Friday, November 6, 2020

Blood Vessel (2020)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Blood Vessel (2020)
Genre: Horror
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Rock Island Films, Storm Vision Entertainment, SunJive Studios, Wicked of Oz Studios, Shaw Organisation, Entertainment Squad, The Horror Collective, Umbrella Entertainment
Director: Justin Dix
Writer: Justin Dix, Jordan Prosser
Actors: Nathan Phillips, Alyssa Sutherland, Robert Taylor, Christopher Kirby, Alex Cooke, Mark Diaco, John Lloyd Fillingham, Troy Larkin, Vivienne Perry, Ruby Isobel Hall
Blurb from IMDb: Somewhere in the North Atlantic, late 1945. A life raft adrift at sea, and in it, the survivors of a torpedoed hospital ship: With no food, water, or shelter, all seems lost - until an abandoned German minesweeper drifts ominously towards them, giving them one last chance at survival.

Selina’s Point of View:
There are some things I really liked about this film and some things that put me off.
Let’s start with the good.
I absolutely adore that they took inspiration from the Romanian folklore involving Strigoi. For those of you less familiar with it, that basically means they returned to a more Nosferatu (1922) style of vampire.
Don’t get me wrong, I read the Anita Blake series. Sexy vampires can work. In films, however, I prefer my blood suckers to be frightening and monstrous. They did that in Blood Vessel.
The film also took a lot of inspiration from legendary flicks like Alien (1979) and The Thing (1982). It really dove right into that uncertain, unfamiliar, claustrophobia that both other movies brought to life.

That’s where my enjoyment ends, though.
Outside of the concept, there was very little depth. There were severe continuity issues and they dove hard into zombie film tropes – taking all the bad and none of the good. On top of that, very little happened on screen until half way through.
Then, there was so little contrast on the screen that – even with my brightness turned to max – it was hard to make out what was happening at times.
There were also about two likeable characters and the ending turned super campy – which didn’t match the rest of the flick.
I wanted to like Blood Vessel. Unfortunately, I found it to be mediocre at best.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of a ghost ship. Of course, that generally ties in with the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle – but that’s not what we’re dealing with in this movie. This WWII era story is vampire flick, rather than a flight of phantasm.
In that way, Blood Vessel sets itself apart from other nautical disaster films. It lacks the spirits of Ghost Ship (2002), or the far-fetched action-gore of Deep Rising (1998). It rests somewhere in the happy middle of the supernatural range.
At first, I was concerned that this film might be a bit campy – quite a few protagonists vs. Nazi tropes tend to call for such. I was very relieved to find that was not the case here. The Nazi element was mostly setting, atmosphere, and background – both literal and thematic.

The cast sold their performances well. I bought in on the mixed bag of shipwreck survivors and their differing perspectives. The writing felt solid and I really appreciated the little details here and there.
While this obviously didn’t have a blockbuster budget, I think they did very well with both the effects and the decision to film on an actual ship rather than a soundstage mockup. Visuals were clearly a deft blend of practical with some understated digital enhancement.
What can I say – I’m a sucker for a story that has roots in folklore. In this case, it is Romanian lore and I adored it all the way through to the jaw-dropping ending. I wouldn’t hesitate to steer anyone with a Shudder subscription in the direction of this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 70%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 21%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Honest Thief (2020)

Streaming Services: In Theaters
Movie Name/Year: Honest Thief (2020)
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Length: 99 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Argonaut Entertainment Partners, Blitz, Briarcliff Entertainment, Cutting Edge Group, Dreadnought Films, Dutch FilmWorks (DFW), E Stars Films, Eagle Films, Film & TV House, Forum Film, GEM Entertainment, Honest Thief Productions, Ingenious Media, J Cubed Film Finance, Key2media, Kinepolis Film Distribution (KFD), Kinomania, Leonine Distribution, Media Film, Metropolitan Filmexport, Monolith Films, Noori, Open Road Films, Pioneer Films, Pris Audiovisuais, PT Amero Mitra Film, Rialto Distribution, Samuel Marshall Productions, Shaw Organisation, Signature Entertainment, Solution Entertainment Group, Sony Danmark, Sprockefeller Pictures, Tanweer Alliances, Tanweer Group, Times Media Films, Top Film, Vie Vision Pictures, VVS Films, Zero Gravity Management
Director: Mark Williams
Writer: Steve Allrich, Mark Williams
Actors: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan, Anthony Ramos, Robert Patrick, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Tazzie
Blurb from IMDb: Wanting to lead an honest life, a notorious bank robber turns himself in, only to be double-crossed by two ruthless FBI agents.

Selina’s Point of View:
I got the chance to hit theaters again and decided to go with Honest Thief. There’s not a huge selection these days (for the obvious good reason), and I wasn’t feeling horror after an entire month of it. So, action.
You know what you’re going to get when you hit a Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Cold Pursuit, Silence) flick. You’re going to get a story about a man who has a very particular set of skills. Skills that make him a nightmare for the antagonist. I could go on, but let’s face it, you know what I’m doing here.
He’s got a bit of a typecast. Nothing wrong with specializing in something one does well, though.
That’s the thing. He’s played pretty much the same character in many of his films since Taken (2009). The only thing that tends to be in question is how high the body count is. That’s where we get a slight deviation from the norm here.
Neeson plays the good guy and he stays a good guy. There’s no real arguing if the sacrifices he made were worth it. When he does have to do something lethal, there’s no question.

That makes this slightly different than typical Neeson fare. His action sequences are so infrequent, that when they do occur it means more for the film.
I also really liked a lot of the other characters. Kate Walsh’s (The Umbrella Academy, 3022, Almost Love) character is kind of bad ass, in her own way. Instead of playing the meek woman stuck in a bad situation, she rises to the occasion and makes a difference. Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, She’s Gotta Have It, Hamilton) played a phenomenal conflicted cop, while Jai Courtney (Stateless, Semper Fi, Suicide Squad) used his punchable face to be a thrillingly despicable antagonist. I really can’t fault any of the actors.
I think the big thing that caught me off guard was that it’s not the rushed-pacing, constant action, kind of film that I would have expected from the trailer. It’s got more heart. In fact, there’s a decent thread of romance going throughout it – and there’s enough chemistry between Neeson and Walsh to support it.
All-in-all, I’d call it a successful film. It had a bit of a recipe quality to it, but the premise was on the original side and I feel like I saw something new.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 44%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 88%
Metascore – 46/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.1/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5

P.S. For Americans stressing over the election: Breathe. This will be over soon.
Movie Trailer:

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Swing of Things (2020)

Streaming Services: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: The Swing of Things (2020)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Redwire Pictures, Reflecting Pool Productions, Sprockefeller Pictures, The Film House, Wildfire Pictures, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Director: Matt Shapira
Writer: Christopher Hewitson, Clayton Hewitson, Justin Jones, Patrick McErlean, Scotty Mullen
Actors: Chord Overstreet, Olivia Culpo, Luke Wilson, Aleksander Vayshelboym, Adelaide Kane, Matt McCoy, E.E. Bell, Carolyn Hennesy, Maria Breese, Jon Lovitz, Carl Davis, Leslie Stratton, Winston Bartley, Joshua Uduma, Boni Mata, Hayley Amber Smith, Jordan Morgan
Blurb from IMDb: A groom-to-be accidentally books his destination wedding and honeymoon at a swingers resort in Jamaica.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m going to get straight to the point and say that I don’t think this was a very funny film.
The Swing of Things was raunchy, which is fine for me. I enjoy a lot of raunchy comedies. The thing is, you still need some kind of comedic timing. The people involved in this movie seem to have forgotten that. They decided that if they just wrote the thing, it didn’t matter HOW it was said, as long as it was.
That’s just not how it works.
Even if we ignore that and just picture it with better comedic timing, there was still a pace issue.

This is definitely a flick that would have benefited from a shorter run time.
The first half hour of the film is concentrated on the lives of the two main characters before they meet, and their lazy meet-cute scene. The first part is a completely different project than the last hour. They don’t even feel like the same movie.
There was nothing of substance until there was and, by then, I just didn’t care. Add to that the randomly talking animals that didn’t fit, the lack of any kind of chemistry between characters, and the addition of a strange new comedy trope involving dolphins raping humans.
It wasn’t for me.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score –None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 13%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 2.9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1/5
P.S.: There are bloopers during the credits.
Movie Trailer: