Thursday, September 22, 2016

Submerged (2015)

Number Rolled: 43
Movie Name/Year: Submerged (2015)
Tagline: You can’t scream and hold your breath at the same time.
Genre: Thriller
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Twisted Pictures
Producer: R. Andru, Kim Bailey, Robert Ogden Barnum, William Clevinger, Cassian Elwes, Cynthia Guidry, Lainie Guidry, Duane Journey, Crad Kaplan, Tiffany Kuzon, Scott Milam, Todd Williams
Director: Steven C. Miller
Writer: Scott Milam
Actors: Jonathan Bennett, Talulah Riley, Rosa Salazar, Samuel Hunt, Cody Christian, Giles Matthey, Denzel Whitaker, Willa Ford, Mario Van Peebles, Tim Daly, Sam Daly, Mario Perez, CJ Stuart, Jesse Cheever, Brian Tyler Cohen, Erica Souza

Blurb from Netflix: When the kidnapping of a controversial corporate figure’s daughter goes awry, her limo careens off a bridge, leaving the survivors trapped underwater.

Selina’s Point of View:
Nothing about this movie impressed me. In fact, it barely kept my attention at all.

To be honest, I didn’t expect much from this film. It’s difficult to make a story like this entertaining – even with flashbacks and twists. It’s possible, just difficult. So whenever we roll a movie with this kind of setting, I’m always skeptical.

Granted, Submerged had a lot more action than I originally expected, and the choreography of the fighting was well done. The actor that played the main character, Jonathan Bennett (Do You Take this Man, Paid in Full, Mining for Ruby), handled his physical scenes really well. In looks, he kind of reminded me of John Barrowman (Arrow, Torchwood, Zero Dark Thirty) at times.

I can’t wait to see Bennett in a good movie.

Aside from the surprising action, the rest of it was incredibly flat and not entertaining at all. The dialog was ridiculous and there was a twist at the end that made no logical sense at all; the plot hole it opened was the size of Jupiter. Millions of people could live on that plot hole and never run into each other. In fact, even if I liked the rest of the film, that ending would have killed it for me.

Twists in films are usually great. The sudden change shocks the viewer and ties the whole story together, when it’s done right. The problem is, you can’t just include a twist in order to include a twist. It’s gotta have a purpose and it’s gotta fit. If the creators of this film had cut about ten minutes earlier and left it open-ended, it would have been a better film.

That’s saying something, because I don’t like open-endings. I much prefer closure.

I won’t be watching Submerged again.

Cat’s Point of View:
This particular result threw me a curve ball. I don’t have a lot of fears that trigger physical reactions. Of course, at the top would be something happening to my child. Aside from that, #1 is of tornadoes. Hard on the heels of that is a fear of a vehicular accident on a bridge resulting in submerging in water.

Bridges make me nervous – we’re not talking about the little ones that are no better than overpasses that go over creeks and such. We’re talking about big ones. The Lake Charles Bridge in South Louisiana freaks me out – it’s a really tall arch. The Lake Pontchartrain and Atchafalaya Swamp Basin bridges are both insanely long and give me the heebie jeebies. This is why I always have a glass-break/seat-belt-cutter in any vehicle I drive.

Last spring, the alternator in my SUV died while going up the incline of a bridge…in the rain. I nearly lost my mind. We weren’t even over the water there. Worries of the vehicle getting skewered on trees or going upside down on the big rocks below weren’t much better. My husband was my hero and kept us from getting hit until a police officer and a tow arrived.

Needless to say, the theme of this particular movie was rather problematic. I pushed through, though, and tried not to let my visceral reaction color my interpretation of the film.

I wasn’t able to revisit the movie and write my review right away, though – I had to give it a few hours for my pulse to calm down and for the nervous energy that lingered afterwards to fade away.

On to the show

I enjoyed the framework for this movie. You start out having absolutely no idea how things have happened, and as things progress you begin to see the story unfold. The structure they chose actually helped me cope with this particular trigger factor more effectively.

The film addresses the different ways that people respond to a crisis rather well. I can’t think of a single negative critique for any of the primary cast members.  For a little bit I thought that Jonathan Bennett (Music High, The Secret Village, Awkward) was stiff; but then I realized that it was part of his character. He has an excellent ‘thousand-yard-stare’ and the rest was a rather realistic reaction to the particular situation he found himself in.

I was surprised to find Mario Van Peebles (Damages, Tied to a Chair, Red Sky) in this movie. I haven’t seen his more recent works, but he’ll always be my Sonny Spoon (1988). 

I will not be watching this movie ever again – but that’s only because of my own issues and not the film, itself. I would recommend it for anyone without a phobia that enjoys a good thriller.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 29%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 16%

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

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

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer: This trailer is the exact kind of trailer that exists to remind you not to watch one before the movie. THIS TRAILER CONTAINS SPOILERS. WATCH AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.

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: