Friday, July 19, 2019

Secret Obsession (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Secret Obsession (2019)
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: NR
Production/Distribution: Hybrid, Netflix
Director: Peter Sullivan
Writer: Peter Sullivan, Kraig Wenman
Actors: Brenda Song, Mike Vogel, Dennis Haysbert, Ashley Scott, Paul Sloan, Daniel Booko, Scott Peat, Blair Hickey, Michael Patrick McGill, Casey Leach, Jim Hanna, Ciarra Carter, Eric Etebari

Blurb from IMDb: Recuperating from trauma, Jennifer remains in danger as she returns to a life she doesn't remember.

Selina’s Point of View:
I don’t often get to go into why a movie didn’t make my Top 20 for whatever month it came out. Generally, by the time I see the film I’ve forgotten exactly what month it hit theaters (or streaming) unless it was one I was looking forward to. For Secret Obsession, I have the unique opportunity of knowing exactly when it came out, because it hit Netflix yesterday.

We do get a lot of questions about why we choose, or don’t choose, certain films for our Top 20. The truth is, we use only the information available to any prospective viewer when deciding what movies we should recommend for the coming month. That means that we have the trailer, basic search engines, and the IMDb page. Quite frankly, the trailer is usually worth more than the rest of what we see.

In this case, Secret Obsession was really hurt by the preview.

Upon viewing the trailer I was instantly reminded of another film we watched – one that I didn’t find all that spectacular. It was easy to think that Before I Go to Sleep (2014) could have very well been what Secret Obsession was trying to be. Nothing set it apart. Worse than that, it felt like the film shoved every twist and moment of intrigue into the coming attraction.

Like anyone else, it’s possible – even easy – to get it wrong. Sometimes things will go on the Top 20 that turn out to be crap, other times I overlook stuff that winds up being amazing. In this case, I was right – and so was Cat.

This film didn’t try to raise the bar at all. It had no surprises and you could play trope bingo while watching.

Secret Obsession was mediocre at best. Any thrilling moments, all the twists, it was all spoiled in the trailer. You can watch two minutes of teaser on YouTube and not have to waste an hour and a half.

Cat’s Point of View:
Before I mention my take on the movie, I have a bit of a bone to pick with Netflix. The industry, in general, has a nasty habit of triggering this pet peeve – but for now, let’s focus on this instance.

The streaming giant often splashes up a big promo for imminent releases. Whether it’s the trailer that is set to auto-play a few seconds after credits roll on the show you’ve just finished or the big banners you see when you first sign in – it’s quite effective in grabbing subscribers’ attention. This trailer was plastered all over the place a few days ago. I'd forgotten this preview from our Top 20 selection process, and so I opted to watch it again with the prompt.

Way to go, Netflix. Thanks for the spoilers. What should have been a spine-tingling moment to evoke a sense of dread and alarm in the pit of my stomach in concern for the fate of the protagonist became just another tense moment in the film to blend with the rest of the suspenseful music and so on. It completely stole the thunder of the scene.

Needless to say, if you want to be surprised? Don’t watch the trailer for this movie if you don't want to know ALL THE THINGS.

I digress.

Brenda Song (The Social Network, Boogie Town, Amphibia) has come a long way from her Disney days. It’s no secret that she can handle physical roles, though, considering her early work included Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (2005). I’m happy to see her in more serious roles such as this. I really enjoyed her character. It’s about time movies are showing more situations where damsels in distress use their common sense and survival instincts to try to help themselves instead of giving up and resigning themselves to be a victim.

I really appreciated Mike Vogel (McCanick, Under The Dome, The Brave) for the role of Russell. He can turn on the charm, but also carries the darker stuff rather well too. He was a good pick for the physicality of this part, as well.

There’s a bonus with this cast – one of my favorite ‘hey it’s that guy!’ people. Dennis Haysbert (The Unit, Think Like a Man Too, Experimenter) wasn’t here to sell us any insurance, even though the role of the detective was in good hands. (Not sorry.) If you don’t recognize him from some of his prior work, like playing the president on 24 (2001-2010), surely you’ve heard his voice.

I feel like there were a few plot holes that weren’t quite filled in, and the ending didn’t offer exactly the satisfaction I was looking for.

Even though I knew what was coming, or could guess well enough (thanks Netflix), I still found myself practically holding my breath in a few places and feeling that sense of urgency that spurs talking to the screen as if the characters might listen.

The story was a bit like Before I Go to Sleep (2014) but had quite a few differences. If it hadn’t been spoiled, perhaps I might not feel like someone copied this test but changed enough answers so it wouldn’t be blatantly cheating. 

All told, I enjoyed this movie, but not as much as if I’d been able to go into the film with a clean slate.   

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.5/10
CinemaScore – None

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

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

iBoy (2017)

Movie Name/Year: iBoy (2017)
Genre: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi
Length:  90 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Netflix, XYZ Films, Wigwam Films, Pretty Pictures
Director: Adam Randall
Writers: Kevin Brooks, Joe Barton, Mark Denton, Jonny Stockwood
Actors: Bill Milner, Maisie Williams, Miranda Richardson, Rory Kinnear, Shaquille Ali-Yebuah, Jordan Bolger, McKell David, Aymen Hamdouchi

Blurb from IMDb: After being shot, Tom wakes from a coma to discover that fragments of his smart phone have been embedded in his head, and worse, that returning to normal teenage life is impossible because he has developed a strange set of superpowers.

Cat’s Point of View:
iBoy has been teasing me from my Netflix list since it released in 2017. I was excited to finally get a chance to make time to watch it. Was it worth the wait? Definitely. 

I was drawn to the film for two main reasons - Maisie Williams (The Falling, Marry Shelley, Then Came You) and my love of the sci-fi genre. While I was anticipating and hoping that Williams’ character would flip the god of death the bird, as her character, Arya, in Game of Thrones (2011-2019) often did; I was pleasantly surprised by the performance by Bill Milner (Anthropoid, Dunkirk, The Lodgers). 

He was able to encapsulate the guilt-riddled and revenge-driven teen in a way that felt real, rather than over-the-top. Milner certainly held his own with this nuanced performance. I felt like I was watching a young Neo explore the matrix.  Of course, Williams didn’t disappoint at all. While this was a bit of a superhero origin story for the character of iBoy, Williams’ character, Lucy, was a heroine in her own right through bravery in fighting her own PTSD-fueled demons. 

Visually, the movie is stunning. I really enjoyed the representation of how Milner’s character viewed the world and his interactions. Aside from the technology aspects, the views of night-time cityscapes were gorgeous. It provided a great and glittery foil for the harsh and gritty reality of the world that the main characters lived in. 

The gangster elements of the story did feel a bit like they were following fairly typical goon recipes, but I honestly didn’t care. I didn’t even really mind the occasional plot hole big enough to swallow a car. 

iBoy proved to be interesting and innovative in its own way while keeping the old familiar tropes from feeling too tired. I would definitely recommend this movie to any fan of the genre. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 64% 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 40% 
Metascore –50/100 
Metacritic User Score –5.3/10 
IMDB Score – 6.0/10 
CinemaScore – None 

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 15, 2019

Point Blank (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Point Blank (2019)
Genre: Action, Thriller
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: WarParty Films, Netflix
Director: Joe Lynch
Writer: Fred CavayƩ, Adam G. Simon
Actors: Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo, Marcia Gay Harden, Christian Cooke, Teyonah Parris, Boris McGiver, Carly Tamborski, Ming Wang, Markice Moore, Daniel R. Hill

Blurb from IMDb: To save his pregnant wife, an emergency room nurse teams up with an injured murder suspect in a race against time, rival criminals and renegade cops.

Selina’s Point of View:
Even taking into consideration that the story for Point Blank was based on a French film of the same name from 2010, the plot was still a little dated. I mean, it felt kind of like a Die Hard (1988) era film. The reluctant buddies. The damsel in distress. The dirty cops.

It was all very trope-filled.

Still, I couldn’t help but enjoy it.

It’s not going to wind up being named as one of my favorites or anything, but Point Blank hits the spot for an action film. It gives you just about anything you could want from a gun-toting, blood-spilling, explosion-filled flick. There’s even some decent acting in it.

Both Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Infinity War, The Hate U Give, Triple 9) and Frank Grillo (Kingdom, Avengers: Endgame, End of Watch) are vets of the industry. I know what I’m going to get with them and, quite frankly, they have names that are going to draw people to the film to begin with. I’ve been a casual fan of Marcia Gay Harden’s (Code Black, Parkland, After Words) since she played Star on Law & Order: SVU (1999 - ), she’s a little type-cast, but she makes for a good professional part. I was also introduced to Teyonah Parris (Survivor’s Remorse, Chi-Raq, Mad Men) in this film and it was a good introduction. I believed her pain and fear pretty deeply.

The flaws that I did notice had nothing to do with acting, but they were predictable flaws. Basically, there were loopholes that just about every action-flick from the 80s had. Since it felt so much like it could have been made in that era, I found those issues easy to forgive.

If you’re interested in an action film for a movie night with family, this one isn’t bad. Even though it’s rated mature for TV, there’s no nudity that I can remember and no sex scenes. The rating is for violence. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger kids/teens, but if you want to watch something with your older teens – there won’t be any embarrassing moments to suffer through.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 55%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 47/100
Metacritic User Score – 10/10
IMDB Score – 5.7/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5

Movie Trailer: