Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Call of the Wild (2020) - In Theaters

Movie Name/Year: The Call of the Wild (2020)
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: 3 Arts Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Animation, Twentieth Century Fox, 20th Century Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 20th Century Fox Argentina, 20th Century Fox Brazil, 20th Century Fox, Forum Hungary, Odeon, Press Play Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Japan, Galaxy Distributors
Director: Chris Sanders
Writer: Michael Green, Jack London
Actors: Harrison Ford, Omar Sy, Cara Gee, Dan Stevens, Bradley Whitford, Jean Louisa Kelly, Michael Horse, Karen Gillan, Colin Woodell, Micah Fitzgerald, Heather McPhaul, Adam Fergus, Stephanie Czajkowski, Abraham Benrubi, Thomas Adoue Polk, Raven Scott, Brad Greenquist

Blurb from IMDb: A sled dog struggles for survival in the wilds of the Yukon.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ll be honest. The only reason I saw this one in theaters at all is because it was the only thing left at the theater that I hadn’t seen yet. I pushed it off until I had no choice.

Now, you know that I didn’t do that because I expected it to be a bad movie. After all, it made my Top 20. The problem is that I expected to be disappointed. So much of the trailer looked so epically good… and then there was that 90s CGI dog that was like a dumpster fire waiting to happen. I wanted to like it, but I couldn’t look past the strange design choices the creators chose for the main dog in the film.

Unfortunately, The Call of the Wild was everything I expected it to be.

The best way I can think to describe it is to compare it to Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). That film was fun as all hell. Great story, great acting… just a good time at the movies (except for the one woman in the theater that wouldn’t shut the fuck up, but I digress).

The thing is, if the studio hadn’t changed Sonic’s design when the fans called for it, the movie could have been as good as it wanted to be, no one would have been able to pay attention because they were distracted by the original awful Sonic design.

That is exactly what this film was.

It was such a good story with such incredible acting from everyone across the board. There were moments when I could feel how much the flick would be tugging at my heartstrings if I could just look past the out-of-date CGI.

It’s that simple. This film could have been walking pretty close to award territory if they had made a few different graphic choices.

I want to recommend it, but I just can’t. Maybe I’m just too easily distracted.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 61%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 89%
Metascore – 47/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.9/10
CinemaScore – A-

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3/5

Movie Trailer:

Friday, March 6, 2020

Girl on the Third Floor (2019)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Girl on the Third Floor (2019)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Queensbury Pictures
Director: Travis Stevens
Writer: Trent Haaga, Paul Johnstone, Ben Parker, Travis Stevens
Actors: C.M. Punk, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Sarah Brooks, Elissa Dowling, Karen Woditsch, Travis Delgado, Marshall Bean, Anish Jethmalani, Bishop Stevens, Tonya Kay, Eileah Pyrzynski, Steve Pavlik, Phil Senjanin

Blurb from IMDb: Don Koch tries to renovate a rundown mansion with a sordid history for his growing family, only to learn that the house has other plans.

Selina’s Point of View:
I really wanted to give this film a shot. Something about people crossing over from other public professions makes me want them to succeed in films even more than normal. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many people shrug off wrestling, or other acting-based jobs, as ‘lesser’. I like the idea of people proving them wrong.

Unfortunately, this is not the movie that’s going to prove that at all.

When it comes to the film itself, the story was alright. It had potential. There were parts of it that subverted expectations in a way that could have been interesting. The idea just wasn’t backed up by a decent script.

None of the conversations felt natural. There were very few lines that felt like they could be real. Which made the entire movie that much more difficult to care about.

Behind that was some pretty shoddy acting. As much as I wanted to see C.M. Punk (Rabid, Maron, Clash Time) succeed… he just didn’t. He was wooden and unbelievable. There were a couple of more intense scenes near the end that he excelled at… but the parts where he just had to be the basic husband fixing up a house didn’t work.

So, that’s that. I wouldn’t recommend this film. It felt twice as long as it was and I didn’t come away from it feeling entertained at all.

Cat’s Point of View:
My first reaction to this movie? So much nope. This is one of those horror movies where you wonder if the characters have lived such sheltered lives as to never watch a horror movie or have any sort of knowledge of the paranormal. Of course, if the main figures within a story catch on to what’s going on immediately, I imagine that it would result in a very short cinematic experience.

Girl on the Third Floor has quite a few classic haunted house aspects and does well with building suspense. While several tropes common to ‘scary movies’ were employed and jump-scares abound, I would say that overall the film is fairly successful, even though I can’t seem to shake the feeling that it was missing something. I’m afraid it’s one of those feelings that is hard to quantify, there isn’t any single thing that I can put my finger on, however.

I do have to admit that I’ve been a long-time fan of Phil "C.M. Punk" Brooks (Nerdist: Course of the Force, The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown, Rabid). Of course, most of what I’ve seen of him involves his career in professional wrestling entertainment. Considering his ‘straight edge’ persona, his character in this movie is a bit ironic. I’m excited to see him crossing over to the big screen. I was grinning a bit at the music his character was listening to during the movie, as it reminded me somewhat of his wrestling character’s theme music. I digress.

While I’m generally a fan, I’m not sure that this was the best part for him to showcase his ability.

While this wasn’t the best horror movie I’ve ever seen, I think it will stick with me for a while. It’s some of that ‘nope-factor’ talking. I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to spontaneously pitch this film to anyone, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to steer anyone away from it, either.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 27%
Metascore – 65/100
Metacritic User Score – 1.9/10
IMDB Score – 4.7/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Invisible Man (2020) - In Theaters

Movie Name/Year: The Invisible Man (2020)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Length: 124 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Goalpost Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Dark Universe, Universal Pictures, NOS Audiovisuais, Toho-Towa, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International (UPI), Universal Pictures
Director: Leigh Whannell
Writer: Leigh Whannell, H.G. Wells
Actors: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Michael Dorman, Harriet Dyer, Amali Golden, Benedict Hardie, Zara Michales, Sam Smith, Anthony Brandon Wong, Bianca Pomponio, Dennis Kreusler, Michael Knott, Randolph Fields

Blurb from IMDb: When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

Selina’s Point of View:
In my Top 20 article for February, I made sure to state that I would be pissed if The Invisible Man didn’t measure up to its trailer. I’m happy to tell you that I am not pissed at all. In fact, I am very – VERY – happy.

This is not a short movie. It’s rough to live up to a runtime that breaks 2 hours. This one did. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire film. I’m not sure I blinked. Every single scene kept me invested and aware.

I know it goes by horror, but I would consider this movie more of a thriller – and a really good one, at that. I mean, the Invisible Man is an old, well-known, horror icon… but even knowing that, there were times I had to wonder if it was actually a psychological thriller. The movie pulled off showing things from the main character’s perspective gloriously. But they also showed things from the antagonists view point without doing it overtly. That definitely made it feel more thriller-like.

Through the use of camera angles, you can clearly see what the antagonist is doing and seeing. You don’t really hear him speak for the majority of it, but because of the camera movements, you’re kept 100% aware of what he’s seeing. You know about stuff that the protagonist doesn’t realize he’s seeing. It immediately thrusts the creep factor up to max.

Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, Us, The Pack) is an artist. She perfectly portrayed an abused woman scared to be found. The tastes of PTSD were outstanding.

I do wish the ending were a little less predictable. I called it from the first act. I’m glad I went to see this one alone or I might have accidentally spoiled it for whomever I’d seen it with. If you’re not paying attention to the foreshadowing, though, it might not be that obvious.

I think this is the best incarnation of The Invisible Man that I’ve ever seen. I want more of this.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 88%
Metascore – 71/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.2/10
IMDB Score – 7.6/10
CinemaScore – B+

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Aeronauts (2019)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: The Aeronauts (2019)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Biography
Length:  100 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Amazon Studios, Mandeville Films, One Shoe Films, Popcorn Storm, Entertainment One, Shaw Organisation, The Searchers, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Bir Film, NOS Audiovisuais
Director: Tom Harper
Writers: Tom Harper, Jack Thorne
Actors: Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel, Phoebe Fox, Tim McInnerny, Rebecca Front, Tom Courtenay, Anne Reid, Lewin Lloyd, Vincent Perez, Robert Glenister, Julian Ferro, Thomas Arnold, Andy Mihalache, Bella

Blurb from IMDb: Balloon pilot Amelia Wren and scientist James Glaisher find themselves in an epic fight for survival while attempting to make discoveries in a gas balloon in the 1860s.

Cat’s Point of View:
Balloons are such an icon of wonder and whimsy. It’s nearly universal – regardless of age, someone will smile when presented with your average standard helium balloon. People stare, caught up in the moment when hot-air balloons are in the sky. I know I do, at least. We have an annual hot-air balloon rally here, and it’s something to see so many beautiful balloons in the sky at the same time. I digress…

I think that The Aeronauts deftly captures the wonder of witnessing balloon-flight and relentless pursuit of scientific discovery, which are at the heart of this story. Of course, perseverance, courage, and daring to push beyond the status quo are also themes well represented here.

The visuals in The Aeronauts were simply stunning. Breathtaking cloud vistas and heart-stopping moments are woven liberally into the film. I have a thing with heights. There were a few moments my heart was racing a little.

I’ve seen a lot of negative buzz about this movie due to the fact that the production has taken a biography and then applied a generous bit of literary license with it. If one looks at the actual events that frame this biopic, it becomes clear that Felicity Jones’ (The Theory of Everything, Inferno, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) character, Amelia, doesn’t actually exist. James Glaisher, played by Eddie Redmayne (Black Death, Jupiter Ascending, The Danish Girl), did have an aeronaut partner on his record-breaking flight, but it was a man named Henry Tracey Coxwell.

Some feel that his character was overlooked merely for the sake of politically correct diversity. While I can’t argue that the portrayal of the movie doesn’t fit the entire truth of the story, I have to interject that Amelia’s involvement in the tale does elevate the narrative, regardless. Further, not every historical movie has 100% of all the facts portrayed accurately. This wasn’t a situation where they just chucked in a female character for the sake of romance or something equally extraneous to the story.

My theory is that the writers combined another historical ballooning figure with the pilot of the famous flight in order to tie two aspects of the history of ballooning and flight together and offer a bit of showmanship at the same time. I imagine it would be a safe bet that Jones’ character’s name is based on none other than Amelia Earhart, as a symbol of aviation innovation and inspiration to girls of all ages. It would be an entirely different, and I dare say likely dull, movie if she weren’t involved.

Hats off to Jones and Redmayne for a phenomenal job here! I feel entirely justified listing this film as my #6 on my personal Top 20 for December 2019 (it was #15 for Selina). I would certainly give this one a recommendation for anyone with a sense of adventure, and I will likely watch this one again in the near future; as I intend to get my daughter to watch it with me next time. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score - 72%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 95%
Metascore – 60/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.6/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, March 2, 2020

Brahms: The Boy II (2020) - In Theaters Now

Movie Name/Year: Brahms: The Boy II (2020)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Huayi Brothers, Lakeshore Entertainment, STX Entertainment, GEM Entertainment, Capelight Pictures, Diamond Films, Golden Village Pictures, Metropolitan Filmexport, Odeon, Polyfilm Verleih, Sabay MVP, The Searchers, Viva International Pictures, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Cinemundo
Director: William Brent Bell
Writer: Stacey Menear
Actors: Katie Holmes, Owain Yeoman, Christopher Convery, Ralph Ineson, Anjali Jay, Oliver Rice, Natalie Moon, Daphne Hoskins, Joely Collins, Ellie King, Joanne Kimm, Keoni Rebeiro, Charles Jarman

Blurb from IMDb: After a family moves into the Heelshire Mansion, their young son soon makes friends with a life-like doll called Brahms.

Selina’s Point of View:
I think the first film: The Boy (2016), was decent. It wasn’t my favorite thing in the world, and I didn’t love all of it… but it was ok. I wasn’t exactly cursing the time I spent watching it. In fact, I rather enjoyed the ending – despite that seeming to be an unpopular opinion.

When I saw the trailer for this sequel, I had some issues. The original film didn’t really leave too much open for the supernatural twist that Brahms: The Boy II seemed like it would be exploring. I had questions. Most of it based around continuity issues – which is not the kind of questions you want a sequel trailer to evoke.

I went into the theater skeptical.

Now, Brahms: The Boy II is getting some shit reviews – and I get it. There’s a lot of cookie cutter bullshit involved. The creators seemed to try to hard to utilize the jump scare. This film didn’t need it. In the trailer alone, you see Katie Holmes’ (Coda, Logan Lucky, Dear Dictator) character essentially jump scare the audience herself for no reason. There’s a lot in the actual film that follows that line of crap.

The problem is, by the time I finished watching it, I saw a lot of untapped potential in this movie. It did something you really want to see in a sequel. It filled in plot holes and expanded upon the world of the first film. It gave us a more in depth look at what was really going on in The Boy. I loved that aspect of this. It made me want to go back and watch the first film. When I gave in and actually DID go back to watch it, the expanded ideas from the second movie really made the first one better.

I don’t know why the creators decided to try and make Brahms: The Boy II into a movie that could stand on its own. As a simply expansion onto the first, it was great. It was the stuff they tried to pack in to make it a stand-alone that didn’t work. What they wound up with was a mess of shit stuffed into what could have been an epilogue film for The Boy. It was unnecessary.

I wish I could give this movie a better review. If a few things had been changed, this could have been something outstanding. Unfortunately, it just wound up being a bit of a waste.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 10%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 42%
Metascore – 29/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.4/10
IMDB Score – 4.3/10
CinemaScore – C-

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 2.5/5

Movie Trailer: