Friday, April 16, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Streaming Services: HBO Max
Movie Name/Year: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length: 113  minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros., HKC Entertainment, Kinomania, Toho Company, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Singapore, HBO Max
Director: Adam Wingard
Writers: Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty
Actors: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Kaylee Hottle, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Ronny Chieng, John Pirruccello, Chris Chalk, Daniel Nelson, Priscilla Doueihy
Blurb from IMDb:  The epic next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse pits two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against one another - the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong - with humanity caught in the balance.

Cat’s Point of View:
When I saw that Godzilla vs. Kong was being released straight to HBO Max, I could have done cartwheels – I was that excited. I have enjoyed all of the installments in Warner Bros. Monsterverse so far, and had high expectations for this 4th installment.
Of course, the big burning question on everyone’s mind asks who the victor would be. Well, I can tell you that you won’t learn that from me. Sorry! (Not sorry, really. No spoilers here!)

This film takes place over 50 years past the events on Kong: Skull Island (2017), and a handful of years beyond Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019). As a result, the Kong in this film is more grown-up and seasoned going into these events. I found the subplots surrounding him interesting – but, honestly, is anyone really watching this movie for the story aspect? Really? If you are, that’s awesome; but let’s be honest that it’s all about watching the ginormous creatures duke it out.
I’m glad to say that the substance of the story is actually decent, though. Enough plausibility is given for why we see Kong leaving the protection of his island, triggering the inevitable square-off. There were also many little nods here and there to the Godzilla and Kong movies of yesteryear scattered throughout.

The fight sequences were crazy good. The effects were spot-on and the overall result was very satisfying. I appreciated that there was a clear-cut victory involved, and it certainly didn’t go the way I originally expected.
I’m curious where the story goes from here, and would certainly be up for watching further explorations into the Monsterverse. I will likely be watching this movie again to see if I can spot any sneaky Easter Eggs that might tease what they have planned in the future.
If you love these monster movies, you’ll likely be very happy with this clash of movie titans. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 74%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 92%
Metascore –59%
Metacritic User Score – 7.0/10
IMDB Score – 6.5/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Hunter Hunter (2020)

Streaming Services: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Hunter Hunter (2020)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Production/Distribution: Julijette, MarVista Entertainment, Particular Crowd, IFC Midnight, Scream Factory
Director: Shawn Linden
Writer: Shawn Linden
Actors: Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, Devon Sawa, Nick Stahl, Gabriel Daniels, Lauren Cochrane, Jade Michael, Erik Athavale, Karl Thordarson, Blake Taylor, Sarah Constible
Blurb from IMDb: Joseph and his family live in the remote wilderness as fur trappers, but their tranquility is threatened when they think they are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf, and Joseph leaves them behind to track it.

Selina’s Point of View:
Holy shit.
After watching Hunter Hunter, that was the only thing I could think to say for about an hour.
We were supposed to review this a while ago, but COVID intervened. As a result, the reviews are mostly out and I’ve heard a ton about Hunter Hunter: especially about how good it is. What I thought would be more of a general hunt story, seemed to be more – but no one ever spoiled anything for me.
I’m glad they didn’t, and I’m not going to either. That is, however, going to make explaining my feelings about it difficult.
Nothing about Hunter Hunter is typical. Everything from the character types to the settings, and twists, feels completely unique. The conclusion is something I might expect from a different culture, certainly not from a western-made flick. It caught me absolutely off-guard and left me with some haunting visuals that will probably live with me for my entire life.

I have never seen anything Shawn Linden (In Plain Sight, The Fixer, Doomsday Prophecy) has written or directed. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve heard of any of them. This film makes me want to go back and watch everything he’s had a hand in. It’s also going to make the titles he puts out in the future stand out to me.
Even before the reviews started coming out, I was interested in Hunter Hunter because I’m a huge fan of Devon Sawa (Punk’s Dead: SLC Punk 2, A Warden’s Ransom, Nikita). He definitely didn’t disappoint here, but the shining star of the flick was undoubtedly Camille Sullivan (Dead Rising: Endgame, The Unseen, The Man in the High Castle).
Whenever Sullivan had to portray fear, I felt it. There was never a moment in her performance where I questioned her choices. Never a moment where she let my eyes drift off the screen.
I didn’t feel time pass as I watched. I wish I could have seen it in theaters.
Hunter Hunter lives up to the hype. I’ll be recommending it to any horror fans I come across.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 68%
Metascore – 61/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 6.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer:

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Banishing (2021)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: The Banishing (2021)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Length:  97 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: WestEnd Films, Blue Lantern Entertainment International, Ecs Films, Entermode, Koch Media, Prima, Shudder, Suraya Filem, Suraya Film Productions, The Jokers
Director: Christopher Smith
Writers: David Beton, Ray Bogdanovich, Dean Lines
Actors: Jessica Brown Findlay, Sean Harris, John Lynch, John Heffernan, Adam Hugill, Jason Thorpe, Anya McKenna-Bruce, James Swanton, Cokey Falkow, Seamus O'Neill, Amy Trigg, Nigel Travis, Sara Apostolaki, Danny Shayler, Jean St. Clair, Matthew Clarke
Blurb from IMDb:  The Banishing tells the story of the most haunted house in England. In the 1930s, a young reverend, his wife and daughter move into a manor with a horrifying secret.

Selina’s Point of View:
There’s a lot to like about the subtlety of The Banishing.
If you rely on the trailer alone, it looks like it’s going to be a run-of-the-mill haunted house flick. In fact, it looked like it would be so basic, that I almost didn’t even bother with the screener.
I absolutely believe that trailers shouldn’t spoil the films they represent… but they have to at least be cut in a way that sparks interest. In this case, the trailer for The Banishing was cut to make it seem like there was nothing unique about it – and that’s not true.
Although it was a relatively slow burn, The Banishing managed to subvert so many expectations for haunted house films, that it winds up being worth it.
I’ll admit that I do tend to forgive tropey films, as long as they’re done well, but I’m always hoping to see something that goes in a different direction. The Banishing never falls to complete tropes. There’s some mirror work, but it’s unexpected. There are some locked doors, but it’s not what anyone thinks.
The horror is subtle. There are some big, paranormal scenes, but they don’t fall into a ‘basic’ category.

Throughout the film, I kept thinking that the cinematography, story, and direction reminded me of classic horror flicks from the late 60s or early 70s. I don’t mean the setting or the costumes… but the overall feel of it. Like it could have been made around the same time as Rosemary’s Baby (1968) or The Exorcist (1973).
In films like that, the focus is almost completely on the characters, instead of the setting. We know that the house is haunted. We are made to understand the past. In the end, though, it’s all about who the main characters are, and what they offer to the story. A lot of haunting flicks just seem to progress regardless of what the characters do. The ending was going to be the ending, regardless of what took place. In that way, they tend to feel pointless. That’s not a pitfall that affects this one.
I particularly enjoyed the ending. It was understated.
There were a few issues.
Some of the transitions definitely felt a bit jarring and it seemed disjointed at times. There were also a couple of scenes that really didn’t belong. I don’t think that’s enough of a reason to condemn the film.
I mostly enjoyed it, though I don’t think it will be for everyone. If you’re looking for something fast-paced and pulse-pounding, this isn’t it. If you’re up for something with a touch more depth, something that gives off the feel of another era – you’ll like The Banishing.
The Banishing will be released through Shudder on April 15.

Cat’s Point of View:
When the credits rolled I felt like I had just wandered a maze rather than watched a movie. The Banishing meandered through so many twists and turns – many leading nowhere. I was worried for a little while that there wasn’t going to be a point at all. There was a rather nice depiction of a tango that had absolutely nothing to do with the overall story, aside from one of the characters involved with it. That’s how random some of this film seemed.
Surprisingly enough, there was an actual story buried in there. It had some holes and left its audience to do some reading between the lines, but it existed nonetheless.
From what I gather by comparing IMDb’s blurb for the film and the paragraph at the very end of the credits, this movie was based on an actual place in England. The disclaimer at the end of the film indicates that while based on actual events, a good deal was fictionalized for the purpose of this story. I’m moderately fascinated about the real place and what may have happened there. I might just go look it up at some point. It doesn’t ring any bells for me, however, so I’m unable to compare the depicted story with historical events actual or lore-based. I digress…

I felt moderately bad for the main characters, but beyond that, I really couldn’t bring myself to care much for what was going on. The movie simply wasn’t all that frightening. There were some jump-scares that got me, but I startle so easily that it’s not a good measure for a movie. I was really hoping for a good dread-filled horror movie. Unfortunately, since this particular tale was light on that aspect and heavier on drama it left me rather disappointed.
There’s always something positive about a film – even if you have to grasp at proverbial straws to find it. For this one, I’d have to say that the production did a great job at conveying the era in general for Britain between the World Wars. I couldn’t really fault most of the acting, either. In fact, the overall film seems to be growing on me, now that I've slept and had some time to process it a little more. I am a fan of subtlety and the ending ties things together better than expected. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to shake the disappointment. 
If you’re looking for a movie that’s going to make you side-eye dark hallways and sleep with the light on, this isn’t likely going to be the one for you. If you’re looking for a dramatic period piece that’s low on the thrill threshold with a sprinkle of paranormal and a few jump scares…well maybe The Banishing might be something you’d enjoy. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 74%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore –None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.5/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5
Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13
Movie Trailer: