Movies

Werewolves Within

A movie adaptation on a video game by Ubisoft? Oh, not an original game. A VR version spinoff of the popular werewolf/secret hitler format of group games where one of you is trying to kill the others or have them join your team, and you must figure out who it is. There are roles which can impact the gameplay like witch or scientist that allow you to better figure out who the wolf or secret hitler it is. So to turn that around into a competent and hilarious horror comedy is quite impressive. I find it a little funny that the screenplay is written by someone named Mishna Wolff… Anyways, the point is, Ubisoft has a successful and brilliant little horror comedy on their hands – ignoring the hard work of everyone else involved. Of course I’m joking, but you understand what I’m saying.

The story itself is simple and elegant. A new park ranger, Finn Wheeler played by Sam Richardson, arrives in the quirky town of Beaverfield where he learns of the town’s problems, both natural and supernatural. The residents are all a little bit off to put it mildly. Everyone’s got their own tics and issues. It felt like a real backwards-like town. When the moon rises, the story begins to pick up. The opening, for me, was pure horror followed swiftly by laughter. I was scared laughing until I began to pick up the clues and figure out who it was. That’s when the fear disappeared and I was awaiting to see the result. The effects were well done, because it seems like they went with a hybrid practical and CGI approach. Similar to one of my favorite movies, An American Werewolf in London. This helped the immersion factor. I was just sucked into this world, and along for the ride.

The acting helped a lot. Everyone felt at ease in their roles, and it wasn’t until the credits rolled that I put the actor behind the character into the picture. This was a properly told story. The elegance came from the fact there are multiple layers and actions often happening, at the same time, on screen. Hints in the background. The camerawork was stellar, the cinematography picked a great location. The woods really added to that sense of unease. They were creepy. It worked well. The tension hung in the air until the moment of revelation. The atmosphere was well executed and established. Music added instead of distracting from scenes on account of being too loud.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie. I think everyone should watch it. Or, wait until Halloween, if you’re that dedicated, and watch it then. Very fun, doesn’t shy away from the blood/gore that comes with werewolf movies. Lot of genuine laughter, and a lot of nervous laughter too. Watch it!

Movies

The Tomorrow War

With a title such as it is, you’d think it based off a book. It’s an original story, and for that I was thoroughly happy. A couple things were tossed out here and there that led nowhere. Simply pieces of lore or red herring, which I enjoyed because it misled me from my immediately assuming correct conclusions. I still foresaw aspects here and there but that was because the execution of the story still had to follow set tropes in certain instances. This is an American military science fiction action extravaganza. It is an epic in the sense of the scale of action and scope, while still containing enough emotional points of impact to not dull the brain. It maintains its heart by focusing on making the story integral to one man and his family, specifically the bond between father and daughter. And in a rare twist, also maintaining the bond between husband and wife. Too often these stories mention divorce, so it was nice to see a family stay strong even during the lowest points.

The special effects were excellently done, and mighty tasteful. Often I felt wanting to screenshot certain scenes or shots because of how they simply looked. Works of digital art. The monsters, aliens rather, are well done. Truly terrifying and horrific. I feel like someone watched that Alien vs Predator movie based in the arctic and wanted to make something similar but much better. The movie felt like a complete story, and thankfully, didn’t end on a cliffhanger that could be stretched into a trilogy. Chris Pratt did an excellent job, because he can make that change between comedy, action, and serious emotional feels in an instant. He’s very likeable and his character did feel like a father first, before being a hero. The supporting cast were just as powerful and emotion inducing, with Yvonne Strahovski as Colonel Forester, and J.K Simmons as James Forester. Sam Richardson was a nice piece of relatable comic relief. His character had a natural response to the insanity of it all.

The music was emotionally swelling, and pretty much toyed with every emotion possible to manipulate you into feeling a certain way. Like the sense of rising heroism, or sacrifice. The grief of a loss. The tension and fear of an otherworldly foe that is essentially a better predator. Top of the food chain. And how it had that sense of epic scale during scenes that were something out of a science fiction book.

Overall, I loved this movie. I want to watch it again with friends. It had everything I’ve wanted with a monster movie, and it was long enough, while being a complete story. There was no cliffhanger, or what if. There was a definitive end. I highly recommend it. Amazon Studios is slowly churning out winners.

Movies

Army of the Dead

Oh, Zack Snyder doing another zombie movie? Count me in. I thought to myself. Man usually likes to throw in some possible philosophical or mythological references or metaphors here and there in his movies. Oh main bad guy zombie is a character called Zeus. And he lives in a hotel called Olympus. If I didn’t know any better, that sounds like sorta a reference or metaphor going here. And later on, during the spoiler section, I will complete this Zeus narrative with a plot spoiler. Anyways, other than that, it is quite the generic action ride. Nothing that was done was new, and everything was spotted a mile away – I say, as I turned to my brother, and told him each time, “watch, so and so is gonna happen.” He hated knowing what was gonna happen.

Emotionally, the movie tried to tug at your heart but the glaring plot holes, and obvious next choice of action prevented that. As soon as the main character’s daughter showed up, in a horror survival movie, for some reason, these movies always have it end one way. Like that meme with Squidward, daring today, aren’t we? There was only one moment of genuine horror and that was the glowstick hallway scene. Everything else is a snooze. It also suffers from oh this actor, wanna bet you’re gonna end up ‘x’ and oh look ‘x’ it is. The other thing I do give Snyder credit for is having the zombies be tied into UFOs – not a spoiler, it’s in the first 10 minutes (look in the skies during a truck sequence). As for the acting, it was enjoyable and some of the characters stood out from the rest. Coyote, and the safecracker in particular. The former had the most interesting lore there that I wish could have been explored further, and the latter is just pure enjoyment as his reactions are the most relatable.

Spoilers ahead

Spoiler time

So we got a zombie called Zeus that lives in Olympus and he kidnaps women to turn them into alphas and also impregnate them to try and raise a child. The strongest opponents or revengeful, he turns into alphas as well. Every other zombie, besides Zeus and alphas, are slow and called “shamblers.” There is a hierarchy and again, Zeus impregnating women against their will. Hmm. Hmm. Nah, definitely no connection to ancient Greek mythology. Absolutely none. That bit aside, main character’s daughter goes into zombie infested town to save a mother of two children stuck in her UN camp. Said mother gets eventually rescued but helicopter carrying everyone crashes. No mention of her whatsoever again. Ending that always happens, happens. Oh no, parental figure must be killed by the child to ensure survival. How about we stop with this diabolic peddling, and, you know, not sacrifice the parent so the child may live? I know, quite the revolutionary plot twist. Oh, a dude survives at the very end and *gasp*, is infected? Wow, how original! Somehow this man escapes from a locked casino vault which required a safecracker to open it, and coincidentally there’s zero debris blocking his exit onto the surface which was just devastated by a tactical yield bomb?

Spoilers End

Overall, it was enjoyable if you just shut off your brain. Nothing new here, nothing groundbreaking. Snyder had no studio intervention here, like he has in previous movies, yet his plot was as bland and generic as a studio made film. Watch it if you’re curious or want another zombie movie to fill your zombie itch, or if you have nothing better to do.

Movies

Megan Leavey

This is another war/drama movie with a fair bit of patriotic values that will resonate with American viewers that I found was a rather well told story. It is a biographical movie about a young Marine corps corporal who teamed up with a combat dog named Rex. She – the title of the movie – formed a bond with this dog, and after ending her tour tried to adopt him. Kata Mara plays the title character, and I really enjoyed taking this journey with her. She did a great job portraying the after effects of war, the trauma it leaves on a person, and how she coped with the loss of being Rex’s partner. The story itself did great at maintaining tension as you never quite knew where Rex might sniff out a bomb. The few scenes that were meant to serve as Iraq were tense and exciting and I wish they showed just a bit more of the types of missions that she and Rex went out on.

The supporting cast members that were her mom and dad, stepdad, Gunnery Sergeant, fellow dog handlers and soldiers were very good at creating the narrative and establishing the life of Megan Leavey. Common as the Gunnery Sergeant was a pleasant surprise, he’s always a joy to watch on screen. He’s got presence even if he’s just a minor character. Edie Falco as her mother did an excellent job at getting on your nerves because her character is a minor step away from being trailer trash. Bradley Whitford was a little bit of a wasted choice here, he didn’t really have much to work with. Tom Felton’s acting is always fun to watch, as one fondly remembers him from his Harry Potter movie days.

The thing that I enjoyed most about this movie, which also brought a tear to my eye, was the bond between Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) and Rex (Varco). That connection that a dog forms with their owner and partner is something truly special. Dogs form an attachment of love that is just so very touching and beautiful, and you can’t help but feel your heart be tugged when you see Rex light up at reuniting with Megan. Honestly, I watched it for the dog. And I was so very happy that the dog didn’t die during the movie. Although Rex, himself in real life, has now since passed away back in 2012.

Overall, I recommend watching this movie if you’re in the mood for a touching biographical look at this woman’s life and that of the dog. Besides the more patriotic moments that have no bearing on my viewing, the moments of tenderness between human and dog are a treat to enjoy.

Movies

Without Remorse

I went into this one straight away without watching the trailer because I am a fan of Michael B. Jordan, and I was curious as to how Amazon would treat another Tom Clancy property. I came away from it pleasantly surprised, and I see why a lot of other reviewers panned it negatively. It is not nice to American propaganda outside of the usual CIA fluff, which is obvious otherwise it wouldn’t be a Tom Clancy movie. You could see the ending a mile off, but that did not negatively impact my enjoyment. In fact, I was hoping it would be the case of what I thought it was and in that regard I was happy.

“I’ll show them what a pawn can do to a King.”

The plot, which is simple, and not indecipherable as several reviews I’ve read have said, is that John Kelly, played by Michael B. Jordan, goes on a hunt for the men responsible in the death of his pregnant wife and unborn child. Along the way he uncovers a conspiracy to frame the US and Russia in order to provoke them into war. The writer responsible for this movie is Tyler Sheridan, of Sicario fame. His script has similar themes to that movie, of the dirty business that the US utilizes to get results and/or wealth. You can see who is the main villain because of whom they cast in a certain role, for they wouldn’t cast an A list name if they didn’t have a larger purpose. I don’t mind that, because it is about the journey and how it is told.

The journey is accompanied by some spectacular action set pieces, carried by the strength of believability from Michael B. Jordan’s acting skills. Two particular scenes are still ingrained in my mind, one from the trailer – his jail cell fight, and the other involving a plane sinking into the ocean. There is plenty of hand-to-hand combat, along with shooting. These scenes are always fun, and the guns have a nice sound and heft to them when fired. It was gritty, and at times, a little intense. The scenes held my attention well – no looking at my phone.

Spoiler Alert

I’ll give you a second to avoid this. Skip down to the conclusion if you wish to not be spoiled.

Here Be Spoilers

I knew the big reveal was gonna be that the US, or rather, a corrupt D.O.D official was going to be behind everything and that it is because of money. Because nothing generates more war for a large country like the US than spending money on the horrors and tools of war. I particularly enjoyed the bad dude’s speech on how world war two was won for the economists because how much wealth it generated for them. I also liked that they said the problem is that the US has no real enemy anymore, that one half thinks the other half is the enemy and that doesn’t generate any real wealth. The people need a new common enemy to focus their anger and fear on. That fear generates the idea of patriots fighting for their country and in turn, the cycle of war and wealth continues. The spending continues. Corporate reviewers have to pan the movie negatively because of this, their bosses, especially in the US, are a part of the propaganda machine that always turns. Hence why the CIA are made out to be the good guys in the movie – luckily, hopefully, people still remember Gary Webb. So, no matter of propaganda will ever have the CIA be seen in a good light. Well, at least to those educated in such matters.

End Spoilers

Overall, I really liked the movie. The action was clear, and easy to follow along. The main character; that is, Michael B. Jordan is a bonafide action hero. He has that charisma to him, and believability that he can kick ass and take names. He also has the acting chops for when strong emotions are required. I enjoy watching his career with great interest. The other actors in the movie are sufficient at their roles, I wasn’t taken out of the immersion by anyone. Gunplay is solid, and I feel we have John Wick to thank for that. I feel that movie has positively affected every new action movie to have a certain standard when it comes to guns. I digress, I recommend this movie for a watch.