Friday, February 22, 2019

Polar (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Polar (2019)
Tagline: If the Job doesn't kill you, Retirement will.
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Length: 118 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Netflix, Constantin Film, Dark Horse Entertainment
Producers: Jeremy Bolt, Keith Goldberg, Hartley Gorenstein, Robert Kulzer, Mads Mikkelsen, Martin Moszkowicz, Benjamin Munz, Mike Richardson, Bianca Salvatori, Bernhard Thür, Chris Tongue
Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Writers: Jayson Rothwell, Víctor Santos
Actors: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Matt Lucas, Ruby O. Fee, Robert Maillet, Fei Ren, Inga Cadranel, Josh Cruddas, Anthony Grant, Anastasia Marinina

Blurb from Netflix: An assassin on the verge of retirement must put the good life on hold when his greedy boss sends a squad of young, ruthless killers to take him out.

Cat’s Point of View:
Polar was quite the visceral trip. It was unabashedly graphic in its sex and violence. To put it simply, it was bloody fantastic – literally so.

I have to say, I have a new movie to add to my list of favorites. Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Valhalla Rising, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) actually blew me away in this role. Puns aside, I knew he was a solid and skilled actor before, but this brings my respect to a whole new level. I now understand why the internet has been clamoring for Mikkelsen to be the lead in the upcoming Witcher series based on the popular video games. Alas, he was not cast in that role – but I’m still looking forward to its Netflix release. I digress.

I think I did a bit of a double-take when I realized Duncan Vizla’s temperamental “boss” was played by Matt Lucas (Bridesmaids, Alice Through the Looking Glass, How to Talk to Girls at Parties). It was a bit of a departure to see him in this sort of role, as the previous productions I’d seen him in were considerably more subdued – such as his role on Doctor Who (2005-).

This also seemed like a welcome departure from the typical roles you’d expect to see Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Spring Breakers, Machete Kills) in. She really embraced the emotional vulnerability of her character.

When I first heard of Polar releasing as a Netflix Original, I hadn’t been aware of the Dark Horse Comics web-series and graphic novels by Victor Santos. There seem to be three story arcs in this series, and this film encapsulates the first. It is unclear at this time whether or not they will be attempting to bring the other ‘seasons’ of the graphic novel to life; but it has been announced that a fourth installment to the comic is forthcoming in April 2019.

Getting back to the movie at hand, though, I can confidently say that I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good action-thriller. The fight choreography here is just absolutely bananas. Just keep in mind that the movie has earned every bit of its TV-MA rating, and then some. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 26%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 73%
Metascore - 19/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5

Movie Trailer:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

IO (2019)

Movie Name/Year: IO (2019)
Tagline: In the near future we must save Earth, or leave it.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Drama, Romance
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Baked Studios, Mandalay Pictures, Sunset Junction Entertainment, Untitled Entertainment, Netflix
Producer: Will Basanta, Jason Michael Berman, Caroline Connor, François Enginger, Thomas B. Fore, Dave Hansen, Amy Jarvela, Clay Jeter, Ryan Andrej Lough, Johnny Mac, Anthony Mackie, Mark Moran, Alain Peyrollaz, Patrick Raymond, Will Raynor, Laura Rister, Victor Shapiro, Charles Spano, Jason Spire, Raphael Swann, Jeremy Kipp Walker
Director: Jonathan Helpert
Writer: Clay Jeter, Charles Spano, Will Basanta
Actors: Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, Danny Huston, Tom Payne, Emma Fitzgerald, Justin Jamieson, Teagan Johnson

Blurb from Netflix: As a young scientist searches for a way to save a dying Earth, she finds a connection with a man who’s racing to catch the last shuttle off the planet.

Selina’s Point of View:
I wanted to like IO but it was just so long and boring.

The thing is, IO is only about an hour and a half. That’s pretty well normal for most films and a little on the short side for something sci-fi. Still, it felt like it was four hours long. I almost had trouble concentrating on it near the end.

As far as the quality goes, it wasn’t technically bad. If you’re really into a slow kind of drama, you might see some good in this movie. Unfortunately, that’s is my least favorite kind of film.

From my personal perspective, I feel like the actors were way too good for this. With the talent Netflix had involved in IO, they could have gotten away with a much more daring and unpredictable script.

I’m disappointed and more tired than I was when I started watching.

You really need to be in it for the snail-paced drama, or you’re going to feel more ‘meh’ than anything, in the end.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was initially intrigued by this movie. With all of the environmental protections that have been rolled back by the current administration, here in the US; as well as other concerns such as global warming, productions such as this one don’t take too much suspension of disbelief.

Usually, anyway. This one took a little more effort than I would have liked.

This wasn’t my first watch-through. I’d caved to curiosity not too long after Netflix released it. I was underwhelmed. When the movie had its lucky number rolled for our viewing schedule, I thought that surely I might feel differently after giving it a second chance. I was pretty convinced that I must’ve had a narcoleptic snooze during my first watch-through, or simply that my own exhaustion had colored my interpretation of the film. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

I couldn’t find anything really lacking in the production quality. The acting wasn’t at fault, either – even though the cast didn’t have a lot to work with. Quite a few of the interactions between characters felt awkward – but that wasn’t really their fault. It was all just…strange.

The whole thing was just slow and ponderous. It felt like I was sitting in a skewed science lecture with a minor sprinkling of art and literature. I guess there wasn’t enough fiction in this one for me.

I guess I was hoping there would be more to do with the film’s namesake. Alas, without giving spoilers, I can’t quite explain the extent of my hopes for the film and thereby the depth of my disappointment. Sufficed to say, I think that they really squandered an opportunity here to do something cool.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 33%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore - 40/100
Metacritic User Score – 3.3/10
IMDB Score – 4.7/10

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

Movie Trailer: