Thursday, October 13, 2016

JeruZalem (2016)

Number Rolled: 89
Movie Name/Year: JeruZalem (2016)
Tagline: On Judgement Day, hell shall inherit the Earth.
Genre: Horror
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Mifal Hapais, Epic Pictures Group, Paz Films
Producer: Shaked Berenson, Patrick Ewald, Uri Levanon, Rotem Levim, Nir Miretzky, Doron Paz, Yoav Paz, Borid Zeleny
Director: Doron Paz, Yoav Paz
Writer: Doron Paz, Yoav Paz
Actors: Yael Grobglas, Yon Tumarkin, Danielle Jadelyn, Tom Graziani, Howard Rypp, Yoav Koresh, Ori Zaltzman, Fares Hananya, Itsko Yampulski, Danny Zahavi

Blurb from Netflix: Two vacationing Americans join and anthropology student on a tour of Jerusalem, arriving just as a terrifying biblical apocalypse begins to unfold.

Selina’s Point of View:
When this movie came out it absolutely made my list of what to look out for that month. Despite the shaky cam in the trailer, it looked like a solid zombie flick.

We added it to our queue as soon as it hit Netflix and I’m thrilled that it didn’t take forever to roll it. There are movies on our list that I’ve been dying to see for ages. Some are even from before Cat joined Trust the Dice. I’ll eventually break down and watch a few of them even if they aren’t rolled, but I like to keep myself ready for a first impression in case it comes up for the blog.

Anyway, now that I’ve completely gone off track, let’s get back to the subject at hand.

I liked the use of the ‘google glass’ model in this film. Instead of a person having their phone, or camcorder, glued to their hand… it was a pair of prescription google glasses that was doing the recording. That kind of thing was bound to be used in a movie eventually. It makes more sense than a freaked out and screaming person remembering to pick up their camera. Prescription glasses are necessary, putting them on is like muscle memory. Even scared out of my mind, I’d still reach for my glasses if I wasn’t wearing them.

Right there, the movie made more sense than I had even hoped.

We all know, by now, that I am not the biggest fan of shaky cam. It makes me dizzy. I don’t even like first person perspective in video games – though there are a few exceptions.

(Despite the terrible reviews, I’ve been spending a lot of time playing No Man’s Sky [2016]. The bad reviews were well earned because they promised shit they didn’t deliver on and then cut all communication with the gaming community. Still, I love the stupid game.)

In this film, the first person perspective shaky cam was actually the right call. I think the entire plot would have lost a lot of its appeal and horror if we got it in general movie format. The shaky perspective gave the film a unique quality that heightened every jump scare.

I think it would have made a phenomenal video game. There were moments that felt more like cut scenes than actual movie scenes. Personally, that doesn’t bother me. I’m a gamer from back in the day when the heart of the storyline was told in the cut scenes that followed the boss battles. Nothing wrong with that kind of thing.

The only real issue I had with the film was the acting.

In a normal movie it’s not unforgivable to be able to tell the actors are acting. You go into the film knowing it. The thing with any kind of found footage/shaky cam is that everything the actors do needs to look 100% candid and natural. It can’t look, or sound, scripted. If the actors fail at that, it takes away the heart of what shaky cam is used for – to give it that ‘true story’ feel.

The only actor that accomplished that necessary natural feel, was Tom Graziani (Tyrant, A Place in Heaven). Unfortunately, he didn’t play a main character. There’s an issue when the only actor that pulled off the feel that the movie needed to pull off… was a supporting background character.

Tom Graziani
Despite the acting issue, I did greatly enjoy the story. Some of the graphics and the creatures looked rough, but other graphics and creatures looked really well done. There was a bit of a balance there. None of the rough edges of the less necessary graphics really pulled me out of it, though, so it wasn’t a big deal.

If pressed I’d say JeruZalem was kind of a cross between The Blair Witch Project (1999) and World War Z (2013).

It was a decent film. I’d watch it again.

Cat’s Point of View:
I remember being a bit intrigued by the trailer for this movie prior to its release back in January of this year. While it made Selina’s top 20 list, it didn’t rank on mine. I don’t remember why, to be honest. I do recall that I wasn’t entirely sold on the “Z” in JeruZalem being all about zombies.

What happens in this movie isn’t your typical hordes of shamblers scenario. While it does follow some of the zombie outbreak recipe, it gives a bit of a new twist to it. There was actually a subtle plot in the subtext that gave me chills.

The movie was a bit of a slow starter. I appreciated the character development and the care that was taken in setting up the premise for how the American girls ended up where they did. Unfortunately, that meant that the real action didn’t happen until late in the movie. The bright side to that, though, was that when things hit ludicrous speed; it didn’t feel rushed.

I found the international cast interesting and compelling in their roles. Most of them are relative unknowns – especially stateside. One of the female leads, however, has broken in to the US television scene. Yael Grobglas (The Island, Rabies, Reign) was that singular familiar face for me.

Yael Grobglas
The one thing that kept this movie from having a higher score is the shaky-cam. I appreciate what the film was doing with the first-person perspective – it was just sometimes a bit much. If I were one to get motion sickness from such things, I might’ve been having a real problem. As it was, I felt a bit dizzy at points. This was my main concern that held me back from seeing Hardcore Henry (2015) in the theater. The first-person perspective with that much action going on? Bring on the barf bags.

All told, this was a surprisingly good movie and I wouldn’t have any reservation in recommending it for anyone that can stomach all the shaking.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 57%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 59%

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 Score3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction (2014)

Number Rolled: 59
Movie Name/Year: Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction (2014)
Tagline: When destruction rises, can life prevail?
Genre: Anime, Fantasy, Family
Length: 76 minutes
Rating: G
Production Companies: East Japan Marketing & Communications Inc., GAME FREAK, Oriental Light and Magic, Pikachu Project, Production I.G., Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, TV Tokyo, Taka Tomy
Producer: Kenichi Arai, Mitomu Asai, Ryo Fujita, Susumu Fukunaga, Nobuyuki Hosoya, Junya Ishmoto, Yasuteru Kamei, Yukio Kawasaki, Toshio Miyagawa, Takemoto Mori, Takuro Muratsubaki, Jun’ya Okamoto, Kanji Okubo, Satoshi Shimodaira, Katsuhito Yamauchi, Toshifumi Yoshida, Masanori Yumiya
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Writer: Hideki Sonoda, Satoshi Tajiri, Junichi Masuda, Ken Sugimori
Actors: Ikue Otani, Sarah Natochenny, Haven Paschall, Mike Liscio, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Caitlin Glass, Aliver Wyman, Brittney Lee Hamilton, Lianna Marie Dobbs, Marc Thompson, Michele Knotz, James Carter Cathcart, Rodger Parsons

Blurb from Netflix: A princess calls upon Ash and his friends to help her find the energy-giving Heart Diamond, save her domain from its enemies and restore her kingdom.

Selina’s Point of View:
When the original Pokémon came out I was super on board. I played the games and watched the TV show/movies – though I never did pick up an interest in the trading card game. I always prefered the complexities of Magic: the Gathering.

Back then, I learned the first 151 Pokémon rather quickly and always played along with that silhouette game during commercial breaks.

Even now, at over thirty, I’m still into Pokémon. I play Pokémon Go pretty often. (There is no shelter from the storm! TEAM INSTINCT!) However, I did stop keeping up with the cartoon many, many years ago. As a result, I ONLY know the first 151 Pokémon – with a very minor sprinkling of the next generation. Very small. Like, maybe four or five not included in the first gen.

Anyway, when this movie came up I was really interested in seeing where Pokémon went after I stopped watching.

First thought I had was that I 100% prefer Brock and Misty to the sidekicks Ash has in this film. Of course, that could just be because I connected with them more. I also had some issue getting behind the thing where some Pokémon talk. That was reserved for Meowth and Mewtwo when I was watching. That made it difficult for me to connect to Diancie. It’s a stupid and minor thing, but I’m old and crotchety and I like my Pokémon to say their own name god damn it.

There really was nothing wrong with this film. It tugged at the right heart strings, it had the kind of action that kids love and that adults can tolerate without needing a glass of wine to get through it. I just felt such a disconnect from the newer Pokémon and the newer villains, that I had a hard time seeing it as anything but a general offering of nostalgia.

Credit to: FireXtremeID
Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve watched a few episodes of the TV series with my daughter; but this was my first Pokémon movie. Of course, my kiddo had already seen this movie and it was quite a feat to prevent her from bombarding me with spoilers. She was excited that I’d be watching this – even if she wasn’t up for watching the whole thing again with me.

The Pokémon Go game has become a staple in our household. We’re enjoying getting out and interacting with other players as we hunt down these critters and get a bit of exercise in the process. Because of this, I think I got an extra level of enjoyment out of the film because I was able to pick out the Pokémon that I was familiar with on the screen. There were many involved in the movie that aren’t in the game, though. (I’m hoping that changes. I want a couple of the adversary Pokémon, darn it.)

Before I chase that wild Pikachu down a random alley, though, I’ll get back to the movie.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I tend to get a little bored during the cartoon series.  I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t happen with the movie. Sure, it wasn’t the most sophisticated thing I’ve ever seen – but it’s aimed at younger kids. There are good messages here about friendship, perseverance, and self-confidence.

Fans of the Pokémon experience – whether the card games, video games, television shows, or mobile app – will likely really enjoy this movie and feel more of an emotional connection with it. For those that are unfamiliar with Pokémon, fear not. The movie gives enough information as it goes so that the viewer won’t get entirely lost.

This is definitely a good recommendation for a fun family movie that’s not all fluff.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 64%

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

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

P.S. Scenes during the credits. They are epilogue-esk.

Movie Trailer: