Saturday, March 14, 2020

Free Entertainment for Lockdown/Quarantine

Trust the Dice Readers;

We will be continuing our series of reviews on films currently in theaters shortly. Hopefully in a couple of weeks, but it may take a month or more.

The movie on the schedule for today was The Hunt (2020), but I am currently in a voluntary lockdown in order to take part in the social distancing suggested by health officials to slow down the spread of COVID-19. I am located in a part of New York that is seeing a lot of cases of the coronavirus and we’re trying to stay safe. As a result, I cannot make it to the theaters for the time being.

As soon as I can start up with screenings again, we will be continuing the series of reviews targeting movies currently in theaters.

Me and Cat always work from home, so we’ll be continuing to post to Trust the Dice as long as both of us remain well enough to do so. For the time being, we will stick to reviews for films and shows that are easily found through streaming services.

If you do not have the money to continue with your current subscriptions, here is a list of free sites for entertainment of all kinds:

Crackle – No sign-up required. Must pause ad-blocker.
ConTV – Sign up required for SOME things.
TubiTV – No sign-up required. Must pause ad-blocker.
PlutoTV – No sign-up required.
Top Documentary Films – Documentaries. Mostly forwards you to YouTube.
Vudu – Has a free section. Requires sign-up.
RetrovisionTV – Classic TV/Movies only. Mostly pre-1960s. No sign-up required.
SnagFilms – Documentaries/Indie Films mostly. No sign-up required.
CWTV – CW TV channel, currently running shows. No sign-up required. Must pause ad-blocker.
CWSeed – CW TV channel, archived TV content. No sign-up required. Must pause ad-blocker.
Hoopla – Library-related. Must have account and library card.

Funimation – Must sign-up. Must pause ad-blocker.
Myanimelist – No sign-up required.
Crunchyroll – No sign-up required. Some limitations without subscription.

Bookbub – Has free ebooks available. Requires Amazon sign-in, but Prime is not needed.
Project Gutenberg – No sign-up required.
Open Library – Sign-up required, but has a lot of popular books scanned from physical copies. 5 book limit.
Google eBookstore – Google email address required. Has a large free selection.
ManyBooks – Sign-up required (can use google or facebook).
LibriVox – Audiobooks. No sign-up required. You can volunteer as a reader.
International Children’s Digital Library – Children’s books. No sign-up required. Scans of physical books.

Video Games
Steam – Has a large free selection. App required with sign-up (both free). – No sign-up required. – Donations suggested, but not required. No sign-up required.

If you’re in an area affected by COVID-19, I do hope that you are keeping safe. Remember to stay alert, not anxious. Don’t get your facts from the media, get them from the CDC and licensed medical professionals. Try not to watch the numbers, either. They can be misleading. Remember to be kind and don’t take more than you need. If you have enough, make sure your neighbors do too. Check in on your elderly family members, as well. This is a terrifying time for them.

For more information, I find that Doctor Mike is really offering the best, and most stable, updates that you can get from a friendly (and qualified) face.

I hope that you and yours get through this time safe and sane.

Selina Tropiano

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Jurassic Games (2018)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: The Jurassic Games (2018)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: High Octane Pictures, Uncork'd Entertainment, New KSM, Netflix
Director: Ryan Bellgardt
Writers: Ryan Bellgardt, Galen Christy
Actors: Ryan Merriman, Adam Hampton, Perrey Reeves, Cate Jones, Erika Daly, Rett Terrell, Dylan Cox, Katie Burgess, Bruce Davis, Luke Wyckoff, Tiger Sheu

Blurb from IMDb: In the near future, 10 death row convicts are forced to compete in a virtual reality game that pits them against dinosaurs and each other.

Cat’s Point of View:
If you let yourself judge the proverbial book by its cover, The Jurassic Games might be easy to look over when browsing titles available on Amazon Prime. The poster certainly promises something that looks like a cheesy B-movie at the very least. There are quite a few dinosaur-themed movies on this particular streaming platform lately. Some of them are decent, and some of them are absolutely abysmal. (I’m looking at you, VelociPastor (2018) …. I digress…)
Thankfully, The Jurassic Games falls on that decent side of the spectrum – almost surprisingly good, even. I didn’t quite expect to be as drawn in with this movie. Nevertheless, I found myself cheering for the main character.

I was outright impressed at the production value for this movie. The CGI was actually pretty great, all things considered. The sets were believable and seemed to integrate smoothly with whatever live locations they may have used for shooting. The dinosaurs didn’t look slapped together. The pterodactyls were a little odd, but even so they weren’t cringe-worthy. The other dino cast exceeded expectations to a degree that little things like that could be easily overlooked.
The director and most of the cast were relatively unknown or fresh faces on the cinematic scene. I think that served this film in particular very well. There was a relatively blank slate for this story to be carved on. At the same time, a few of the cast seemed familiar – even though I hadn’t seen their work before. The only cast member I actually recognized was Ryan Merriman (Pretty Little Liars, Domain, Portal). He fit his role as a television host with questionable morals and lots of charisma.

While the story was a bit predictable, I found that I didn’t mind. I was thoroughly entertained. There were some feelings of nostalgia mixed in for me, as well, due to some similarities to the plot of Deadlock (1991) – though, I believe that film has been renamed to Wedlock. To be honest, it seemed like they threw that movie in a blender with The Running Man (1987), The Condemned (2007), and Gamer (2009) and just flipped it on high for a bit.
All told, I was certainly entertained by The Jurassic Games and wouldn’t mind giving this sci-fi flick a recommendation.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score - 83%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 42%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 3.8/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5

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

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Onward (2020)

Movie Name/Year: Onward (2020)
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 102 minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Disney Studios, Feelgood Entertainment, Forum Hungary, Kinomania, NOS Audiovisuais, Press Play Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Japan
Director: Dan Scanlon
Writer: Dan Scanlon, Keith Bunin, Jason Headley
Actors: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Kyle Bornheimer, Lena Waithe, Ali Wong, Grey Griffin, Tracey Ullman, Wilmer Valderrama, George Psarras, John Ratzenberger

Blurb from IMDb: Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there.

Selina’s Point of View:
I wish that the studio had opted to postpone Onward’s theater run until all this coronavirus craziness is over. It’s not making a great deal of money right now – especially when compared to its budget – but I don’t think that has anything to do with the movie itself.

I really expected a more crowded theater when I went. It was just me, three guys in front of me, and a couple in the back. It’s a Pixar film. Even if the trailer had looked bad (which it didn’t), there should have been more butts in those seats.

Onward was a great movie. I absolutely loved it.

At first, I thought it was going to be cute. Nothing to write home about, but Pixar-cute. Then, just about halfway through the film, something changed. I really started to get invested in the characters and their goal. I wanted them to succeed so badly. And it all led up to a wonderfully orchestrated ending.

I’m not gonna lie, there were points in Onward where I cried. I don’t mean ‘single tear running down the cheek’ either. I fucking ugly cried. It was so wholesome and emotional, yet it managed to be fun as well.

I think it definitely deserves to be considered up there with Up (2009), Toy Story (1995), and Inside Out (2015). The characters weren’t human but everything they experienced felt so real and relatable.

I urge you to give Onward a chance. I understand that if the virus is where you are, that you may be not think going to the theater is a good idea… but if you can, catch it on streaming when it comes out.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 87%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 96%
Metascore – 61/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.0/10
IMDB Score – 7.7/10
CinemaScore – A-

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Horror, Thriller
Length:  89 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: thefyzz, Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, BF Distribution, Concorde Filmverleih, Constantin-Film, Joy n Cinema, NOS Audiovisuais, PVR Pictures, Paris Filmes, Reality Entertainment, Shaw Organisation, TriPictures, VVS Films, Volga, Concorde Home Entertainment, Film & TV House, GEM Entertainment
Director: Johannes Roberts
Writers: Ernest Riera, Johannes Roberts
Actors: Nia Long, John Corbett, Sophie NĂ©lisse, Brianne Tju, Sistine Rose Stallone, Brec Bassinger, Corinne Foxx, Davi Santos, Khylin Rhambo

Blurb from IMDb: Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they've entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.

Cat’s Point of View:

I was rather excited when this movie became available on one of my subscribed streaming services. I had thoroughly enjoyed its predecessor, 47 Meters Down (2017), as apparent by my portion of our review for that film. Shark movie enthusiast that I am, I also ranked this sequel as #13 on our Top 20 Movies to Look Out For in August 2019.  

To be honest, I didn’t expect Uncaged to do very well at the box office in comparison to the first film. It was going against some seriously stiff competition in the summer blockbuster season. Still, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best that the content would stand up to the original and not fall prey to the missteps that cause many sequels to disappoint.

Considering that the writing and directing team remained the same for the sequel, I had some additional hope. Director Johannes Roberts (Forest of the Damned, Storage 24, The Strangers: Prey at Night) told SYFY Wire that he was inspired to do Uncaged because of his cave diving experiences while shooting the first 47 Meters Down. He wanted to play on the claustrophobia and inherent dangers of the cave diving experience ramped up to a crazier level due to the presence of sharks. Roberts indicated in that interview that the pitch for this sequel was essentially The Descent (2005) underwater.

Did it live up to that premise? I’d say so.

There are certainly parallels that can be drawn between Uncaged and the first 47 Meters movie. They both took some time with the additional character setup before anyone actually got in the water. In this case, I think the narrative involving the newish step-sisters was actually a bit more successful in setting up the rest of the film. The characters made some crazy choices, but hey – without those poor decisions, there wouldn’t be a movie, right?

Uncaged is laced with irony, both expected and unexpected jump-scares and some hella creepy darkness-dwelling sharks. The set design for this production was amazing.

It made sense that characters from the first movie wouldn’t be taking risks in the water again – so we get introduced to a new fresh-faced cast of Hollywood up-and-comers. A couple carry with them, some might say, the pressure of family legacy.

This is the feature film debut for both Sistine Rose Stallone (Entertainment Tonight, Home & Family, Inferno: The Making of 'The Expendables') and Corinne Foxx (Made in Hollywood, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: 'All in the Family' and 'Good Times', Sweet/Vicious). I’ve really enjoyed Corinne’s vivacious spirit as she works with her dad on Beat Shazam! (2017-). I digress.

When all is said and done, you have to take the proverbial step back and realize that this really is a creature feature in the vein of the 80s shocker classics. There are a couple twists on the standard shark-chomp cinema recipe here. The best thing to do when giving this movie a shot is to just float along for the ride. It’s not supposed to be a think-piece. I think too many critics have tried to take it a little too seriously.

I wouldn’t mind giving Uncaged a recommendation, and will probably watch it again with my teenager when ‘Shark Week’ rolls around.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score - 42%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 68%
Metascore – 43/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.3/10
IMDB Score – 5.0/10
CinemaScore – C+

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, March 9, 2020

Awaiting (2015)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Awaiting (2015)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Green Screen Productions, Media Pro Five Limited, Solar Productions, Amazon Prime Video, Bulldog Film Distribution, GSP Studios International, Hulu, Kew Media Group, Stealth Media Group, Studio Hamburg Enterprises, Umbrella Entertainment
Director: Mark Murphy
Writer: Mark Murphy
Actors: Tony Curran, Diana Vickers, Rupert Hill, Peter Woodward, Adrian Bouchet, Charley McDougall, Sophie Lovell Anderson

Blurb from IMDb: Deep in the English moors, a sociopath preys on innocent people, until one day his secrets are finally revealed and an inevitable confrontation is at hand.

Selina’s Point of View:
I really don’t have much to say about this one.

The plot had promise. According to Hulu, it should have been about a girl finding out that her father is a serial killer after she saves one of his victims. IMDb’s explanation was much closer to the truth. You don’t really see things from the girl’s perspective. I wish the movie matched the Hulu description more.

I didn’t see much merit in it otherwise. It was such a recipe film that the pieces strung together didn’t even feel like they should be there. It was like someone had a list of movie ingredients and shoved them all together randomly with no actual harmony involved.

I liked a piece here and a bit there… but everything felt so forced that I never wound up liking anything for more than a couple of minutes.

They could have done a lot better with this idea. Hopefully someone will in the future.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 38%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.8/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5

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

Movie Trailer: