Friday, January 20, 2023

Beast (2022)

Streaming Service: Peacock
Movie Name/Year: Beast (2022)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Length:  1h 33min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Universal Pictures, RVK Studios, Will Packer Productions
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writers: Jaime Primak Sullivan, Ryan Engle
Actors: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Amara Miller, Billy Gallagher, Damon Burtley, Dorian Hedgewood, Hudson Anne-Black, Iyana Halley, Leah Jeffries, Mel Jarnson
IMDb Blurb: A father and his two teenage daughters find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the Savanna has but one apex predator.

Cat’s Point of View:
This month, we’re running into quite a few movies that I’m re-watching for the second time (or more). Beast is one that I just couldn’t wait until we got to putting it on the schedule. I watched it the moment it was available via Xfinity’s On Demand. I was more than happy to give it another watch-through now that it’s hit Peacock. Beast was, after all, my #3 pick for August 2022’s Top 20.
I adore a good creature feature. There’s just something enjoyably thrilling in a story of relentless pursuit by an entity that can’t be reasoned with – in this case, a rogue lion. Beast also skillfully layered in some conflicting emotions regarding the film’s feline antagonist. You can’t help but feel bad for the situation the lion found himself in, and you can’t really blame the big cat for the revenge spree. At the same time. It’s tragic how others get caught in the proverbial crossfire along the way. The subtext here regarding big game poachers in Africa is also quite clear. It remains a huge problem.

Beast was really everything I hoped it would be, and gave me more than I asked for with the dramatic personal story of the characters fighting for survival. The setting in South Africa was well utilized and they got some really gorgeous shots while also accomplishing the difficult task of making settings feel almost claustrophobic while still in the vast middle of nowhere. The CGI animators also deserve some big kudos. Realistically, it makes sense that a modern production wouldn’t be mingling real lions with actors. All of the animals in Beast were CGI rendered, and I honestly forgot while I was watching the film.
Idris Elba (The Harder They Fall, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Three Thousand Years of Longing)  and Sharlto Copley (The A-Team, Chappie, Free Fire) were also big draws to this production for me, and their performances didn’t disappoint – as usual. The young ladies sharing the screen with them impressively held their own, as well.
Beast didn’t break any new ground with its story, but I was firmly perched at the edge of my seat through the whole runtime. I was also surprised to find that the tension director Baltasar Kormákur (Everest, 2 Guns, Adrift) captured with this narrative was no less intense for a second watch-through. If you’re down with this cast or this particular creature concept, Beast is absolutely worth a shot.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 68%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 77%
Metascore – 54%
Metacritic User Score – 4.8/10
IMDB Score –5.6 /10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Glass Onion (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Glass Onion (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Length: 2h 19min
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Netflix, T-Street
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Actors: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Jackie Hoffman
Blurb from IMDb: Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc travels to Greece for his latest case.

Selina’s Point of View:
I adored the first Knives Out (2019). It was two hours of twisty-turny fun. All the character were extremely in depth and the mystery was second to none. I was looking forward to Glass Onion, but I knew better than to hope it would be as good.
I could have let my hopes get higher, because Glass Onion was just as good, if not better than the first.
Writer/Director Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick, The Brothers Bloom) has the secret code for making a damn-near perfect mystery movie. It’s full of foreshadowing that’s SO obvious when it’s played back later on, but it’s subtle enough that it’s near impossible to catch the first time around. Then he weaves in this incredible humor that keeps audiences laughing for the entire run-time.

I loved the way 2020 was portrayed, too. Benoit Blanc at the beginning of the flick was ALL of us; playing Among Us and wasting away as we tried not to go crazy in lockdown. I got a huge laugh out of seeing some of my favorite jellybean characters running around on screen. I played Among Us just about every night for that whole year. But I digress…
This series is amazing and, because it follows only Benoit Blanc, there’s an infinite number of places it can go. Each time featuring different actors playing different insanely in-depth characters.
If Johnson keeps bring Daniel Craig (No Time to Die, Kings, Logan Lucky) in to play Mr. Blanc, this series can continue indefinitely. There’s magic in the combination, and I can’t wait to see what it brings next.

Cat’s Point of View:
You know what? I’m ready for the next Knives Out (2019) movie. Bring it on. This franchise has just been flat-out entertaining so far, and I’m hoping that Rian Johnson has more than a trilogy planned.
Glass Onion was a lot of fun. The story captured the essence of how quite a lot of us got through the lockdown – zooms and online games with friends. I nearly did a spit-take with what I was drinking when Benoit Blanc was shown playing Among Us at the beginning of the movie.
I feel I need to pause a moment to note that every time that Daniel Craig opens his mouth to speak as Benoit Blanc, I have to hold in gales of giggles. That put-on Southern drawl that he does sounds like he just stepped off the set of Gone With the Wind (1939). It’s brilliant in its own quirky way. I just rarely hear people speak that way – and I live in the deep South.

Once more, I found myself trying to unravel the clues before the reveal. I was only slightly more successful with Glass Onion than the first Knives Out movie – but still didn’t quite see that twist coming.
The cast was amazing, the setting was gorgeous and well-utilized, and the story was as intricate as I hoped it would be. I felt like the first movie still had a little bit more zing than this sequel, but I don’t feel that the 2-plus hours of watch time was misspent. I hardly noticed the length at all.
This was my second viewing of Glass Onion, as I just couldn’t wait to watch it when it hit Netflix. I picked up on several new things in this fresh watch-through, and I could see myself watching again at some point in the future.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 93%
Metascore – 81%
Metacritic User Score – 6.0
IMDB Score –7.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, January 16, 2023

White Noise (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: White Noise (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror
Length:  2h 16min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: A24, BB Film Productions, Heyday Films, Netflix Studios, Passage Pictures
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writers: Noah Baumbach, Don DeLillo
Actors: Adam Driver, Alessandro Nivola, André Benjamin, Anna Sheridan, Carly Brodax, Danny Wolohan, Don Cheadle, Douglas Brodax, Gideon Glick, Greta Gerwig, Jill Brodax, Jodie Turner-Smith, Lars Eidinger, Laura Wimbels, Logan Fry, Madison Gaughan, Matthew Shear, Michael Chopra, Michael William Chopra, Mike Gassaway, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Raffey Cassidy, Sam Nivola, Santu Chopra, Thomas W Wolf, Wickham Bermingham
IMDb Blurb: Dramatizes a contemporary American family's attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death, and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world.

Cat’s Point of View:
It took every fiber of my being to pay attention to White Noise. Further, I was a little mad while watching it, as I felt misled by the trailer. I was sold the tale of a family dealing with a looming disaster. I expected drama and horror in relation to that set of parameters.
What White Noise actually ended up being was an excruciatingly long and generally boring examination of overly cerebral people having an existential crisis. There’s a blip in the middle about a chemical accident. Every hope I had that the production would transition into something more palatable with that event was dashed.

The story was also supposed to be set in 1983, but I wouldn’t have known that without reading IMDb’s trivia or having read the book this movie was adapted from (and I haven’t). 
On paper, the cast looked great and had me interested in the movie. White Noise, however, delivered good performances but I was so bored I didn’t care.
White Noise ended up becoming just that. I wished I could have just had it running in the background because it was so easy to tune out. Maybe that was my ADHD talking, but regardless of the specific reason, this production was not enjoyable for me at all.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 63%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 32%
Metascore – 66%
Metacritic User Score – 5.4/10
IMDB Score – 5.7/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2/5
Movie Trailer: