Category Archives: Futuristic

REVIEW: “THE OLD GUARD” (2020) Netflix

Twenty-Five minutes in and I knew Director Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s “THE OLD GUARD” was most likely based on some type of book/comic series that was not known to me. Sticking with the film though was a decent pleasure and doing a touch of research after gave me the insight needed.

Turns out ‘The Old Guard‘ is based on the recent 5-part graphic novel of the same name from Image Comics, and stars Charlize Theron as “Andy”, along with Booker (Matthais Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) make up the tight knit group of four covert mercenaries who fight to keep peace.  With a seemingly almost immortal mysterious inability to die, a trait that once exposed on surveillance tapes by supposed ex-CIA agent Coply (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who had ‘hired’ them for a job to save a group of school children who had been supposedly kidnapped, gains unwanted attention from eccentric British pharmaceutical executive Steven Merrick (Harry Melling), who plans to experiment on the four for the good of mankind aka ‘profit’.

Greg Rucka, creator of the graphic novel series, writes the screenplay, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The fleshing out of the team’s backstory brings with it some emotional ties to the past, which work effectively as without knowing any background, you’re able to follow along. All too often though, the dialogue falls into cliched and stale traps – like when they are trying to look all undercover while meeting in a local street bazaar, they end up standing out so completely that you almost have to have a laugh at it. But it feels particularly clunky when the team come to explain their unusual abilities to newcomer Nile (KiKi Lane), a young U.S. marine who discovers she is just like them while on duty in Afghanistan.

KiKi Lane showcases Nile’s innocence and shock well, as she discovers she may not be quite like other marines in doing what they’ve clearly been doing for hundreds of years. Theron gives a plaintive performance, conveying the weight on Andy’s shoulders and the burdens carried through the years convincingly enough and at least they didn’t try to have her do too many of those floppy comic lines sometimes found in similar type features. Her fellow mercenaries though never really get as much of a chance to make their mark with the exception of what takes place between Booker and Andy. Theron really kicks ass in the well choreographed hand-to-hand combat scenes she does get as does Lane, and there are bouts of bloody action to enjoy, but these are over rather quickly, with the team never really feeling like they are in any kind of danger. In truth, it’s yet another Netflix release that falls into the usual category; not a classic by any stretch, but definitely a passable and watchable two hours.

Grade: C+

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“THE OLD GUARD” IS AVAILABLE TO WATCH ON NETFLIX

REVIEW: “DOWNSIZING” (2017) Paramount Pictures

Welp. we’ve got a strike three for Matt Damon on his 2017 films with “DOWNSIZING”. This movie takes an interesting premise, “What if we could make ourselves smaller to use up fewer resources and save the planet?” and really just does nothing with it. Having heard little about the film aside from its concept, I went into the screening fairly cold. Sadly, the film doesn’t have a whole lot more to offer than its brilliant concept and exceptional first act. I must admit that I left feeling disappointed, thinking they could’ve made this a better movie in many ways. When a film has so much promise and doesn’t exactly deliver on much of it, I feel as though many people would be let down by that.

In this dramedy, which also in part a social satire of its own genre, Downsizing follows a couple Paul (Matt Damon) & Audrey (Kristen Wiig) Safranek, who believe their lives would be better if they were to shrink themselves and be transferred to a new world called Leisureland. This place exists to conserve the Earth and save the environment, as let’s face it, smaller people need much fewer resources. With multiple meanings to the title, this is a concept that sounds incredible on paper but doesn’t exactly translate into that great of a movie. Throughout the first act, I found myself immersed in this world and couldn’t wait to be taken on its journey, but I soon found myself losing interest when political and religious elements began to take over and it started to go very sloooowww. And it’s sad as this is a movie that could’ve done so much more with its premise.

Without giving anything away, there are many characters such as Niecy Nash playing a Leisureworld salesperson, or that of Dusan Mirkovic (Christof Waltz), The Lonowski’s, Jeff (Neil Patrick Harris) & Laura (Laura Dern) or Paul’s good friend Dave (Jason Sudeikis), that come in and out of this film in a heartbeat, pretty much leaving them in the dust, when in reality they were actually interesting and added a layer to the overall story. It felt as though Director Alexander Payne wanted to focus so much on the idea of the Downsizing concept, that he sidelined quite a few characters along the way. His films have always been about characters, and while Paul and Ngoc (Hong Chau) share some great chemistry throughout this film, it’s hard not to wish that all of the characters throughout the first act were present throughout the entire film. This was a very curious issue I had while watching and definitely upon reflection.

As soon as you’re brought into this other world that has been built for those who shrunk themselves over the years, you will find yourself kind of transfixed at how interesting the visuals are and how lackluster the comedy is, but what you don’t expect is for the film to take a dramatic turn and really have you thinking hard about the world we live in and whether or not certain lines of dialogue are true about society in general. This is an eye-opening film in that regard and the third act is incredibly ambitious, but I just don’t think it really sticks the landing that it strives to achieve.

In the end, this is one of the most original ideas I can recall in recent memory, but an idea doesn’t make a film great. It’s the film itself that needs to win you over as a whole, and Downsizing just didn’t do that for me. On many accounts, this is a very impressive movie from a technical standpoint and it takes risks that I didn’t expect it to, but the risks it takes will only work for a few audiences members that can relate to it.

This is a movie that promises a lot and tries to deliver on all of those promises, while also shoving in side plots that make this film too emotionally complex to really be invested in the satirical aspects by the end. I wish this film went through a few more rewrites, because there is a satirical masterpiece of a movie in here somewhere, but it’s just not the product that you’ll be seeing in theatres soon. Downsizing might be worth your time in terms of originality, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up on it being a favorite.

Grade: C-
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Wednesday, December 5, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
DOWNSIZING is now playing in theaters nationwide. To be released Worldwide in January 2018

REVIEW: “MAD MAX:FURY ROAD” (2015) Warner Bros.

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From the moment you hear Tom Hardy’sMax Rockatansky” croak out the words ‘My world is fire and blood’ you know you are in for a monumental whirlwind of a ride as the world of ‘Max Max:Fury Road’ unfolds on the screen before you. What follows will have you feeling as though you’ve been sucker punched in the gut, but in all the right ways. I left the theatre breathless and two hours later I still don’t think I was breathing properly.

It’s been three decades, 1985 to be exact, since we last saw the Road Warrior known as Mad Max, then being played by Mel Gibson, and from minute one-this film is a methane-fueled thrill ride that only gives you a minute or two to breathe in between the non-stop, rollercoaster post-apocalyptic relentless action of this return trip to the world of George Miller’s MAD MAX.
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And yes, Charlize Theron as one-armed “Imperator Furiosa” just absolutely kills it.
She’s the immovable object AND the irresistible force at the same time. I mean when was the last time you had a such a woman of action, and one armed to boot. Never. Her death-stare is truly like a thousand war-engines revving up. Axle grease used as war paint. Every man’s doom as her and Hardy have one of the screen’s most powerful man-on-woman fights and at no moment does one ever think that Theron/Furiosa is at a disadvantage against him as her opponent.
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Max’s inner demons are what haunts him this time round. He’s lost his wife and young daughter and it’s that little girl’s flashbacks accusing him of failing to save them that keeps appearing to haunt this guilt-feeling Max to the point that he lets his guard down just enough to get captured by “Immortan Joe” (Hugh Keays-Byrne) the over-lord of the citadel in this futuristic bleak wasteland, who dispenses precious water to his followers (quick shoutout to the California drought here ha!) all the while raising a troupe of ghoulish young men called the “War Boys.” The Boys, thinking Valhalla awaits them when they die so they can commit heinous crimes on Joe’s behalf.
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What drives this films plot is when Furiosa decides to go off course with an Immortans War truck along with his best five breeders aka wives “Toast the Knowing” (Zoe Kravitz), “The Splendid Angharad” (Rosie Huntington Whiteley), “Capable” (Riley Keough), “The Dag” (Abbey Lee) & “Cheedo the Fragile” (Courtney Eaton) to make it back to her childhood home ‘The Green Place’. Joe sends his War Boys after her including “Nux” (Nicholas Hoult) who just happens to have his ‘human blood bag’ aka Max strapped to the front of his vehicle in a chase scene that can only be described as sheer motor madness.
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There is not one but three different factions chasing them at times in the the most crazy of action sequences as we go from car chases to fist fights to foot pursuits and then we go back and do it all over again. It’s like the spin cycle of the washing machine is going full blast and giving us with perfect timing, a few moments here and there to catch our breath.

Neither Hardy nor Theron speak much through the first 30 minutes as they are to focused on just surviving. Hardy in yet another voice not his own, only really gives us a few grunts in the first hour, so Theron’s Imperator Furiosa seems almost chatty patty in comparison.
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As I don’t want to give away the whole plot as what I’ve described is really only the first 15 minutes or so of the film and it’s something that just must be seen spoiler free for yourself. And not on DVD or your laptop or your phone..you NEED to watch this in all it’s glory as it’s meant to be seen, on the biggest screen available to you with loud booming sound or you will miss even the crazy maniacal guitarist that would make even the biggest speed metal fan need earplugs as he plows along the desert in pursuit with Joe. Trust me on this one.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two things to end with here. One: the #GirlPower in this film is truly something to behold. Every single female character holds their own and I give huge kudos on this. Two: George Miller with this film simply raises the bar on everything cinematic being released thus far this year. CGI might be great for the Marvel or X-Men and it IS all fun and good, but there is NOTHING like the mastery brilliance that can take the place of watching live action human element of feeling as one – riding along with chainsaw wielding madman sliding across car hoods, crawling on the outside of fast moving vehicles or fear of being plucked out of said moving vehicles by crazed maniacs swinging from high velocity poles. It’s absolutely brilliant and made me giddy throughout the whole movie.

As Nux so aptly puts it “What a Lovely Day”

Grade: A+
@pegsatthemovies
Screening at the Arclight Theatre, Hollywood Wednesday, May 13th,2015
MAD MAX:FURY ROAD WORLDWIDE RELEASE DATE: FRIDAY, MAY 15TH, 2015

RATINGS SCALE: A = OSCAR-WORTHY; B = ABOVE AVERAGE; C = AVERAGE; D = NOT RECOMMENDED; F = SKIP IT ENTIRELY (+ OR – GIVES IT AN EDGE UP OR DOWN)