Friday, April 24, 2020

Extraction (2020)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Extraction (2020)
Genre: Action
Length: 116 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: AGBO, India Take One Productions, T.G.I.M Films, Thematic Entertainment, Netflix
Director: Sam Hargrave
Writer: Joe Russo
Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Shivam Vichare, Piyush Khati, Randeep Hooda, Pankaj Tripathi, Chris Jai Alex, Adam Bessa, Golshifteh Farahani, David Harbour, Shataf Figar, Rayna Campbell, Vonzell Carter, Murtaza Kathawala, Patrick Newall, Priyanshu Painyuli, Suraj Rikame, Anup Sharma

Blurb from IMDb: Tyler Rake, a fearless black market mercenary, embarks on the most deadly extraction of his career when he's enlisted to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord.

Selina’s Point of View:
No one is going to accuse this film of being slow.

The moment Extraction starts, you’re thrown into the action. Bullets are flying, blood’s spraying… you’re swept away into a story that rarely slows down at all. I never had any problems with the pacing of this movie.

It was a nearly 2-hour flick, but I didn’t feel time passing at all. During a seemingly endless quarantine, that’s a huge bonus. I had to try really hard to be unbiased while watching, just because I was so glad to not be bored. I feel like I succeeded, but I still intend to watch it again once the world returns to some kind of normalcy just to make sure.

I feel like it started off at a bad point. If it had been linear from the start, it’d have been fine, but because they used a scene that could have been from any point in (or before) the story, it became a bit of a distraction. There are scenes they could have used to bring about the same feeling without being confusing.

There were also a few very minor tropes that made me roll my eyes, but they really were not that important to the film.

Extraction is just a good, straight-forward, full-on action movie. There wasn’t a single actor or character that felt wrong or out of place. The story didn’t bother pretending to be anything it wasn’t. The fight choreography was awe-inspiring. It also subverted a lot of my expectations. It even had a somewhat ambiguous ending that I liked so much more than I would have if they had taken a clearer route. It made me want to read the graphic novel it was based on.

Honestly, this flick could have had much bigger faults than it did and I still would have loved it.

I highly recommend this film for anyone who just wants to spend a couple of hours engaged in an entertaining action story.

Cat’s Point of View:
There’s nothing like an edge-of-your-seat action thrill ride to spice up an otherwise tedious day. Extraction provided exactly that.

This sort of film just seems to be Chris Hemsworth’s (Blackhat, 12 Strong, Bad Times at the El Royale) wheelhouse. I usually appreciate his comedic timing and work in other genres, but this wasn’t the movie for that part of his range. I’m glad that they didn’t muddy the waters by trying to bring that on board. It would have felt out of place in this gritty and hard-hitting film.

If you’re sensitive to ultra-violent movies, though, this particular action flick might not be for you. The gore isn’t over-the-top but the nearly non-stop bullets and hand-to-hand combat carnage might be tough for some to handle. If that’s your jam, this movie is right up your alley. It has a little bit of everything for the action aficionado.

I’ve really got to tip my proverbial hat to director Sam Hargrave (Unlucky Stars, Atomic Blonde, The Shoot). This was his feature-length film debut. Hargrave has over 80 stunt credits to his name on IMDb. Quite a few of those are listed as coordinator positions. It’s no wonder the action is not only jam-packed through the length of the movie but feels like a viscerally real experience. He certainly knows his way around the genre.

Aside from the action aspect, he had a really good grasp of the story. The arc of the full film felt satisfying and took me on a journey that wasn’t entirely predictable.

My only issue with the movie was with some of the sound mixing. I’m afraid I didn’t listen to my mom when I was younger about listening to my music too loud – I’ve got some hearing loss in my ‘old age’ and the way this movie was put together, sound-wise, made it hard to understand the dialogue at times. About half of the spoken language required subtitles, though, so that helped a little. I eventually just turned subs on for the whole thing.

One minute the sound level was deafening – which is realistic when dealing with gunfire and explosions – but then the speaking parts were far too faint in between. If you turn up the volume to hear what they’re saying better, you’ll end up blasting yourself the next time the fighting kicks in. The subtitles fixed that for me so that I could have the volume at a more manageable level and not miss anything in the exchanges between characters.

Aside from that one issue (that may not even be a problem everyone would encounter), this was a really well-done production. It felt immersive and really paid off by checking all the boxes one would expect – and then some – for an action film of this caliber. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 72%
Metascore – 57/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.4/10
IMDB Score – 7.2/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Tragedy Girls (2017)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Tragedy Girls (2017)
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Crime
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: It's The Comeback Kids, New Artist Pictures, Ardor Pictures, Dawn's Light, Living the Dream Films, Gunpowder & Sky
Director: Tyler McIntyre
Writer: Chris Lee Hill, Tyler MacIntyre, Justin Olson
Actors: Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Jack Quaid, Kevin Durand, Timothy V. Murphy, Katie Stottlemire, Nicky Whelan, Elise Neal, Craig Robinson, Andy Bethea, Keith Hudson, Savannah Jayde, Austin Abrams, William Tokarsky, Marycarmen Lopez, Loren Lester, Rosalind Chao, Kerry Rhodes, Cameron Van Hoy

Blurb from IMDb: A twist on the slasher genre, following two death-obsessed teenage girls who use their online show about real-life tragedies to send their small mid-western town into a frenzy, and cement their legacy as modern horror legends.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m a little torn with Tragedy Girls.

I was really looking forward to this film. I remember the trailers well. They were funny and strange… everything I want in a horror comedy. And the feel of this movie isn’t much different than the trailers portrayed.

It was funny with some very clever moments and decent acting – for what it was. (It’s important to remember that certain characters and scenes are supposed to feel off, cringey, or cheesy.)

It’s difficult to make the antagonists of any film the main character, but Tragedy Girls mostly succeeds in it. You never really want the girls to reach their goal or feel any sympathy for them – but you feel like a fly on the wall getting to see their adventure from their perspective.

Just keep in mind, it’s not like a Thanos situation where you can understand their motivation. It’s more like a psychological study of psychopaths. Voyeuristic, not immersive.

That said, I do have a couple of issues.

First of all, the trailers (and at least one of the movie posters) give away significant plot points. They reveal almost every single victim. As a result, there’s very little room for surprise. I HATE when production companies pull this shit. There were plenty of scenes that could have been used toward a trailer that wouldn’t have fucked with the experience of watching the movie.

Secondly, and I don’t have this issue very often, but I found Tragedy Girls to be a little tone-deaf.

If you’re a long-time reader, then you know me. I’m usually the first one to argue against that term. I’m a huge supporter of taking sensitive issues and putting them into movies or shows or books… really any creative project. It could be a great way to shine a light on subjects that are difficult to discuss. You can use comedy or shocking scenes to really get a point across.

The problem here comes from the way this film handled the ending. I can think of a few different endings that would have navigated the problem of tone much better without being typical.

I still feel like the term ‘tone-deaf’ is overused, but this time I don’t feel like I have much of a choice but to use it. In a country where we have a school violence epidemic – Tragedy Girls could have handled the subject better.

Aside from those issues, everything else was fine. I enjoyed the majority of the movie; it was really just the marketing and the ending I took issue with.

It could be a fun watch for adults, but I would carefully stick to the R-rating when it comes to teens.

Cat’s Point of View:
October 2017 was an interesting month for movies. Tragedy Girls appeared on both my Top 20 article and Selina’s personal list. Looking back, I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to see the film. Counting this one, I’ve seen 9 out of that list of 20 – and some of those multiple times… but I digress.

In retrospect, I might have listed this movie a little higher than the 15th spot that I gave it, but there was some stiff competition.

Overall, Tragedy Girls was successful in penning a bloody love letter to the horror genre. 

This was an interesting spin on a few of the standard tropes, with a light smattering of levity. I can’t say that I found a personal connection with the self-absorbed main characters and I wasn’t exactly rolling on the floor with laughter, but the message the movie delivered was definitely conveyed loud and clear.

As anticipated, this cast sold their roles amazingly well. Psychopaths, sociopaths, and social media: Oh my!

I can’t say that this film will land on my list of favorites, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend some time on a night cooped up indoors. It might be a fun one to include in a fall pre-Halloween lineup, as well.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 82%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 65%
Metascore – 58/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.5/10
IMDB Score – 6.0/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, April 20, 2020

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019)

Streaming Service: Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Destro Films, SModcast Pictures, Hideout Pictures, Intercut Capital, Mewesings, Miramax, Skit Bags Entertainment, View Askew Productions, Mongrel Media, Saban Films, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Nordic
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Actors: Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Harley Quinn Smith, Alice Wen, Treshelle Edmond, Aparna Brielle, Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Fred Armisen, Diedrich Bader, Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio, Melissa Benoist, Marc Bernardin, Jason Biggs, Jeff Chase, Ming Chen, Walter Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Mike Zapcic, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Ernest O’Donnell, Brian O’Halloran, Scott Schiaffo, John Willyung, Tommy Chong, Keith Coogan, Chelsey Cole, Eric Carrasco, David Dastmalchian, Rosario Dawson, Shannon Elizabeth, Nick Fellinger, Dan Fogler, Kevin Foster, Ralph Garman, Ben Gleib, Mickey Gooch Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Jericho, Val Kilmer, Robert Kirkman, Leah Knauer, Jason Lee, Justin Long, David Mandel, Joe Manganiello, Andrew McElfresh, Logan Mewes, Kate Micucci, Jordan Monsanto, Redman, Brian Quinn, Donnell Rawlings, Jesse Rath, Joseph D. Reitman, Jake Richardson, Craig Robinson, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Molly Shannon, Frankie Shaw, Method Man, Donald Smith, Grace Smith, James Van Der Beek, Chris Wood, Matt Damon

Blurb from IMDb: Jay and Silent Bob return to Hollywood to stop a reboot of the 'Bluntman and Chronic' movie from getting made.

Selina’s Point of View:
Before I start talking about this film, I need to remind you that I’m a die-hard Kevin Smith (Red State, Dogma, Clerks) fan. That said? I think this movie was specifically made for people who stan him just as much as I do.

Kevin Smith fans are like a group of friends. And, like a group of friends, there are a ton of in-jokes that circulate among us. Due to the fact that Smith is very connected to his fan-base, he either started, or is in on, every one of those jokes. He knows what lands and what to leave behind. He makes use of that knowledge in this movie.

I’ve heard some of my favorite reviewers going hard on the fact that a lot of this movie is about referencing his other works and focusing on those in-jokes. I don’t have a problem with it. In fact, as a fan, I appreciate it. Smith is a great example of how important it is to stay in touch with the people who love your work.

This flick was self-aware, it was ridiculous, and it was classic Kevin Smith.

I did see some of the points people had about the tonal shift involving the heavy moments… but even with that emotional whiplash, I still stayed invested. Not gonna lie, as a girl that grew up without a dad – I even related a little bit. Had a few teary moments.

I think that’s a credit to Jason Mewes (Madness in the Method, Shoot the Hero, Noobz) and Harley Quinn Smith (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, All These Small Moments, Yoga Hosers). They made those emotional moments feel more down-to-earth than out-of-place. It easily could have felt strange, but it didn’t. I recognized those angry tears that Harley put out, which must have been very difficult for her to portray in a film this comedic.

I’m pleasantly surprised to see that Rotten Tomatoes has a fresh critic score for Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. Because this movie was so geared toward fans of Smith’s entire filmography, I thought they’d be harsher. I’m glad I was wrong.

I do, however, understand the critic score of 66% as compared to the fan score of 94%. As much comedy as there is here for a general audience, fans are going to get a TON more out of it than someone who isn’t up to date with Smith’s work.

Personally? I was laughing throughout the whole thing. There’s been a lot of death and hopelessness around me this past week and I was so happy to get to see a comedy like this that could pull so much laughter out of my stubbornly-depressed face.

If you’re a fan of Kevin Smith, I think you should definitely watch this movie. If you’re not, I think you should watch the rest of his stuff and then watch this one. And don’t skip stuff like Jersey Girl (2004), Tusk (2014), or Cop Out (2010). You need it for the in-jokes.

Also, I put it in the P.S. of this review, but I need to stress it here as well: stay for the mid- and after-credit scenes. They’re so worth it.

Cat’s Point of View:
I had really been looking forward to Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. Scratch that. My entire family and I were eagerly anticipating it. Needless to say, we were very happy to see its release to Amazon Prime Video.

The Jay and Silent Bob movies aren’t exactly ‘family movies,’ per se, but since my daughter’s closing in on 17, she’s watched all of these movies with us at this point – and even some of the animated series.

I’d have to say that this sequel was exactly what I was expecting, and that’s not a bad thing at all. It was a fun experience revisiting familiar characters and watching this new story unfold in an oh-so-familiar (yet decidedly different) way.

The cameos were enjoyable and well placed. There are also layers of Easter eggs for die-hard fans of the View Askewniverse.

I also love how the story shows growth for our titular characters.

For those that haven’t seen all of Kevin Smith’s movies featuring the Quick Stop loitering duo of Jay and Silent Bob, you’ll get more out of the movie if you watch Clerks (1994), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), and then Clerks II (2006). Without that background information, the movie would likely still be enjoyable but some of the scenarios may seem odd (more-so than usual) and some references will likely get lost in the shuffle.

If there’s anyone that stopped watching the blundering duo somewhere along the way without finishing the series, now is a great time to pick up where you left off or re-watch the franchise starting with Clerks. With the COVID-19 lockdown still in place, it’s a perfect time for a movie marathon!

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 66%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 94%
Metascore – 46/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.3/10
IMDB Score – 5.8/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
P.S. Mid-credits scene with a very unexpected cameo. VERY worth waiting for. Watch it. (There are also some scenes during the rest of the credits, also containing some unexpected cameos, also worth watching.)

P.S.2. There’s a final after-credits scene that caught me (Selina) so off-guard that I laughed until I couldn’t breathe.

Movie Trailer: