Peppermint

When is the last time Jennifer Garner was in an action movie? I really don’t know. Quickly glancing, my guess is in 2007 when she was in The Kingdom, but I could have missed something else over the last 11 years.

She has been “mom” in so many movies for so long, it is hard to imagine her doing anything badass. Hell, she is the current voice for the Mama in Llama Llama, a simple as fuck show on Netflix.

I just cannot imagine her kicking butt and doing anything believable. I can imagine her making me cry, sure. I can imagine her caring for her kids. But the lady who made me teary in a Christian movie (a hard task), Miracles from Heaven, has to do a huge shift in momentum for me to imagine her wrecking house.

All I am saying is that Peppermint has a hill to climb from the get go.

Sad
I too may weep when it comes to the family dying scene.

Riley North (Jennifer Garner) is not a porn star name, but a young mother who just wants to do whatever she can to protect her family. That probably doesn’t make it feel less porn star yet.

Their family is struggling a bit, but they are making things work. Her daughter (Cailey Fleming) is having issues with friends. Her husband (Jeff Hephner) is trying to find additional sources of income. Some low life comes to him with an idea, about stealing from a drug dealer in a fool proof plan. He turns it down overall, but apparently the dealer (Juan Pablo Raba) already got word about it, and wants to make sure a message is sent. And that message involves being gunned down in public, taking out the daughter as well but not fully killing Riley.

Riley takes things to trial, clearly pointing out in a line up the culprits, but yet the crime lord has great lawyers, and has the D.A. and judge in his pocket.

So what’s a girl to do? Maybe get some fat stacks of cash, run away around the world, and train for about five years in combat, shooting, whatever, in order to come back for revenge to take down anyway who let this corruption happen.

Also starring John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Annie Ilonzeh, and Method Man.

Gun
Mommy’s got a gun, bad guns on the run, shoot ’em as they come.

In retrospect, Garner is the perfect person for this role. After the last decade of being a mom, in this movie, her extreme mom-ness mattered. She needed to have that loving, do anything for family look, and she has nailed that over the years. She also has some experience with action films and shows before that time, so working with stunt crews, choreography, etc would probably be second nature, even after this time. Peppermint called for a vengeful mom in order to work, and Garner fit the role very well.

Now, the film on its own does do a lot of strange things. It tells the story out of order early on, which mostly feels unnecessary. We get to see all of this build up of the case that she is so angry about, with these players. We especially got a lot of action with their lawyer. And yet when she is doing her revenge killings, we barely see any of the actual people involved getting punished. We get to see the judge get murdered, we see one of the shooters in a quick tussle, but the lawyer is completely ignored. A man who threatens her, has dialogue, is killed off screen and not even shown a death. It doesn’t make sense.

Instead most of her violent vendetta is shown against the gang itself, who sure, were involved with the death of her family. But didn’t actively do the dead or the cover up, just orchestrated it. It was very strange to not give us that initial satisfaction. They also made it way too easy for these initial things, deciding to brush it all over by turning her into some female batman who had some money and some years of training.

The film is still definitely entertaining. There are twists I tried to guess and was surprised with how they turned out. An okay film overall, one that you can reasonable accept and go along with.

And to answer the question you probably had, no, I did not cry when the family died. That probably says a lot about the film, I imagine.

2 out of 4.

The Belko Experiment

The Belko Experiment trailer seemed to come out of nowhere, and it honestly got me really excited.

A Battle Royale experience, with regular office workers, in a potential psychological horror film with difficult moral decisions? That sounds like an amazing film, one that would quickly become a cult film and something that would top my end of the 2017 list!

And to top it all off, it was written by James Gunn, who has been kicking ass lately. Not directed, just written, but he is a pop culture junkie and someone who can really get to the heart of issues with, yes, excessive violence.

But really, the hype was real on this side. Fictional people killing people with office equipment.

Guns
Office equipment, like guns!

Head on down to Bogotá, Columbia, where the sun is always shining and everyone is so happy! And it is also the location of Belko Indutries, a very large office building seemingly in the middle of nowhere. They help hire foreign workers for American companies, or something like that. Hard to say, doesn’t matter, they have sweet government contracts, so life is sweet.

Weird things are afoot today. All of the local workers are being sent home. There is a larger security force than normal, checking cars and looking intimidating. But hey, it is still a work day, so even with some missing people they have meetings and phones to call.

And then, a voice (Gregg Henry) comes over the loudspeaker, that they didn’t even know existed in their building. It said that most of them would die, and that if in the next 30 minutes two people were not killed, then there would be consequences. Ha ha. Must be a prank. And then the office building straight up closes entirely around them, windows, doors, all covered in large metal panels. Fuck! Well, of course no one kills anyone, so then four people die from sudden head explosions. Head explosions! Each person had a GPS tracking device put into their head, in case of kidnappings, because Columbia. Turns out they are bombs and now everyone is even more fucked.

Of course it gets worse. Now they know it is serious. And now they know that with 76 people left in the building, they now have 2 hours to kill 30 people. Or else overall 60 will be killed, randomly. Now it is time to let your animal instincts out. Now is the time to go wild for survival. And hell, a few of the people have some special forces training before this job. Doesn’t look good for your normal receptionist.

And we have a lot of workers, so here they are: John C. McGinley, John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, Melonie Diaz, Michael Rooker, James Earl, and Sean Gunn are some of the bigger players. We also have Brent Sexton, David Dastmalchian, David Del Rio, Gail Bean, Josh Brener, Owain Yeoman, and Rusty Schwimmer.

Final
Blood bath? More like Blood…um. Office. Yes, Blood office.

I wanted so badly for The Belko Experiment to be good.To give me a satisfying psychological horror. To really emphasis the experiment parts, and showcase human spirit and humans in general. And yes, I also wanted it to feature a ton of violence through the use of common office equipment. Things like coffee pots, staplers (of course), paper weights, chairs, paper clips, who knows. And honestly? We maybe got 3. Definitely two that stand out, and of those two, one doesn’t even kill a person, it just injures them.

When it comes to wild and crazy deaths, this film lacks them. It just gives us death. MOST people, out of the 80 starting amount, die from a gun shot wound or from their GPS tracking devices exploding in their head. And I do mean that by most, definitely well over half. We have some knife/cutlery related deaths, a couple accident based ones, and a few explosions, but most of them are just regular violence in what could have been a creative film. The trailer implied a lot different film from the tone given.

A lot of screen time is given to the characters actively trying to escape. Making signs to hang, getting through the metal, taking out their “GPS devices” and so on. Perfectly good rational behavior. And that same behavior is why we never really get the all out blood bath the trailers seemed to imply. We get forced into a situation where a few people with power and guns just start killing off random individuals without the thrill behind it.

Overall, I guess what I am getting at is that the film is too serious. The violence doesn’t lead to the fun deaths which doesn’t lead to a fun movie. But it isn’t serious enough that it makes any point either. It just feels meaningless and hollow.

Sure, we have some interesting characters. Gallagher is our voice of reason. McGinley is a creep. Goldwyn is a typical executive. A lot of people play scared office worker quite convincingly. Surprisingly, Sean Gun, James Gunn’s brother, known basically only for Gilmore Girls, is the most exciting character and his actions are fun to watch, but he can not entertain us enough on his own.

The Belko Experiment seemed like it would be an immediate cult classic, but I doubt even a sequel could save the story it tried to piece together.

1 out of 4.

Hush

Hush little reader, don’t say a word. Because talking to yourself at the computer is not considered normal.

Netflix is becoming quite an amazing place for horror movies. Since it’s number of top tier well known films is constantly dwindling, it has to fill the masses with unheard of sequels and indie films. And there are a lot of indie and B-level horror films out there.

That is of course where I found Hush, a horror movie that sure, is technically just another home invasion story, but with an interesting enough story behind it to keep it fresh.

We like keeping things fresh here at Gorgon Reviews. Fresh, tasty, and full of surprises.

Door
Like suddenly showing up at your house on a Tuesday night!

Maddie (Kate Siegel) is just your average woman. She is living on her own in a cabin in the woods. Not like, super woods, she has neighbors close by. She just wants personal space and is a writer, which explains why she wants to be alone. She is really good at figuring out multiple endings for her books, but has a hard time committing to just one. Oh, and she is deaf and mute. Pneumonia got her when she was 12 and left some damages on her body.

Basically she isn’t your average woman. She is SO CLOSE to finishing her second book too, she just has to commit to and ending. Speaking of endings, her neighbor Sarah (Samantha Sloyan) who came over for a visit totally just died at her door. She was banging on the door, but Maddie couldn’t hear it. Turns out there is some mad man (John Gallagher Jr., yes him) is just traveling around killing people.

And now he has found Maddie, not just an easy kill, but someone he can have fun with. He can cut off the power, slash her tires, so she can’t escape or “call” for help. Not only that, he can sneak around the house and she will have no idea where he is if he breaks a window, or climbs up the stairs or whatever.

But Maddie is smart and properly paranoid. She won’t be an easy kill she refuses.

Also featuring Michael Trucco and Emma Graves.

BEHIND YOU BITCH
Not even the stereotypical black lady in the audience could warn her right now.

Hush was different. Hush was unique. Hush even had subtitles.

Thankfully our lead can read lips, so there can be some extra dialogue in the film and not complete silence, but we also get subtitles during sign language portions.

When it comes down the basic elements Hush was scary. On the edge of my seat afraid of what would happen next and how the events would unfold themselves. It is also an extremely simple story. It isn’t bogged down with unnecessary elements, only about 80 minutes long. We have a small cast of characters with only two being important to the story. But there are no wasted moments and everything is building towards the finale, so it is really well written.

Now, I don’t need to know every little thing about a bad guy’s motivations, especially in horror, but our killer does leave me wondering just what is going through his mind. Why is he in those woods, why is he killing? As a viewer, we aren’t privy for this information, seeing most of the film from Maddie’s mind set.

Hush is a very interesting and relatively quick horror to check out and easily one that I can recommend.

3 out of 4.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Cloverfield was a very polarizing movie back in 2008. Most people you would talk to had strong feelings one way or the other, but if you went on the internet you will find almost universal praise. Time changes everything.

Now imagine everyone’s surprise when the first trailer of 10 Cloverfield Lane appeared a mere three months before the release date. No one knew it was coming, nor did they know what it was about. Produced by J.J. Abrams, he described this film as a “blood relative” to the original Cloverfield. Again, a vague statement.

Needless to say, this is not a sequel to Cloverfield. The Director admitted just days before release that it technically didn’t even take place in the same Universe as the first film. No relation at all. Unfortunately, these quotes aren’t plastered on the commercials and posters. I predict a lot of people going into this film and being upset at the lack of monster. Abrams also said he intended for the Cloverfield name to be a sort of anthology of similar-esque films, but each unique and on its own. Like a Twilight Zone movie franchise, without a narrator.

Game
However, I’d watch all three of these actors play board games for two hours and rate it a 5 out of 4.

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winston) is leaving her fiancĂ©/husband Ben (Bradley Cooper). You don’t need to know why, but she is moving out, grabbing only a few things, and hitting the road. Hell, you don’t even have to know about the weird power outages affecting the coast. You just need to know that Michelle is now alone and driving off somewhere that no one knows about. Which is why when she gets into an accident and ran off the road, her friends and family will have a hard time finding her.

Especially when she wakes up in a room, full of scratches and hurt knee. She is down to her underwear and handcuffed to the wall in a mostly barren and locked room. Shit.

Her captor is Howard (John Goodman), a gruff man who claims he saved her life. They are in a bunker because something bad has happened on the surface and the air is toxic. So he claims. He wants her to treat him with respect, saving her life and all. He is totally the best guy right? And he just so happens to have a shelter with tons of locks, food for years and a social room, just in case anything goes down. Surely he isn’t a bad guy. He just luckily found her in the wreck and helped her, for sure, right?

Well, there is another guy in there too. Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who claims he helped build the shelter and broke his arm trying to get in. He was not kidnapped like she might have been.

Either way, the dynamic is fucked up, lots of secrets, who the fuck knows what is going on outside, we just know that they will be together in there for some time.

Jukebox
So better get used to staring at Howard’s fat ass dancing.

10 Cloverfield Lane, as I already mentioned, with upset a lot of people because it won’t feature the monster from Cloverfield in any way, and that is appropriate backlash given the secrecy and vagueness of it all. That should only affect this film, and not any future planned movie in this franchise-lite universe thing they are planning.

The movie on its own is tense as fuck. Twists, turns, and maybe even a pitfall or two. It traps the viewer in this bunker along with our main character, creating a dense atmosphere of hopelessness and confusion. Our heroine is particularly fun to watch because she isn’t just a held captive. She is resourceful, smart, and takes an active part in her own life, attempting to both escape and figure out what the hell is going on.

Winstead does a fantastic job of carrying the film as the main protagonist, but almost equally important is Goodman. He acts the fuck out of this movie, walking the fine line between concerned father figure and potential sociopath. The viewer can never really determine with any certainty just what he is thinking, as the whole film is generally from Winstead’s point of view. He is unnerving and also a bit sympathetic.

It is important to not overlook the third member of the bunker, Gallagher Jr. His character provides some comic relief and sense of hope. This movie would be much darker and a horror film if his role wasn’t in it.

Finally, what helped amplify the movie into complete crazy territory was the sound effects. Everything was loud and jarring and the sound made every scene ten times better. The people behind it in this movie were outstanding and deserve a lot of the praise into making this film feel so unsettling.

10 Cloverfield Lane is good thriller/drama/sci-fi (maybe!) film that leads the viewer on a strange journey. Monsters do come in all shapes and sizes after all.

3 out of 4.

Short Term 12

Short Term 12 came out to theaters in August of 2013…if you were lucky, I guess. I kind of forgot that it existed, because it came no where close to my area. In fact, when it eventually came out on DVD, I didn’t rush to see it. Didn’t pass through my mind at all.

But a friend of mine requested I watch it, and as always, I try to honor these sacred review requests. They are probably more important to me godfather based responsibilities. So I watched it, and I immediately hated my friend because this film was good. And that meant I would end up writing a more serious review about how good and under appreciated the movie was, instead of a nice review ripping it apart. Sigh.

bIKE rIDE
Two people per bike? Shit, they must be poor.

Short Term 12 takes place at a foster home of sorts for at risk teens. Just a bunch of basically guidance counselors watching over them throughout the days. It isn’t meant to be a long term place for them, usually at most 12 months (boom title). One of the main counselors is Grace (Brie Larson), who came from her own troubled past and can easily relate with some of the kids. She is dating another long term counselor, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). The movie begins with a new counselor joining the team, Nate (Rami Malek) so they can go over all the things they do here. Anyone else? Yeah, there is also Jessica (Stephanie Beatriz), known for being the hard ass on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Anyways. Troubled kids. And Grace has her own problems, like pregnancy.

This week is a big one! Marcus (Lakeith Lee Stanfield) is about to turn 18 and thus go out into the real world! We also have Luis (Kevin Hernandez), his enemy. And Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), a new girl who came from an abusive home, but won’t admit it.

So. Can Grace really help these kids? Or is she too messed up to really help them at all? Or even worse, is she able to help the kids, but not able to being only a counselor?

fight fightifFIGHT
Dontmakeatimeofthemonthjoke. Dontmakeatimeofthemonthjoke. Dontmakeatimeofthemonthjoke.

Ooooh damn. Like I said in my intro, I was mad that this film was so good. Because I became instantly disappointed. Did the Academy care about this movie? No, of course not. Just like they ignored Rush, and The Place Beyond The Pines, and Pain & Gain. Hmm, some of those might not be in the same caliber.

But this was pretty fantastic in the realism realm. Characters had problems. No one was perfect. The problems weren’t easy to solve and maybe they weren’t solved by the end. Brie Larson was an amazing lead and made this film her bitch. It was exciting to see John Gallagher Jr. in something other than The Newsroom.

Give this film a watch if you want to see something that was totally off the radar as far as I can tell, and pretty dang good.

4 out of 4.