Playing a little catch up on here, I wanted to combine a few movies I have seen in the past couple of weeks and keep the momentum going on my entertainment scale for critiquing movies. I have heard mix reviews of all three titles I plan to write about in this post and that is Life of the Party, Solo, and Tully. As I saw each film I was already with expectations of what I will see and with one of them a twist. Sometimes that can change how you watch a film and also the final verdict. So how did these movies pan out?
I had the pleasure of attending the L.A. premiere of the latest sci-fi/horror/action movie Upgrade written and directed by Leigh Whannell. It was nice to be able to watch this film on the big screen with the cast and crew of the film as well as other eager fans who couldn’t wait to watch this unique storytelling combined with heavy exhilarating action. This film exceeded expectations and it wasn’t until after I left that I realized I needed this movie in my life more than I thought.
Mostly known for his writing Whannell has been involved in some of the genre changing film in the past decade. Whether its acting, writing, or directing, he has been a part of the horror genre with Saw and the Insidious Franchise as well as writing smaller titles like Dead Silence and horror comedy Cooties, which I think everyone should check out. Now on his second director/writer project after Insidious: Chapter 3 comes the techno/thriller Upgrade, a story set in a Dystopian future where technology is used to complete normal and mundane task but also serve as a solution in preventing or stopping crime in a timely matter. A man who has been paralyzed after a brutal mugging is given the opportunity to walk and take revenge on those who did this to him with the help of a new piece of technology that hasn’t been used on another human being. With his new-found ability to walk along with the help of an AI that enhances his body, he sets out to get justice for what has happened to him.
I know what you are thinking, what is unique about this film. It’s basically Robocop, The Crow, or any other revenge movie out there. Fair enough, doesn’t mean the format doesn’t work if you give it just a little twist. This is what stood out for me in this movie:
Even though the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy has come and pass, we still can’t escape it. The book has managed to creep up on us when we least expected. Bill Holderman’s directorial debut managed to remind us of the erotic guilty pleasure in the latest rom-com Book Club. Written by Holderman along with Erin Simms gives us a movie you have seen many times before with a great and well-known cast telling the story that even in the world of filmmaking and acting, age is only a number.
Diane Keaton (Something’s Gotta Give), along with wonderful actresses Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie), Candice Bergen (TV’s Murphy Brown, Miss Congeniality), and Mary Steenburgen (TV’s Last Man on Earth) are four best friends who meet for a monthly book club and have their lives changed once the book of the month is “50 Shades of Grey”.
Keep in mind folks that this spoiler free review will be from the mind of someone who doesn’t follow the comic book lore that well and has only experience this character through the first installment of the franchise. I had a lot of laughs from Deadpool 2 but there was just something missing from it that I can’t put my finger on that would make this a better movie than the first. With all the Deadpool reviews via blog post, podcast, websites, etc. I am sure you have heard in great length how this movie pans out to fans if it’s a good follow up from the first. I am late to the game and I saw this movie right when it was released last Friday. Seeing as Deadpool back in 2016 was my favorite movie of that year, this sequel had a lot to live up to.
The sequel, from Director David Leitch with writing team including Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, is very clever this time around regarding the story. If you all remember from the first one, the story and its lead character, Deadpool played by Ryan Reynolds, is bat shit crazy. Given its Rated R status, basically they could have done almost anything they wanted. This time they actually gave you a story and some character development. I honestly didn’t think that was possible but Deadpool actually went through some growth while deciding to protect a young mutant with lethal powers from a futuristic time traveler Cable, who has come back to kill him before he can become the deadly killer he is destined to be. To pass the torch of the franchise along, Deadpool has decided to put together a team of heroes to help him save this young boys life and continue the franchise afterwards. You are also perplexed as to who the villain of the film actually is. I found that to be very interesting but for some, because it wasn’t clear in the film could translate to a sloppy unorganized script. I actually didn’t mind that it wasn’t as cut and dry. It fit into the overall message of the story so it worked for me. There is also a surprised character that pops up that I didn’t see coming at all and I liked it.
Gabrielle Union has come a long way since she waved those Pom-Poms in the air talking about “Go Clovers” and telling us its cold in here. Since then she has always shown strength and characters in her roles as a tough woman who works hard for what she wants. Now she joins a list of women who star in their own thriller where she will play someone who kicks butt and takes names by any means necessary. A couple of examples that come to mind are Beyoncé in Obsessed and No Good Deeds with Taraji P. Henson. I recommend seeing both titles by the way. It’s Union’s turn up to bat as she stars in her own thriller where she plays a single mom who has to protect her family from home invaders in the movie Breaking In.
Aside from a great performance from Gabrielle Union, the movie scripts and execution fell under many clichés and troupes most people are familiar with leaving the movie to be lost in an ocean of typical thrillers blended in with the rest and most likely soon forgotten. So close to Mother’s day, this was the perfect time to release a film like this. A single mother of two, who is visiting the home she grew up in after her Father’s passing, is interrupted by some intruders who have their own specific agenda. What makes this particular film different is that while most plotlines involves escaping the invasion, Union’s character Shaun is trying to break in and rescue her children who are kept hostage while the intruders complete their mission.
While Robert Sheehan and David Tennant are wonderful in their respective roles as good enough and evil. Their performances didn’t disguised the watered down horror thriller we received. This is disappointing to me because the trailer really gave me a sense that it would deliver a more intense thrill ride. Does that mean the film is horrible? By no means, no. I actually liked the film but just didn’t live up to its potential.
Before I get into that confusing initial reaction, let’s go back to the beginning. Bad Samaritan stars Sheehan as a struggling artist Sean Falco and part of a two man valet team in front of an Italian restaurant in Portland, Or. They come up with a clever way to make a little extra cash by using their customer’s car as a way to find their home address and break into their homes to find anything of value while the car owners are having a meal. Clever idea, why didn’t I think of that. They choose to rob the home of the king of all douchery, Cale Erendreich and discover a girl chained and strapped to a chair in his office.
All I had to do was take one look at this poster and know that this was going to be a favorite of mine. A movie that I would buy for my collection without hesitation. A film that I don’t even need to look at the trailer to tease me with excitement. That is exactly what I did. I went to see this movie during its one week release here in Los Angeles without watching a single trailer. The only things I knew about this movie is the actors who were in it, the title which indicated that I was in for an anthology movie, and the plot description. No regrets, going into this blind or little to know just enhanced my enjoyment into this creepy old school movie of creepy tales of things that go bump in the night.
This 2017 British horror stars Andy Nyman, who also co-wrote and directed this film with Jeremy Dyson, is a skeptic professor Goodman and non-believer of the supernatural. So much, he has decided to make a career of debunking any claims of the supernatural or the paranormal. His idol, who followed the same beliefs, gives him an opportunity to change his ways and open his mind to the possibility that these stories are true by revisiting 3 specific cases that couldn’t be proven to be fake. During this expedition he is questioning his own merits and also his sanity as he slowly has revelations about his profession and his past.