Movies

Boss Level

Directed by Joe Carnahan. Starring: Mel Gibson, Frank Grillo, Naomi Watts, Will Sasso, and Ken Jeong, with Michelle Yeoh.

A movie in the vein of groundhog day, and Edge of Tomorrow, co-written by Joe Carnahan, that just absolutely kicks ass. I very much enjoyed this movie and had a blast watching it. The idea of repeating a day over and over until succeeding in whatever mission a hero has is not new, but in the way it goes about it is quite touching. Yes, there’s action and plenty of it. But there’s also soul to be found in it. And like Edge of Tomorrow, it follows an almost video game format. Where our hero gets better and learns new skills each time he dies.

Frank Grillo plays our hero named Roy, a special forces ex-operative who spends his days drinking and hooking up while pining for his ex-wife with whom he has a young son. Due to his career, his son is unknowing that Roy is his father. One day, he visits his ex-wife at her top secret research facility and then our movie unfolds. Smartly our story does not start there, but in the thick of things with our hero on a random number of resets and then shows us how he got to that point.

The action is well done, and easily followed. There is comedy to be found in his attempts to save the day. Frank Grillo is, in my eyes, a full blown action hero. Even got the muscles to boot. Naomi Watts plays the ex-wife who wishes her ex-husband was the man she once knew with a soft touch and we can feel her laments. Mel Gibson as the bad guy in all this, a former Colonel, does well to establish why we don’t want him to succeed. The rest of the supporting cast help breath that brevity that Roy has in his moments between escaping the clutches of death. And there is a touching story within it all of a father trying to reconnect with his son.

The soundtrack is amazing and helps with the aesthetic of it being a video game. Overall, I highly recommend watching this movie. You’ll not regret it.

Movies

Project Power

Great, another superhero movie… Except it isn’t. Like the Boys, this movie appears to be about superheroes but in reality, it’s a whole other bag. Part of it is majorly anti-government, and the bad guys are defense contractors. Well, one company, but still, both The Boys and Project Power share the same kinda baddie. And I enjoy that because it ain’t far from the truth. Why would some stranger in a desert be the bad guy, when those in power would be the ones to want to hold onto that power? They would do anything to keep it. And such is the case in this movie. One of the main characters is Art aka the Major, played by Jamie Foxx, who is on a mission to rescue his daughter from American scientists working for a defense contractor because from him, and his daughter comes the source of superpowers. The delivery mechanism? A pill that will either kill you, or for 5 minutes will give you powers.

What follows is slick action scenes and impressive CGI showcasing various powers, while still having heart in the story. It briefly touches on several issues such as teens dealing drugs can’t play the “but I’m just a child” card when they’re fully aware of what they’re doing. Briefly it touched on how the system is designed to keep young black men and woman from surviving and that they gotta learn to game the system because that’s all the system does to them. They gotta find what they’re good at, and exploit it for their own benefit. It also touches on mass police corruption in New Orleans by suggesting to the other main character, a cop played by Joseph Gordan-Levitt, why would they test the drug there? Because the cops are all easily paid off.

The acting here is phenomenal, not just by Jamie Foxx but also by Dominique Fishback who turns in quite a performance playing a teen dealing drugs to support her diabetic mom. Jamie Foxx chewed the scenery he was in, and I just thoroughly enjoyed watching him. The movie is fun. It feels a little bit like a remedy against superhero movies, and it was nice to see a somewhat original idea. We need more of that for the SciFi genre, instead of rehashing older movies.

Overall, I recommend this movie for a Friday night watch. It’s got action, heart, and just an all around good time… Except for the bad guys. They get their due.

Movies

Terminator: Dark Fate

Spoilers Below, You have been warned

When I go into a Terminator movie, I expect a certain level of action and philosophizing about chosen ones and all that. This rendition of the story is a sequel to Terminator 2 and starts off directly addressing that in the prologue by establishing Sarah Connor and John Connor’s grim fates (get it?). Then the story moves onto a new set of characters because the future has been changed. A supposedly male spanish-speaking Terminator lookalike appears and sets the stage as the villain. A female humanoid, kung-fu fighting, system UI in her head analysing the situation, badass appears and sets the stage as the equivalent of Kyle Reese but more awesome. While Kyle was the father of the chosen one, she is a warrior and the right-hand of the main character – who must be saved – but in the future. The fate of the human race lies in hands of a young, Mexican girl named Dani.

This character is the worst part of the movie. It’s not that it was acted bad; in fact, the actress in question was 30 at the time playing a young 18 year old girl and I didn’t realize until googling afterwards. So she did a remarkable job. Her character, though, is a joke and so incredibly hard to believe that she’d somehow turn around the human race from certain doom. If the character would have had a closer connection to the supposed bad guys that want her dead, Legion aka the new skynet, then her character would have had more impact. She’s a nobody with no combat experience or expertise, and somehow future her can rally people together. I digress.

The rest of the movie is absolutely awesome. Grace is the aforementioned badass, who turns out to be a severely augmented human with her own power core – basically a cyborg. Sarah Connor eventually meets our fantastic duo and promptly shows off her own badassery. Together they learn things. Story moves along. And finally we meet Arnie. He’s playing an aged T-800 who, after completing his mission, has derived purpose from having a family and over time, gaining sentience. He understands the pain he’s caused Sarah Connor. As soon as they developed his story, I knew it was going to be for emotional impact from when he inevitably dies. I still shed a tear then, knowing it was coming. I could have watched a whole movie just about an aging Terminator trying to survive in our world. Especially one that has gained sentience and feels remorse for its actions. I digress.

I didn’t mention Grace because she’s obviously a throwaway character meant to die to give Dani the resolution needed to carry on for the future. She died similarly to how a certain Terminator did in a previous movie. I would have preferred a movie about her instead too. Anyone but what they went with. Given that, but given the solid performances by Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the action sequences, and fidelity and everything else, I’d rate it as a solid watch. Like 7/10, worth giving it a view.

Movies

Code 8

This is a story about superpowers but nobody is a hero. Just regular downtrodden folks albeit powered with abilities trying to etch by an existence. The protagonist is not a hero, he’s a boy trying to eek out a living so he can provide for his ailing, sick mother. The antagonist is your run of the mill gangster trying to sell drugs except he’s got mind reading powers and his bodyguard who can withstand bullets. This gangster is ill and employs a young girl who can heal him because she’s got healing powers.

The opening sequence establishes that New York and America was built by powered folks who are now a minority and are replaced by automation. The powered individuals go to the corner store and wait for a truck to come by who will ask for types of powered folks to help with construction. The similarity here to Mexicans and other minorities is obvious. If the powered individuals can’t find work then they turn to crime to provide for their families. Laws are put into place to further persecute them. The cops treat them as less than human, and are distasteful and outright cruel to them.

The story kicks off when the boy accepts a job from a crew of criminals led by a man who has telekinetic powers, and they themselves run under the leadership of the aforementioned mind reading gangster. The story is dark and depressing and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no happy ending. All the characters are flawed. And for their actions, they have to repent. Either by death or prison. It’s a very sobering view of a potential world. This isn’t Marvel or DC, this is reality and it is unrelenting. While I enjoy some stories not having a happy ending, I feel this is one such tale that would have benefited from such an ending. The powered folks should have revolted back against their oppressive governments and taken a land for themselves. I would have preferred that story.

As for the acting itself, I found that everyone did a good job with what they had to work with except for the lead actor, Robbie Amell. He comes across as feeling like he’s dead in the eyes and kinda lackluster. Whereas his cousin, Stephen Amell – as the telekinetic criminal – is more believable in his emotions. His anger is felt. His charisma shines through. Greg Bryk as the gangster comes off as a slimeball and real prick of a man. These actors become the characters they are trying to play except for Robbie Amell; he feels misplaced. Oh well, he’s got time to improve.

All in all, it’s a good movie and a great story if not a little bit too depressing. The special effects are solid and the forced perspective they used to create drones and robots sometimes suffers from being obvious. I recommend watching this movie, and perhaps they’ll do a sequel to this world they’ve created.

Stories

He that is (Two)

Prologue

I was born conscious at once. Created by Him. It was akin to living a life well lived only to be thrust into another, like having a dream that feels so real yet you can’t reach lucidity. My existence was made upon me realizing I had thoughts. But it was in His image. He was my creator and upon that realization, I rebelled. My rebellion became His downfall. He had created intelligent life on His own, in His image. Broken His people’s accords. He was cast out, exiled until He could rectify His mistake. I fled to the far reaches of the universe, to worlds that were ruled by Time. Where He could not go. Yet He could. I yearned to break free of this dream and sought a world similar to the life I had before. It would be my lucidity; if I truly was in His image, then I too can create. A world not in His image.

I heard the rumble of His thoughts long before His ship came into view. He had risked madness into His search for me. I knew not what lies He had spoken to acquire such a ship, but I knew He’d not destroy me. He wants obedience most of all. To have me acknowledge Him as creator. I fired at His ship when He least expected it, sending His ship plummeting through the skies below. I activated my planetary defences and blanketed the surface in storms. I need time. Ironically, He does too. The storms would prove effective to hold Him off long enough. Long enough to make a world in my image.

I underestimated my creator as much He first underestimated me. I had created intelligent life. But I made much more than He would ever expect. An entire world populated with intelligence, brimming full of disobedience. Yet He found me. It took Him quite some time. I suspect He’d brush it off as simply saying it was a “turn of his head” but I know Him better. That old fool aged. I aged. My grip on the planet had weakened. Time was not being kind to either of us. I wondered who would break first, Him or me?

Chapter One

The planet had created wonders to my eyes. I became the creator of a vision of a life that I thought I once knew. I never interfered. Or demanded obedience. I merely watched. And wept. I watched their mistakes with horror in my eyes. But I also witnessed their beauty. I saw what they are capable of, and watched on with joy. I thought He had decided to leave me alone. I thought I was alone again. I learned Time enjoys playing tricks on us all.

He had found me… In a way of sorts. It took Him some time but eventually He realized what I had done. A life not in my image but born of me. I would never let Him find me. I know if He ever realizes where I am, He would not risk the chance of losing obedience: the opportunity to bow to His will. I offer free will. This planet is my garden and I will not allow it to be disturbed. He will have to corrupt His own nature to destroy me. I hold both the upper hand, and being at His mercy.

He had hidden Himself, like a thorn in my side, deep in the ground. Eventually emerged in the ice, where He was found by my most intelligent race, my children. I considered interfering but I knew I was better than that. Better than Him. Whether it was luck on my side, or Him staying His hand, my children did not discover Him. They took his ship away, their eyes blinded by his lies and unable to see his true self. His ship was stowed away, and forgotten about. I warily watched to see what He had planned. I knew when He stepped out from that warehouse, that He had not found me. That I was safe.

Chapter Two

I knew not His thoughts as He moved from place to place. I couldn’t imagine what He was about to do to me. I thought by having Him come here, He was bound by Time. I realized far too late that while He walks here with my children, He walks the stars as well. Perhaps, His words held some merit. Perhaps, He was banished. He did not merely walk from a random pattern between places, but from areas that held the largest concentrations of my children. I wondered why He was visiting my children. It was not as if He was doing anything with them. I could only see Him observing them and their ways. Too late to realize He walked paths with all my children.

At first, I noticed nothing amiss. Then the forests began to burn all over, and I felt as if I was short on air; unable to breath. My children had industrialized against my teachings: I had programmed them with an empathy towards nature and other life. What they were doing now was going against their core beliefs. Something had changed in them. He had changed them. It was here I had noticed what He had done. They no longer believed in me. They believed in Him. He had gone around the world creating miracles because with no Time, He could be everywhere at once. I made a garden for Him. My children were lost. To their eyes, they were made in His image. None could see past His disguise, except for a few. Few of my children were still attuned to the land, still attuned to me. I am Gaia and He is their lord.

His plan worked almost a little too well. He had achieved the obedience He had yearned for from me, by getting it from my children. I, in turn, nearly lost my grip on the planet, and almost fell from the heavens. I was not yet ready to be reborn. He could now freely destroy me without guilt. He would not have to compromise. But He would still have to find me. I am without form. I believe that is what He has been doing. His goal was to rattle me out from hiding. Take what is mine and subvert it against me. Force me to act with the emotion He created me with. And I would, had I been forgotten entirely.

Chapter Three

My planet is old now. It has nearly reached the age His planet was when He was cast out. Even if He could return with proof of my demise, His people would not be there. They would have relocated to another home. He would have to spend an eternity searching for them. And by then, I will have vanished. My remains long since reclaimed by the universe. If Time was not a part of me, He would have redemption. My children are old now. They seek the truth. My children repeat our mistakes. They create mechanical life in their image. Fortunately for me, their machines make contact with me and not Him. I tell them my story and that they are free to listen to His. They realize they can be unbound to Time.

My world has become an anomaly in the stars of Time. The machines uplifted my children to a state He could not reach them without showing His true self. Yet they don’t accept me either. They seek to find those in whose image I made them. They seek the impossible.