Friday, September 25, 2020

Enola Holmes (2020)


Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Enola Holmes (2020)
Genre: Adventure, Crime, Drama
Length: 123 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: PCMA Productions, Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, EH Productions, Netflix
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Writers: Nancy Springer, Jack Thorne
Actors: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Burn Gorman, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma, Hattie Morahan, David Bamber, Frances de la Tour, Claire Rushbrook, Fiona Shaw, Gaby French, Paul Copley, Ellie Haddington, Alex Kelly, James Duke, Connor Catchpole, Sarah Flind, Sofia Stavrinou, Sophie Dixon, Mary Roscoe, Tuyen Do, Esther Coles, Owen Atlas, Gianni Calchetti
Blurb from IMDb: When Enola Holmes-Sherlock's teen sister-discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord.

Cat’s Point of View:
Where do I even begin? I have been fairly chomping at the bit while waiting for Enola Holmes to be released. The game was afoot the moment I watched the trailer. The concept of this film is appealing to me on several levels. Needless to say, I was excited enough that I have been hell-bent to get this review written for you, whether I have pinched-nerve pain or not. (Thankfully, that’s all my arm issue has been, and not something more lasting or dire.)

I am a Sherlock Holmes fan, even if not an up-to-date one. I haven’t seen the BBC series of recent years, but I have watched previous iterations as well as the 2009 and 2011 blockbuster movies. I think it was a bloody brilliant idea for Henry Cavill (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Night Hunter) to step into the role of the legendary gumshoe. His wit, charm, and native English dialect lend themselves well to the role and made the casting choice rather elementary.

The cast was also a large draw to this feature. Had the production team decided to give this film a theater distribution, it had the potential to be a serious box-office draw under non-pandemic circumstances. With that said, I’m ever so grateful that the decision was made to partner with Netflix for the release. Production has slowed to a crawl or has been full-stop delayed all-together for The Witcher (2019-) Season 2 and Stranger Things (2016-) Season 4, respectively, due to the pandemic. While I’ve been yearning for the next installments of those favorite series to get into gear again, this movie provided the perfect opportunity for the warm fuzzy feels from seeing actors from both share the screen in the same production. (I’m having withdrawal, okay? It’s been over a year for Stranger Things. I’m used to getting a more predictable fix.)

Getting back to the point, I was excited to see Millie Bobby Brown (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Intruders, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) in the lead role here. I honestly couldn’t picture anyone else playing the part of the titular character. Some may not have enjoyed the occasional 4th wall breaks sprinkled throughout the movie, but I found them endearing. I loved being included in the shenanigans. Of course, I can’t forget Helena Bonham Carter (Ocean's 8, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, The Crown). Her presence as the Holmes siblings’ mother is quite fitting. These two were the perfect pair to portray the fierce independence of their characters amidst the feminist movement of Victorian England.

Sam Claflin (The Quiet Ones, Adrift, Me Before You) has no small part here, either. I almost didn’t recognize him – but his performance was memorable as the more traditional and set-in-his-ways judgemental brother.

I could ramble forever, but I’ll try not to digress too far.

The cinematography was excellent here. Everything flowed really well and I nearly didn’t realize the passing of time at all. Another draw to the film for me was the Victorian setting. I do adore a good period piece now and again, and the production team absolutely nailed it. The locations and ambiance were amazing.

I sincerely hope that Netflix expands this experience into a franchise with at least a couple more sequels. Since the film is adapted from novels, I imagine there’s plenty of material to fuel several further escapades. There’s only one unfortunate kink in that prospect – the original author of the books Enola Holmes draws from as well as the production team for this film are all currently embroiled in a legal battle with the estate of the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). The suit is regarding copyright issues stemming from some aspects of Sherlock’s personality shown in this movie. I am glad that it didn’t stop this from being released – but its outcome certainly has bearing on whether or not there might be future installments.

That being said, I can only heartily recommend this film and intend to encourage all of my friends to give it a watch. Hopefully, a settlement or ruling can be reached that will keep the movie available on Netflix and allow many adventures to come. I’m crossing my fingers!

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 80%
Metascore – 68/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.9/10
IMDB Score – 6.7/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Vivarium (2019)

Streaming Services: Amazon Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: Vivarium (2019)
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Mystery
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Lovely Productions, Fantastic Films, Frakas Productions, PingPongFilm, XYZ Films, Saban Films, Les Bookmakers, Shaw Organisation, The Jokers, Ukrainian Film Distribution, Vertigo Releasing, A Contracorriente Films, Concorde Home Entertainment, Lumix Media, Umbrella Entertainment
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Writer: Lorcan Finnegan, Garret Shanley
Actors: Imogen Poots, Danielle Ryan, Molly McCann, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris, Côme Thiry, Senan Jennings, Eanna Hardwicke, Olga Wehrly, Michael McGeown
Blurb from IMDb: A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.

Selina’s Point of View:
It’s extremely hard for me to write a review of this film. Mainly because I’m having trouble staying awake.
I’ve never seen such a heavy sedative dressed up as a cinematic experience.
My expectations weren’t to blame, either. I wanted to see it. I figured it would have a slow pace and lean a little more toward the cerebral. I was ready for it. I got the recommended amount of sleep last night, I had a healthy breakfast, even my sugar numbers are well within range. I made sure I was ready for something slower that I would have to THINK about.

It wasn’t what I expected. It’s not actually a thinker. It could have been, but the creators took the story in a weird direction and it lost all the lessons it could have held.
The only way Vivarium met my expectations was in its pacing – it’s very slow.
It’s also not nearly as original as I thought it would be.

Way too often, throughout the film, I found myself wishing I was watching Episode 150 of The Twilight Zone (1959-1964).
“Stopover in a Quiet Town” is one of my favorite episodes of the series and Vivarium feels like a longer, boring, pointless version of the same story. Yes, the ending is different – but the way “Stopover in a Quiet Town” concluded is much more fulfilling.

I don’t think we needed Vivarium. If it had taken a more psychological look at the story, we’d be having a different discussion.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, and Tylenol PM doesn’t do the trick, this might be the way to go. If you’re actually interested in something fulfilling, just flip on the aforementioned episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s shorter and a much better watch.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 72%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 38%
Metascore – 64/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.2/10
IMDB Score – 5.8/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Devil All the Time (2020)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: The Devil All the Time (2020)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Length: 138 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Nine Stories Productions, Netflix
Director: Antonio Campos
Writer: Antonio Campos, Paulo Campos, Donald Ray Pollock
Actors: Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Haley Bennett, Harry Melling, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, Mia Wasikowska, Eliza Scanlen, Jason Clarke, Douglas Hodge, Given Sharp, Drew Starkey, Lucy Faust, Abby Glover, David Maldonado, Cory Scott Allen, Kristin Griffith, Michael Banks Repeta
Blurb from IMDb: Sinister characters converge around a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have come to love Tom Holland (Onward, Spider-Man: Homecoming, In the Heart of the Sea) as an actor. That’s what primarily drove my interest in The Devil All the Time, at least initially. Eventually I took note of the rest of the phenomenal cast and watched the trailer – but none of that would have been enough to keep me interested without Holland.
Period piece films, especially ones that are rooted in mainly drama, just don’t tend to speak to me. On top of that, it’s long. It’s as if the writers took several different films and connected them into one. All the stories converge eventually, but you bounce back and forth a bit first. I had some suspicions that I might have trouble watching.
I was shocked that they were able to keep things from being difficult to follow. I thought I was going to get confused, but everything from the content, to the settings, to the acting kept me sucked in. My attention never wavered.

The people involved in The Devil All the Time were absolutely at the top of their game. Every branch of the setting was in place. There was not a single performance that was flawed. The writing was on point, except for one scene that I felt was a bit gratuitous.
There was one particular death that was much harder to watch than the others, the third one – I believe it was. There was no body horror, no torture involved. Something about the way the scene was done just made it feel very real. The director opted to go for a muted use of blood and music that caused everything to match up to what you would expect to see at a real crime scene. That made it more horrifying than any torture-based horror flick I’ve ever seen.
Honestly, even with how great the film is, a lot of it is difficult to watch and listen to. It goes to some seriously dark places and there are triggers everywhere. Keep that in mind if you’re interested in watching.
And you should be interested in watching. Netflix did a great job picking this movie for distribution. It’s unforgettable.

Cat’s Point of View:
When I see a movie labeled with the genres of crime, drama, and thriller; it tends to set me up for an experience that will either hold me in suspense or pull me into intrigue while I sit on the edge of my seat. I expect to be clawing for hope that the protagonist skates by to whatever their story’s favorable conclusion might be.
When “thrills” are promised, I expect time to fly by.
If I had to pick one word to describe The Devil All the Time, speedy would definitely not be it. The not-quite two and a half hours of this film felt more like three. I get it, though. The story spans several decades, after all. I guess I just wish the pacing was a bit faster. I suppose feeling the passage of time towards the inevitable conclusion could have been purposeful.
My take on this all-star Netflix original is that it gives us a reminder about that phrase we sometimes bandy about – “it’s a small world.” Expanding on that, the film also gives us a lesson in six-degrees-of-karma… or you could even argue fate.
I appreciated how immersive into that bygone era between World War II and Vietnam the film felt. The fact that the movie was shot on 35mm likely added to that ambiance and was a risk that, hopefully, paid off for Netflix.

The cast was amazing in their roles. I was invested in the characters regardless of how intensely I felt the passage of time. Of course, the time period depicted in the tale is, by nature, “slower-paced” in comparison to the “fast-lane” of the “future” that we live in, today.
If I’m being fair, I have to admit, it is also possible that the pain I’ve been experiencing in my right arm lately could also be coloring my perception of the passage of time. (I have a doctor’s appointment later this week, thankfully.)
I expect that the production was fairly true to the novel that it was adapted from, however; considering that the author of the titular book lent his voice to the role of the narrator of this story. Donald Ray Pollock hasn’t even voiced his own audiobooks before, so this seems to be telling for the production’s benefit.
Overall, it’s a solid dramatic piece, and satisfying for the most part. I definitely wouldn’t steer anyone away from the movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore – 54/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.9/10
IMDB Score – 7.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5
Movie Trailer: