Friday, September 17, 2021

Kate (2021)


Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Kate (2021)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime
Length:  106 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: 87North, Screen Arcade, Netflix
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Writer: Umair Aleem
Actors: Amelia Crouch, Ava Caryofyllis, Elysia Rotaru, Eoin O'Brien, Jun Kunimura, Mari Yamamoto, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michiel Huisman, Miku Patricia Martineau, Miyavi, Patrick Newall, Tadanobu Asano, Ulf Pilblad, Woody Harrelson
Blurb from IMDb:  A female assassin has 24 hours to get vengeance on her murderer before she dies.

Cat’s Point of View:
Kate landed at my #6 pick on September’s Top 20 Movies to Look Out For list. (Selina had Kate listed as her #4.) Based on the trailer and my research for the article, I had some pretty solid expectations for this production.
Did Kate live up to what I built up in my mind? Absolutely. Let’s break it down into my primary realms of anticipation.

First, the cast looked outstanding. 

Woody Harrelson (The Glass Castle, The Highwaymen, The Freak Brothers) is generally a solid bet, whether you’re looking for a lunatic or a calculating strategist. He’s excelled at roles that cover the full spectrum. When you pair him up with Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Fargo, Birds of Prey), who plays the titular character in Kate, it absolutely delivers a winning dynamic.
Winstead has already proven to be an action badass, but the level of fight and stunt choreography that she pulled off, while making it look easy, was unreal. I bought 100% of what she was selling and then some. Her struggles with her past and the rapid downslide of her health were in every moment, even while she was kicking ass.

Tadanobu Asano (47 Ronin, Midway, Mortal Kombat), Jun Kunimura (Shin Godzilla, Fullmetal Alchemist, Midway), and Miyavi (Unbroken, Bleach, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) really stood out. Miyavi took part in one of the most brutal fight scenes of the movie, while Asano and Kunimura skillfully embodied their roles within the Yakuza echelon.
I really appreciated Miku Patricia Martineau (Carl's Car Wash, Finny the Shark) in her supporting role, as well. She embodied the heart of the story to a T and gave some much-needed comedic moments to this otherwise brutal thrill ride. Kudos to her, since this was her full-length cinematic debut.

The second factor I had high expectations for revolved around the production quality, itself. With Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s (The Ring, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter's War) background in visual effects, I had no doubt that Kate was going to be gorgeous. I loved the way the city with all its neon glow and cultural nuances worked into the landscape of both the scenes and the story. I got a kick out of recognizing an anime playing on the facing of a skyscraper in the background. The car with pink neon shown in the trailer was a nice touch, too. Little things like that, added up with the larger aspects of the action and narrative and made an overall well-rounded entertainment experience.
Of course, I honestly shouldn’t have expected anything less from the get-go considering Kate was helmed by the 87North production company. Of course, that name might sound familiar to some, but slightly off. That’s because they were formerly called 87Eleven, which was the company behind the John Wick (2014) franchise and other kick-ass titles like Atomic Blonde (2017) and Ninja Assassin (2009).

Critics have been quick to bash Kate because it’s another female assassin movie following a familiar trope. There’s a new spin to it this time, and I think all of the elements that come together to create the big picture (no pun intended) elevate Kate to the top of the genre.
If you’re looking for an action-thriller to get your blood pumping at a breakneck pace, yet also a story of revenge and redemption, I can’t recommend Kate enough. It had all the bells and whistles and then some. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score –40%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 55%
Metascore – 47%
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

My Best Worst Adventure (2021)

Streaming Service: VUDU
Movie Name/Year: My Best Worst Adventure (2021)
Genre: Adventure
Length:  85 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Road-Dawg Films, House of Film, Kaczmarek Digital Media Group
Director: Joel Soisson
Writer: Joel Soisson
Actors: Lily Patra, Pan Rugtawatr, Chinnapat Kitichaivaranggoon, Claudia Templeton, Eoin O'Brien, Geoffrey Giuliano, Jim S. Meesri
Blurb from IMDb:  There are worse things than death. Especially for a testy American teen sent to stay with her eccentric Thai grandmother.

Cat’s Point of View:
The trailer for My Best Worst Adventure peddled a tale of friendship found in unlikely places and both a literal and figurative journey of self-discovery. Not only did the movie deliver the goods, but the trailer managed not to spoil anything important. Some of it is edited together out of sequence, but I’m not even mad. It helped me engage with the story more.
My Best Worst Adventure is both quite the emotional rollercoaster, and also a warm blanket of nostalgia for me. I was reminded of the warm fuzzy feeling of sitting with family on a Sunday evening in 1986 (because yes, I’m old) while watching The Magical World of Disney (1954-1997) presents The Girl Who Spelled Freedom (1986). The two stories are only similar in very remote ways, and from opposite ends. The memories float to the forefront of my mind all the same.

That being said, My Best Worst Adventure is of the heartfelt and wholesome nature that all of the best Disney weekend specials were made of. Though, this production has zero to do with the House of Mouse.
My Best Worst Adventure paints a picture of a girl that had to literally travel outside her comfort zone to work through tragedy and grief. It is also a story of finding friendship in unexpected places. At the same time, a parallel tale of a young boy intertwines with her story.

The performances from Lily Patra and Pan Rugtawatr are just amazing, especially considering their utter lack of dialogue. They offer us a poignant perspective on trauma-induced selective mutism, and how they compensate. These two young actors were able to clearly emote rather nuanced performances in their impressive debut. Seriously. My Best Worst Adventure is their only IMDb credit.
This is also an unexpected film offering from writer/director Joel Soisson (Hellraiser: Hellworld, Children of the Corn: Genesis, Buffalo Rider). He has deep roots in the horror genre, and My Best Worst Adventure is lightyears away on the genre spectrum. 
If you’re looking for a feel-good adventure to join for a journey of the heart, My Best Worst Adventure is boarding now as a title available for Digital On-Demand.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score –100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –None
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – PG
Movie Trailer:

Monday, September 13, 2021

Death Drop Gorgeous (2020)

Movie Name/Year: Death Drop Gorgeous (2020)
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Length: 104 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Director: Michael J. Ahern, Christopher Dalpe, Brandon Perras
Writer: Michael J. Ahern, Christopher Dalpe, Brandon Perras
Actors: Wayne Gonsalves, Payton St James, Michael McAdam, Brandon Perras-Sanchez, Chris Dalpe, Ninny Nothin, Johnny Sederquist, Matthew Pidge, Michael J. Ahern, Sean Murphy, Complete Destruction, Matthew Cicero
Blurb from IMDb: A dejected bartender and an aging drag queen try to survive the eccentric and hostile nightlife of a corrupt city, as a masked maniac slaughters young gay men and drains them of blood.

Selina’s Point of View:
Death Drop Gorgeous was every bit as campy and over-the-top as one would expect from a drag horror.
The start of it didn’t give off a great impression, though. Immediately it reminded me of Psychotic! (2016), which was one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. The comparison didn’t last throughout the runtime. It did, however, put me into more of a guarded state of mind.
When I got past the home-spun, off-acted, aspects of Death Drop Gorgeous, I did see some merit.
The actual plot was pretty decent. That leads me to believe that a higher budget could have elevated the whole thing past watchable and into ‘good’ territory. The writing needed a boost, as well – but a lot of the quips and one-liners made even that feel somewhat acceptable.
The writers were clearly well-versed in the insane talent of drag queen burns. A few of the lines were so good that I absolutely intend to work them into my own life.

Among the difficult to sit through scenes, were a few diamonds. For instance, the main antagonist (not naming names, so as not to spoil), had one scene where they stood alone and played out a kind of psychotic break. I’ve seen A-list movies that didn’t freak me out that much. I would love to credit the actor, but some of the characters are played by two different people and I’m not sure which was on screen at that time.
That said, I can’t say Death Drop Gorgeous is the kind of movie I would recommend. It could have a ‘so bad it’s good’ quality for a few people, but it really wasn’t for me.
If you’re interested in it, this is still not the kind of flick I’d suggest watching alone. Gather a group of open-minded, good-humored, friends to screen it for.
Just keep in mind, it’s definitely not for everybody and a lot more brutal than you might expect.

Cat’s Point of View:
I had a bit of a struggle to put my feelings into coherent words (that didn’t contain strings of expletives). The credits for Death Drop Gorgeous rolled and I was painfully aware that roughly an hour and forty-five minutes of my life had irreversibly elapsed.
There were some positives, so I’ll start there.
Death Drop Gorgeous certainly put a new spin on the slasher genre. The practical effects here were fairly on point, though there was room for improvement. If you’re looking for some splatter with a side of sass, and some catastrophe to go with cattiness; this might be the movie for you. All that and a bag of chips – plus extra. That is definitely a good word to describe Death Drop Gorgeous. Extra.

That being said, this just wasn’t my cup of tea.
The execution, not to pun, of everything just left me feeling off and a little whiplashed. The acting was hit and miss, with far more misses than I’m comfortable with. There were a lot of awkward, cringeworthy moments. I felt like a ping pong ball bouncing from a great moment that had me laughing or wincing along with the characters to the next where I just wanted the nails on the chalkboard feeling to end.
This graphic story of sex, drugs, and lip-synching might have been underwhelming for me; but for someone else, Death Drop Gorgeous might just slay.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 67%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 40%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer: