Unforgettable (2017)

Its been since September and Queen of Katwe (review here) but finally, we got selected for the advanced screening for the next movie. Its funny because I didn’t even know about this movie until we went to the theatres for Ghost in the Shell (review here) a few weeks ago. Unforgettable snuck in without really a lot of previews or trailers and totally under the radar. Since Grey’s Anatomy, I had my eye on Katherine Heigl but it seems that she has vanished the last few years and well, Rosario Dawson is quite the opposite especially with her involvement in the whole Daredevil and such Netflix Original series. With that said, not sure what to expect with this one.

This is the first time we had the advanced screening at a Cineplex VIP lounge and at the theatre near us so it was quite a unique experience. Not only did we get the advanced screening but it also came with some appetizers (buffet-style) and a ticket for beer or a glass of wine. Pretty classy and enjoyable. I actually didn’t expect the whole nine yards so it was pretty awesome.

Now for the main feature, let’s check it out!

Unforgettable (2017)

Unforgettable

Director: Denise Di Novi

Cast: Katherine Heigl, Rosario Dawson, Geoff Stults, Cheryl Ladd, Isabella Kai Rice, Whitney Cummings, Simon Kassianides

A woman sets out to make life hell for her ex-husband’s new wife. – IMDB

If you haven’t been to these free advanced screening before, when you leave the theatre, there’s these people running these events that ask you what you thought about it. I had a lot of thoughts that had solidified during the film already. Its a pretty rare occurance to be so clear about where I stood with the pros and cons. I’ll dive deeper into it later but I could stand there for 10 minutes talking about the film if I had to but I just gave a score of 6 out of 10. Honestly, I could be convinced to bump it to a 7 out of 10 but various reasons did drop it down a point and we’ll talk about it. I’m not one to do a rating system (unless I’m writing for That Moment In), so that is just a guideline of what to expect.

Unforgettable

Let’s start with the pros. Unforgettable has a solid cast. The majority of the cast delivered on their performances. Rosario Dawson was fantastic as the new woman with a secret past trying to just live her life in this new reality with the love of her life and learning to be a mom. She is plays Julia and probably has the most depth and character development. Playing across her is Katherine Heigl, as Tessa, the ex-wife who just can’t let go, channeled her crazy and did a pretty good job. They were really the focal points of the film so it was important that they delivered. Her character also did have some depth. On the side, we have the husband David, played by Geoff Stults. While he was here quite a bit, the script didn’t write his role to be too much and that is okay. For what he needed to do, he did his part pretty well. The little girl who was the daughter Lily is played by Isabella Kai Rice and she wasn’t annoying at all, in fact, she did alright. My fave does go out to the most uplifting part as Rosario Dawson’s Julie’s friend, played by Whitney Cummings. It was a supporting role and yet her character brought a nice contrast. Please note the emphasis here is on performances. I will elaborate further on it later on because the nitty gritty con is about the other part of the equation.

The next pro goes to capturing the suspense with camera work. There are a few shots in this film that really do a good job of using a first person perspective with the camera to create suspense. Now, I say this as various shots and a lot of them are in the first act, because things start falling apart really quickly and it doesn’t have much to do with the camera work or the potential for suspense but rather the downfalls of Unforgettable.

Unforgettable

The downfall of Unforgettable is that it is quite forgettable. A movie can have fancy performances and a solid cast that delivers everything but a good script, intriguing dialogue and even more than that, executing it well is a must. What makes it hard to swallow is that there was such great potential especially with this cast and some scenes showed it off so well, like I said, in the first act, then things just fell apart. Act 2 was supposed to hit a climax. It was supposed to give character development and meaning and yet, it was just a contrived and predictable sequence after sequence. There was no subtlety in it. It was like they were scared the audience was too stupid to link one thing to the next to there was an over focus on certain movements. It made the next scenes incredibly easy to figure out taking away all the thrills it had as it reached closer and closer to the end. Not to mention, the dialogue sometimes just couldn’t hit the right note and gave off a rather awkward feeling. Its not a “I’m talking to a crazy person” awkward, but a more forced sort of awkward. As it closed to Act 3 and we stepped near the finale, it started hitting the right notes for a second before falling even farther apart with some nonsensical conversation between these ladies which made the entire movie want to hit something deeper that felt like it was really just trying to find a way to end this with a little twist or something extra and yet, somehow it didn’t work that well.

Thrillers are hard to do. I get that. The effort here was solid. In fact, the director here may have produced a long list of movies in her filmography but this is the debut full-length and in that regards, does a decent job at it. The main issue here is the script and the execution of the story. The thrills just aren’t consistent. The scenes are predictable. While the performances were great and everyone did what they could with what they had, it just wasn’t enough to pull it all together which is a complete shame because the potential was there. However, this isn’t the bottom of the barrel, in fact, its probably a good choice for a rainy day or a lazy Sunday afternoon because the performances here are pretty impressive.

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Netflix A-Z: Raze (2013)

For the R selection of Netflix A-Z, we’re at Raze.  No idea why I picked and don’t even remember when I added to my list but right now, I pretty much dump any movie I think would resemble some sort of indie-ish horror whatnot in there at times. Why not, right? It had an average rating and interesting enough.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Raze (2013)

Raze

Director: Josh C. Waller

Cast: Zoe Bell, Tracie Thoms, Bailey Anne Borders, Bruce Thomas, Rebecca Marshall, Doug Jones, Sherilyn Fenn

Raze, a horror/action film, focuses on two abducted women & 50 other women who are forced to fight each other using their bare hands.-IMDB

 What IMDB means is 52 abducted women.  There’s a focus on one woman specifically played by Zoe Bell called Sabrina. Somehow, I can’t picture Zoe Bell as a Sabrina. Is it just me? Regardless, that is just a technicality. Possibly a handful of the other women abducted are also more significant than the others.  And even Rosario Dawson makes a cameo role for like one scene. Just to be clear, these locked in fights are in a little circular enclosed area in some underground operation and they fight with their bare hands till the opponent is dead.  Its that or their loved ones are killed and if they die, well, their loved ones are still killed.  Now that we have all the basics down, we can talk about Raze.

Raze

Raze has something going for it.  I’m not sure how relevant what its trying to say is to the audience but I’m sure it is trying to make a statement of some sort about hidden societies or the never ending ways of women imprisonment and that sort of thing.  The story value of this isn’t quite much.  I’d say about 70% of the movie is watching one brutal fight after the next and they definitely do get some points for showing some rather violent and bloody scenes. Its hard to not give them merit for making those scenes particularly effective.  Deal is, with those scenes, you need to have characters that you are rooting for.  Raze just dumps the audience into the fighting grounds and leak little bits of story about a few women who have someone on the line or if they are violent because they don’t. Point is, if you manage to connect with the ladies here, then you will find Raze a rather well-done movie but if you don’t , then the it might feel meaningless.

Raze

That’s not saying that the story itself tries to be something more.  The couple running this operation is rather disturbed.  Its hard to know what these people are and how this all started and even what the point is. At least even after they explained it, it just seemed like they are rather unhinged.   Even the addition of the head guard that is rather brutal to especially Sabrina was done in a pretty effective way.  I’m pretty sure he’s not a little crazy but he definitely has some sort of authority high that pushes him to react in certain situations the way he does.  If we’ve seen enough movies, there’s only one way a story like this will go and Raze takes every single step that you’d expect. From who wins in the epic fight to the last survivor to what happens after and is their release a real thing. Its all painfully predictable that I can’t say that it surprised me even when I knew it was meant to be one.

Raze

 I’m not exactly sure what to say about it. Raze is an average movie.  Its a lot of brutal fights.  The story might feel a little empty.  There are some familiar faces and some characters do stand out to be a focal point of reaching the tipping point of the situation.  The good part is that Raze isn’t long and its never bad.  It might not be an easy watch though because it does have violent fights and lots of blood and gushing, bone snapping sound effects.  I’d like to believe that there is something it wants to say here but somehow the execution of it makes it gets lost. I know its not a great review but I honestly thought there was some good bits and some not so good but it can a good choice for a rainy day (if you don’t mind violent and brutal scenes).

Have you seen Raze? What did you think?

Netflix A-Z & TV Binge: Daredevil [Season 1, 2015]

Sorry for the lack of Netflix A-Z this week.  I was trying so hard to find time to watch Daredevil and it just ended up being put later.  I had wanted to review Danny Collins but I didn’t really feel like watching that and everyone has been raving about how great Daredevil is.  I had started it a month or two ago and fell asleep (because of fatigue) but never got back into it.  What’s a better time, right? Perfect timing, really because I’m hearing that Daredevil and Jessica Jones are just a part of a bigger series in the making by Netflix called The Defenders.  I wonder how that is going to work out or if even the superhero-verse will not out-do itself by then. Still, this deserves a fair shot. I mean, 98% on Rotten Tomatoes?

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Daredevil [Season 1]

daredevil

Creator: Drew Goddard
Cast: Charlie Cox, Elden Henson, Deborah Ann Woll, Vincent D’Onofrio, Toby Leonard Moore, Rosario Dawson, Bob Gunton, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Wai Ching Ho, Peter Shinkoda

A blind lawyer, with his other senses superhumanly enhanced, fights crime as a costumed superhero.- IMDB

Marvel’s Daredevil is onto something good.  I promise you that.  However, I must disagree with the 98% Rotten Tomatoes score. There are much better shows out there that haven’t even merited that score.  Daredevil is full of great characters and the story is good.  It gives us a good idea of who Matthew Murdock is and why he chooses to become “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen”. There’s a lot of character building for his character.  I guess the best place to start is that Matthew Murdock looked so familiar to me and then I learned he is Charlie Cox.  What does that mean? He is the romantic guy in Stardust.  Wow! That guy to Daredevil? Its quite the transformation. I applaud him for a job well done. His character is well put together.  We get his back story from his father, growing up, his mentor, discovering his gifts and just why he became this masked vigilante in the shadows trying to save Hell’s Kitchen from what he can’t do in his day job in the courtrooms.

daredevil

Except any series isn’t complete without the supporting characters,  lets start with Murdock’s best friend, Foggy and office assistant, Karen played by Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll respectively.  First of all, I’m pretty happy that Deborah Ann Woll is getting a more substantial role with a lot more character development.  I liked her in True Blood but playing something like this hasn’t exactly reached depth but her character has truly grown with the events that have gone down in Hell’s Kitchen.  She’s no longer the scared girl at the beginning of the series caught up as a victim. However, on a much more feel-good level, Foggy is a great character.  The bromance between Matt and Foggy is a huge focus, especially near the end of Season 1.  They are quite awesome together, just like scenes with Karen and Foggy are also really great.  One of things that comes into focus is that Matt seems to forget about his friends because of the bigger issue he is focusing on but there is a change when it starts to show a bond growing between him and Karen also.

daredevil

 In any superhero sort of movie, its excellence grows from its villain.  Many times, I don’t appreciate certain movies because the villain did not live up to be the threat that they should have been. In this one, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen’s foe is Wilson Fisk.  The series takes a long time to build on who Fisk is and what he wants to achieve.  We even get a chance to see that he is human, that maybe he is looking for something, maybe even something noble just not in the right way.  Yet, something about Fisk is off and there is some imbalance and discomfort about his character.  Maybe its his awkwardness in his voice or his interaction with others.  Maybe its not knowing what other secrets he holds and who his secret organization is and what its all about.  Whatever it is, the onion is peeled open bit by bit.  Wilson Fisk, played by Vincent D’Onofrio is built so well as a character and a villain.  There were times I’d kind of sympathize for him and then he’d make me change my mind to really hating him.  It was a really good casting choice.

Daredevil

On the terms of supporting cast in smaller roles, one of the most compelling goes out to Fisk’s assistant, Wesley.  He would go “Hmm” frequently and then be like the master of tactics, pulling strings and playing the cards in the open, covering for Fisk in the shadows.  Toby Leonard Moore plays this role and I can’t recall seeing him anywhere else.  There’s always a tension and I kept thinking that there was something else floating around in his brain, wondering what he’d surprise us with next.  Aside from him, in very much a cameo is an older character that was only for one episode but such a compelling character called Stick, played by Scott Glenn.  That’s not to mention the masterful and cunning role played by Wai Ching Ho as Madame Gao.

daredevil There are many, many things done right for Daredevil.  Yet, I can’t say that I’d give it such a high score that Rotten Tomatoes did.  Its really that I didn’t enjoy the pacing.  I can understanding building the characters and giving it layers, increasing the thrills and tension, improving and breaking relationships.  All that is present here.  However, what we got in the whole 13 episodes was questions after questions, deaths and people caught in crossfire and then more questions and it was a cycle of building on whatever was before.  There was no resolve.  Madame Gao came up with a sort of twist and some profound bit about whatever we saw isn’t the end goal; there was a hint of someone bigger being behind all this; and yet, still more questions.  Sure, the ending kind of wraps up the story of the 13 episodes fighting the big bad villain, aka Wilson Fisk but this is no resolve or even hints of what is the further mystery.  My point is that if you weren’t going to build on it more, why show it in the first place, right?  I guess I can and should be more forgiving because TV series should give the audience to watch the next season but its just really in my face.  There are so many questions that remain unsolved that I feel like the season shouldn’t have ended with that many loose ends, or maybe its for those that know the source material (which I don’t).  Whatever it is, something is missing when the season wrapped up.  I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did and I thoroughly thought that finale was great and the characters were great, but at the same time, even TV series need to be a little more self-contained sometimes.

Have you seen Daredevil Season 1? What are your thoughts on it? Am I missing something? 

For the next selection, E..it should be fairly easy as there is limited choices for 2015 releases. Any guesses?

Double Review: Sin City (2005) & Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

Surprisingly enough, I got selected for a special advanced screening of Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.  However, my memory of the first one was not that great especially since I didn’t remember much, so I decided to revisit it the night before I went.  The experience of being the first group to see the movie is definitely great and since I’ve been doing this little blog and diving into the world of movies, I’ve learned that I’ve changed a little in how I appreciate movies and that is the main reason why I wanted to revisit this.

Since I’ve been massively behind with everything, I decided to just go ahead and do a double review of these two movies. It baffles me that after almost 10 years we get a sequel for Sin City but still, lets see how it all went.

SIN CITY (2005)

sin city posterDirector: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez (special guest director: Quentin Tarantino)

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Rosario Dawson, Alexis Bledel, Powers Boothe, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jaime King

A film that explores the dark and miserable town, Basin City, and tells the story of three different people, all caught up in violent corruption.-IMDB

I have no other way has to how to describe this movie but just use the synopsis in IMDB. I’d give it a shot but honestly, I think it all starts with this.  The first time I saw Sin City in theatres with some college friends, I thought it was THE most boring thing ever.  Why? Because nothing made sense and it was like a jumble of nothing.  It was beautiful and black and white gory and brutal.  Its not really not my thing and as I rewatched it a few nights ago, I saw it in a different light.  There is a brilliance to the jumbled-up story and I stayed awake for it and apparently, I only remembered two parts from the original viewing.

Sin City

What I absolutely love is the style.  The black and white and the interlacing of sharp colors: the red silk (and sometimes, blood), the colors in the eyes, the contrast in hair and that sort of thing.  It just makes an impression.  Then you have one of the bad guys, Yellow Bastard who is just a disturbing and ugly character that popped out because he was literally yellow.

sin city

The second thing that I love about it was the cast.  Bruce Willis is just amazing as Jack Hartigan.  Clive Owen is awesome as Dwight.  And then there’s the passion and chemistry between the characters. The stories gave time for the characters to grow and develop in exactly the space and time it needed.  Each of the stories had their impact and honestly, Basin City has some pretty impressive characters.  The Old Town girls are brutal, violent and fun to watch.

sin city dwight gail

As I sit here thinking about it more, its really starting to grow.  The third thing that works is the stories.  Everyone has something that makes it worthwhile to watch. It has exaggeration, sarcasm, darkness, violence, manipulation.  This town is full of ugly people in personality.  Its corrupt and dark but strange enough, its also covered in beautiful women who are almost as lethal as you can imagine.  There are boundaries and all that.  Its a pretty amazing set-up for a movie.

Sin City has the formula for a great movie and for the most part, it delivers.  The question is whether its your type of movie.  I love the comic book visuals, the sharp contrasts, the set up of the town and the stories of our main characters, and especially the fantastic cast.  It was well-balanced, brutal and very fun to watch. However, its not exactly my type of movie that I go for everyday so it took time for me to really see it through.  The second viewing definitely made me praise it a lot more.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

sin city a dame to kill for

Director: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller

Cast: Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, Bruce Willis

Some of Sin City’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants.-IMDB

On a lesser run time than the first one and having a few new characters, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For still lacks a little something.  I loved the style that was equally has beautiful as the first with the black and white and sudden colors to give it a great experience.  The music was awesome and matched the atmosphere.  I’m trying to pinpoint in my mind if there were 3 or 4 story arcs right now but they weren’t quite as fun as the first.

 

The characters were great because the cast is still very decent.  Mickey Rourke returned as Marv and is still as violent (and a bit stupid) as before.  The new additions of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green and Josh Brolin all bring something new to the table. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets his own story arc as a cocky gambler who never loses.  He goes to Kadie’s to challenge Senator Roark except in the corrupted sin city, he gets warned time and time again that its not a wise thing to do.  As much I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt in absolutely anything and he is very wonderful as Johnny, I felt his story wasn’t quite where I wanted it to go.

sin city a dame to kill for

The next story arc was for an older Dwight (previously played by Clive Owen) but is returned this time played by Josh Brolin. Dwight’s story is possibly the most elaborate.  He is trapped in a flame that he can’t shake off.  He tries to not respond to the attractive Ava, played by Eva Green who is now married to a rich man.  She comes back and he falls right back into her arms.  This leads to a game of manipulation, a trap, revenge and a lot of naked Eva Green scenes. This one was actually pretty fun to watch.  The chemistry, passion, manipulation all works out even if you can predict what will happen 😉

sin city a dame to kill for

I guess, the fourth story would be Marv retracing how he ended up where he was, except I’m wondering if there was anything for him.  Except, Marv, played by Mickey Rourke (like the first one) is the key to drawing everything together because he appears in all the stories in one way or another.  If anyone is easily manipulated, it would have to go to him. Plus, he is the action and the brutal violence.  There is no doubt that Marv is a great character and Mickey Rourke does a great job, even after 9 years he still has the essence of Marv in him and revives him on the big screen.

sin city a dame to kill for

I personally like the follow up with Hartigan’s death and the impact it has on Nancy the best.  The roles are both still played by the original two, Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba. Although Nancy and her dancing scenes are thrown around the entire movie and it lets the audience see how she’s completely broken by it all.  Its a mental struggle for her and she not only wants revenge that she can’t pick up the courage to do so she drowns herself in alcohol.  In her struggle, she sees glimpses of Hartigan, as if he’s never left her side.  Its really something to watch.  There was one shocking part that I never would’ve guessed and its pretty awesome the way they handled it.

Overall, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is not as good as the first one.  The stories lack the punch it had in the first one, even though there are two that particularly stand out.  However, the style and the music is still amazing.  The 3D is done extremely well and adds to the overall effects.  The cast does a great job at bringing everything they can to the movie and for the most part, they do a very good job.  Even the new additions, Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings a charm to his story (even though it falls flat), Josh Brolin has a compelling character and story and Mickey Rourke is fantastic once again as the ever so violent Marv.

I need to make a point of saying this: If you were a fan of the first one, the chances of you enjoying this one more than me is very high.  Keep that in mind when you decide whether you’d like to see this 😉

Are you a fan of Sin City? What makes it so great to you? Have you been anticipating the sequel? Do you think its been long-awaited or unnecessary?