Tag: Jason Isaacs

Occupation: Rainfall

See my interview with the director/writer of the movie here!

A couple of years ago, a film called Occupation released out of Australia. It starred Australian actors, was directed and produced by Australians, and hell, surprisingly, was shot and set in Australia. It was so Australian, a rugby match played a pivotal part of the film. Mmmm, non American sports.

Well, it was hit with relatively big success for an independent film about an alien invasion and a small community coming together to fight the scary aliens away.

And now we have the sequel, set a few years later, starring the same people, and also coming out a few years later. Hey, it is wonderful when that works out like that. Occupation: Rainfall is updating us on the war, years later, with more explosions and pew pews.

Posing before shooting is the coolest thing you could ever do. 
For real though, aliens invaded, but they aren’t like, that much better than humans. Yes, their guns and ships are better, but they weren’t able to take over the entire world. Last time was saw one community stand up really well on their own against them (and probably had a small force to try and take them out, they weren’t Sydney). But it turns out, a lot of places in the world were able to shoot them and take them down.

So where do we find our heroes now? Well, still in Australia, still working together, but with more tech. And hey, they got some alien deflectors now. They got aliens who are giving them intel and helping them strike back and go for bigger and badder tactics. And they all have responsibilities over larger amounts of people. It is nice they didn’t get fully swept up in the bureaucracy of defending their planet.

Before their issues were about just finding loves ones, but now we have to worry about the survival of the species. And hey, we got some other countries people helping us this time! Will this be the end of the alien scum, will our heroes finally lose, or will neither happen and will we get a third film?

Starring Dan Ewing, Temuera Morrison, Daniel Gillies, Lawrence Makoare, Mark Coles Smith, and Jet Tranter. Also featuring some newer bigger names like Ken Jeong and Jason Isaacs.

Yep, looks like they got all the lasers and pew pews right here.

The first Occupation film, from my point of view, was surprisingly well done. This was based on my already low expecatations however of an indie film trying to recreate a bigger budget film with clearly not the names or budget behind a normal big budget movie. It was solid, but it did stall out and feel a bit generic in action department by the end. So with the sequel, they are given some bigger names, the same cast and crew, and a lot more money to do the bigger bangs, more aliens, more ships.

And does the sequel deliver on that front? Yes for sure, they amp up everything in this franchise being made from the ground up.

However, with that being said, and with real tactical things being done in the movie, and betrayals and twists and action, it will be great for those who want that in a movie. But I always want something more in my action film and this one doesn’t seem to deliver it to me on that level. It is, unfortunately, chock full of the sort of action that would put me to sleep. The tension created didn’t transfer over to me or put me on the edge of my seat in any way. I did care a little bit about the story elements, and whether some would live or die, but that wasn’t enough for me to fully care about the final results.

I won’t take away the technical achievements this movie has made though. With a bigger budget, it still wasn’t astronomical, and they did a lot with what they had, just like the first film. And the crisp new cameras really help you get immersive in the final polished piece. But from start to finish, I couldn’t tell you after the fact what action scenes happened in this or the first film, and I would describe them all relatively similar because unfortunately none would stick with me.

2 out of 4.


Oh hey, remember how everyone wanted a new Scooby Doo movie? Nah.

Okay, that is fair, we don’t have to ask for a movie to come out to get one. Sometimes the studios know what is up. For example, I bet people did ask for a live action Scooby-Doo movie in the late 90’s early 2000’s, and what it gave was a really cheesy strange story, with adult jokes, some obvious some not. And honestly, it sort of filled a really good niche back then. Go figure.

So even though this animated version is going full CGI, and is dealing apparently with the childhood beginnings of the gang (ehhh), as long as we got mysteries to solve and people in masks, it shouldn’t be too hard to make it work. Unless they decide to go for the “monsters are real” gag, which basically every Scooby Doo entity has been doing for the last 20 years, so it is kind of getting annoying. Please, give us weird people in masks.

Remember, if a movie has an exclamation point, it should be a musical. Scoob! should be a musical. 

Ah yes, origin stories, like a superhero movie.

Alright, here we go! Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) meet on the beach when they were younger. Shaggy needed friends. Scooby-Doo needed a home.

Later on, at Halloween, some bullies mess with the duo, and some other kids help the two out! Their names are Fred (Zac Efron), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), and Velma (Gina Rodriguez). Also right after that, they end up solving a mystery of a lot of stolen goods that no one even knew was a thing! They just had to meddle.

Alright, years later, many mysteries, they want to expand their operations. Their Mystery Machine needs work, so they want bigger clients, and higher paying jobs to become a success. And then they bring in Simon Cowell for some reason, who barely insults Shaggy and Scooby who leave as a result.

The other friends don’t go and stop them, so eventually, Shaggy and Scooby get attacked by robots. And then abducted by aliens? Nah, it is actually Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), Dynomutt (Ken Jeong), and their assistant, Dee Dee Skyes (Kiersey Clemons). They know that Scooby-Doo is important for something. Because Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) is looking for him and some ancient skulls, to maybe summon dog Cerebus from the underworld. Ah yes, real mythical monsters.

Also starring Christina Hendricks and Tracy Morgan.

What nice chairs. And I feel like a hater not showing Daphne/Velma/Fred.

It is really early on in the film when you realize this is not going to be something you want to see again, and for a lot of people, that is when Simon Cowell appears. But before that, I will acknowledge they did a version of the original intro. It was okay in the singing department, really basic, but they did recreate parts of the intro and use it as a montage of solving some mysteries. That was nice.

That was also where most of the Scooby-Doo action remained. The kid mystery was very awkward, because when a ghost appeared in the house they already had their goal completed. They could have just…left, like any normal person. Having this long run through the place and eventual capture of the ghost to find it was a masked person didn’t even make sense. 

But let’s get back to Cowell. This movie came out in 2020, why the hell is Cowell in this movie. This is not 2004. Kids for the most part won’t understand that at all.

In terms of how Scooby-Doo this movie is, it is Scooby-Not. Most of the time the gang is split up (which happens a lot sure, but not to this scale). This is a superhero movie. It is about Blue Falcon, and Scooby-Doo wanting to feel more special. It has a real monster and issue to deal with, and…it is just a mess.

A lot of the voice acting felt off. I especially did not like Jeong as Dynomutt, because it just sounded like Ken Jeong, not a robot dog. 

It was a boring film for the most part, with some other Hanna Barbera properties thrown in for fun. It is really easy to see where the movie is going, where the conflicts will appear, and what will happen at the end. It is such a waste of a nice property. It felt like something they would try as a third or fourth film of a reboot, not right away. This was barely Scooby-Doo. Focus on the basics first.

And obviously it wasn’t a musical, but it did have a lot of modern music because that is easier to get the kids to love it. 

1 out of 4.

The Death of Stalin

Josef Stalin was a dude who a lot of people respected, a lot of people feared, and lot of people hated. But at least he got the trains running on time in Italy, right?

Wait, that was Mussolini? And Mussolini was in Italy?

Stalin was in goddamn Russia? Oh, well, fuck, close enough. Communists are communists, am I right?

Either way, The Death of Stalin is a satirical look at his death, and the power vacuum that existed in the Soviet Union after the fact. A topic you (like me) probably know next to nothing about, and after you see a film like this, will assume you know a lot that is probably not true.

He peed his pants. That is smelly.

In 1953, in the Soviet Union, everything was nice and grand. People are alive, until they are not. People are living their lives normally, until their not. Josef Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) is a generous man who rules with an iron fist, sure, but hey, its a hard job being in the top. He has a big cabinet of faithful advisers, from Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin), and Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale).

He also has death/torture lists, that are frequently updated. You know, traitors and such. The army runs out, grabs them, imprisons them or kills them just because Stalin heard a whiff of untrustworthy behavior. Not too fun to be caught up in that.

And then? Well, then Stalin just had to go and die. And now, we have a group of men who all want to be leaders, while also want to be sure Stalin is dead before they take over the power vacuum. This cabinet of individuals has to try and work together to make sure their country doesn’t fall apart, and that they don’t backstab each other before the best man actually gets the job.

Also, while dealing with the religious fanatics, the normal people, the army, the special army, the prisons, and lists, and ugh, the family of Stalin.

Also starring Andrea Riseborough, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Paddy Considine, Paul Chahidi, Paul Whitehouse, and Rupert Friend.

If they all stand around the casket, then the only one that can backstab them is Zombie Stalin.

The Death of Stalin is a strange movie to come out, one that is really hard to describe. Because it is weird. It is sort of Monty Python-esque, sort of silly, while still maintaining a very strong and serious vibe. I am laughing out loud in the theater due to how absurd the whole thing feels and how awkward the characters are.

It is quite obvious that there is no way the events are accurate as shown in this movie. It is very wonky and similar to maybe the Three Stooges, with a bit less slapstick. At the same time, it still felt realistic and natural for these men to be freaking out and being awkward, given the situation they are in. They know everyone of them is ruthless. They have been living in a ruthless time. They are used to a period where people would die for saying the wrong thing, and when you want to be on top, you might end up saying the wrong thing.

Overall, this is not the sort of film that everyone would love. A bit bizarre, a bit funny, while also maintaining a lot of deadpanning and dry humor. And somehow, still, piss humor.

This film has definitely intrigued me about this moment in history and it has wanted me to learn more!

3 out of 4.

A Cure For Wellness

Now that it is February, we have the potential to get some good films again. Split was a January fluke, I am sure everything else that I didn’t see is bad. But this is February!

Last February we were blessed with Hail, Caesar! And before that we got The Lego Movie! So there is a lot of hope for finding the special film in the crowd, and A Cure For Wellness is carrying that flag (along with John Wick: Chapter 2).

I first heard about this film in December when some of my critic friends saw it at Butt-numb-a-thon, but all of their lips were silent as to why they enjoyed it. A mysterious film with a lot of creepy moments. Let’s do it.

Water? Nothing has ever been creepy about water.

Mr. Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a young, spry, wall street worker who just got a promotion after closing a big account. And he is ambitious. And he has also cheated on some of his deals. This does not look good, especially when his company is on the verge of a big merger. So the board gives him a task. To head to the Swiss Alps, to a little spa, where their CEO (Adrian Schiller, maybe? God, I hope it was him), has decided to extend his vacation forever and never return home. He hats Wall Street now.

So Lockhart heads to the spa, hoping to convince him right away. But he misses visitor hours, gets distracted by a mysterious woman (Mia Goth), and next thing he knows his driver (Ivo Nandi) gets into a car accident. Lockhart wakes up in the spa, a cast over his leg, with a spa retreat seemingly forced on himself as well in order for him to heal.

While there, Lockhart spends most of his time looking for and failing to talk to his CEO. Trying to discover why the water seemingly is addictive here. And wrap it all up with ancient legends of the place! Fun!

Also starring Jason Isaacs, Celia Imrie, and Judith Hoersch.

Oh man, it is so beautiful it is making me flip my shit.

A Cure For Wellness is not your normal “scary film.” At its core it is a psychological thriller meant to make you feel unnerved throughout its over two hour run time. Every shot is beautiful, showing off the lush Swiss (Well, it was filmed in Germany) landscapes and mountainsides. Rooms uniform to make you feel claustrophobic. Uniformity in the actions of the patrons. Long hallways, identical doors, and a seemingly labyrinth of corridors, the spa is both haunting and beautiful.

The mystery it weaves is a central figure and one that will have you picking up the clues it drops, the smaller references along the way, to build the complete story. Why the spa does what it does, how it does it, and our overall plot is wonderfully crafted and told to make sure you get enough for the average viewer to understand it all.

But in the last 15-20 minutes, they decide that instead of keeping it a smart film, they will dumb everything down, hold the viewers hand and make sure repetitively everyone understands ever little aspect. And it is its biggest failing point. It went from an intelligent film to a tacked on ending that feels normal for Hollywood films but is jarring for this one. It told us too much and also made sure there was no mystery left. It had a conclusion, the story is over, and it could have had many better endings if they just tacked off parts. It reminds me of Don’t Breathe in that regard.

DeHaan and (actors) give great performances. They really dive into these characters and no one is half assing this film. It is a pretty darn good film that people should see if they want to feel unnerved and can handle some body damage horror stuff. I had some pretty extreme cringes during this film, but they are all done in a way that serves a purpose and isn’t just for gore sake.

They just need to know when to end it.

3 out of 4.