The Martian

Martian

Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B+

After a storm forces an evacuation of a Mars-based research station, Mark Watney, who was believed to have been killed in the storm, wakes up to realized that he has been stranded on the barren planet. Realizing he needs to survive, he relies on his skills as a botanist to grow food, and also attempts to signal Earth that he is still alive. After several months of believing him to be dead, a low-level engineer manages to discover that base-camp for the research crew has been disturbed in a way that storms wouldn’t be able to, and soon finds proof that Watney survived the storm. After alerting Watney that they know he is alive, he and NASA scientists, come up with a crude means of communication. As time passes, Watney and NASA try to figure out a way to get him off the planet using a shuttle meant to supply an upcoming mission.

A different take on a sci-fi/survival story, The Martian is an interesting what-if story that has the potential to actually happen at some point in the future. From what I can tell, the science is fairly accurate, though I can’t say for certain. Matt Damon does well with his scenes, especially considering he spends most of the movie talking to himself while doing video journal entries. The other actors all work well together, and it was interesting to see some comedy-based actors take on more dramatic roles.

The special effects are all well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

This is an interesting movie that should appeal to most people. The drama isn’t too heavy-handed, and there’s enough comedy and action sequences interspersed throughout to hold the attention of people who don’t generally enjoy science fiction, even if it is on the lighter side of the sci-fi spectrum. It may be a little too dense to watch repeatedly, but I think an occasional viewing wouldn’t drive anyone too nuts.

The Martian is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

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Cairo Time

CairoTime2

Directed By: Ruba Nadda
Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig, Elena Ayana, Amina Annabi, Tom McCamus, Mona Hala, Fadia Nadda, et.al.
Rating: PG
Grade: A-

When Juliette goes to Cairo to meet with her husband, Mark, who is a UN official working with the refugee camps, she finds that he is delayed by rising tensions, and that she has been left to fend for herself, with only Tareq, her husband’s former head of security for company. Weary of exploring the city on her own, Juliette begins to seek out Tareq’s company, both as a form of protection and also so that she has someone to share the experience with. However, as more time passes, Juliette and Tareq begin to realize that their easy friendship has developed into something more.

Every now and then I watch something that seems completely off-kilter with my usual tastes in movies and television. This was one of the few times I was pleasantly surprised. A slow-burning, ultimately chaste romance story about what equates to an emotional affair between a married woman and a close friend of her husband’s. The Egyptian backdrop is beautiful to look at and adds to the romantic setting. Clarkson and Siddig have amazing chemistry, and it’s nice to have an acknowledgment that people in their 40s and 50s still have desires.

There aren’t any obvious special effects, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone who doesn’t mind a slow-burn romantic drama will enjoy this movie, and I would definitely recommend putting in the effort to find it somewhere (the only places that carry the movie digitally that I could find were iTunes and Google Play). While it may not be something you would want to watch all the time, it’s definitely something I can see people wanting to watch every now and then when they need a dose of something made by a hopeless romantic.

Cairo Time is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Assassin’s Creed

AssassinsCreed

Directed By: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendon Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Dennis Ménochet, Ariane Labed, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B-

As a child, Cal Lynch watched his father murder his mother only moments before their home is invaded by unknown assailants. In the years that followed, Cal himself turned to a life of crime, eventually being executed for killing several people. When he wakes up after his execution, Cal is told by Dr. Sophia Rikkin that he is legally dead, she and her fellow scientists have brought him to their facility for an experiment. Cal eventually learns that he the last in a line of ‘Assassins’, and ancient order that has vowed to protect the Apple of Eden, and that Sophia and the other Abstergo people are descended from the Knights Templar, who have been searching for the Apple for centuries.

I’m going to start by saying I never played the video games this movie is adapted from, though I was vaguely aware of them. From my outsider’s perspective, the movie isn’t that bad. I’m sure there were some nods to the game that went over my head, but since I didn’t know to be looking for them, I can’t say whether they added to of detracted from the experience. The actors all do well with the material, though I probably could have gone the rest of my life without hearing Fassbender’s attempt at a southern accent (it’s not terrible, it’s just generally off-putting when someone considers his natural Irish one). Marion Cotillard seems a bit out of place in the movie, considering the kinds of movies she usually appears in, though she does well with the material, and her chemistry with Fassbender is spot-on. The story itself is easy to follow (a little research tells me it’s very close to the story of the original video game), and doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

The special effects are all well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

While die-hard fans of the video game series may not enjoy this movie, anyone else who likes action and/or fantasy probably will. As stated before, the storyline is easy to follow, and while it may take a minute to get used to the way the flashbacks are handled, the movie itself is easily rewatchable and probably worth the couple of bucks it would cost to rent.

Assassin’s Creed is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Good Omens

GoodOmens

Starring: Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Frances McDormand, Sam Taylor Buck, Adria Arjona, Jon Hamm, Jack Whitehall, Michael McKean, Miranda Richardson, et.al.
Rating: TV-MA
Network: Amazon
Grade: A

At the beginning of time, both God and Lucifer sent representatives to Earth to monitor humanity and report back on how things were progressing. Over the course of history, these representatives kept running across each other, and eventually developed a friendship. When Crowley, Hell’s representative, is told that the apocalypse is coming in the near future, he informs Aziraphale, Heaven’s representative, and together the two of them attempt to stop the end of days from occurring.

Adapted from the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens is a hilarious, and oftentimes absurd telling of just what might happen if an angel and a demon developed a friendship and became overly-fond of the place and people they were sent here to keep an eye on. The cast is top-notch, and they all seem to be having fun, especially Sheen and Tennant, who shine as Aziraphale and Crowley, respectively, and having Frances McDormand as the voice of God is absolutely delightful. The story itself, while not overly complex, is fun to watch, and, while it does have its basis in religion and the bible, that theme isn’t something that hammer in to the point of taking away from the ultimately humorous story.

The special effects are all very well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

The cast alone is enough to garner the interest of nearly anyone who might be curious about it, though the premise might be a bit much for the hard-core religious and people who typically don’t enjoy sci-fi/fantasy, but I will note that my mother, who usually doesn’t enjoy the ‘weird’ stuff I tend towards loved this series, so I would definitely recommend at least giving it a try. The story is handled well enough that it shouldn’t get boring or tiresome on repeat viewings.

Good Omens is currently only available to stream on Amazon Prime, with no word as to whether or not they plan to make it available on video.

Announcement No. 2

Hey all!

Sorry I up and vanished again, but a couple of weeks ago I was hospitalized for a few days after an emergency appendectomy, and then I was healing up at home.  I’m finally well enough that I can be hunched over a computer for a couple of hours writing, so reviews will be resuming starting today!  These next three reviews were actually written before I got sick (I literally started feeling unwell while writing them), but after that they’re post-illness.  Hope you all enjoy them!

Thanks much.

~Kelly (aka That Girl)

Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack

BringItOn6

Directed By: Robert Adetuyi
Starring: Cristine Prosperi, Sophie Vavasseur, Jason Rodrigues, Gia Re, Natalie Walsh, Sven Ruygrok, Vivica A. Fox, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: C

After being publicly humiliated, cheer captain Destiny is issued a challenge by a mysterious group of cheerleaders calling themselves The Truth. In order to prove that her team’s titles are deserved, Destiny and her squad must perform in a global cheer competition against not only The Truth, but also squads from countries across the world. When she is betrayed by someone she thought was a friend, Destiny recruits a group of street dancers to help her and her squad prove once and for all that they’re the best cheerleaders in the world.

The sixth installment of Universal’s Bring It On franchise should probably (hopefully?) be the last. They’re clearly grasping at plots to try and keep the movies from being too repetitive, and while there is an original element to it, it’s sadly not enough to save the movie from feeling like a repeat of the previous five installments. There’s only so many ways to show that growth and seeking out new ideas is a good thing to stay on top of your game, so to speak. Not even Vivica A. Fox’s presence can keep you from feeling like you’ve seen the story before.

There aren’t any obvious special effects, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

If you liked the previous five Bring It On movies, then you’ll probably want to watch this one (like I did). It doesn’t require much attention, so it could probably be used as background noise when working on things around the house.

Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack is currently available free to stream through Netflix, and can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Serenity (2019)

Serenity(2019)

Directed By: Steven Knight
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Diane Lane, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Charlotte Butler, Rafael Sayegh, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: C

Baker Dill, a charter boat captain on idyllic Plymouth Island, lives a quiet life taking tourists on fishing trips and wiling away his free time doing odd jobs for other residents on the island. One night, however, Baker’s life is thrown for a loop when his ex-wife appears and offers him $10 million to kill her current husband, who she claims is abusing both her and the child she shares with Baker. As Baker contemplates the tempting offer, he finds himself being lured back into day-to-day life by the residents of the island, as well as the promise of catching the one fish that has eluded him for years, which he has named Justice. After Baker has made up his mind about his course of action, he discovers a surprising secret about his life and home.

Despite very much wanting to be a high-quality noir thriller, Serenity falls short in many respects. The initial story of a man being approached by a woman asking him to kill her husband, while hardly original, is presented well enough to be interesting, and if the filmmakers had simply stuck to that, they might have turned out a decent B-quality movie. However, the unnecessary addition of a slight sci-fi element manages to take away any importance and impact that the main plot may have had. McConaughey and Hathaway have decent chemistry, and Clarke seems to be making a career out of playing assholes. For some reason, Hathaway made the choice to spend the majority of her screen time purring all of her lines in an attempt to sound like a 50s femme fatale, which takes some of the emotion out of her performance.

The special effects vary throughout the movie, but for the most part they’re fairly decent, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Unless you’re a die-hard fan of one of the actors in the movie, then you probably won’t want to spend money to watch this movie. It’s not completely terrible, but it’s also not very good, and requires a little more attention than most people would probably be willing to devote to it after the first hour or so.

Serenity is currently available free to stream through Amazon Prime, and can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

The Kid Who Would Be King

KidWhoWouldBeKing

Directed By: Joe Cornish
Starring: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Denise Gough, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Rebecca Ferguson, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, et.al.
Rating: PG
Grade: B-

Twelve-year-old Alex and his best friend Bedders spend most of their days trying to escape their bullies, Lance and Kaye. However, one day, they stumble upon an abandon construction site and finds what appears to be a sword sticking out of a piece of stone. Believing a weapon would better his chances, Alex pulls out the sword. The next day, a new student at Alex’s school approaches him and tells him that Alex is a descendant of King Arthur, and that by taking Excalibur from the stone, the evil sorceress Morgana has awakened to wreak her revenge on Arthur’s line and the people of England. Using the story of ‘The Once and Future King’ as a guide, Alex recruits Bedders, Lance, and Kaye to be his knights as they attempt to defeat Morgana before the pending solar eclipse when she will reach full power and destroy them all.

When undertaking an update of a classic tale, there is always a problem of balance, and finding a way to modernize the story without losing its heart. Surprisingly, this adaptation manages to avoid those issues and delivers a surprisingly charming and enjoyable movie. Despite the fantasy elements, the story itself is relatable to more than just children, and, while the idea of a child finding out they’re actually more special than they were led to believe, if it’s well approached like this movie is, then it’s not as bothersome as some attempts tend to be. The kids all work well together and the actors playing the children show promise with their talents.

The special effects are all pretty good for a mid-budget children’s movie, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

This movie should appeal to almost everyone. The story is light-hearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously, and everyone involved appears to be having fun. Those who don’t enjoy fantasy may not want to watch it over and over again, but they probably won’t regret watching it at least once.

The Kid Who Would Be King is currently unavailable free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Mortal Engines

MortalEngines

Directed By: Christian Rivers
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae Kim, Ronan Rafferty, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, Steven Lang, Colin Salmon, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B-

In a distant, post-apocalyptic dystopia, humans have abandon stationary dwellings, and have rebuilt their cities to move on wheels. As resources continue to dwindle, only the biggest and fiercest cities can survive and often overtake the smaller cities and towns which roam the countryside. After Hester Shaw sets herself on a city about to be overtaken by London, one of the most fearsome cities in Europe, she sets out her plan to assassinate Thaddeus Valentine, the man who murdered her mother years earlier and left Hester horribly disfigured. When her plan fails, she flees into the bowels of the city in an attempt to escape, where she is followed by Tom Natsworthy, a man who works with Valentine’s daughter in the museum. Before jumping from the city, she gives Tom a message, which he relays to Valentine when he arrives moments later. Realizing Tom knows too much, Valentine pitches Tom overboard in an attempt to silence him, which was witnessed by an acquaintance of Tom’s, unknown to Valentine. Having survived their falls from London, Tom and Hester enter into an uneasy alliance to get back to the city. Their journey, however is hampered by the dangers of Outlands, the mysterious figure in pursuit of Hester, and the terrible weapon that Valentine is crafting which threatens to destroy anyone who might stand in his way.

One of the latest YA dystopian movies, this is hindered both by having much of the material excised to make a palatable movie length, as well as being released at the end of the dystopian YA craze. Though neither one of those really has an impact on the quality of this surprisingly not awful movie. I always feel that these sprawling fantasy series would be better served by a television series so that less information is lost in translating them from book to screen. That said, the movie itself isn’t all that bad. It manages to escape many of the tired tropes that audiences have come to expect from YA movies (the ‘special’ girl who isn’t traditionally pretty; a love triangle between two vastly different boys, one of whom rarely/never takes an interest in girls; etc.) Robert Sheehan and Hera Hilmar have a decent chemistry, and Hugo Weaving always seems to be having fun when he plays a villain.

The special effects are all fairly well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

This should appeal to most people who enjoy sci-fi/fantasy movies. The storyline is interesting enough that the underlying fact of it mainly being a teen movie shouldn’t hamper one’s enjoyment of it. Most of the scenery is beautiful and makes it worth the watch. The movie is also good enough that it probably won’t grate on anyone’s nerves upon rewatching it.

Mortal Engines is currently unavailable free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Happy Death Day 2U

HappyDeathDay2U

Directed By: Christopher Landon
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, Steve Zissis, Charles Aitken, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B+

After surviving the events of a time loop which made her repeat her birthday over and over again until she’s murdered by a mysterious figure in a baby mask, Tree Gelbman is ready to start living her best life with her boyfriend, Carter. However, her happiness is short-lived when Carter’s dorm mate, Ryan, shows up in their shared room freaking out and talking about how he thinks he may have already lived through the day. Intrigued, Tree asks Ryan to walk her and Carter through the events that happened the previous ‘day,’ and discovers not only why Ryan reset, but why she was affected in a similar manner the day before, however, when a school official interrupts a test of the machine responsible for the time loops, Tree is thrown into a parallel universe where most things are the same, but a few, small, important details have changed. Tasked with trying to figure out what went wrong, Tree soon has to decide whether she wants to go back to her own universe, or stay in the one she landed in.

While marketed as a horror movie, this sequel to 2017’s surprisingly enjoyable slasher flick is more science fiction than horror. While there are still people being murdered, it’s no longer Tree’s life that’s in constant danger, though she does go through a sequence of increasingly outlandish ways to commit suicide, and the main plot is trying to fix the device that sent her into a parallel universe. That aside, this movie is also quite enjoyable. The small changes between the two universes Tree experiences helps her gain further closure with plot points from the first movie, and lets her have experiences she wouldn’t have been able to have.

A couple of the effects used are noticeable, but most aren’t, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

If you enjoyed the first movie, then you’ll probably like this one as well, and with the lack of gore, anyone who’s not a fan of horror movies should also like it. There’s a small recap at the beginning of the movie, which means people new to the franchise don’t necessarily need to watch the first installment. It’s also enjoyable enough that one should be able to rewatch it without getting bored too easily.

Happy Death Day 2U is currently unavailable free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.