Friday, July 23, 2021

Jolt (2021)

Streaming Services: Amazon Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: Jolt (2021)
Genre: Action, Comedy
Length: 91 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Busted Shark Productions, Campbell Grobman Films, Eclectic Pictures, Jolt Productions, Millennium Films, Nu Boyana Film Studios, Golden Village Pictures, Kinepolis Film Distribution, Purple Plan, Amazon Prime Video, Blue Swan Entertainment, Eagle Films, Film & TV House, GEM Entertainment, Joy n Cinema, Leonine Distribution, VVS Films
Director: Tanya Wexler
Writer:  Scott Wascha
Actors: Kate Beckinsale, Jai Courtney, Stanley Tucci, Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, Constantine Gregory, Ori Pfeffer, David Bradley, Susan Sarandon
Blurb from IMDb: A bouncer with a slightly murderous anger-management problem that she controls with the help of an electrode-lined vest she uses to shock herself back to normalcy whenever she gets homicidal. After the first guy she's ever fallen for is murdered, she goes on a revenge-fueled rampage to find the killer while the cops pursue her as their chief suspect.

Selina’s Point of View:
Jolt was not terrible. It had its issues, though.
A lot of the good seen in Jolt can be attributed to the actors. Kate Beckinsale (The Widow, Absolutely Anything, Farming) knows how to kick ass and make it look good. Jai Courtney (Honest Thief, Semper Fi, Buffaloed), Stanley Tucci (Worth, The Hunger Games, The Fifth Estate), Laverne Cox (Promising Young Woman, Bad Hair, Charlie’s Angels), Bobby Cannavale (Superintelligence, Thunder Force, Motherless Brooklyn)… they all did phenomenal in their parts. They were tough, sleezy, rigid – and whatever else they were meant to be. I had no complaints with any performance.
The direction was pretty solid, too. I’m not overly familiar with Tanya Wexler’s (Hysteria, Buffaloed, Ball in the House) work, but she took some risks with her directing – most of which paid off.
There was one glaring issue, though.
It’s hard to hide bad writing.

There were some interesting one-liners, I’ll give it that. The comedic parts were pretty spot on. Nothing else, though. Any time there was an explanation of something, it was forced down the audience’s throat. Even in the beginning, there’s some narration that just feel weird and unnecessary.
Up until Beckinsale finally came on screen, it felt like they were trying to go for a Sucker Punch (2011) feel.
On top of that awkwardness, there were some serious issues with the plot.
The idea was intriguing. Absolutely. Unfortunately, the writer decided to exhibit the interesting aspects of their story by using the road most traveled. There’s a problem when I can, with 100% accuracy, predict the ending by 5 minutes in.
I have to acknowledge that this is Scott Wascha’s first full-length feature film credit as a writer. He’s new and he made mistakes. It’s possible that he hasn’t entirely found his voice yet. When he does, I do hope he goes in a direction where a penis isn’t the answer to every problem the main character has ever had. Could have done without that.
My final thought is that Jolt did have its good aspects. I could see this being a guilty pleasure flick for many. I give it 5 years before people forget it exists, though.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 34%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 56%
Metascore – 45/100
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.3/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3/5
P.S. Short scene mid-credits.
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Length: 114 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: StudioCanal, The Picture Company, Studio Babelsberg, ACME, Belga Films, Big Bang Media, Bontonfilm, Chantier Films, Diamond Films, Elevation Pictures, Hoyts Distribution, Impuls Pictures, Independent Films, Italia Films, Kino Films, Lark Films Distribution, M2 Films, Mongkol Major, Movie Cloud, New Guys / Red Cape Distribution, PVR Pictures, Playlist, Ro Image 2000, STX Entertainment, Shaw Organisation, Spentzos Films, StudioCanal Germany, StudioCanal UK, Svensk Filmindustri (SF), Times Media Films, Volga Film Ukraine, Volga, Vértice 360, NOS Audiovisuais, Netflix, Sky Cinema, The Filmbridge
Director: Navot Papushado
Writer:  Navot Papushado, Ehud Lavski
Actors: Karen Gillan, Joanna Bobin, Freya Allan, Lena Headey, Ed Birch, Paul Giamatti, Ralph Ineson, Adam Nagaitis, David Zimmerschied, Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Samuel Anderson, Mai Duong Kieu, Michael Smiley
Blurb from IMDb: Three generations of women fight back against those who could take everything from them.

Selina’s Point of View:
The first time I saw the Gunpowder Milkshake trailer, it occurred to me that it felt like John Wick (2014). During the Trust the Dice monthly livestream, I mentioned that. I’d have to say this lived completely up to expectations.
It was John Wick.
There were other motivations, the hotel was swapped for a diner, the currency was different, and the protagonists were female. That was the difference. If the setting had still relied on use of a hotel instead of a diner – it could have taken place in the same universe.
I think it would have been better if that was the case.

That’s not to say Gunpowder Milkshake was bad. It wasn’t. It held my interest, had decent fight choreography, and was pretty brutal. That said, because it’s so much like the aforementioned film, it was hard to keep from comparing the two. When looked at from that angle, it doesn’t measure up.
John Wick has better fighter choreography and a better script. Granted, the motivation was better in this one – but that’s the only thing that came out on top.
I don’t have anything against Gunpowder Milkshake. It’s an acceptable choice if you’re looking for a violent-ride film. It’s also what you might look for if you wanted this kind of brutality with a campy tone.
If you have access to the John Wick series, however, that’s just the better option.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 66%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 51%
Metascore – 48/100
Metacritic User Score – 3.7/10
IMDB Score – 5.9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 19, 2021

Kandisha (2021)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Kandisha (2021)
Genre: Horror
Length:  85 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Esprits Frappeurs, Wy Productions, SND Films, Tiberius Film, Shudder
Directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Writers: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Actors: Bakary Diombera, Dylan Krief, Félix Glaux-Delporto, Mathilde Lamusse, Mériem Sarolie, Nassim Si Ahmed, Samarcande Saadi, Sandor Funtek, Suzy Bemba, Walid Afkir
Blurb from IMDb:  It's summer break and best friends Amélie, Bintou and Morjana hang together with other neighborhood teens. Nightly, they have fun sharing scary stories and urban legends. But when Amélie is assaulted by her ex, she remembers the story of Kandisha, a powerful and vengeful demon. Afraid and upset, Amélie summons her. The next day, her ex is found dead. The legend is true and now Kandisha is on a killing spree--and it's up to the three girls to break the curse.

Cat’s Point of View:
There are very few movies that I have voluntarily stopped watching in the middle. If I had decided to watch Kandisha in my spare time, and it wasn’t for need to review this for the blog, this film would have joined that short list.
This is really not the fault of the story, acting, or effects. Kandisha forfeited any sort of recommendation on my behalf the moment I failed to see a disclaimer at the end of the credits regarding animal welfare.
There is a little white rabbit in this movie, and it is involved in quite a horrific scene. I get the scene’s importance to the story. I don’t think the distress it was exhibiting on screen was created with effects. HOWEVER, it is entirely plausible that digital wizardry could have been skillfully employed here. If that’s the case, whoever rendered the rabbit effects deserves a raise. The results were highly disturbing. There is no way I can prove one way or another that a live bunny was used in the scene. The lack of the ‘no animals were harmed in the making of this movie’ disclaimer just erodes away my faith and hope.
It’s of the utmost importance that I convey with clarity that there is no proof of wrongdoing here.

France has different animal welfare laws than we do in the United States, and in many places, rabbits are still seen as livestock rather than pets in the way cats and dogs are. Unfortunately, for that reason, I am not even sure if there are any protections in place for them in the film industry there. I tried to research before writing this article. I found that there’s quite a bit of legislation that is being brought forward and debated to improve animal welfare laws in the EU. France is reportedly a little behind the curve and there are vast gaps that animals such as rabbits fall into. It’s promising that there could be some changes to the laws in the foreseeable future.
I am a pet parent to 2 rescue bunnies – one of whom experienced physical trauma at the hands of the breeder who was her original owner. (Cattle tags don’t belong in delicate rabbit ears!) I tried like hell to suspend my disbelief regarding the treatment of the rabbit. It didn’t work. I couldn’t manage to keep an unbiased perspective.
Rabbits are so easy to stress by nature, as prey animals. They can sometimes get so scared that they could have a heart attack and die on the spot or even inadvertently break their own bones. They’re that fragile. My brain simply noped out the second I heard sounds of distress coming from that poor bunny – even if they could have been added in post-production.

Here’s the thing.
Had the rabbit issue not been a part of the movie? I would have enjoyed Kandisha. The lore surrounding the vengeful demon was interesting. I found it further fascinating that it originated in Morocco. I also appreciated how they represented the demon, itself. The effects, both practical and otherwise, they used for her were quite good. I also appreciated the ending.
Please keep in mind, it's not the quality of the film that is reflected in my rating or review here - my dislike is based on my own personal biases. 

If you want to see Kandisha for yourself, it premieres on Shudder Thursday, July 22.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.8/10
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2/5
Movie Trailer: