Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Colony (2013)

Number Rolled: 22
Movie Name/Year: The Colony (2013)
Tagline: One day it started to snow, and it never stopped.
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Alcina Pictures, Item 7, Mad Samurai Productions, 120db Films, Sierra / Affinity, RLJ Entertainment
Executive Producer: Peter Graham, Marc Schaberg, Noah Segal, Mark Slone
Director: Jeff Renfroe
Writer: Jeff Renfroe, Svet Rouskov, Patrick Tarr, Pascal Trottier
Actors: Kevin Zegers, Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton, Charlotte Sullivan, Dru Viergever, Atticus Mitchell, John Tench, Lisa Berry, Lucius Hoyos, Kimberly-Sue Murray, Michael Mando, Helen Taylor, Julian Richings

The world is in a state of perpetual winter, causing the few survivors to live in colonies that exist underground. When one colony get an SOS from another, they dispatch a team to find out what’s happening.

Selina’s Point of View:
There’s really very little I didn’t like about this film. Of course, most people would expect that from me. I love almost anything apocalyptic or dystopian. I read it, write it, watch it… hell, I even dream in dystopias. I’ve had apocalypse-based dreams that range from zombies to sun flares to killer sentient washing machines.

Don’t ask about that last one.

That being said, I found this an interesting world.

Sure, it was very Snowpiercer (2013), but it was still interesting. I particularly liked the idea of the colonies having alliances. Saying there’s an “alliance” between two colonies leads viewers to believe there are also colonies that have strained relationships. It makes sense. Not every country gets along and every colony wouldn’t either. It’d be great if people could just shut up and be nice, but the world doesn’t work that way.

Where the actors are concerned, I had not a single complaint.

Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Matrix) is a true professional. Bill Paxton (Edge of Tomorrow, Big Love, Twister) pissed me off to my limit, but I’m certain that’s what he was supposed to be doing. Finally, although I spent the entirety of the film amused at how much Kevin Zegers (Dawn of the Dead, Girl Walks Into A Bar, Air Bud) looks like a guy I went to school with, even that couldn’t pull me out of it because his performance was amazing.

The Colony didn’t get great reviews, but I do not agree with the majority this time.

Yes, there were a couple of issues. There was some unnecessary slow-motion and flashbacking, but that was relatively minor.

I don’t suggest this film was perfect, but if you enjoy the same apocalyptic stuff I do, you’ll enjoy this.

Cat’s Point of View:
This movie was a bit hit and miss for me.

I wouldn’t say that it’s bad, really. There were parts that I enjoyed more than others. I found my attention wandering, though. I’m not entirely sure where I had the disconnect.

The premise for the movie was interesting. The world-frozen-over hasn’t been run into the ground as a plot device yet. I couldn’t quite tell if this was a The Day After Tomorrow (2004) scenario of climate just run amok, or if it was due to human tinkering gone wrong. The design for the weather contraptions looked really cool, either way.

I was surprised when I realized that this film came out in the same year as The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013). I wasn’t entirely impressed with Kevin Zegers (Normal, The Narrows, Vampire) in that one. He got my attention in this movie, though. (I promise it wasn’t because of his cute scruffiness.)

In a frozen world, where the warmth of humanity seems to be leaching out of people’s hearts; he seemed authentic in his portrayal of the protagonist with a conscience, trying to do the right thing.

I enjoyed the character of Kai, played by Charlotte Sullivan (Fever Pitch, The Cry of the Owl, Defendor). I wish there had been more of her in the film. Hopefully we’ll see her on the big screen more often in the future.

I couldn’t help but think that Bill Paxton (Haywire, Red Wing, Nightcrawler) must have been getting a little bit of dejavu in a few of the set pieces for this movie. Some of the corridors could have come right out of Aliens (1986).

Laurence Fishburne (Armored, Contagion, The Signal) fits leadership roles so well. He exudes this vibe of wisdom and badassery, tempered with compassion.

All in all, I’m not sure that I’d watch this movie again; but I wouldn’t try to shoot anyone down if they wanted to watch it. My recommendation is officially “ehhhh… it’s ok.”

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 16%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 22%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score 2.5/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 7, 2015

Zathura (2005)

Number Rolled: 80
Movie Name/Year: Zathura (2005)
Tagline: Adventure is waiting.
Genre: Family
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Radar Pictures, Teitler Film, Michael De Luca Productions
Executive Producer: Louis D’Esposito, Ted Field
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Chris Van Allsburg, David Koepp, John Kamps
Actors: Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz

Danny and Walter are brothers, but they don’t really get along. While their dad is out and their older sister is tasked with watching them, they find a game that is out of this world.

Selina’s Point of View:
So, all throughout watching Zathura I couldn’t help but think about its similarities to Jumanji (1995). It wasn’t until after I finished watching and began to research the film that I found out it started out as a book written by the same author and is part of the same world. Apparently, at one point during production, it was even considered the sequel to Jumanji before that idea was scrapped by Columbia.

I disagree with Columbia. Zathura will forever be considered Jumanji 2 to me. Headcanon.

Usually, I have an issue with kid-based movies because the kids seemed to almost be trained to over-act. I think that’s kind of bullshit, because it condemns those kids to short-lived acting careers because they have to learn how to not suck once they hit puberty and Hollywood thinks they’re not cute anymore. Wanna know why child-stars go crazy? See the beginning of this paragraph.

This movie was atypical. The only person in the movie that over acted, no joke, was Kristen Stewart (American Ultra, On the Road, Equals). I know there are some confused faces staring at the screen wondering what an overacting Kristen Stewart looks like. Well, watch the film.

Despite his age, Jonah Bobo (Crazy Stupid Love, The Backyardigans, Around the Bend) was convincing as Danny. At least, as convincing as any child his age can be. There were a few meh moments, but nothing that pulled me out of it. Where Josh Hutcherson (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Detention, Red Dawn) is concerned, I can definitely see how he went from his performance in Zathura to that insanely convincing Peeta act in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Acting just seems to come naturally to him.

Finally, Dax Shepard (Idiocracy, Employee of the Month, Parenthood) is always awesome. He’s one of those underrated actors that I see rocking a ton of great parts and not getting spoken about nearly as much as he should. In that way, he’s in the same category as Matthew Lillard (SLC Punk, The Bridge, Fat Kid Rules the World) to me. Tons of talent, not enough appreciation for it. Fun fact: Shepard and Lillard co-starred in the 2004 film Without a Paddle.

I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would. I’d both watch it again and recommend it.

Cat’s Point of View:
When this film was released, my daughter was only two; and I didn’t feel particularly interested in it. The previews had me thinking that I’d seen it before – the plot looked like Jumanji (1995) in space, and Robin Williams (August Rush, Shrink, Happy Feet 2) wasn’t in it.

What a difference a decade makes.

Now that my daughter is twelve, we were able to watch this one together. I have to admit that I was hasty in judging the film in the past. It stood well on its own, even with a similar premise and framework.

The special effects team did a bang up job with this one (yes, that was a pun – I couldn’t help it!).  They threw the laws of physics right out the window in such a way that it was whimsical, fitting, and didn’t look hokey. Of course, the tween and I are both Whovians, so that did help a little in suspending disbelief.

Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys and Aliens, Chef) did a wonderful job with this movie. I can’t wait to see his vision for the upcoming MTV series based on author Terry Brooks’ Shannara (1944-) books.

I tip my proverbial hat to the cast of this film. Jonah Bobo (Choke, The Fox and the Hound 2, Disconnect), Josh Hutcherson (RV, The Kids Are All Right, Epic), and Kristen Stewart (Jumper, The Runaways, Camp X-Ray) had chemistry at a level that I would have really believed they were siblings, had I not known otherwise. Their sibling rivalry was excellently executed.

I halfway wish that I had watched this movie years ago, instead of giving it a pass – if no other reason than perhaps getting a glimpse at Kristen Stewart’s acting ability before the sparkly vampire movies colored my perception of her.

I geeked out a bit when I realized that the legendary voice actor responsible for so many beloved characters, Frank Oz (Sesame Street, Star Wars Rebels, Inside Out), had a role in this movie. It wasn’t one of his iconic characters, either. See if you can guess, as you watch without looking it up!

We had a lot of fun watching this movie, and I would gladly recommend it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 75%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 51%

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

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Movie Trailer: