Movies

One Shot and Black Site

Oh look, two movies with very similar plots released within a year of each other. A common occurrence, like Armageddon and Deep Impact. The movie, One Shot, is a smaller budget movie than Black Site due to the actors involved. One has action B-stars, and the other has formerly A-list stars.

One Shot was a fun experiment in a long continuous take, with much of the action showed with as little cuts as possible. Often using misdirection to make it seem like one continuous take. It starred Scott Adkins as a Navy SEAL, Ashley Greene as a CIA analyst and Ryan Phillipe as the station chief of the black ops detention facility. When it falls under attack by hundreds of insurgents, they must work together to get a high priority target out safely into order to find a nuclear bomb hidden on US soil.

The action was definitely B movie tier, but it was fun to watch. It was relentless, and enjoyable for if you’re in the mood for an hour and a half of non-stop action. The plot was minimal, it was merely a vehicle to deliver the action. Of which it came in spades. Minor issues with bad guys having unlimited ammo while the good guys had to reload, but good sound quality overall. I liked it.

Black Site goes the other direction, with a focus on story and development over action. Even then, it suffers the same issue as One Shot did which is the unbelievability of how the main bad guys enter the place. At the same time, it’s quite enjoyable to see American intelligence and military as being incompetent. And the slight digs at the CIA and Mossad are a nice little treat. We have Michelle Monaghan as a CIA analyst with personal ties to the bad guy, Jai Courtney as soldier Miller (he’s good at playing bullies), and Jason Clarke as the sadistic bad guy called Hatchet. We also have a relative newcomer, Phoenix Raei as the Israeli Mossad agent called Uri.

When incompetent delta forces fail to interrogate Hatchet, the base goes on lockdown and they have one hour to restore communications lest they be hit by a drone strike by their own nation, the United States. What follows is hilariously bad attempts at re-securing their own base, while Hatchet goes around brutally killing the inhabitants.

In both movies, the target of the bad guy(s) is a businessman with alleged ties to terrorist organizations and we do not know if he’s a head honcho or merely just a puppet.

Somebody needs to tell the action choreographer or the guy in charge of effects for Black Site, that guns have recoil. It is a sad attempt to not have any when the blood effects were on point. Also if you’re supposedly a trained soldier or ex-soldier, you’d know when picking up a gun to check ammo/that it works right.

Overall, I’d recommend Black Site for the story because it has threads of truth to it. While I would recommend One Shot for the action.

Movies

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

This is the rare example of a near perfect video game adaptation. It is full of references or Easter eggs to the games, while staying faithful to the lore already established. Any deviations add to the story rather than take away. At its core, it’s a kids movie through and through. With plenty of toilet humor, and lots of strong family values. Yes, the final act was a CGI extravaganza like most Marvel movies but Sega and Paramount spared no expenses. There were no moments of extremely dubious graphics; everything was gorgeously rendered.

The story, this time around, is that Dr. Robotnik (played masterfully by Jim Carrey) has returned to earth with the help of an echidna named Knuckles to seek a powerful artifact capable of turning thought into reality. Sonic teams up with newcomer Tails, a gadget tinkering fox to stop them. Along the way, we see many adorable references to the games themselves, jokes rife with current popular actors and media, and some good ole fashioned family values. Sonic, himself, grows as both a character and a burgeoning hero and in a rare twist, shows that absolute power doesn’t have to corrupt.

Jim Carrey delightfully steals the show as the egotistical megalomaniac Dr. Robotnik. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be watching. He is an absolute treat to behold, and watching his performance I felt a nostalgia for him to return. To see his old characters again, to re-watch his performances. I hope he returns for the third movie despite his wish to retire from acting. It just wouldn’t be the same without him. Ben Schwartz as Sonic was okay, same with Idris Elba as Knuckles. As voice actors, there’s not much those two could do. Idris Elba especially felt wasted here, and I feel like they should have gone with actual voice actors instead. Like they did with Tails using the game’s voice actress, Colleen O’Shaughnessey. James Marsden did a great job again playing Tom, Sonic’s friend and parental figure. There was a nice comedic turn from Shemar Moore, wasn’t expecting him in the movie so that was a nice delight.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie to kids and adults that have grown up on the Sonic games. It’ll scratch your itch for a proper video game adaptation, and there’s plenty of re-watching available to try and catch all the Easter Eggs/references with your kids.

Movies

Otherlife

This movie is truly about the helplessness, and hopelessness that comes with fighting against a corporation that’s stolen your life’s work. How you’re driven mad, and gaslit in every corner. It’s about the pitfalls of technology, specifically about virtual reality. Black Mirror had an episode that was similar to this. This is the story of a young woman trying to save her brother’s mind – he’s trapped in a coma caused by drowning during an excursion with the two of them together. Expanding upon her father’s technology, she tries to devise a way that’ll work but she needs funding. So she partners up, but fails to consider that power corrupts absolutely. She ends up imprisoned by the very system she created to help save lives.

For an indie budget film, this movie has a better sense of scale and production value than most high budget Hollywood films. It has crafted a terrifying world where you can’t even trust your own reality. Not much different than today’s world, I suppose. The twists and turns keep you on your feet, and even my own above description of events betrays the reality of the movie. The only constant that is true is the danger of virtual reality that modifies time. The ending was satisfying, and provided emotional release from the suffocating feeling that the movie encapsulated.

Jessica De Gouw was excellent in the lead role, and very easily carried the movie. T.J. Power was equally as good as the partner seduced by the wealth and power that comes from owning a company on the forefront of new technology. His smarmy portrayal provided just the right touch between someone that seems trusting and simultaneously an asshole. The music added to the overall feeling of constant uneasiness and worry.

Overall, it was quite a good science fiction thriller. I’m loving these Australian films, and I look forward to more. I recommend this movie.

Movies

Bubble

This Japanese animated film caught my eye due to the vibrant color scheme of the animations itself. I felt drawn in, and I knew I had to watch it. Produced by Wit Studio, and directed by TetsurĊ Araki (known for the Death Note series, and seasons 1-3 of Attack on Titan), it is a beautifully written story about love. In an alternative world, where gravity defying bubbles have rained down across the earth. One day in Tokyo, some sort of explosion happens which leaves the city enclosed in a giant bubble – cut off from the world. The city ends up abandoned, and children and teens move in to live because they don’t want to live in the outside world. Here they come up with a series of games that utilizes parkour which basically establishes order in the decaying city.

Our protagonist, Hibiki, is a young man who was present at the site of the initial explosion and competes with his team, blue blaze, in the parkour tournaments. A chance of fate, or a predestined outcome has him come face to face with a girl with mysterious powers. Together they embark on a journey into the human condition. It was simply beautiful to watch it all unfold. Loosely based upon “The Little Mermaid”, it has clear moments of genuine soul. The mysterious girl, Uta, changes his life for the better but like in ‘The Little Mermaid’, we can expect some sort of heartbreak. Yet, it isn’t ugly. It is an understandable loss, but with it comes an understanding for life. The cycle of it. Death and rebirth.

The story had hints of philosophical musings, and it was pleasant to finally see some sort of alien life that was truly unique. The animation was gorgeous, and I never felt like it was bad or unnerving (unlike Attack on Titan). The soundtrack was excellent, and I loved the singing from Uta and how it incorporated itself into the music.

Overall, I highly recommend this Japanese animated film. It is worth the watch, even if there won’t be repeated views. It’s one of those stories that you watch once, and it leaves you pondering the human condition; the human heart. What does it mean to feel loss? What does it mean to love?

Movies

Russian Raid

This is one of those action movies where the story is not the focal point, just an element to carry the action from one scene to the next. Given that, there is a message to be found buried underneath the superbly executed fight sequences and action choreography. About honor, soldiering, and the deep corruption that can be found in both military and police. That the only answer to such crime is to take it out by the root, killing it at its core.

I loved the frenetic combat, both close quarters hand to hand and gun action. Everything carried weight, and felt almost real. Like Ong-Bak, I wouldn’t put it past these Russian stuntmen that some got too into it. Some of those hits didn’t look like they were pulled. It was glorious. The inclusion of the track suit gangsters was great, and they provided mild comedic relief at the absurdity of some of the situations. And in the end, there is even a sense of honor and loyalty amongst hoodlums. The soundtrack fit in perfectly with the fast paced nature of the fights. The camerawork was top notch, every fight was easy to follow and to see the outcome. No shaky cam here with a thousand rapid cuts. Acting was pretty good all around except for the blond actress, she felt sorely out of place.

Overall, I recommend this action movie. The fights are great to behold, and a good watch for a Saturday night type with the boys.