Movies

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

Before this even arrived on Netflix, I was wary of it for several reasons. The first and foremost is the writer, Beau DeMayo. Looking his credits up, The Originals and a single episode of The Witcher TV show, didn’t inspire any hope. And within the first 5 minutes, it shows that the writer did not do any research into the lore and world of the Witcher. It’s like they read the books and then decided to recreate it based on what they could remember to suit their own fantasy of what the books actually are. What is on display, is your typical Netflix attempt at being woke and diverse. If I had to be frank, it’s a black guy’s fantasy of the Witcher. The black family at the start should have been from Zerrikania, not Kaedwen. And they would be a tribe of warriors if they were.

Before someone starts in with the whole, “but it’s a fantasy, anything goes”, it’s Witcher. It’s got its own rules, and law, and lore. It’s primarily Slavic and the time period that it borrowed from, had very few people of color that weren’t from their own lands. There is no racism at play. It would be like taking LOTR and making the hobbits black. It doesn’t add anything but try to appeal towards that so called diverse crowd. You can have diversity, when’s the last time we had Slavic good guys? Oh, my bad, I forgot, the Western world can’t have that. Is British-washing a term? Because that’s what they seem to be doing. Cast yet another British actor in the lead role. Definitely a type of whitewashing.

Grievances aside, animation is really good. Studio Mir does a topnotch job. Action is fluid, and easily seen. Fair bit of blood and gore to satisfy the mature audiences coming in from the games. Voice actors did fine with what they had to work with. Nothing outstanding. However, I spy with my little eye a little nepotism and I expected nothing less from Lauren Schmidt Hissrich. Casting her own son as the young voice of Geralt. After all, she’s the one whitewashing away any Slavic elements.

Overall, if I ignore the poisonous elements of the movie, and just focus on the action, yea, I would recommend it. But if you’re a Slavic fan of Witcher, and you can ignore the atrocity committed, you’ll still struggle like I did. I’m trying to not let my own venom and seething anger influence my review but it’s a struggle. Evil comes in many forms, destroying the cultural identity of an artist’s work is certainly one of them.

Movies

SAS: Rise of the Black Swan

Or SAS: Red Notice, as it is called elsewhere, is your run of the mill British action thriller with a few strong set pieces and a slightly different take on your typical hero. He’s an antihero in the sense that it’s clear from the opening lines, he’s a psychopath and what differentiates him long before we actually meet him, and it’s made clear, is that he’s capable of love. Our hero, Tom, played by Sam Heughan, is on a train headed from England to France when criminals hijack it. Before that sequence happens, there’s a fair bit of character development given to the antagonist, played by Ruby Rose, of John Wick and Batgirl fame, so she’s no stranger to action. Still, given her role, I did not once find her believable as a psychopathic soldier of fortune. The movie tried to be clever in its opening narration and misguide the viewer into thinking it’s talking about her, but clearly that would be a stretch given the opening sequence.

The action itself was fun, gritty, and several scenes during the train part were a clever utilization of our hero’s skill. There were a couple continuation/errors that were obvious but they were a minor derailment. For example, near the start of the movie, Ruby Rose’s character, Grace, gets grazed by a bullet and she reaches up with a cloth to cover it. Except, she already had the cloth in her hand and was moving her hand towards her face before the bullet hit. That’s the kind of error you’d expect a newcomer to the scene to make. Anyways, guns went pew pew and as far as I know, nice sounding. The sense of tactical movement between the actors told me they were well prepared or trained to mimic professionals.

The supporting cast, like Andy Serkis, was enjoyable. It was nice to see Owain Yeoman again, I remember him fondly from his time on The Mentalist. This wasn’t a movie to win home any awards, but to tell a message. And I think that point was driven home repeatedly, on several occasions. That governments around the world will hire private mercenary groups to do their less than savory jobs and if anything goes sideways, they can merely toss aside the blame.

Overall, I recommend this movie if you’re looking for a fun time and to eat some chips while mindlessly gazing. It was cool to see how both the antagonist and protagonist had changes in their eyes when they switched from being kind of normal to “engage killer mode”.

Movies

The Swarm

This review will be a little different than other ones. I’m going to include at the bottom, after my review, the notes that I took while watching the movie. Obviously, it will be severely spoiler heavy so don’t read that part until you’ve watched it yourself. Unless you like spoilers, then go ahead.

The Review

A genuine slow burn horror, no jump scares. Everything foretold and spotted early on which only furthered that tension, that unsettling fear. If there is one word for this movie, it’s that: unsettling. Everything feels wrong, yet it’s trying so hard to feel like it’s normal. A fatherless family tries to survive on a farm by turning to alternative flour such as locust. There is a little bit of a message bluntly stated that food supplies are dwindling and locust flour is much better. It has more protein at 100 grams than meat does at 150 grams. Cool. A little distraction from what’s clearly about to unfold. The family has its own problems; the mother is too invested in the locusts to pay attention to her children, the daughter is an outcast at school due to her mom’s reputation, and the son wants his mom to be attentive and watch his soccer games.

There is a very human story here that eventually grows quickly twisted and more perverse as it goes on. The mother is desperate for money and her locust flour is barely as thick as others. She can’t find sellers. That sinking feeling is very prevalent as a viewer. The movie starts out innocent enough. The close up shots of locusts have them feel like a normal thing, but as time moves on, the perspective changes. This movie is insidious. The strain on the family explodes in various disturbing ways. The mother makes the most drastic of all the choices.

The body horror of seeing bugs on human flesh is very real here. It is used to great extent to drive home that sense of being unsettled. I was constantly uneasy. I actually had my text document up half the time, covering the horror on screen. The sound was still there. That is a masterpiece as well. We constantly hear the buzzing of the locusts when we’re at the family’s home. The sound gnaws at your mind. It starts to condition you in that short while that you watch the movie.

I’ll be honest folks, if it weren’t for the review aspect, I wouldn’t have normally watched this movie. I think my brain blurred out certain scenes that I watched from the sheer trauma of it. If you want expert level of horror, then look no further. I recommend this French film.

Spoilers

Spoilers

Warned you enough times, Spoilers

And the spoiler notes I made

SPOILERS

This movie is incredibly insidious and gnaws on the mind with a slow burn. The use of the locusts is at first peaceful, and normal. Slowly it twists and warps the perception of them to be wrong, to be an aberration. You can feel the sinking feeling as you start to think what will die first. This being a horror movie and all. My money is on the goat.

A family struggling to make ends meet who turns to alternative methods like raising locusts. The inability to sell the product turns to angst, anger and change. In unpleasant ways. Injuring herself leads to a change in the environment for the insects. They feed on blood. An old man appears to take his dog back, she had gotten lost. Again the feeling of foreboding fear. It might die.

A political message about food running out and that locust flour has more protein per 100 grams than meat does at 150 grams. The locusts that ate blood bred more. It begins. The title of the movie. Somehow makes a grasshopper molting feel unnerving. Children having to live with their mom’s reputation, the impact it has on their lives. Being treated as outcasts. Bullied.

Mom lets locusts feed on her injured arm. Closeup of her taking out bits of locusts from wound. Dear god, this is horror. The constant sound of the locusts making their distinctive sounds, always there keeping you on edge. She expands the habitat, that extension letting your mind wander as to how large the swarm will get. THe locusts themselves have apparently gotten larger than before.

Mom not involved in her children’s lives, too focused on succeeding with her locusts. This causes problems with her eldest child, a daughter.

locusts ate other locusts in kid’s bedroom. Mom cuts her wrists to draw blood to feed locusts, sits down inside their cage, and they swarm her. She contemplates her existence in bathtub afterwards.

Her friend is struggling as much as her with his winery. She manages to fill 5 large barrels full for the duck guy, earlier scene showed a couple lived during the heating process. Now she buys 30 liters of blood, and the old man with his dog from before his being creepy like, stalking. His dog growling. Starts to feed them bloody jelly. they go crazy. reveals she has three large setups now.
locust sound so loud when they feed, the sound is so prevailant and in your head, daughter has headset and volume to max and barely can drone it out. The setting sun leading the goat, the change to night. A master of tension.

Daughter runs up to greenhouse with locusts in rage, slashing at several of the containments with an exacto knife and then the greenhouse itself. They are loose. Younger brother is in truck with goat in the back. There it is that feeling of doom. The goat is going to get eaten while the boy watches helpless. The rope breaks, the swarm passes. The gost is missing. It is found several kilometers away, barely alive being eaten by what remains of the locusts. Mother deals with it. She disciplines the daughter who has angst agaisnt her mother for failing to care about the goats.

Mother helps son search for goat she well knows is dead.

A respite from the tension, a family trip to the lake. It’s bright and free of the locust’s buzz. Daughter notices the wounds on her mom’s body that she’s trying to hide. Back to the house, the sound returns. Daughter gets bought off with a shiny new scooter.

Mother gets close to winemaker friend, starts to kiss. She pulls aways when he tries to take her shirt off. Son keeps kicking ball into the greenhouse aggravating the locusts. Mom expands and cuts down former tree belonging to the goat or tries to. Makes more feed using her own blood because she can’t get the blood she requires because she’s on a waiting list.

Everytime we’re at the greenhouses, the only extra sound is the locusts. She damages her relationship with her winery friend.

Mom hears the old man’s dog at night, barking and growling. Finds it and feeds it to the locusts. I skipped forwards because we back to some satanic ritual stuff here. We out here breeding monsters. Can we stop sacrificing pets in horror movies? This feels super cheap but then again, it’s the french, they don’t care about animals. Son has nightmare about locusts.

Mom cleans the remains of the dog she murdered. Mom drives out to a random farm and kills a young calf. Cuts the body up and takes it back to feed her new babies. Needs all the blood she can get. The music is always dischordant.

Mom couldn’t be there to see her son off to soccer camp. Daughter drives home determined. Finds blood on her mom’s clothes. Goes to greenhouse and witness’s her mom’s feeding process to the locusts. sits there naked save for her head, as the feed of her body. Gnarly stuff. What the fuck french men, like the last movie I saw was disturbing but we out here on a whole new level.

Daughter reaches out to winery friend, says somethings wrong with her mom. He comes over and takes them both back to his place. Daughter tries to tell what’s going on, but mom doesn’t let that happen.

Old man comes searching for his dog. Looks around the greenhouses. Enters one. Yea, he’s next totally. Opens one of the locust bags, sees something at the back. Looks up and sees mass of locusts.

Winery friend drops them both back home. He backs up but then parks and decides to investigate greenhoueses as well. He gonna die maybe. Finds the half eaten dead body of the old man. Karim (wine man) runs off. Mom angrily runs at daughter demanding what she told him. He starts to pour gasoline all over the greenhouses and lights it on fire. The entire swarm escapes. IT attacks the house. surround karim, and have him half dead. being eaten alive.

laura runs away but the swarm gives chase. Mom follows, unsure of where her daughter is. Daughter is taking a boat upside down to hide away from the swarm in the water. The swarm descends on the boat as the daughter cries out for her mom. She is running down the beach watching. Mom cuts her hands, drawing blood, and coats her face. She is drawing the swarm out to her, a sacrifice for her daughter. She goes in the water, and the swarm all suicides into it as well. Mom lives.

WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH?

Movies

The Suicide Squad

This review contains minor spoilers

After having seen it, I can see why it might be so highly rated. There is a lot of good lore, and world-building. But, I’m just super divided on it. I think it would have been much more enjoyable if there wasn’t so much self-gratification of American propaganda. If they didn’t keep fluffing themselves to be the savior. The story takes place on the fictional island of Corto Maltese aka basically Cuba. It honestly didn’t even bother to disguise that fact. And now a group of Americans are going to save this poor third-world country from a tyrannical president and military coup (which in all likelihood was implemented by a similar American agency that sent out the Suicide Squad.) However, we don’t want that to be too obvious so we’ll include a third-act bad guy to switch our antagonist to. See, James Gunn can write twists.

Awhile back there were some tweets regarding James Gunn, and having seen much of what he calls humor in this film, I now understand why there was a bad light cast on him. That kind of humor doesn’t change, that kind of fetish for underage jokes. And wow, the sheer amount of children jokes or children being threatened to be killed is high. Like the first was admittedly funny, but then it just kept going. Beating a dead horse. Like Tarantino gets off on feet, James Gunn has a disturbing and morbid humor involving underage minors. Oh, I’m sure the message of ‘killing kids is a big red flag’ is understandable, but why even the need to bring it up? (Probably to make the audience understand that Amanda Waller is a worse villain than the team she creates).

The interactions between all the characters was great, it was humorous. Witty, intelligent. There was a finesse to some of the action scenes. The gore and violence was creative and felt like scenes out of comic book pages, and then other scenes were far too gratuitous. Some scenes added absolutely nothing except made me think this is some sort of satanic ritual to be filmed. Spoiler. Bad dudes burn down a giant bird cage and you get to listen to the birds’ screams. This scene infuriated me. NOTHING was gained as a viewer. I didn’t think that the general was worse than he already was. It didn’t symbolize anything, not even the president’s ideals being burned away. It was pure evil for no reason at all. Sorry, pardon my French, but how fucked are you in the head to think up that scene?

Was the movie weird? Yes. And it often felt forced. Like it was being weird just for the sake of being weird. I bought into the hype reading actor’s interviews and tsk. I’m disappointed. Some of the scenes are incredibly stupid, like Harley’s escape. Yes, guys with assault rifles will all single file and one at a time approach and not at all think to shoot their guns. Idris Elba was strong as Bloodsport. His character similar to Will Smith’s in the first movie. Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher2 was also quite strong in her role, brought what limited emotional impact she could. John Cena as Peacemaker was a walking metaphor for the USA. He was a caricature, two dimensional or even one. There was no depth to his character. The fact they’re making a show with his character is a joke.

Overall, half of me hates it. It’s a sick, twisted adventure from a disturbed mind. Sure, you can always try to find beauty in madness, but I’m going to stay away from this. I’m not gonna judge you for watching this movie, or if you immensely enjoyed it. And the other half of me liked some parts. I liked the jokes and self-awareness between characters. Actually, that’s all I liked. Anyways, my review won’t stop you from watching it if you’re already keen on doing so. You’ll probably dismiss it as rambling. I’m sick of these metaphors, messaging – subliminal or otherwise. Nothing I want more than to shut my brain off and enjoy but I can’t help but see the social programming plugging away.

Movies

Jungle Cruise

After watching another family friendly movie, F9, I decided to give this one a go. Dwayne Johnson is always fun, right? And it was! I had a blast of escapism, and loved the sense of adventure into the Amazon it provided. I missed these old adventure movies where the characters would go into the jungle and conquer traps, and natives. Just some good old campy fun. Like Romancing the Stone, or going more modern, a few of the Rock’s movies: Jumanji, Journey 2, The Rundown.

Now, besides the fun, I felt Dwayne Johnson was out of place here. His muscles most definitely ruining any immersion. No way was his character’s backstory what it was. I laughed during those scenes. But, he did have chemistry with Emily Blunt and she was simply divine to watch. A pure joy. Her character’s earnest need to explore and find the truth behind her bedtime stories came across beautifully. I loved watching her outwit her opponents. Simply remarkable. What was great about Dwayne Johnson was his delivery of lines; hilarious. The brother felt a complete trope and caricature and pandering to the LGBTQ+ crowd that one would typically find in a Netflix production. The plot mattered little as to the character himself, his purpose was to hold back the main character and bridge the villain to her and then redeem himself in the final act. Could have been any other kind of character, a sister, a mother, a father, a close friend, could have had any sexuality but it didn’t matter because regardless, they’d be trying to spin the narrative of how nobody respects that kind of person but family. Why not a drug addicted brother, and his redemption? Or a destitute/bum and this is his saving grace. Point is, that aspect of his character added nothing to the plot.

There was an over abundance of CGI but there was also plenty of practical effects, so as a viewer, in the moment, I enjoyed it. Later on though, I noticed the glares and cracks in such use of CGI. It makes the scenes forgettable. I find it difficult to remember besides major points of the plot. Happily though, the cinematography is beautiful. Wide, sweeping panoramic shots of the jungle and rivers.

Overall, I can see why Disney might be wanting to continue making movies out of their theme park rides. There’s a potential here for lots of money. Alas, I don’t think Jungle Cruise will do that. It released at a bad timing, and the movie itself while fun is also meh. Like I’d recommend it if you’re a fan of Dwayne Johnson or Emily Blunt, but as for the movie itself… Maybe?