Thursday, November 15, 2018

Black Road (2016)

Number Rolled: 68
Movie Name/Year: Black Road (2016)
Tagline: Don't ride into the darkness alone.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Joma Films
Producer: Ginny Auer, Henry Bataille, Karen Carnival, Laurel Dryland, Mike DuBose, Jack Gibbs, Jennifer Gibbs, Dana Greaves, Troy Hemmerling, Kathleen Heritage, Marcus Heritage, Jim Jones, Gary Kout, Catherine Lassesen, Anne Lundgren, Robert MacLellan, Norman Malmberg, Jack Montague, Luis Rodriguez, Christine Sheaks, Amy Van Nostrand, Geoff Whitman, Todd Wilson
Director: Gary Lundgren
Writer: Gary Lundgren
Actors: Andrew Wilson, Leilani Sarelle, Sam Daly, Michelle Lombardo, Simon Templeman, Dan Donohue, Mike Estes, Douglas Rowe, Danforth Comins, Kenajuan Bentley, Kevin Kenerly, Bekah Grace, Jason R. Couch, Flannery Lundgren, Michael Hovermale

Blurb from Netflix: In a rustic, destitute Pacific Northwest free of government, a cybernetically enhanced drifter tries to protect a woman from her menacing husband.

Selina’s Point of View:
I did not like this.

A friend of mine is super into cyberpunk and it’s caused me to look a little harder at the genre, and I find that I enjoy a lot of the settings more than I thought I did. With my new perspective I was really looking forward to seeing an indie cyberpunk kind of film. Unfortunately, it just didn’t give me much that was worth it.

It felt like there were multiple stories being told and they didn’t really work together. It was a mashup of various tropes from other genres jammed into a vaguely cyberpunk setting. Some of the plots don’t even have closure by the end of the film. It’s like the writer started to tell a story then opted not to.

On top of that? NONE of the characters were even mildly likable. It was rough to side with anyone – even the main character – because they were just so agitating.

I was insanely bored throughout the majority of it.

Even for hardcore fans of the genre, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Cat’s Point of View:
This wasn't your average dystopian future sci-fi flick. I definitely have to give it credit for that. It looks pretty shiny as an independent film. For the majority of the movie, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference from a higher budget production.

It didn't need flashy effects or A-listers to paint a clear picture of this version of the future.

Here's a bit of trivia for you -- the State of Jefferson is actually something that could potentially become a reality in the future; if the residents of Northern California and Southern Oregon have anything to say about it. There is an actual movement to make that happen. Of course, what the sources I've read so far have mentioned is essentially forming a new state within the US, rather than the full-scale secession that is mentioned in the movie's setting preamble.

Most of the tech shown throughout the film feels entirely plausible. We're really on the cusp of a lot of it already - such as the biometric thumbprint scanners for ID. I know I used to have a fingerprint lock enabled on one of my prior cell phones. (Until I realized how hard it would be for someone to get to my contact information in the event of a medical emergency - but that's a tale for another time.)

This film succeeded in creating a believable atmosphere and framework for the story. I was buying most of what they were selling. I could even see shades of cyberpunk here and there. For the most part, the performances were also on point. There was a little bit of over-the-top here and there, but nothing egregious. It certainly wasn't trying to sell a load of camp as something more. The movie was successful at being actually serious.

While I'm still left with a few questions about a few of the plot points in general; overall, I really appreciated the way that things played out.

I'm not sure if this movie would be everyone's cup of tea, but I know I wouldn't mind watching it again.

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

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 24%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 3.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, November 12, 2018

Despicable Me 3 (2017)

Number Rolled: 90
Movie Name/Year: Despicable Me 3 (2017)
Tagline: Oh brother.
Genre: Family, Action, Adventure
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Illumination Entertainment, Universal Pictures
Producer: Janet Healy, Brett Hoffman, Christopher Meledandri, Chris Renaud, Robert Taylor
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon
Writer: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Actors: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Pierre Coffin, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, Jenny Slate, Michael Beattie, Andy Nyman, Adrian Ciscato, Brian T. Delaney, Tara Strong

Blurb from Netflix: After failing to arrest an ‘80s child star turned supervillain, Gru loses his job but gains a family member when he learns he’s got a long-lost twin.

Selina’s Point of View:
I greatly enjoyed Despicable Me (2010) and the sequels that followed. There’s undeniably things wrong with each film, but I don’t think any of it is really that big a deal.

I’m of the mindset that this film is for kids. It’s supposed to feel immature to adults. There’s bound to be fart jokes and heavy-handed messages for the children watching. If you go into this movie expecting anything less than that, then you’re simply going into it wrong. You have to go into it with your inner child peeking out.

By the minions alone you should be able to identify what you can hope for from any Despicable Me film. They’re adorable yellow alien-like creatures that speak in waves of nonsense and are obsessed with the bananas they kind of look like. They are walking, babbling, incarnations of nonsense. If that’s not something that speaks to your sense of humor, then the whole film isn’t going to be for you.

Now, Despicable Me 3 did suffer from a minor case of sequelitis. It’s not nearly as good as the first or second films. It’s not even as good as the spin-off… but it’s still a cute watch.

For kids, the movie is going to be fine. Adults may find the new characters incredibly annoying and difficult to care about. It’s unfortunate, because I thought the creators did a decent job on the second film in the series.

Would I recommend it? Not on its own. However, if you’ve got kids or you’re a big fan of the series, sure. Why not?

Cat’s Point of View:
I just absolutely adore these movies. The Despicable Me franchise is definitely something that appeals to all ages for a broad spectrum of reasons. While the toy market is inundated with related merchandise, it’s safe to say that these films have a solid fan base with older audiences as well (as long as you don't try to take them too seriously). This is generally reinforced by the fact that the movies have begun to drift into the PG territory a little more solidly.

I don’t think that there were quite as many overt scenes that stood out with this movie as opposed to Minions (2015), but the more mature rating was definitely validly warranted. That being said, it wasn’t all naked minions and fart jokes. I love that these movies explore some much deeper stuff under the veneer of the comedy. The minion-centric films are quite adept at the sleight of hand – misdirecting us with the laughing as they slip in some feels with lessons about family and the grey areas in life, etc.

Gru makes for such an interesting take on the anti-hero. I really enjoyed that they explored his story a little more in this film – and in the process created a bit of a yin-yang type balance with the introduction of Dru. Steve Carell (Evan Almighty, Foxcatcher, Battle of the Sexes) delivered double the funny and double the feels in voicing both of those roles.

I couldn’t help but inwardly squee a bit (just about as much as I was cringing) about the super-villain featured in this third installment. I am very much an 80’s baby, and this Bratt character certainly embodied quite a bit of what was either iconic or just plain silly about that decade.

There are also quite a few Easter eggs to enjoy, as usual. From nods to other Illumination movies to cameos from Knight Rider’s (1982-1986) K.I.T.T.; there’s no shortage of such sightings, if you’re fast enough to catch them.

All told, this was a solid sequel in the series; offering something fresh while holding true to the core bits of what endears these characters to us dating back to the first movie. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of the franchise. If you haven’t seen Despicable Me 2 (2013), though, you might want to watch that one first to really understand what’s going on here. 

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 59%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 54%
Metascore - 49/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.6/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Movie Trailer: