Friday, June 28, 2019

The Lifechanger (2018)

Movie Name/Year: The Lifechanger (2018)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 84 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: 9 Light Entertainment, Federgreen Entertainment, Unstable Ground Productions, Raven Banner Entertainment, Uncork'd Entertainment
Director: Justin McConnell
Writer: Justin McConnell
Actors: Lora Burke, Jack Foley, Elitsa Bako, Sam White, Rachel VanDuzer, Steve Kasan, Mark Rainmaker, Adam Buller, Peter Higginson, Daniel Faraldo, Brian Quintero, Ry Barrett, Kim Morgan, Michelle D’Alessandro Hatt, Carina Battrick, Willem Halfyard, Uche Ama, Shannon Hanmer, Mike Donis, Maddy Foley, Lukas Beselaere

Blurb from IMDb: A murderous shapeshifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves.

Selina’s Point of View:
So, The Lifechanger is definitely a film that exists. I kind of hope there’s an alternate reality out there where it doesn’t.

I don’t understand how a movie gets released that doesn’t have conflict. There’s nothing to overcome. There’s nothing pushing back. In fact, there’s not even a red herring to make you think something’s pushing back.

Watching The Lifechanger was like listening to that one friend tell a story. You know the friend I’m talking about. The one that doesn’t know how much information is too much. By the end of his story, you’re not sure what the fuck one thing had to do with anything else. That’s exactly how I feel right now.

I looked this film up on Rotten Tomatoes after I watch it and I cannot understand the reviews.

Critics loved this movie and I don’t get it. Some of them say it was so funny, but I didn’t see any humor in it. Other critics explain that the that they loved the story and I can’t tell you how little depth I saw in the plot.

Yes, the concept of The Lifechanger was unique. It’s what drew our attention in the first place, but it’s executed terribly. There’s a fast pace of nothing happening. There’s some gore and murder, but it has no meaning. I didn’t care about any of the characters – not even the incorporeal main character. People died left and right and there was no meaning behind any of it. Even in jump-scare, trope-filled, bullshit horrors written by the newest newbie, there’s usually enough depth to care about someone.

The Lifechanger had no heart and it had no point. I don’t recommend it.

Cat’s Point of View:
The Lifechanger has to be one of the strangest movies that I have seen in quite a long time.

I have so many questions – and yet, I am not sure I want the answers that weren’t provided during the almost excruciating 80 plus minutes of screen time. Rarely have I been so relieved for the final credits to roll.

In fairness, I’m a fan of weird. I’m also a big fan of sci-fi and supernatural – especially when the fantasy is based, if only in part, on folklore. I think they tried to do that here, but I’m not sure it was successful.

There was just something missing in some of the delivery, there was a lot of uncomfortable cringe, and I generally just wasn’t buying what this film was attempting to sell. I just don’t understand how this film actually won awards; and audience awards at that. To each their own, I suppose.

To play devil’s advocate, I suppose the practical effects for the body horror and the like were decent. I wouldn’t say that it blew me away, though.

I’m afraid this one would be a hard pass for recommendations. I’m hoping I can get it out of my head before I attempt to sleep tonight.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 89%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.5/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 1/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Mike Epps: Don’t Take it Personal (2015)

Movie Name/Year: Mike Epps: Don’t Take it Personal (2015)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 59 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Netflix
Director: L. Frazier
Writer: Mike Epps
Actors: Mike Epps

Blurb from IMDb: Mike Epps tears up the stage at L.A.'s historic Orpheum Theatre in a special packed with blistering impressions and unapologetically raunchy swagger.

Selina’s Point of View:
I didn’t enjoy this special. That said, I have to take into account that I’m as far from Mike Epps’ (Uncle Drew, Acts of Violence, The Hangover) target demographic as is humanly possible.

No, scratch that. I did grow up poor. Some of those jokes were relatable to me, but I still didn’t find them funny.

There was a lot comedy people would find offensive – which I don’t mind. I don’t get offended easily and none of his stuff really pressed that button for me either. So, when the special was over it wasn’t like I ended up angry. I was just… bored.

There was a part at the end that I really enjoyed, but it was the only part.

All his jokes felt like stuff people would say to each other over a bowl of Cheetos and a blunt. After sobering up, the same people would likely wonder what the fuck was so funny about what they’d been laughing at.

Maybe if I’d watched it after my buddy’s wedding on Sunday (when I was drunk), it would have been better. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of watching it early.

I wanted to like this. I enjoy Epps as an actor. He’s got some decent comedic timing when there’s a script involved.

For now, I’m just going to skip his stand-up and stick to watching his films.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.2/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

Movie Name/Year: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Length: 99 Minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: The Mark Gordon Company, Walt Disney Studios, Isobel Griffiths Limited
Directors: Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston
Writers: E.T.A. Hoffmann, Marius Petipa, Ashleigh Powell
Actors: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Misty Copeland, Dame Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Sweet, Anna Madeley

Blurb from IMDb: A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have to grudgingly admit, I now understand why The Nutcracker and the Four Realms had such mixed reviews. There are so many points that could be made both in the pros and cons columns. I’ll do my best to corral my thoughts into some cohesion to hit the highlights.

Above all else, I’ve got to tip my hat to the effects teams, cinematography, and costuming department. The visuals throughout the film were simply stunning. I truly was transported to another realm – or few. I loved the stylized architecture and designed that echoed the renowned onion-domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Russia. Attention to detail was clearly at the forefront for this production. From waterfalls to snowscapes, the colorful realms between, and even a spooky forest; each setting effectively laid the foundation for the story and gave a feast for the eyes.

I couldn’t find fault with the acting, to be honest. I don’t give a flip that the roles of the godfather and the nutcracker were played by African American actors. I actually applaud that this movie embraced diversity over ‘tradition’ in this case, and for the first time ever for these roles.

Morgan Freeman (Oblivion, The Lego Movie, Going In Style) is generally epic in anything he does – this movie is no exception. His wit and warmth were perfect for the part. I was also rather surprised and impressed that this was the first major supporting role in a feature for Nutcracker Soldier, Jayden Fowora-Knight (Ready Player One, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle). 

Moving on.

Mackenzie Foy (The Conjuring, Interstellar, The Little Prince) simply stole my heart and swept me along as she set out upon this adventure and tale of self-discovery. I loved the tinker and inventor aspect given to her character. With outstanding performances by Dame Helen Mirren (RED, Trumbo, Anna) and Keira Knightley (Atonement, Everest, The Aftermath) as well, one would think there would be a little more recognition. I just don’t understand the digs that some critics have made towards the film’s acting overall.

I have a feeling that some of the disconnect between audiences and the movie occurred because this film doesn’t follow the story’s recipe from the traditional Pyotr Ilyich (1840–1893) ‘The Nutcracker Suite’ ballet. I believe that the changes were actually interesting. I don’t want to spoil all of them for you, though. Sufficed to say, that there are elements of and homage paid to the original sprinkled throughout – this movie just had a story of its own to tell.

Another element I adored was the fact that some actual ballet was still involved. I’m even giddier that they cast none other than modern dancing marvel Misty Copeland (The 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, A Ballerina's Tale, Drake: Nice for What) for the part. The blending of old and new, as well as a few twists for good measure struck a reasonable balance.

I watched this movie with my daughter and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The rats might be a bit much for very small children, however. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 32%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 34%
Metascore – 39/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.4/10
IMDB Score – 5.5/10
CinemaScore – B+

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

P.S. The beginning of the end credits features another ballet performance by Misty Copeland and supporting dancers to segments of Tchaikovsky's Suite. There is a dancer performing hip-hop and other modern dance elements that joins towards the end of that segment of credits.

P.P.S. Following the movie title's placement in the credits at the end of the dance segment, some story-related animations are beside the credits scroll during the song 'Fall On Me' performed by Andrea Bocelli (Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli: Time to Say Goodbye, La Bohème, Ed Sheeran Feat. Andrea Bocelli: Perfect Symphony) with his son, Matteo Bocelli (Strictly Come Dancing, The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration, The Royal Variety Performance 2018).

Movie Trailer: