Friday, May 7, 2021

Stowaway (2021)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Stowaway (2021)
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length:  116 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Augenschein Filmproduktion, RainMaker Films, Yale Productions, Black Canopy Films, MMC Movies, Phiphen Pictures, RISE PICTURES, Stage 6 Films, XYZ Films, Dutch FilmWorks, Elevation Pictures, Falcon Films, Falcon, InterCom, Kinepolis Film Distribution, Sony Pictures Releasing Australia, Sony Pictures Releasing, Ster-Kinekor Pictures, United International Pictures, Volga Film Ukraine, Volga, Netflix
Director: Joe Penna
Writers: Joe Penna, Ryan Morrison
Actors: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, Toni Collette
Blurb from IMDb:  A three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board.

Cat’s Point of View:
Selina and I both had Stowaway listed within our Top 10 out of April’s Top 20 Movies to Look Out For article. Needless to say, I was really excited to watch this movie and glad it was offered on Netflix. (I still can’t make it out to theaters out of an abundance of caution due to my compromised immune system.)
The cast sold this movie for me, even if it wasn’t a science-fiction space drama. All of those things are right in my wheelhouse, too. When you mention that Anna Kendrick (Table 19, A Simple Favor, Trolls World Tour), Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-0, Hellboy, New Amsterdam), and Toni Collette (Hereditary, Velvet Buzzsaw, Knives Out) are involved, I’m all in; regardless of the setting. I’m not as familiar with Shamier Anderson (The Barrens, Wynona Earp, Bruised), but he gave a stellar performance here.

I appreciate that this production did its best to get the science aspects correct – even if they missed a few things, like correct directional drift in space for items and the presence of system redundancies in real spacecraft, and embellished others for the sake of the movie. I can generally overlook that. Everything was visually stunning and brought the desired impact to the story.
Ultimately, this premise was less about space exploration and more about the moral issue at hand when the necessity of air is called into question. How much is a life worth? What makes an individual important? How does one decide? How do the characters handle the pressure and weight of that decision? What will the central mission command tell the crew to do? I’m obviously not going to answer that for you, though.
While the story played out in a rather predictable manner, I found I didn’t mind. The caliber of the acting and the pathos of the story gripped me and the visuals offered a dazzling backdrop. Of course, I can’t say that this is the best space-themed movie that I’ve seen; but I can tell you that I wouldn’t mind watching it again and would definitely offer it as a recommendation.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 77%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 53%
Metascore – 63%
Metacritic User Score – 5/10
IMDB Score – 5.6/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021)

Streaming Services: Amazon Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Length: 109 minutes
Rating: R
Production/DistributionNew Republic Pictures, Midnight Radio, Outlier Society, Weed Road Pictures, Amazon Studios, Paramount Pictures, Skydance Media, Amazon Prime Video
Director: Stefano Sollima
Writer:  Taylor Sheridan, Will Staples, Tom Clancy
Actors: Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith, Jamie Bell, Guy Pearce, Lauren London, Jacob Scipio, Todd Lasance, Jack Kesy, Lucy Russell, Cam Gigandet, Luke Mitchell, Artjom Gilz, Brett Gelman, Merab Ninidze
Blurb from IMDb: John Clark, a Navy SEAL, goes on a path to avenge his wife's murder only to find himself inside of a larger conspiracy.

Selina’s Point of View:
Seeing a movie like Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse right after something like our Monday film, Fried Barry, has an interesting effect.
Fried Barry was an experimental horror that followed its own rules. Tropes and recipes were not a factor in any way, shape, or form. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is mainstream. It displays a ton of tropes and a very traditional story telling method. It seems completely, inexcusably, basic by comparison.
Trust the Dice doesn’t compare the movies we see from day to day, that’s not our thing. However, we’re human. Sometimes our brains are just going to do what our brains do. In this case, I think Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse really suffered from following our Monday film.
That said, it IS basic.
The twist at the end was the single most obvious for the plot. Once you see the mid-movie reveal, there’s no more mystery. The film acts like there’s more, but there’s not. There’s simply no question as to where the story is going.

I’m a little mad. I’m a big fan of Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, Creed, Just Mercy), and Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship, Nightflyers, Queen & Slim) was bad-ass. The action aspect was also damn good. Some of the action scenes featured stuff I’ve never seen before. It should have been amazing.
It wasn’t.
I’m left feeling underwhelmed, to say the least. The mid-credit scene sets up the next flick, and I should care.
Will I watch it? Sure. Would I seek it out on my own if I didn’t have the blog? Not after this film.
In the end, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is really only the kind of movie you put on in the background and look up from whatever else you’re doing for the action sequences. It’s not necessary to concentrate on the rest.

Cat’s Point of View:
The name Tom Clancy (The Sum of All Fears, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan) has become synonymous with political intrigue fiction. The late Mr. Clancy was the creator of famous characters such as Jack Ryan. He was also the author of novels that many classic movies from the late 80s and forward have been adapted from (not to mention a zillion video games). When his name is attached to something, there’s an automatic reaction and expectation involved – at least, that’s the case for me.
While this particular fiction genre isn’t my go-to by any means, I have enjoyed the movies that these stories have spawned. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is no exception.
I was actually surprised to learn that this film has been in development hell since shortly after the book was published in the early 90s. Savoy Pictures purchased the rights in 1993 and went into production. Unfortunately, it suffered from studio shut-downs, director and cast changes, and the like. I’d like to think that those events happened for the best, however. This version of the movie released on Amazon Prime far exceeds what any earlier version would have accomplished.
First, this cast was amazing. Michael B. Jordan has proved time and time again how much of a bad-ass he is. I believed every moment of his delivery and was right there vibing with him when he felt things start to go sideways in the story. You could have seriously fooled me into believing that Jordan had passed actual Navy SEAL training for how comfortable he appeared to be in the water scenes.

I geek out a little every time I recognize Jamie Bell (The Eagle, TURN: Washington's Spies, Rocketman) in a movie role. It’s not that I’m surprised to see him, it’s because each experience shows a different side of his range – and this man is phenomenally versatile. I loved every minute that Jordan and Bell shared on screen together.
Definitely not to be overlooked, Jodie Turner-Smith commands your attention as the SEAL team leader. There’s even a small Easter egg involving her character if you’re familiar with other on-screen Tom Clancy projects. I’m not telling – you need to find it for yourself!
The action was well done and believable, and the story certainly resonates just as much today as it would have when the book was written. It hits the ground running and doesn’t give you a breather. I am excited that this was the first installment of a 2-part movie series; there is definitely a sequel intended by director Stefano Sollima (Suburra, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, ZeroZeroZero).
I would absolutely recommend this Amazon Prime original to fans of the action or military genres. It’s definitely worth every moment.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 45%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 44%
Metascore – 41/100
Metacritic User Score – 3.8/10
IMDB Score – 5.8/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5
P.S. Mid-credit scene.
Movie Trailer:

Monday, May 3, 2021

Fried Barry (2021)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Fried Barry (2021)
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Length: 99 minutes
Rating: NR
Production/Distribution: The Department of Special Projects, The Department of Special Projects, Enigma Ace Films, Panalux, Panavision, Zootee Studios, Shudder
Director: Ryan Kruger
Writer:  Ryan Kruger, James C. Williamson
Actors: Gary Green, Chanelle de Jager, Brett Williams, Joey Cramer, Bianka Hartenstein, Sean Cameron Michael, Steve Wall, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Tamer Burjaq, Jonathan Pienaar, Colin Moss, Brendan Sean Murray, Ryan Kruger, Marty Kintu, Gaham Clarke
Blurb from IMDb: Barry is a drug-addled, abusive bastard who - after yet another bender - is abducted by aliens. Barry takes a backseat as an alien visitor assumes control of his body and takes it for a joyride through Cape Town. What follows is an onslaught of drugs, sex and violence as our alien tourist enters the weird and wonderful world of humankind. FRIED BARRY is based upon the short film of the same name, which earned 57 official selections and 12 wins at festivals around the world.

Selina’s Point of View:
The past hour-and-a-half has been torture.
Before I go too far into reviewing Fried Barry, however, I need to take a few things into account.
First, and foremost, I don’t tend to like experimental films. Much as I love the horror-comedy sub-genre, there are only a small amount that I’ve ever seen that claim to be ‘experimental’. I’ve liked none of them.
Secondly, the director didn’t set out to make a good film.
Director Ryan Kruger (The Man Who Beat the Man, Prime Circle: Doors, The SA Way) has stated in several interviews that he wasn’t out to make a flick that everyone would like. There are plenty of people that shy away from mainstream film-making, but his intentions go beyond even that. He sought to make something so strange and unique and ridiculous, that it becomes unforgettable by default.
He wanted to make a cult film.
I thought that was a little bold of him. Bold to assume that a ‘cult’ status is something that you can seek out from the start.
Cult cinema is usually eccentric. It involves original pieces that are extremely memorable and re-watchable. If that was the whole definition of the cult genre, then yeah, you could definitely predict if a project was going to hit the mark. But it’s not.
It’s not just about how a film is created, written, or even developed. It can be something that comes out in wide releases or just sent straight to video. What makes a cult film is how it’s received.

Directors make movies for specific genres. They can seek to make drama, or a horror, or a romance. They can seek to make flicks that settle into sub-genres like teen stories, superheroes, occult, etc. But it’s the audience that makes a film: cult.
No director can control the audience.
That said, I think Kruger is onto something here.
I’m not going to lie, I fucking hate it. There is not a god damn thing that I enjoyed about Fried Barry. Personally, I’d rather never watch any other movies than watch this one again. It was, as I said earlier, torture to sit through.
If I look at it through the scope of what the director was trying to do, though…
I think there’s a possibility he succeeded.
I will never be able to unsee Fried Barry. It will be scorched into my brain for eternity. It’s weird, and ridiculous and absolutely disgusting. And there are people that I know who will see it once and fall completely in love. They will adore it just for its eccentricity and the message they see behind the script. They will re-watch it and pass it along to others.
I will look at them strangely, but if those people actually form a cult for this film, they won’t need me or my opinion.
Ryan Kruger is a mad genius. Now get me out of here.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have stared at a blank page for a bit now, just…unsure how to put what I’m feeling into words in the wake of the credits rolling for Fried Barry.
One thing’s for sure, I feel fried by that movie. What the hell did I just watch?
Calling it a strange trip seems like it would be both too on the nose and, at the same time, the understatement of the century.
Let me revisit my earlier statement. There’s a second thing that’s ‘for sure’ here, as well. Kids should be nowhere near this movie. Not only is there flagrant and graphic drug use, but there are explicit sexual scenes, and some brief male nudity… among other things I can’t mention without spoilers.
The runtime for Fried Barry is just a little over an hour and a half, and there’s a freaking intermission break. Why? Did they run out of ideas for scene transitions? It was so brief that I’m not even sure that it was really intended to be used as such, and debated even mentioning it like it might have been a spoiler to do so. It illustrates the absolute wackiness of this film, however.

I think the tone is appropriately set when the opening credits list this as ‘A Ryan Kruger Thing.’  Not a movie or production. Its own creator called it a ‘thing.’
This is Kruger’s feature-length directorial debut, expanding a short that he had created back in 2017. I haven’t seen it, I’m afraid, so I can’t comment on whether or not this is a continuation of that story or just a revisitation to the character, etc.
If I had to sum this experience up in one word, it would be spastic. The story, characters, settings – everything was spazzy. I imagine that anyone watching this under the influence of mind-altering substances might get an entirely different experience – either in enjoyment or a one-way ticket to a bad trip.
The crazy thing is that I kind of liked it...a teeny tiny bit. I admit that grudgingly because this was frankly a horrifying and grotesque film experience that I cannot unsee. I was repulsed and drawn in by it at the same time. I spent a lot of time literally saying ‘what the fuck’ to myself, however. There were a few places I just had to laugh. Under all the insanity, there was an actual story. It surprised the hell out of me, to be honest.
I can tell you with certainty that I will never watch this again. This is, however, exactly the sort of movie you tell your friends about to get them to watch it in order to share the misery and see their reactions. For that reason, it very well may become a cult hit.
Either way, Fried Barry will be available on Shudder May 7.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 83%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s RatingPass/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating1.5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: NC-17
Movie Trailer: