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Archives for : thriller

Movie Review: “Wonder Woman 1984” Fails to Soar as High as its Predecessor

It pains me to write this review, as the first “Wonder Woman” movie was one of my favorite films of 2017. Patty Jenkins directed/wrote a simple, yet, thrilling, and charming story. It still holds up today as an incredible film. Sadly, the sequel, “Wonder Woman 1984” does not carry that same merit.

First off, what the heck!? I mean who approved this script!? Did they even refer to the last movie??

I just had to get that out. It is extremely frustrating, because we know DC can’t seem to figure out how to create the same kind of quality superhero movies like Marvel. That was until the first “Wonder Woman”. They found a gem in Patty Jenkins, and I know she is capable of much better than this.

“Wonder Woman 1984” picks up 66 years after Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) helped end World War 1 with the help of her friends and self-sacrificing boyfriend, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). She’s now in Washington DC curating ancient artifacts; working with a socially awkward Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). She is still saving the world, but she’s unhappy and living a lonely life without any loved ones.

Diana’s life is pretty routine until a foiled mall robbery shakes everything up. The incident leads to the discovery of an old artifact known as the dream stone, which grants wishes, but also takes something in return. It’s a dangerous tool that leads to a series of catastrophic events when it falls into the hands of a ponzi scam artist, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal).

The acting in “Wonder Woman 1984” is good. Gadot has some stand out moments, particularly in a heartbreaking, emotional scene with Pine. And Pascal plays a hilarious, wacked out nut job. And Wiig does a fantastic job as Barbara/The Cheetah. She was actually my favorite part of the film. I just wish they utilized her more as a villain. Though Pascal is great to watch, I would have loved seeing Wiig in her full evil mode for much longer than what we’re given.

The problem here is in the writing. It goes beyond campy into cheesy territory. The opening sequence of the film is promising. But early on after Pascal steals the artifact, the movie just goes downhill. It gets muddled, and doesn’t even make that much sense. Maybe too many people were involved in writing the story, or maybe they were trying too hard to make a unique plot. But it didn’t work. They focused on corny jokes and a fluffy subject matter instead taking the route of the previous film’s darker tone. There are minimal action scenes, and the few we see have no real impact or awe factor. And I can’t go into detail, but there are so many problems with the ending. I would vent about if I could.

As a fan of the first “Wonder Woman”, I still have to advise you watch this sequel, and form your own opinion. There’s still some fun moments, and the characters are enjoyable. My only advice is to go in with the lowest of expectations.

Rating: 3/5

“Wonder Woman opens in theaters and streams on HBOMax December 25.

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Movie Review: “Promising Young Woman” is a Provocative Revenge Thriller

Carey Mulligan stars as “Cassandra” in director Emerald Fennell’s PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features

Sometimes bad people need to be taught a lesson in hopes that they won’t do their harmful acts again.

How that lesson is taught may not always be conventional. In Focus Features new drama, “Promising Young Woman”, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) is a med-school dropout who seeks revenge after a traumatizing past event.

We first meet Cassie in a bar where is she appears to be wasted, barely able to keep her head up. She attracts several predators in suits, including Jerry (Adam Brody), a “nice guy” who offers to take her home. While in the ride share, he decides to take her back to his place instead and sees an opportunity for a little date rape. Little does Jerry know that Cassie sees an opportunity, too. She is suddenly wide awake and sober; ready to make him think twice before taking advantage of another woman again.

From this point on, we discover Cassie’s objective, but don’t always see her actions after her initial trap. Director/writer, Emerald Fennell (“Killing Eve”) chooses to leave a lot of her targets’ punishments to the imagination.

Things change after a chance encounter with an old med-school classmate, Ryan (Bo Burnham). Now Cassie is smiling, laughing, and dare we say happy? But how long will this last? And will it keep her from her ultimate mission?

Not since “Hard Candy” have I enjoyed such an enticing revenge story.  Mulligan is at her best, showing such complex emotions. She varies from cold-hearted to heartbreaking. Burnham is more charming and funny than ever. And you can expect to see some surprise familiar faces that will add to this already well-casted film.

“Promising Young Woman” is a cautionary tale that would serve well in high school and college classrooms. Especially geared toward men who don’t seem to understand what consensual sexual activity means. But the film goes beyond the actions of the men responsible for the sexual assaults. It also highlights those who turn a blind eye, and even the parties responsible for defending the guilty.

One can only hope that after watching a movie like this, it will impact audiences enough to understand how damaging any form of sexual assault or harassment can be and do what they can to prevent such acts.

“Promising Young Woman” highly entertains, as it has plenty of comedic and tender moments. But also, expect certain sequences to stay with you long after the film is over. It’s disturbing in a satisfying way. This is easily one of the best movies of 2020 and a must-see.

“Promising Young Woman” opens in theaters December 25.

Rating: 4.75/5

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Movie Review: “Possessor: Uncut” & “On the Rocks”

This week I review the Neon’s new sci-fi thriller, “Possessor: Uncut” and Sofia Coppola’s new comedy, “On the Rocks”. Both entertaining films, but one satisfies more than the other. Watch the review below to find out which movie you should see this weekend.

“Possessor: Uncut” is playing in select theaters now.

“On the Rocks” is playing in select theaters now and will be available on Apple-TV October 23.

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Movie Review: “Antebellum” and “Kajillionaire”

This week’s movie review features two very different films: Antebellum is a high profile mystery, thriller with a disturbing twist; Kajillionaire is a low key dark comedy that relies on quirky characters and dysfunctional family dynamic as a foundation for the story. Both films boast some highly respected actors and developing writers/directors. Which one should you go see?

“Antebellum” is available On Demand September 18, 2020.

“Kajillionaire” opens in select theaters September 25, 2020.

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Movie Review: “The Rental” is a Chilling Weekend Getaway

In Dave Franco’s directorial debut, “The Rental”, two couples rent a vacation home for what they hoped would be a celebratory weekend getaway. Unfortunately, this relaxing trip turns into a nightmare.

After Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Mina (Shelia Vand) close a big deal for their company, they decide to rent an Airbnb for them and their significant others. Charlie seems to be in a happy enough marriage with an aloof Michelle (Alison Brie), but at the same time he is dumbfounded by the fact that Mina is dating his ex-convict brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen White). Needless to say, there is a lot of sexual tension during the weekend.

When the group arrives at the secluded waterfront home, they are impressed with the house; but not so much with the creepy and racist property manager. They don’t let that doesn’t stop their fun. They carry on with drinking, drugs, and sex.

The partying comes to a halt when Mina discovers a hidden camera in the shower, and suddenly, the couples must fight to survive the night.

“The Rental” is an easy horror to digest. The film is only 88 minutes long, and during that time you’re entertained by the complex relationships and intensity. There’s just a few moments of comic relief to ease the tension, but the thought of them being watched is constantly on your mind.

Franco and his co-writer, Joe Swanberg do a fantastic job with their character development. Right away we’re locked into engaging characters who start off with one persona and gradually reveal another. The writers manage to get through many different plot points, while still being cohesive. Less is more here. The set, the score, the character traits, and other small details enhance the story.

All four stars do a fantastic job, but it’s the women that steal the show. It’s impossible not to sympathize with Brie’s character, Michelle. She plays the happy and naïve wife so well. Unaware of the fact that her husband isn’t as great as he’d like everyone to believe. And we can only hope to see more of Vand after an incredibly strong performance as Mina. She’s the whole package– smart, beautiful, and not afraid to stand up for herself against a racist.

Now “The Rental” isn’t as inventive as Jordan Peele’s feature film debut, “Get Out”. There are some holes in the movie. And not everyone will be satisfied with the ending, but it’s a solid thriller that subtly goes from nerve-racking drama to shocking slasher. It’s a lot of fun, and is a promising start for Dave Franco’s filmmaking career.

Rating: 3.75/5

“The Rental” is available On Demand July 24.

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Movie Review: “The King of Staten Island”, “7500”, & “You Should Have Left”

In the latest ICTN movie review, we check out the new film by Judd Apatow, “The King of Staten Island.” We also have a preview of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s intense, new thriller, “7500” and Kevin Bacon’s new horror film, “You Should Have Left.”

“The King of Staten Island” is available On Demand now.

“7500” is available to stream on Amazon Prime June 18th.

“You Should Have Left” is available On Demand June 19th.

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Movie Review: “The High Note” & “The Vast of Night”

I’ve got a couple of new film reviews for ya! First is “The High Note”, another mentor/mentee film that makes the most of its’ cast and should hit the right note with its’ audience.

Then there is the new Amazon Studios movie, “The Vast of Night”, which plays as a wonderful homage to “The Twilight Zone”. This film will satisfy that sci-fi itch with suspense, mystery, wonder and nostalgia.

“The High Note” is available on various On Demand platforms May 29.

“The Vast of Night” is available on Amazon Prime May 29.

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Movie Review: “The Hunt”, “The Invisible Man”, & “Emma”

In this time of Pandemic, diversions help keep us sane. Now, more than ever, we need the cinema. But we need a new cinema, a safe cinema, a Shelter-at-Home cinema; and so streaming comes of age. Watch my review of “The Hunt” and recommendations of two other new films available for home viewing now: “The Invisible Man” and “Emma”. Will anyone trade some popcorn for this fine half-roll of paper towels? Anyone?

“The Hunt”, “The Invisible Man”, & “Emma” are available on Amazon, Apple, YouTube, and other various On Demand platforms at a starting price of $19.99.

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Movie Review: “The Hunt” is a Bloody Catch

In 2018, the hilarious political comedy “The Oath” showed audiences how harsh extremist on either side (Conservative or Liberal) can be. The film was about a politically divided family, trying to make it through Thanksgiving. Things got rough quick, and at times, it got violent. But in the new action/horror film, “The Hunt”, they take the violence and politics to a whole new level; while still trying to prove the same point, just not as effectively.

“The Hunt” caused a lot of controversy before it was ever released. It was originally slated to open in theaters last fall, but was halted due to the film’s premise and mass shootings during that time.

The film opens with a group text thread among liberal friends. They make a joke about taking out their anger on “deplorables” during an upcoming hunt at the Manor. The next scene shows a rich group of people on a plane with people they have drugged and stowed away. Soon 12 of them are all spread out, unconscious, and in a field with gags in their mouths. Once they are all awake, they see a big box with various weapons for them to have a fair fight. We eventually find out, these chosen conservatives are being hunted like animals by liberal elitists.

Before anyone gets heated or offended, this thriller has no real insight into politics. It is too afraid to pick a side. Instead they make both the Republicans and Democrats equally dumb, with the exception of two women (Hilary Swank and Becky Gilpin).

The film features a talented all-star cast including Swank, Gilpin, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, and Ike Barinholtz. Though everyone adds to the hilarious humor of the film, it’s Swank and Gilpin who steal the show. Gilpin is quietly comical, while impressing with her kickass survival instincts. But it’s her nail-biting showdown with Swank that will have you cringing and cheering. However, the gore is not for the faint of heart. At times, I couldn’t even watch. There’s a bloody, graphic death at every turn.

While the purpose of the film might be lost, the humor and action is easily found. There is a lot of fun to be had with these idiotic characters (on both sides) and the gruesome, sometimes, shocking deaths they experience. It encompasses the same kind of satire and excitement from last year’s “Ready or Not”. Sadly, the premise is not as unique.

Ultimately, “The Hunt” feels like a funny version of “The Purge” films with a role reversal. It’s an entertaining, fast-paced, mindless thriller that provides plenty of laughs and shrieks.

Rating: 3.5/5

“The Hunt” opens in theaters March 13.

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Movie Review: “Underwater” Sinks

Kristen Stewart stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Underwater”.

Well, I should have known a film released in January was not going to stand a chance. But, “Underwater” had no business being made.

This film is basically a knock off underwater version of “Alien”. Its completely derivative script offers nothing new or worth watching. Even their semi all-star cast featuring Kristen Stewart, T.J. Miller, and Vincent Cassel can’t save this sinking ship.

The film is set seven miles beneath the ocean’s surface. Down there, aquatic researchers who work for a rich mining drill company are forced to reach the surface after an unexpected earthquake destroys their rig and somehow unleashes unspecified creatures with intent to kill. See, it already sounds lame.

Our protagonist is Norah (Stewart), the mechanical engineer. Aka the Ripley. She is a badass and she manages to do a lot of her heavy lifting in just a sports bra and undies. But, don’t discredit K-Stews performance. She has grown a lot as an actress these past few years and she was honestly my favorite part of the film.

The same can’t be said about T.J. Miller’s character Paul. What was intended to be comic relief, became an awkward dude with a stuffed animal who told bad jokes. As for the rest of the cast, they were forgettable due to a script that gave no real background or depth to its characters.

The visuals were solid, but the CGI of the underwater monsters were mediocre. At times the sandy water made it hard to see them when we really needed to see them. And don’t get me started on that damn audio. I’m not sure if it was the loud score or the water, but it’s difficult to understand the cast members about 50% of the time.

I’ll give the film points on its production design and even some creative direction by William Eubank. He does make an effort to try and intensify the situation through his unique and startling shots. However, none of his endearing camera work makes up for the disaster that is “Underwater.”

Save your money and just go watch any of the current, award nominated movies.

Rating: 2/5

“Underwater” opens in theaters January 10.

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