The Shallows

TheShallows

Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo, Joseph Sallas, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Pablo Calva, Diego Espejel, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A-

Struggling med student Nancy goes on a surf trip to Mexico to find a beach her mother also surfed on. While there, she surfs a few waves with some locals, but wanting to catch more waves, stays after they leave for the day. After swimming further out to open water, she stumbles upon a shark feeding off a whale carcass and finds herself being targeted by it. After tending to her injuries, Nancy finds herself running out of time as she desperately tries to alert anyone she can to her presence, and also keep them from being attacked by the increasingly aggressive shark stalking her.

As far as ticking-clock thrillers go, this is one of the better ones made in recent years. The plot is well-paced, and Blake Lively, who is on screen for pretty much the entire movie, does well with the material. Shark attack movies are usually a dime a dozen, so finding one that stands out is a rare occurrence. The limited number of people in danger likely helps with this, as the survival of the main character is what makes the movie one of either tragic loss or triumphant survival. It’s also not entirely outside possibility that a shark would target a single wounded person who encroached on their territory, and ultimately the most unrealistic plot point is that Nancy doesn’t lose her leg.

The special effects are fairly well done, with the shark looking mostly realistic, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Action/thriller fans should enjoy this movie, though those with a fear of sharks probably won’t. With a decent script and real consequences, this is one of the better shark attack movies that have been made somewhat recently, and it’s even worth spending the money on a purchase for future watching, as it seems like a good movie to rewatch when you’re bored.

The Shallows is not available free to stream at the moment, but it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Not Another Happy Ending

NotAnotherHE

Directed By: John McKay
Starring: Karen Gillan, Stanley Weber, Iain De Caestecker, Gary Lewis, Henry Ian Cusick, Freya Mavor, Kate Dickie, Amy Manson, et.al.
Rating: NR
Grade: B-

After the surprise success of her debut novel, author Jane Lockhart has everything she could ever want: fame, fortune, a great boyfriend, and the return of her estranged father. However, despite this, she finds herself unable to complete the final chapter of her second book. When her delays go on for weeks, her publisher, Tom, decides that the only way she’ll be able to finish the book is to make her as miserable as she was when she wrote her first one. As he executes his plan, Tom finds that his meddling has one unintended consequence: he finds himself falling for Jane.

In the realm of romantic comedies, this appears to be pretty standard fare. There aren’t any twists, though there is a fake-out or two. It follows the boy meets girl, boy and decide they don’t like each other until they realize they do formula that many of its predecessors do. I enjoy Karen Gillan as an actress, and she does a serviceable job as a writer struggling with a block. She and Stanley Weber have a decent chemistry with each other, and Iain De Caestecker’s Roddy works well as the comic foil to Tom’s straight man.

There don’t appear to be any special effects of note, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Those who enjoy Hallmark’s brand of easy, slightly-predictable rom-coms should enjoy this movie. There’s a bit of language, and some non-frontal nudity that might put some people off, but all in all, it’s a cute, harmless movie for anyone looking to turn their mind off for an hour or so.

Not Another Happy Ending is currently available free to stream through Amazon Prime and Tubi TV, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Bushwick

Bushwick

Directed By: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Starring: Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Angelic Zambrana, Jeremie Harris, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Alex Breaux, Arturo Castro, et.al.
Rating: TV-MA
Grade: C+

Grad student Sophie and her boyfriend get off the subway in her neighborhood to visit her family, and they find themselves in a literal war zone. When her boyfriend is killed, Sophie attempts to make her way to her grandmother’s house only a few blocks away. After a run-in with some local thugs, Sophie meets Stupe, a retired veteran trying to make it to his family in Hoboken, and begs him to accompany her to find her family. Finding her grandmother dead, Sophie heads to her sisters, where they manage to capture and interrogate one of the invading militia men, who tells them that several of the US states have declared their intention to secede from the Union, and that the attack on Bushwick was meant to soft-target invasion to pressure the president to sign the secession papers. Armed with this information, Sophie, her sister, and Stupe attempt to gather a group of people to fight back and make their way to a safe evacuation point at a nearby park.

When taken at face value, this isn’t a bad movie. It was a relatively low-budget feature, and they did the best they could with what they had, though you get the sense that with a proper budget, they could have made a fantastic cautionary tale. Bautista and Snow make the most of what they’re given to work with, which sadly isn’t much. The two have a decent chemistry nonetheless, and work well together. One fun fact: a majority of the movie takes place in one long shot (or at least is edited to give the appearance that it does).

The special effects are okay, and from what I could tell, the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Action fans with 90 minutes to spare should enjoy this. The plot isn’t overly complicated, and as long as you don’t mind a melancholy ending, it’s actually a somewhat enjoyable popcorn flick. Despite the nature of the film, there isn’t much blood or gore, and it mostly gets its rating from language and one suggestive scene, so it should probably be okay for kids to watch along with their parents.

Bushwick is currently available free to stream through Netflix, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Prospect

Prospect

Directed By: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl
Starring: Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal, Luke Pitzrik, Arthur Deranleau, Andre Royo, Alex McCauley, Doug Dawson, Krista Johnson, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: A-

Teenage Cee and her father, Damon, have a contract to harvest a large deposit of a rare gem from a toxic alien planet. When their landing craft is thrown off-course, they must hike to the location of the deposit. As they make their way through the forest, they encounter a pair of bandits looking for the same gem on the planet. After her father is killed in the confrontation with the bandits, Cee makes a tenuous pact with the remaining bandit, a man named Ezra, who offers Cee a potential way off the planet in exchange for a portion of the haul. Together, Cee and Ezra make their way across the forest, fighting the various dangers and obstacles they come across as they trek to the location of the gem deposit.

This movie is among the rare, slow-burning sci-fi movies that manage not to be a complete bore. The storyline itself is rather simple, and is one seen in plenty of Westerns made over the years, it just so happens that the movie takes place on an alien planet instead of the western United States. The atmosphere itself is slightly eerie, and definitely feels like an alien planet. Sophie Thatcher does an excellent job as Cee, and makes the character seem like she’s desperate to hold onto as much of her youth as she can while being forced to grow up. She and Pedro Pascal work well together, and have a decent chemistry that doesn’t come off as skeevy.

There don’t seem to be too many special effects, but the ones present are well done, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

Fans of sci-fi should enjoy this movie, as should fans of dramatic thrillers who don’t mind a small dose of science fiction mixed in. While you might want to pay a little closer attention the first time you watch, this movie is good enough to warrant repeated viewings, and shouldn’t annoy anyone watching it more than once.

Prospect is currently available free to stream through Hulu, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Beyond Skyline

BeyondSkyline

Directed By: Liam O’Donnell
Starring: Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Jonny Weston, Callan Mulvaney, Antonio Fargas, Pamelyn Chee, Yayan Ruhian, Jacob Vargas, Iko Uwais, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B-

After bailing his son out of jail, police officer Mark Corley must lead a group of people to safety after an alien invasion begins. After Mark, his son Trent, subway conductor Audrey, and blind, homeless veteran Sarge are captured by the aliens, Mark looks for a way to free his new friends and finds a young pregnant woman named Elaine, who tells him that one of the soldiers has the mind of her boyfriend, Jarrod, and that he is different than the other soldiers. When she dies after Mark helps her give birth to her daughter, he takes the child and he and Jarrod find a way to bring down the alien ship. After the crash, Mark and his friends take the child off the ship and find out that they crashed in Indonesia, where they attempt to find a way to fight back against the alien invaders who have come looking for Elaine’s child.

A sequel to the 2010 movie Skyline, this movie is as surprisingly enjoyable as that one was. In fact, knowing this movie exists might make the original slightly more enjoyable, as that one had a strange ending that, at the time, I felt was odd and slightly out of tune with the rest of an otherwise decent movie. This sequel doesn’t suffer from the same off-step ending its predecessor did. The storyline as whole was slightly more interesting, and is a decent sci-fi/alien invasion movie. The actors all work well together and the locations in Indonesia are beautiful.

The special effects are fairly well done, especially given the smaller budget, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone who enjoyed the original, or is just looking for a decent alien invasion movie should enjoy this. The movie is good enough that it shouldn’t start to grate after only one or two views, and it’s easy enough to follow that you don’t need to devote all of your attention to it while it’s on.

Beyond Skyline is currently available free to stream through Netflix, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Us

Us

Directed By: Jordan Peele
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Yahya Abul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: B

While on a family vacation to Santa Cruz with their friends, Adelaide Wilson can’t shake a sense of foreboding stemming from an incident in her past when she wandered off while at the pier carnival with her parents. After spending some time catching up with their friends the Tylers, Adelaide loses sight of her son at the beach, and then urges her family to return to their vacation home. Shortly after they return, they lose power and soon find a group of people standing on their driveway. The Wilsons quickly learn that the people are their ‘tethered’ doubles, a handful of remnants from a long-abandon attempt to control humanity by using clones of people. After outwitting their doubles, the Wilsons attempt to find help, and also try to learn why people’s doubles have surfaced after so many years.

This movie, a second outing for writer-director Jordan Peele, is a better-than-average horror movie, though the ending lacks the shock that accompanied the first one. Though it’s possible I feel that way since the twist ending was spoiled for me long before I ever saw the movie. It’s still a well-told story, and the idea of there being millions, or even billions of doubles tied to people is unsettling, but it’s just not quite the stellar outing that many were hoping it would be. That said, the actors all have decent chemistry and work well together.

There doesn’t appear to many special effects used, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

Fans of horror/thriller movies, including Peele’s first movie, Get Out, should enjoy this movie. There is a bit of an unsettling aura in the film that makes it interesting, and the movie itself is good enough that anyone who likes it will likely enjoy watching it more than once without it getting annoying.

Us is currently available free to stream if you have HBO, and it can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!