Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Crown and the Dragon: The Paladin Cycle (2013)

Number Rolled: 77
Movie Name/Year: The Crown and the Dragon: The Paladin Cycle (2013)
Tagline: Two dragons. One poisons the land. The other heals it.
Genre: Sci-fi & Fantasy
Length: 91 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Arrowstorm Entertainment, Wulf / Gourley Productions
Producer: Saad Al-Enezi, Jason Faller, Marcia L. Gaines, Mike Graf, Kynan Griffin, Jennifer Kirkham, Peter A.T. McQuillan, Maclain Nelson, Justin Partridge, Russell Southam, David M. Wulf
Director: Anne K. Black
Writer: Anne K. Black, Kynan Griffin, Justin Partridge
Actors: Elizabeth Adams, Owen Barton, Lemuel Black, Angus Brown, Alana Clohessy, Claire Cordingley, Amy De Bhrun, Stefan Dubois, Jennifer Griffin, David Haydn, Ava Hunt, Tom Murphy, Clare Niederpruem, Ciaran O’Grady, Nicola Posener, Vidal Sancho, Tim Treloar, Janine Ingrid Ulfane

Blurb from Netflix: Joined by a smuggler, a young noblewoman embarks on a treacherous journey through dragon-filled lands on a quest to fulfill her calling. (Some of the blurb has been removed due to spoilers. Why Netflix included a spoiler in the blurb is beyond me. Trust the Dice does not support spoilers.)

Selina’s Point of View:
I have an issue with writing a review for this film. There was nothing wrong with it (considering it was a B-movie that required a ton of CGI), I just couldn’t get invested in it. The only reason I can really give for why I had issue, is that it was predictable.

Now, I didn’t read the Netflix blurb before I played the film, which I guess is good since there’s a spoiler right in it, but I still knew everything that was going to happen by about five minutes in. There was nothing that really made this film stand out among other dragon-type fantasy films and books. It was your run of the mill recipe without anything really spectacular to make it stand out.

The graphics were fine for a B-movie. The actors were alright and had acceptable chemistry. The script wasn’t bad, but there was nothing exceptional about it.

I can only think of two words to describe this film and that’s: extremely mediocre.

Cat’s Point of View:
I love love love the fantasy genre. Needless to say, when this movie came up, I was pretty excited about it. Fantastic stories with magic, dragons, and quests have always been quick to capture my imagination and whisk me away to the lands between the pages or on the screen.

I didn’t feel entirely transported this time, but I did enjoy the movie overall.

For all that this film was released just a few years ago, I don’t remember hearing anything about it. It likely suffered from under-marketing here in the States. I’m fairly certain that marketing wouldn’t have helped it much at the box office. I imagine that may be why it wasn’t.

This movie was a mixed bag for me.

The story felt rushed in a few places, and then muddled in others. I’m afraid the action sequences just weren’t up to my expectations, either.

Tim Treloar’s (Wondrous Oblivion, Framed, Maleficent) Corvus character wasn’t as convincing as he needed to be – though, that may be a combination of a shortcoming in acting skill and a fumble in story and direction. There were some underwater scenes that were meant to be significant – but didn’t deliver a clear picture of why.

For a lower budget movie, the effects for the dragon were okay. It looked and behaved like a dragon, at least, instead of just a lizard with wings.
All that being said, there were quite a few things that this movie got right.

I loved the fact that the young noblewoman needed help; but not because she was helpless. There’s more to her story that I absolutely adore – but revealing that would be major spoilers.

I really felt the connection between the characters Ellen and Aiden played by Amy De BhrĂșn (Lovelorn, Vikings, The Bachelor Weekend) and David Haydn (Two Strangers, Kundalini, The Trap). There was real chemistry just sparking in the air between them in some scenes. In addition to that, I could have listened to Haydn talk forever. His Scottish accent was swoon-worthy.

Angus Brown’s (The Power of Three, Angels in Notting Hill, The Dream Children) character, Leif, was also well realized; and reminded me of the English soldier that set events in motion to anger William Wallace into joining the Scottish rebellion in Braveheart (1995).

There were also some great comedic moments in the film that felt organic and even nicely tied some of the scenes together.

The filming locations were breathtaking and really fit the essence of the story. It was no surprise to me that the entire movie was filmed in Ireland.

I feel I must also give kudos to the music team for this film. The soundtrack felt enmeshed as part of the story and was hauntingly beautiful in quite a few places. I loved the use of the uilleann pipes, which is the national bagpipe of Ireland – and also my very favorite musical instrument to listen to.

As I was researching the filming locations to see if my guess of Ireland was correct, I discovered that this movie was at least partially funded by a Kickstarter project. This certainly elevates my perception of the execution of this film – they got a lot of bang out of their bucks.

All in all, I was entertained and wouldn’t mind recommending this movie to others that enjoy this genre.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 19%

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

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

The Random Rating: PG-13

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Left Behind (2014)

Number Rolled: 45
Movie Name/Year: Left Behind (2014)
Tagline: Some were saved, and some were…
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Stoney Lake Entertainment
Producer: Christopher Sean Brown, Bill Busbice Jr., Ed Clydesdale, Jason Hewitt, J. Young Kim, Paul Lalonde, John Patus, Willie Robertson, Michael Walker, J. David Williams, R. Bryan Wright
Director: Vic Armstrong
Writer: Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, Paul Lalonde, John Patus
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Lea Thompson, Nicky Whelan, Quinton Aaron, Cassi Thomson, Martin Klebba, Major Dodson, William Ragsdale, Jordin Sparks, Stephanie Honore, Gary Grubbs, Lance E. Nichols, Alec Rayme, Han Soto, Judd Lormand, Candice Michele Barley, Lolo Jones, Kamryn Johnson

Blurb from Netflix: After millions of people on Earth suddenly disappear, a pilot flying a plane stuck at 30,000 feet must find a way to ensure the passengers’ survival.

Selina’s Point of View:
So, I’ve been obsessively watching a new YouTube channel lately. This gamer, “InTheLittlewood” (channel: YOGSCAST Martyn), is hysterical. I’ve only been watching his Mario Maker videos and whenever there’s a bad level that drives him nuts, he has this saying: “balls to that.” I assume it’s some kind of British slang, possibly even wide spread, but he’s the only one I’ve ever heard using it.

What does that have to do with Left Behind?

Balls to that, that’s what.

This film was so bad. Chad Michael Murray (Agent Carter, Christmas Cupid, Gilmore Girls) and Cassi Thomson (Switched at Birth, Big Love, Cop Dog) were bright lights within the super preachy, super boring, darkness.

Now, don’t go ahead and start accusing me of just not liking it because it had a Christian theme. I don’t care about that stuff. I just watched Angels in the Outfield the other day and I still love it. That had a heavy Christian theme, it’s right there in the title. Look.

I had an issue with just how preachy Left Behind got, but you almost expect that from a rapture film.

The worst part, the part that made everything unforgiveable, was that it was just SO boring.  

I could barely concentrate because of that. I wanted to get into it because Murray and Thomson were really good. They are fine actors and they did great with what they had. Unfortunately, they didn’t have much.

I just can’t recommend this film.

Balls to that.

Cat’s Point of View:
We didn’t realize, at first, that this movie was a remake, or a reboot, of the story told in the Kirk Cameron (Tribulation Force, Fireproof, Saving Christmas) led cast of Left Behind: The Movie (2000). Both movies are based on the books by Jerry B. Jenkins (Tribulation Force, Midnight Clear, Though None Go With Me) and Rev. Tim LaHaye (Epicenter, What God Hath Wrought, Left Behind: World at War).

Before I get into my opinion on the film, let me first preface with the fact that I wanted to like this movie. Nicolas Cage (Next, Season of the Witch, Stolen) and Chad Michael Murray (To Write Love on Her Arms, Cavemen, Outlaws and Angels) in a Sci-Fi Thriller? Hell Yes!

Cage’s movies are hit or miss; but when he’s ‘in the zone,’ his movies can be outstanding. When you add Murray into the equation, my expectation just gets higher. I loved his work in One Tree Hill (2003-2012). It’s one of my favorite shows ever. (Don’t judge.) As a little ‘six degrees’ tidbit for you, this wasn’t his first time working with Nicky Whelan (Hall Pass, The Power of Few, Borrowed Moments). They both were in the Crackle series, CH:OS:EN (2013-2015).

I think that they did the best they could with what they had to work with – but this wasn’t their best work all the way around.

The premise in the Netflix blurb looked interesting – and reminded me a bit of the HBO show, The Leftovers (2014-). Though, this wasn’t exactly a Sci-Fi movie. It was too religion-centric. I’ll get back to that.

Vic Armstrong (Season of the Witch, A Sunday Horse, Eddie the Eagle) directed this film. He’s involved with the stunt teams or working as a second unit director or assistant director more often than not. Fun film fact for you – he was Harrison Ford’s (Firewall, Morning Glory, 42) stunt double in a good number of his movies in the 80’s.

With all of the beloved movies he’s been involved in over the decades he’s been behind the camera – I wanted more from this one.

I didn’t get it.

Sure the effects in this remake were better, and the plot was less jumpy and more concise – but overall it missed its mark.

Quite likely the source of my disconnect was the film’s preachy nature. It’s an evangelical work plain and simple – not a flight of fantasy or science fiction. I felt like I’d gone to church and they’d played the movie instead of a sermon – but not as fun as going to school and getting to watch a film instead of class work.

The references were thick throughout the whole film. I understand that it’s the point of the piece but it wasn’t marketed that way. Special effects and general technology differences with the 2000 movie aside, it seems like the original movie was packaged more honestly. It wasn’t as blatant throughout, but it did get a bit heavy handed late in the film.

I was left feeling a bit cheated and wishing that we’d come up with a different movie for our review this time around – but at the same time relieved that we got it out of the way so it won’t pop up in the future.

I won’t be recommending this one – and if anyone needs me; I’ll be over there in the corner listening to R.E.M’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine).”

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 2%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 40%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

P.S. Remake of a movie by the same name made in 2000 which was based on a book with the same name written by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.

Movie Trailer: