Friday, March 16, 2018

Trolls (2016)

Number Rolled: 65
Movie Name/Year: Trolls (2016)
Tagline: Find your happy place.
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: DreamWorks Animation
Producer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Holly Edwards, Dannie Festa, Gina Shay
Director: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Erica Rivinoja, Thomas Dam
Actors: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, John Cleese, James Corden, Jeffrey Tambor, Ron Funches, Grace Helbig

Blurb from Netflix: When their fellow Trolls are captured by hungry Bergens, upbeat Princess Poppy and her grouchy pal Branch embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Selina’s Point of View:
At first, I thought this was just a film that didn’t have much to offer adults but would be cute for kids. The beginning had a lot of singing and bright colors. It wasn’t all that interesting, but it was geared toward the younger kids, so it didn’t have to be interesting to me. I mean, if a film is made to keep kids relaxed and entertained – there’s nothing wrong with that.

As I continued watching, though, it got super creepy.

Clearly, I don’t mean anything like American Horror Story (2011-)… I don’t mean horror-esk. I mean creepy like, a clown with a dirty white windowless van.

The creepy parts didn’t last long, but it was enough for me to side-eye the film and wonder who green lit that part of the story – or at least the visualization of it. It’s not even stuff that should alter the MPAA rating, either. It’s just… not the kind of thing one would want to see in a movie geared toward little kids. At least, in my opinion.

Without giving out spoilers, it’s kind of hard to explain, but the feeling is what was important.

The ending was better than the rest of the film… but even that didn’t really save it for me.

Cat’s Point of View:
There’s a lot of nostalgia going around this week. 

I’ll be honest, though, and admit that while I remember the crazy-haired troll toys from the 80’s and such, I was never the biggest fan. I don’t know why. The little ugly yet adorable critters just didn’t do it for me. As you can imagine, when Trolls was released, I wasn’t exactly doing cartwheels on my way to watch it. My daughter, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to see the movie.

At this point, she’s already watched this film two or three times, and opted not to watch it with me this time. Even so, it’s earned her decided stamp of approval.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this movie. No matter how much I was inclined to emulate the blue pessimist troll named Branch, Trolls sang and danced its way into my heart.

There’s great messages underlying all the crazy hair shenanigans. Namely, you don’t need an external source to be happy – it comes from within.

The tunes are catchy, and overall Trolls offers a good time that resonates with all ages. It won me over and I wouldn’t have any problems recommending the movie. In fact, with Easter approaching, the bright colors fit right in!

Speech Available: English, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 73%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 68%
Metascore – 56/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.0/10
IMDB Score – 6.5/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4/5

P.S. There’s a short mid-credit scene.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

47 Meters Down (2016)

Number Rolled: 84
Movie Name/Year: 47 Meters Down (2016)
Tagline: No Help. No Hope. No Escape.
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Horror, Thriller
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: thefyzz, Tea Shop & Film Company, Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, Dimension Films, Altitude Film Sales, Dragon Root Securities, Flexibon Films, Lantica Media
Producer: Iain Abrahams, Byron Allen, Mark Borde, Andrew Boucher, Alastair Burlingham, Chris Charalambous, Cion, Will Clarke, David Dennehy, Mark DeVitre, Carolyn Folks, Catherine Freeman, David Gilbery, Kate Glover, Wayne Marc Godfrey, James Harris, Patricia Hatcher, Robert Jones, Mark Lane, Arnaud Lannic, Christophe Lannic, Keith Levine, Julian Levy, Simon Lewis, Paul Lisberg, Jennifer Lucas, Alex Mandell, Norman Mandell, Andy Mayson, Duncan McWilliam, Jasmin Morrison, Caroline Risberg, Mike Runagall, Matthew Signer, Lee Stone, Lee Vandermolen, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Director: Johannes Roberts
Writer: Johannes Roberts, Ernest Riera
Actors: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Chris Johnson, Yani Gellman, Santiago Segura, Matthew Modine
Stunt Doubles: Zoe Masters, Elspeth Rodgers, Jenny Stock

Blurb from Netflix: With little oxygen left in their scuba tanks, two sisters are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean while great whites circle nearby.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have two separate opinions of this film, which kind of annoys me. If I watch a movie, I prefer to either like or dislike it. I’ll even take complete apathy over two separate, and completely opposite, perceptions.

I’ll start with dislike.

The first half-hour or so was one of the dumbest films I’ve ever seen.

Now, I’m well aware that most films take a little while to wind up and set the story parameters for the audience. As viewers, we need to understand the relationships and world being portrayed in the film. I not only understand that, I expect it. I’m not upset that there was exposition. I’m upset that there was dumb exposition.

It felt like the writer had an idea and had no idea how to set it up. Instead of writing something worthwhile, they wrote some tropes on a dart board and took a shot. That must be how we got the first 30 minutes of this film. It was a hot mess.

I also had some trouble, overall, getting attached to any of the characters. None of them had any substance. You had the mousey overly-whiney, heartbroken girl alongside the wild friend/sister type and a few unmemorable hot vacation guys. I couldn’t have cared less about any of them.

If the characters were just a touch more interesting and the setup of the story didn’t just follow the least common denominator, I would have liked the film a lot more.

Moving on to what I did like.

There were aspects of dialog in the second part of the film that weren’t the best in the world, but the story wasn’t bad. I especially enjoyed the ending more than I thought I would. I, unfortunately, can’t get specific without blowing up spoilers… but the big ‘thriller’ aspects were very interesting to watch.

It wasn’t terrible, but mediocre is the best I’d give it.

Cat’s Point of View:
June 2017 was an outstanding month for movies. If you haven’t guessed, it’s the month 47 Meters Down hit US theaters. It had some stiff competition vying for audience attention. Both Selina and I have this film listed in our top 10 out of June’s Top 20 list. (Her placement was #7, while mine was #10. I wish it’d been higher, in hindsight.)

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – I’m a sucker for shark movies. When you add that factor with the talents of Mandy Moore (Hotel Noir, TRON: Uprising, Red Band Society) and Claire Holt (Blue Like Jazz, Aquarius, The Divorce Party), the result is a can’t-miss film.

The whole concept gives me the heebie-jeebies. My long-standing fascination with the fierce and toothy aquatic predators is not nearly enough incentive to get me into a shark cage. They say ‘never say never,’ but I am fairly confident that I’m not pushing my luck by saying I will NEVER be participating in a shark-cage dive. EVER. This nightmare scenario is one of the many reasons ‘I just can’t even.’

All that being said, this movie was decidedly a treat.

I enjoyed the sisters’ story in spite of the fact that it’s not the most original. However, the film dives into fresh and original territory when you hit the water.

My heart was pounding when the credits rolled. Johannes Roberts (Storage 24, The Other Side of the Door, The Strangers: Prey at Night) did an excellent job in building tension and playing with the giving and taking away of hope. I didn’t care whether or not aspects of the movie were scientifically accurate – I was trapped on the sea floor with the sisters, and full of dread that monsters were lurking in the darkness nearby. It was haunting, and the feeling will likely stick with me for a while.

IMDb shows a listing for a sequel set to release in June 2018, currently titled 48 Meters Down, currently in pre-production. Roberts is set to direct this next installment, as well. The blurb indicates that it will focus on a group of cave divers, rather than revisit anyone from this story. I can’t wait to see it, and hope that it lives up to the precedent set by this movie.

In spite of the willies that the scenario in this film causes, I would gladly watch it again and recommend it to anyone who enjoys the shark genre.

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 55%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 36%
Metascore - 52/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.9/10
IMDB Score – 5.7/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)

Number Rolled: 51
Movie Name/Year: Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)
Tagline: A whole new world awaits.
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Columbia Pictures, Kerner Entertainment Company, LStar Capital, Sony Pictures Animation, Wanda Pictures
Producer: Mary Ellen Bauder, Véronique Culliford, Raja Gosnell, Ben Haber, Jordan Kerner, Mandy Tankenson, Ben Waisbren
Director: Kelly Asbury
Writer: Stacey Harman, Pamela Ribon, Peyo
Actors: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Mandy Patinkin, Dee Bradley Baker, Frank Welker, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Julia Roberts, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Bret Marnell, Kelly Asbury, Jake Johnson, Gabriel Iglesias, Tituss Burgess, Jeff Dunham, Gordon Ramsey

Blurb from Netflix: Smurfette and best pals Brainy, Clumsy, and Hefty journey deep into the Forbidden Forest to save a mysterious lost village from evil wizard Gargamel.

Selina’s Point of View:
Back when I was young, I used to love The Smurfs (1981-1990). I even had a tape of The Smurfs and the Magic Flute (1976) that I watched until it degraded.

For all you youngsters out there, VHS tapes used to degrade over time or with a lot of use. That means the more you liked a film, and watched it, the quicker you’d have to go out and get another copy. Now you come at me with your DVDs and Blue Rays and digital files…

Get off my lawn.

Back to my point, though.

I used to love The Smurfs, but I wasn’t fond of this rendition.

The animation itself was fine, so was the story… I just felt like it was badly executed. There was even a really great message for kids… but it was hidden way at the very end without any way for a young child to make that leap themselves. I don’t know if you’ve ever sat and watched a movie with a five-year-old, but they don’t usually have the focus to wait for a message that comes way at the end of an hour and a half film. There’s got to be little messages between the beginning and the end to bring them there.

When it comes to adults… I still don’t really recommend it.

The ending, with the message and the epic climax… was great. The rest of the film was bordering on torture-by-boredom. All the smurfs were giving mercilessly annoying characterizations – except maybe Papa Smurf and Smurfette – so I couldn’t even revel in the cuteness of things.

As reboots go, this will never be thought of as a favorite for me – or even good. That disappoints me. I was looking forward to a nice nostalgic story that I could share with my daughter when she’s a little older. This was not that.

Cat’s Point of View:
The Smurfs (1981-1990) was a staple of my childhood. My love of the series even helped my cousin win a GI Joe aircraft carrier from a TV contest when we were in 3rd grade. That monster play set was bigger than us and amazing – but I digress.

I was over the moon when my daughter enjoyed watching the classic cartoon series.

There are some mixed feelings about the recent two live-action adaptations for this beloved franchise. The movies possessed elements I both liked and disliked. When news of the latest attempt by Hollywood to resurrect this franchise began to circulate, I became cautiously optimistic. With the cast they had lined up, it was certainly worth a shot. Even better, it was getting a fully animated treatment.

Smurfs: The Lost Village landed at #17 on my Top 20 for April 2017 for those very reasons.

Fast forward to now.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this film. I almost felt like I was taking a small trip back in time with the warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings. My daughter got a kick out of watching, as well; and we both giggled over hearing Gordon Ramsay (Kitchen Nightmares, Masterchef, Burnt) as Baker Smurf. (We like watching his cooking shows together.)

There were so many recognizable and incredible voices that added depth to the experience of this animated movie.

I’m not sure how canonical the story is regarding “The Lost Village,” but the details that brought the new world to life were simply smurftacular. Not only does this new chapter in the saga of the little blue mushroom-dwelling people take us into uncharted territory, it opens a fresh world of wonder full of magic and color. The new creatures, settings, and characters were a good fit.

I honestly wouldn’t mind watching this one again.

Speech Available: English, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 37%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 55%
Metascore - 40/100
Metacritic User Score –5.6/10
IMDB Score – 5.9/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

Movie Trailer: