Double Feature: Monster Hunter (2020) & The Witches (2020)

Welcome to the next double feature! Its been a while since we’ve done one of these! This time, I’m going to talk about two movie rentals that I’ve watch lately of 2020 movies. The first is Monster Hunter, a 2020’s video game adaptation directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and the second is The Witches a 2020’s Roald Dahl adaptation of a novel of the same name. Thinking about these two movies, I feel like they do pair up well as its two directors with films that really fall in line with the style of films that they are known for. Let’s check it out!

Monster Hunter (2020)

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

Cast: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman, T.I., Diego Boneta, Meagan Good, Josh Helman, Jin Au-Yeung, Hirona Yamazaki

When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers. Feature film based on the video game by Capcom. – IMDB

At this point, whether for better or worse, Paul W.S. Anderson is known for his video game adaptations. Of course, mostly everyone remembers Resident Evil series in particular. He has however done a few other ones and never shies away from adapting video games that he loves but Anderson is much more than Resident Evil and has shown that he has his own directorial style and trademarks. How do I know? Well..an entire season of Movies and Tea Podcast as a retrospective on his work would do it. How about that, eh? A shameless plug for another project where you can check out HERE. With that said, being relatively supportive of Anderson’s work despite his shortcomings and being absolutely unfamiliar with Monster Hunter games in general, I decided to give Monster Hunter a shot and if you are familiar with Anderson’s work, it pretty much will be fairly enjoyable.

Starting with some positives as a complete newbie to this world. Monster Hunter does create a wonderful visual element for this dangerous world that the soldiers end up where every surface has its own monsters hidden from plain sight. Being a creature feature fan, monsters are pretty much a fun element of any movie when well-designed. That makes this world building and creature design all the more engaging to be watching especially with the bird’s eye view shots that Anderson is especially known for and being able to showcase architecture really well which definitely comes into play here with the surroundings. Being fans of Milla Jovovich and Ron Perlman, this was also quite the treat. Plus, a few other supporting characters which were fairly smaller characters. However, the character developed on all fronts were pretty thin overall.

With that said, the shortcomings of the film are fairly more apparent. From the action standpoint, a lot of the fighting choreography cuts away quite a lot so its not too engaging to watch. As mentioned before, the main plot is pretty thin. That does have to do maybe with the whole open world game that it adapts itself from so the story is straightforward but feels somewhat bland, which leads to my previous point about the characters also being poorly written as well.

With that said, the film is pretty below average. As a one time watch and turn off your brain sort of video game adaptation, its still fairly enjoyable since I do enjoy the world building in movies and visually, the world is shown so very nice. However, in substance, its rather lacking overall. The one takeaway I did have from this is that I’d really like to try out a Monster Hunter game soon.

The Witches (2020)

Director (and screenplay co-writer): Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Chris Rock, Jahzir Bruno, Brian Bovell, Josette Simon

A young boy and his grandmother have a run-in with a coven of witches and their leader. – IMDB

I’ve read some Roald Dahl when I was younger and while I feel like I’ve read The Witches, I can’t exactly be sure so we’re going into this pretty much saying that I haven’t read the novel or have seen the first adaptation back in the 90s. Robert Zemeckis is a great director to be adapting a film like The Witches. The story itself and the fantasy elements all make some wonderful fun but with a little darker twist. Plus, the CGI work here is on point which of course can all be expected with past directorial works by Robert Zemeckis.

The Witches is a really cool story about witches versus humans to a certain extent. Well, its more about the witches despise towards children and wanting to execute a huge plot to change them all into rodents. Why rodents? Because they are hated by humans as well and probably will be killed anyways. At least that’s my interpretation from the whole thing. When a grandmother and his grandson tries to run away to a hotel to get away from the witch they believe are bothering them, they end up realizing they are staying in the exact location of a disguised witch coven meeting. When the grandson gets caught, he gets turned into a mouse along with another English kid and then realizes his pet mouse is also one of the witches’ victims. All three of them with the help of their grandma try to stop this plot. The story is so fun to play out especially as every element is done so well especially with the design of the witch as their masked human appearances get reveal to their true form and that’s where the CGI comes into play to make the appearance a tad creepy but still having some silly moments to keep it in line as a family film (or at least I think its a family film. Correct me if I’m wrong in the comments, okay?)

A lot of what makes this movie is fun is the cast. The Witch Leader is played by Anne Hathaway which is pretty fun overall as she captures the character in an entertaining way. It does feel like she loses the accent in some parts of the dialogue but overall, she carries it well enough. The grandmother is played by Octavia Spencer who is one of my favorite actresses ever since seeing her in The Help and then every role she does is just so amazing, no matter what it is. The film overall is narrated by Chris Rock as the older version of the grandson as he recounts the story of his encounter with the witches. Stanley Tucci appears also in supporting role but personally, I love seeing him appear in random roles in so many movies. He is such an underrated actor especially with the diversity of roles he has portrayed over the years. The kids are pretty good as well but the core of their role is in voice acting when they get turned into mice and the whole thing is pretty exciting with a little bit of tension.

The Witches is a fun little family children romp. Its not for very young children, I’d think as the witches are pretty creepy in appearance even if some of it for adults might come off as being silly. The film is done pretty well and has its exciting bits and the CGI is done so well that its pretty cool overall.

Double Feature: Central Intelligence (2016) & Rampage (2018)

What better way to start the week than with a Dwayne The Rock Johnson double feature, right? That is really all I have to say. Today’s pairing is one that happened to work out so I deliberately delayed Central Intelligence to pair with Rampage which I rented a few weeks ago.

Lets check it out!

Central Intelligence (2016)

central intelligence

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Smith, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman, Aaron Paul

After he reconnects with an awkward pal from high school through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant is lured into the world of international espionage. –IMDB

Jumping into comedies is a scary thing because you never know what type of humor is going to be on the other side. Baywatch (review) is a fine example of how humor didn’t work but the action did. Central Intelligence reminded me a little of Get Smart. There is a lot of over the top humor and somehow a part of me enjoyed it because Kevin Smith and Dwayne Johnson paired up and reminded me of the good old days in Hong Kong cinema when Stephen Chow and Andy Lau did God of Trickery (one of my fave films ever). Before long, I did buy into the humor and the random action and how great Dwayne Johnson’s character is and how scared and random reactions Kevin Smith had.

On top of all that, you get some great cameos with Jason Bateman and Aaron Paul which is pretty cool as well. Plus, there is this secondary story of how high school affects the present with a message about bullying and a positive message about standing up for who you are and all that good stuff. Its an action comedy and it remembers that all the time which makes it pretty well-paced with some exciting moments.

Rampage (2018)

rampage

Director: Brad Peyton

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Malin Akerman, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago. – IMDB

Rampage was on my anticipated list (I think) but my cinema track record this year is not too good so its all down to rentals to catch up. While Rampage didn’t get really good ratings, this sort of film is always up my alley. Big creatures, check. Dwayne Johnson in action, check. Video game adaptation, check. I went into this with the only expectation to have fun and let me tell you, I had some really pleasant surprises. It isn’t a masterpiece but there are some key things that I found here which I liked a lot and for those points, this one was entertaining.

Lets start with the elements I like, all the things I wanted delivered worked out really well. Three big creatures were done so well with the effects and graphics especially with Joe’s facial expression. Dwayne Johnson is also so charismatic in films and this one is no exception. There are some odd forced parts however, overall he wasn’t the issue. As a video game adaptation, it has the reputation to be a guilty pleasure and this one does fit into that category but then I do argue that most of The Rock’s films fall in that mindless entertainment category and it works for that purpose especially as I love not having to think too much during a film and just have fun.

Now, some good and some bad follows that part. I loved Malin Akerman as the villain here. She was quite impressive especially since the last thing I remember her in was 27 Dresses. I’m sure I’ve seen her in other things but I don’t remember right now. She did a fine job here. Now, I’m a little lukewarm on Jake Lacy, someone I thought did a fine job in Miss Sloane albeit a fairly smaller role. Here, he bordered a little on the annoying part. Talking about short roles though, Joe Manganiello has a cameo here and it comes and ends so quickly but his presence is always appreciated. My fave part though, has to be Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his role. Same goes for Naomie Harris who is an admirable actress that I really like in a lot of the roles she’s done. The cast here gave a lot of life to Rampage along with its creatures. Everything else was something of a generic sort of set-up but it managed to keep me interested and entertained so its a fun time overall.

That’s it for this Double Feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

Halloween Marathon: Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

Sigh…the first movie to come unexpected in the Halloween line-up. I will tell you a little story about why I was hesitant to actually see this. I actually turned it on in the background one day and didn’t watch much of it but the dialogue itself and just the loud noises bombarding my ears made me cringe so bad and curse in pain respectively. The reason this still ended up being a thing was because I had to get some writing done and the husband decided to play it since I already had an idea of what this movie was about so yeah… low expectations and play!

Let’s check it out!

Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

silent hill revelation

Director and co-writer: Michael J. Bassett

Cast: Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell, Malcolm McDowell, Martin Donovan

When her father disappears, Heather Mason is drawn into a strange and terrifying alternate reality that holds answers to the horrific nightmares that have plagued her since childhood.-IMDB

 Silent Hill is a video game adaptation. At this point, there’s a whole lot of bad feelings towards how they are. In fact, maybe David over at That Moment In has a point when he wrote this piece about how video game adaptations will never quite work HERE. His feelings are really about Lara Croft and perhaps more action-based games, just like how I was picturing how to do Layers of Fear as a movie. My point is that, I haven’t played Silent Hill much but horror games and horror movies are starting to merge in my mind. Why? Because these people are forgetting the key of horror. Sure, jump scares are important but they are only relevant when the atmosphere has helped create it with adding mystery and suspense and getting the audience/player involved. That also affects the effectiveness of well-designed disturbing characters but put them in an unengaging movie. Plus, jump scares are about actually feeling scared, not startled by loud noises bombarding our ear drums. Those are all faults of Silent Hill: Revelation.

Silent Hill Revelation

Silent Hill Revelation provoked a lot of ideas for opinion pieces which I don’t actually do here. Fact is, there is a lot of cliche dialogue here. I can’t say the performances are bad. They did the best with what they had in terms of dialogue. How many times have you heard the answer to “Go to Hell” in some paraphrase form of “You haven’t noticed? We’re already there.” And obviously going where everyone tells you to not go and heading straight for danger. There’s a lot of eye rolling moments like Kit Harington’s character, Vincent who has in reality only known the main character Heather, played by Adelaide Clemens for a grand total of 2 days and has somehow fallen in love or seems to know her super well or like “known you all this time.” When all means a total of 24 hours, you have some problems of convincing me, buddy. But these are all faults of the dialogue. And it continues on to other things just don’t piece the story well enough together.

Silent Hill Revelation Mostly because of the previous point, a lot of what could make this a scary movie turns into one that is quite lackluster. It throws around loud noises to unsettle the audience or utilizes some creepy looking enemies but then particularly the spider-like enemy shows some pretty unrealistic computer graphics and lacks the same level of scares like the blind nurse killers or triangle head. I don’t know the Silent Hill franchise so pardon my lack of knowledge to what these enemies are actually called. With that said, the best part of the movie goes to the triangle head axe-man although I did make fun of him in one part where he operates the horse carousel and you’ll see in the opening moments so not much of a spoiler. Second part is whats below with the blind nurses. The character design and how they move abruptly with sound with their knives or whatever weapons is just so creepy.

Silent Hill Revelation

Overall, Silent Hill Revelation is really hard to love. With badly developed characters and bad dialogue and the overly serious tone and rough CGI, bombarding loud noises to create jump scares, it falls into a lot of bad horror cliches. The story is also not done well to give it some purpose. The only redeeming qualities are for two villains that help give the movie just a tinge of a few better moments. For someone like myself who gets scared incredibly easy, this one didn’t give me any spooks except for two startled jump scare moments.

Have you seen Silent Hill Revelation? Did you like it?