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

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

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

The Platform (2019)

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

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

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

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

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

The Predator (2018)

Director (and co-writer): Shane Black

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double Feature: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019) & Little Women (2019)

Next double feature is here as I worked through some more rentals. The first is the sequel of 47 Meters Down called 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. The second is Greta Gerwig’s directed adaptation of book of the same name, Little Women. Let’s check it out!

47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)

47 meters down uncaged

Director: Johannes Roberts

Cast: Sophie Nélisse, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju, Sistine Rose Stallone, John Corbett, Nia Long, Brec Bassinger, Davi Santos, Khylin Rhambo

Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.- IMDB

Let’s start off that this is pretty much a new story from 47 Meters Down. For those who have seen 47 Meters Down, there really isn’t any room to do a sequel with those characters or that storyline. While shark movies are rather entertaining and I did enjoy 47 Meters Down in several aspects and premise, lets just say that a sequel wasn’t exactly something that was expected or needed but it happened.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged takes a new perspective. This time around, it goes into a cave diving adventure where these four girls go to explore the underwater Mayan ruins but it ends up trapping them in after a sudden realization that there were blind sharks living in these caves. Its something of an opposite experience than 47 Meters Down. Uncaged has a lot more sharks and while there are some questionable CG effects like the screaming fish, the blind sharks is a fairly fresh concept. Sharks hunting only by sound and being able to blend into the background of the dark murky waters that the girls find them in. The whole course of finding their way out and having a lot of cast gives the movie a higher death count, more people to be endanger. With that said, its a faster paced movie and a much more simple and direct sort of element. It takes some of the good premise elements of the first like survival with decreasing oxygen tanks to the light elements and flares versus sharks and applies to a bigger scope.

If you look at the cast, its not exactly a well-known one. However, there are some second generation actresses like Jamie Foxx’s daughter Corinne Foxx and Sylvester Stallone’s daughter Sistine Rose Stallone. The characters themselves are linear and one dimensional. There is a little bit of family elements here as two step-sisters face this labyrinth together to try and get out. There’s also John Corbett who stars as one of the girl’s dad who is the one who is exploring these caves as their current project and the reason that they are in this location in the first place.

Overall, its an okay shark movie. Its paced quicker with a lot more sharks than its predecessor. Its more direct and less psychological. There are some tension built from this specific location of underwater caves that also brings in the frightening feeling of claustrophobia every once in a while. The sharks have really good designs of their scarred body probably from navigating the tight spaces in the area and how they have biologically changed because of being trapped in this dark location for such a long time. The general concept makes enough sense even if some of the computer graphics isn’t done well but Johannes Roberts does get some nice cinematography in that makes up for a part of that.

Little Women (2019)

Little Women

Director (and adapted screenplay): Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep

Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women, each determined to live life on her own terms. – IMDB

One of the classics that I haven’t read before is Little Women. I have a general idea of the source material but I’ve never actually read the novel nor have I seen the 1994 film adaptation. This viewing is solely based on this movie as its own film. With that said, Little Women is set up in a structure that I rather like. In one way, its main focus is on Jo March, played by Saoirse Ronan and her determination to be a writer despite not quite able to accept the criticism but willing to sacrifice to have her work published anonymously. Its has something of an (semi-autobiographical nature where who we see as Jo March feels like she’s telling her story while also having this breaking reality moments at times where we see how things actually went and the way the story is told based on the pressures from her editor and whatnot.

Little Women is about the different girls in each of the March sisters who seek something different in life. They each grow up together and much like any siblings have their own issues and one sacrifices more than the other. As they grow up, their age and being able to do things the others can’t do all come into play as all kinds of values come into play. Through the actions and decisions of each of the sisters, it crafts each of their characters. The focus is rather heavily on the sisters finding their value and what they each value that leads them in different paths. Certain things break them apart and yet other things will bring them together. In the path of growing up, they sacrifice things and other things pass them by and some just fade into regret and moving on. Its all part of life. Something about Greta Gerwig’s structure for this story works really well. Its a subtle and endearing story about this sisterhood. While some characters fall into the background, they each have their own purpose whether its the mother, played brilliantly by Laura Dern that teaches her daughters to be selfless and willing them to have a mind of their own or its the youngest sister who has a dream but with her illness brings together the family in the end. There’s something that pieces each of these events together.

The focus is a lot on Jo March, Amy March and their neighbor/family friend, Laurie played by Timothée Chalamet. It seems that Greta Gerwig sure loves to work with Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet and always sees them as the impossible pairing. Their relationship/friendship is something of the other way around from Lady Bird (review), which I thought was pretty genius to cast them and give their characters an opposing sort of character and giving these two a nice dynamic. Little Women is a pretty great adaptation that executed really well and all the characters portrayed incredibly charming and with a good deal of depth and purpose. Its a great coming of age period drama.

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

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (2020)

Peninsula (2020)

Peninsula

Director (and co-writer): Sang-ho Yeon

Cast:  Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-jae, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Ye-won

Marine captain Jung-seok and his family escapes by ship which suddenly changes course to Hong Kong and ends up having a lower level outbreak that infects his sister and nephew, leaving him and his brother-in-law, Chul-min to escape in Hong Kong. Four years later, as they live poorly in Hong Kong with no status, the triad boss gives them a task to go retrieve money stuck in a truck in Incheon which was in transport during the zombie outbreak years ago and giving them a decent cut for their work if they get out alive with the loot. Jung-seok, Chul-min and two other Koreans end up taking this task and they find the truck fairly easily. As they plan to leave, a platoon ambushes them and triggers a massive wave of zombies. Jung-seok manages to be rescued by two sisters: Joon and Yu-jin who take him back to their hideout with their mother and  and grandfather. With the knowledge of a chance to leave Incheon, they decide to infiltrate the platoon’s camp to get back the truck and rescue Chul-min. 

Still set-2

Peninsula is a standalone sequel to Train to Busan. It is its own beast building on the post-apocalyptic world created from the previous movie. However, its important to remember that its a standalone and in many ways, an opposite experience from its predecessor, which has its pros and cons. Instead of a zombie horror film, Peninsula is more of an action film with zombies. There are more humans involved in the equation and its given up the straightforward concept in the first film to a movie with more moving parts. With that said, its hard to not compare the two as I’d wager that most people seeing this will be fans of Seoul Station and/or Train to Busan and have their own set of high expectations to meet. Whether this film lands or not will depend on how much you accept it. It does all the elements right and yet, there’s something a tad derivative that might not sit well for some. Due to more characters, it has has less space to develop memorable characters like the first film. With a standalone film, newcomers can come into this and shouldn’t have issues following the story. 

With that said,its best to see this as a standalone and come into this with fresh eyes and mind. Peninsula does a lot of the elements right. First and foremost, the cinematography is incredible. There are some scene set-ups showing the vast wasteland that Incheon has become over the course of 4 years from using the lighting appropriately to set the mood and in general, using light for its aesthetic as well as playing along with how zombies work in the Train to Busan world. The zombie scenes are the most outstanding of the film, with one scene when they first arrive in Incheon and traversing the place where the cross through that is a spine-chilling seen that comes to play in the end in a spectacular way. That aside, the zombies are used really well. Not quite as frequent but still making for a lot of good fight and escape scenes. The scenes at the platoon camp also adds a further dystopia element along with the rather familiar roles and events, however the rescue and retrieve mission is a good one. Suffice to say, the script had thought out a lot of the little details in these scenes and how its put together visually to be an engaging experience (even if it feels like a few of the plot points are familiar). 

Still set-1

The characters of Peninsula revolves around a few moving pieces. There’s ex-marine captain, Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) who is no doubt the main character with his own inner struggle and with the most character depth and development. Gang Dong-won grasps the character fairly well even if he’s rather brooding and has rather little dialogue. The turning point of the film in terms of charming characters do go to the two sisters: older sister Joon (Lee Re) and Yu-Jin (Lee Ye-won). They bring in a level of wit and courage as Joon is a beast behind the wheel and Yu-jin is a strategic little girl with her rigged up flashy remote-controlled cars. They bring a lot of personality to the film with their appearance and what’s important is that they both still have a helplessness to them where they still feel in times of despair that they are still just kids. Of course, the character that plays their mother Min-jing (Lee Jung-hyun) also brings in a great performance. The character doesn’t have as much depth but does manage to bring some inner conflict to the whole situation. There are some surprises in some of these characters and supporting characters that do add to the film especially by the end. 

Overall, Peninsula is a well-crafted movie. Sure, its not as unique as the first one but what it has built with its post-apocalyptic world setting and the nature of their zombies gives it a lot of room to play around with. Where Peninsula might suffer is with the high expectations set from Train to Busan moving into this one, which is a completely different beast and in turn, easier to be disappointed (possibly). As a standalone, there’s a lot of standout elements and director Sang-ho Yeon does build a decent movie. Its a tad more complex and a lot more moving parts but there are little details that will be noticed that works by the end and makes sense. There are clever bits and some comedic bits, a few over the top characters and then there’s the well-choreographed action sequences with gun fights mostly (plus a car chase). If there’s one thing I didn’t talk about before, there are much more (unnecessary or over-emphasized) dramatic scenes in the veins of South Korean cinema that I’m not a huge fan of but that is also a personal preference. However, this director has one thread that links all three of the Train to Busan films and that is the conflicted main character which like I said before, is one of the great elements of this film as well. I can hate on this film but I have to say that standalone sequels always earns the film brownie points on my end at least. As a final thought, Peninsula might not be what was expected but I would love to see what else they can do with this zombie apocalypse setting especially if they move around different South Korean city as their story backdrop. 

Peninsula is currently in theatres, including IMAX, ScreenX and 4DX as of August 7, 2020

*Screener provided by Taro PR*

Double Feature: Charlie’s Angels (2019) & Doctor Sleep (2019)

Clearing the last two rentals for now before we resume the alphabet Double Feature! These two are both 2019 titles that I’ve finally gotten a chance to catch up with. Let’s check it out!

Charlie’s Angels (2019)

charlie's angels

Director (and screenplay): Elizabeth Banks

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Elena Houghlin, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Jonathan Tucker, Nat Faxon, Chris Pang, Noah Centineo

When a young systems engineer blows the whistle on a dangerous technology, Charlie’s Angels are called into action, putting their lives on the line to protect us all. – IMDB

I’m going to confess right now that I wasn’t a big fan of Charlie’s Angels in the 90s. In fact, I probably don’t remember too much of other than the three Angels back then and then didn’t even realize there was a sequel. The reason that I watched Charlie’s Angels (other than it being a cheap rental) is the fact that I’ve been constantly realizing that Kristen Stewart is a really talented actress and Twilight was definitely her low point (in my opinion, of course. If you like Twilight, that’s perfectly fine with me). I went into this one completely blind. I didn’t realize it was meant to be a sequel and in turn the third movie of this franchise and didn’t realize who was the director or any other the other supporting cast. However, Charlie’s Angels does refer to its previous movies in context but it does standalone on its own, which is important since its been over 15 years since its predecessor.

Charlie’s Angels isn’t a masterpiece cinema and has some flaws but it also was incredibly entertaining. In many ways, it shows off the directing style of Elizabeth Banks that wasn’t too obvious until you can really see her influence in the entire film if you’ve seen Pitch Perfect 2 before. I’m a fan of Pitch Perfect as a whole and enjoyed the second film and the comedy element and you can see some of that sort of comedy in this Charlie’s Angels as well as the female character designs whether its the contrast of the three Angels as well as her own role as Boz. Elizabeth Banks shows off how talented she is in all the hats that she wears in making this movie. Of course, we can’t neglect the three Angels played by Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott. Its all about training the new trio as its really the new team of two formed by the former two as Sabina and Jane that are sent in to help Elena as she tries to get back a technology that could cause a lot of damage. Elena’s character especially gets a lot of development as she becomes more and more courageous through everything she goes through and has the smarts to compensate for her lack of experience. The dynamic of Sabina and Jane is also a evolving friendship which has a bit of the female version of “buddy cop movies” except this obviously isn’t a buddy cop film.

Thing is, Charlie’s Angels in term of depth might be similar to one-liner action movies (The Expendables or Crank, perhaps) and its more about the entertainment and action-packed sequences which may work for some and not so much for others. For myself, it achieved exactly what I was looking for and actually exceed my expectations in the enjoyment factor. Running at almost 2 hours, it had some pacing issues. However, credit where its due, the three leading ladies were very good. There’s some nice action sequences and the comedy mostly does land well. The cast bounces off each other’s role fairly well. There is some formulaic elements like its bad guy design and its easy to see where the twist is at a certain point. However, it does also have a great supporting cast like Patrick Stewart, a reintroduction of the agency and its structure at the beginning to see its progress of the decade between the previous movie until now and manages to keep it standalone. All things that I appreciate and like about this film.

Doctor Sleep (2019)

doctor sleep

Director (and screenplay): Mike Flanagan

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind

Years following the events of The Shining (1980), a now-adult Dan Torrance must protect a young girl with similar powers from a cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with powers to remain immortal. – IMDB

*Originally posted for Friday Film Club on Movies and Tea HERE*

Being the sequel of The ShiningDoctor Sleep is based on the 2013 book of the same name by Stephen King, which takes place decades after the events at the Overlook Hotel. At the helm of this film is Mike Flanagan which takes the director’s seat as well as the screenplay writer which aims to pull together the elements of the source material of The Shining as well as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining while adapting Doctor Sleep to its sequel. In many ways, for someone like myself that hasn’t read any of the source material, Doctor Sleep takes a step into something more than just a crazy Jack Torrance from the first movie and gives it a much more ominous and supernatural angle to these characters with certain powers especially in the now adult Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) who embraces it after the trauma left behind from his childhood at the Hotel and has to face them while trying to protect a young girl (Kyliegh Curran) with similar powers against a cult called The True Knot.

Mike Flanagan has truly grown over the years from the days of his independent horror films like Absentia  and moving forward a little more mainstream especially in the successful The Haunting of Hill House series on Netflix. There’s a specific charm to how he handles every element in his horror films to create the dark atmosphere, build up on the characters and have this underlying sense of lingering fear that tests the boundaries of when to expect a scare and when it will actually happen. With him in the director’s seat, Flanagan adds his flair to Doctor Sleep and works wonders on creating a visually appealing horror experience especially with suitable camera rotations, how it’s all set up and having a level of subtlety that fits the film.

Doctor Sleep runs at a whopping 2 and a half hours which is pretty much a lengthy film. However, what is great is that it never feels like it’s that long as the story keeps moving forward. At the same time, the characters are focused enough on the few prominent ones like Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of adult Dan Torrance and a quick span of his growing up process, particularly psychologically and the nightmares that accompany him after surviving the childhood events. It manages to give a link to The Shining before moving forward, which is a good approach. One of the standout performances do go out to the young girl Abra, portrayed by Kyliegh Curran. The cast for Doctor Sleep in general all do a great job from the leader of The True Knot played by Rebecca Ferguson in a charming outfit and character to Cliff Curtis who plays Dan Torrance’s friend that helps and believes him through his unbelievable story.

There’s so much to love about Doctor Sleep and while I haven’t read the source material, it works well on its own as it does call back to the film adaptation of The Shining at a various points but the story behind the film itself is much more fleshed out and takes a different direction than The Shining that its a different experience altogether and one well worth checking out.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these 2019 films? Thoughts?

Blog Tour: No Signal (iMe Series #2) by Jem Tugwell

NO SIGNAL BLOG TOUR v2

No Signal (iMe series #2)
By: Jem Tugwell

No Signal

Publisher: Serpentine Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2020
Pages: 336
Available in Paperback, eBook & Audio

In a breathtaking follow-up novel to ‘PROXIMITY’, Serge says it’s the ultimate Augmented Reality game. He’s chosen his Ten carefully – the reckless, driven and strong. He tests them. Ten become Four.
DI Clive Lussac wants to fight the system that controls everything, but he’s ill and losing the people closest to him. In the middle of eco-protests, he’s lost four tourists.
As Clive’s world unravels, he and his partners DC Ava Miller and DS Zoe Jordan race to find the tourists and the true reason behind the game. It may already be too late. – Goodreads

No Signal is the sequel of Proximity, the second book in the iMe series. While the first book was set on creating a technothriller set in a futuristic dystopia where technology has now become the tool that governs every single person’s life to every single detail to create a crime free and healthy society through their technology iMe and set a very solid foundation for this world building. No Signal had a kick-off point in this established world that took a different path. This time, its not about a crime set in one city using the technology and the different ways its governed from police to citizens to all the red tape involved but it takes the angle of a further technology called iTourist that sees a person who creates this augmented reality game that leads the four remaining challengers from around the world to enter into this controlled world to race for a big prize at the finish line. Other than the technology and crime-solving elements, this story also has dives into a little bit of this dystopian future’s politics.

No Signal is divided chapter to chapter from a few different point of view.  Its a lot of characters to maneuver at first as it bounces between last book’s main character police detective Clive Lussac, “game master” Serge and the four challengers. This is a great structure to approach this story as it gives a good overlap from one location to the next while also being able to keep the book paced incredibly well and really action-packed and also to connect better with each of these characters. The connection from the first book actually is only through Clive Lussac and his character still maintains a lot of the traits from the first one that makes him notice the things and plays along the more experienced cop role as he leads another younger partner after his partner in the last one has moved to another department. If there was anything, it felt a little unnecessary to put in his personal life drama. It connects to the first one and maybe makes him more human but the story stood well enough on its own focusing on the thriller on hand.

One of the most outstanding parts of this series is definitely the use of its technology. The technology itself has so much detail from how it evolves and what it is capable of doing. iMe still plays a lot as it controls the citizens in this space whereas the rest of the world seems to not be controlled like this future UK. As it brings people from outside of this country inside, the technology behind iTourist is really only an introduction but it adds another element when the scenario changes as they find a way to complete their challenge without this country’s monitoring. Every point of No Signal is done with a lot of thought in its execution and how each plot point should land and give it further intrigue and thrills. For a sequel, it keeps the same intensity as its first book and dives deeper into this world. Honestly, I can’t wait to see where else this world can go to hopefully a next novel.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 

You can also check out the review of the the first book, Proximity HERE.

Amazon Australia : https://amzn.to/2WcgE2z
Goodreads link  : https://bit.ly/2WbnhSN
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jem Tugwell is a crime fiction author with a Crime Writing MA from City University.
NO SIGNAL is the second book in the iMe series and follows his thrilling debut novel PROXIMITY.
Jem is inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. In a past life, Jem had a successful career in technology and investment management, and he lives in Surrey with his wife and dog. He has two great children. Outside of his family and writing, Jem’s loves are snowboarding, old cars and bikes.
GIVEAWAY
As part of the blog tour, Serpentine Books is running a Rafflecopter competition to give a way 2 signed copies of Proximity (it is open to UK addresses only).

Double Feature: The Blair Witch Project (1999) & Blair Witch (2016)

As we seem to be trying to catch up with all the horror movies that we’ve missed which are highly talked about, we end up checking out 1999’s found footage film The Blair Witch Project and following that up with the 2016 sequel called Blair Witch. Let’s check it out!

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

blair witch project

Directors (and writers): Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

Cast: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams

Three film students vanish after travelling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind. – IMDB

The Blair Witch Project was a big deal in 1999. For one, it marked possibly a start to found footage and had a lot of discussion over its use of the “shaky camcorder” as a first person view into a situation. Watching this film for the first time, its definitely been one that I’m glad to cross off my list. While the movie itself might not be quite as exciting as what others have made it off to be, there are still some good elements to it and it mainly has to go to the found footage elements and being able to use that to build up the location and atmosphere.

The first part of The Blair Witch Project is where it somehow falls a little short. The three characters themselves are a little annoying as the three film students and the first part focused a lot on them doing this documentary and going into the woods and then arguing a lot. Its when strange things start happening like waking up to piles of rocks or other signs that the movie starts to get intriguing and unsettling. Its honestly all down to this location and its creepy stories that revolve around it that the unknown factor becomes what drives the horror in this forest that they get lost in and the camera and darkness makes it every bit more sinister, isolated and empty.

I’m sure at this point, a lot of people have seen this film before so there isn’t any spoilers but I’m still going to try to keep it spoiler-free. The best part of this film is how it executes the scares and what is presented and what isn’t presented. It manages to amp up the horror a lot by what isn’t there and the anticipation of what could happen. To be able to do that is one element of the film that earns a lot of good points.

Blair Witch (2016)

Blair Witch

Director: Adam Wingard

Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry

After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch. – IMDB

From the way that The Blair Witch Project ended, its hard to imagine that it was meant to have a sequel even if there is a lot of space to explore especially since it left a lot of things in the dark and having somewhat of an open ending. However, the only way a movie in the current horror scene could have happened would probably be to give us the big reveal, which I honestly was a little skeptical about whether it would take that path and that it would possibly destroy the imagination that it was being built up as in the first one. Of course, it did end up taking that path and it was one of the things that made it disappointing.

To call Blair Witch a bad movie wouldn’t be accurate. It still uses its wilderness environment and builds from the lore of the previous films. The bigger cast gives the room to have more eyes on the surroundings but still give the mystery. It also gives some locals to help give a little more idea on what makes people fear the forest so much and the Blair Witch stories and what mysteries seem to be linked to it. With all this, it manages to have some smoke and mirrors and then also create a good deal of jump scares.

What does fall a little bit of messy bit here is the reveal of the “Blair Witch” and the somewhat end-game that it was going for. At the same time, it added a lot of little things that would happen that didn’t happen in the first movie, making it feel like the whole Blair Witch stories had somehow evolved from the first movie and the over a decade time that has spanned between the movies in the story line into sometime much more intricate with night and day in play while still keeping some of the little things. Its hard to say which I appreciated and didn’t appreciate being added in.

Overall, Blair Witch is an okay sequel. It has a lot of shortcomings and really doesn’t live up to all the tension that the first one built and relies more on the jumpscares. Because this found footage is much more modern, there is less of the found footage elements felt here and some things that might not add up as much in technicalities. It does try to work on the lore and give more substance although the thing that disappointed me the most was the somewhat goofy witch design. It felt a little like some low budget horror game monster, which is always a little disappointing. It had built up to probably be more horrifying from what it can do than what it looks like.

That’s it for this double feature of Blair Witch franchise!
I know I’m missing a movie in the middle but from my research, its not too important in the continuation from the first to the 2016 version. I’ll see if I can catch it at some point. 
Have you seen the Blair Witch films? Thoughts?

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

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

Child’s Play 3 (1991)

Child's Play 3

Director: Jack Bender

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

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

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

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

Child’s Play (2019)

Child's Play

Director: Lars Klevberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Child’s Play (1988)

child's play

Director: Tom Holland

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

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

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

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

Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Child's Play 2

Director: John Lafia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Frozen (2013) & Frozen 2 (2019) by Starry Traveler’s Road

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Next up in Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is from my Battle of Ingredients co-host, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road sharing with us a double feature of a popular Disney animated film and its sequel, 2013’s Frozen and 2019’s Frozen II. After you check out her review, head over to check out her blog where she does event recaps, DIY crafts and recently her updates in from jewelry school. Check out her blog HERE.


DOUBLEFEATURE (94)

Frozen (2013) & Frozen II (2019)

(sing to “Do you want to build a snowman?”) Do you want a movie review? Husband, Miss Bun and I got one just for you! We plan to discuss Frozen 1 and 2 as it really makes sense. We really need to send a BIG thank you to Kim and Drew for hosting us… (tick tock tick tock) for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon!

Our little family saw Frozen during a long flight several years ago and it became a craze around our home thanks to my husband who told me to watch it. I caved in and ended up liking Anna while Bun Bun liked Elsa for her magical abilities. Even our Scholastic book orders are Frozen oriented to the point her educator remarked on it the other day when I submitted the order.

I have no idea where to start but both soundtracks blew my mind. They are both excellent and I really liked how music in Frozen can be found in Frozen 2 like the opening sequences. I love both Let It Go and Show Yourself as they feel empowering. Bun Bun prefers Frozen songs better so I guess that I will be stuck with them for a long time. Husband thinks the Frozen soundtrack was stronger, more original. Missy’s daycare friends’ parents say they thought Frozen 2 songs are better.

I find it hard to judge graphics as 6 years have elapsed between the two. Also, I do not watch movies enough to know what is done as visual effects nowadays. Frozen 2 is definitely prettier.

Scary factor? Bun Bun freaked out in both movies, but definitely more in Frozen 2. We both needed to comfort her at the theater as she asked for daddy. She barely wanted to talk about it when we got out of the theater. As a parent, I think Frozen 2 is scarier for kids under 5 with battles and tragic events as the sisters need to dig up the skeleton in the closet to right the wrong. Husband believes Iduna’s haunting presence throughout the movie also contributed to the eeriness factor. My research has also indicated that it should be 6+.

Husband and Bun Bun both prefer the Frozen storyline. Husband thinks that Frozen 2 had a lot to live up to and was unable to Let It Go. I am okay with both but admit the Frozen 2 storyline was a bit obvious from the start and there is definitely more suspense with Frozen. I also laughed a lot with Frozen 2’s Olaf’s randomness and at a few running gags at Kristoff’s expense. One thing that I definitely liked is aging the characters a little compared to older Disney movies like Mulan and Mulan 2. It is a nice change.

Our overall preferences between the two movies:

Husband: Frozen

Bun Bun: Frozen

Me: Frozen 2

As for other families that I talked to, they are very divided between the two movies with one family leaving midway of Frozen 2. That is it for our review! Thank you for reading! What is your opinion if you watched them?


A huge thanks to Phoebe for sharing her and her family’s views on this Disney double feature of Frozen and Frozen II.

You can find all the posts for the blogathon updated daily HERE.

Double Feature: Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018) & Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Call this a creature feature sequel double feature, if you’d like. I had a monster film desire and it just happened to be the day that Netflix got Deep Blue Sea 2 and then I had a rental of Godzilla: King of the Monsters lined up so everything worked out well.

Let’s check it out!

Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018)

Deep Blue Sea 2

Director: Darin Scott

Cast: Danielle Savre, Rob Mayes, Michael Beach, Nathan Lynn, Kim Syster, Jeremy Boado, Adrian Collins, Cameron Robertson, Darron Meyer, Marc Hyland, Tamer Burjaq

A brilliant billionaire creates five genetically altered bull sharks, which proceed to wreak havoc for a group of scientists on an isolated research facility. – IMDB

Following the trend of unnecessary sequels, Deep Blue Sea 2 shows up 19 years after the release of the first one, which really only has a cult following after all these years. Its quite the odd film to choose for a sequel especially as it has nothing to truly expand from. However, this sequel decides to be something of a reboot as it takes pretty much the same type of story as the first film, even a lot of the things that happen feels very parallel to the first one. The only difference is who plays in this and what they are trying to genetically engineer as well as the crew, which is miles away from as fun as the people from the first film.

Its hard to not compare the film when the sequel is almost the same as the first one except done a lot worse and visibly lower budget than the first. One of the elements that seem to think that its being clever is making these flooded hallways turn on these different color hallways. In some ways, it does help navigate where the split up crew is but at the same time, it does also feel like its using different lights to make it feel like there are more hallways than there really are. Things is, move aside from these things, the bull sharks and the scenes attacking all feel like a few scenes.

Deep Blue Sea 2 is very unnecessary and everything it does here just solidifies the fact. It feels like it hasn’t aged in the film making technology as well. Through and through a bad shark film but if b-horror shark films are your thing, this might be one to watch.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

godzilla king of the monsters

Director (and co-writer): Michael Dougherty

Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds

The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. – IMDB

Godzilla: King of the Monsters plays as a sequel to the 2014 movie with a new cast of characters and a much more intriguing approach to Godzilla and the other monsters. Take it as something of a Godzilla 101 course as the different monsters show up and as the Monarch team tries to trace down how to stop the big nemesis as well as the technology that was stolen, they realize the world falling to pieces and Godzilla reappearing to try and stop it. As this goes on, the Monarch also talks about each of these monsters to have a general knowledge of their abilities.

While I am fairly new to the whole kaiju film genre, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is much more enjoyable than the previous film. One of the main elements is its focus on giving much more screentime to the monsters and giving enough time on the human end to give it enough backstory. They bring in a family drama and the human element of connecting with the monsters and believing that they can have them under their control through technology and it all backfires, as expected. Giving the film so much more action and conspiracy also makes it well-paced and intriguing to watch.

Looking past the story, the cast is pretty great as well and rather international. We have Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown. Vera Farmiga is a fantastic actress who I find is rather underrated and then Millie Bobby Brown plays some moments a little like Eleven in Stranger Things but is also fun to watch. We also see Sally Hawkins here as well as on a more international level, Ziyi Zhang and Ken Watanabe.

Godzilla:King of the Monsters in the end is a giant monster movie. Its not meant to be too complex or too deep but there is a lot of knowledge here to introduce this kaiju world and for myself, its much appreciated. The storyline is familiar as humans thunk they have things in control and the world ends up being in danger of destruction and Godzilla needs to step up and fix their mistakes and its about working together to achieve it. It also makes the effort to bring together the events from 2014’s Godzilla and 2017’s Kong:Skull Island (review) all together which will all come together for this year’s release of Godzilla vs. Kong.

That’s it for this double feature!
I rather monstrous creature feature, right? These are always the most fun pairings!
But that’s me!
Have you seen these movies? Thoughts?