Tag: 1 out of 4

Father Stu

From the poster of Father Stu, it seems like a movie that definitely deals with religion, but is probably not a religious film. Like, it won’t have a lot of plot lines where the true believers get what they want, and cheesy sappy music. But good humor. And even though it will be set in church settings, and not necessarily poking “fun” at a religion, it will still acknowledge some of those weird things.

I did not know how much of a personal project this was for Mark Wahlberg, the lead. Father Stu was a real person, that Wahlberg might not have even met. But he heard about his story, and thought it was inspirational and it touched him, so he wanted to get that story out there.

And apparently that too was a struggle. Hard to get financing, people didn’t want to make this movie. But Wahlberg did, and this movie now exists, because he had to personally finance large portions of it. Why is that? Mel Gibson apparently convinced him to do it. To “bet on himself”, where Gibson was said to have spent $30 million of his own money on The Passion of the Christ. So Wahlberg said if Gibson can do it, then he could do it, I guess.

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Gibson is not really the person that Wahlberg should be emulating in his private life though.

Stuart (Mark Wahlberg) does not have a whole lot going good in his life. His brother died when he was young. His father (Mel Gibson) was a drunk and left the family to work in another state, abandoning them. His mom (Jacki Weaver) is helpful and cares about him, but she is more out of it for the same reasons listed above. But now Stuart is a boxer! He is relatively good at it. But it has led to more problems with his health. Not normal problems that boxers face. Clearly, it must be changed, though.

He figured out the perfect job. He is going to move to Hollywood and become an actor! That is where his dad lives, but it is not about him. It is about Stuart becoming a big celebrity actor. And working at a grocery store until he can get a job. But while at the store, he meets Carmen (Teresa Ruiz), a person shopping who definitely doesn’t care about Stuart. However, he decides to stalk and harass her until he can meet her at her Catholic Church, despite being raised atheist.

So sure, his new goal is to woo her over, and become baptized, and Catholic. Yadda yadda yadda, this somehow leads to him deciding to become a Father himself. Yep, this is where his life really should be headed. And that ends up leading to even more issues it turns out.

Also starring Malcolm McDowell, Aaron Moten, and Cody Fern.

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Oh hey, Mark, you got some stuff on your forehead. Did you know that? 

I guess on one note, the movie is exactly what I expected based on my earlier guesses. On a different note, I didn’t realize how awkward the story and movie choices would be.

For example, Gibson is a terrible person and I have been trying to avoid his movies, for obvious reasons. So to have him be an emotionally distant father, and known atheist to our main character feels intentional. The one notably non-religious character is a bad character and father. And they also give him a redemption arc at the end. It felt like the movie was doing that more for Gibson, than the character. “See, people can get better.” Sorry, just because they can get better doesn’t mean I need to watch them acting.

As for Stuart? I also don’t like his character. Notably, he is meant to come from a rough past, and a rough middle, to lead to his eventual conversion and holy days. You know, to be a Father who knows how to talk to the community and is okay with swear words. But…I don’t like him for being a scum bag. So the real life Stu stalked a woman whom he met at his job, when she just wanted to shop, and let him know that she had no interest in him. He went to her church to start going, and being awkward the entire time, to suddenly convert for her. That just feels like months of harassment. Especially when, after a series of events, he convinces her finally to break her vow of chastity for sex because she now feels like they will be together forever.

Just to then go and say he wants to be a pastor, who cannot marry or have sex, after taking something that she personally held dear. What the fuck, man.

Then the character became a father, and eventually died. But the movie does take liberties with the story. It adds a lot of setbacks into his graduating into a full Father, given his deteriorating physical condition. But in real life, that didn’t seem to be an issue at all, and is just another strange set back instead of telling his actual story, which is what they set out to do. That is why the ending is so vague with how long he was practicing before he eventually died. Because the movie makes it imply like, a year or two maybe. And not quite a few years.

Father Stu takes a troublesome actor,  to give him a redemptive arc for…reasons. Father Stu is about a troublesome real life person, who eventually did good, while glossing over exactly how troublesome his life was. And playing harassment for laughs.

And yet at the same time, it still seems to go a lot more religious than I initially expected. Father Stu is a lot of things, including amusing occasionally, but a good movie is not one of those things.

1 out of 4.

Infinite Storm

Naomi Watts sure likes getting into some shit and coming out alive. Even though we all thought it was impossible, she survived the tsunami in The Impossible. Even though she was miles away, she was able to get a lot of information on a school shooting, recently in The Desperate Hour (which I liked). And now, it looks like she is going to have to survive a giant snow storm on a mountain? Goddamn lady. Stay home, the world is out to get you.

Infinite Storm is an exciting title though. Is it some storm that goes on forever? Like the one on Jupiter?

It is all encompassing storm over all and everything in the world, a long reach like infinity?

Or is it just a cool sounding name for what is a regular blizzard? Who knows!

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This is the look of someone who has seen some disasters, and is sick of their shit.

Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) likes mountains. A lot. She climbs them because it helps clear her head, and reflect on life. She knows about all of the skills on the hiking of the mountains. She heard about some storm stuff, but whatever, it is a nice day. And then sure enough, we get some fun blizzard action, whoops.

For awhile, Pam is just struggling to leave the mountain on her own. Does she hear faint screams in the wind and snow? Who knows. She almost gets trapped herself. But then she eventually stumbles across footsteps. Uh oh. That means someone else is out there, in the storm, possibly struggling to survive. It turns out that Pam is so into this mountain climbing, that she is also an official search and rescue climber. So she feels it is her duty to not just escape to safety, but to find that person stuck up there with her, and get them both down safely.

Also starring Billy Howle, Denis O’Hare, Eliot Sumner, Joshua Rollins, and Parker Sawyers.

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See? Even when the storm is less stormy, it still looks…well, miserable out there.

This is a real hard movie to like or care about. You know? Like. If the main character went up on the mountain, with the intent of helping out dumber climbers. I know the real issue is that this movie wanted to get the facts right because this is a true story. But when you spend almost the whole movie assuming the main character is a confusing dumbass for her decision making.

I don’t care for her struggles on the mountain, when she could have just not gone on the mountain. I don’t even remember if we ever learn why the other guy went up the mountain. It is hard to care for him as well. This could have been an easy horror movie of man vs nature, and we could have just cheered on the ice storm.

I will admit that I did like one aspect. I didn’t expect that we would have more movie after they made it off of the mountain. I really didn’t. If so, it would have only been a few minutes, if I had to guess. But it was probably a whole third of the film, just her dealing with her life after the traumatic events. And that unexpected ending is what gives it a slight bump in the ratings. It is certainly not a movie I will watch again, but it almost felt like regular straight to DVD trash.

1 out of 4.

Uncharted

Wait, Uncharted is finally out!? The first Uncharted video game came out in 2007, and almost immediately was there talk of turning it into a movie. Like, people writing a script and all of that. Heck, in 2009, the second Uncharted game came out. One of my favorite video game commercials of all time was during a series of Sony commercials where people would give questions and concerns to Sony executives. It is more hilarious now with how the graphics stand out in today’s terms, but hey, they were pushing that movie angle hard.

So, fifteen years later, the movie is now released. So many script re-writes, producers, and directors were put onto the picture. Various people asked to star in it or with an interest to star in it, the most famous example being Nathan Fillion, who ended up being in a fan made short film for Uncharted. Even Mark Wahlberg was attached to be the main character. Personally, I wish it got made in time for the Bruce Campbell as Sully rumors were out, but that is because I generally want Bruce Campbell in most of my movies.

In the latest iterations of the film, that was supposed to come out in 2020 (but director dropping again and pandemic), Tom Holland was supposed to play “Young Nathan Drake” and it be a prequel to the game series. Based on the movie we got, that is sort of how this movie does play out. But honestly, it just feels like mostly regular aged Nathan Drake, not even young Drake anymore.

My own experience with the game franchise is I did finally play the first one after the third game was finally out. I maybe played it for two hours. I thought I was getting a Tomb Raider like game with a lot of puzzles and sure, some bad guys. I didn’t realize that honestly, it was about 95% a shooting game, with ammo scarcity issues, and people hiding behind crates and barrels, sprinkled throughout dungeon crawling with treasure and explosions. Damn shooting games, not at all my idea of entertainment.

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Aw yeah, gun holsters, I bet he will shoot everyone, just like the games.
[Editor’s Note: This statement unfortunately isn’t accurate.]

The actual film opens up in the middle of action, then we get a flashback of the actual start, until we get back to the action. Oh okay.

But Nate (Tom Holland) used to be an orphan (I guess he still is?), with his older brother Sam (Rudy Pankow), but Sam got into more trouble than Nate, so he had to go on the run from the LAW. And since then they have been apart, but Sam still sends Nate post cards. They did thievery, they loved history, and apparently that is all that we really need. They wanted to be treasure hunters, and discover things from the past that were long forgotten or long hidden.

But now, we got some asshole coming up into his place of work, acting like he knows him. Victor Sullivan aka Sully (Mark Wahlberg), who wants to hire Nate for an upcoming job of his. Specifically to locate the gold that Magellan allegedly found when his team was the first to sail around the world in the 1500’s. It is rumored they found it and never gave it to the family who financed their voyage. Oh, and what is this? Sully apparently knows Sam, with picture proof, and that Sam is missing. That is the real way to get Nate involved.

Along the way they are going to have to break some crimes though. And discover ancient tombs and catacombs to find hopefully ancient treasure. The Moncada family, led by Santiago (Antonio Banderas) is also involved on this chase for treasure, as they hope to finally get what was long promised to them.

Also starring Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Steven Waddington, Pingi Moli, and Tiernan Jones. Also with a small yet obvious cameo from Nolan North, the original voice of Nathan Drake.

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Almost all of the nice promo shots are of them on a damn boat. 

Uncharted as a film seems to pretty dang charted, so to speak.

It feels like Tomb Raider, and Dora, but with more dead people than normal I guess. Dead by stabbings, and crushings, and fallings. Did you know that Nathan Drake only fires a gun in one scene, and he misses every bullet? I guess they were trying to capture my personal experience as I was a bad shot in that game. But I didn’t have alternate ways to deal with the enemies, unfortunately. It is beyond strange to me to make a game that anyone would classify as a shooting game, and then not have a lot of shooting. That is one of the top three main components. The other two being Sully jokes, and treasure hunting.

I will point out that Holland is definitely doing some acting in this movie. I was afraid he would just feel like Spiderman. But his voice is a little different, less high pitched. His character still fights a bit more agile than one would expect. Unfortunately, the very first scene, which features physics only used before in video games and that one Hobbit scene. It felt like I was intentionally being trolled into watching a Spiderman without the costume film.

Overall, I think the ACTION scenes were the worst part of the movie. I am sure the crates and the ships on planes were probably parts of the video game. But both of those scenes felt so CGI heavy. The crates became additionally boring to watch for the same reason. Having it start the film didn’t help either, as it became broken up and unbelievable. The ship scenes were…fine, but they made those same ships endure a lot of damage without miraculously falling apart despite the 500 years of decay.

Another negative takeaway would be the puzzles themselves. There are clues, and hints to do all these things. And when the characters figure them out, I don’t feel a big sense of pride in them because they don’t feel like well crafted riddles or hints. “Oh that is the answer? Oh okay…” that is my constant feeling.

And honestly, I don’t like that they made Banderas’ character out to be a bad guy. He did do a bad thing in the movie, within his family, but his family wanting the treasure that they were promised? I mean, not the worst motivation.  If the treasure can be traced back to a specific country the top option is return it to them, obviously, but if not, then why not their family?

None of this is coming from bitterness of not getting to see Bruce Campbell either. It is just another generic action film that is based on a video game that disappoints. This seems like a bit of a shocker since how much the games “felt like movies” at the time.

I barely played the games, so I can’t tell how accurate it is, minus the lack of guns. I can tell that it was a good bit boring, it tried to have too much set up for future films, and I did fall asleep leading up to the auction scene.

1 out of 4.

You Can’t Kill Meme

Documentaries about memes? I am here for them, completely and always. As long as they are movies assuming you already understand memes enough and are not some Boomer guide to the internet.

After all, they are in our lives, and can affect things, even if you don’t want them to. Last year we got a really great documentary called Feels Good Man, about the artist behind the Pepe frog, how it was taken by the alt right and internet channers, and his attempts to get it taken back and put back onto a positive spin. That documentary also talked about how the memes were used to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election, which is solid. It might not seem true, but it was, and it isn’t the only reason he won, just a reason it helped.

Now we have You Can’t Kill Meme, a documentary about political memes and how they have affected our life. I assume it was going to have a more broad outlook on the election, an things before it and after it, and how if text was put on a graphic format it was hard to kill.

It is about that, yes. But it is also about memetic magic. A concept talked about before memes really existed, in a book, about how they can be brought out to utilize literal magic, in order to get tasks done.

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What is this CGI doing to the poor pepe frog?

Magic? What? Yeah, I assume the title part of that book “Memetic Magic: Manipulation of the Root Social Matrix and the Fabric of Reality” was more of a note on how memes can be used to change social unorder through addiction to technology and fake news or whatever. Nah, it is about how if its done enough with enough power or thought, it can make things happen, literal magic. Sort of like The Secret, honestly.

And yeah, that is what this movie is about. The director (Hayley Garrigus) does something journalists rarely do and just lets the subject people talk. She talks to people who refer to themselves as magic users, and the author of that book, and some people who believe in meme magic.

That is fine and all. This documentary has one purpose, to talk about that phenomenon. But it reeks of bullshit. Sort of makes me hate the documentary. There is no counterpoint, there is no narration calling anyone out. This is just some people’s point of view.

Now, is that inherently bad? No. One can try to be unbiased and tell a story of a group of people and let their message out while also disagreeing with that group of people, I suppose. It just doesn’t feel like that is what is going on. It feels like this is being a tool to prove something that feels really dang silly. I feel almost duped watching it.

If you want to watch a movie about the alt-right and political memes and the 2016 election, go ahead and watch Feels Good Man. That is the real recommendation here.

1 out of 4.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

If you are like me, a humble movie critic, you also have never heard of the name Louis Wain in your life. Are they a fashion designer? That was my first bet. But the movie does use the word electric. So maybe he was an inventor? Maybe he is someone made up because movies are allowed to tell fiction stories if they feel like it. It could be a new super hero, Electricity Man.

It turns out The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is about an artist. Did he use electricity in his art? No, not really. But he did love to draw portraits of cats. And cats doing things. And cats being silly. A cats doing cats stuff.

Alright, sounds like a good enough reason for a movie to me. Deal? Deal.

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Ah yes, the perfect family.

Louis Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch), is a typical “eccentric artist” who can barely function being a person, but does good art so people like his quirks. He is from a big family, with a lot of sisters, and supposed to be making that money, but finding a job is hard for him. You know. Because he is out there, or whatever.

But he does get a job a local newspaper finally, to do quick sketches, and they like that his stuff is on time, quality and that he doesn’t really make a fuss or gossip. But the paper owner (Toby Jones) wants to put a two page spread in a special insert of cat drawings, and that? Well that really gets popular.

Wain’s name becomes as do his original cat paintings and sketches. But that doesn’t get him out of the poor house, or out of the gossip columns, as someone who married the teacher (Claire Foy) for his sisters, what a scandal. He just wanted to do his art thing and hang out with cats though, so a kindred spirit with a lot of us now. I guess, according to the movie, his artwork helped people like cats more and start keeping them actively as pets and bringing them in the house? I don’t know anything about cat history, so sure, why not.

Also starring Phoebe Nicholls, Andrea Riseborough, Richard Ayoade, and Taika Waititi.

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Why send dick pics when you could send cat pics instead?

Louis Wain was a troubled artist in some amount, that much we know. But do we need another troubled artist film? Not really. And definitely not if the focus of the film barely goes into it.

To me, the filmmakers treated Wain’s “quirks” as something amusing or even, quaint, and the fact that any sort of real psychological problems that someone had was ignored or made to seem terrifying. Later in life he was in a mental institution for schizophrenia, and critics could “see it in his artwork” whereas in the last twenty years there have been claims that clearly he was just Autistic and society sucked. And I don’t think this film dealt with that in any meaningful way at all. It did make sure we knew that people gossiped though, and that he had a hard time dealing with people.

Maybe it is just me, but the “quirks” he had seem like the closest thing to an antagonist in this film, because they are what prevented him from being an ultra successful painter that everyone knew, who was rich, versus a famous person who lived in squalor because of society. Case in point, they called this film “The Electrical Life of” to note his love/obsession with electricity, which I assume isn’t made up for a movie. But his life itself didn’t feel electrical at all in the movie that had this title.

Cumberbatch was fine in this movie, Foy was barely in it, and none of the other characters mattered enough to me to warrant speaking about.

I actually think the art itself though is pretty damn cool. And again, not sure if it warrants its own movie given how poorly they treat his life just to tell his story. There isn’t anything I can really take away from this movie except his name as the guy who drew cat pictures in the 1800’s/1900’s that I probably have seen at some point in my life.

1 out of 4.

Percy vs. Goliath

Percy vs. Goliath came out some time ago, and it is only called this title in America. In Canada, where the film takes place, and other parts of the world, it is just called Percy.

I don’t pretend to know anything about market research, but I guess that vs. Goliath tagline is to appeal to those fundamental Christians to get them to watch this movie. They might think Percy, in America, is like Percy Jackson, and those people are heretics!

Yep, that is the only reason I can come up with for why there needs to be a different movie title. 

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Walken Hard: The Christopher Walken Cowboy Story. 

Percy Schmeiser (Christopher Walken) surely does sound like a made up name, but this one is a true story. Set in Canada! So you know it is true in spirit and true in heart.

Ahem. Percy is a farmer. He is really old. He has been farming for a long time, with his wife (Roberta Maxwell), and he thinks he does a good job. He has used his own seeds the whole time, never going into that corporate stuff that claim to have better growing seeds for a price. And he does what every farmer does. He saves his strongest and best crops to harvest those seeds so that he can plant them the next year, so his crops can be as strong as possible.

However, things aren’t as they seem. A company who makes GMO seeds claims he has been using their seeds illegally for years for profit, without paying them ever, so they are bringing the lawsuits. And they have proof. Proof on the DNA level, where their patents on their modified strains show up in his crops.

Percy has never bought from them, and the likely story is that they were planted in his farm thanks to the wind from neighbor farms in the past. But is that enough for them to claim royalties, when he is using a product through no fault of his own? Looks like he is going to have to take this battle to court, even though the corporations have money and technically the law on their side. And now Percy is like a folk hero for all of these individual farmers, trying to stand up to the corporate man. That’s a lot of pressure.

Also starring Adam Beach, Christina Ricci, Luke Kirby, Martin Donovan, and Zach Braff.

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Braff, if you lose this case, you will feel really, really, really, sorry

Walken hasn’t had a good acting job since he was in the music video for Weapon of Choice, by Fatboy Slim. That is a fact. He is in movies I like over the last two decades, but he is often one of the worst parts. Like Hairspray, I like it, but by far Walken drags it down. He drags them all down, and some of these films he seems to be playing just a strange parody of himself with his word choice. I blame the cowbells skit. 

And for this movie? Well, it is more of the same. I can’t possibly say it is well acted, because Walken seems lost the whole film. He is playing a man over his head, sure, but it doesn’t help if he is seemingly acting like his normal self the whole time as well. That isn’t acting. That is just reading lines. 

This film is weak on a lot of fronts. The acting is a big one. The plot is another. The courtroom drama is pretty tame, and only a small portion of it. I came for kick ass legal case courtroom proceedings, like I would for most films that deal with trials, and it just treated it like it was no big deal, despite being a very big deal. Maybe it had the chill Canadian energy going on throughout it. None of the fun theatrics. 

Percy wins, by the way, as you would expect based on the title and it is history. He wins, at a cost, but he wins. And corporations learned their lesson and never messed with the poor little farmers again. Right? Well…

1 out of 4.

Things Heard & Seen

When I see things and when I hear things, I tend to believe them. They are some strong senses. I use those two more than the rest of the basic five senses. Smell, Touch, Taste? Not stuff that matters for the most part when it comes to believing.

Sure, we do have a lot more senses, like a sense of time, or sense of balance. But we are lead to believe if we can see and hear something, we should trust it and believe it.

So for Things Heard & Seen, I imagine, there are going to be unbelievable things that get heard and seen, and the characters in it will have to believe it, even if they too find it unbelievable.

Fuck yeah, I really broke down that title there.

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Fuck yeah, the sun really did get partially in both of their eyes.

It is 1979 and Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) and her husband, George (James Norton), are finally ready to move on to the next stage of their life. Is it children? Nope. They already have a daughter (Ana Sophia Heger), and she is a regular kid. No. George got a job!

More importantly, he finished his PhD in Art History (Woo), really exciting stuff, but it took him awhile. So now they can leave New York City and go to small town New York for him to be an exciting professor of Art History.

And of course, their house has history, but George didn’t want to tell Catherine about it. Catherine gets superstitious, about ghosts, gods, and the dead. He doesn’t need that. Turns out the whole community is mostly religious. Well, it is the 1970’s, so nonbelievers are less out open.

But sure enough, George kind of sucks. Immediately flirts with some students, spends a lot of time away from Catherine. Catherine’s only reprieve is some neighbor kids who help watch their daughter and are helping fix up aspects of the house.

As time continues on, George gets work, more secrets come out for Catherine, and you know, dark stuff.

Also starring Alex Neustaedter, F. Murray Abraham, Jack Gore, Natalia Dyer, and Rhea Seehorn.

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Candles mean Séance which means WHAT IS BEHIND THAT GUY?

Things Heard & Seen definitely kept my attention…in the beginning of the film. I was really excited to get to know these characters, honestly. The husband turning out to be a sleazeball wasn’t surprising and happened really early on. I expected that.

And then large swaths of time after that were just showing that he is actually worse than we thought and a sleazeball in many other elements too, not just relationship wise. A liar, and a cheat, and an adulterer he is I tell you.

This movie ended up providing zero excitement the more things were being revealed. The sort of thing that classifies as twists happened, but they made the film actually seem duller the further it went along. And this is just the mans story! Our main character’s story barely moves at all, outside of an increase in her own paranoia.

The ending itself would be considered a huge let down if I didn’t already lose most interest before that point. (It can’t be a huge let down if it isn’t a big drop, so just a regular let down). It takes more that nice cameras to make a nice movie. Things Heard & Seen should remain unheard and unseen. Clever joke, I know.

1 out of 4.

Benny Loves You

Another killer doll. Why do dolls love to kill? Because they are given to children who might be rough with them. We all know that is the right answer. That is why we got Toy Story 3, right? 

The real answer is because it is fun to take something known for being cute and put it in non-cute situations. Like killing. That is appealing. It is jarring. It stands out.

Well, it used to stand out. It has been done a lot, so there needs to be a great reason for another killer toy to come to life without just feeling like another copy cat iteration. Technically it doesn’t have to prove its existence in order to be made. That sounds mean. But it does have to prove it is a worthy addition to cinema by my own snooty little standards. If it feels like more of the same thing, why should I bother.

Benny Loves You? That’s good to hear. I would hate it if Benny was completely apathetic to my existence. 

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“Okay, Benny Loves You. But do you give a flying fuck about Benny?” – A Night At The Roxbury…ish

Dolls can be evil. But we will get to that. Instead we will focus on Jack (Karl Holt), who still lives at the same house with his famous. He thinks it is okay. Free rent. His job doesn’t pay well, he helps design toys, but he isn’t that great at it. At home, his parents still treat him like a kid, and he basically acts like one too. But in his 30’s, on his birthday, he finally gets the house to himself! You know, after his parents both die in a freak accident. 

It isn’t even a year later that his house is now decrepit and falling apart, because he doesn’t know how to function as an adult. He is behind on all bills, he doesn’t clean well, he is about to lose his job. But then he finds Benny packed away. A toy from his youth. Well, he doesn’t need that anymore.

Trying to get rid of Benny turns out to be something harder than expected. Benny has a mind of his own. He wants to protect Jack from anything that might hurt him, or anything that might try to replace Benny. Anything that Jack seemingly loves, or anything that is a threat to Jack, Benny will try to end, with extreme accuracy. Not a good time to finally find a lady, nor is it a good time to grow up, it seems!

Also starring Anthony Styles, Claire Cartwright, Darren Benedict, George Collie, Greg Barnett, and James Parsons

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Bunny isn’t a killer. That knife clearly cut something like a lasagna. 

The beginning of this review might sound a little bit bitter, but that isn’t the goal there. It is just to note what I am looking for in another killer doll story. Is there any originality?

Well, this movie is directed, written, and stars Karl Holt, who is a first time director from the UK who had this idea and put it on himself  with some other actors. It is ambitious for anyone to do something like this, let alone a first time director. And in that scope, it isn’t that bad. Maybe a little bit better than you’d expect from someone on their first attempts. But in the grand scheme of cinema, this was hard for me to enjoy. 

It feels like its been awhile since I saw the movie before I was finally able to write it. But I feel like a few scenes early on really feel disconnected from the rest of the narrative. The death of his parents did come out of nowhere and was quite gruesome, but that ended up being the highlight of the movie for me. It is just another situation of trying to do a comedy/horror film that doesn’t seem to excel in either genre, despite its best attempts.

The main character is hard to care about and so are the side characters. Live, die, whatever. Doll wins or loses doesn’t matter to me by the end, because I became indifferent to the whole picture. It is just such a hard line to balance that comedy/horror genre. But I know I can leave double disappointed if nothing scares me and nothing makes me laugh. Again, outside of the ridiculous parents death scene, which shocked me. Just nothing could surpass it, leaving me disappointed for most of the rest of the film. 

1 out of 4.

Thunder Force

“Shit we better get into that super hero genre game” – Netflix, probably, after losing their Marvel Shows. They didn’t want to get bamboozled again, so they figured they would just buy a movie by someone who was making their own. Enter Ben Falcone, ready for his next bi-yearly (usually) basic comedy starring his wife, Melissa McCarthy.

Their last film, Superintelligence, made my worst of the year list. I don’t remember fully how the other ones did, but I don’t recall it ever being met with high amounts of laughter or praise either, so there is that. 

Honestly, based on the cover of Thunder Force, it just seems like a movie they would put out entirely to make fat jokes with their heroes? I fucking hope not. I can hope they can do better than that overall. But I still wouldn’t put it past them given the people involved with it. 

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Pickle jokes too. Definitely gotta have some pickle jokes. 

Back in the 80’s, some sun shit happened, that gave some people super powers! Unfortunately, this only went to people who would be classified as sociopaths, which wasn’t a good thing for anyone out there. They were named Miscreants, and began to take a toll on society, and make things unbearbale. 

At this time, young Lydia and Emily became unlikely friends. Lydia was crass, but protected Emily, who was smart. Emily’s parents were killed by Miscreants, and she had to live with her grandparents. Emily dreamed of one day figuring out how to give powers to the good guys, and that was her life goals.

Decades later, these two eventually grew apart. Now barely functioning as an adult, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) is an adult construction worker and has nothing important to say about her life. Emily (Octavia Spencer) is rich, a scientist, a mom, and really close to getting some super powers. Once they get reconnected, unfortunately, Lydia gets given the special juice to make her super powered, so now she is in the experiment. Their first goal is to just control these powers, but stopping crime seems like a necessity. In fact, the Chicago mayor election is happening, and one of the Miscreants, The King (Bobby Cannavale) has been in charge of the city to put a leash on the other super powers, but he doesn’t like the idea of any sort of super heroes trying to stop them, or him. 

Also starring Jason Bateman, Pom Klementieff, Melissa Leo, Taylor Mosby, Marcella Lowery, Melissa Ponzio, and Ben Falcone, of course. 

science
Actual footage of Cerebro trying to find more Melissa’s to put into this movie. 

This film doesn’t really need a long in depth review to fully understand it, I imagine, but I will still go for it for a bit. First off, on the fat joke department, there was only actually one, which was surprising. I think I only laughed at one joke the whole film, a dinner scene freak out about sea food, because it was a good set up with the characters. At the same time, that scene was very slow and messed a lot with the pacing of the film. Why add that romance at all to the story? Not enough filler?

I was hoping as these two ladies were costars that it would feel like Spencer was getting a bit out of these supporting actress roles where she is there just to help the protagonist realize their true potential, or some shit. But it doesn’t. Despite the costarring, she still feels like second fiddle to McCarthy’s character, and thus is just supporting the crass member of the team into being the star. They also decided to do almost nothing with her powers. One gets super strength, the other can turn invisible and then…taze people. That is about it. Weak.

McCarthy’s character isn’t just annoying, but I have to wonder why she didn’t get powers as a kid. Her character, although not fully a sociopath, is a huge asshole. When this is a movie about good people getting powers to stop crime, but one of them isn’t really good? It is very uncomfortable. McCarthy’s character is showboaty and egotistical. She also uses her powers to get free food from places that were just getting robbed? Like. It left a big sour taste in my mouth, as she prevented a robbery, while then technically robbing at a smaller scale. 

This film has very low stakes, and these people who have superpowers rarely act like sociopaths. Is this something that affected the whole world or Chicago? Because in 20-30 some years, I would expect a whole lot more bad stuff going on than just mostly normal Chicago with the occasional gas station getting robbed. What is happening else where? Actual bad stuff? 

Low concept, low thought out film, but thankfully the humor isn’t completely bottom of the barrel. 

1 out of 4.

Without Remorse

Something surprising to me is that there are only six Tom Clancy films out there, with the first one being The Hunt for Red October in 1990. I have seen only one of them. I saw the last one before Without Remorse, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which I remember almost nothing about.

There are a lot of books by Tom Clancy, and they all have these same characters. And based on what I have seen in this film and in the last one, I still have no desire to watch any more of them, and certainly never read one of the books. A lot of pew pew spy action thrillers I guess. I am sure everyone get betrayed a dozen times and somehow gives a lot more bullet deaths than they end up receiving. Huge body counts. Catastrophic deaths.

This is all an assumption. Hell, maybe the first one was really tame.

But Without Remorse is going straight to amazon, probably because they have a successful Tom Clancy show, and now they want successful movies as well. Make money while you can, that is my motto.

action
Also to avoid old shrimp. That’s another motto. 
John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) is a Navy Seal, part of an elite team of soldiers, and is good at his job. He is good at the killing of bad guys and terrorists, while protecting the innocents, and going in and out of a job quickly with minimum damage. So, a normal movie soldier of a seal. You know.

Well, after a mission, that was quite a success, it turns out it secretly wasn’t a success after all! Months later, his team is assassinated by Russian soldiers on American grounds. They go after John too, but they can only get his pregnant wife (Lauren London), as John survives. A Russian attack on American soil is a pretty big deal. Especially if it was ordered by a Russian operative (Brett Gelman), who they thought was dead. Ahh, America fooled again.

Now John is going to have to go on a secret revenge mission, get them back without starting a new world war. He has to make them pay for killing his friends and PREGNANT WIFE, you know?

Also starring Jodie Turner-Smith, Guy Pearce, Jacob Scipio, Jack Kesy, Jamie Bell, and Todd Lasance.

intrigue
A man in a hand is worth a gun in the other.

I don’t think I have ever cared less about the death of a fictional pregnant woman than in this movie. I am not saying she deserved it or anything. But we barely get to know her as a character before it happens. And it happens early in the movie. After that, there is some grief and determination to get revenge, but it isn’t too believable. Jordan is too good of an actor to not have him focus on that anger grief sadness more and use it to tear the bad guys a new one.

Okay, the bad guys are teared into a new one. But it feels plastic. It feels like a generic action movie, because that is all that Without Remorse ends up being. A generic action film. I guess it being based on a Tom Clancy novel should have given that away. Not that I have first hand experience with any of the source material, like I already said, but lets go on and assume the plots are normally weak.

Despite Jordan being a good actor normally, there is little here outside of the standard action. Is there conspiracy twists? Sure. But they don’t make things more interesting. I don’t care about things setting up for future films when they can’t bother to get the first one right.

Without Remorse has action in a lot of dark places, so you’ll get to use your imagination, alongside many bullets for those who just like the action to be mindless while pretending it is more than mindless. (Note, this is not more than mindless). The people excited for this movie due to the previous ones or the books will probably like it as well, let’s leave it at that.

1 out of 4.