Tag: Rhys Darby

Jumanji: The Next Level

Jumanji: The Next Level is the sequel to the sequel/reboot that was actually the second sequel to a movie that is based on a book from the 1980’s.

But this one has characters from the last one, and is also in a video game, so people like that.

Honestly, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was better than I expected, even with dumb video game inconsistencies that movies just refuse to ever get right when we have real people sucked into video games.

And knowing that this movie had Dwayne Johnson pretending to be Danny DeVito? That was really enough for me to make sure I could see it!

Seems like some glitches have affected the Avatars!
Alright! Time for more video games!

This takes place I guess about two years after the events of our first film. All of our heroes went off to do things. Spencer (Alex Wolff), our main kid I guess, went off to NYC for college, while the girl Martha (Morgan Turner) whom he started to date, went to a different school. She seemed toooo cool for him now and he broke up because of his anxieties and low self worth.

But the four of them still agree to meet up over the holidays, Spencer, Martha, Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), a strange Breakfast club that didn’t end.

This time though, Spencer doesn’t show up, despite coming back home. So they check for him at home and only see some old dudes, Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Milo (Danny Glover). It’s his grandparent and old business partner!

Turns out Spencer went back into the game Also turns out that Spencer even has the game again, despite being all broken. So they agree to go back in, but uh oh, old people get sucked in instead of Bethany! Now they have to explain it all to people who are bad at video games. Not only that, but the game seems to be a sequel, and a new quest!

Ack. Okay. Find Spencer. Finish the game. Don’t die. Also starring the same avatars of Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, Jack BlackNick Jonas, and Kevin Hart. Also Awkwafina, Rhys Darby, Rory McCann, and Colin Hanks.

upsidedown car
In this new level, it takes place in Australia! Clearly.

I came for the Rock as Devito, but it turns out the real star was Hart as Glover. It is already hard to see Kevin Hart as anyone besides Kevin Hart. Even in the last film, it was still basically Kevin Hart. But when he was imitating Glover, his voice was deeper, his voice was more thoughtful and slow. And sure, the slower speech was important enough to the plot so that everyone would notice it, doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.

The Rock as DeVito? Honestly, a bit more disappointing. At first I thought it must be my own hype ruining it, and maybe DeVito wasn’t as obvious as I thought. But later in the movie, ANOTHER character had to act like DeVito for long periods of time and they nailed it. It was exactly what I was hoping the Rock would do, and he didn’t deliver. And for spoiler reasons I will keep it vague, great job other acting person. You and the previous mentioned Hart description knocked it out of the park.

Now on the other fronts, the plot of this one is really weak. Not just the video game plot, which is part of the point. The real world plot. The old guy anger isn’t worth our time. The plot to get Spencer and friends into the game was terrible this time around. Why does it happen? Because they want a sequel to exist, I guess.

This film still has some fun, and some tricks up its sleeve. And still, like the first, it ends up being just okay.

2 out of 4.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

¨It only took twenty years, but we finally have a Jumanji sequel…” said no one ever about this movie, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

Especially since everyone of course remembers that Zathura: A Space Adventure totally exists!

But also because when this movie was announced, a lot of people got pretty angry. Saying things like it would tarnish Robin Williams´ legacy, that it was changing too many things, that it didn´t feel like Jumanji, and everything else. People seem to think that movie studios were sitting on this idea for years, just waiting for Williams to fall over so they could move on. Williams did not own the rights to Jumanji.

When I saw the trailer initially I was actually a little bit excited. Getting sucked into a video game is not a new prompt. It has been done many times as one-off TV show episodes, entire shows have been based on them, and movies as well, but it feels like when it happens it is usually shit. And since I like a lot of these actors, I had a bit more hope for this one.

A diverse cast of characters in a jungle, WHAT YEAR IS IT?!

Don’t worry purists, this film takes place in the same universe as the first Jumanji film! As it starts in the mid 90’s, boardgame found on a beach. However, board games are lame, so the kid doesn’ play it and goes back to his video games. So what’s an evil sentient-esque game supposed to do but morph into a playing system? That is how they will get the kids hooked.

Flash forward to modern times, and we have four kids, very distinct histories and likes, who end up getting detention at the same time. Spencer (Alex Wolff) is our nerd/video game lover, we have The Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) who is good at sports, Bethany (Madison Iseman) a popular cute girl addicted to her phone, and Martha (Morgan Turner) who also is nerdy but more reclusive. They have a task of removing staplers from hundreds of magazines in a basement, hooray child labor! They of course instead find this old video game, all agree to play, because fuck work, and lo and behold, they get sucked into a video game!

Now, they are all the avatars they chose as their characters. Spencer is now Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), good at everything, while The Fridge is Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), the backpack guy sidekick, Martha is now Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) a fighter good at fighting, and Bethany has become Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), an overweight cartologist.

They must work together to balance their strengths and weaknesses in their new bodies to save the jungles of Jumanji, and also, get themselves back home.

Also starring Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby, Nick Jonas, Marc Evan Jackson, and Colin Hanks.

The Rock showing emotion, WHAT YEAR IS IT?

As previously mentioned, most “jump into video game movies” are poorly made. Just look at the third Spy Kids movie. The problem with all of these films or tv shows is they just never seem to “get” video games. They make them awkward puzzle based challenges, but mostly a lot of…non gaming things. The closest we have to a movie understanding video games has been Edge of Tomorrow.

If there is anything you can say about Jumanji 2, it is that it at least understands video games. Our characters have multiple lives, sharing lives, strengths and weaknesses, there are obvious levels, there are boundaries, there are goals, NPCs, weird interactions. It feels like people interacting with a video game world for the most part, that is wonderful.

It is wonderful, until they contradict themselves. For example, one of my biggest issues with this movie is Dr. Smolder Bravestone. He has no weaknesses, and his strengths include Fighting, Strength, Endurance, Speed, and being Fearless. Yeah, he has a bunch. And all the characters in avatar form obviously have strengths or weaknesses that are not normal. But hey, Ruby can actually fight despite being weak in real life. And Smolder can run fast, jump high, and all that.

Except for apparently his Fearless trait. Because a recurring plot point is watching Johnson scream at the slightest and smallest of animals, running in terror, over and over again. It causes one of his deaths. It is such a ridiculous oversight, it really bugs me because everything else was on point and this one felt glaring.

Overall, the movie is just okay still. The video game aspects are fine, the plot is really week. It doesn’t have an overall sense of awe or wonder like its predecessors. Everything is of course just extremely CGI’d and action scenes, with too many of the scenes focusing on human bad guys instead of swell animal problems. We don’t even get natural disasters, despite the several plant or weather based issues that Jumanji gave us.

A fine film, it just still could have been a lot better.

2 out of 4.


This is my fourth movie this year reviewing with Anna Kendrick in it, and it hasn’t been a great year. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates was on top, above Mr. Right and Get A Job, all very mediocre to poor. Sorry, I haven’t hit The Accountant yet and The Hollars looks good too, but that is still six movies this year.

After the year she had been having, I wasn’t super surprised to see her starring in Trolls as well. Trolls is probably one of the most least anticipated animated movies of the year for me, after Sing.

I mean, I get it. Getting rights to old toys to make new movies for is in right now. The Smurfs movies did okay, why not create a world about Trolls? Gotta get that merchandising money back somehow right? Fuck new risks!

Sorry, I almost complained about films these days. Trolls just seems like a lazy cash grab, and they have been hyping it since Timberlake released that song like, six months ago at least. I am trolled out already and I haven’t even been forced to see a real advertisement for it.

One of those trolls is a fucking giraffe what is going on here?

The Bergens are large, basically ogre like entities that are disgusting and sad, lives devoid of happiness. The Trolls are tiny creatures full of color who are always partying and full of happy. The Bergens hate them and are jealous of them and also found out that when they eat Trolls, they get to feel happiness inside of them and it is kind of a big deal. So they captured all of the trolls and every Bergen eats one on a holiday called Trollstice.

Except this year they have escaped underground, thanks to King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor), saving every last troll, including his baby daughter Peppy (Anna Kendrick). This gets the Bergen Chef (Christine Baranski) into quite a big trouble, because King Gristle (John Cleese) cannot feed his baby, Prince Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). So the Chef gets banished from the kingdom. The Trolls find a new place to live and they party for ever after.

Until twenty years later. Princess Poppy is throwing a huge party to celebrate being free of the Bergens. Everyone is going to be there, everyone but Branch (Justin Timberlake). The weird troll who is grey, doesn’t sing, doesn’t dance, doesn’t HUG. He warns them not to do the party like that or else the Bergens will come. And sure enough, the Chef Bergen finds them and takes all of Poppy’s friends. All of them, even the spiritual one (Russell Brand). So Poppy decides to get the rest of the Trolls into hiding and trick Branch into coming along with her to rescue them!

Back at Bergen Town, the Chef is getting back into business with the handful of trolls she captured. The king is dead, so the new king is that poor Gristle Jr. who never got a Troll before and he decides to restore Trollstice to make his kingdom happy! There is also a small maid, Bridget (Zooey Deschenal), who likes the king. This plays a part in the plot.

So yeah, get into the town, save the friends, and you know, survive. Whoa re the friends? Well, a lot of them are played by famous people, but if you asked me their character names I would have no fucking clue, as they kept them kind of hard to figure out and match. But we have Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Ron Fuches, Aino Jawo, Caroline Hjelt, Kunal Nayyar, Quevenzhane Wallis, Walt Dohrn, and Rhys Darby! Oh okay, fine, I could figure out who Guy Diamond was based off of his name.

They live in a scary place where literally everything has a mouth and eats something.

Oh hey, Trolls. Of course it was a Jukebox Musical in some regards, and I hoped to see something creative. Instead, for the most part, the songs were bad mash ups with a loosely related theme and just choruses to get the little kids moving their feet. I don’t hate Jukebox Musicals, I just hate bad music ones. It was overall a lesser Happy Feet in that regard, but better than Strange Magic.

Overall there were two really good musical moments, one was the song Get Back Up Again which is technically the only original song in the musical (Does the JT one count as original?), and another song near the end that captured the emotions of the moment extremely well. It might have made me cry, but crying does not mean I give the film a passing grade. There was also a very awkward song moment with Deschanel’s character. She gave a unique voice for Bridget, but when Bridget sang it was uncomfortable as the voice did not transition at all into the song.

The colors are bright and kid friendly, but the animation style on its own felt quite dull. It felt too fuzzy and well, doll like. Again, their intentions I am sure to sell toys, but it wasn’t too visually pleasing.

The world they created was an incredibly scary place, as there is a recurring joke of how almost everything eats something else. It frightened me and not in a sexy way.

Plot wise, about 20-30 minutes in it was pretty easy to figure out how the whole thing would end. And yeah, it was true. The love plot between Bridget and the King, although arguably necessary, felt like it was taking too much time from the rescue plot. There are not a lot of surprises in this film, nor intellectual humor. They have a character who farts glitter, and another character who shits cupcakes. Yay butt humor.

Overall Trolls is just okay, which is better than I expected. There are only a few more cartoon movies to go this year and the only place this one will make an impact in the awards is nominations for Best Song, I imagine. It is unfortunately also really dated. They decided to make the Trolls super modern, so they are saying YOLO, OMG and more terms to connect to the youth of today, meaning no one will give a crap about it in ten years.

2 out of 4.

Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Taika Waititi is a rising star in the director world, and not just because of his four i’s. No one saw Eagle vs Shark, but I did, and I loved it. Waititi is a New Zealander and he loves his New Zealand based cinema. NO, NOT LORD OF THE RINGS. But you know, he directed some Flight of the Conchords episodes. But more importantly he directed one of the better comedies last year, What We Do In The Shadows.

What We Do In The Shadows was so good and people were so impressed with Waititi, they gave Waititi a marvel movie and he is going to be directing Thor: Ragnarok. Big step up indeed.

But before we get to any of this, we have another New Zealand based film of course. Hunt For The Wilderpeople, a title with a lot of story behind it and a mostly local cast with a lot of local heart.

And a star who is clearly gangster as fuck.

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is getting into his teenage years but has had a rough life. No more parents, he has been in the foster system. He has gotten himself into some bad stuff. Like kicking stuff, burning stuff, graffiti and more. Basically gangster as fuck, which I already said.

So he is sent to his last chance home. A nice farm on the edge of civilization. The woman there, whom he has to call Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata). She knows he needs just something to do and learn and work on to get back on the right path. She is married to Uncle Hec (Sam Neill), who is much more a loaner and really only cares about his dog.

Things actually go pretty okay. Life is decent, Ricky is finding a purpose and isn’t a complete shit head. Then bad things happen. Things that threaten his removal from the house. So he decides to fake his own death and run away. Screw it, he will live in the wilderness by himself. He can shoot a gun now, he has a dog. He’s got this.

Well, it is up to Uncle Hec to go and find him. However, once he does he gets hurt. They end up being in the wilderness so long that people now think he was kidnapped and a bad type of man. Ricky himself is afraid of going back because he thinks he will have to go to Juvie! So somehow they both find themselves running from the law, living in the woods, making a real good time of it all. All while the head CPS lady (Rachel House) is on their tale.

Also featuring Oscar Kightley as a cop, Troy Kingi and Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne as a few natives, and Rhys Darby as Psycho Sam.

You can find a whole lot in the woods. But mostly, you’ll find yourself.

Being my third Waititi, I have come to expect a certain sort of humor and this film is of course full of it. It is weird, it is unique, but it is also raw and real.

I don’t know a damn thing about living in New Zealand. But I do know the basic differences between “city folk” and “country folk” and that is really the most important thing to understand this movie. Will you get each and every joke? Hell no (unless you are really knowledgeable about New Zealand, I guess). But the themes are practically universal.

And this film truly is an adventure. The beginning is a bit slower when we are getting used to the characters, but once they hit the woods, are traveling, talking, running from the po-po, meeting unique individuals and situations. That is where it is fun. That is where the film starts to run with it.

I wouldn’t say the soundtrack is the same level of Sing Street or Swiss Army Man, but it is still really well picked and placed, highlighting the film to greater levels.

Dennison has a potentially great career in comedic films if he keeps it up, he felt like a natural. Neill? I didn’t even recognize Neill. I saw his name in the intro credits and assumed I just missed him. I didn’t really realize until looking at IMDB way later. He was super into his role as well and quite a damn surprise. House was also really nice surprise, with her motto of “No Child Left Behind” when it comes to CPS. A good motto and made her a weird antagonist.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is amazing. It is realistic, strange, and I think we all have a little bit of Ricky in all of us.

4 out of 4.

What We Do In The Shadows

I don’t think you want to know what I do in the shadows. Usually it involves lurking, dodging sunlight, or cooling off.

Now that I think about that, two of those three descriptions are very vampire-like. Hey, what a perfect title. What We Do In The Shadows is, after all, about a few dudes sharing a flat in New Zealand.

And they are vampires.

And this is a true story. You know, because this story was definitely made, truly.

And they started the hippest band in New Zealand too!

Vampires! They sometimes need roommates. We have Viago (Taika Waititi) who set up this documentary, I guess. They all had to sign waivers to not eat the camera crew, but it should work out. He is only 317 years, so a bit of a late middle ages vampire. They have Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), 183 years old, a baby, and the most brash of these vampires and more of a pseudo ladies man. Let’s not forget Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), aged 862. He used to be a much bigger deal, but his age is getting to him and he is losing a lot more of his powers. He doesn’t impale people people as much.

And don’t forget about Petyr (Ben Fransham). He is about 8,000 years old. He has basically lost it, looks super un-human, very savage. He freaks everyone out but he has basically earned it.

And this is their life! They still drink human blood, they have some human groupies who help them do certain tasks, but they are incredibly behind times in terms of technology.

We learn of past loves, why they prefer virgins, their interactions with other supernaturals (zombies, werewolves, witches).

Also featuring Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, and Rhys Darby, because of course Rhys Darby.


New Zealand and Flight of the Conchords. Although it looks like Bret McKenzie had nothing to do with this movie, it is easier to describe as vampires meet FotC. Because that type of awkward uncomfortable humor is very prevalent throughout the whole movie. This movie had a ridiculously low budget, I am sure most of the guys being friends working for next to nothing and splitting the profits. It is a great business model for them too, as with kickstarter and word of mouth, it has spread slowly throughout America for people to see.

Blah blah blah. You don’t care. Is it funny? Heck yes it is funny. I personally would have liked a lot more of Petyr, thought he was underused, but I guess you can’t tell an 8,000 year old vampire what to do.

I am also glad that with the different types of Vampires that Twilight didn’t make the cut. At first I thought I wanted it, but realized how quickly it would have just fallen into a a one trick pony to be referenced occasionally, and not had any real characterization or goals behind it.

Also, this movie has a lot of great quotes associated with it. I don’t remember a lot of them, but I do remember laughing.

Either way, if this movie comes to your area, give it a chance. You will probably have an enjoyable uncomfortable night.

3 out of 4.

Pirate Radio

Pirate Radio! The “feel-great new comedy from the creator of Love Actually and Notting Hill“. Aka, those British movies that people love. (Okay, I do love Love Actually. Haven’t seen the other.)

This movie has a ton of big names in here, and a ton of names I will qualify as big for the sake of making the former argument correct. Pirate Radio tells the story of the 1966 UK. Despite the large presence of famous British rockers, no British station play them. Its the devils music still.

So for British people to get their rock on, they have to tune into pirate radio stations, which are not illegal in the UK at this time. In fact, the most famous pirate radio station is actually on a boat off the coast. If you know anything of your coming of age movies, this means this is a pretty killer boat.

Killer Boat
Not that killer.

The boat has Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rhys Ifans playing American DJs (Yes, Rhys plays an American). Lesser DJs (because they are British) are Nick Frost, Chris O’Dowd, and Rhys Darby (TWO people named Rhys in one movie). The ship/radio owner is Bill Nighy. Also there is a small cameo role played by January Jones.

Even Kenneth Branagh is in this movie, as British government bureaucrat who wants to stop the radio at all costs. Of course more people are in the movie, just who cares about them?

This is a very enjoyable movie. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming (like, the last 30 minutes). Obviously the movie is filled with some pretty good music. Now, I’d say most of the plot may actually be kind of ridiculous, but the suspension of belief is worth it. The ending is super great, despite the unbelievability of it all.

Pirate Radio
Not to mention you can check out some ridiculous facial hair.

4 out of 4.