Skyscraper

Skyscraper

Skyscraper

Directed By: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Hanna Quinlavin, Adrian Holmes, et. al.
Rated: PG-13
Grade: B-

After losing a leg while on a rescue mission with the U.S. Military, Will Sawyer starts a security consultation firm specializing in designing and testing the security measures of large buildings. When assisting with the security layout of the Pearl, Hong Kong’s tallest structure, Will runs into his friend and former unit member Ben, who was also injured in the incident that took Will’s leg. After a thief attempts to steal a tablet Will was given that contains access to the Pearl’s entire security layout, Will quickly learns that his former friend is working for people who want to infiltrate the Pearl and cause enough damage to have it evacuated. After making his way back to the building, Will realizes that the police aren’t going to attempt to rescue those still trapped in the building, including his wife and children, and so he decides to take on the thieves, and the burning building, himself to rescue his family and Mr. Zhao, the man who designed the building, and also try and figure out why the Pearl was targeted in the first place.

The latest in Dwayne Johnson’s resumé of disaster-related action movies could probably be interchanged with just about any of his other ones, or any disaster-related action movie for that matter, almost unnoticeably. About the only thing that truly sets this one apart is the fact that Johnson is playing an amputee, and does so in a way that is both believable and respectful to actual amputees. That said, the movie is still enjoyable on an entertainment value-level. Johnson always seems to look like he’s enjoying making these types of films, and it was nice to see Neve Campbell in something outside the Scream franchise again, though the fight-back skills she picked up while making them was put to use. She and Johnson have decent chemistry, and make a believable couple. The story may be a little far-fetched at times, but most action movies are.

The special effects are all very well done. It looks like they used mostly practical effects for the fire, with the exception of wide-angle and long distance shots. The background filler is seamless.

Action/disaster movies all make good popcorn flicks, and are a fun way to relax and not have to think for 90 minutes or so, and this one is no different. With lots of explosions and fight scenes, you can shut your brain off for a while and enjoy watching Dwayne Johnson kick the crap out of bad guys. As stated before, there’s not a lot of substance plot-wise, but it’s typical for most action movies, whose main goal is to get to the fights and explosions.

Skyscraper isn’t available to stream anywhere at the moment, but it can be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service, or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.

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The Meg

TheMeg

The Meg

Directed By: Jon Turtletaub
Starring: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jessica McNamee, Masi Oka, et. al.
Rated: PG-13
Grade: B+

While on a rescue mission deep in the Pacific Ocean, Jonas Taylor encounters something large and unexplainable, which destroys the submarine he’s attending to and kills several people on board, including members of his rescue team. Years later, after his ex’s exploratory pod is attacked on the floor of the Mariana Trench, Jonas is brought to the Mana One Research Center, where two of his former coworkers now work, in order to rescue the people in the downed vessel. After reviewing the footage, Jonas discovers that the creature that attacked the research vessel is the same as the one that attacked the downed submarine, a prehistoric species of shark called a Megalodon, which was long believed to be extinct. Shortly after rescuing the research team, the Mana One station learns that the rescue pod didn’t leave the trench alone. Two of the Megalodons followed, and are now attacking vessels, civilians, and other marine life, and Jonas and the people of Mana One are the only ones who stand a chance of stopping them.

Despite being based on the Steve Alten novel of the same name, The Meg barely resembles its source material. The names and basic plot – Jonas and Company vs. Gigantic Ancient Shark – are the same, but pretty much everything else was changed. Surprisingly, though, the changes don’t actually detract from the enjoyment of the movie. The story used works just as well as the plot of the book, and the characters are mostly all the same (Suyin didn’t have a daughter in the original). The actors all work well together, and, for the most part, everyone looks to be enjoying themselves.

The special effects are all well done. The shark looks realistic enough, and the background filler is seamless.

Disaster movies, which is what I would categorize this movie as, all seem to have about the same amount of substance plot-wise, and this one is really no different. It’s all mostly a giant setup for a man vs. shark final battle, but it has decent dialogue ans a somewhat original story, and while it may not be true to the book, it’s still a fun watch. The plot doesn’t require your full attention, and there’s nothing too gory in the death scenes that would prevent it from being a date night/family movie night pick, though it may be a bit much for some kids under 10.

The Meg isn’t available to stream anywhere at the moment, but it can be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service, or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.

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Ouija

Ouija

Ouija

Directed By: Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Darren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos, Douglas Smith, Shelley Hennig, Sierra Heuermann, Lin Shaye, Vivis Colombetti, et. al.
Rated: PG-13
Grade: C

After her best friend Debbie suddenly commits suicide, Laine Morris decides the best way to figure out what happened to her friend is to play with the Ouija board Debbie was playing with before she died. Having been asked to Debbie’s parents house after they leave to get away for awhile, Lanie invites over some of hers and Debbie’s mutual friends to play the game with her. As the group settles in, they soon realize that, not only are they actually contacting spirits, but the ones they’re contacting aren’t their friend. Initially believing that if they quit playing, the spirits will leave, the group heads home, but they soon realize that’s not the case after one of the group that played dies. As they try to learn more about the spirits they unleashed, Laine and her friends try to keep the entities from harming them so they can figure out a way to send them back to where they came from.

As far as teen paranormal thrillers go, this one is painfully average. The story is fairly straightforward, with little to no background given as to what made the board evil, and there’s little info about the mythos surrounding Ouija boards outside of a short Fact or Fiction-type video that Laine watches after first realizing they contacted an actual spirit. The acting is only so-so, and the chemistry between characters is stilted. Instead of developing character stories so we actually care when they start to get killed off, the movies jumps right to a sequence of haunted house scenes with jump scares and low lighting.

The special effects are okay. The ghost effects are decent, and I didn’t notice anything off about the background filler. The few practical effects used also seem to be done well.

As far as teen horrors go, there are definitely better choices out there, unless you prefer horror movies that aren’t very scary throughout most of the run-time. It would serve well as background noise when you’re too busy to pay attention to what you’re watching, and the plot is straightforward, so you won’t lose anything if you step out of the room for a minute.

Ouija isn’t available to stream anywhere at the moment, but it can be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service, or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.

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Purge Election Year

PurgeElectionYear

The Purge: Election Year

Directed By: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Kyle Secor, Mykleti Williamson, Edwin Hodge, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, et. al.
Rated: R
Grade: A-

Eighteen years after losing her family on Purge night, Senator Charlie Roan is running for president on a platform of eliminating the holiday. As the day approaches, the White House announces that, for the first time since its inception, there are no restrictions on who can be Purged, meaning that the Senator is in danger. After her home is attacked, she and her head of security, Leo Barnes, flee and attempt to find a safe place to lay low. They come across Joe and Marcos, who are protecting Joe’s store since his Purge insurance was raised at the last minute and he couldn’t afford to pay the higher premium. While there, a group of high school aged Purgers attack the store since Joe had thrown them out for shoplifting the day before. As the four of them are leaving, Joe calls his friend Laney, who is traveling in a triage van helping attacked by Purgers. While in the van, the group is attacked by the same people who infiltrated Charlie’s home, and Leo discovers that he’s been shot with a tracking bullet. Shortly after arriving at the triage center, the mercenaries track down Leo and Charlie again, resulting in the Senator being taken, and Leo appeals to Dante Bishop to help him rescue the Senator.

This is the third movie in the Purge series, and it continues the trend of adding to the universe without completely rewriting it. In the previous two films, high-ranking government officials were exempt from being Purged, but since this one takes place during an election year, and the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) are in serious danger of losing the election for the first time in ages, they change that rule to revoke the protected status of the Senator, hoping that she’ll be killed. Again, the actors all work well together, and, like in Anarchy, Election Year is almost more of an action movie than a horror. Frank Grillo and Edwin Hodge reprise their roles from previous films, and are the only two actors to do so outside of archive footage.

The special effects here are on par with the previous movie. There are a few more explosions this time around, and the instances of near-future technology, as well as background filler, are well done.

If you enjoyed the first two movies in the franchise, you’ll probably enjoy this movie, too. Occasionally some of the acting gets a little ham-fisted, and some of the real life parallels aren’t exactly subtle, but the story remains interesting, and it shows what lengths some people will go to in order to remain in power.

The Purge: Election Year isn’t available to stream anywhere at the moment, but it can be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service, or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.

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Take Two

TakeTwo

Take Two

Starring: Rachel Bilson, Eddie Cibrian, Xavier de Guzman, Alice Lee, Aliyah O’Brien, et.al.
Rating: TV-PG
Network: ABC
Grade: B+

After being released from a stint in rehab, Sam Swift, disgraced former star of a hit TV cop show, is looking for a job, any job, in order to get back on her feet. Her agent suggests she shadow a private investigator whom the agent once had a relationship. After meeting Sam and thinking she’s doing research for a role, PI Eddie Valetik isn’t interested in what amounts to a job babysitting a freshly rehabbed celebrity, but begrudgingly agrees to let her follow him as a favor to his ex. Despite their differences and initial clashing, Sam and Eddie discover that they work remarkably well together, and decide to partner up for real as Private Investigators.

A mix of RomCom and Buddy Cop, this show is a light, fluffy way to kill time when there’s nothing else to do. Bilson and Cibrian have a decent chemistry, though the romance aspect for their characters seems to be a bit rushed towards the end. All the actors work well together, and everyone seems to be believable in their roles. The writing occasionally leaves something to be desired, but anyone expecting 100% solid stories in a Summer Series should probably look somewhere other than network television.

Some of the special effects, usually when characters are in cars, aren’t that great, but the background filler seems to be okay.

As stated before, if you want something light to watch to kill some time, this series is a good candidate. It’s an episodic format, which means you don’t need to pay strict attention to the story, and there’s no over-arcing storyline carried throughout the show. There’s no word as to whether they plan to make a second season at this time.

Take Two is only available to stream from ABC.com or digital app, with no word as to whether or not they plan to make it available on video.

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