Friday, May 19, 2023

The Mother (2023)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: The Mother (2023)
Genre: Action, Thriller
Length:  1h 55min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Nuyorican Productions, Vertigo Entertainment, Netflix
Director: Niki Caro
Writers: Andrea Berloff, Peter Craig, Misha Green
Actors: Fahim Fazli, Gael García Bernal, Jennifer Lopez, Jesse Garcia, Joseph Fiennes, Leslie Lluvet, Lucy Paez, Michael Karl Richards, Omari Hardwick, Paul Raci, Saif Mohsen, Yvonne Senat Jones
IMDb Blurb: While fleeing from dangerous assailants, an assassin comes out of hiding to protect her daughter she left earlier in life.
Cat’s Point of View:
Before I get into my review of The Mother, I feel I should open with the disclaimer that this was not the movie I was originally set to cover for you today. I intended to review the new Disney+ original Peter Pan & Wendy (2023). Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I couldn’t make that happen. In a nutshell, the Disney+ app has a significant problem. It has the potential of losing audio sync with its programming. Thus far, Peter Pan & Wendy is the only title I’ve had problems viewing, and the only time I have had that issue with any of the streaming services I subscribe to. Unfortunately, it was repeatable - from multiple devices in my household. 

Approximately 20 minutes into the film, the audio lagged behind the visuals significantly and it became very difficult (nearly impossible) for me to watch. Every time. Exactly that scene. Had I not researched this, I would have marked this down as a 0/5 and chalked it up to Disney dropping the ball. I did, however, find some articles that pointed out that this is apparently a known issue with the Disney+ app and it requires a lot of rigamarole to sort out. With the wifi inconsistencies at my residence, it would have wasted the whole day. Perhaps we can revisit this title in the future. 

Now to the movie at hand: The Mother

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Netflix rolled out new original content for us featuring Jennifer Lopez (Shades of Blue, Second Act, Marry Me), Joseph Fiennes (Strangerland, Risen, The Handmaid's Tale), Gael García Bernal (The Accused, Old, Werewolf by Night), and Omari Hardwick (Nobody's Fool, Power, Army of the Dead)

The Mother landed at my #11 spot on this month’s Top 20 Movies to Look Out For list, and so far I don’t regret that placement. 

I expected solid action, a rollercoaster of feels, and good performances. None of the heavy hitters on this cast are known for phoning it in. I am happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. 

The cinematography was spot on. I felt the remoteness of the safehouse and I felt my breath catch in my throat at a few points during the action - both of the shooting variety and the chase scenes. 

I connected to the story of the mother forced to give up her daughter for the child’s protection and I felt her heartbreak as well as resonating with her desire to protect the little girl, even from afar. I don’t think you’d have to be a mother to appreciate that part of the story, though. It’s communicated well enough that it’s just a given. 

There were a few bits in the middle that pushed on my boundaries of the suspension of disbelief when it came to some of the agent stuff. Explaining further, unfortunately, would require spoilers. 

We had an initial concern when we watched the trailer that this would play out fairly close to another Netflix original, Lou (2022). While some of the themes are tangentially similar, I feel that The Mother stands alone against that prior production with entirely different scenarios present. That being said, if you enjoyed watching Lou, you’d likely get a lot out of this movie as well. 

I do feel I need to note that while a lot of Lopez’s projects seem to have a hint of levity to them, The Mother is fairly straightforward in the Action / Thriller department and leans more to the dramatic. 

If any of this sounds like a fun film for you, I’d definitely recommend giving The Mother a chance. There won’t be awards for originality or groundbreaking work here, but it is a solid genre offering that my 19yr old and I had a good time viewing together.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 44%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –71%
Metascore – 44%
Metacritic User Score – 7.1/10
IMDB Score – 5.5/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating –  3/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Consecration (2023)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Consecration (2023)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 1h 31min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: AGC Studios, Bigscope Films, Moonriver, IFC Midnight, Shudder
Director: Christopher Smith
Writer: Christopher Smith, Laurie Cook
Actors: Jena Malone, Danny Huston, Ian Pirie, Janet Suzman, Thoren Ferguson, Eilidh Fisher, Steffan Cennydd
Blurb from IMDb: After the alleged suicide of her priest brother, Grace travels to the remote Scottish convent where he fell to his death. Distrusting the Church's account, she uncovers murder, sacrilege, and a disturbing truth about herself.

Selina’s Point of View:
The trailer and promotional material for Consecration had me amped.
Horror flicks based on faith are a dime a dozen, but it felt like there would be an interesting twist with this one.
On the one hand, I was right. There was an interesting twist involved. It was giving The Omen (1976), but there were some tweaks that altered the feel. The problem was that most of what led up to that decent twisty ending was boring.
By the time Consecration was over I was exhausted from just trying to keep myself awake.

The best thing I can say is that the cast was on point. Jena Malone (Lorelei, The Public, Swallowed) did the best she could with what she had. Danny Huston (Marlowe, Calls, The Constant Gardener) and Janet Suzman (Felix, Max, The Curse of Minerva) were appropriately creepy, though Eilidh Fisher (The Power, The English Game, The Nest) showed them both up with her performance. Thoren Ferguson (Matriarch, The Spanish Princess, Matriarch) was a suitable good-guy type as well.
Ian Pirie (The Last Duel, Guilt, The Matrix Resurrections) shined above them all. He had the one thread of storyline that was truly frightening – and his performance was equally so.
Consecration had a good idea with great actors. It even had an interesting ending that was tweaked just enough to feel fresh. The problem was the rest of it.
I wouldn’t be able to sit through it again. But if you want to give it a shot, it comes out on Shudder, May 19th.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have some strong feelings about Consecration, and I’m frustrated about it. This is primarily because if I discussed them, it would reveal massive spoilers. Since that is generally not our intention in these reviews, I’ll just flail internally for a moment and move on to what I can offer spoiler-free.
Let’s start with some positives.
I was happy that Consecration showed off the gorgeous landscapes of Scotland in general, and especially the Isle of Skye. The cinematography was spot-on there. While I’m not particularly familiar with the clifftop ruins utilized within the film, it was quite fitting for the story and the beautifully rugged setting.
The fact that this was a primarily Scottish story had me very excited when it came to this production. I was craving that scenery; and Scottish brogue is like music to my ears. Irish and Scottish language, accents, art, music, and landscapes all call to parts of my soul more than any other and I am rather voracious when it comes to partaking of such things.
I was hoping that Consecration would utilize native actors to maximize the feeling of authenticity. This production mostly succeeded with that by utilizing actors like Ian Pirie, Eilidh Fisher, and Thoren Ferguson.

While watching the film, the story seemed to support the fact that Grace, Jena Malone’s character, had an English accent rather than Scottish - but as things unfolded and the more I have thought about it, I think it was a wasted opportunity to not have her utilize a Scots accent instead. Perhaps it was a difficult dialect for her - I have no idea if it was specifically intentional or not. Regardless, I feel it was a disservice to the tale. Other than that, though, I really didn’t have any problems with her overall performance.
Danny Huston also didn’t disappoint. His character was disarming and exactly how one would expect a priest in his position to be.
Consecration had a slow burn going on with a blend of religion-based horror and that of the horrific acts of man. It could have benefited from some better editing when it came to the flashbacks because it was put together a little clunkily in that regard. I did appreciate the full-circle nature of the story, but there were bits that just nagged at me and damaged my ability to suspend disbelief. The ending twist was decent. I didn’t see it coming.
Overall, Consecration wasn’t a bad religious horror movie, it just had room for improvement and a few pacing issues. I’d say it’s worth a watch if the trailer intrigued you at all.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 42%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 32%
Metascore – 40%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –5.1/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 2.5/5
Movie Trailer: