Friday, June 16, 2023

Extraction 2 (2023)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Extraction 2 (2023)
Genre: Action, Thriller
Length: 2h 2min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: AGBO, Filmhaus Films, Netflix, Stillking Films, T.G.I.M. Films, Wild State
Director: Sam Hargrave
Writer: Joe Russo, Ande Parks
Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Adam Bessa, Tornike Gogrichiani, Demetre Kavelashvili, Tornike Bziava, Giga Shavadze, Tinatin Dalakishvili, Andro Japaridze, Mariami Kovziashvili, Marta Kovziashvili
Blurb from IMDb: After barely surviving his grievous wounds from his mission in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tyler Rake is back, and his team is ready to take on their next mission.

Selina’s Point of View:
Sam Hargrave (The Calm, The Shoot, Game Changer) is just getting better.
In the first Extraction (2020) Hargrave showed what a stunt person could do when given a set of their own. There were amazing shots and extremely fast-paced, well-choreographed action. If I had to nit-pick, I could pick out a few shots/scenes that were a little rough or out of place.
I can’t even do that minor amount of nit-picking with Extraction 2.
Hargrave took the small errors from Extraction and fixed it for the sequel. That kind of awareness of his craft leads me to believe that he’s just going to keep climbing as a director. Eventually, he’ll be on every list of best action directors. I’d bet on it.

There were fewer individual shots that gave me the same excitement I got from the ones I’ve discussed from the first flick. The only reason for that is because I was sucked in by most of the action this time. Every heart-pumping moment excited me. There wasn’t anything I’d have called revolutionary (like the roof-jump scene in the first one), but the choreography considered tropes and expected movements from other actions and flipped them around. It made everything feel fresh.
Chris Hemsworth (Spiderhead, Avengers: Endgame, Bad Times at the El Royale) killed it again. His Tyler Rake character is a lot more in depth than you’d think if you only saw the trailers. We also got a lot more from Golshifteh Farahani (About Elly, Paterson, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) and Adam Bessa (Harka, Mosul, The Blessed), which I enjoyed. It gave Rake less of a lone wolf feel and offered a broadening of his character.
There was an Extraction 3 tease at the end of the film, and I’m not mad at it. I want more of this franchise, and more of Sam Hargrave in general.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 77%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 91%
Metascore – 57%
Metacritic User Score – 8.1
IMDB Score –7.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Peppergrass (2023)

Movie Name/Year: Peppergrass (2023)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 1h 34min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Terror Films, BLS Productions, Barbet Films
Director: Steven Garbas, Chantelle Han
Writer: Steven Garbas, Philip Irwin
Actors: Chantelle Han, Charles Boyland, Michael Copeman, Philip Williams, Craig Porritt
Blurb from IMDb: During a pandemic, a pregnant restaurateur tries to rob a priceless truffle from a reclusive veteran.

Selina’s Point of View:
Peppergrass was a recipe horror film. If there’s a cabin in the woods horror movie trope out there, Peppergrass utilized it.
When we watched the trailer for Peppergrass during our monthly stream, I mentioned some commonalities I saw between it and Pig (2021). I vaguely remember going on about how it would have a lot to live up to if that was the flick it was going to be compared to. As it turns out, the only similarity was the existence of the truffle-sniffing hog. Peppergrass was a lot more like a slow version of Don’t Breathe (2016).
I feel the need to stress the word: slow.

Peppergrass took about 20 minutes to get started and then barely had time to pick up before it slowed all the way down again. Then it stayed that way until the end. All the heart-pounding scenes are in the trailer. Every single one of them. The rest of it is lackadaisical at best.
I get that it was trying to do what every great lost in the woods/hunted horror flick does. Peppergrass wanted me to be on the edge of my seat about whether the protagonist would be caught. All the fake-outs are clear about that. But they never seemed to be in all that much danger unless the antagonist was right there. I didn’t feel any of it.
It wasn’t all bad.
Chantelle Han (Black Summer, Save Me, The Dorm) did her absolute best. Even though I didn’t buy the story, and rarely found myself invested, when I did it was because she seemed to believe it. She tried her best to sell every single aspect of Peppergrass. She just didn’t have enough to work with.

Cat’s Point of View:
Peppergrass looked interesting at first blush when we watched the trailer. It appeared to be a darkly comedic heist thriller. Our worry was that it would pale in comparison to the award-winning and much-applauded Pig (2021) which had a similar theme.
Well, I must admit that I haven’t seen Pig yet - but I’m pretty sure that Peppergrass is significantly different. Unfortunately, I’m also sure that it will still pale in comparison.
Filmmakers have a significant task when they make a trailer - it needs to capture an audience’s attention and intrigue them enough to watch the movie without giving too much away. If the whole thing can be summed up by the trailer and it gives away the best bits, there’s no point in watching the film. Further, a dull trailer chases moviegoers away from the production. At the same time, you’d think it would also be a priority to correctly paint a picture of what to expect from the movie as far as genre and tone are concerned. Otherwise, audiences might feel tricked - as if there was a bait and switch happening.
I can’t help but feel a little bit baited here. I was expecting a bit goofier bungled burgling along with the fight for survival when things go pear-shaped. What I got was very little of the former and a hell of a lot more of the latter. Had this been pitched more as a survival thriller, it would have landed a little better, I think.

I had a bit of mental whiplash as the tone unexpectedly shifted early in. Peppergrass was far more serious than I anticipated. While the story did have a few questionable moments, it was generally solid. There was a respectable twistiness to it, and the ending was satisfying.
Given that this was the feature debut for the directing team of Steven Garbas (Pinkville) and lead Chantelle Han, some of the missteps that the production took can be chalked up to a learning curve. Who knows, the trailer situation could have been out of their hands.
All told Peppergrass was decent. It was occasionally hard for me to keep my attention focused due to long periods without much action or dialogue - but that could just be my ADHD. The story was interesting, and I could empathize with the desperation of a grieving restauranteur amid the initial pandemic lockdown.
Fans of survival thrillers might get a little more out of Peppergrass than anyone expecting a comedic romp through a truffle-hunting heist.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –7.5/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 2.5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer: 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Brooklyn 45 (2023)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Brooklyn 45 (2023)
Genre: Drama, History, Horror
Length:  1h 32min
Rating: Not Rated
Production/Distribution: Divide/Conquer, Hangar 18 Media, PurpleDOG, Raven Banner Entertainment, Shudder
Director: Ted Geoghegan
Writer: Ted Geoghegan
Actors: Anne Ramsay, Ezra Buzzington, Jeremy S. Holm, Kristina Klebe, Larry Fessenden, Lucy Carapetyan, Ron E. Rains
IMDb Blurb: Five military veterans, best friends since childhood, gather together to support their troubled host, and the metaphoric ghosts of their past become all-too-literal.

Selina’s Point of View:
I did not give Brooklyn 45 a spot in my top 20 this month. I didn’t even schedule the screener for review, I only added it after it came out on Shudder. I really thought it was just going to be a low-quality séance film, with nothing new to offer.
I could not have been more wrong.
The start of the flick already had me questioning myself. The characters felt immediately in-depth.
Anne Ramsay (Violet, Bombshell, A League of their Own) had me immediately interested in Marla Sheridan. Marla was shown as this bad-ass World War II interrogator that held the respect of every man in the room – which was not common for that time. Then the interactions between Jeremy Holm (Among the Beasts, Don’t Look Back, Still Here), as Major Archibald Stanton, and Ezra Buzzington (Burning At Both Ends, Bleach, The Nowhere Inn), as Major Paul DiFranco, started to pull me in as well. Their banter felt natural, but uncomfortable. It was meant to make viewers uncomfortable at times, and it pays off in later conversations where the discomfort is called back to.
Ted Geoghegan’s (We Are Still Here, Satanic Panic, Don’t Wake the Dead) use of dialogue allowed for viewers to change their perspective of the characters as the characters themselves were changing perspective. It was masterfully done.
Then came the séance, and I figured I had it pegged from there. For the whole 10 minutes that the séance remained a focal part of the story, anyway. After that, the movie shifted into something more psychological.
If anything, Brooklyn 45 has more in common with 12 Angry Men (1957) than it did with any horror film based around something supernatural. It definitely had those aspects, but it was the paranoia that the story concentrated on most.
Every month, we judge the films coming out based on their trailer. Just like most movie goers do. Until we watch the flick, it’s just a 2-minute trailer and some names on a screen. That’s why the way the coming attractions are handled is so important.
The trailer for Brooklyn 45 is misleading. That said, I think that works out in the movie’s favor this time. I went into it expecting to be disappointed and was instead blown away.
Hopefully, people are still opting to watch the actual film.
If you have Shudder, watch Brooklyn 45. If you give it a chance, you will be impressed.

Cat’s Point of View:
When we first came across Brooklyn 45, it was through the initial teaser Shudder released. It was only an itty bitty clip from the movie. It really didn’t show what was going on, but I had enough to make some guesses. I was intrigued and curious to know if I had guessed right. I was excited when the full trailer was released and I had generally hit the mark. 

The story felt new and interesting, even though it reflected a bygone time. Sure there are plenty of movies where people reach out to the spirit world, but this one seemed like a fresh take from an era where that sort of thing was highly taboo. I wanted to watch just to see where they took the story and how the people involved would handle being faced with the paranormal. 

Oh, and then there was the twist that hit me like a ton of bricks out of left field. 

The narrative delves so far deeper than a group of friends gathered to help one of their own deal with the tragic and senseless loss of his wife. It was steeped in the emotional aftermath of war and the risks when prejudice meets zealous ideals. There were so many nuances layered into this tale. 

The setting was impeccable. I sincerely felt like I had gone back in time to 1945. The acting was also well done. Everyone’s performances hit the mark as authentic to me and there wasn’t anything I could poke at. In fact, there wasn’t anything that could break the spell of Brooklyn 45. I hardly noticed the passage of time as the screen transfixed me. 

It was a thought-provoking story. As with most topics that touch on veterans of WWII, this film had me thinking about my grandfather who was a Major in the Army, and the horrors of war that he experienced and never talked about. 

Brooklyn 45 hits hard even if you don’t have a war veteran in your life. It’s particularly relevant to today’s social and political climate. 

I didn’t see that ending coming, either - and it was unsettling. 

If you have access to Shudder, I would say that Brooklyn 45 is a strong addition to their original movie lineup. Just keep in mind that the topics within could be a little triggering for some. Further, there are some particularly graphic scenes so keep that in mind when determining the ages of the audience. 
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score –  87%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 78%
Metascore – 71%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.7/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Parental Guidance Rating – R

Movie Trailer: