Double Feature: Anaconda (1997) & American Ultra (2015)

Welcome to this week’s double feature for a double Netflix A movie, Anaconda and American Ultra!

I’m back to my alphabet thing which I never tend to finish because I always start it at the beginning of the year and then Valentine’s marathon and the Ultimate Decades blogathon cuts in between and then I lose track. I’m hoping it will be more organized this year and things will work out. However, I do have some other double features lingering on the background so at least I’ll keep up with a weekly thing, right? ūüėČ

Let’s check out these two!

Anaconda (1997)

Anaconda

Director: Luis Llosa

Cast:  Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde, Owen Wilson, Kari Wuhrer, Vincent Castellanos

A “National Geographic” film crew is taken hostage by an insane hunter, who forces them along on his quest to capture the world’s largest – and deadliest – snake. – IMDB

I’m a huge fan of creature features. While I’ve been working hard to catch up on some of the older ones, Anaconda has been one that I haven’t caught up with until the last few months. To be honest, it was quite a disappointing experience. Perhaps its because it is awfully dated and the Anaconda doesn’t look too believable or the execution was paced fairly slow. However, if we put aside those little things it still works as a concept. There are other movies in the same subgenres who execute creature features in the same way and it still work. What works for it is the setting itself where this group is on the water in a boat going through unknown waterways and it works with the jungle environment and all the unknowns that pair with it. That is one of the few things that I liked.

My biggest issue with Anaconda is the cast. Put aside the other people who were tolerable, Jennifer Lopez is an actress that I’ve never found a movie where I liked and yet she constantly gets cast into films over and over again. It is mind-boggling to me but I’m sure there are others who appreciate her. However, her acting didn’t quite work for me here and it became very irritating to watch. The second performance who I, at times, do enjoy is Jon Voight who does an over the top villain sort of role who also gets very ridiculous at points. Just these two weaknesses and their frequency and importance in the film made this one really hard to enjoy for myself.

In fact, Anaconda isn’t a really lengthy film and yet it took me about 3 sittings to finish, which says a lot about how I feel about going back to visit this one again.

American Ultra (2015)

american ultra

Director: Nima Nourizadeh

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman

A stoner – who is in fact a government agent – is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he’s too well-trained and too high for them to handle. – IMDB

American Ultra is a fun little action crime adventure. Its comedic and pretty well-paced, packed with lots of action and schemes. Its straight forward and just a lot of crazy. I think what makes this movie work is Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. Jesse Eisenberg has his roles that don’t work (aka Lex Luthor) and then he has roles that works for him (like Zombieland and Now You See Me) and this definitely fits in the latter category. The premise is a bit far-fetched but in this absurd way that kind of works. I can see how it could be irritating to watch but then, there is this desperate connection between him and Kristen Stewart that works well. Talking about Kristen Stewart, I can’t help to feel that her lowpoint is definitely Twilight and everything else that I see her in generally works from good to great. This one works so well for her character. She keeps the film pulled together just like some of the other supporting characters does also.

On that note, John Leguizamo’s role was¬† meant to be absurd and it was so absurd that it was really annoying to watch (I guess they succeeded?). In my mind though, its sad to see me get annoyed by John Leguizamo who I like a lot and feel that he is unique in his interpretation of roles. I’m starting to realize that Topher Grace also ends up taking up roles that I truly dislike. Seeing as he is the “enemy” in this case, it felt like its good to hate him but he is so hard to like. I feel like whenever I see him in a movie always dislike his bits and this one is no different. Its the fact that I can’t quite to decide whether his roles are meant to be dark humor or if we are meant to take him seriously. Either way, those two are the lowpoints for me in this film that felt slightly annoying and disappointing.

However, the lowpoints here are not enough to forget about the sum of all the positives here. I can’t help to like a film that is so fun. It does have its dramatic moments but the film that I could compare this film to would be Mr. Right and they have the same vibe and tone that I like a lot.

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

 

Predators (2010)

I can’t remember when I had this comments discussion with Java Girl but somehow in that conversation in one of the posts, I ended promising that I’d watch Predators. ¬†Her blog is Java Girl’s Life and she runs a lovely little blog, with her most recent addition of weekly comics on her life and movie reviews, etc. ¬†Its really fun and you should check it out if you haven’t already.

I’m one of those late bloomers. ¬†My boyfriend introduced me to a lot of these movies like the Alien movies and then shortly after the Predator movies in the last few years. ¬†Its kind of a running joke between me and my boyfriend that I refer to the Predator movie as Arnold versus the moving leaf. ¬†Obviously that had to do with the lack of effects back then and the whole not so effective camouflage along with the not so high quality TV that I have. ¬†Either way, point being, I did like the movie Predator (not so much the sequels) so I was hesitant for this one. ¬†But I said I’d do it so better late than never, right? Let’s check it out!

predators 2010 posterDirector: Nimrod Antal

Cast: Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, Louis Ozawa Changchien

A group of fighters/misfits: doctor, military, mercenary, criminal, yakuza, drug lord, etc, all wake up in free fall and manage to open their parachute in time to land safely in the middle of an unknown jungle.  They soon realize that they are on another planet and that they are being hunted by an unknown group of species.  They must find a way to survive and escape together before the creatures, and especially the alien predators, catch and kill them.

predators group

Its kind of weird but I feel slightly the same towards this sequel as I did for the 300: Rise of the Empire one that I reviewed a few days ago HERE! After so many, Predator 2 and AVP, Predators was probably not really ¬†a necessity and actually its not even really a sequel as it does a lot that pays tribute to the first one. ¬†However, it is a sequel as it makes a point to show that its set later on and talks about the original’s end results. This time around, its not just ONE predator but its multiple. ¬†Maybe they were taking a lesson from the success of Aliens, who knows, right?

predators adrien brody alice braga

Still, thinking back to the meh-ness of Predator 2 and the disastrous AVP, I really had a decently at times intense and thrilling time with Predators. ¬†I’m not exactly sure of the casting choices here. ¬†There is no doubt that Adrien Brody is a fantastic actor but somehow I have this issue with tough guys have low, raspy voices. ¬†I don’t even know how to describe it anymore. ¬†Of course, that voices probably is more macho than using his original voice. ¬†It also comes with the face that I can’t actually view him as a mercenary. ¬†Still, he proves that he’s put in a lot of physical work to get a muscular body and tough guy act down. ¬†Plus, the group itself is an odd mix but somehow works well enough off of each other. ¬†Although, no one can quite replace Arnold’s one liners, this one does have some silly dialogue. The character’s also build a rather tense environment but crack a few sarcastic comments (that made me laugh at least).

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Overall, Predators takes a few ideas from the first one and wraps it into a sequel where they are trapped and become prey to predators when this group has predator instincts as well from their own training. ¬†There’s some silly dialogue and a really oddball group but somehow sometime works alright for me. ¬†There’s some decent tension built despite the obvious overload of people in the group calling for a lack of character development and connection. ¬†Still, it works and thats what counts! ūüôā ¬†Maybe it was just because it took me by surprise that they finally got a sequel right. ¬†Sometimes, its good to go into a movie blind, right?

Have you seen Predators? What do you think of this sequel? Is it worthy or necessary? Are you a fan of the Predator series?