Monday, April 8, 2024

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

 
 
Movie Name/Year: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Length:  1h 55min
Rating: PG-13 
Director: Gil Kenan 
Writers: Gil Kenan, Jason Reitman, Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis 
Actors: Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, Annie Potts, William Atherton, Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, Celeste O'Connor, Logan Kim, Emily Alyn Lind, James Acaster, Chris Tummings, Kevin Mangold, Ian Whyte, Natalie Cousteau, Allison McKay 
 
IMDb Blurb: When the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an evil force, Ghostbusters new and old must join forces to protect their home and save the world from a second ice age. 
 
 
Cat’s Point of View: 
There was really no question that I wanted to watch Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire as soon as physically and fiscally possible. I mean, it was my #1 pick for my March 2024 Top 20 article, after all. When a friend offered me a chance with an invite to an early matinee this past Tuesday afternoon, my response included “I’ll get the popcorn.”
 
I loved every second of this new sequel.
 
My friend had a slightly different take on it, but they seem to have taken one of the trailers a little too literally and were hoping for a spin leaning further into horror than comedy. This made for an interesting debate as we exited the theater. I countered with the fact that while the trailer teased that “every ghost they’ve ever caught will be unleashed” that it didn’t promise that they’d be fighting all or even the majority of them. That wouldn’t have even been feasible within the time constraints. That might be a great plot for a spin-off series – but it would have pulled away from concentrating on the big bad that earned this sequel’s frosty title.
 
 
Further, that the goofy comedy was a key aspect of this franchise going back to the very beginning. It’s meant to be family fun, if a little on the spicy side. Thus, of course, the PG-13 rating for Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) as well as this new installment. The original 1984 Ghostbusters came in under the wire within a month or so from when they even began to split the PG rating into a more advanced category. (I think the first sequel dodged the bullet with fewer sexual overtones and a more fantastical plot involving the pink goo taking away some of the intensity.)
 
To both points, as well, the note about “every ghost” was an ominous portent that did set up the plot elements that tied into the concept where failure to learn from history would make you doomed to repeat it. There were some excellent moments of déjà vu that I quite enjoyed as events unfolded. It also stood to reason that not all of the specters released in the original containment breach would have been caught in the interim; as well as not every spirit involved in the dirt farm incident was sealed away when Gozer was. I absolutely adored and delighted in each and every ghostly cameo.
 
 
I also had great appreciation for the fact that Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire provided such a seamless, if a little time-advanced – continuance from where Afterlife and its mid-credits scene left off. There didn’t need to be a lot of exposition into what was going on or how things got to where they were. Everything just worked – including the connections between original cast and new.
 
I was also very relieved that they didn’t try to bring ghostly Egan back again. There was one scene where I was worried, but it was a proving point that they wanted to honor him in a different way and moved forward to something else advancing the new plot.
 
I have realized that I generally agree with a fan theory that believes that Egan’s “spirit” – figuratively, rather than literally this time – within the team lives on with Winston’s head tech guy Lars, played by James Acaster (Cinderella, Springleaf, Seize Them!). He has the whole vibe of Egan’s character within The Real Ghostbusters (1986-1991) animated series, both on an aesthetic and team contribution level. It is clear that they were by no means trying to replace him or say that this new guy was some sort of stand-in, however. I took it as a natural progression out of necessity to fill the tech development void left with his passing, and a nod to other aspects of the Ghostbusters universe that just don’t often get acknowledgement. I loved that animated series and watched it religiously. I even have the #1 of the comic that was a spin-off from the cartoon. There were actually several elements within Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire that referenced (if sometimes loosely) plot and equipment details from the series. There’s nothing that officially solidifies that particular concept, as far as I know – but for now, it’s my own head-canon.
 
 
There were several other new characters that made a big impact within Frozen Empire. Kumail Nanjiani (Stuber, Welcome to Chippendales, Destroy All Neighbors), Emily Alyn Lind (Replicas, Doctor Sleep, The Babysitter: Killer Queen), and Patton Oswalt (Mystery Science Theater 3000, Heroes of the Golden Masks, Manhunt) are welcome additions to the franchise, and I really appreciated how each of their characters contributed to this story – whether on a plot or emotional level.
 
Gil Kenan (Monster House, Scream: The TV Series, Ghostbusters: Afterlife) has done a phenomenal job with these last 2 movies, and I can only hope that he continues to bring us stories from this beloved franchise. I also appreciate that he has maintained a dedication to continuing the vision that the creative minds that have come before him brought to us – as well as keeping up with a usage of practical effects wherever possible. There’s a really informative interview he did with Collider that goes into so much more, as well. (He has gone on record, as well, stating that he did want to incorporate elements from other corners of the Ghostbusters universe – such as the animated series within these new stories. The article is a good read.)
 
As you can tell, I’m extremely passionate about my Ghostbusters fandom. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire ticked all the required boxes on my personal approval checklist. If you’ve been a fan of the old-school cast or even the animated series, chances are you’re going to adore this new installment, too.
 
 
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 44%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 84%
Metascore – 46%
Metacritic User Score – 5.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.5/10
 
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
 
P.S. – There is a mid-credit scene following this movie, but no further scenes after the credits end.
 
Movie Trailer:

Monday, April 1, 2024

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In April (2024)

According to: Selina
 

20 – Someone Like You (4/2)
 

Director: Tyler Russell
Writer: Karen Kingsbury, Tyler Russell
Actors: Sarah Fisher, Jake Allyn, Lynn Collins, Robyn Lively, Bart Johnson
Genre: Romance
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 58min
 
IMDb Blurb: Based on the novel by #1 NYTimes bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, "Someone Like You" is an achingly beautiful love story. After the tragic loss of his best friend, a grieving young architect launches a search for her secret twin sister.
 
Romantic dramas aren’t usually what draw me. I prefer my romance with some comedy or action – even a bit of horror (dark fantasy readers know what I’m talking about). That said, the story utilized in Someone Like You does feel devastating and intriguing. It almost feels more like a drama with a hint of romance. Yes, there is a difference. At least, to me.
 
My issue with Someone Like You, the reason I can’t put it any higher than #20, is the one trope they look to be leaning toward that I just cannot get behind.
 
I hate romance stories that replace the original love interest with someone who looks like them.
 
There’s always a bit of disbelief suspension with any film, but I simply cannot suspend enough disbelief to get behind the idea that true love is that easily replaceable.
 
There’s a large part of me that’s a hopeless romantic. Someone’s face has never been the reason I’ve fallen in love with them. It may be something about them I love, but it’s not the reason behind the emotion. Love simply isn’t that superficial or shallow.
 
When you love someone it’s about the parts of them that speak directly to your soul (or heart, depending on how spiritual you are). You love them because they are your safe space, your home. They both light you on fire and calm you in a way that no one else can. When they upset you, they fix it, because they hate to see you upset. They make sure you know your triggers don’t define you, and you seek to do the same. They keep you together, or help you find the pieces of yourself that have gone missing over the years – then give you the strength to start putting it all back where it belongs. They make you want to do the same for them. You want to be their safe space, their home. You want to make them feel more like themselves, to calm them and still set them ablaze.
 
A good love story can show all of that. Regardless of what the characters look like or what they’ve been through. Their traumas or their past. A good love story looks deeper and speaks to that part of people that understand the connection that occurs when they need someone else – someone specific. I don’t use the term ‘need’ here lightly, either. It’s a need more than a want. Humans need connections, and the various forms of love are the greatest of those connections. It guides someone to their people. The people that make them feel whole.
 
Someone completely different who shares the same face does not fulfill those requirements, and I will never be able to suspend enough disbelief to believe they could.
 
Now, there’s always the possibility that they’ll go for a more realistic ending. Where the main character learns all that and he and the secret twin wind up as friends, but I’m concerned they’re going to try and make me buy the replacement trope, and I simply can’t.
 
19 – Model House (4/5)
 

Director: Derek Pike
Writer: Derek Pike
Actors: Scout Taylor-Compton, Kyra Santoro, Lexi Atkins, Hailee Keanna Lautenbach, Priscilla Huggins Ortiz, Cory Anne Roberts
Genre: Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 25min
 
IMDb Blurb: Models staying in a secluded house for the night are terrorized by intruders.
 
On the one hand, Model House looks like it could be one of those campy, ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ flicks. Models trapped in a terrifying situation and acting in this cringy, somewhat gross, way? That lends itself to a good thriller/comedy. In that case, it would have been higher on my list.
 
The problem is, once the thrills start the humor seems to stop. That makes me worry that Model House could wind up taking itself way too seriously. The concept lends itself more toward the comedy co-genre, which means that seriousness could wind up being a flaw. Of course, we’ve seen trailers mislead us before.
 
I’m hoping this trailer was poorly made. Time will tell.
 
18 – Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (4/12)
 

Director: Wade Allain-Marcus
Writer: Chuck Hayward, Tara Ison, Neil Landau
Actors: Jermaine Fowler, June Squibb, Iantha Richardson, Tyriq Withers, Nicole Richie, Miles Fowler, Gus Kenworthy, Simone Joy Jones, Donielle T. Hansley Jr., Patricia Williams, Ayaamii Sledge, Carter Young, Lizet Upia
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R
Length: 1h 39min
 
IMDb Blurb: Tanya finds her summer plans canceled when her mom jets off for a last-minute retreat and the elderly babysitter who arrives at her door unexpectedly passes away.
 
Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991) was a staple of my childhood. I think it was for most women my age. I haven’t seen it in a while, so I don’t know if it holds up, but I remember it with great fondness. Naturally, I was curious when I heard about this new version.
 
This new version looks cute. It’s a bit wilder and it’s definitely updated, but it seems to be very much in the spirit of the 1991 version. On a different month, it likely would have been much higher on my list.
 
It is still a remake, and there are much better flicks coming out in April.
 
17 – Civil War (4/12)
 

Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Actors: Nick Offerman, Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Jefferson White, Nelson lee, Evan Lai, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson
Genre: Action
Rated: R
Length: 1h 49min
 
IMDb Blurb: A journey across a dystopian future America, following a team of military-embedded journalists as they race against time to reach DC before rebel factions descend upon the White House.
 
Not even a quarter of the way into the trailer for Civil War you can tell it’s going to be divisive. If nothing else, it reminds me of the in-your-fact political nature of the marketing behind The Hunt (2020). It seems to be straight-up pitting left and right against each other. Where it differs is that The Hunt did it in a much more ridiculous way. Civil War seems to be concentrating on that divide and exaggerating it to a natural conclusion.
 
Which is terrifying.
 
That innate terror is what makes me think Civil War can work. It brings the dystopian nature of this kind of story into the real world. It won’t be for everyone, but I’m looking forward to it.
 
16 – The Moon and Back (4/23)
 

Director: Leah Bleich
Writer: Leah Bleich
Actors: Isabel May, Missi Pyle, Nat Faxon, P.J. Byrne, Miles Gutierrez-Riley, Molly Jackson, Riley Madison Fuller
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 14min
 
IMDb Blurb: A year after her father's death, Lydia Gilbert feels completely lost - until she discovers something unexpected: a space opera script in need of a blockbuster budget, written by her father.
 
Although this film does look adorable and heartwarming, I must acknowledge that my interest in it has more to do with my personal journey than the quality of the trailer.
 
My biological father was a twat, but my mentor had my back from the moment I met him until the day he died. He gave me every opportunity he was allowed to (and some he could have gotten in trouble for). Yet, I wound up going into a different field than the one he trained me for. It’s been a source of guilt for me for a long time, even though he always fully supported it.
 
The way I’ve opted to honor him is through my writing. I’ve taken on the project of telling the story of him and his wife. You learn a lot about a person when you opt to take up a creative project in their name, and I’d love to see how the main character in The Moon and Back comes to know her father through his screenwriting. I think it’s going to be a story that’s worth seeing.
 
15 – The First Omen (4/5)
 

Director: Arkasha Stevenson
Writer: Arkasha Stevenson, Keith Thomas, David Seltzer, Ben Jacoby, Tim Smith
Actors: Nell Tiger Free, Ralph Ineson, Sonia Braga, Tawfeek Barhom, Maria Caballero, Charles Dance
Genre: Horror
Rated: R
Length: 2h
 
IMDb Blurb: A young American woman is sent to Rome to begin a life of service to the church, but encounters a darkness that causes her to question her faith and uncovers a terrifying conspiracy that hopes to bring about the birth of evil incarnate.
 
The First Omen is a prequel to the 1976 version. As a fan of most of the Omen films, I’m here for it.
 
You can see plenty of references to the original in the trailer, to the point where it even speaks to people who might not necessarily love horror films. I had a friend watch the trailer to give me some extra perspective and he’s not generally a fan of horror films. He even said he would watch it.
 
The only reason it’s this low on my list is because there’s more creative films coming out, things I think are going to be much better. On other months that might be a bit of an insult, but this month is going to be crazy.
 
14 – The Absence of Eden (4/12)
 

Director: Marco Perego
Writer: Marco Perego, Rick Rapoza
Actors: Zoe Saldana, Adria Arjona, Garrett Hedlund, Tom Waits, Chris Coy, Sarah Minnich
Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Length: 1h 37min
 
IMDb Blurb: An ICE Agent struggling with the moral dilemmas of border security and an undocumented woman fighting to escape a ruthless cartel cross paths and work together to save the life of an innocent girl.
 
Is there anything that Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Colombiana) can’t do? There’s a reason she’s in two of the highest grossing films of all time. A heavy drama like The Absence of Eden gives her a chance to stretch her acting chops to the limit and really sell the horrifying tale.
 
The plot of The Absence of Eden is going to be divisive at best. I recommend leaving all politics at home when going to see it. Otherwise, there might be some difficulty really absorbing what’s happening throughout.
 
13 – Villains Inc. (4/19)
 

Director: Jeremy Warner
Writer: Jason Gray, Matt Moen, Jeremy Warner
Actors: Mallory Everton, Colin Mochrie, Jason Gray, Billy Mann, Jeff Bryan Davis
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 42min
 
IMDb Blurb: After the death of their boss, Beatrix, Cain and Harold are left destitute living in an abandoned grocery store. Beatrix is determined that they will fight on their own and take over the world by any means necessary.
 
Villains Inc. looks hilarious. It seems to have been inspired by the Despicable Me (2010) series. At some points in the trailer the henchmen are even wearing yellow suits that feel very minion-y to me. I’m not surprised that it succeeded on Kickstarter – though maybe a bit surprised at how well it did. Of its $15k goal, it made over $107k.
 
I’m not saying it’s because of Colin Mochrie’s (Who’s Line is it Anyway?, Murdoch Mysteries, This Hour Has 22 Minutes) involvement, but I am saying that would have gotten me to invest if I’d known about it before now. I’d say they didn’t need my help, though, since they raised over 700% of what they needed.
 
12 – Scoop (4/5)
 

Director: Philip Martin
Writer: Geoff Bussetil, Peter Moffat
Actors: Gillian Anderson, Rufus Sewell, Billie Piper, Keeley Hawes, Romola Garai, Aoife Hinds
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rated: TV-14
Length: 1h 42min
 
IMDb Blurb: How the BBC obtained the bombshell interview with Prince Andrew about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
 
Who doesn’t remember this interview during the Epstein scandal? The fact that an interview even made it through that royal wall was news on its own. A movie about how that occurred is a brilliant idea.
 
Though I doubt the royals will love it.
 
That said, there’s a decent cast involved. As a Doctor Who (2005-) fan, the one I’m really interested in is Billie Piper (Secret Diary of a Call Girl, I Hate Suzie, Mansfield Park). She’s been in plenty since her role as Rose Tyler, but nothing that I’ve gotten to see. I can’t wait to see what she does with her role here.
 
11 – Rebel Moon Part 2: The Scargiver (4/19)
 

Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: Shay Hatten, Kurt Johnstad, Zack Snyder
Actors: Ed Skrein, Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Jena Malone, Anthony Hopkins, Cary Elwes, Djimon Hounsou, Michiel Huisman
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 2h 2min
 
IMDb Blurb: Kora and surviving warriors prepare to defend Veldt, their new home, alongside its people against the Realm. The warriors face their pasts, revealing their motivations before the Realm's forces arrive to crush the growing rebellion.
 
The trailer for both Rebel Moon movies looks great, but I must admit that I haven’t seen the first one yet. I want to say I have utmost faith in it, especially with Zack Snyder (Army of the Dead, Sucker Punch, Justice League) at the helm, but I can’t ignore the low scores from both critics and audiences for the first Rebel Moon. As a result, I put it a little lower on my list – until I can see the first one and decide for myself.
 
 
10 – The Beast (4/5)
 

Director: Bertrand Bonello
Writer: Bertrand Bonello, Guillaume Bréaud, Benjamin Charbit, Henry James
Actors: Léa Seydoux, George MacKay, Guslagie Malanda, Dasha Nekrasova, Martin Scali
Genre: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
Rated: Unrated
Length: 2h 26min
 
IMDb Blurb: The plot is set partly in a near future in which artificial intelligence is in control of everyone's lives and human emotions are perceived as a threat.
 
I cannot sing the praises of George MacKay (1917, How I Live Now, True History of the Kelly Gang) enough. On any given month, if there’s a hint of MacKay in any films, I’m there. Ready and waiting. He’s simply one of those actors that can do no wrong, from my perspective. He’s got something about him that molds well into whatever part he takes.
 
The story itself is an interesting one, with a dash of dystopia – which I am always a fan of.
 
9 – Sting (4/12)
 

Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Writer: Kiah Roache-Turner
Actors: Jermaine Fowler, Alyla Browne, Ryan Corr, Penelope Mitchell, Silvia Colloca, Noni Hazlehurst
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 31min
 
IMDb Blurb: After raising an unnervingly talented spider in secret, 12-year-old Charlotte must face the facts about her pet-and fight for her family's survival-when the once-charming creature rapidly transforms into a giant, flesh-eating monster.
 
Sting has a supernatural Arachnophobia (1990) feel to it. I was a huge fan of that movie when I was younger. It may have even been my first toe dipped into horror. So, the feeling makes me a little nostalgic.
 
I imagine the flick will have an edge of terror, but the trailer makes me think there’ll be the smallest amount of comedy as well – which is how I like this kind of film. Not to mention that Kiah Roache-Turner (Nekrotronic, Roadrunner, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead) is a unique director. I happen to like his stuff, but whatever you feel about him, you can’t deny that he’s original. Whatever Sting winds up being, I imagine it’ll be an interesting watch.
 
8 – Breathe (4/26)
 

Director: Stefon Bristol
Writer: Doug Simon
Actors: Milla Jovovich, Sam Worthington, Common, Quvenzhané Wallis, Jennifer Hudson
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: Unknown
 
IMDb Blurb: An East Flatbush mother and daughter, barely surviving in an oxygen-less world, must band together to protect each other when intruders arrive claiming to know their missing father.
 
A Brooklyn dystopia with a phenomenal cast, Breathe is right up my alley. It looks intense.
 
Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Resident Evil, Withotwithout), Sam Worthington (Avatar, Lift, Lansky), Common (John Wick: Chapter 2, Wanted, Silo), Quvenzhané Wallis (Swagger, Black-ish, Trolls), and Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls, The Secret Life of Bees, Respect) are all fantastic choices. Some just for a dystopian story, others in general. I’m also interested in seeing what director Stefon Bristol (Payroll, The Bodega, Brutus) can do with something like this. I rather enjoyed the last movie I saw of his, See You Yesterday (2019). It wasn’t a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, but I remember it well.
 
7 – Monkey Man (4/5)
 

Director: Dev Patel
Writer: Dev Patel, Paul Angunawela, John Collee
Actors: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, Adithi Kalkunte
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 2h 1min
 
IMDb Blurb: An anonymous young man unleashes a campaign of vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless.
 
Monkey Man has a definite John Wick (2014) feel to it. There’s revenge and extreme action, but there’s also a few moments where some comedy shines through. Not a lot, I doubt there’s a full comedic undertone of any kind, but a bit of relief here and there doesn’t suck.
 
This is Dev Patel’s (The Green Night, Lion, Slumdog Millionaire) first full-length feature film as director, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with it. He’s a fantastic actor with an enviable filmography. I’m interested in how that translates to his direction.
 
6 – Humane (4/26)
 

Director: Caitlin Cronenberg
Writer: Michael Sparaga
Actors: Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Peter Gallagher, Enrico Colantoni, Sebastian Chacon, Alanna Bale, Sirena Gulamgaus, Uni Park
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 33min
 
IMDb Blurb: In the wake of an environmental collapse that is forcing humanity to shed 20% of its population, a family dinner erupts into chaos when a father's plan to enlist in the government's new euthanasia program goes horribly awry.
 
Dystopian films are out of control this month and I’m loving it. The way these writers twist and shaping a possible future for our world is so intriguing. I always lean toward these kinds of stories. In this case, there’s a Purge quality to it, but there’s a little something extra that makes it more unique.
 
In this case, there’s the inclusion of Jay Baruchel (Goon, This is the End, BlackBerry) – whom I adore – and Caitlin Cronenberg (The Death of David Cronenberg, The Endings). Caitlin is the daughter of David Cronenberg (Crimes of the Future, eXistenZ, A History of Violence) and this is her full-length feature film debut as director. I’m anxious to see how she does.
 
5 – Abigail (4/19)
 

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Writer: Guy Busick, Stephen Shields
Actors: Giancarlo Esposito, Dan Stevens, Kathryn Newton, Matthew Goode, Kevin Durand, Melissa Barrera, Angus Cloud, Alisha Weir, William Catlett
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 30min
 
IMDb Blurb: After a group of criminals kidnap the ballerina daughter of a powerful underworld figure, they retreat to an isolated mansion, unaware that they're locked inside with no normal little girl.
 
The trailer for Abigail is fascinating. Almost heist-like in one way. Not unlike Saw II in another. And yet there’s also this vampiric storyline interwoven through it all.
 
I would have preferred if the vampire plot was saved for the flick. I think that would have been a HELL of a twist. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.
 
3 – Baby Assassins 2 (4/12)
 

Director: Yugo Sakamoto             
Writer: Yugo Sakamoto
Actors: Akari Takaishi, Saori Izawa
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 41min
 
IMDb Blurb: Chisato and Mahiro were banned from performing tasks because they violated the organization's rules. Needing money to make ends meet, they resumed their days as part-time workers. Suddenly two other assassins are after them.
 
Although I haven’t seen the first Baby Assassins (2021), I cannot ignore that glorious 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
 
Sure, there are plenty of movies I’ve hated that have had high critic scores on RT, but this one also has an audience score that’s nearly as high. Combine that with the kick-ass quality of the trailer for Baby Assassins 2 and it’s a no brainer.
 
3 – Irena's Vow (4/15)
 

Director: Louise Archambault
Writer: Dan Gordon
Actors: Sophie Nélisse, Dougray Scott, Andrzej Scott, Maciej Nawrocki, Sharon Azrieli, Aleksandar Milicevic
Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Length: 2h 1min
 
IMDb Blurb: Follows the life of a Polish nurse Irene Gut Opdyke who was awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medal for showing remarkable courage in her attempt to save Polish Jews during World War II.
 
With all the World War II stories out there, this is one I haven’t yet seen told. It’s possible that it’s out there, but I personally haven’t been exposed to it. I have always found it important to learn from our past, and that mean being exposed to it.
 
“Based on a true story” is a line that isn’t regulated. It means that there are true aspects, but not necessarily a full truth involved. It’s important to keep that in mind.
 
2 – Boy Kills World (4/26)
 

Director: Moritz Mohr
Writer: Tyler Burton Smith, Arend Remmers, Moritz Mohr
Actors: Bill Skarsgård, Famke Janssen, Jessica Rothe, Michelle Dockery, Brett Gelman, Isaiah Mustafa
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 55min
 
IMDb Blurb: A dystopian fever dream action film that follows Boy, a deaf person with a vibrant imagination. When his family is murdered, he is trained by a mysterious shaman to repress his childish imagination and become an instrument of death.
 
I audibly yelled, “BOB” when I first watched this trailer. I’m a big fan of all things Bob’s Burgers (2011-) and Archer (2009-2023). When I heard the narrator’s oh-so-recognizable voice, I was already hooked. Then there was that action-heavy visual with ridiculous narration and I was beyond in.
 
Boy Kills World is going to be hilarious and heart-pounding. The perfect turn-your-brain-off flick.
 
1 – The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (4/19)
 

Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Guy Ritchie, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Arash Amel, Damien Lewis
Actors: Henry Cavill, Alan Ritchson, Alex Pettyfer, Eiza González, Babs Olusanmokun, Cary Elwes, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Henry Golding, Til Schweiger
Genre: Drama, War
Rated: Unrated
Length: 2h
 
IMDb Blurb: The British military recruits a small group of highly skilled soldiers to strike against German forces behind enemy lines during World War II.
 
Do I want to see Superman killing Nazis? That’s not even a hard question.
 
Ok, so it’s not really Superman… but we all know that Henry Cavill (The Witcher, Immortals, The Tudors) was THE choice for that part and always will be, at least a little bit, Kal El. If he wasn’t such a terrific actor, the part might not have stuck so tightly to him, but here we are. And now I get to see Superman kill Nazis. I feel like that’s a good day.
 
In fact, the majority of the cast does outstanding work. Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fast X, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike, In Time, Back Roads), Eiza González (Baby Driver, I Care A Lot, Godzilla vs. Kong), Babs Olusanmokun (Dune, Black Mirror, Roots), and Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, The Gentlemen, Last Christmas) are all solid actors. Cary Elwes’ (Saw, The Princess Bride, BlackBerry) has that cult following – of which I’m 100% a part of. Finally, Mr. Til Schweiger (Inglourious Basterds, Atomic Blonde, Charlie Countryman). He’s not in a lot of flicks that I’ve seen in recent years, but he’s a big part of my favorite film of all time: SLC Punk! (1998) He’s got a hell of a filmography, he’s just not in much that I’ve seen, personally. His part in SLC Punk, however, is extremely memorable.
 
Then there’s Guy Ritchie (The Gentlemen, Wrath of Man, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). One of my favorite movie writers. Very few people do banter as well as he does, and I LOVE good banter in a film. My friends and I still quote Snatch (2000) at the most random moments. As a director he’s also fantastic, but his dialogue is rarely beaten. The banter in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is going to be fun.
 
Movies to Look out For
According to: Cat
 
Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead .20
Irena’s Vow .19
 Cinderella’s Revenge .18
Parachute .17
 All You Need is Death .16
 Breathe .15
Infested .14
The Beast .13
 Baghead .12
 The Absence of Eden .11
 Rebel Moon Part 2: Scargiver .10
Humane .9
 Sting .8
The First Omen .7
 Civil War .6
 Arcadian .5
 Monkey Man .4
Abigail .3
 Boy Kills World .2
 The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare .1

FAQ:
          What makes a movie eligible for Trust the Dice’s Top 20?

Friday, March 29, 2024

With Love and a Major Organ (2024)

 
 
Movie Name/Year: With Love and a Major Organ (2024)
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-fi 
Length:  1h 31min 
Rating: Unrated 
Director: Kim Albright 
Writer: Julia Lederer 
Actors: Anna Maguire, Hamza Haq, Veena Sood, Arghavan Jenati, Laara Sadiq, Ryan Beil, Kerën Burkett, Enid-Raye Adams,Miho Suzuki, Ken Godmere, Linda Pollard, Jennifer Copping, Michael Daingerfield, Lynda Boyd 
 
IMDb Blurb: In an alternate world where hearts are made of objects and suppressing emotions is self-care, a lonely woman rips out her own heart for the man she loves, only to discover that he has run away with it.
 
 
Cat’s Point of View: 
I was fascinated with the trailer for With Love and a Major Organ. The premise of this movie pairing humanity turning their life decisions over to an AI and the deeper fantastical sci-fi element of a heart being an easily removable object was a combination that definitely caught my interest. It felt like a fresh idea amidst a sea of recycled ones.
 
The trailer gave me just enough of a taste of those elements where I knew I wanted to learn more, and yet I wasn’t sure how strong the story was on top of that intriguing world-building.
 
When I sat down and watched With Love and a Major Organ, it all made glorious sense – and without needing further expansion on the setting or other world elements. There was strength in the simplicity here.
 
 
I didn’t expect this film to have as much of an emotional kick as it did. I resonated with more than I’d like to admit within this story. Whether it was the heartache or the wild choices of flying out of the nest and making new discoveries… there were so many layers and solid depth. The narrative even touched on themes of parental anxiety and a dystopian look at a society which reinforced, if not rewarded, the suppression of emotion.
 
There were plenty of fun elements within With Love and a Major Organ, too. I was giggling off and on throughout.
 
 
Let’s talk about cast. I loved Anna Maguire (The Hummingbird Project, Violation, The War Below) as Anabel. I was not entirely familiar with her work prior to this production, but you can bet I’ll be keeping my eye out for her now. She captured the emotional pendulum swings of her character so well – from whimsy to heartless.
 
I was, however, already familiar with Hamza Haq (My Salinger Year, Delia's Gone, Crashing Eid). I have really been enjoying his work on the medical drama, Transplant (2020-). With Love and a Major Organ showed me a new level of his range, and I am here for it.
 
 
With Love and a Major Organ wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was a pleasant surprise. I would gladly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a quirky rollercoaster ride with a sprinkling of humor.
 
With Love and a Major Organ is set for a limited theatrical release beginning today, March 29th; and will become available with a wider release in mid-April. 
 
 
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score –  85%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None 
Metascore – None 
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 7.7/10  
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – PG-13
 
Movie Trailer:

Monday, March 25, 2024

Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies (2014)

 
 
Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies (2014) 
Genre: Horror, Action, Comedy 
Length:  1h 31min 
Rating: Unrated 
Director: Cody Knotts 
Writer: Cody Knotts 
Actors: Roddy Piper, Jim Duggan, Matt Hardy, Reby Hardy, Shane Douglas, Adrienne Fischer, Taya Parker, Shannon M. Hart, Ashton Amherst, Michael Cichowicz, Matthew Rush, Thomas Rodman, Kurt Angle, Lienn Swearingen, Drew Ripepi, Camera Chatham Bartolotta, Cody Knotts, Dante Bartolotta, Andrew Clovis, Michael H. Richmond, Dana Winn Madar, Cody Michaels, Brandon Graver, Ryan Mitchell, Ryan Reign, Thomas Schreckengost, Marcus Mercante Staley, Chris Taylor, Sylvester 'Bear' Terkay, Richard John Walters, Frank Yuvan Jr., Randy Allen, Jennifer Blaze, Tom Bradley, Dirk Cunningham, Jason Scott Delzell, Ryan Edmonds, Scott A Miller, Rob Stanley, Joseph c Walker Jr., Mike Walker, Larry Whistler 
 
IMDb Blurb: Famous Wrestlers are pitted against hordes of undead when they unknowingly walk into a death trap. 
 
 
Cat’s Point of View:
I’ll be honest, I don’t think I even knew that Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies even existed prior to a month or so ago. It’s not entirely surprising, considering the movie is a little on the obscure side. Though, it was a little unexpected, considering how big a fan I’ve been of the late, great "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (Adventures of a Pizza Guy, Portal to Hell!!!, The Green Fairy) ever since I was little. My dad introduced me to ‘wrasslin’ in the 80s, and Piper was one of my all-time faves.  He used an accent, wore a kilt and a leather jacket, and played bagpipes. His character was so much fun and really put the entertainment factor into the Sports Entertainment production.
 
The quote "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum." Is something that has embedded itself into pop culture. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve heard it repeated or paraphrased in various productions as well as just in general. It was a line by Piper’s character, Nada from They Live (1988). Whether someone knew Roddy Piper from wrestling or not, he left an indelible mark on us all through his love of entertainment.
 
 
It was a different quote that caught my attention regarding Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies. A good friend of Trust the Dice, who goes by BasementJer of The Basement Bookers blog, gave us this recommendation:
"Alright, peeps 'Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies'?  Cheesy, yes. Laughable, definitely. But hey, it's wrestlers vs zombies! What else do you need? Just mindless fun, piledrivers, and Shane Douglas being...well, Shane Douglas. This ain't Shakespeare but the late great Roddy Piper was damn good not bad considering his part was originally written for Mick Foley, worked out better in my opinion."

 

 
Honestly, I don’t think I can sum up this movie any better. Jer just distilled the essence of the experience watching Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies right there. It was absolutely nutty and just as corny as you would imagine. The film plays into all the stereotypes and wrestling tropes – from goofy and dim new talent to backstage infighting.  Power bombs, elbow drops, and wrestling tropes, oh my!
 
All told, there were some real gem moments of hilarity amidst the face-palming and eye-roll inducing ones. I think the setting of the decommissioned prison was also a brilliant touch, and am saddened that the castle-like structure has since been torn down rather than repurposed somehow.
  Though, I think I got the most from seeing Piper on the screen again – even if it was bittersweet, given his passing in 2015. 
 
 
He wasn’t the only well-known wrestler involved, however. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan (Legends of the Mid-South Wrestling, The Axeman of Henderson County, Midnight Massacre) and his trusty 2x4 made a valiant appearance, as well as “hardcore-wrestling legend” Matt Hardy (The 99, Impact Wrestling: No Surrender, AEW Dark: Elevation). Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle (Chasing Molly, Emergency: LA, The Epidemic) was even on board for this crazy escapade. I had a giggle when he unleashed one of his signature moves. Of course, as Jer mentioned, Shane Douglas (Hardcore Homecoming: November Reign, Ultimate Death Match 3, House of Hardcore 37) was continuing his well-known role as a heel.
 
Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies is a movie where the sole purpose of its existence is entertainment value. It’s not meant to be a super serious zombie horror. This is the very sort of film you get a bunch of friends together and turn the tropes into drinking games or just laugh over popcorn with.
 
Of course, it helps if you know something about wrestling to really get the references and the characters involved. I am not sure anyone unfamiliar with professional wrestling would get quite as much out of it. I still had a blast experiencing this movie, and am glad I gave it a shot.
 
 
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 19%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 3.2/10
 
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
 
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R
 
P.S. - If you'd like a little insight into how this movie came to be, I ran across an interesting article with an interview with the writer/director. You can find it here.
 
Movie Trailer: