Thursday, June 23, 2016

Welcome to the Jungle (2013)

Number Rolled: 6
Movie Name/Year: Welcome to the Jungle (2013)
Tagline: Not your typical day at the office.
Genre: Comedy
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: The Salt Company International, Pimienta, 120dB Films, Stun Creative, Private Island Trax
Producer: Leah Aldarondo, Robert Bevan, Charley Cabrera, Mark Cartier, Sue Denisco Mullin, Mark Feldstein, Alex Goldstone, Peter Graham, Stephen Hays, Samantha Horley, Hannah Kanew, Justin Kanew, Jeff Kauffmann, Corey Large, Ewan Leslie, Cyril Megret, Rob Meltzer, J.J. Mullin, Ethan Newberry, James Norrie, Alan Pao, Luis A. Riefkohl, Alan Duncan Ross, Brad Roth, Luillo Ruiz, Bruce Simberg, Elissa Simberg, Arthur Tommaselli, Rita Tommaselli, Belly Torres, Kristopher Van Varenberg
Director: Rob Meltzer
Writer: Jeff Kauffmann
Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Adam Brody, Rob Huebel, Kristen Schaal, Megan Boone, Juan C. Defendini, Eric Edelstein, Zev Glassenberg, Dennis Haysbert, Tommy Kavelin, Michael J. Morris, Teeadora Paz, Robert Peters, John Pinero, Mark Sherman, Aaron Takahashi, Brian Tester, Kristopher Van Varenberg, Bianca Brigitte VanDamme, Andrea Ruiz

Blurb from Netflix: When office colleagues are sent to a team-building exercise in the wilderness, their corporate adventure goes awry as they find themselves stranded.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was incredibly surprised by Welcome to the Jungle. I really don’t think it was marketed correctly.

The posters, the trailers, and all the other promotional items associated with this film made me think I was about to watch a silly Ace Ventura-esk (1994) film. I wasn’t expecting any huge plot or seriousness at all. I thought it would be a ridiculous, funny, light film.

Holy shit, was I wrong.

This film was not at all what I could have ever expected from what the marketing made it out to be. Sure, there were no real spoilers in the trailer. That’s great. However, the trailer also wasn’t honest about what I was about to see. There were some very silly aspects, but they were backed up by some relatively good acting, a decent script, and a real plot line.

I even saw some Lord of the Flies and Lost (2004-2010) references in this movie.

Welcome to the Jungle is still a comedy first and an action film second, but there were some parts that tipped the scale in the other direction. It caught me off guard.

That being said, I enjoyed the film. I didn’t think it was super-smart or amazingly original. It was a new spin on an old recipe, but a good spin.

I believe the only reason it’s rated so low on Rotten Tomatoes is because it’s not what people expected to see. It wasn’t marketed to the right demographic.

I was pleasantly surprised, but most people hate being tricked into expecting something they don’t get. It makes them bitter and unlikely to give an honest review. Sometimes, I get like that too… but this time I just wish the promos were made better.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was pretty jazzed when this movie came up for the current selection. The week had started on a low note for me, as I laid to rest my last grandparent on Monday. I’m going to resist the temptation to use this as a platform to rant about how horribly the VA dropped the ball in honoring a WWII Purple Heart veteran.

Needless to say, I was crossing my fingers that the dice would give us a mood lifter. Jackpot!

I initially thought that this movie would be good for a few cheap laughs and a few giggles at the expense of Jean-Claude Van Damme (Dragon Eyes, Swelter, Kung Fu Panda 3). I remember him best for all his cheesy action movies of the 80’s and 90’s.

Sure, that was part of this film – but it was also so much more. I was actually a bit impressed. My inner-geek had a squee.

Beneath all the camp was actually a plot of significant substance. I’m not kidding. We’re talking literary lessons here.

Writer, Jeff Kauffmann (Animation Domination High-Def, American Dad!), was definitely paying attention in English class. One of the staples of required school reading (at least when I was younger) obviously stuck with him. What am I talking about? William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies. There have been two prior movies derived from this book in 1963 and 1990. Those, of course, followed the narrative more to the letter.

This movie is rather blatantly a modern-day adaptation of the story.

I found so many nuances within this film directly in parallel with Golding’s book that I lost count.

What a brilliant way to expose a modern audience, in attendance for the scatological humor, to a bit of classic literature – and more importantly, the underlying message.

Aside from the deeper meaning, the movie was pretty funny. Rather than an in-your-face drama, the satire angle actually works here.

These poor ad-agency schlubs were decidedly not in the ‘good hands of Allstate.’ [I really half-expected there to be some product placement somewhere. Dennis Haysbert (Jarhead, Experimenter, Ted 2) probably gets that a lot.]

I might watch this again just to count the references and actually write them down this time.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 22%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 20%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Antisocial (2013)

Number Rolled: 86
Movie Name/Year: Antisocial (2013)
Tagline: This virus kills.
Genre: Horror
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Black Fawn Films, Breakthrough Entertainment
Producer: Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan, Marina Cordoni, Christopher Giroux, Ira Levy, Peter Williamson
Director: Cody Calahan
Writer: Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan
Actors: Michelle Mylett, Cody Ray Thompson, Adam Christie, Ana Alic, Romaine Waite, Ry Barrett, Eithan Shalmon, Laurel Brandes, Kate Vokral, Charlie Hamilton, Colin Murphy, Kirill Belousov

Blurb from Netflix: Unbeknownst to five friends who’ve gathered for a New Year’s Eve house party, an epidemic has erupted outside, breeding chaos all over the planet.

Selina’s Point of View:
Cat and I greatly disagree about this film.

First of all, I really believe you shouldn’t watch the trailer for this film. I don’t know which trailer Cat watched, but the one I watched gave away literally everything. Hell, it nearly gave away the main plot point. It was ridiculous and I’m glad I watched it after the film or I would have been pissed.

Secondly, I really enjoyed the film.

Sure, there were some basic tropes that reminded me of the tropes that Cabin in the Woods (2012) made fun of, but they were used surprisingly well. Aside from that the main point of the film and the origin of the “zombies” was relatively unique – or at least under-utilized.

It was definitely a low budget film and the beginning was slow, but I feel like Cody Calahan (Baptized in Blood: Last Line Lady, Antisocial 2, Let Her Out) did a hell of a job with the funds he had to work with. There was some crazy CGI happening and some incredibly realistic sounds accompanying the violence that impressed me a great deal. Not everything was spot on, but when it was good… it was very good.

I enjoyed the majority of the actors, too. Michelle Mylett (Letterkenny, Antisocial 2, Weak Ends) was a wonderful choice for this film. Mylett really embodied her character and made me care.

I had an issue with Cody Ray Thompson (Warrior, Antisocial 2, Clementine). It wasn’t his acting, his acting was fine. However, where Cat watched Antisocial on Sunday morning before news of our latest Hollywood causality, I watched the film later at night. Thompson looks a LOT like Anton Yelchin (Broken Horses, Green Room, Burying the Ex) during many of the scenes.

For those of you who don’t know, Anton Yelchin passed away Sunday. He was 27 years old when a fatal traffic accident took his life. He was one of my favorite young actors. We here at Trust the Dice have always been fans of Yelchin’s. He was amazing in Fright Night (2011), he broke our hearts in Odd Thomas (2013), and he brought to life an amazing reboot of Chekov in the newer Star Trek (2009-2016) series of films. His death was sudden and terribly saddening to us.

Seeing Thompson in this film felt like someone was stabbing me in the chest. He was a fine actor, but his face just looked so much like Yelchin’s. It made me a little queasy. It wasn’t enough to ruin the film for me, and even if it had been, I’d have tried to not let it affect my score.

For those wondering, Yelchin will appear in five films that have either been completed, or were in post-production at the time of his death. In 2016 we will see him in We Don’t Belong Here, Star Trek Beyond, and Porto. In 2017 we’ll see him in Thoroughbred in what may be his final performance. I say “may be” because he has one other film, Rememory, in post-production, but there’s no concrete release date scheduled for it according to IMDB.

Cat’s Point of View:
Yesterday, my “brother” (from another mother) got married to a fabulous gal whom I think the world of. It’s been a whirlwind the last couple of days. My daughter, husband, and I were all in the wedding party. I’ll spare you my gushing about my adorable flower girl, though.

After corsets, lightsaber battles on the dance floor, and an overload of go-go-go; I was actually looking forward to sitting down this morning to unwind while watching this movie. We’re waiting to kick off Father’s Day shenanigans until after my tween regains consciousness. (She’s STILL asleep past the lunch hour, but she needs it!)

That’s probably the most interesting information that I have to share with you today. Sadly, the movie disappointed me.

I think that the concept was interesting. There was such potential for the commentary on social media culture. Alas, the execution of this film failed to even come close to hitting the mark.

I do want to commend whomever put the trailer together for this one. With a movie as lackluster as this one was, I was fully expecting the trailer to give it all away. It actually didn’t. Kudos.

That is unfortunately the last of the good things I have to say about this film. It started out very ‘meh’ for me and then just turned into ‘ugh.’ They borrowed from so many recipes that the Frankenstein’s Monster that they created was just a messy jumble of things that I’ve already seen before – and were done better elsewhere.

Though, I will leave you with a giggle (maybe). Every time I heard the character’s name, Steve; I thought of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009) for absolutely no reason whatsoever (other than the thought of the speech-enabled monkey shouting “STEVE!” was more interesting than this movie).

My mind goes to odd places when I’m bored.

Skip this movie and go find one of the better ones out there with a social media message. Unfriended (2014) has already hit cable movie networks.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 0%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 17%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer: