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.

Movies

Kate

Yet another John Wick attempt at mimicry that fails in its execution and delivery. Kate stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the titular character, who is an assassin for an organization led by Woody Harrelson. When she botches her latest job, she quickly realizes she’d been poisoned and has roughly 24 hours left to live. What follows is her rampage across Tokyo looking for the party responsible, and along the way, she earns redemption for a previous job that left a young girl fatherless.

The action is great in one sequence, at a geisha residence, with frankly, gory scenes of knife play. Everything beyond that scene is boring at best. John Wick’s gunfu worked because it was established that this is an entire universe of assassins, so in Kate, to have the bad guys try and do it, is hilarious. Sure, it’s fine for her to do it. She’s been trained since a young age. Everyone else should employ some sort of tactical sense, hide behind cover, shoot from cover. Not let’s have everyone stand in a line, while smoke comes, and there’s lasers on our guns to give off a stylish vibe. Most scenes are like this. Should we have proper gunplay? Nah, let’s go with style over function every single time. Hey, I’m a visual effects artist, I know what I’m doing as director (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan).

Despite Mary Elizabeth Winstead giving it her best – and her acting was the best part of the movie – the horrendous screenplay and direction could not save it this from being trash. The writer is one Umair Aleem, responsible for the other hot garbage movie called Extraction (Bruce Willis one). So much needless swearing, in both English and Japanese. The fight sequences lacking any knowledge of tactics, and just silly posing with guns all around. I skipped ahead using Netflix’s 10 seconds feature many times because it was simply a bore.

I don’t recommend this. Show Netflix they have got to stop dropping money on trash. Just skip it.

Movies

The Dead Don’t Die

Aka let me beat you over the head repeatedly, starting with the very first scene, about my social commentary on how people are mindless, soulless consumers. Which is severely ironic given that the movie itself is as soulless, and mindless as it gets. There isn’t a single redeeming quality to this movie other than casting several well known actors/actresses. Director and writer Jim Jarmusch has lost his touch. His last good movie that I enjoyed was back in 1999 with Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, and his obsession with samurai swords (katanas) makes a resurgence in this movie.

The jokes fall flat, the social and environmental commentary is so hammered in, it starts to get contrived. The fourth wall scenes are uninspired and that ending is just atrocious. Everyone in the movie felt like they were simply there for a quick paycheck, just going through the motions. If you think to yourself, “Oh, Adam Driver and Bill Murray, this looks fun.” Don’t. Full stop. Back out and watch anything else.

Overall, I simply don’t have anything nice to say about this movie. Too bad you can’t burn it after viewing. I want nearly 2 hours of my life back. Hard pass, do not recommend it at all.

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”.