Friday, February 11, 2022

Help (2022)

Movie Name/Year: Help (2022)
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Ridder Films
Director: Blake Ridder
Writer: Blake Ridder
Actors: Louis James, Emily Redpath, Sarah Alexandra Marks, Duncan James, Blake Ridder, Amy Jim, Stuart Wolfe-Murray
Blurb from IMDb: A young woman's life turns chaotic when she uncovers a deadly secret about her friend.

Selina’s Point of View:
This is a rough one.
There’s a lot to unpack with Help. It’s going to be difficult to go into the ups and downs without hitting on spoilers – but I’m going to do my best.
Right off the bat there’s a relatively triggering 15-second scene. It’s pre-title card, it’s not super graphic, but it’s going to immediately turn some people off. Personally, I think the inclusion of this scene is essential. I don’t often say that with flicks that start off with a flashback, but I believe the inclusion of this one really kicks off the mind-fuckery.
Unfortunately, I do believe that Help is woefully miscategorized. It’s not in any way, shape, or form, a mystery. People looking to watch a puzzle unfold on screen will be disappointed here. I think that’s going to lead to negative reviews that could have been avoided. It has a few significant twists, yes, but not in that ‘solve the puzzle along the way’ feel that mysteries have.

Where the twists are concerned, they are relatively good. I did predict one from about 20 minutes in, but the others were decently foreshadowed without being too obvious. In fact, when those surprises start coming, the flick goes from 0 to 100 real quick.
The rest of Help feels a bit slow. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal, a lot of dramas go slow, except that the dialogue really doesn’t feel natural either. So much of it is out-of-place and forced. Some of it even seems to be shock for shock’s sake. The script needed a great deal more work before being put into a final project.
That said, I think this is a healthy full-length feature film debut for writer/director Blake Ridder. You can’t expect the best work of someone’s career to come first, and Help does feel like a fine first step. Ridder will learn a lot just from making this film and he’ll bring it into the rest of his career.
I am interested in seeing what he does next. Properly genred, of course.

Cat’s Point of View:
I didn’t have any preconceived notions about Help before watching. Well, that is, not this movie at least. I think I got it confused with another movie by the same title released in 2021. I quickly figured out that this Help was something altogether different and I was on board for the ride.
Help is labeled as a thriller, but you might feel it wasn’t categorized correctly if you judge based on the beginning of the film. This one is a slow burn that takes a bit to get going, all the while building tension. I could tell that something was afoot, it just wasn’t clear where the plot bus was headed.
Once the story in Help picked up steam, it became a veritable runaway train careening towards its ultimate conclusion. I didn’t see these twists and turns coming, though I probably should have.

The cast delivered some intense performances, though there was an occasional awkwardness to what was happening on screen. I’m not sure if that was intentional, however. It would generally make sense in hindsight, but as events were unfolding on the screen things didn’t exactly flow as smoothly sometimes.
I was left a bit stunned as the credits began to roll. Help went to some shockingly dark places. I wish I could provide a trigger warning without spoiling things, but it would be impossible. If one were to measure the success of a film by whether or not it lingered with you after its finale, we would need to chalk Help up as a win. I don’t see myself watching it again in the future, though. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – None
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2.5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Book of Love (2022)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: Book of Love (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Length: 106 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Buzzfeed Studios, Blazing Griffin, BondIt Media Capital, Head Gear Films, Kreo Films FZ, Metrol Technology, NOW Films, Pimienta Films, Vertigo Films, Shaw Organisation, Amazon Prime Video, Falcon Films, Sky Cinema, XYZ Films
Director: Analeine Cal y Mayor
WriterAnaleine Cal y Mayor, David Quantick
Actors: Sam Claflin, VerĂ³nica Echegui, Fernando Becerril, Ruy Gaytan, Horacio Villalobos, Horacio Garcia Rojas, Lucy Punch, Edwarda Gurrola, Melissa Pino, Daniela Luque, Giovani Florido
Blurb from IMDb: Two writers thrown together on a book tour in Mexico.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was never fully sold on Book of Love. Even upon first seeing the trailer, I just didn’t buy the core aspects of the plot.
A writer falling in love with a translator that changed his whole novel just doesn’t seem at all realistic to me. I have never met a single writer that wouldn’t rather fall or fly on their own merit. I’m sure there are some out there, but it would be a severe outlier situation – which is not how it’s portrayed here.
Seeing the flick didn’t change my mind at all.
It’s saying something that I thought a romance film sitting at just under two hours felt rushed. I don’t know if I missed it, or what, but I couldn’t tell you why Henry fell in love with Maria. It happened because it was necessary for the plot, the story itself gave no reason why. He just went from angry to amor.

I also don’t believe the way Maria was written in the beginning. She seemed like she didn’t have a care in the world, but she KNEW she rewrote the book. She KNEW that Henry had no idea. What exactly did she think would happen in the interviews? I don’t get that. How did she not know there would be immediate consequences?
Despite my absolute annoyance at most of Book of Love, there were a few bits and pieces that felt like they deserved a place in a better movie.
The ending, for instance. Now, it went the road most traveled, there’s no denying that. If you start watching Book of Love, you will instantly know the ending. That said, the way it played out was hilarious. It was one of the best endings I’ve seen in a while.
I think Book of Love would have benefited from a bit more telenovela energy. It was there in the ending, but the rest of it was just so dry and obnoxious.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 42%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 60%
Metascore – 43%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 2/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
P.S. Additional scene during the credits.
Movie Trailer:

Monday, February 7, 2022

Green Snake (2021)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Green Snake (2021)
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Length:  133 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Light Chaser Animation Studios, Alibaba Pictures, IMAX, Netflix
Director: Amp Wong
Writer: Damao
Actors: Xiaoxi Tang, Zhang Fuzheng, Zhongyang Baomu, Feodor Chin, Grace Lynn Kung, Stephanie Wong, Tianxiang Yang, Zhe Zhang
Netflix Blurb: While trying to free her sister from Fahai's clutches, Xaio Qing winds up in a dystopian city and meets a mysterious man who can't recall his past life.

Cat’s Point of View:
Green Snake seemed to appear out of nowhere on Netflix. It had an interesting title image and immediately caught my attention, as well as my daughter’s as we were browsing for anime to watch together. I am a fan of kitsune lore and the image seemed to tease a tale where at least one would be involved.
It was odd that there hadn’t been any fanfare surrounding this title, since the trailer and ‘poster’ image promised good production quality and a complex story. Given that it wasn’t a holiday movie and had released to Netflix in December, I was thinking that it might have just fallen through the cracks.

Alas, the quiet appearance was likely due to the fact that Green Snake was a sequel whose first installment hasn’t released to Netflix. (For those curious, you can currently find White Snake (2019) on Hoopla, according to JustWatch.)
Be that as it may, my daughter and I didn’t realize that at the time that we watched it. (In fact, I didn’t even realize Green Snake was a sequel until I began pooling information to write this review.) In retrospect, it does stand to reason. There were some aspects of the story that just didn’t make sense. I do intend to go back and watch the first movie at some point to see if it provides some clarity. For now, however, I just have to focus on the sequel as it stands alone.

Green Snake was absolutely gorgeous. The animation team for this movie was apparently working in overdrive to bring this to life. The visuals were breathtaking, and the action flowed smoothly. Even though the reason behind some events wasn’t entirely clear, the story presented in Green Snake did draw me in and compel emotional reactions for its characters. I was rooting for the main character to find a way out of the realm she was trapped in and hoped she’d find her sister. There were interesting twists and turns along the way.
I wasn’t disappointed with the kitsune character, either. Though, it was a little odd that the multi-tailed fox spirit would find itself in a story based on Chinese folklore – since, to my best knowledge, kitsune are Japanese in origin. There may be a connection that I’m missing – that whole unwatched first installment notwithstanding. Honestly, I didn’t care and my questions have only come in after the fact. While Green Snake was on the screen, we were only focused on the story as it played out.

As a stand-alone movie, Green Snake wasn’t bad. We enjoyed the movie, even if it was a smidge on the long side. I only wish that Netflix had released these movies in order so the story might’ve made a little more sense. Even so, I definitely don’t regret the experience. I’m even a bit inspired to look up the folk tale that the story is generally based on.
If you like fast-paced action with your animation and don’t mind your story picking up a bit in the middle, Green Snake wouldn’t be a bad way to spend a couple hours or so. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 78%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.8/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
Movie Trailer: