Monday, September 19, 2016

ARQ (2016)

Number Rolled: N/A
Movie Name/Year: ARQ (2016)
Tagline: None
Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Lost City, XYZ Films, MXN Entertainment
Producer: John Finemore, Kyle Franke, Elizabeth Grave, James Hoppe, Michelle Knudsen, Mason Novick, Nick Spicer
Director: Tony Elliott
Writer: Tony Elliott
Actors: Robbie Amell, Rachael Taylor, Gray Powell, Jacob Neayem, Shaun Benson, Adam Butcher, Jamie Spilchuk

Blurb from Netflix: Trapped in a lab and stuck in a time loop, a disoriented couple fends off masked raiders while harboring a new energy source that could save humanity.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m back.

I’m sporting a couple of new holes in my head, but I am back and – more importantly – not bogged down by painkillers anymore. I slept so much, and so strangely, in the past week that I suspect it’ll take forever to get my sleep schedule back on track… but meh.

In celebration, Cat and I decided not to roll for this post. Instead, a Netflix original that we wanted to see came out on the 16th, so we decided to watch that. We’re both really into sci-fi and we both (obviously) love Netflix. The deciding factor, however, was Robbie Amell (The Tomorrow People, Struck by Lightning, The Flash) being the lead. We both absolutely adore him.

ARQ felt a bit par-for-the-course where this kind of time-loop film is concerned, but there were small twists and differences along the way that kept me interested. I can’t explain which tropes the film flipped on the audiences without giving spoilers, but I will say that things didn’t always go exactly as expected.

It was a nice change.

The acting was definitely one of the best parts of the film. In fact, I don’t think there was a bad actor in the bunch. I believed everyone at all times. With that kind of acting, even a terrible film would have been worth watching… but this wasn’t a terrible film.

Although the parts you would expect to get repetitive do live up to that expectation, the story was engaging and complex and not as disjointed as you might expect. It was easy to follow and understand.

Some of the foreshadowing was almost a little TOO easy to pick up on, however. Of course, that’s a hell of a lot better than having no foreshadowing at all.

I’m glad we watched this film and I’ll be happy to watch it again in the future.

Cat’s Point of View:
This movie begged to be seen ASAP. It’s a trifecta of interesting Sci-Fi premise, Netflix Original content, and Robbie Amell (Anatomy of the Tide, Code 8, Nine Lives). He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite actors – and no, not just because of his good looks or who his cousin is. He is a rising star and starting to pick up some real momentum in the industry – and I’d like to think that’s because of his straight up talent.  Sci-fi seems to be his wheelhouse, so far; though he’s proven to be very versatile with other genres under his belt.

Sufficed to say, I had high expectations going in to this movie.

The film didn’t let me down.

The time loop premise has been done before, yes. However, this movie takes a step beyond the likes of Groundhog Day (1993) and even Edge of Tomorrow (2014). Writer and Director Tony Elliott (Almost Naked Animals, Entangled, Hunters) should definitely be commended here. He wove an engrossing and nuanced story without overburdening it with extra stuff it didn’t need. I shouldn’t be entirely surprised, though – he’s one of the creative minds behind the writing for BBC’s clone series Orphan Black (2013-).

The cast is only slightly smaller than the setting itself. This narrow scope helped bring out both the actors performances and the little details that color this dystopian world. There are so many questions that are left unanswered – and yet just enough blanks get filled in along the way to keep you looking for the next clue. What was going to change? What was going to stay the same? What new tidbit was around the corner?

I loved how shifting perspective is used to peel some of the layers back as the movie progresses. Things are far more complicated than meets the eye and the journey to figure that out is definitely not dull and boring.

This movie is a mind-gasm.

The science even seemed plausible. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t tell you if the equations seen scrawled here and there were gibberish or legit – but the principles actually seen or discussed felt straight forward and realistic. It wasn’t over-complicated and I didn’t feel like I was sitting through a quantum physics lecture.

There was a romance story woven through the layers of this tale and I think that was addressed respectfully. Both leads are good looking people - and yet, this movie opted out of taking advantage of that. Sorry folks, no sex or even shirtless scenes here. The progression through the film of how the dynamic between the characters shift was well done.

The arc of character development for Rachael Taylor’s (See No Evil, The Loft, Jessica Jones) Hannah is on point. I’ve really enjoyed that actress in the things I’ve seen her in, and I can’t wait to see more of her in the future. The female leads in other looping scenarios have had me rolling my eyes at one point or another – she didn’t.

There’s some violence and some blood – but not anything over-the-top. I will probably let my 13 year old watch it, if she’s interested. I would definitely watch it again with her, too. Maybe more than once. I know there’s more that I can piece together in some of the details I likely missed in my first watch-through. I’d have to say this is my new favorite time-loop movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 47%

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

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

Movie Trailer:

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