Friday, February 23, 2024

Blue Beetle (2023)


Streaming Service: MAX
Movie Name/Year: Blue Beetle (2023)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Length:  2h 7min
Rating: PG-13
Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Writer: Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer
Actors: Xolo Maridueña, Bruna Marquezine, Becky G, Damián Alcázar, George Lopez, Adriana Barraza, Belissa Escobedo, Elpidia Carrillo, Susan Sarandon, Harvey Guillén, Raoul Max Trujillo, Jorge Jimenez, Eyra Aguero Joubert, Gabriella Ortiz, Modesto Lacen, Oshún Ramirez, Isabella Aparicio, Ayden Rivera, Xol Gonzalez
IMDb Blurb: An alien scarab chooses Jaime Reyes to be its symbiotic host, bestowing the recent college graduate with a suit of armor that's capable of extraordinary powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the superhero known as Blue Beetle.
Cat’s Point of View:
I remember when Blue Beetle was about to hit theaters in August, and I was so frustrated because of my level of excitement for this movie. We couldn’t write about our anticipation for it in our usual Top 20 article for that month because the strike was still in full swing. If we had been able to give it a signal boost then, based on the trailer, it would have easily landed in my Top 10.
Blue Beetle offered an amazing origin story for this DC character. This was one superhero movie that I felt that they got absolutely right. It’s often hard to say that – especially about DC live action productions. There’s always just something a little off about them as the studio has tried so hard to emulate others and losing itself along the way. While they’ve excelled with their animated films, they just have had a hard time hitting their stride with parts played by people rather than pixels. Even now, they’re in the midst of rebooting the whole thing again with their new boss-man. I have lamented the loss of some of the players of these roles in the process… but the flip-side is that the ones that had no business returning will also be off the future projects as well. (We can hope, at least.) I digress…

Back to Blue Beetle!
I loved the path of character development for Jaime Reyes, played by Xolo Maridueña (Parenthood, Cleopatra in Space, Cobra Kai). As an aside, I was already a fan of Maridueña based on his previous work; but when he was on the screen as Jaime, I only saw that character and even forgot for a moment I recognized him.
The family dynamic was great and really gave a great foundation for the events of the story to spring from. Blue Beetle never lost sight of how human Jaime was under this new hero persona and how his newfound role had “real-world” stakes for those close to him. 
I have to circle back around to the cast again. George Lopez (Lopez vs. Lopez, Fool's Paradise, How the Gringo Stole Christmas) was on a roll this past year with some great parts that both showcased his range but also his comedic ability very well. His character of the “crazy uncle” was one of my favorites of the whole movie.
Blue Beetle had a little bit of everything – drama, action, family connection, a greedy villain and the powerful strings they could pull, comedy, cool tech, and even perhaps budding romance.
We can only hope that DC will do better by its superhero stories and their actors in the future – but for now we still have some real gems like Blue Beetle to enjoy. 
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score –  78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 91%
Metascore – 61%
Metacritic User Score – 5.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.0/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

History of Evil (2024)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: History of Evil (2024) 
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 1h 38min 
Rating: Unrated 
Director: Bo Mirhosseni 
Writers: Bo Mirhosseni
Actors: Paul Wesley, Jackie Cruz, Zachary Branch, Ralph Rodriguez, Tordy Clark, Preston Flagg, Rhonda Johnson Dents, Jason Box, Ryan Baughman, Kyle Porter, Murphee Bloom 
Shudder Blurb: Shudder: In the near future, war and corruption have plagued America and turned it into a theocratic police state. Against the oppression, ordinary citizens have formed a group called The Resistance. One such member, Alegre Dyer, breaks out of political prison and reunites with her husband Ron and daughter Daria. On the run from the militia, the family takes shelter in a remote safe house. But their journey is far from over, as the house’s dark past begins to eat away at Ron, and his earnest desire to keep his family safe is overtaken by something much more sinister.
Rhonda Dents as “Trudy”, Paul Wesley as “Ron”, Murphy Bloom as “Daria”, and Jackie Cruz as “Alegre” in Bo Mirhosseni’s HISTORY OF EVIL. Courtesy of Shudder. A Shudder Release.
 Selina’s Point of View: 
Although the trailer for History of Evil was interesting, the movie made me a bit nervous. There were some red flags, mostly in the way it was marketed. When I sat down to watch it, it was with a healthy dose of skepticism. 
What I got was something incredibly tense and insightful.
History of Evil exists in a dystopian world where neo-fascists have taken over. We follow someone who seems to be the leader of the resistance as she gets out of political prison and is evacuated with her daughter and husband. Description-wise, this is obviously up my alley. Dystopias are my bread and butter. The movie probably would have been decent just leaning into that – at least for me. 
Paul Wesley as “Ron” in Bo Mirhosseni’s HISTORY OF EVIL. Courtesy of Shudder. A Shudder Release.
As it turns out, the intriguing world was nowhere near the best aspect of the film. 
From the very beginning History of Evil was tense, with only a few jump scares. By the end, however, my blood was running cold. Most of it was subtle. A look at how racism infects even the best of us if we continuously open ourselves up to the people who spread it. It showed how that kind of prejudice could be handed down and inherited. 
What could have been a basic haunted house story was made more tense by an unfamiliar world and the heightened realization of our own vulnerability to horrific thoughts. 
History of Evil was fantastic. It had a real message and was horrifying to watch.  
Bo Mirhosseni’s HISTORY OF EVIL. Courtesy of Shudder. A Shudder Release.
Cat’s Point of View:
History of Evil was intense and terrifying.
While I had felt that History of Evil had a lot of potential and looked like it would be pretty good based on its trailer, I hadn’t listed it on my personal Top 20 for this month just because of how heavy I anticipated it to be. I tend to go for escapism over things that are closer to reality. With the events in the world today and of yesteryear, I had felt the stirring echoes that this might just hit a little too close to home.
I wasn’t exactly wrong…
I am not sorry that I watched History of Evil, and yet it still haunts me hours after the credits rolled.
Let’s put aside any supernatural happenings or the history of the “safe house” featured as the film’s primary setting just for a little bit. History of Evil was rather bone chilling when looking at the potential dystopian future within this story. It felt like a possible future that would be horrifying if it came to pass – and yet entirely plausible. It was easy as pie to suspend my disbelief..
Paul Wesley as “Ron”, Murphy Bloom as “Daria”, Jackie Cruz as “Alegre”, and Rhonda Dents as “Trudy” in Bo Mirhosseni’s HISTORY OF EVIL. Courtesy of Shudder. A Shudder Release.
I’m not here for a political soapbox, however, so we’ll move on from the future, and let’s take a look back at history and the region of the setting. History of Evil was also steeped in the horrors of past hate crimes that were commonplace primarily in the deep south not long enough ago. I believe the story was set in Louisiana, and it was clear that they also filmed here… in my state. I recognized the architectural style of the house they stayed in pretty much immediately. My heart and stomach sank with every revelation that peeled back the layers associated with the property and the people that once lived there.
There are disturbing concepts and images within History of Evil but I don’t feel we should avoid them or look away. We SHOULD be horrified.
When you add sinister supernatural shenanigans into the mix and a great cast, this movie just made my skin crawl in just the way the best thought-provoking horror movies should. There weren’t so many jump scares. It was a simmer that just kept applying the heat that made me want to squirm. At the same time, I wouldn’t exactly call this a “slow burn,” either. It wasn’t hard for my exhausted ADHD brain to stay riveted to the screen.
History of Evil is going to stick with me for a good long time. You can check it out for yourself starting February 23rd on Shudder.
Jackie Cruz as “Alegre” in Bo Mirhosseni’s HISTORY OF EVIL. Courtesy of Shudder. A Shudder Release.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None 
Metascore – None 
Metacritic User Score – None 
IMDB Score – None
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4.5/5 
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating - R 
Movie Trailer: