Friday, August 14, 2020

Guns Akimbo (2019)

Streaming Services: Amazon Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: Guns Akimbo (2019)
Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Altitude Film Entertainment, Four Knights Film, Hyperion Media Group, Ingenious Media, Maze Pictures, Occupant Entertainment, Pump Metal Films, The Electric Shadow Company, Particular Crowd, ADS Service, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Axinite Digicinema, Cascade Film, Golden Village Pictures, Gusto entertainment, Leonine Films, Lighthouse Pictures, Saban Films, Ukrainian Film Distribution, Capelight Pictures, Cinemundo, Première TV Distribution, Source 1 Media
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Writer: Jason Lei Howden
Actors: Samara Weaving, Daniel Radcliffe, Rhys Darby, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Mark Rowley, Ned Dennehy, Grant Bowler, Hanako Footman, Josh Thomson, Milo Cawthorne, Set Sjöstrand, Racheal Ofori, Edwin Wright, Colin Moy, Jacqueline Lee Geurts, Aaron Jackson, Jack Riddiford, Richard Knowles, Bella Padden, Stephen Grey

Blurb from Moviefone: An ordinary guy suddenly finds himself forced to fight a gladiator-like battle for a dark website that streams the violence for viewers. Miles must fight heavily armed Nix and also save his kidnapped ex-girlfriend.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have been dying to see this movie even before I knew what this film was even about. Why you may ask? Ages ago, it seems, some images started circulating the net from this production, and a zillion memes were born. Okay, maybe not that many but if you’d like to giggle at a decent collection of them, you can visit here.

Needless to say, when the trailer actually launched those images made so much more sense, and I had even more reason to be all-in for watching this new movie. Former wand-wielding Brit Daniel Radcliffe (Horns, Swiss Army Man, Miracle Workers) has developed a certain flair for picking projects about as far removed as he can get from the genre that launched his career – and I love it. His choices tend to be daring and sometimes a little ridiculous, but one thing’s for sure - he’ll never get stuck in type-cast roles.  I digress…

Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time on the internet tends to become painfully aware of the presence of trolls. I’ve oft wondered just what would happen if the foul-attitude wielding keyboard warriors of the web were suddenly faced with real-world consequences for their bad behavior. This movie explores one of those what-if scenarios in a rather violent, yet entertaining way.

I’m not going to lie. There were moments that had my head spinning a little from everything going on but those were few and far between, really. There was a little shaky-cam but honestly, it didn’t bother me as much as it usually does. The pacing reminded me a lot of first-person-shooter games. This was quite likely intentional. There are all sorts of little references laced through, and not only FPS but other games as well– you can find a few references mentioned in IMDb’s Trivia for the movie.

I understand why a lot of people are giving the film a hard time, but it’s really not supposed to be anything deep. It’s a bloody action-comedy that’s seriously dark, but heavy on both the action and the comedy. The production value is fairly good – and unless you’re seriously watching the film for the sole purpose of picking out its goofs and flaws, it’s hard to notice them. I didn’t.

Of course, Radcliffe isn’t alone on the screen. Samara Weaving (Monster Trucks, The Babysitter, Ready or Not) was a stand-out for me with the intensity she poured into her role as Nix. She oozed crazy and deadly skill with nearly effortless abandon. I loved the way her character just seemed to revel in the mayhem and the fact that she wasn’t there just for the explosions and rain of bullet casings. (I also have vehicle envy.) I appreciated that an attempt was made to explain her break with sanity and the motive behind her relentless pursuit.

Honorable mention goes to Ned Dennehy (Mandy, Peaky Blinders, Outlander) for bringing a villain to the screen that reminded me of a methed-out Jigsaw (2017) while he pulled the strings of the game that seemed to be an amped-up blend of Nerve (2016) and the Crackle series Chosen (2013-2014) in concept.

I found myself thoroughly entertained by Guns Akimbo and wouldn’t hesitate to give it a recommendation for anyone wanting to take a momentary vacation from the craziness of reality to watch something even more bonkers. I’ll probably be watching this again soon.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 53%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 40%
Metascore –  42/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.2/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Work It (2020)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Work It (2020)
Genre: Comedy, Music
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: AK Worldwide, Alloy Entertainment, STX Films, Netflix
Director: Laura Terruso
Writer: Alison Peck
Actors: Keiynan Lonsdale, Liza Koshy, Briana Andrade-Gomes, Kalliane Brémault, Sabrina Carpenter, Naomi Snieckus, Michelle Buteau, Drew Ray Tanner, Jordan Fisher, Biana Asilo, Neil Robles, Nathaniel Scarlette, Tyler Hutchings, Indiana Mehta, Jayne Eastwood

Blurb from IMDb: When Quinn Ackerman's admission to the college of her dreams depends on her performance at a dance competition, she forms a ragtag group of dancers to take on the best squad in she just needs to learn how to dance.

Selina’s Point of View:
Work It was a great, feel-good, film. I’ll admit that it definitely followed a recipe, and there was a bit of cringe, but the actors really took it to the next level and made it work.

I said in my Top 20 that I would have wanted to see this film just for Liza Koshy (Escape the Night, Liza on Demand, Freakish), even without anything else that made it look good. I still think that. Liza Koshy is a national treasure. She’s spunky and hilarious and her personality just shines in everything she touches. It’s impossible to not love her.

In this film, her charisma is perfectly complimented by the talent of Sabrina Carpenter (Tall Girl, Milo Murphy’s Law, The Short History of the Long Road), the charm of Jordan Fisher (To All the Boys:P.S. I Still Love You, Rent: Live, Liv and Maddie), and the sass of Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash, Like.Share.Follow., The Finest Hours). It just all worked on such a level that it had me smiling from the start.

Some of the dance scenes felt a bit weak. The final dance really didn’t hit as hard as it should have. I believe that’s because of some directorial choices that brought me out of the moment. Without that, I think Work It might have been close to perfect.

Although it didn’t reinvent the wheel, I think Work It does make the dance movie more accessible to the newer generation. It really takes into consideration the way the world has changed over the years, and it feels more up-to-date, despite following a recipe.

I’d definitely recommend this movie to fans of the dance genre and older teens.

Cat’s Point of View:
The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller-coaster for me. My husband had a minor surgery – which was why you haven’t seen me weighing in on the last few movie reviews – but rest assured, all is well. Things have just been different around the house with his post-op restrictions. My daughter has also just started her school year attending high school 100% virtually. I’m very thankful for that opportunity – and tired. Needless to say, I was excited that this was my first review getting back into the swing of things. I needed some wholesome fun. My daughter was even down to watch it with me! We haven’t done that in a while.

Of course, the cast was a factor, and it appealed to my teen. She’s grown up glued to the Disney Channel so seeing the likes of Sabrina Carpenter and Jordan Fisher on the screen was exciting for her. She wasn’t the only one. The mouse house has a pretty good track record for showcasing extremely talented youth. Those two are prime examples. They didn’t disappoint here.

While on the topic of cast. Liza Koshy really stood out for me. I loved her as the best friend. She seemed so familiar to me but I’m not sure if I’ve really noticed her in anything before. This was certainly a great movie to highlight more than just her acting talent.

This movie felt a bit like the dance team version of Ice Princess (2005). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. I just had the feeling of familiarity with how things were going. It felt comfortable. While the story itself might have been about a character getting out of their box, this one certainly stayed in the confines of the tropes it represented.

While not entirely original, it was entertaining and I wouldn’t mind watching it again if my daughter decided that she needed to give it a second look.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 85%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 67%
Metascore – 58/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.2/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, August 10, 2020

An American Pickle (2020)

Streaming Services: HBO Max
Movie Name/Year: An American Pickle (2020)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Point Grey Pictures, Gravitational Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Max, HBO España, HBO Max
Director: Brandon Trost
Writer: Simon Rich
Actors: Seth Rogen, Sarah Snook, Molly Evensen, Eliot Glazer, Kalen Allen, Kevin O’Rourke, Sean Whalen, Geoffrey Cantor, Carol Leifer, Jorma Taccone, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Alyse Zwick, Dalon Huntington, J Michael Grey, Liz Cackowski, Ian Poake

Blurb from IMDb: An immigrant worker at a pickle factory is accidentally preserved for 100 years and wakes up in modern day Brooklyn.

Selina’s Point of View:
This film surprised the hell out of me. It’s not at all what I thought it would be.

I’d call that a good thing, this time. That means that An American Pickle didn’t succumb to the pitfalls I worried about. As I mentioned in my Top 20, using the same actor for two characters, especially in silly comedy flicks, has a tendency to go spectacularly wrong.

Seth Rogen (Long Shot, The Disaster Artist, The Interview) makes it work here, though. I saw the difference in the mannerisms very clearly. Even in scenes where they’re supposed to look the most alike, Rogen carried himself in ways that helped define the two characters.

I’m not saying that it was Orphan Black (2013-2017) good. After all, that’s a serious show and An American Pickle very much is not.

There’s nothing serious about this film. The ‘science’ is yadda-yadda’d. We never even get to hear the explanation, which is fine. We’re seeing things through Herschel’s eyes at the time, and he’s a bit overwhelmed from being pickled for 100 years.

I mean, I don’t think anyone would watch this movie for science reasons anyway, but still.

The humor was outstanding. I loved the way An American Pickle compared the lives of people from a century ago to our time through the eyes of a Jewish immigrant time-transplant and his great-grandson. You get to see the way things have changed. This flick takes a look at religion, cancel culture, and family in ways that other films can’t really explore when they take a more serious tone.

Lightening serious subjects with humor is a good way to objectively examine them.

I do not understand the reviews for this film. From what I’m seeing, it’s incredibly underrated. I almost always agree with the audience over the critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but I can’t this time.

Whatever the reason audiences have to dislike this film, I think they’re wrong. I had a beautiful time watching An American Pickle. I started laughing at the beginning and only stopped once, near the end, because I got hit with some feels.

This is a great film. It’s hilarious. If I had paid money to see this on the big screen, I’d have been more than satisfied. Honestly? I think it’s worth getting HBO Max for.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 74%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 47%
Metascore – 58/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.1/10
IMDB Score – 5.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5

P.S.: There’s a short scene after the start of the credits.

Movie Trailer: