Movies

Extraction

This is how you make a movie about rival drug dealers kidnapping children and the attempt to save them without appearing that you have an agenda against them. Not Rambo Last Blood, a racist fueled exploitation flick. One should take notes on how to make violence tasteful without appearing, as I said, racist. Enough about Rambo Last Blood, this movie is called Extraction and it stars Chris Hemsworth as a mercenary with nothing left to lose. Who takes up a suicide mission to save a drug crime lord’s son from a rival drug lord. Story takes place in Mumbai and Dhaka. Scenery is chewed through by the explosive, frenetic yet easily followed action and set pieces. All the close combat action is well shot and easy to follow. And never did I feel that it was over the top, or that our hero had an extreme hatred for his enemies (ok last time I mention Rambo).

It was a well crafted story that managed to bring some layers to our otherwise static hero vs villain tale. All the characters in such a story are never given enough time to flesh them out and make them feel real. At most, we can identify with our main and see the layers unfold for them. Here we saw that not just our hero is layered, but that his enemies and allies are as well. They managed to make them human, like “somebody’s father” and that is what makes them more compelling to watch. I like knowing my hero’s story, knowing whether they’re tortured by their past, or that they love their son very much but cannot be there for them. I like knowing my villain is a true piece of work, who has no qualms about killing children to achieve his goals. These moments of humanizing the characters to be more than pieces on a chess board, is what helps elevate this movie beyond a simple action tale. There is a message here to be found, even if it may be masked slightly. And what I took away, is that a child’s life is worth saving even if the parents might not be. That although we may run away to escape our problems, eventually those problems will return to haunt us in another shape until we finally face it head on. Until we are free of our demons, and have learned to accept them, we cannot find peace.

Beneath the violence and action that encompasses this movie, there is a surprising humanity and soul to it all. I’d definitely recommend this movie for a watch. If nothing else, you’ll be left entertained. It reminded me of Tears of the Sun. Another movie well worth the watch.

Movies

The Platform

I was repeatedly sought to see this movie for it had a message akin to Joker or so I was so told. Joker was subtle and insidious. This movie beat you over the head every 10 minutes, and not kindly too. I would equate it to torture porn. Wholeheartedly unneeded, and left a bitter viewing experience. I had to mute and block much of the screen, reading only the subtitles at times.

The worst part is you could see the disgusting violence that was about to happen long before it did, therefore why would the movie continue to actually show it for such an extent? It can’t be to reiterate its message that the world is currently run in a such a manner that those who are wealthier leave naught but scraps for those that are poorer while both sets are led astray by the owners of such a system. To show extreme violence with the sole purpose of violence is unsavory. If you can heavily imply the violence, there is no need to explicitly show it. Unless you’re going for shock value; at which point, you’re devaluing your external message. This isn’t John Wick or some other revenge fantasy. This is one of those attempted allegorical art house films. Be tasteful with the gore and violence.

It felt like they were trying to make it feel like Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now with our main character’s descent from a moral and good man into madness and then a moment of redemption. Perhaps that was the purpose they sought with the movie, but I digress. It did not feel that way at all. It felt cheap. Somebody’s idea of prison torture porn.

I’d skip this movie. The amount of symbolism and beating you over the head repeatedly is off-putting, having the main bring the book Don Quixote with him is just… Why don’t you defecate in a character’s mouth while climbing to freedom to further iterate that everything is shit? You wait, you do. I feel bad having Joker even mentioned in this review, it doesn’t deserve such disrespect.

Movies

6 Underground

Wow! What an entertaining movie! The action kicks off from the start and doesn’t let down until the very end. It was quite humorous too, at times, and in contrast to the violence that would be occurring on screen. Director Michael Bay does what he does best: cars, guns, hot women, and explosions. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It reminded me of movies such as The Losers or Smoking Aces. Just pure fun. Not a whole lot of thinking needed; leave your brain at the door.

Ryan Reynolds is great as the wisecracking, enigmatic One. Mélanie Laurent is kickass as a former CIA spook, named Two. Corey Hawkins does a decent job at playing the honorable soldier and sniper, named Seven. Six was played by Dave Franco as the driver for the opening sequence: a car chase that sets the tone for the whole movie. Ben Hardy played Four, the parkour expert and former thief. Three was basically the secondary comic relief, and done well by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. And Five was the beautiful yet deadly doctor of the team, played by Adria Arjona.

All of the actors did very well, you could tell they were having fun playing their roles. And they had such a great chemistry too. Many of their interactions brought me to laughter. The villain was also done well because you truly despised him, though that would be more a testament to the writing than the actor – Lior Raz. And speaking of the writing, the movie is quite political. You can clearly see the real life parallels that they tried to accomplish. I don’t like discussing that, so I’ll let you be the judge of what propaganda they are peddling. Outside of that, it’s a solid movie. Except for the cars blowing up upon crashing, but it’s Michael Bay; it’s to be expected.

I definitely recommend this movie to watch. Be advised the violence is quite graphic; in fact, the whole movie played like it was a comic book come to life. I would watch this again with my friends and family.

TV Shows

V Wars

Ian Somerhalder as a human in a fight against vampires? Count me in were my initial thoughts. After seeing him as a vampire for 8 seasons of The Vampire Diaries, I was hoping for a decent show. I was proven wrong. This show is a muddled mess of different ideas put forth into a melting pot and hoping one of them sticks. Its first season is 10 episodes long and it premiered on December 5th on Netflix. It starts off incredibly rocky and just filled with mistakes. For example, Ian Somerhalder’s character, Luther Swann, is supposed to be a renowned scientist working on infectious diseases. Yet, when Luther goes to the Arctic to check what happened to his research team which were working on supposed long dead viruses contained underground, he doesn’t even wear any sorta quarantine materials. He and the other lead, Adrian Holmes, just waltz right on in and get exposed to an unknown biological sample.

From there the show slowly escalates demonstrating how the virus spreads and how the country reacts. It’s set in the United States. Several continuity errors arise. Such as, how are there serial murders while Adrian Holmes’ character is under quarantine, how does one character name the vampires as bloods and literally in the next scene, everyone is now calling them bloods? Did she magically telepathically tell everyone? Also said character is pretty much the reason that everything goes wrong for the vampires under the leadership of Adrian Holmes’ character, Michael. Due to her being jealous. Supposedly her character is 19 years old. And Michael thinks it’d be a great idea to make her his second in command. Then he thinks it’s an even better idea to let an old lover become his main girl. A blind man could smell the jealousy on the young girl.

The entire time I spent watching it, it felt like I was watching a half-baked idea. The effects look good but the story and plot is just flat and boring. You have random subplots that demonstrate very little other than “here’s a new character, he can shoot a gun and he’s FBI” and “she doesn’t like that she’s a vampire and won’t feed on a live human”. See how easily that was surmised? Well the show spends 5 or 4 episodes for each character respectively to establish that. It could have been done in one episode, and then we could have some juicier plot to help fill in the blandness. Oh and the sheer amount of times a character has racked an empty shotgun is hilarious. Has nobody been taught that racking a shotgun ejects the round, and if no round comes out then you’ve clearly got an empty gun.

I’d avoid watching this mess. Hard to believe the lead actor put “15 months of heart and hard work” into it. To the point that he even had to go to the ER for being overworked. It’s a dumpster fire of propaganda. Climate change melts the ice and releases a virus? No, an idiot scientist walks into a sterile lab without any quarantine and infects the world. Internment camp for potential vampires? Something something Nazis, something something US border camps, something something China. Free government handouts of medicine turn out to be poisoned? I won’t even go into that mess. It’s one thing to tell a story about vampires, but it’s another thing entirely to force world politics and problems and mold the vampire story around that. It’s just lazy propaganda with no substance.

So do yourself a favor, and never watch this. Let it die on Netflix and join the other mass of season one only shows.

Movies

The Knight Before Christmas

This movie put a smile on my face. The story has been done before: a knight from the past is brought to the future to fulfil his quest, but it manages to capture the spirit of Christmas and about true love. It’s a story about being kind to others, being charitable, and caring. About putting others before yourself. Helping those in need and just being an exemplary human being.

Vanessa Hudgens plays the lead love interest opposite Josh Whitehouse who plays the titular knight. Vanessa did a really good job here with the material and came across as very likeable, and her character felt very real. I connected with her easily and established an emotional response in regards to her character’s journey. Josh did a fine job as well portraying a man lost in time, a man trying to acquaint himself in the time period he now finds himself in. They had very enjoyable chemistry together. I was very happy when they finally kissed. That was another thing I liked: their relationship didn’t feel forced. It felt organic. It blossomed naturally and didn’t feel forced by bad writing.

The side characters were also well done and although they lacked characterization, they did serve to further the character growth of the leads while still feeling like they were their own people. They felt real and not caricatures.

So if you’re looking for a feel-good movie with your significant other, or even by yourself, I’d definitely recommend watching this movie. It was really refreshing to see a movie portray a small town where people care for each other and there was nothing seriously bad or horrible or profanity/violence. I loved it.

Movies

The Wolfman (2010)

The first time I watched this movie was when it was released in theaters. I decided to rewatch it on Netflix, and I can’t believe I went and saw this in theaters. It’s just a mess. There’s good ideas in there but the execution is muddled and just bad. It’s a remake of an older movie of the same name but it takes its plot and butchers it in an attempt to make something new. It starts off so rocky and badly acted, you wonder if it’s a joke. It slowly improves though not by much. You’d think such famous actors would be doing a better job but the fault isn’t theirs alone, the writing is such a letdown.

The plot is standard for a werewolf movie. Man arrives to former home looking for lost brother. Man gets bit investigating supposed werewolf. Man turns into werewolf. Now he’s the one getting investigated. Shenanigans ensue, death happens. The man in question is Lawrence Talbot, son of John Talbot. Lawrence is played by Benicio Del Toro, John is played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, and the widow of the brother is played by Emily Blunt. Both Benicio and Anthony phone it in, they act like they don’t wanna be there, that this is a paycheck and isn’t worth the effort. Emily Blunt, on the other hand, actually tries and her character is the only one to create an emotional response.

The good part of the movie is that the transformation into a werewolf is very well done. The effects were done by Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London) and those transformation scenes are about the only true horror in the movie. Every single other bit of horror is a jump scare and after the umpteenth time, it’s just boring and downright lazy. The final “boss fight” was thankfully over quick and the werewolves were easily dispatched.

I’d recommend watching the transformation scenes on YouTube and avoiding this mess of a film. It’s not worth your time.

TV Shows

Stranger Things (Season 3)

Earlier in one of my previous posts, The Silence (2019 – Netflix), I stated that I hope Netflix would finally have a good monster movie someday. Well, that day arrived with Stranger Things season 3 release. I know it’s not a movie but it feels like an 8 hour long movie with how each episode is paced. Each chapter tells a specific story that, when tied altogether, is a well-told tale of horror and things that go bump in the night. The ending segments of each episode led you into what would occur the next episode and thereby gave a sense of dangling the carrot or so to speak. You want to see what happens next, and this urge is not just brought on by the mystery but also the acting of everyone involved. I wanna see Steve do more, have more antics, and I wanna see more interactions with his character and others. The same goes with Hopper, I love seeing his character be on screen. I was most fond of Joyce, and she has quite changed from the overbearing, helicopter mother we met in season one.

Compared to season one, I find this season to be almost as good. It has the same level of dread, of intrigue, and of mystery. The action, when it happens, is brutal and gory and to the point. Only one scene I couldn’t watch due to the gore, and that’s from the end of episode 7 to the opening segment of episode 8. I feel most people might get queasy at the scene, but it did delivery effective horror. I enjoyed that they didn’t shy away from violence towards the kids/teens, to show that they are not invincible and can easily be hurt. And at the same time, I enjoyed that they had the kids be rather smart and capable. The interactions between the kids and “Bald Eagle” were very enjoyable and funny.

Spoilers Ahead

Now onto the bad news, the cons for me. Why are the Russians the bad guys? I understand it’s the 80’s and cold war and the Red Dawn references (even mentioned in show), but again, like with Santa Clarita Diet, that there’s a trend towards Slavs being portrayed as the bad guys. Why can’t the bad guys being localised to your own country? There was a particular character I was quite fond of and therefore knew what fate would have in store for him. I hated that they went that way. And it’s not just that character, but another character who had achieved joy and happiness in their life only to have it dashed away. I’ve also noticed that trend in shows, to have a character achieve true happiness and, so to bring horror or emotion to your viewers, you have that character killed off.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the monster – even though it reminded me of a monster I’ve read about in some nation’s legends that I cannot recall. The effects were solid and same with all the bodies that were transmogrified. It was a heartfelt tale of adventure between friends, family and lovers that conquered an ancient evil, and in the end giving us closure while teasing us with new possibilities. I recommend this show to all science fiction and monster movie aficionados for time well spent.