Friday, July 15, 2022

The Lost City (2022)

Streaming Service: Paramount+
Movie Name/Year: The Lost City (2022)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 1h 52min
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Paramount Pictures, 3dot productions, Exhibit A, Fortis Films, Paramount Pictures International, United International Pictures, Universal Pictures International, Constantin-Film, NOS Audiovisuais, Odeon, Paramount Pictures Australia, Paramount Pictures France, Paramount Pictures Germany, Paramount Pictures UK, Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures Spain, Paramount+
Directors: Aaron Nee, Adam Nee
Writers: Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee
Actors: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Brad Pitt, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Daniel Radcliffe, Héctor Aníbal, Oscar Nuñez, Patti Harrison, Raymond Lee, Thomas Forbes-Johnson
IMDb Blurb: A reclusive romance novelist on a book tour with her cover model gets swept up in a kidnapping attempt that lands them both in a cutthroat jungle adventure.

Cat’s Point of View:
I had a lot of eager anticipation leading into my viewing of The Lost City. There were so many elements from the trailer that simply had me giddy and elevated my expectations. It was in my top 5 in the Top 20 Movies to Look Out For in March of this year, after all.
Confession time. This was the 2nd time I watched The Lost City – and I was happy to do so. My family and I rented the movie through Xfinity On-Demand as soon as it became available within our budget. It was a fun time then, and I really enjoyed experiencing it again. The Lost City isn’t one of those films that just gets boring after you’ve ‘been there and done that.’ It was just as funny and charming the 2nd time around.
The Lost City felt like a classic throwback adventure movie along the lines of the ones that came out when I was younger – such as Romancing the Stone (1984), The Jewel of the Nile (1985), or pick your Indiana Jones installment. I got the same feeling of thrilling fun as I watched the misadventures unfold.

Aaron and Adam Nee (The Last Romantic, The Geniuses, Band of Robbers) spun a really entertaining story that, while it didn’t take itself too seriously, felt grounded and believable. Even the over-the-top bits didn’t even make me blink – it all just fit in the story so organically. This sibling writing and directing duo is one to watch. This seems to be their first big-time movie together. I can’t wait to see their next project.
Speaking of over-the-top, the Nee Brothers’ use of Brad Pitt’s (World War Z, Fury, Bullet Train) cameo as the tropey action-guy was absolutely brilliant. Then pairing him up with Channing Tatum’s (Foxcatcher, White House Down, Dog) greenhorn cover model was comedy gold. Tatum has proven that he’s got quite the range well beyond his good looks and smooth dance moves. He’s dabbled in a little bit of everything across the spectrum from serious to silly. The Lost City is definitely in the silly category for the most part – but his stunt work was legit and he really nailed the layers to the character.
Under the humorous story, though, there were some more serious themes explored. Dealing with loss and learning to see past the superficial exterior of the people that are involved in our day-to-day lives were among them. I could seriously relate to Sandra Bullock’s (Gravity, Minions, Bird Box) character and the blockage she faced both in her writing and her personal life. While I haven’t experienced exactly what she did, I have found that since my MS diagnosis, it’s been harder for me to write creatively outside of here for Trust the Dice. While her literal journey was on the crazy side, I appreciated the impact it had on her character.

Honestly, the whole cast was insanely awesome. I could fill up an entire article with notes about everyone. Alas, in an effort to prevent the need for a TL;DR, I’m doing my best to keep things short(er) and sweet. I would be remiss, however, to not mention Daniel Radcliffe’s (Jungle, Guns Akimbo, Miracle Workers) part in these monkeyshines. I absolutely adore his characters which are completely opposite of the image that the Wizarding World created for him. This was one of those times that he was bloody brilliant as the crazy antagonist.
I have the need to geek out a moment over his plane, though. It acted like a Harrier with its vertical takeoff and landing, but it looked like a private jet on the inside – those are military planes and don’t have room for such things. I was confused and intrigued, wondering if it was simply a figment of movie magic. I did a little digging and it turns out that a prototype was used for the movie – of a very real up-and-coming plane being developed in South Africa (with a $20 Million price tag no less) called the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet. I digress…
The Lost City was a blast and exactly what I needed during the stress of this past month. It felt great to laugh and enjoy the ride – and I’ll likely be watching again in the near future. You can catch it on Paramount+ currently. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 79%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore – 60%
Metacritic User Score – 5.8/10
IMDB Score – 6.1/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
P.S. – There is a mid-credits scene.
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Northman (2022)

Streaming Service: Peacock
Movie Name/Year: The Northman (2022)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Length: 2h 17min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: New Regency Productions, Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Perfect World Pictures, Square Peg, Focus Features, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures Argentina, Cinemundo, Tulip Entertainment, Universal Pictures International (UPI), Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Director: Robert Eggers
Writer: Robert Eggers, Sjón
Actors: Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Gustav Lindh, Elliott Rose, Willem Dafoe, Phill Martin, Eldar Skar, Olwen Fouéré, Edgar Abram, Ingvar Sigurdsson, Björk, Katie Pattinson, Ian Whyte
Blurb from IMDb: From visionary director Robert Eggers comes The Northman, an action-filled epic that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father's murder.

Selina’s Point of View:
I remember the thrill I got watching the trailer for The Northman. The heavy Viking action, the stunning setting... I had seriously high hopes for it.
I love it when I movie goes even harder than I expected it to.
Robert Eggers (Brothers, The Witch, The Lighthouse) is a genius. He puts out nothing but amazing work. His full-length directorial credits don’t include much (yet), but there is not a dud among them. In about a decade or two, I think he might be hailed as the best director of his time… maybe all time. He is not afraid of the dark, not afraid of taking risking, and he listens to his actors, which allows them to fully become their characters. He will be a giant that inspires the next generation of filmmakers. I have no doubt in my mind.  

Dark fantasy is my favorite thing. I read it, I watch, I write it. The Northman hit hard for me. That said, I don’t think you need to be a fan of the genre to enjoy it. The fight choreography and the gorgeous cinematography could speak to anyone.
There were a few scenes that were extremely difficult to watch, though. You might not need to be a fantasy, or even an action, fan to enjoy The Northman, but you need to be able to handle dark themes.
The Northman is about as good as it gets. I couldn’t come up with anything I disliked about it if I tried. I even rewound to check and see if something in the beginning matched up with something said near the end – and it absolutely did.
The Northman is only streaming on Peacock. If you don’t have it, now is a good time to get it.

Cat’s Point of View:
The Northman was unequivocally a masterpiece of ancient Viking storytelling. It was gorgeous, atmospheric, visceral, and transported me back in time to the age of fair-haired marauders in long boats. There was so much to love in this imagining of Norse legend.
It was a brilliant call to choose the legend of Amleth for Robert Eggers’ next film. While I understand his lament over not having ultimate control over the final cut, the end product was breathtaking. This is the story that is said to have inspired Shakespeare to write Hamlet. It’s a story that easily captures an audience’s attention, and it’s full of twists and turns. I hadn’t realized this parallel was an actual connection between the two stories and remember thinking that there was an eerie resemblance as I was watching The Northman unfold.
It was absolutely no stroke of luck, but the hand of fate that had Alexander Skarsgård (Mute, Hold the Dark, Big Little Lies) helming the cast as the titular lead. It was his impassioned campaigning to Eggers for a Viking movie that put the wheels in motion to bring The Northman into reality. Ultimately, it’s easy to say that this was a role that Skarsgård was born to play.

The cast was brilliant. Nicole Kidman (Queen of the Desert, The Beguiled, Bombshell) embodied the role of a fierce Scandinavian queen. Ethan Hawke (Sinister, Tesla, The Black Phone) delivered a gritty performance as Amleth’s father. Anya Taylor-Joy (Marrowbone, The Queen's Gambit, Last Night in Soho) was an ethereal delight as the earth-witch pillaged from what is now modern-day Ukraine.
The Northman’s tale was brutal and unflinching. It certainly wouldn’t be for the faint of heart, considering all the bone-crunching, blood, and gut-spilling that occurred on the screen. I was fairly giddy, however, at the level of historical accuracy and attention to detail put into this production. The story was steeped in Norse mythology and Viking warfare – with a hearty dose of vengeance. Like its latter-day successor, Hamlet, the legend of Amleth is a cautionary tale about that very revenge. The saying that “an eye for an eye leaves the world blind” very much so applies.
The cinematography was incredible. It wasn’t just the gorgeous visuals that were captured that were impressive. There were so many long takes of single camera shots, which spoke to a great deal of stamina for both actors and crew alike. Thinking of re-shooting multiple takes of some of those action scenes with the battles just made me tired on their behalf.
I will say that The Northman wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. There were a few stretches that felt a little on the slower end. I’ll counter, though, that those islands of calm were a much-needed balance of relief to the intensity of the rest of the narrative. If you’re a fan of Viking lore or even just action movies, The Northman would be right up your alley and I would give my hearty recommendation for it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 64%
Metascore – 82%
Metacritic User Score – 7.3
IMDB Score – 7.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 11, 2022

Cold Skin (2017)

Streaming Service: Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: Cold Skin (2017)
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Length: 1h 48min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Babieka, Kanzaman, Ink Connection, Gran Babieka, Pontas Film & Literary Agency, The Ink Connection, Diamond Films, Happinet, Phars Film, Tiberius Film, Blue Swan Entertainment, Cinépolis Distribución, Condor, Eagle Entertainment, SC Movies, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Sunfilm Entertainment, Superfine Films, Televisión Española
Director: Xavier Gens
Writers: Jesús Olmo, Eron Sheean, Albert Sánchez Piñol
Actors: David Oakes, Ray Stevenson, Aura Garrido, Alejandro Rod, Ben Temple, Damián Montesdeoca, Iván González, John Benfield, Julien Blaschke, Winslow M. Iwaki
IMDb Blurb: A young man arrives at a remote island to take a post of weather observer only to find himself defending the watchtower from deadly creatures which live in the island shores.

Selina’s Point of View:
Cold Skin is, at heart, a monster movie.
When you go to see a monster flick, you know what to expect. Some decent action, some very basic tropes, an interesting design, and the end showing that humans are just as monstrous as the antagonists (if not more). Although there was a little of that in Cold Skin, it was not typical.
When it comes to monster movies, no one is expecting something that makes them think. The exception being Lovecraftian-style stories.
Cold Skin subverted expectations by being a very smart, almost poetic, film.
I was very surprised by that.

It started off with the Nietzsche quote about staring into the abyss and it staring back at you flashing on-screen. I’m not going to lie; I rolled my eyes. Although it’s a good quote, it is ridiculously overused. Then, about 16-minutes in, when the action finally started, I predicted something so closely that I could have held up the cue card for it.
I didn’t have high hopes.
It was only later, when the movie started to get into the heart of the story, that I took it seriously. If you can get to that point, the beginning is worth it.
One of the tropes I was immediately glad I didn’t have to deal with was the one where the protagonist refuses to believe the truth of what they’re seeing. There are no lengthy scenes of anyone explaining to him what the creatures are and trying to get him to believe his own eyes. Even before the rest of the movie had me, I found that impressive.
By the end of Cold Skin, I was a fan. It did take a bit, but once it had me – it never let go. 

Cat’s Point of View:
When I saw a movie titled “Cold Skin” on our docket for review today, I was hoping that it meant something other than people shivering in a frozen climate. While there was a little temperature-related trembling involved, I report with pleasure that it was not the central theme of the plot.
I decided on a whim to view Cold Skin blind. I didn’t watch the trailer or even read the blurb with the on-demand and Prime listings. Before I began writing, I did take a peek at the trailer. I am glad I went in this order. The trailer did give a good deal of the movie away.
Without foreknowledge of what was to come, there was more of an air of mystery about the story. To be fair, though, even with the teaser, some aspects wouldn’t be clear until the full movie unfolded.
Cold Skin started out as an apparent narrative of man vs. the elements and isolation, yet quickly revealed itself to be a fight for survival on multiple fronts with the monster revelation. Events started a bit on the slow side but once things picked up momentum, there was no ease to the building tensions or level of horror.

The creatures were fascinating and the situation was terrifying – considering the remote nature of the island setting. The practical effects really sold the aquatic cryptids in a very organic and believable way, as well as a stellar performance by the cast.
Cold Skin wasn’t without some of the typical monster movie tropes, but it didn’t lean too heavily on them. I appreciated the nuance and thought put into the erosion of humanity of learned and well-read men that the constant fight for survival, exhaustion, loss, and general stress caused. There were so many little details that spoke to the broader story. I really appreciated that this was just as much an intelligent horror as a thrilling sort.
While I began my viewing of Cold Skin with assorted fidget tools at the ready, anticipating I would begin to zone out at some point; I soon found that it held my attention thoroughly for its duration. I feel that I pieced most of the puzzle together, and yet the ending left me wanting more. That would be a decided earmark of a successful production.
While Cold Skin wasn’t a movie I might have gone out of my way to watch before, I definitely enjoyed my experience and it’s even grown on me further since the end credits rolled. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 48%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –56%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – 6.2/10
IMDB Score – 6.0/10
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating –4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer: