The Meg (2018)

Wow! Its been quite a while since I went to go see a movie at the theatres. The last one was probably Ocean’s Eight. I mean, aside from Fantasia where I’m still in a semi-break from movies but I love shark films and Jason Statham and The Meg has been one of those films that I’ve been anticipated the moment I knew of its existence so it was a opening weekend must-see for myself. Its taken a little bit to get this review up but better late than never. To be clear, I haven’t read the novel that this movie is based on so this is completely on how I felt about the movie and nothing related to how well the adaptation works.

Let’s check it out!

The Meg (2018)

the meg

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Cast: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Shuya Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Jessica McNamee

After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible. – IMDB

Being a fan of shark films and Jason Statham, The Meg was one anticipated movie that truly delivered on all my expectations. Its refreshing to be able to say that. Shark films have a special place in my heart and the best comparison that I have for The Meg is something like Deep Blue Sea, which happens to be one of my favorite shark films ever. Featuring a 70 foot Megalodon as its star predator is a tough feat and director Jon Turteltaub does a great job at making sure that it holds the suspense and builds on using the underwater sequences to create the thrills with the unexpected. Sure, there are some parts here because of the Chinese collaboration that makes it build the story with some filler drama and romance that feels unnecessary but the cast here delivers on this simple script. Let’s face it, this is a shark movie and not some award-winning film. Its a popcorn flick meant to be entertaining and it does exactly that. There is some suspension of belief and some far-fetched ideas that they try hard to give us the justifications in the story which mostly works, but the thrills of the Meg is in some of the parallels and nods it gives to the ultimate shark movie, Jaws. For some, that might be issues because this isn’t quite the Spielberg masterpiece but for myself, it never was meant to be that so I appreciated it for being exactly what it was.

The Meg

Looking at the cast, Jason Statham also does a great job at being the leading man. He still is equipped with his one liners and his hardcore tough guy act. It works for him and its what I love about the movies he is in. For that, he fits well into his role as Jonas. His sequences against the shark adds in those comedic touches before heading into the intense sequences against a prehistoric shark. Even tough guys get scared, they just mask it with some humor and it works so well for him. Its not often we see Jason Statham with a lot of romance in his films but as odd and misplaced as this one feels between him and the character played by Bingbing Li, there are some bonding moments here that also work out. It helps that Bingbing Li is not only a pretty face but also a talented actress. However, nothing quite steals the show like the little girl playing the daughter by Shuya Sophia Cai who is not the typical whiny and annoying little girl but one that is smart and knows her stuff around. She’s charming and cute and intelligent and some of the best moments are actually between her and Jason Statham.

The Meg

Aside from these main players, there are a ton of familiar faces here. Playing the sponsor of the research facility is Rainn Wilson who plays this billionaire who goes to visit and has his mind on all the wrong things at times but does add a nice twist of giving the normal do everything to make this work character have a twist. While he isn’t straight and narrow and still makes some dumb decision in the end, it takes on another tangent. On the other hand, a lot of people aren’t a big fan of Ruby Rose but I’ve liked her style since  her role in Orange is the New Black. As one note and as much as she is put in similar roles, I like the addition of that type of character. However, in this one, you end up losing count how many times she draws the short straw and ends up falling into the water.

The Meg

As predictable as The Meg is and as forced as the romance here, The Meg knows what it is and it delivers exactly as expected. A 70 foot shark is a huge presence literally and Jon Turteltaub is masterful as making it scarce and taking his time to reveal this beast completely. There are incredible lighting and cinematography underwater that makes it all work so well. I probably should have mentioned this but I forked out the big bucks (because it was the only way my theatre was showing it) and saw it UltraAVX and 3D. Let me tell you, a lot of parts got me jumping in my seat and genuinely tense. It may be my love for shark films and just how thrilling these films can be but The Meg is a fun popcorn flick. There are some solid moments that are fairly unique to watch. Plus, it achieves a level of making the megalodon be scarce to build up the tense moments and it works out a lot of time. Running a fairly tight run time, it is pretty well-paced. Sure there are some filler material but it never lingers long enough to make it completely in the way of the real purpose we’re there: to see a prehistoric shark. Its a shark film, you’re either on board or you aren’t. Maybe its a simple way to put it but popcorn movies don’t need depth, it needs entertainment and I was thoroughly thrilled and entertained. I get the criticism and I have some of my own as you see, but its still a solid shark film.

I only wish that it does well enough to get a franchise going because I can’t wait to see Jason Statham get back into going against some more prehistoric underwater creatures. Now, that would be so awesome!

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Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)

Whether you are new here or not, I guess I’d like to make sure that before you start this review, you should know that the Resident Evil franchise (as low rated as it is) is one that holds a pretty special place in my heart. While I’m not a huge fan of the second movie in particular, I still think there’s a lot to like in all its cheesy dialogue and over the top action. Plus, Mila Jovovich has made an iconic badass lady with Alice.

Lets check it out!

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)

resident evil: the final chapter

Director (and writer): Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Mila Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Eoin Macken, Fraser James, Ruby Rose, Ever Anderson

Alice returns to where the nightmare began: The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse. – IMDB

The Resident Evil franchise has gone a long way and has really shed its skin from the survival horror genre that the first movie was about when it was based on the video game with the same name. In many ways, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter being released almost at the same time as the Resident Evil 7: Biohazard game being released seems like a really good movie. Although drastically different in story, both of them somehow turn back a little as they head back into their roots. We’re not here to talk about video games so I’ll put Resident Evil 7: biohazard aside and talk about Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the sixth movie in the franchise and also the wrap-up. If you’ve been following these movies like I have, Resident Evil was a survival horror. It introduced the AI at The Hive and Raccoon City, showed us Alice and her super soldier ways and a bit of her back story, it showed the effects of the airborne virus that attacked The Hive and turned everyone and the immediate aftermath. The wasteland that we see is fantastic. That was the events of ten years ago, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter makes the effort to cover whats happened over the years as it starts. One of the good moves to not only remind the audience of whats happened for those who have visited this franchise before but also help generally understand the situation they are all in and where this story is going in this final instalment.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter doesn’t only go back to its roots as a survival horror. In fact, maybe some might argue that it still is very much about action. I do agree with that but the balance of building the atmosphere of the movie itself and pulling it back towards the story it started in the first movie gives it a good wrap-up. We end things where we begin and in memory of many things. Whether you will find the finale surprising (in some ways, like I did) or predictable, the trip there is a good one. Going back through the familiar tunnels (for old viewers) or the dark tunnels (for the new) create a feeling of dread and danger. The cast emits that feeling and we know that the control isn’t really in their field because we get both sides of the story as Alice and the team she meets who Claire (Ali Larter) is with. Her team is a strong one fortified mostly by their reinforced tower from the undead especially as the main villain of the story approaches, a somehow alive Dr. Isaacs who is the partial owner of Umbrella Corporation who is the person responsible for the world apocalypse, comes with hordes of undead and big guns and giant tanks to put an end to Alice’s rebellion.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Before we talk about our villain, lets get back to our group here that assists Alice. Claire is a familiar face and she stays equally as competent. Her group that she’s with is made up of a few key characters that make it out to infiltrate The Hive. Their actual leader, Doc (Eoin Macken), Razor (Fraser James), Christian (William Levy), and Abigail (Ruby Rose). Ruby Rose seems to be hitting a ton of films in the beginning wave of movies and I’m pretty happy to see that. I’ve expressed how much I like her in both TV Binge of Orange is the New Black and the more recent xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. She is very unique, appearance-wise and gives off a really cool vibe. I liked her character quite a bit. In fact this team altogether is very competent in combat and coordination. One of the best scenes have to go to their tower defense moment against Dr. Isaacs.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

 The villain in The Final Chapter is no doubt Dr. Isaacs. Overcome with greed and whatever big ideas we have as we learn more about what happened, he is a villain that we thought had died but has come back to haunt us. However, nothing surprises us anymore in Resident Evil, especially when we’ve gone through stories of clones before. Faced with a restraint on the actual end of the world to wipe out even if the remaining few survivors, Alice fights to stop Dr. Isaacs. He is a strong villain who has actual fight in him and also a very deadly goal. Aside from him, there is another familiar face in Wesker, his minion in some ways who we face only behind his commands to the Red Queen in defense of The Hive. Then of course, we have the Red Queen, who was a huge part to what made the first Resident Evil rather eerie. What makes The Hive dangerous is not only the return of Red Queen but also the memories of the dangers lurking as protective measures. The Hive is a villain by itself. Of course, those familiar with the franchise also know to expect outrageous monster and creatures formed from the undead and the heavy results of the transformed T-Virus, making them huge and strong.

Overall, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter delivers a decent movie. After so many parts before it, Resident Evil has dropped to something of a guilty pleasure. This final instalment aims to wrap it up. In many ways, it does a good job by giving it a little more plot, balancing it with a good amount of action and adrenaline rush and keeping Alice as bad-ass as she always is. The villains, whether The Hive, Red Queen or Dr. Isaacs is always a threat. And they even try to add in a little something more. For that, I think its a great effort that works. I expected a guilty pleasure fun time with lots of action and bad-ass Alice and I came out getting more than that, plus a sense of the franchise finally having some answers. For me, this worked and probably for those still into the Resident Evil franchise, it’ll work. Whether it’ll end here, who knows, maybe if this does well, we’ll get more. For now, I’m happy with where this one went and the whole journey of it. And if it is the last one, I’ll miss watching Mila Jovovich’s Alice.

Are you fan of the Resident Evil franchise? Have you seen Resident Evil: The Final Chapter?

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

If you have seen my Top 10 Anticipated Movies  of 2017 here, you will realize that I don’t have a lot of popular choices but at least the beginning of the year is mostly fun sequels. Does that mean they are bad? I actually embrace movies that are in the cheesy and so bad its awesome category, embrace fun and action filled movies and from what I remember of xXx. That is exactlt what I would expect from this third one especially since Vin Diesel reprises his role as Xander Cage and his on screen presence is just simply awesome. Full transparency, I have seen xXx two times. The review is HERE. However, I have not seen the sequel with Ice Cube. Whether you call it a reboot or a sequel, I’m just excited to see Vin Diesel jump back into this role. I’m going to lie if after fifteen years, Xander Cage can still be revived without any disappointments but with the cast they have, its hard to not be impressed and excited.

Let’s check it out!

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

xxx the return of xander cage

Director: DJ Caruso

Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Kris Wu, Rory McCann, Tony Jaa, Michael Bisping, Samuel L Jackson

The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. – Rotten Tomatoes

For those who haven’t seen the first xXx, you honestly don’t really  need to know much about it. The Return of Xander Cage, other than Xander Cage and the one appearance of his fluffy coat that shows up and super little tidbits on Samuel L. Jackson recruiting another agent in a restaurant (when he recruited Xander Cage from a diner), there really isn’t much crossover. That in itself, is good. One thing to remember going into xXx is that you don’t go into this for a strong storyline. I will talk about the storyline and what criticisms a serious movie goer may have with it (because I am fully aware of its flaws). With all that said, I had a great time watching xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. As much as it sounds like this movie is right up my alley, I like xXx but I’m not a die hard fan. However, this one was fun and thrilling (and probably my fave of the franchise thus far). The stunts were great because Xander Cage is a daredevil who loves risky and daring stunts. It has an amazing cast which gave it so much personality and charm and of course, action. Not to mention, despite having an unpopular sequel without Vin Diesel but replaced by Ice Cube as Darius Stone, they never forget that he was also part of the franchise.

xXx The Return of Xander Cage

Right from the opening scenes, I already knew this is my sort of movie because its fun. The style of introducing its characters and fun facts was humorous to give us an idea who this person is and fills in on people who didn’t watch the two movie before that was over ten years ago. There was a lot of upbeat music that meshed with the scene especially giving it more reason when the dj of the group, Nicks (Kris Wu) joins in the xXx team. They also go through a lot of locations and its really beautiful. All this is aside from the fun dialogue we get which reflects who these characters are. Before we jump into the characters, I said I would talk about storyline and its flaws. Much like you could point out all the flaws in the last few Fast and Furious franchise, they probably also apply here. Be it a storyline that is pretty linear or plot twists that are rather predictable or even over the top things like submerging a motorcycle underwater and it still works after it resurfaces. The storyline is only a means of everything they can pull off, be it stunts or guns or encounters.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

xXx characters aren’t exactly deep, but calling them shallow makes me feel kind of bad also. However, they aren’t meant to be wildly constructed, just like its storyline. It really isn’t the point. These are agents and it wasn’t meant to have unnecessary drama (which might be one of the criticisms I remember having for one of The Expendable films, maybe the second one). We know the basics of their competency and the witty, quirky or completely eccentric personalities. Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is the man here who has a lot of personality and he has built a great team. Donnie Yen plays Xiang, who has a fantastic entrance showing off his great martial arts skills and what starts off as a rickety role turns out to be a really fun time as we learn more about who he is. Toni Collette pulls off a stern vibe in the high leader or government somebody perhaps. Her role is a little odd at times but it is to offset or at least is there for Xander to be recruited and challenge the authority. Xander Cage’s team is the more highlighted factor here and aside from him and Donnie Yen, breathe an incredible amount of life, character and charm.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

Ruby Rose plays Adele Wolff, a sharp shooter who has masters her sniper skills with a lot of calm and fun attitude. Nina Dobrev plays Becky, the tech support and pretty much the brains of the operations who is scared of pretty much everything outside and she has a massive fan girl moments with Xander that is hilarious and says really awkward and random things. Its also nice to see that there’s more to her career than The Vampire Diaries (especially because I do like TVD). We’ve already talked about the casual fun-time Nicks who is the showstopper or perhaps the person who causes the distraction but he is well-matched with Tennyson, played by Rory McCann, who is a stunt driver always looking for his next crash. They make a hilarious duo. On the other hand, Xiang’s team consists of some competent players as well although they don’t get as much of attention. The pretty lady with lots of combat skills is Serena, played by Deepika Padukone. Along with her and Xiang are Talon, played by Tony Jaa, an odd character that does weird things to say the least (which I like his fighting skills but not so much the character or maybe the limited acting) and Hawk, played by Michael Bisping, who I assumed was some sort of MMA/UFC fighter in real life and turns out he is (because I don’t follow these things so I had to look it up). The deal with having lots of characters in not a long runtime is that not everyone gets the screen time they need but it also gives the audience a good idea, if there was a sequel who might be the returning team.

Overall, you don’t go to xXx for an award-winning life-changing movie experience, you go into this movie to just have fun and be entertained and maybe shut off your brain for a little while. Have a few laughs, watch some great stunts and awesome fight sequences, listen to some cheesy one-liners and bask in the badassery that these characters and Xander Cage’s team is all about. Sure, it might seem a little Fast and the Furious franchise with the bad ass team and over the top sequences or maybe its a little The Expendables, with the whole “retired” agent coming back to action or whatever you’d like to call it just with a younger cast, but The Return of Xander Cage has its own personality. Whether the revival of this franchise works or not, this is an awesome addition to the franchise and captures the right tone and adds lots of style to it. It delivered everything I expected and more. Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose was enough for me to love it so much. Everyone else meshing well with the movie just made it even better.

Have you seen xXx: The Return of Xander Cage?

TV Binge: Orange is the New Black [Season 3]

I have to admit… It feels pretty good to be on top of things for once. I mean, I’m behind a ton of TV but I finished Season 3 of Orange is the New Black over the weekend.  I guess, there isn’t anything better than lounging in bed or in the office chair when I’m feeling sick.  That’s about the only time I sit still for so long. Anyways, its done and Season 4 is set to happen for next year. Although, I’ll tell you if I am excited for it or not afterwards.

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly excited for Season 3 to happen.  Sure, Piper is starting to feel more and more messed up and there’s a whole lot of unresolved issues going on.  Plus, we left off Season 2 looking like the big bad villain may have been killed off.  There’s a lot of crazy going on and change is about to go down.  That’s for sure! Before I start jumping into spoiler territory and if you haven’t seen Season 1 or 2 and plan to, just don’t read this, ok? I’ll understand 🙂

For the rest of us, let’s check it out!!

Orange is the New Black [Season 3]

Orange is the New Black

Creator: Jenji Kohan

Cast: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Michael Harney, Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Dascha Polanco, Samira Wiley, Nick Sandow, Selenis Leyva, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning

The story of Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties who is sentenced to fifteen months in prison after being convicted of a decade-old crime of transporting money for her drug-dealing girlfriend. – IMDB

Orange is the New Black in its third season is something that I really didn’t know how it’d go.  I was a huge fan of Season 1, then kind of half half with Season 2.  Season 3 had the potential to just crash and burn if it didn’t bring it something new to the show.  There’s only so much of Piper and Alex or Lorna fantasizing over her imaginary dude, or even Red fighting to have dominance over the kitchen or wherever else and let’s not forget the so far pretty in the background, Dayanara’s pregnant situation and then who knew what other shenanigans Taystee and her girls were going to get into, right? Especially now that Vee is out of the picture.  Then we have the bigger issue which kind of happens halfway through where Litchfield has gone private. It was really not a choice, because it was either that or closing down completely and with Caputo in the top management now, he’s not going to go down without a fight.

orange is the new black

 While Orange is the New Black is about Piper and her stay in prison, I feel that this time around they still gave her character a good bit of development to look deeper into her inner psyche.  Maybe she’s not that goody two shoes at all and she’s just hitting the fact that she’s pretty intense herself in her own little way.  Plus, she enjoys this whole criminal mastermind business even if she likes to think she is feeling guilty about it. Or maybe prison is changing her.  There are a ton of possibilities of why she is the way she is.  What I do know is that Piper’s mentality/personality going downhill is kind of a highlight.  Who likes to see the goody two shoes stay that way? We watch this stuff to see the dramatic bits go through.  What is nice is that she’s finally  embracing her sexuality in a way where she’s accepting the whole “getting a girlfriend” bit. But you know, there’s only so much about Piper that I’d like to talk about because her character is getting a little tiring.  What I liked a lot more this time was Piper and Alex.  And just how Alex also has changed because she has more to worry about now that she’s back in Litchfield.

orange is the new black

For me though, the best part of the series has always been the back story of everyone else. In this case, we got to take a look at the side characters that were overshadowed by everyone else.  We saw those that we’ve always wondered, at least I have.  Some bigger players which we’ve never seen their stories that I liked was Boo, Pennsatucky, Chang, Leanne, Norma and even Aleida (I mean, who doesn’t want to know why Dayanara and her mom has this kind of hateful relationship). I mean, on top of the inmates, this time we even saw the backstories of the officers like Joe Caputo and Bennett which was a little insignificant to me but at least it expands our understanding of the characters. In general, the understanding of the people in Litchfield we’re dealing with is a lot more clear and that is definitely a good thing.

Orange is the New Black

While the main people in Orange is the New Black still keeps the show running, and some smaller roles get a more regular appearance, there are still new characters showing up.  While Piper does get tiring, the new character Stella, played by Ruby Rose is a nice addition.  For one, she’s got style and a whole lot of it and there’s something intriguing that she brings to the show. Then the real comedy comes with introducing the private corporate dudes that hire a bunch of nobodies as correctional officers and there’s a ton of eye-rolling laughs right there.

**Side note: did you see Ruby Rose’s short film called Breaking Free? Its pretty cool!

Orange is the New Black’s Season 3 isn’t perfect and there was a few moments where I just left and took a breather.  Not exactly binge-worthy material but to me, it changes the pace a little and steps back to let us reacquaint with some of the main players in the show a little more and gives us a better understanding of the “lesser” roles. My favorite story has to be Chang’s though.  Not because its Chinese and I actually didn’t have to read the subtitles but because Chang is the most random character who does the weirdest things but we get a peek into her life.  The same goes for Norma. For once, its not just about the ladies but also about the guys running the show on the outside.  Its about ending some of the situations that have been around since Season 1 and that’s what I like to see: progress.  Because I can’t keep watching Daya be pregnant for 3 years, for example.

I guess thats what I liked about this one. It wasn’t a lot of dramatic crazy stuff going on but it was progress and that’s what I enjoyed about it. I mean, there’s obviously a ton more but I’m trying to stay as far away from spoiler territory as I can and I’m sure I forgot to mention something that I liked but, overall, its a good season.  That ending kind of makes me wonder where Season 4 will go.  Am I super enthusiastic? Not really. But I’m definitely going to check it out when it comes out next year.

Have you finished Season 3 of Orange is the New Black? What are your thoughts on it?