And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Action/Adventure" category.

Review: The Last Duel

Historical epics are not my cup of tea, but I was drawn to The Last Duel by the all-star cast of Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck. They do not disappoint, nor does the female lead Jodie Comer whose character propels the 14th Century #MeToo narrative. The action is still too brutal and bloody for my taste, and the structure dictates we live through some uncomfortable scenes multiple times, but the fact that it is based on true events makes this centuries-old story a bit more accessible. It’s impossible not to view it through a modern lens and wonder how a similar scenario would play out today — you know, when duels to the death aren’t really a sanctioned thing.

Quickie Review: American Night

This neo-noir crime flick set in the art world has a good cast, looks fabulous, and even has some decent music. But at just over two hours in length, it never really finds its mojo. The story revolves around a stolen Andy Warhol Marilyn print. Michael, a young mafioso with the soul of an artist (Emile Hirsh) wants it back because his dead father promised it to him, but then sold it. And he’ll go to any length to find it. Murder, torture, whatever. 

Review: Venom: Let There Be Carnage

I was having one of those days… the kind that sorta deserves to be capped off with a screening of a film called Venom: Let There Be Carnage. So off I went– to a masked, limited-capacity screening of a sequel to a movie that I found pleasantly surprising in 2018. Does Venom 2 live up to its predecessor? No. Is it worth venturing into a theater to see? Probably not. Is it worth seeing if you simply must catch every movie featuring a Marvel comic book character as soon as it hits the big screen? Sure. You know who you are.

Quickie Review: Zone 414

I like a good sci-fi flick. And the blurb for this one sounded intriguing: “Set in the near future, private detective David Carmichael is hired by Marlon Veidt, an eccentric businessman, to track down his missing daughter. David teams up with Jane, a highly advanced A.I. to solve the mystery.”  That it stars Guy Pierce also made me think it might be worth a look. But boy was I wrong! Not that the story is all that bad, but the longer I watched, the more I realized that someone had watched Blade Runner one too many times and was incapable to coming up with their own story. And then, in his feature debut director Andrew Baird chose to go with a ripped off look and feel from the same film. Why, why, why?

Review: Yakuza Princess

Set in São Paulo, Brazil, home to the largest Japanese diaspora in the world, Yakuza Princess is an action packed martial arts thriller and story of self-discovery. A young Japanese woman with a mysterious past, an ancient and powerful Muramasa katana (sword), and an amnesiac stranger come together to right a wrong and find redemption.  Adapted from a graphic novel, the movie begins in Osaka with the massacre of an entire family, except for a little girl. Fast forward 20 years and Akemi (Japanese pop musician MASUMI) is now a grown woman, working on her martial arts skills in Brazil, unaware of her true origins. But when a disfigured stranger (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, “The Tudors”, Match Point) appears in her apartment just in time to save her from would-be assassins, their fates are set. What follows is a couple of hours of violence as they draw closer and closer to their truths. 

Quickie Review: Free Guy

Free Guy is goofy, sincere and fun, probably even more so if you’re into gaming. Personally, I didn’t know an “NPC” from a “Player One,” so it took me a bit longer to embrace the virtual videogame world on display in Free Guy. But in fairly short order, the story and the characters grew on me, and by the end, I was all in – rooting for characters of both the real and the programmed variety, especially our ‘every guy’ hero, Guy, aka “Blue Shirt Guy”, played by Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool).

Review: Escape from Mogadishu

This based on a true story film is a nail biter. It’s the tale of North and South Korean diplomats and their  families caught in the middle of a civil war in Somalia in 1991 and their harrowing escape together. Then as now, the divided Koreans were natural enemies, but as the violence expanded and all their lives were at stake, they were able to put aside politics and work together to make their way across the war torn city to the safety of the Italian consulate and a plane home. With a stellar cast and breathtaking action, Escape from Mogadishu is a potent political thriller for foreign film aficionados.

Review: The Suicide Squad

What a difference a ‘The’ makes?! I was not a fan of 2016’s Suicide Squad and had my doubts about watching another group of warped DC Comic Universe villains being forced into another suicidal superheroic mission. So I approached the film with extreme caution, low expectations, and no idea if it was supposed to be a sequel, a reboot, or something else entirely. I’m still not sure about that last one. But The Suicide Squad does generally work as a standalone–even though some characters are back, some are not, and many don’t survive past the first 15 minutes.

Review: Jungle Cruise

Is it safe to cruise again? Cinematically speaking, yes. Jungle Cruise is a fun ride, thanks in large part – okay, almost entirely – to the likability of its stars, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. The film is loosely based on a Disneyland theme park ride that takes travelers downriver, through a jungle filled with wild animals and supernatural stuff. I don’t recall ever taking the ride, but I’m pretty sure that’s where the similarities end. As a movie, Jungle Cruise skims across the water as a lightweight family-friendly comedy adventure in the vein of Pirates of the Caribbean (also a Disney ride), Indiana Jones, The Mummy and National Treasure. And if you like puns, as I do, you’re guaranteed a good chuckle at least every few minutes.

Review: Black Widow

It’s been a looooong time coming to get Russian spy-turned-Avenger Black Widow aka Natasha Romanov’s backstory onto the big screen. And now Marvel fans can breathe a sigh of relief. The combination origin story and fill-in-the-gap between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War is a satisfying, action-packed spy thriller with a dysfunctional family dynamic that is both toxic and amusing. If you lost me at ‘Avenger, ‘Black Widow’, ‘Captain America’, or ‘Infinity War’, then you probably haven’t been waiting on the edge of your post-vaccination seat to see this in theaters. And that’s okay. If you’re not into Marvel movies, move on. Black Widow requires a certain base knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to maximize the entertainment value and fully appreciate Natasha’s history – and potential legacy. (note: It’s not a spoiler to remind folks that Natasha met a tragic, self-sacrificing end in Avengers: Endgame.)