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

Time for the next double feature.

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

Eloise (2017)

Eloise

Director: Robert Legato

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

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

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

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

The 5th Wave (2016)

The 5th Wave

Director: J. Blakeson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s check it out!

The Cave (2005)

the cave

Director: Bruce Hunt

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

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

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

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

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

Death Note (2017)

death note

Director: Adam Wingard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you seen The Cave and/or Death Note?

Double Feature: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) & Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time we are doing a double rental feature. Both of these were films that I rented in the last little while and its one that we’ve been wanting to see and both are sequels.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

Director: Jake Kasdan

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Rhys Darby, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas

Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game. – IMDB

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to the 1995 Jumanji film. With anything like that, it takes a lot of care. For one, it needs to keep in mind that it is its sequel and keep the heart of it but also give it the modernized world standard. At the same time, still giving respect to the success of the first one. Luckily, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle makes it slight changes to make it not a remake but a sequel that happens years after the original. It acknowledges the original board game format and then gives the reasons of how it turns into a video game format. The whole player and video game world is one that works really well also plus they add in the four players and role-playing game style.

With that said, the heart of the film really is the cast themselves and how they interpret each of their roles. Dwayne Johnson always aims to please with his humor. It becomes hilarious to just watch these characters take on the opposite of who they are in reality, for better or for worse. In the case of his character, Spencer who is a nerdy scrawny nobody in school, this transformation aims to have a few laughs as he gets fascinated at being somebody. While on the other hand, we have the jock character who turns into Kevin Hart. After Central Intelligence (review), we are already familiar with how great Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson work as a comedic duo. They bring in a lot of laughs. However, Jack Black is the star of the show as he embodies a self-absorbed high school girl. I can’t imagine anyone else excelling at that role as he did. Pure entertainment!

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel that honestly didn’t really need to happen. Being a huge fan of the original, it was one that I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Luckily, as unnecessary as it was, it was a ton of fun and that was all it needed to be.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

sicario day of the soldado

Director: Stefano Sollimo

Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Matthew Modine

The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro. – IMDB

You can check out the review of Sicario HERE.

In a nutshell, I was pretty enthralled with Sicario. Probably not so much that I went running to watch its sequel for a few specific reasons, the main one being that the ending of the first one was pretty gloomy and I wasn’t really down for anything like that. In many ways, Sicario: Day of the Soldado takes a different approach. It still has its twists and turns and it still maintains a pretty decent atmosphere and locks in those ethics and morals and the right and wrong of the situation. In that sense, the characters and the situation at hand all work out pretty decently. Plus, it takes the whole wondering how messed up a situation is when the government okays their people to make up a situation controlled by them to push the tension on other situations. It also looks at the extents of what is the greater evil and the means to meet the ends of a situation. Sicario has always been about making those big choices that feel wrong and its the heart of these stories especially when fighting cartels.

As great as watching Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin was in this film. Their roles are pretty great. Their characters do get quite a bit of change. However, if anything what it feels like here is that after Sicario, we already know to expect that things aren’t going to go as planned and that something is going to happen as a twist and there’s going to be something deeper to the story that is at hand. Because of that, it doesn’t quite hit as poignantly as the first one. I’m going to be honest that in my mind, I didn’t think that Sicario needed a sequel. The first movie shone because of Emily Blunt (for me) and taking her out of the equation now (because there was no way she was coming back), didn’t seem like it would work. Good news is that the movie still works, just not as effectively as the first one. Its still pretty good though.

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

Double Feature: A Quiet Place (2018) & Bird Box (2018)

This double feature is incredibly late. I saw these quite early this year. I always meant to pair these two together. While A Quiet Place and Birdbox are quite different, they both rely on honing into one sense and that is a fantastic angle that had me intrigued right from the moment I first saw any trailers for it, plus they both have leading ladies that I liked a lot as well.

Let’s check it out!

A Quiet Place (2018)

a quiet place

Director: John Krasinski

Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward

In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. – IMDB

A Quiet Place is one those movies that are incredibly interesting in terms of the premise. Its an intense thriller because of the use of the silence and the meticulousness of the little details of how this family lives. The strength of the film has a lot to do with the quiet and the mysterious control of the monsters here. It also has to do with the script and the characters and how they each grow throughout the film to see what place they each have. There is no doubt that Emily Blunt and John Krasinski bring a lot to the film however, who does stand out is Millicent Simmonds and the emphasis on the relationship of her with her parents especially the journey she has as she lives with this guilt and these abilities. The best parts are the hunt and the genuine feeling of survival and the stakes in play.

However, there is one thing  that I can’t get past for this film. It has to do with the basis of this film of how the situation managed to get to the dangerous state that it is and that is Emily Blunt’s character’s pregnant state. Very different from it being a situation that happened before the danger arrived, this happened while knowing the risks of it. With that said, this doesn’t align with the whole mentality of what this family we see has tried to achieve the entire time. That is a plot hole in my opinion and something that feels contrived. Aside from that though, because as the movie intensifies, its easy to ignore and accept the situation at hand and it delivers on a lot of levels. Seeing as this is John Krasinski’s debut directorial effort, this is a solid piece.

The only thing that I’ve had on my mind (which still I wonder on) is that while the movie relies on silence, there is a prominent soundtrack that sometimes is less than subtle. It makes me wonder whether it would have achieved more with less soundtrack and more focus on the quiet. Its something that bothered me also when I saw The VVitch (review).

Bird Box (2018)

bird box

Director: Susanne Bier

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Vivien Lyra Blair, Julian Edwards, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, BD Wong

Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a mother and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety. – IMDB

Bird Box is a really nice example of how the big Hollywood can take in a sophisticated filmmaking efforts that Netflix has to offer. There are things that don’t always make sense and it has its moments that aren’t quite as refined but this post-apocalyptic world and the world-building and the survival and character developing is all such a huge part of what makes Bird Box shine above all those imperfections. In some ways, there are  a lot of parallels to A Quiet Place but somehow Bird Box works better in that aspect because it starts in a situation that was made out of necessity. The structure of how the story is told makes a contribution to its success and effectiveness. All the way from why Sandra Bullock’s character changes over the course and seeing the need to find salvation to her two kids who she calls Girl and Boy and remains nameless throughout the film. The history of it makes it work because it helps build up the different elements of the invisible danger outside.

Sandra Bullock is an awesome actress and she takes on this role so well. A lot of credit has to go with the character being written really well. There’s a lot of great actors in here which creates a lot of layers to the story itself, making it a more psychological experience and a human nature sort of deal. There’s a more self-preserved character that is more grounded to the reality of the post-apocalypse played brilliantly by John Malkovich and a fairly shorter role of BD Wong and then, a great performance playing opposite Sandra Bullock by Trevante Rhodes that we first saw in Moonlight (review).

Bird Box stands out to me the most because of its tension. Its psychological aspects especially because the whole nature of the villain or outside factor that attacks civilization is about that as well. There are a lot of little details and reveals in the story that make it work. In some ways, there are elements that remind me of 28 Days Later and having the sense of hearing becoming a central sense works here also.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen A Quiet Place & Bird Box?

The Two Sisters of Borneo (Ava Lee #6) by Ian Hamilton

If you missed the reviews on the previous novels in this series, you can check out these links:

The Water Rat of Wanchai
The Disciple of Las Vegas
The Wild Beasts of Wuhan
The Red Pole of Macau
The Scottish Banker of Surabaya

The Two Sisters of Borneo
(Ava Lee #6)

By: Ian Hamilton

two sisters of borneo

Ava has been in Hong Kong looking after Uncle. She has also set up an investment company with May Ling Wong and her sister-in-law, Amanda Yee. One of their first investments — a furniture company owned by two sisters in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo — runs into immediate problems with a Dutch customer. Ava goes to the Netherlands to investigate, but her life is threatened when she is confronted by a gang of local thugs in Borneo. Out of the shadows comes a mysterious man from Shanghai – IMDB

One of my favorite series ever and one of the most random discoveries that was a pleasant surprise is diving into the Ava Lee series. I picked up the first book of the series, The Water Rat of Wanchai because of its Hong Kong location title. Six books in now and almost 4 years since I read the 5th book, I have a lot of catching up to do but the most important thing is that, the world is still so amazing to jump into. The best thing about this book series is the whole commitment of being fairly self-contained. The investigation in question may have characters from previous books but they always have sufficient information to make sure they are outlined enough even without knowing about the previous books.

Over the course of the books (and I urge you to start this series from the beginning), Ava Lee has developed a lot and still has a lot of room for it. Its really nice especially in The Two Sisters of Borneo because it hits close to home both with her personal issues but also with the investigation she dives into showing us that Ava Lee is very much a tough woman but also vulnerable in her own way as well making her very human and keeps adding new elements and twists to her forensic accounting skills. While I love the self-contained aspects of these books, the other characters have also grown and as we get to know Ava’s family and friends more, they become these staple characters and have built at this point to something that can be described as the first phase over with in the Ava Lee series at the end of this one. To me, that is a pretty smart move because it will give it a whole new dynamic but I won’t say how to avoid any spoilers.

I am getting ahead of myself to lets reel it back in. The Two Sisters of Borneo brings us to yet another exotic Asian location paired with a European location as well. Ava meets some interesting people to say the least. It is no doubt there is always a great plan at play. The best part of these mysteries is that while we can see the game at play, there is always a fairly surprising twist. In this case, it was a bit more obvious (for me) however, the whole process was still a page-turner. Its always the big reveal that has an eye-opening experience and how Ava chooses to approach the mastermind to retrieve the compensation or return of wealth that makes it even more intriguing. There’s a whole array of different people that seem like they will get another chance to come back as Ava Lee steps further into what I’d say is a phase two to the series. While a lot of foundation as already been done, there is a real sense of a second build in foundation here to get ready for more great mysteries to come.

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon Kick-off: SPL: Kill Zone 殺破狼 (2005)

Today is a very special day! Ultimate 2000s Blogathon officially kicks off today! Like previous years, both myself and my amazing co-host Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews will both be sharing our kick-off movie on our respective blogs. To start things off, it only makes sense to kick off with a Hong Kong action crime thriller called SPL: Kill Zone. Hong Kong movies have always been a big part of my life and while its struggled through some of its content, Kill Zone breaths new life into this genre with its fantastic cast and its surprising how I haven’t reviewed it here yet.

SPL: Kill Zone 殺破狼 (2005)

SPL: Kill Zone

Director (& co-writer): Wilson Yip

Cast: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Sammo Hung, Jing Wu, Kai Chi Liu, Danny Summer, Ken Chang, Austin Wai

A near retired inspector and his unit are willing to put down a crime boss at all costs while dealing with his replacement, who is getting in their way. Meanwhile, the crime boss sends his top henchmen to put an end to their dirty schemes. – IMDB

2000s Hong Kong films was a bit of a mixed bag full of some dumb humor, recycled ideas and predictable plot lines. But in between all this, they had some great films with great casts that stood out, maybe even call it a decade of great crime thrillers from Infernal Affairs to Election to this film. Call this something of a comeback film that brought together some big stars as well as welcoming Donnie Yen back to the Hong Kong scene showing that his martial arts has not lost one bit of speed. The starting scene changes the pace of the entire film whether it is with its main inspector, Inspector Chan who takes in the orphaned child and realizes his days are limited or crime boss Wong Po’s release after insufficient evidence which sets off the pressing time limit for Inspector’s team to catch him.

spl kill zone

Right in the opening moments, we get a good idea of the personality of everyone here. Be it Donnie Yen‘s character Inspector Ma’s first appearance on scene going head to head in the car with Inspector Chan’s team and then their conversation of his past events. While we’ve already seen Inspector Chan and the bond with his team and the quick introduction of each member as Ma Kwan looks at his desk of the team. It shows their character and their role in the movie which brings them to what starts off this film and the vengeful events that start. Kai Chi Liu, Danny Summer and Ken Chang play the three members of this team who are all capable in their own manner and create a balance. The first two of these names are seasoned actors in the business already. Its this bond between the team of five that builds up during the film that makes this film even more valuable as they make us care for each of them.

spl kill zone

With a competent team, there has to be the other side of the spectrum and Sammo Hung‘s Wong Po does exactly that. Call him the mastermind throughout most of it with each scene very much making his presence known. Sammo Hung, despite his age, also flaunts some impressive martial arts move as he goes head to head in some fast-paced fighting scenes up against Donnie Yen.It helps that his top henchman is a white clad martial arts powerhouse, Jack played by Jing Wu, in one of his first roles. Jing Wu truly shows off his skills especially when his scenes are not a lot of talking but a lot of brutal “execution” for our characters leading into a fantastically shot alleyway fighting scene with Donnie Yen.

Qi sha (Seven Killings) is the Power Star; Po Jun (Army Breaker) is the Ruinous Star; Tan Lang (Greed Wolf) is the Flirting Star. According to Chinese astology, these three stars, with their changes, could create or destroy that beautiful life of yours. – SPL: KillZone

Nothing beats a crime thriller like having a nice background story to investigate. There is a lot going on here with parallel storylines and investigations that intertwine each other gradually. There is a lot of style here as well. While it embeds its foundation in Chinese astrology, the script itself embeds all these things just like how Seven uses its seven sins. It also has the brutality of films like Election. The fighting scenes are meticulously shot as well as the chase scenes. There is this real sense of what is the limit of ethics and morals of being a police officer when faced with the triad and its ruthless crime boss. Between the team and Donnie Yen’s addition that shows a friction between injecting himself and being accepted. A different person and a different approach gives Inspector Chan’s long time team and Inspector Ma the division that makes this an extra layer to explore in the story.  At the same time, Kill Zone also adds in a heavy dose of Chinese belief in karma.

spl kill zone

SPL: Kill Zone is a one of a kind action crime thriller. It defines its genre so well in what makes Hong Kong films so worth watching. 2000s brought about a new wave of crime thrillers that gave itself a lot of twists and intertwined plots that gave it so much more depth. Whether its for Donnie Yen or Sammo Hung or Simon Yam, no doubt the more known actors here, this film gives it a nice blend of impressive fight scenes, brutal almost execution moments, and a thought-provoking themes about morals and ethics as well as choices and karma. Its fast-paced and ramps up its intensity with each scene and its frictional moment between its characters making it such a joy to watch over and over again.


Remember to head over to my co-host Drew at Drew’s Movie Reviews to check out his kick-off review and give him a follow to not miss any posts from the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon! We have a little hashtag set for this blogathon #ultimate00sblogathon if you want to give us a mention or share some of the posts! 🙂

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

Double Feature: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) & Ready Player One (2018)

The next double feature are two rentals that I saw over the holidays and two movies that I’ve been anticipating to watch for a while. The first is the sequel of John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2 and the next is one that I’m curious about the execution of the movie especially since I wasn’t a huge fan of the book, Ready Player One.

Let’s check it out!

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick Chapter 2

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Tobias Segal

After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.-IMDB

Call me a late comer to the John Wick movies so far. I only saw John Wick (review) some time in 2018 and loved it to absolute bits. Suffice to say when I had the chance to get a cheap rental for its sequel, it was my first choice. John Wick is a fantastic character and the second film dives a deeper story in the aftermath of his being caught into something deeper except everyone seems to forget to not mess with him because it never turns out good. There is something so raw and no BS when it comes to John Wick that I love. The characters, the color palette and the flawless action packed scenes are all so well thought-out. Not to mention, Keanu Reeves has definitely found the iconic character for himself with John Wick and he can make it come alive with the least amount of words needed and just his still glances and reactions (and sometimes lack of) are worth a thousand words. The film itself has so much character and its made up by choosing the right soundtrack and the same group of characters and the no nonsense plot line which has enough twists to make it all intriguing.

There really aren’t enough words to describe this adrenaline rush that is John Wick and the sequel does a great job on par with its first film. Suffice to say that I’m looking forward to the third film.

Ready Player One (2018)

Ready Player One

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki

When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. – IMDB

If you haven’t listened to our Game Warp book discussion of Ready Player One, you can find it HERE.

In a nutshell on how I felt about Ready Player One the book was that there were too many huge 80s reference bits that just took up entire parts. It felt too much for its purpose and pulled away from the actual treasure hunting adventure thriller but put too much focus on the love of the 80s. There is nothing wrong with loving the 80s but when entire segments of the book is narrating entire movie sequences or game sequences, its just a bit much. In that sense, the book felt like it fell into fanboy territory and lost the actual story itself.

Ready Player One does execute better as a movie. It still has a lot of 80s references but takes out all the long sequences of re-enacting bits and pieces of movies and games and such, leaving in more the story of the treasure hunt and following our protagonist as he finds the first key and then meets the girl and all that stuff. There is no doubt that the visuals here are outstanding as are how everything is framed and the fantasy element of the OASIS and how certain bits have been changed to match up to say what they can get licensing for and what can work in the realm of films to escape the book world. With Stephen Spielberg at the helm, this movie does work better than the book in my opinion. However, the movie suffers from length even if it took out the long  boring bits in the book itself. In turn though, the characters themselves lost a bit of the character development but the movie gained a bit more of the hunt. I liked Ready Player One alright but is it Steven Spielberg’s best work, no, is it a good adaptation, its okay and as for the cast itself, they were passable as well. Its a movie that works for one watch but I’m fairly indifferent to it that I wouldn’t go back to watch this again, simply because there are better choices and as I sit to think about it more, its starting to fade away making it also a fairly forgettable experience.

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