Double Feature: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016) & Bloodshot (2020)

Next double feature something of a more random selection with a movie that left Netflix Canada paired with a rental with 13 Hours: The Soldiers of Benghazi and Bloodshot respectively. Let’s check it out!

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

13 Hours: The Secrets Soldiers of Benghazi

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Max Martini, Alexia Barlier, David Costabile, Payman Maadi

During an attack on a U.S. compound in Libya, a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos. – IMDB

Based on 2014’s historical book by Mitchell Zuckoff of the same name, Michael Bay helms this project that retells the account of a terrorist attack that took place at an American diplomatic compound in Libya from the point of view of the the security team. Its quite a jarring story even under the direction of Michael Bay that many people have issues with his direction style on literally explosive scenes, which in the context of this film definitely felt like his direction was a lot more grounded than a lot of other previous movies. Having never read the source material, there are some elements that feels a little odd but at the same time, the story of this security team and the men involved as they get caught up in this dangerous situation that they need to face focuses a lot more on them as individual people and the team and there’s this incredible subtle action and intensity that builds while also giving a few of these more key characters enough background to make them feel real, which is important seeing as this is based on something that actually did happen.

In reality, the strength of the film lies heavily on the characters themselves especially through the eyes of John Krasinski’s character Jack, who is the latest addition to the team upon his arrival and in a short amount of time is shown the place that Americans have in this place and the dangers of their presence as well as the role they play as a private military security team. The whole cast of characters whether its Pablo Schreiber’s Tanto and his odd decision to wear shorts the whole time or the role of the friendships between these characters as well as the connection between the office they are protecting as well as whether help is coming for them and who is one which side all comes into play of the big picture.

Sure, the movie itself has its flaws since it still has the Hollywood sense where some things do feel constructed to make it more entertaining for the audience but the premise and how its executed and even Michael Bay’s choice to keep things feeling fairly grounded but still deliver some intense action scenes that play especially with darkness and the mystery of what is and isn’t there and different ploys really does add a lot to the movie. Its a rather gripping viewing experience.

Bloodshot (2020)

Director: Dave Wilson

Cast: Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Talulah Riley, Lamorne Morris, Guy Pearce, Johannes Haukur Joahnnesson, Alex Hernandez

Ray Garrison, a slain soldier, is re-animated with superpowers. – IMDB

Its fair to say that Vin Diesel is casted in a certain type of movies aside from his main role of The Fast and the Furious franchise and his grunting voice cast role as Groot. He has this cookie cutter sort of deal where its a lot of one liners and not a whole lot of dialogue and enough action to make it satisfying to watch, at least for myself, I like watching Vin Diesel movies even if the movie itself is flawed. With that said, Bloodshoot is pretty much exactly what I expected and wanted out of watching a Vin Diesel movie which had enough entertaining elements. The story itself does try to add in some twists, probably more for me since I haven’t read the comics and know nothing of this Bloodshot character so its a fresh discovery.

If you look at the cast, its really a pretty decent round-up. Aside from Vin Diesel, there’s Guy Pearce playing a rather similar role to Iron Man 3’s role (if I remember correctly), I’d say while also haven’t some familiar faces like Eiza Gonzalez which has delivered some fun roles in recent films as well as Lamorne Morris who is almost unrecognizable from his New Girl days but also does a decent job here with a fun supporting character. Plus, it takes on this element of having a crew of characters that are all flawed and using this new technology to make them have this “superhuman” in their own way. Of course, with Bloodshot being the character that has been literally revived from the dead and the twist is how he’s being manipulated.

As a feature film directorial debut for Dave Wilson who had only previously directed a short for Love, Death & Robots (review), which is pretty impressive and did mostly visual effects for a ton of video games, this is a step forward and in reality, the direction is pretty decent. What really does make this movie feel a little more disposable and flawed is really that superhero movies are oversaturated at this point and there’s this predictability to the whole situation. The elements are there in terms of action and some fun little Vin Diesel moments and even the humor additions and the littler twist is all decent but then its hard to not feel like, there’s a solid idea of what the general end result of a superhero movie will be that makes it hard to be truly excited by its end game.

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

Double Feature: 31 (2016) & Justice League (2017)

Time for the next Double Feature! This time is a bit of a random combination as I take a look at 2017’s DC superhero film Justice League and Shudder exclusive horror film 31. Two movies that has been on my to-watch list for a little while but always a bit hesitant on it. Let’s check it out!

31 (2016)

31

Director (and writer): Rob Zombie

Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson, Malcolm McDowell, Jane Carr, Judy Geeson, Richard Brake, Pancho Moler, David Ury, Lew Temple, Torsten Voges, Elizabeth Daily

Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, hellish compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns. – IMDB

When we think about Rob Zombie movies, I’m fairly certain that’s a hit or miss deal, just like how we’d think about his version of Halloween brings up a lot of debate. With that said, 31 probably will fall in that same area. 31 is something of a Saw mixed with escape room deal. It takes a group of 5 carnival workers who get kidnapped into this sadistic game to survive 12 hours. This game that has never had survivors before suddenly is met with these five who turn out to be tougher than expected and take down these different sadistic clowns one after under. While their numbers also dwindle gradually, the game itself and the whole concept is done pretty well.

However, there are some serious execution issues that doesn’t quite strike a balance with its quick pacing. Usually with movies like this and ideal movie length, its hard to be very critical of its execution as it usually keeps the characters on their toes and becomes an exciting watch. Don’t get me wrong – it is a fun and rather intense watch. Each of these killer clowns also have their own unique qualities that give them their own edge. It all dials down to how these five taking down these clowns in a fairly swift manner actually brings in this element that these clowns aren’t on screen long enough to feel like they are deadly. It becomes obvious that the main showstopper is the first one that is in the opening scene, Doom-Head (Richard Brake) who does a stellar job and makes us wonder whether the film’s end game giving him the most depth and focus actually should have just been this sole much more capable threat than adding so much more.

To be fair, the five carnival workers is a good balance as well. They each have their own value in the group and its pretty fair game as they find their way to survive together and move on as they lose their own group one by one. Leading all this is tough chick, Charly, played by Sheri Moon Zombie who is no doubt meant to be the highlight of the film. She does a pretty good job at being the “final girl” candidate and in all reality, my only thought of question in a much more unimportant and random thought is how her little outfit stayed together through all the fighting, running and hiding.

31 is an okay movie. There are some issues with it and yet, there’s also some entertaining elements to it as well. Its ending a little questionable and will probably be debatable on who will like it and who won’t depending on how you like your movies to end.

Justice League (2016)

justice league

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry  Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciaran Hinds, Amber Heard

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his new-found ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. – IMDB

DC Universe is still one that I’m catching up to gradually. Its been spotty at best to catch onto especially with Marvel Cinematic Universe’s earlier domination. However, the effort is there plus, I’m a fan of Gal Gadot played by Wonder Woman so why not, right? Thing is Justice League is like your typical superhero movie. Its nothing too different from what you’d expect and its hard to not compare it to something like The Avengers who had a lot of success when it first launched. Sure, its a different universe but then the story superhero movies do tell is about the same, seeing as I’m not a comic book fan so my focus on watching these films is more about enjoyment than all the background lore that I know nothing about from its source material.

With all that said, Justice League actually was a pleasant surprise. Its 2 hour run time is filled pretty well. There is a good balance between the characters and their purpose in the storyline as a whole. There is a suitable amount of banter between its characters to keep it entertaining. Ezra Miller’s The Flash actually is a big highlight which takes over a little of a the Spider-Man appeal where its a lot of fanboy over the other superheroes but keeping him a good back-up support when things get dicey. The dynamic between the group also works fairly well. Considering that I hated the pacing of Batman vs. Superman and has since forgotten most of it, Justice League has much better pacing.

Like what I’ve been saying about the last few DC movies (except for Wonder Woman that really does stand out more, in my opinion), these superhero movies have their fun blockbuster elements. The villain is acceptable. Its a tad lengthy (like most superhero movies in whichever universe) and its execution sometimes is okay. but the overall experience is alright. It might be the over-saturated superhero market and its rather formulaic plot execution that has somehow desensitized the initial excitement of these films. DC movies seem to struggle to grab the element that makes them stand out more and each story more memorable. Its a good first time viewing but its hard to say whether I’d be going back to watch it again.

That’s it for this double feature!
Some pleasant surprises but still have some disappointing elements for both films!
Have you seen 31 and/or Justice League? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Black Panther (2018) & A Wrinkle In Time (2018)

Next Double Feature here! This time its multi-themed, I guess. Both 2018 movies and also part of the Disney movies so we have A Wrinkle in Time and paired with Marvel’s Black Panther. Not the same type of movies or directed to the same audience but I figured it was the best way to pair it together. Let’s check it out!

Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther

Director (and co-writer): Ryan Coogler

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past. – IMDB

Marvel movies are pretty much churning out non-stop at this point with multiple film releases in a year. Black Panther had a lot of buzz and praise. While we had already seen T’Challa show up in a previous Marvel movie, this one takes place after Captain America: Civil War where we did see T’Challa appear in (I think) and while not an origin story is somewhat of the story of Wakanda, their rituals and land as well as how the kingdom is run. It also shows the rise and fall from the kingdom for T’Challa as he finds his way back to the throne. Its not meant to be a bad comment but I actually felt a lot like I was watching the story of The Lion King.

As with the majority of Marvel movies, its the length that really bothers me and its also one of the reasons why its taken so long to catch up with Black Panther. While I still think the movie was a tad longer than it needed to be and dragged in some parts and its still a rather superhero formula type of movie, what stands out in Black Panther is the unique kingdom and clans that surround it and seeing the different characters fall apart or become allies. There’s a sense of true pride with the characters and Chadwick Boseman is really good as Black Panther.

In terms of villains, its somewhat of a two-fold villain where Andy Serkis plays one part of it and then Michael B. Jordan plans the second part of it. Villains are always one of the weaknesses of Marvel movies in my opinion as it has so much focus on the superhero coming out on top that it makes the villain less threatening because it just never has the time to build. In this case, its not exactly great but I’d say that Michael B. Jordan makes for a better villain and it might be simply because the reasoning behind what he does makes sense and has its own backstory that gets revealed and connects everything together.

Overall, Black Panther is decent. I can’t say that I’m running back to watch it mostly for its length. But, in terms of Marvel films, this one falls somewhere in the middle due it having some unique origin story elements, character development and Wakanda “world” building elements.

A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

A Wrinkle in Time

Director: Ava DuVernay

Cast: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Pena

After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him. – IMDB

Live action fantasy adventure films for family/children is always a little bit of hit and miss when it comes to Disney offerings. A Wrinkle in Time is based on a 1962 novel of the same name that I haven’t read so I have no comparison to source material and really just how it delivers as the movie. A Wrinkle in Time falls somewhere in the middle. Its feels a bit like pieces stuck together so always has that disjointed feeling but at the same time, the new world is fantastical and just like the three astral travelers, they all happen to be a little odd as well. Its really a search for a father who has gone missing as they chase down where he might have gone because of his research and how the planet needs their help in order to battle the darkness which leaks into their own planet and causes negative things to happen, like bullying and envy. With that said, the sentimental elements here are done pretty well in terms of a family film. Visually, the movie also delivers on all the fantasy and sci-fi elements which is where the story itself truly has a lot of fun.

The cast itself is decent as well with a lot of star power behind it. The three astral travelers are played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling who each have a little personality that balances each other out and their own abilities. The older kids are played Storm Reid and Levi Miller who does a decent job as well. There are other performances by Michael Pena and Zach Galifianakis. All the characters are a tad quirky and there’s a little cryptic element as they go through this search towards helping save this planet from their dangers. The story is a little messy at times but there is a decent level of imagination in what it presents. To be fair, its not completely engrossing to watch but at the same time, its a pretty harmless family film. You get what you’d expect from a Disney family adventure film pretty much.

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

Double Feature: Shazam! (2019) & Klaus (2019)

The next double feature is here! While an unlikely pair (to those who haven’t seen Shazam!), its actually both films set at Christmas time. Imagine my surprise when I went to watch a superhero movie (in the last remaining hours of the rental, might I add) to find that I had opened one fitting to the current movie theme this month. Catching up to 2019 movies while watching some holiday films, here we go!

Shazam! (2019)

shazam!

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Meagan Goode, Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, Ian Chen, Ross Butler, Jovan Armand, D. J. Cotrona

A newly fostered young boy in search of his mother instead finds unexpected super powers and soon gains a powerful enemy. – IMDB

I don’t really know the different superheroes and I’ve already mentioned it before too much. Shazam is one that I’m actually not familiar at all and when I realized that it was from DC, I kind of got a little worried. So far, my favorite movie experience has been Wonder Woman as everything else is a little bit of a mixed bag. Shazam got some pretty good reviews when it was released in theatres so I had it on my list since then to check it out.

Shazam is something of a breath of fresh air. It has some nice moments that feel parallel to some of the Marvel film scenes but, it also has a really nice comedy element to it that works really well with the age of the actors here and just really nailing that age difference and superhero responsibilities and all that fun bits about family and whatnot. It embraces the whole being a child and wanting to be someone different, bigger or stronger or whatnot and somehow as Shazam gets thrown this responsibility out of nowhere, its all a bond with his new foster brother to figure out what is the best way to approach this and all the fame that he has gotten because of it and how to find the balance of his real life. Zachary Levi as Shazam definitely takes it on with so much style and fun. At the same time, his foster brother is played by Jack Dylan Grazer who does a great job (just like he did in IT Chapter 1 & Chapter 2).

Mark Strong plays the villain here which does work. Superhero movies always have the not too threatening villain and here as Black Adam, he does have quite a nice overall appearance and vibe although he never feels like his threats are present enough since its more the second half of the film that the two collide together and then fight it through until the end.

Shazam! does follow the superhero formula but probably because it has that comedic twist and the whole age change between reality and superhero form that it adds a little more charm to the whole experience. There is this innocence and simplicity to Shazam and that works its wonders here. Plus, I’m a sucker for movies set during Christmas, giving it a somewhat alternate Christmas movie vibe, which gives it extra points.

Klaus (2019)

Klaus

Director: Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martinez Lopez

Voice Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, J.K. Simmons, Joan Cusack, Norm Macdonald, Will Sasso, Sergio Pablos, Neda Margrethe Labba

A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. When Smeerensburg’s new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions. – IMDB

Netflix has had its hit and misses but it really needs to get more of these Netflix Originals where its animated. So far, they have picked up some really nice projects with this one and of course, French-animation I Lost My Body (Review). I’m sure there are others but I still have a lot of Netflix Originals to catch up with other than you know, Super Monsters or something that I happen to keep watching during some kind of holiday. With that said, Klaus is a family animation which goes back to creating an original story of how the concept of Santa Claus started out in the middle of nowhere with a feud tradition between two families and a rich boy of the postal company getting sent to the middle of nowhere by  his father to find some worth. A scheme to boost the almost non-existent need and desire for the postal service  through the kids turns into something of a kind act leading to the quote and powers this movie: “A true selfless act always sparks another.”

Klaus might not sound very special or different as it piles on some rather similar plot points together but no one has really done the origins of Santa Claus (at least from what I know) and that in itself is rather fun and the story itself becomes a heartwarming experience of finding purpose and bringing together the society that was previously filled with hate that had no other reasoning than to keep up a tradition. It is filled with a lot of positive messages and the animation itself is absolutely beautiful to watch with a lot of charming and/or cute characters. Plus, there is some really great voice acting with Klaus voiced by the talent J.K. Simmons and one of the opposing families is lead by Mrs. Krum who is voiced by Joan Cusack, who has been frequently seen in Netflix Originals and very talented as well.

Klaus is a charming little Christmas movie addition for sure that will make it onto my annual line-up in coming years because its so fun to watch. If nothing else charms you, the little girl Margu voiced by Neda Margrethe Labba and there is one scene that always makes me so happy. A surprisingly wonderful film that you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet.

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

Double Feature: Split (2016) & Aquaman (2018)

DOUBLEFEATURE (10)

The next double feature has come around and this time we’re going a lot more mainstream than the last one. They really have nothing in common (at least I don’t think so) but happens to be films I recently watched. The first is Split which we saw over the Fan Expo weekend and paired with that is Aquaman, continuing my not in order viewings of the DC films, but it was a cheap rental so here we are.

Let’s check it out!

Split (2016)

Split 2016

Director (and writer): M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Izzie Coffey, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus

Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th. – IMDB

Having not seen Unbreakable before, this movie is a second movie in a trilogy which ends with this year’s Glass (which I haven’t seen either). However, it does feel like a standalone film so that is okay. Split is a film that predominantly felt like it had some positive ratings so being something that looked more of a psychological thriller, it was on my to-watch list. With that said, Split was a pretty good film overall but in the spectrum of things, James McAvoy is really the star of the show that takes it away. Its more a show of how flexible his acting can be rather than the actual context of the story being an intriguing one. That’s not saying that there weren’t thrills and maybe even some cheap jumpscares.

The story of Split can be viewed in two ways. The first is the pressing matter of this man who comes in with various personalities that these girls discover and soon through the psychiatrist scenes and such, there’s a knowledge growing on who is the boss among these personalities and their nature while at the same time, there’s this second matter of seeing Casey, who is obviously the tough one of the three girls, played by Ana Taylor-Joy who does a decent job and her flashbacks to her childhood related to hunting with her father and uncle which goes on some tangent that I didn’t quite appreciate.

Split is an okay movie. The story itself shone because of James McAvoy’s character and the multiple personalities that went through the scenes and it was fascinating to see those moments but as the film drew to a close, it felt like it went off track and didn’t quite end as strong as it started.

Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman

Director: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park, Graham McTavish

Arthur Curry, the human-born heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, goes on a quest to prevent a war between the worlds of ocean and land. – IMDB

I’ve only watched 2 DC films to date: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (review) and Wonder Woman (review) which was a pretty low point and a fairly high point respectively. With that in mind, Aquaman was bound to hit somewhere in the middle and it did. It wasn’t exactly out of my expectations which were pretty low to begin with. Having not done a ton of research either, it was surprising to see the cast that it had including Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren and of course, Amber Heard (which I honestly think the last film I saw her in was All The Boys Love Mandy Lane).

If I were to talk about what is wrong with Aquaman, boy, we would be here for a while. The simple version is that its actually quite meh. The dialogue is a not too good. A lot of it feels really stupid. The effects aren’t too great especially the whole underwater conference and riding these different sea creatures. The characters themselves are also quite shallow where it never seems that we connect with them enough to care. At the same time, the whole deal with the revenge situation and such feels a little disjointed. Now, if we were to talk about some good things. Jason Momoa probably would be one of them as he fits into the Aquaman role quite good and I’m not even too huge on a man sporting a man-bun. But, there are some fun moments that he brings out as Aquaman.

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

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

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

Let’s check it out!

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

the incredible hulk

Director: Louis Leterrier

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

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

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

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

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

spider-man homecoming

Director: Jon Watts

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

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

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

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

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

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon: The Dark Knight (2008) by MovieRob

Next up is one of the most avid and frequent movie reviews in our blogging community, MovieRob. If you haven’t been to his blog, he just reached his 5000th review milestone. His reviews are straight and to the point, features a cool quote, some trivia. Its a blast to join in and see everything he watches and reviews. If you haven’t been there before, you should definitely head there and check it out.  This time he takes us to a great film in the 2000s, no doubt a lot of people’s favorite, The Dark Knight, the second film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy. Do I really need to introduce it more?


dark knightI just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan”. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!” – The Joker

Number of Times Seen – More than 10 times (Twice in Theater including opening Day, DVD, Jun 2012, 13 May 2014, 20 Apr 2017 and 8 Jan 2019)

Link to original reviewHere and Here

Brief Synopsis – After a new villainous threat begins to terrorize Gotham, Batman teams up with Gordon and the new DA, Harvey Dent to try and save the city.

If you have never seen this movie, I urge you to stop reading this post, read my two original non-spoiler reviews (linked Here and Here), watch the movie and finally after you’ve seen it, absorbed it and even cheered a bit (I did every time that I’ve watched it) then come back here for a review and analysis full of spoilers.

spoiler alert

I have always been a fan of superhero movies and always enjoyed watching the Tim Burton version of Batman.

When Christopher Nolan made this film he found a way to completely raise the level of genre and it no longer was considered just fun but it now also could be a powerful storytelling device.

Bat man Begins was also great, but this film did so much near perfect and remains even after 11 years the very best superhero movie ever made and will probably remain that way for quite a long time.

No one (not even Nolan) himself have been able to find a story to top this one no matter how hard they have tried.

Heath Ledger does a superb job as the Joker and also remains the best portrayal of a superhero villain on film.

With this performance, he was able to break free of the stigma that Superhero movies are not just for kids.

Ledger won an Oscar for his performance and the film itself caused a change in the whole Oscar voting system because how could a film this powerful fail to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

The music by Hans Zimmer is haunting and allows us to get into this complex and amazing story of good vs. evil so well it resonates for days after watching it.

The action sequences are planned extraordinarily and the story is filled with so many twists and turns that you are in for a helluva thrilling ride.

This is no children’s superhero film because they let some of the main characters die which helps make this story feel even more realistic because no one is truly safe from the terror of the villain.

The kinds of ‘tricks’ tat the Joker plays works really well because they give the viewer so much to think about.

This isn’t just a villain who wants money or carnage, he is one who will do anything to mess with the minds of those trying to stop him.

This is all apparent from the first scene because we see how the bank heist moves in ways that are quite unique and allow us to get an idea as to what kind of chaos the Joker is trying to put Gotham through just for the very fun of it all.

The fact that we learn nothing about the Joker also works really well because it adds to the unpredictability of it all.

The Joker pours his heart out twice during the film about how he got his scars but both stories contradict one another which leads us to believe that he just likes to tell crazy stories and it doesn’t matter if they are true or not.

It’s too bad that playing this character put such a toll on Ledger that he ended up accidentally overdosing while trying to recover from this transformation.

He was quite deserving of his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role and remains one of the best screen villains to date.

The story is very dark, yet still feels so realistic throughout and this is still Nolan’s best film that even he will have trouble topping one day.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The bus crashing backwards into the bank in the opening sequence was much harder to pull off than was anticipated. The bus had to be taken apart and reassembled inside the building (a disused post office), concealed behind a large false wall, and then propelled backwards with an air cannon. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (10/10)


A huge thanks to MovieRob for joining us with this fantastic choice to share his favorite film of the 2000s. Its one that ranks pretty high with us as well. Remember to head over and check out his blog and give him a follow!

As always, you can find the full list of entries updated daily HERE!

Valentine’s Double Feature: Krrish (2006) & Little Dragon Maiden (1983)

Nothing does better than a foreign film double feature, right? Haha. Its the reality over here however, with a Bollywood superhero/romance film Krrish and a Shaw Brothers film, Little Dragon Maiden, I’m hoping that these two Netflix alphabet selections will grab some of your attention. I had no choice because the choices were really limited for these two letters plus let’s be honest that a Bollywood viewing has been overdue.

Let’s check it out!

Krrish (2006)

Krrish

Director: Rakesh Roshan
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Rekha, Sharat Saxena, Manini M. Mishra, Naseeruddin Shah

Krishna is forced by circumstances to use his superpowers and become a masked superhero, Krrish, before getting drawn towards his lost legacy. – IMDB

Being the very clueless person that I am, I totally didn’t realize that Koi Mil Gaaya is actually the movie before Krrish which this movie refers to quite a bit but still stays self-contained so not watching the previous one didn’t affect my understanding of this at all. With that said, this one is a Bollywood superhero movie which starts off pretty heavy on the romance and Bollywood bits with the second act being more Krishna (Hrithik Roshan) discovering his way to be helpful but keep his identity hidden as a superhero/vigilante. The third act is being a lot more action-packed with more fight scenes.

Starring the very handsome Hrithik Roshan (who I first saw in Dhoom 2) and the beautiful pre-Hollywood Priyanka Chopra, its really quite fun to see them together although the romance bits are pretty much really cheesy (as you would expect in a Bollywood film). At the same time, the story is pretty innocent especially because Roshan’s character Krishna has lived most of his life away from people and big cities so when he goes to Singapore to follow the love of his life, he’s a bit like fish out of pond sort of deal which always brings in some laughter but then he is always incredibly smart because he has special abilities. While the romance parts took up most of the first act and a part of the second act, it still felt not as effective as the center of the film being about Krishna finding the way to become Krrish, a masked superhero who ends up saving the day when a fire breaks out at the circus and then leading him to discover his own background especially his father’s past against the evil man of a big corporation who dreams about building a machine to see the future and become God. This part all links to the first film mentioned above because that story is told there.

All in all, as great as Priyanka Chopra and Hrithik Roshan is in Krrish, the romance didn’t grab me a whole lot and the songs weren’t really my taste either. However, while the romance here didn’t quite work, the superhero aspect did. Sure, there was some unrealistic CG effects going on here but then this movie is in the 2000s so its easy to overlook it. I’d be interested to eventually catch up with the first film and the movie after this one, oddly titled Krrish 3 (which made me think that there was a Krrish 2 until I did further research).

Little Dragon Maiden (1983)

little dragon maiden

Director: Shan Hua
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Jing-Jing Yung, Kuan Tai Chen, Leanne Lau, Ni Tien

Little Dragon Maiden mixes the old with the new to create pure golden magic as kung-fu fighting veterans Chen Kuan-Tai and Lo Lieh join relative newcomer Leslie Cheung in a far-out swordplay love story that rocks. – IMDB

Guilty as charged that I haven’t really seen any Shaw Brothers films. If I have, it was when I was really young that I don’t even remember it. However, big fan of Leslie Cheung here and Little Dragon Maiden is a story that almost everyone who knows the Chinese culture has heard of and know at least the basic love story involved. Even though, I haven’t seen a whole lot of movie interpretations of it before, this might be the first one that I finished, its a familiar story.

Somehow pairing this with Krrish works because most of the story is about Yang Guo played by Leslie Cheung who starts off as an orphan and ends up being taken in by who he learns is his father’s killer who doesn’t want to teach him martial arts and when asked, gets sent to join a martial arts sect who bullies him because of his father and he ends up seeking refuge in the Ancient Tomb sect which is where the Little Dragon Maiden is. Because of a promise she made, she ends up taking him in despite the sect’s rules. The obvious happens where they do fall in love. I can get that this story would be touching but due to the length and how its executed, its more outstanding in its martial arts and personality development in Yang Guo rather than the love story which involved some misunderstandings and some bad stuff that happens to the Little Dragon Maiden.

With that said, the fight scenes here and the martial arts bits and such are really fun to watch. Similar to how I liked the creatures in Labyrinth, Little Dragon Maiden has the magical Condor who is a key element in the actual book that its based on which ends up making a late appearance but the design as silly as it looks because it just didn’t age well, there is this fantastic charm to it. You can see it in the poster above.

That’s it for this Valentine’s double feature for the K & L selection!
Have you seen these two foreign films? If so, thoughts?

Double Feature: Chasing the Dragon (2017) & Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Welcome back to the next double feature! Its been a while, right? I’ll try to be better…I guess I was more burnt out from writing reviews that even I could imagine. Overall, I’m just feeling mostly burned out and not in the mood for writing lately but I’m slowly getting back on track.

With that said, no specific reason when I first chose these two together but the banners are looking like there is a versus vibe to it. 😉 This double feature is 2017 Hong Kong film Chasing the Dragon starring Donnie Yen and Andy Lau, which had its wave of popularity when it was announced and released in Hong Kong (judging from Facebook activity) and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a DC film that I honestly didn’t care too much about to begin with but it was going to leave Netflix and I just went for it, hoping that low expectations might make it a little more entertaining. One high hopes and one low expectations, lets see how they truly fare, right?

Chasing the Dragon (2017)

Chasing the Dragon

Director: Jason Kwan, Jing Wong, Aman Chang

Cast: Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Philip Keung, Wilfred Lau, Kang Yu, Kent Cheng, Bryan Larkin, Ben Ng, Ken Tong, Dongdong Xu

An illegal immigrant from Mainland China sneaks into corrupt British-colonized Hong Kong in 1963, transforming himself into a ruthless and emerging drug lord. – IMDB

Chasing the Dragon is said to be based on a true story of real life gangster, Ng Sek-ho and also a remake of the 1991 film, To Be Number One. I don’t know much about the history and I don’t think I’ve seen that movie before so I have no idea how it compares. However, Chasing the Dragon is a good one. Its a bit different from how you would normally perceive in a movie solely focused in Donnie Yen’s fighting abilties.

In this one, he plays the gangster Crippled Ho who while has one or two really good fight scenes, he spends most of it being a triad leader. For audience who don’t speak Chinese, it is a pity because the achievement here is how Donnie Yen takes over the character and nails this really fantastic accent while not making it sound goofy but still manage to feel threatening especially since the movie is set in characters sitting in grey areas. On one hand, there’s a lot of bad that has happened and it feels like Crippled Ho was pushed into the situation and we can’t help but to fight for his escape and Andy Lau (the awesome actor that he is) plays Lee Rock, a corrupted cop who will do anything to be number one and finds his support with Lee Rock. You can see where his grey area is because he becomes fairly ruthless. Their appearances are aided a lot by an even more evil cast by Bryan Larkin as Hunt, an arrogant and even more ruthless British cop who is the top dog and feels threatened by Lee Rock’s promotion. This guy is scripted in such a  way that makes him so hard to like, and it was the intent.

Chasing the Dragon is very much a Hong Kong film and rather meant for a Chinese speaking audience. Be it the way the movie is and how the language, especially the slang nature of Cantonese can get lost in translation easy. The successes of the film also rely on various elements that rely on understanding why Donnie Yen is so convincing in his role. I’m not sure that if I was just reading subtitles and not totally understanding some of the history (the little bit that I know), how it would changed my enjoyment for it. There are some pacing issues and some rather forced bits possibly over-dramatized. While its a pretty good film, its definitely not the best. It met my expectations but I have to say that might have to do with my respect for both of these actors as well as the great supporting cast that was on screen.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot

Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. – IMDB

Let’s make it really clear that I haven’t seen Man of Steel so I don’t know what happened to make Batman so angry except for the little recap snippet in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As I said before, my expectations for this one wasn’t high. My difference here is just that I  didn’t feel convinced about this film from the trailer. I have no issue with Ben Affleck as Batman, maybe a tiny issue with Henry Cavill as Superman, mostly because I haven’t seen a movie he has done that I like. The issue with the film might not exactly be the cast because they are all great actors and do a pretty good job. Where this film falls apart is its length which made the pacing so horrible. The story itself falls apart and is flat out boring. It never feels like much happens. There’s some stealthy useless stealing scene, Wonder Woman gets in the way, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor does his crazy act and then takes them down a notch from their high superhero ways and they put aside from issues and team up to fight him. Not exactly a riveting story in my mind but some basic stuff with a lot of padding in between. I wonder if its because I haven’t seen Man of Steel that I don’t have that connection with Superman so I don’t have any stake in how much I care about his making it out of this or not. But the movie itself just wasn’t good because it was boring and at times, felt so pointless.

Either way, not one that I’ll go visit. So far, the top DC film out of the two (and a tenth of Man of Steel) that I’ve seen is definitely  Wonder Woman (review). Not in a hurry to catch up with the DC films just yet. I had low expectations and this one possibly even went a bit lower than that.

Double Feature: Doctor Strange (2016) & A Little Chaos (2014)

Welcome to a much more star-studded double feature! It feels like I don’t watch enough mainstream films anymore but as I am trying to catch up with the few Marvel films that I haven’t seen, I landed on Doctor Strange a few weeks ago but just couldn’t find a worthy pairing for it until well, A Little Chaos the other day which is a period drama but still has the weight of a bigger film to match up. I am working on a few filns that are supposed to leave Netflix in June so those reviews should be coming up.

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange

Director: Scott Derrickson

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins

While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts. – IMDB

I am not going to lie that I had my doubts about Doctor Strange, but it ended up being surprisingly good. I have my issues with Marvel that everyone else doesn’t always seem to have especially in terms of The Avengers and Loki. I find that Marvel movies in general suffer from weak villains who don’t have enough presence to make them threatening. But then can we really blame a superhero film because we know the named superhero will become victorious in the end. However, as much as I still dislike using a bunch of Western actors in source material Asian roles seems ridiculous, I honestly do love Tilda Swinton as an actress because she is unique and then the villain is Mads Mikkelsen who did a fairly decent job as well. To be fair, Doctor Strange is a fun role as Marvel injects a lot of humor in their franchise which is a good approach. Benedict Cumberbatch, known for his Sherlock Holmes role definitely had what it takes for it since those roles other than the deductive abilities swapped into a superhero abilities were quite relatable.

doctor strange

The action here was different mostly because it was about shifting and illusions, something like what you’d see in Inception. There are lots of great moments and some comedic moments to lighten up the mood. Apparently the world of MCU is always on extremes of being on the brink of disasters, luckily the heroes always find their strength to make it a little better and in Doctor Strange’s world and his manipulation of time, things can just reverse itself. I may sound sarcastic or maybe a little tired of superhero films, but Doctor Strange is okay. Its fun but nothing outstanding in the MCU realm. The feelings I have towards Doctor Strange are starting to feel lesser and lesser everyday as I start to feel it being forgettable. I enjoyed it more than I expected so that gets a lot of points there. Plus, that ending was all about setting up for a next film or at least an upcoming villain perhaps.

A Little Chaos (2014)

a little chaos

Director: Alan Rickman

Cast: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Jennifer Ehle

Two talented landscape artists become romantically entangled while building a garden in King Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles. – IMDB

I’m going to be honest that I love believe that Alan Rickman is a talented man however, I have a lot to catch up in his filmography. With that said, it came as a surprise to me that A Little Chaos was his work as a director. I’m a big fan of period dramas. One of the main selling points is the costume design. In A Little Chaos, it delivers very well especially highlighting the contrast between Kate Winslet’s Sabine De Barra being her normal non-royalty outfits where she gets dirty and they are very basic compared to say the extravagant French royalty with their wigs and big dresses. Matching with the beautiful costume designs is of course my favorite thing about period dramas and that is the score. From the moment the score started in A Little Chaos, I was in love with it. It was so beautiful and matched the scenes so very well. Kudos to Peter Gregson on a great job!

a little chaos

Another really great point of A Little Chaos has to be for those beautiful period drama settings. In this case, it is set in France and the King’s Gardens of Versaille. I’ve been to Versaille back in 1994 and to this day, I still remember a lot of the beautiful environments there and I was just 8 years old back then. This movie has a lot of focus on the whole gardening aspect and the passion for it and how this brought together the two main characters. The cinematography and production set of it all is done really well. Aside from this, the cast here is lead primarily by some familiar faces like the ever so elegant and talented Kate Winslet who is stunning as this female gardener who breaks the societal norms of this period. Paired with her is the also very talented Matthias Schoenaerts who I love so very much not just for his charming appearance but his acting chops. Of course, acting as both director and the King Louis XIV is Alan Rickman and well, we also somehow always get these little supporting roles with Stanley Tucci. The cast here does deliver quite charming and beautiful performances for their characters.

Now, where A Little Chaos loses its appeal is really in the story. For most of it, it feel disjointed and to be honest, it can be boring because there isn’t anything too extreme about it. The romance is quite subtle where its just exchanges of glances and small conversations. It jumps to events that happen that don’t really seem to make any big differences but to bring in some circumstance for people to meet up. There is never any huge turning point that happens. I know what was meant to be that moment but it never feels like it had enough build-up to make it worth it. It just felt rather flat and disjointed and if it wasn’t for these charming talented cast on screen dazzling us with their performances, this would have been a snoozefest. Sad to say, but if the script was a little better, the outstanding character created for Kate Winslet’s character Sabine de Barra and the hints of chemistry between her and Matthias Schoenaerts who plays Andre Le Notre, the King’s gardener would have been quite the romance to watch. Still, it fell short of its potential.