretty forgettable and there’s nothing very special of it. I can’t really find a whole lot of good to say about this. I really liked Chadwick Boseman’s character. It gave the story some well-needed humor and enthusiasm.

Holidays (2016)

holidays

Directors (and writers): Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer, Gary Shore, Nicholas McCarthy, Sarah Adina Smith, Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Smith, Scott Stewart, Adam Egypt Mortimer

Cast: Madeleine Coghlan, Savannah Kennick, Rick Peters, Ruth Bradley, Ava Acres, Mark Steger, Sophie Traub, Aleksa Palladino, Joceline Donahue, Harley Morenstein, Harley Quinn Smith, Ashley Greene, Seth Green, Clare Grant, Lorenza Izzo, Andrew Bowen, Megan Duffy

HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions. – IMDB

Its always tough to decide how to approach reviewing anthologies. Holidays takes 8 shorts from different directors that center their stories around 8 different holidays and the darkness in the characters involved. There are some very odd stories in this anthology that can only be described as weird and bizarre. However, in some ways, it does work. In some other ones, my less favorite ones, the stories are a bit too far-fetched for my taste. Its one of those things in anthologies where some things just work better than others and that changes by personal preference.

Here’s how I’d rank the 8 shorts in this anthology:

  • Christmas
  • Father’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Easter
  • Halloween
  • Happy New Year’s
  • St. Patrick’s Day

Taking a look back at the 8 stories in Holidays, my favorite was no doubt almost equally Christmas and Father’s Day. In terms of the horror comedy style, Christmas nails it and has Seth Green who does a stellar job however, in terms of horror atmosphere, Father’s Day captures that one really well. The execution of the both of these are on point. If we talk about creepy kids and a little weird and psychological, which is the type of horror that I like also, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day both have these elements and for that, these four are the most memorable to me and well rounded.

If we talk about the last four, the one that I remember the least is St. Patrick’s Day. Aside from, there are some creative twists to say the least. Easter is creative in the sense of mixing the Easter bunny and recreating it with a religious twist. I can’t decide if maybe it might not be as welcomed. While Halloween had a more over the top twist which was a tad disturbing but strayed away from the very gory bits and as much as I like over the top in some scenarios, I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of the execution while acknowledging the psychological elements behind it and Happy New Year’s also has a clever twist behind it which I have to say works also.

Holidays isn’t the best horror anthology out there but in terms of embracing its weird and horror comedy nature, it achieves that quite well. The stories vary in tone and atmosphere and using the theme of 8 different holidays is a nice idea.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films?
Are you a fan of horror anthologies? If you’ve seen Holidays, which is your fave segment?

Double Feature: Eloise (2017) & The 5th Wave (2016)

Time for the next double feature.

Continuing with the alphabets, we’re at E & F. I picked two movies that has been on my list for a little while but I kept passing over it for other things. The first is horror thriller Eloise set in an abandoned psychiatric hospital and well, the only reason that this movie is on my list is because Eliza Dushku is in it and I like her from Dollhouse. For the F selection, I picked The 5th Wave. We’re finally expanding alphabets to their numerical counterparts. Either way, I like Chloe Grace Moretz and I enjoyed the novel (review) well enough that I wanted to see how they’d execute it.

Eloise (2017)

Eloise

Director: Robert Legato

Cast: Eliza Dushku, Chace Crawford, Brandon T. Jackson, P.J. Byrne, Robert Patrick, Nicole Forester

Four friends break into an abandoned insane asylum in search of a death certificate which will grant one of them a large inheritance. However, finding it soon becomes the least of their worries in a place haunted by dark memories. – IMDB

The best way to talk about Eloise might be to say that its a little more water down version of Session 9 (review) because there are a lot of similarities in how its executed but then the back story of what happened is different. While I don’t think that Eloise was as bad as I’d thought it would be, it actually has some pretty well-executed moments here and there and the characters are done well enough, of course with a relative dose of stupid decisions in the process. There’s one line that resounds as the central theme of the film throughout that when its said, it highlights the presence of the location itself and also, foreshadows the ending as well. Of course, if its a first viewing like myself, then I wouldn’t have really thought about it too much and thought only the ending as a possibility which makes the final act of the film have a nice twist to it.

Talking about the characters, they make sense pretty much although some parts are fairly obvious where its leading to. At the same time, it tries very hard to go on the psychological thriller path because it is set in a psychiatric hospital. The story actually isn’t too bad. There are a few things that are questionable. The final bit is a bit of a head scratcher even if the basis of it makes sense…kind of. The part that did actually make this not good was the pacing. The beginning to get to the psychiatric hospital takes too long and then there’s a lot of parts in the dark so a lot of scenes are pretty unclear and its probably to avoid too many torturous scenes or whatnot. Other than that, the setting and the context that is pretty overused. I’m half and half on this one.

The 5th Wave (2016)

The 5th Wave

Director: J. Blakeson

Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Alex Roe, Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello, Maika Monroe

Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother. – IMDB

Based on the novel of the same name by Rick Yancy (I linked the book review above), The 5th Wave is another one of the YA novels adapted into a movie. The 5th Wave is a mesh of alien invasion story wrapped up in survival and romance. With YA adaptations, its always about the execution as long as the source material is decent, in this case, other than bad writing which shouldn’t affect the movie part, this one was all about how it was executed. The 5th Wave does a decent job and keeps the first person narrative of Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) who narrates the film and the beginning is done really well as she sets up the foundation of how it started and what happened to date and the things that they knew. Of course, as the story diverges apart from its characters, the story shifts between more locations. What works here is that the story follows one character in their location and keeps the characters fairly limited. The pacing here works and the alien invasion story works also. I think what really  helps here is that exceeding my expectation, the romance parts are actually lesser than the survival and alien invasion part which I like a lot because that just makes more sense (although there is a part where its a bit ridiculous). However, its hard to not notice some of the really badly executed effects as well as some of the movement choreography doesn’t flow really well.

Moving along, Chloe Grace Moretz is pretty good here. She’s always been a pretty solid actress even if she sometimes ends up in some lackluster movies. She plays opposite Alex Roe and Nick Robinson, two guys in her life that fulfill different parts of the story especially as Cassie and Alex Roe’s Evan looks at what has become of the world on the outside and then Nick Robinson’s Ben Parish and a rebellious girl Ringer, played by Maika Monroe looked at the military base setting from the other angle. Its a pretty nice set-up to be honest. On top of the that, the military base itself has Liev Schreiber as the lieutenant and Maria Bello as also one of the key figures at the base. Everyone does a decent job with what they have on hand.

Its no doubt that they expected The 5th Wave to be more of a hit so that they kept the ending open-ended so a second film could happen since the book is part of a series. In some ways, with the set up of how it was done and the premise, it would be nice to see where the story would go especially with the sci-fi alien invasion elements.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

Double Feature: The Cave (2005) & Death Note (2017)

And we’re moving right along to the next double feature in the random Netflix alphabet. I’m starting to see a pattern already of movies that I feel didn’t really get great reviews but I’m willing to take a chance on regardless. I didn’t actually research how well they did but still, its how randomness works, right? 😉 The next two films is 2005 creature feature The Cave which I never heard of before but I was craving something of that subgenre so here we are and followed with the 2017 Netflix Original American adaptation of Death Note.

Let’s check it out!

The Cave (2005)

the cave

Director: Bruce Hunt

Cast: Cole Hauser, Eddie Cibrian, Morris Chestnut, Lena Headey, Piper Perabo, Rick Ravanello, Daniel Dae Kim, Kieran Darcy-Smith

Bloodthirsty creatures await a pack of divers who become trapped in an underwater cave network. – IMDB

The Cave passed right under the radar as it probably got overshadowed by the success of The Descent (Review) which was always cave exploration, creature feature and had garnered quite a good bit of positive reviews, myself included. With that said, The Cave does have quite a few good elements. While it merges together spelunking and creature features, it also adds in the not really completely confirmed idea of going to hell (much like As Above So Below (review)). It had a short mention with the religious background in the beginning and then as we dive deeper into the cave as the group heads towards the exit and fights for their survival, the cave takes on various transformations which can only feel like the different levels of hell (at least to me, maybe I’m overthinking it as I always do).

The Cave isn’t executed too well. It has some issues of pacing and some of the acting bits aren’t exactly great. It also had an issue of being quite predictable as to when would happen what which cuts out some of the tension it could have had. However, The Cave is quite unique because it adds in the water and diving exploration element. A new layer of adventure adds in its own set of challenges. Plus, the creature design here has a nice slow burn reveal throughout the film and its pretty bad-ass and impressive.

One of the final points to mention here is how Lena Headey always ends up in these movies and in this one, she pops up as a scientist. She delivers a great performance and one of the best throughout this film, not only because her character carried quite a bit of depth but also the changes for this character and her interpretation of it.

Death Note (2017)

death note

Director: Adam Wingard

Cast: Nat Wolff, LaKeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Willem Dafoe (voice), Jason Liles, Paul Nakauchi

A high school student named Light Turner discovers a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written within its pages, and launches a secret crusade to rid the world of criminals. – IMDB

Having never seen the original TV anime series (not even one episode) and only saw the Japanese adapted film back in 2000s, Death Note is one of those animes that is rather unfamiliar to myself however, I remained skeptical but interested in watching how it would be interpreted especially in the hands of Adam Wingard. A good and bad thing here because for one, it had the same feeling in this one as in the Japanese one years ago that a series with the depth of Death Note in its content shouldn’t and can’t be made into a film. There are plot holes and unknown parts and a lot of it is expected to be brushed away and accepted as correct because the movie constantly reminds us that Death Note has a lot of rules, so if it didn’t make sense that you can say that its just a rule that we didn’t know about. That is just lazy but then adapting Death Note into a film is a mammoth task. Second though, the good thing is that Adam Wingard took helm of it because he gives it atmosphere and style and even implements a great soundtrack to make it stand out.

Death Note had its issues, no doubt. In fact, it had more issues than its massive style could help mend. It still had some thrills and it still had some events that does work in the movies favor in terms of the sequences. However, as I sit here, I’m still thinking about the cast itself. The best part of the casting was having Willem Dafoe voice Ryuk because he does such a stand-out bad guy. To be fair, I think its more a script problem than anything when talking about Nat Wolff as Light or LaKeith Stanfield as L because they had some wonky dialogue bits but their characters still were portrayed well enough in the context of this story. While I think that finding Asian-Americans in this day and age to do this adaptation would have been easily accomplished, I’m choosing to not discuss that and evaluate this in the context of being an American film as it is set in the US to make these characters relevant to the story.

Is Death Note good or bad? Its kind of half and half. On one hand, there’s a lot of things that I didn’t quite accept because of the execution and the fact that its not the fault of the movie but the fact that Death Note is more complex than a movie can embody. However, Wingard does the best he can and delivers a decent film with a great soundtrack and a load of style.

That’s it for this double feature!
A bit of a meh pairing… some pros but some cons

Have you seen The Cave and/or Death Note?