Thursday, April 28, 2016

Icetastrophe (2015)


Number Rolled: 58
Movie Name/Year: Icetastrophe (2015)
Tagline: Mankind is on thin ice.
Genre: Sci-fi & Fantasy
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Cinetel Films, Reel One Entertainment, Ice Cap Pictures Inc.
Producer: Tom Berry, Lisa M. Hansen, Paul Hertzberg
Director: Jonathan Winfrey
Writer: David Sanderson
Actors: Victor Webster, Jennifer Spence, Richard Harmon, Tiera Skovbye, Mike Dopud, Johannah Newmarch, Andrew Francis, Ben Cotton, Boti Bliss, Jonathon Young, Tyler Johnston, Alex Zahara, Andrew Dunbar, Lane Edwards, Jason Burkart, John Stewart, Toby Levins, Scott Crouse

Blurb from Netflix: No. This blurb lies and contains spoilers. An impressive feat to include both. We will not be supporting this blurb.

Selina’s Point of View:
There is very little I like more than being surprised by a movie.

When we rolled Icetastrophe I groaned. There wasn’t any part of me looking forward to seeing it. It looked an Asylum movie, the title wasn’t doing it any favors, and the blurb was ridiculous. The only reason it wound up on the list to begin with was because both Cat and I enjoy apocalypse-type films. Especially me. Apocalypses are my bread and butter. (Is that the right plural of apocalypse? I’m not sure. Let me know if I’m wrong!)

I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

This film suffers from a terrible case of Tomorrow People (2013-2014) syndrome. It’s a decent movie marketed with a terrible title. In fact, when I found out that Icetastrophe wasn’t the name it originally aired under, I got excited. I thought maybe it just went to DVD under the terrible name. As it turns out, Icetastrophe was an upgrade from what it was originally. It aired with the title Christmas Icetastrophe. That one extra word made it so much worse.

I’m reminded of that scene in Robin Hood Men in Tights (1993) where the prince asks the witch how she got her name, “Latrine.” She answers that she changed it from “Shit-house.” He responds that it was a “good change. Very good change.”

But I digress.

The movie was pretty good, actually. The concept was a little off and it was definitely a B-movie in reference to the graphics, but there was something very interesting about it.

The script was decent, but that wasn’t the best part. There was some amazing acting involved. There’s one scene where Tiera Skovbye (Even Lambs Have Teeth, Sugarbabies, A Christmas Tail) has to play her character as being terrified. In a lot of B-movies, those horror screams are laughable. Skovbye’s performance was not. I 100% believed her. She wasn’t the only one to deliver a fantastic performance either. Richard Harmon (Continuum, The 100, The Age of Adaline) and Victor Webster (Continuum, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, Mutant X) were also great.

I know Webster from his past work as Coop on Charmed, but he’s the only actor I’ve seen much of. As a result, I don’t know if the acting was phenomenal due to the talent of the actors or the talent of Jonathan Winfrey (Even Stevens, Watch Over Me, Saints & Sinners) as a director. I’d easily believe either, or both, of those theories.

This film is a great example of how simple things can elevate a B-movie into something that you not only want to watch, but wind up enjoying.

If only the name wasn’t such complete crap.

Cat’s Point of View:
I feel compelled to open my review of this movie with a caution to completely ignore the blurb on Netflix. Not only does it give away massive spoilers, it has patently false information in it as well. There also seems to be a bit of a discrepancy in the movie’s title. IMDb, as well as most other sources have the movie titled Christmas Icetastrophe, as it was billed when it aired on the SYFY Network as their version of a Christmas Special in 2014.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, on to the movie!

This was pretty much your typical SYFY disaster movie. There were things that defied physics, plain ridiculousness, and a mixed bag of effects between cool and ‘are you kidding me?!’ in quality. The VFX team seemed to take a few notes from The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – but maybe not enough.

I didn’t love it; but I didn’t hate it, either. I was surprised to find that the film was reasonably enjoyable. Though, it’s definitely not one that I’d choose to watch again. There was a lot of conscious decision on my part to overlook things, and that took away from my ability to invest in the story.

The saving grace of this movie was Victor Webster (The Magic Stocking, Burning Palms, Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators). The movie overall just wasn’t up to his caliber. If he weren’t involved in this project, I think I would have done a whole lot of rolling my eyes and checking the countdown to see if it was over yet.

For your bit of trivia, it’s worth noting that he joins quite a few of his cast mates from the SYFY Channel show, Continuum (2012-2015), in this movie. It’s fun to think that the cast might have just decided to do this additional group project for kicks during a hiatus in filming of their regular gig. 

I digress.

There was an interesting angle to this film that was a bit on the subtle side. It seems that, in the spirit of Christmas stories, the movie paid homage to the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Webster’s character was Charlie Ratchet. That’s easily C. Ratchet, in ode to Bob Cratchit. The character’s son, played by Richard Harmon (Judas Kiss, Grave Encounters 2, The Wishing Tree), was even named Tim.

There was also a Marley, played by Tiera Skovbye (Painkiller Jane, Forever 16, Feint). Though as a twist, she was the daughter of Mr. Crooge; brought to life by Mike Dopud (Snow Buddies, This Means War, Assault on Wall Street). Exploring how she fits the classic tale’s theme would reveal a spoiler – but it’s in there!

There’s no Ebenezer in this movie, but the Crooge family isn’t exactly liked by everyone and does seem to have some decent parallel. Though, the most curmudgeonly of them all had to be the son, Scott Crooge. If you take Andrew Francis’ (Tin Man, Primary, Max Steel) bellicose character down to initials, you have S. Crooge.

I thought that was neat.

It’s that sort of concept layering that elevates mediocre movies like this one into something a little more special. I’d say it’s worth a watch at least once – if only to pick out the Carol theme.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 33%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score2.5/5

The Random Rating: PG-13

P.S. Is on Netflix as Icetastrophe but the original title was Christmas Icetastrophe.

Movie Trailer: 


Monday, April 25, 2016

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)


Number Rolled: 43
Movie Name/Year: I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
Tagline: Do some time with the one you love.
Genre: Comedy
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: EuropaCorp, Mad Chance, Consolidated Pictures Group
Producer: Luc Besson, Linda Fields, Jeffrey Harlacker, Andrew Lazar, Richard Middleton, Far Shariat, Miri Yoon
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Writer: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra, Steve McVicker
Actors: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Antoni Corone, Brennan Brown, Michael Mandell, Annie Golden, Marylouise Burke, David Jensen, Dameon Clarke, Clay Chamberlin, Louis Herthum, Morgana Shaw, Joe Chrest, Griff Furst, Aunjanue Ellis, DeVere Jehl, Michael Showers, Beth Burvant, Lasdon Deyne, Kennon Kepper, Alyssa Tate, Andrew Sensenig, Nicholas Alexander, Maureen Brennan, Trey Burvant, Miriam Cruz, Tommy Davis

Blurb from Netflix: When a Texas cop realizes he’s gay, he changes his life and pulls con jobs that land him in jail, where he meets his one true love.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m a huge fan of Jim Carrey (The Number 23, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Bruce Almighty), so I wasn’t overly surprised when I thought this movie was hilarious.

It was a little on that stereotypical side where gay men are concerned, but it’s based off a true story so I’m not sure how much of that was exaggerated and how much was true. That’s the problem with movies based off a true story. They could be just minorly reminiscent of what could have possibly happened, or they could be 100% accurate. They could also fall anywhere in the middle.

So, commenting on the characters themselves is a moot point. That may really be the way the characters were in real life. In the words of Bad Religion, “life is the crummiest book I ever read. There isn't a hook, just a lot of cheap shots, pictures to shock, and characters an amateur would never dream up.”

That being said, I can say that this is a story I’m glad I watched play out.

Carrey and Ewan McGregor (Son of a Gun, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Amelia) had incredible chemistry on screen and played their parts amazingly well. I was deeply invested in their characters and was thoroughly entertained. In the end, that’s what a movie is all about.

Cat’s Point of View:
Sometimes I wonder if Jim Carrey (Yes Man, A Christmas Carol, Kick Ass 2) is even real. He’s this fantastic chameleon creature that one would expect to be frolicking with unicorns – a real, living, cartoon character. I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. (Not all cartoons are for laughs, after all.)

I think he had a spectacular performance in this movie. You could just feel the gears turning in his character’s head when he was flying by the seat of his pants. The emotional range he expressed within the dynamic between the two main characters seemed genuine. I laughed and I wanted to throw things at him; but I also cried.

Of course, the other half of that duo was Ewan McGregor (Incendiary, Beginners, Jane Got a Gun). He was perfect in the role of Phillip Morris. He just exuded the good-hearted, optimistic, and naïve nature of the character. He felt like a real person, though, and not a caricature of a gay man.

Their accents were a little funny – but I could be biased due to living in the general region most of the film is supposed to be set in. There is that saying that ‘everything’s bigger in Texas.’ I suppose that can apply to accents sometimes, too.

I was surprised to find that some of this movie was actually filmed here, in Shreveport. I was invested enough in the film that I didn’t even pick up on what part it was. I’m probably going to watch it again at some point just to see.

For your random bit of trivia, I present to you that the real life Phillip Morris has a cameo in this movie in one of the court room scenes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would recommend it in a heartbeat. I’m actually quite curious for the opinions of a few friends of mine, and will be prodding them to watch it, soon!

Just for a final bit of amusement, I feel I must share that the final two items on the ‘Thank You’ list in the credits are Redbull and Xanax. I can truly say that this movie was entertaining to the very end.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 72%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 61%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Movie Trailer: