Friday, August 12, 2022

Secret Headquarters (2022)

Streaming Service: Paramount+
Movie Name/Year: Secret Headquarters (2022)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 1h 44min
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Pictures International, United International Pictures (UIP), Paramount+
Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writers: Josh Koenigsberg, Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, Christopher L. Yost
Actors: Owen Wilson, Michael Peña, Walker Scobell, Jesse Williams, Levy Tran, Jessie Mueller, Momona Tamada, Abby James Witherspoon, Keith L. Williams, Kezii Curtis, David Lengel, Dustin Ingram, Michael Anthony, Dayna Beilenson,  Aiden Malik, Lucius Baston, Mick Daily, Ninja N. Devoe, D.K. Metcalf
IMDb Blurb: While hanging out after school, Charlie and his friends discover the headquarters of the world's most powerful superhero hidden beneath his home. When villains attack, they must team up to defend the headquarters and save the world.

Cat’s Point of View:
Secret Headquarters really had a lot going for it from its outset. Selina and I both had this movie within our Top 10 listings for Top 20 Movies Coming Out in August 2022, so you could say expectations were fairly high. I am pleased to report that I was not disappointed.
The quick version of my explanation could be summed up with a statement that the digital effects were well done, the story was heartwarming, the superhero lair setting was interesting, and the cast was just as amazing as I thought they’d be – especially the young actors. When the credits rolled, I was left with the same satisfied feeling as I usually achieve when taking in a Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, 12 Strong, Top Gun: Maverick) produced project. Bruckheimer’s name is generally synonymous with a good time at the movies, dating all the way back to when I was little.

I’ve seen a lot of comparisons of Secret Headquarters to Spy Kids (2001). I see where they’re coming from, but this isn’t as derivative as some of the critics are making it out to be. I think you’d need to put that film, Sky High (2005), and Power Rangers (2017) in a blender to get closer to the tone of Secret Headquarters. There are no spies involved, but the kids get to kick ass with spiffy tech, and there’s the whole guardian and world-saving aspect of the story – not to mention the parent hiding a secret. Critics have seemed to be judging this production a bit harshly in general. My suggestion would be to keep an eye on audience reviews, instead.
Directing team Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman (Nerve, Viral, Project Power) delivered once more with this PG family escapade. There were thrills, plenty of great stunt sequences, and a relatable story. Of course, the whole thing came together so well because of the cast involved.

Michael Peña (War on Everyone, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Narcos: Mexico) and Jesse Williams (Random Acts of Violence, Station 19, Grey's Anatomy) added so much to the dynamic of the movie. Considering Peña usually is on the ‘good guy’ team in the recent superhero film roles, it was a welcome and fun departure for him to be the antagonist here.
Owen Wilson (Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Wonder, Loki) was a great fit for the dad role.  I’ll be honest, Wilson used to drive me up the wall as an actor. I’m not sure if it was the roles he was in or his delivery, but he got on my last nerve. The last several productions he’s participated in have been exactly the opposite – I’ve loved them as well as the role he played in them. I hope this trend continues because I’m really here for it.
Let’s face it, though; Secret Headquarters was really all about the group of kids. I enjoyed the balance between the elements of dealing with normal lives as young teens and the more action-oriented scenes involving the headquarters and the alien tech.

Secret Headquarters was an interesting follow-up role for Walker Scobell after The Adam Project (2022). Admittedly, while both films were direct to stream on their respective platforms, this one just wasn’t in the same league with the Netflix offering- but Scobell was a perfect fit for this part. I’m super excited to watch his career move forward and to see the next project he’s working on. Keith L. Williams (Lemon, The Last Man on Earth, Good Boys) was an awesome pick for Scobell’s bestie. I was also digging the girls getting into the mix too with Momona Tamada (A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting, To All the Boys: Always and Forever, The Baby-Sitters Club) and Abby James Witherspoon (Hot Pursuit, Every Other Holiday, A Unicorn for Christmas).
All told, Secret Headquarters was a fun ride that I was happy to enjoy with my family. My teenage daughter and I both got a kick out of it on different levels. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this film for anyone with access to Paramount+.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 42%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 75%
Metascore – 45%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.6/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5
PS – There is a small post-credit scene.
Movie Trailer:

Monday, August 8, 2022

Carter (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Carter (2022)
Genre: Action, Thriller
Length: 2h 12min
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Apeitda, Netflix
Director: Byung-gil Jung    
Writer:  Byeong-sik Jung, Byung-gil Jung       
Actors: Joo Won, Kim Bo-Min, Sung-Jae Lee, Camilla Belle, Mike Colter
Blurb from IMDb: Thrown straight into a dangerous mission with none of his memories intact, a man must escape death while trying to figure out who he is, how he ended up here, and who is the mysterious voice in his ear calling him "Carter"?

Selina’s Point of View:
I was in my glory when I saw the trailer for Carter.
Korean cinema has a special place in my heart and, as an 80s baby, so do brainless action flicks. When I saw the trailer for Carter, then followed it up with the realization that a Korean director I know and like was behind it, I was excited.
After sitting down to watch, I’m just angry.
When you hear people talking about movies that are style over substance, Carter is exactly the kind of thing they’re talking about. Every shot seemed to have mountains of thought put into it, but nothing else did.
Now, keep in mind, I have enjoyed style over substance films before. I really enjoyed Sucker Punch (2011). But, in this case, the thought put into the cinematography for Carter was exceptionally misguided. It’s like the director decided before filming that he had to use shaky cam, and then ignored when it didn’t work.

Cat gets motion sickness when watching badly made shaky cam movies. About 10-minutes into Carter, I texted her to let her know I’d handle this one myself. I don’t have motion sickness from anything, but in this case the effect was nausea inducing. Even for me. I had to take regular breaks – just about every 15-minutes or so – because it was costing me my equilibrium.
I could have forgiven the stylistic choices if there had been any pay off. Unfortunately, there really wasn’t.
There were a few cool visuals, if you could focus on them long enough, but there was nothing else going for Carter. The script was bad, so was most of the acting. Even the fight choreography didn’t stand out. In fact, the final fight scene feels like it’s 20-minutes long and involves the main character doing the same thing over and over again.
I couldn’t figure out if I needed to vomit or go take a nap.
Don’t waste your time on Carter. If you’re curious about the director, Confession of Murder (2012) is streaming on Tubi, Pluto TV, and Plex.  

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 30%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 50%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –5.1/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 1.5/5
Movie Trailer: