Friday, March 22, 2019

The Hurricane Heist (2018)

Movie Name/Year: The Hurricane Heist (2018)
Tagline: The ultimate storm for the perfect heist.
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Length: 102 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Foresight Unlimited, Signature Pictures, RSVP Entertainment, Windfall Productions, Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology, Lipsync Productions, Double Negative (DNEG), Dream Team Films, Parkside Pictures, Tadross Media Group
Producer: Byron Allen, Karen Elise Baldwin, Marina Bespalov, Sergei Bespalov, Tamara Birkemoe, Mark Borde, Alastair Burlingham, Chris Charalambous, Rob Cohen, Chris Conover, Mark Damon, Carlos Davis, Mark DeVitre, Moshe Diamant, Charlie Dombek, Sufo Evtimov, Anthony Fingleton, Carolyn Folks, Gregory Gavanski, Gabriel Georgiev, Allie Greenleaf Maldonado, Peter Hampden, Eric Harbert, Terence Hill, Phil Hunt, William J. Immerman, Jennifer Lucas, Namit Malhotra, Bernard Mazauric, Norman Merry, Christopher Milburn, Compton Ross, Danny Roth, Nick Ruta, Jenna Sanz-Agero, Michael Tadross Jr., Angela Taylor, Damiano Tucci
Director: Rob Cohen
Writer: Scott Windhauser, Jeff Dixon, Anthony Fingleton, Carlos Davis
Actors: Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, Ryan Kwanten, Ralph Ineson, Melissa Bolona, Ben Cross, Jamie Andrew Cutler, Christian Contreras, Jimmy Walker, Ed Birch, Moyo Akandé, James Barriscale, Erik Rondell, Mark Basnight, Keith D. Evans, Mark Rhino Smith, Brooke Johnston, Patrick McAuley, Leonardo Dickens, Stuart McQuarrie, Natacha Karam, J.R. Esposito, Steven Baduske

Blurb from Netflix: A deadly hurricane with mile-high waves provides the perfect cover for stealing $600 million from a U.S. Treasury outpost in Mississippi.

Selina’s Point of View:
When this film was on my Top 20 list, in March of 2018, I mentioned how interested I was in the mish-mash of genres. I acknowledged that there was no way to tell how it would work out without seeing it, and I laid out why I thought it was a dark horse that deserved to come in at number 5 that month.

There were some decent people involved in this project. Rob Cohen (Alex Cross, DragonHeart, The Skulls), the director, is known for some widely loved films in the action genre – such as The Fast and the Furious (2001) and xXx (2002). With him directing talented people such as Maggie Grace (Lost, Fear the Walking Dead, Aftermath) and Ryan Kwanten (Who Gets the Dog?, True Blood, Knights of Badassdom), I felt it was safe to get some high hopes.

That said, it was also written by four people of varying quality. We all know what a bad script can do to an otherwise good movie.

So, I had faith, but I wouldn’t have been completely surprised if I was let down.

I am happy to say that I rather enjoyed it.

The mash-up of genres really worked. Although the action part of the story was a basic recipe, the addition of the disaster arc flipped a few switches that made it feel new – or even had it flowing better than normal. For instance, without offering spoilers, people always have a problem with the fact that high-speed chases in films rarely run into pedestrian issues. Well, that’s not a problem to explain in a town that’s undergone a mandatory evacuation during a hurricane.

Sure, other issues did arise, and there were a few problems I had with the script – but it was all minor. You never really expect a film to get every science fact correct and there are plenty other writers that feel they need to beat the audience over the head with a reference in the fear that they won’t get it.

All-in-all, The Hurricane Heist wasn’t life-changing, but it was a good solid action flick. I’d definitely recommend it.

Cat’s Point of View:
Have I mentioned before that I’m slightly obsessed with weather-related disaster movies? I can’t quite help it. It’s something that stems from my deep-seeded fear of tornadoes, as well as my subsequent morbid fascination with storms and the weather. Something that’s helped me prevent blind panic at the mention of severe weather has been gaining knowledge and understanding on the topic. If I can ‘read’ the weather, then I can reassure myself when it’s just a basic storm and prepare myself when it’s really time to duck and cover. Of course, I don’t claim to be anywhere near the expertise level of a meteorologist.

On the same token, I take a bit of morbid joy in ‘surviving’ films such as Twister (1996), the IMAX documentaries on tornadoes, and Into the Storm (2014). It’s a bit of an adrenaline surge, for sure. (We’re also talking the real-deal IMAX dome, too – not the fairly commonplace multiplex theater version.) I could go on and on with the documentary shows on Discovery Channel and the like, but I’ll spare you.

This movie focuses on hurricanes, specifically, so it’s not exactly the same. Destructive storm wind is destructive storm wind, though.

Sufficed to say, when you put all that together with my love of action movies; I was really looking forward to The Hurricane Heist.

Anyone who is into storm-chasing documentary shows quite possibly would join me in geeking out over the tank-like ‘Dominator’ featured in the movie. Of course, this particular vehicle looked like it was the bastard child of Sean Casey’s (Tornado Intercept, Storm Chasers, Tornado Alley) T.I.V. 2 and Reed Timmer’s (When Nature Strikes, Tornado Chasers, Nova) ‘Dominator.’ Both are serious storm intercept vehicles equipped with sensors, body armor, and ground-gripping features to weather and record most intense storms.

I digress. Back to this movie.

The cast was comprised of interesting choices. I had to grin a little over Ryan Kwanten’s (Dead Silence, Mystery Road, Blunt Force Trauma) southern drawl reminiscent of good ol’ Jason Stackhouse from True Blood (2008-2014). Maggie Grace’s (Taken 3, Fear the Walking Dead, Aftermath) character reminded me a good deal of the role she’s currently playing in her zombie apocalypse gig. Toby Kebbell (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Wrath of the Titans, A Monster Calls) was a bit of a surprise, though. I liked that I couldn’t find a ‘box’ to put him in with comparison to any other performance.

I did have a few issues with Ralph Ineson’s (The Witch, Absentia, Ready Player One) role, or perhaps his delivery – but that’s just likely me being picky about a character claiming Irish roots.

In any case, I think the movie would be more enjoyable for viewers if you just toss geography and science aside for a little bit. There are some glaring plot holes here and there – but if you aren’t looking to prod at them and dissect the movie, it can generally be overlooked for the most part. I wanted to like this movie desperately. Even so, there were moments I just couldn’t buy in completely because I knew too much for my own good and my mind kept pointing out those parts. (I am practically having a conversation with myself after-the-fact. Hello Hermione, do you HAVE TO do that?)

If you’re not asking too much of it, the movie is entertaining. My 15-year-old enjoyed watching it with me without reaching for her phone to fiddle with, so at least there’s that.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 44%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 24%
Metascore - 35/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.5/10
IMDB Score – 5.1/10

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

P.S. The Netflix blurb says it takes place in Mississippi, but one of the characters clearly states that the setting is Alabama.

Movie Trailer:

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Swiss Army Man (2016)

Movie Name/Year: Swiss Army Man (2016)
Tagline: We all need some body to lean on.
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Blackbird, Cold Iron Pictures, Tadmor
Producer: Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, Jim Kaufman, Todd King, Lauren Mann, Amanda Marshall, William Olsson, Eyal Rimmon, Gideon Tadmor, Jonathan Wang
Director: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Writer: Daniel Scheinert, Dan Kwan
Actors: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Antonia Ribero, Timothy Eulich, Richard Gross, Marika Casteel, Andy Hull, Aaron Marshall, Shane Carruth, Jessica Harbeck

Blurb from Netflix: A washed-up corpse with surprising abilities gives a hopeless man stranded in the wilderness someone to talk to -- and a newfound reason to live.

Selina’s Point of View:
I can say one thing for a fact. Swiss Army Man is definitely a movie that exists. Someone wrote and directed it. People sat around a table reading lines from the script. A team was hired to work on it. It… definitely exists.

Other than that, I’m fucking baffled. I have no god-damn clue what I just watched.

It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.

I can’t fault anyone involved in this film’s creation – because it wasn’t bad. It didn’t take itself too seriously, but didn’t present the idea as a joke. The script was cringe-y, but on purpose. The actors worked well together, even though one of them was playing a dead man.

The best I can say is that Swiss Army Man was the perfect storm of weirdness going right.

It’s not going to be for everyone. It was just barely on the edge of what I would consider ‘for me.’ Even then I spent the majority of the film with one question in mind: ‘Do these people have any clue how bad a floater smells?’

Clearly, you have to suspend a ton of disbelief – but if you can manage it… it might be worth a shot.

I have some theories about the story and whatnot, but it’s all spoilery, so I can’t get into it. Watch for yourself and see if you develop your own.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m not even sure what I just watched. Just saying.

No, seriously. What the bloody hell was that?

As I try to wrap my brain around the bizarre narrative of Swiss Army Man; it dawns on me that in back-to-back years, Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman in Black, Trainwreck, Miracle Workers) appeared in two distinctly different wilderness survival movies. Where Jungle (2017) was an entirely serious endeavor with some really harrowing life or death situations, this movie was the complete opposite. It was a drama-tinged heaping helping of cringe with a side of comedy.

Radcliffe has made some quirky role choices in effort to keep himself from being pigeonholed as Harry Potter. This has to be the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. I think it may top that play he was in that involved nudity and wearing a horse-head. Though, it’s reported that Radcliffe has claimed the movie was fun to make, so at least there’s that.

On the other side of the coin, Paul Dano (Knight and Day, 12 Years a Slave, Okja) seems to lend himself well to savant-like characters teetering on the edge of sanity or normality.

One thing’s for sure – this movie decidedly earned its R rating. Toilet humor is just the least of it.

I’m left bewildered in the wake of the final scene. My morbid curiosity has me wondering what happens next. I don’t know that I could endure much more of that, though.

While I wouldn’t steer anyone away from this film specifically, I’d definitely caution any looking to give it a chance to have an open mind and just expect the absolute unexpected. Maybe don’t watch after a large meal or while eating, either.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 70%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 72%
Metascore – 64/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.2/10
IMDB Score – 7.0/10

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

Movie Trailer: