Movies

Night Teeth

After I finished watching this movie, and had felt like I enjoyed it, I was curious to see what other people had to say on it. I was surprised to see a negative response to it. Perhaps the genre is better said to be a coming-of-age modern fantasy vampire movie rather than thriller, action, horror and crime as listed. All those elements are merely backdrops to the story of our boy, Benny. His is a simple story amplified by the elements of the supernatural, action horror oriented crowd. Reminded me of Odd Thomas. His plight of being held up on a chauffeur job by a crazy pair of customers also reminded me of Collateral with Tom Cruise. Those movies certainly influenced the idea of the movie. As did any secret society movie, recently popularized by John Wick, influenced Night Teeth, with the world of the vampires and humans that know about it similar to the society of assassins and their counterparts.

Benny, played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr., is a delight to watch. His character is so likeable and charismatic, and you want to see him make that character arc grow to completion. The amount of foreshadowing present and Chekhov’s gun are enjoyable because the point of a simple story like this is to establish this character. This world. Debby Ryan was nearly recognizable to me, I was just so attuned to the character, to Blaire; she got action hero fit. Anyways, it was a mysterious and fun ride to be taken along with. It also reminded me of Bright with Will Smith, in that it’s a fantasy world set within Los Angeles featuring all the politics that go with it. The pace is consistent, moving you quickly with the flow while still delivering that world building in style. Some negative reviews said it had too much style and little in terms of good story, saying it was predictable and that’s exactly how I feel about Dune 2021 except Night Teeth had an actual ending with a hint of another movie. Dune was like watching LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, and it ending at Rivendell when the party is gathered. I digress.

The soundtrack was electric and reminded me of cyberpunk/futuristic techno, it helped the scenes flow. The coloring of the movie was soothing, a city of neon lights. The action scenes were brutal but not to the point of being too filled with gore. And the antagonist played by Alfie Allen was nothing to write home about, but he wasn’t terrible either. I liked the other casting roles for that game of “Oh it’s this person!” The final fight was quick and didn’t drag on, but a minor continuity error at the end was funny (watch Jay closely).

Overall, I recommend this movie for a nighttime watch during the spooky month of October. Great movie if you understand that this story is about a coming of age tale, for a young man trapped within a horror story, that’s slick with style.

Movies

Dune 2021

I grew up on reading Frank Herbert’s Dune series as a young child, so naturally, I looked forward to a movie rendition. Maybe it won’t be as bad, or rather as silly as the David Lynch one. Thankfully it’s not. But it has a worse cardinal sin when it comes to telling a story… It needs to tell a story. Denis Villeneuve clearly forgot about that aspect when making this movie. It’s nearly three hours long, and in that time, the main character only goes from his home world, to landing in Arrakis, to meeting up with the Fremen people and then it ends. The character development along the way only exists for the main character, Paul Atreides, and everyone else merely exists at a superficial and severely underdeveloped level. His father is a two dimensional character, as is his weapons master, and his friend Duncan, and his mother is a witch and that’s about it. Oh, and the family doctor who has some sort of connection to them but it’s not really clear or developed, and the gender-switched Fremen character. It seems that in Denis’ own words, “My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience.” that he had forgotten to develop the story! Instead he focused on worldbuilding visuals, so many visuals.

The first 2 hours feels like, “here’s some visuals, enjoy! Oh, and listen to this sweet soundtrack! Oh and look at this world that I’ve envisioned! Just look at it all! Isn’t it so pretty?” And the whole time you’re left thinking, “is the story gonna go somewhere?” And just as it finally starts to get interesting, oops, it’s the end. As a character says, “it’s just the beginning.” Sorry to be frank here, but screw you for blue balling the hell out of me with that cliffhanger. Maybe if you made the two movies back to back, and weren’t contingent on making profit on this movie before making the second, I’d have a different opinion. As it stands, this movie on its own, is a testament to not putting visuals before story. First, have a strong and satisfying ending, then focus on what visuals you want to show. And the teasing! About to show a cool reference that’s in the book, a really sweet worm riding experience? Nope, blue balls! That’s not happening, but you thought it was gonna happen, and so now you have an idea what’ll happen in the next movie. Seems Denis Villeneuve just wants to fucking tease the hell out of everyone.

The only two that stand out for acting were Rebecca Ferguson, and Stellan Skarsgard as Paul’s mother and the Baron Harkonnen respectively. Stellan under all that make-up and effects was truly a horrific person and monstrous. Rebecca did a great job as a woman dealing with being both mother to the supposed chosen one, and trying to be a witch for her religion/beliefs. I severely disliked Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, all I could see was a bourgeoisie rich prick, and not a boy struggling with the idea of being years of careful cultivated breeding and religious propaganda resulting in a Jesus like figure. Yes, let us continue the practice of hiring wealthy and rich well-connected actors instead of those that brought themselves up to a higher degree by their own bootstraps.

The rest of the cast, without me being attacked by the culturally over-sensitive crowd, the Fremen people should have been cast with Arabic actors in the roles. I’ve always felt that Frank Herbert was clearly inspired by Islamic culture and Arabic culture with those characters that he wrote. But Hollywood sees them as the bad guys so they probably thought that it would hurt their profits to do so. And what is really woke and hip to that culturally over-sensitive crowd? Yup, casting black actors wherever they can. That sells.

In closing, I really hope that a second movie is indeed made as then I will gladly change my review to accommodate the fact that the story has an actual ending. And maybe character development. It honestly reminded me of the recent Final Fantasy 7 remake game in which they took roughly 30 minutes of the original game and stretched it out into a full 40 hour game. In which that Denis Villeneuve took what should take 40 minutes plot-wise and stretched it out into nearly 3 hours of visuals. I would have preferred details like that the family doctor cannot hurt his patients because of mental conditioning but due to mental and psychological torture by the Harkonnens, that is why he can. Maybe a bit more on Duncan instead of him being simply a warrior figure. Maybe a bit more than just flashes to his desert life period as one of the Fremen. And lastly, maybe not using these giant – clearly looking like they were 3D printed – costumes of armor for everyone. Why not go the route of simple military fatigues and ceremonial dressing?

Overall, I only recommend it so I can cure my blue balls. By which I mean that they get a profit large enough to warrant a second movie to help alleviate that problem.

Movies

The Guilty

I went into this blind with no knowledge of the movie’s origin until the end credits rolled where upon I learned it’s a remake of a Danish film by the same name. As a result my review is unbiased like so many others that compare it to the original it’s adapted from. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as police dispatcher Joe Baylor as he goes about his night fielding calls until one comes in from an apparent abduction. He takes it upon himself to ensure the woman’s return to her daughter and along the way uncovered truths about the abduction and we learn more about his character. He is a flawed man, angry, emotional and an asshole. You can tell his coworkers have a clear opinion about him, and his relationship with his separated wife is on the brink of no contact. He can’t see his daughter, and he has some court hearing to attend to in the morning.

The movie is directed by Antoine Fuqua, of Training Day fame alongside many others, and he expertly helms the direction, showing us how our own perceptions of a situation may be flawed and this in turn influences what we believe to be the correct course of action. The writing was excellent, and I’ve read that it’s a near word for word adaptation of the original film. The movie is very tense and moves along at a good pace. More and more voices are brought on until there’s just a few main ones which Joe interacts with. This movie is basically a character piece focused on Joe and therefore it is up to the strength of Jake Gyllenhaal to keep us entranced. To which he does with great success.

Overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend it for a watch. I have no knowledge of the original and as such, if you’ve seen that movie, I don’t know if you’d like this one since you would already know what would happen.

Movies

The Ice Road

Apparently Netflix paid 18 million for this absolute travesty of a movie. 18 million. Seeing as they like just throwing away their money, can I have some it? Can you all just toss out money randomly to people? It’d be the same as buying the rights to trash like this. Written and directed by a man who should stop writing movies as all he knows how to write is garbage – one Johnathan Hensleigh. Responsible for such atrocities as Armageddon, 2004’s Punisher, and Die Hard with a Vengeance. The Ice Road is the latest in a scheme of possible money laundering while also being yet another adaptation of the excellent Wages of Fear. Seems writers are hesitant to create an original idea because that would demonstrate having a brain to the rest of the world, something this writer lacks.

The Ice Road is Liam Neeson’s latest paycheck, and I don’t know if he’s starving for money or something, but he definitely needs a new agent. Same with Laurence Fishburne, and anyone of large standings. All the newcomers, I understand being in the movie. Gotta get your name out there, somehow. The plot, which should be simple, decides to add in a bit of revenge and conspiracy thriller into the mix. Three large rigs carrying 30 ton wellheads must be delivered to the Katka diamond mine to save 26 trapped miners. But wait, there’s more! The company in charge cut corners and doesn’t wanna spend the money to save the miners so they put their inside man with the drivers to cause them to fail. Things get personal.

Such brilliant highlights include: putting gasoline in a diesel engine and still driving mostly 20 hours before the engine fails (it would within 2 minutes of starting), being impaled by a tree branch nearly a foot long and pulling it out without bleeding to death in minutes, being submerged in -30 degree water for 5 minutes before being rescued and surviving, being rammed on the driver’s side of a truck by a large rig and tumbling down the side of a mountain and coming out without a scratch. But wait, there’s more! Which you’ll have to discover on your own because I can’t be bothered to spend another minute thinking about this trash heap.

Do not watch this filth. This idiocracy from the mind behind Armageddon should never have received any money to begin with. Its budget should have been 0 because it never should have been made. Whoever at Netflix thought to waste money on it should be removed from that position and never be given such choice again. But I’m serious Netflix, since you’re in the habit of wasting money, how about you toss it my way?

Movies

The Father Who Moves Mountains

This was an excellent movie, and most of all, not “Americanized”; by which I mean, there was no musclebound steroid hero doing all he can to conquer the mountain. It was a father grieving when his child went missing, in the Carpathians, who used all the resources he could muster, called in every favor owed to him, spent nearly all his wealth in an attempt to locate him. The scenery was breathtaking, and the scale of the mountains humbling. The score conveying a sense of futility, haunting the viewer, always present in the background and coming to the forefront in pivotal scenes.

The main character, the hero so to speak, is a flawed man. He’s no Stallone on the mountain. He left his wife for a younger woman, abandoning his son in the process to start a new life. He seemingly cares little for others, only concerned in getting his son back. There’s a bit of corruption at play with the military favors he’s called in. As time passes, and his resources dwindle, we can see that he starts to go through the five stages of grief. We, the viewers, experience this emotional gauntlet alongside him. He vehemently denies when the experts tell him to wait for spring. He gets angry at those that helped, even when they nearly lost their lives to the mountain. He bargains with anyone that will listen, offering money. When those close to him start to leave, and he sees others mourning his son, sadness hits him. And at the end, we start to see a glimpse of his acceptance and the movie ends.

The acting was well done, and every character was believable, and very human. This is how things would go in a similar situation. Naturally not everyone is well off enough to use the same means he did, but if you had the means, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to see your child returned?

I recommend this movie. It’s a powerful tale of the lengths parents would go for their children. In that sense, a very human story. Glad that Netflix added it.