FlixChatter Review – The Harder They Fall (2021)

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For many decades, the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and parts of the 90s, the western genre has been stable at the box office. Like what we’re seeing in today’s comic book-based films. The genre hasn’t been as popular within the last 20 years or so, there’s been some decent western that would pop-once in a while; the most recent successful one was Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED. Now we have a new western from musician-turned-filmmaker Jeymes Samuel aka The Bullits and the film is a sleek and fun homage to the spaghetti westerns of the 60s.

As the film opens, a mysterious stranger arrives at a home of a preacher when he, his wife and son are about to have a meal. The stranger proceeds to kill the preacher and his wife. He left the son alive but scarred the boy by carving the symbol of a cross into his forehead. Years later, that same boy has grown up to be a well-known outlaw named Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) who robs other bank robbers. Love has also been hunting down people involved in the murder of his parents. The main culprit he’s after is Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), a ruthless criminal and killer. Buck who is supposedly serving a life sentence in Yuma prison but is soon freed by a gang led by the sociopathic Trudy Smith (Regina King) and the very sneaky sharpshooter Cherokee Bill (Lakeith Stanfield). 

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Meanwhile, Nat’s gang has robbed a shipment of gold that originally belonged to Rufus, who needs the money to run the town of Redwood City. Rufus wants to create some sort of utopia for black people, but he wants it to be under his complete control and if anyone objects, he’ll kill them. Upon learning about Rufus’ escape, Nat teams up with Bass Reeves (Delroy Lindo), the lawman who originally captured Rufus, his ex-lover Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz) a saloon operator and singer, Cuffee (Danielle Deadwyler) a tough as nail saloon guard, sharpshooter Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi) and Jim Beckwourth (RJ Cyler), a young gunman eager to prove his superior speed with a pistol. Their plan is to head to Redwood City and take down Rufus and his gang for good.

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The screenplay is credited to Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin, it’s nothing new when it comes to the western storyline. Just like many other western films, its main theme here is revenge. Both writers tried to create an epic storyline but came up a bit short. For one, the lack of character development of the main characters was a big letdown. They wanted to just throw the audience right into the story and didn’t really give many details on either the hero or main villain.

Elba’s Buck is supposed to be this mythical villain since many characters in the film always refer to him as the devil. I’m assuming that Samual wanted this character to be like Lee Van Cleef’s Angel Eyes in Leone’s THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. But we don’t know much about him except that he’s pure evil. Majors’ Nat Love is kind of a Robin Hood character but again, we just assume that he became that way because of what happened to him when he’s little boy. This lack of characters development really hurt the climatic confrontation between the two men when there’s a big revelation. Thankfully, the three female supporting characters were more well defined.

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Samuel really wanted to show that he’s a fan of the old westerns, so many of the visual elements were burrowed from Leone’s films and the bloody climatic shootout was reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah’s bloodbath climax of THE WILD BUNCH. The opening dinner scene was taken directly from the opening of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. I don’t have problem with filmmakers that “burrowed” from other filmmakers from the past. As long that they can inject some of their own style into the film and I thought Samuel did come up with some of his own visual flares.

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Speaking of visual, the cinematography by Mihai Malaimare Jr. is some of the best I’ve seen this year. The film was shot digitally on Panavision cameras and film grains were added in post-production to give the film that rustic filmic look. Since he’s musician, Samuel also composed the film and it’s a spectacular soundtrack. The theme is combination of modern hip hop mix in with Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western.

The performances by the actors were great all around. As mentioned earlier, it’s a shame that the main hero and villain just didn’t have much development. Jonathan Majors is on the roll after his excellent turn in LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. Hopefully, he’ll cast in more heroic action role, he’s great in action scenes. I’m a fan of Idris Elba and it’s a shame that he didn’t have much to do in this film except to look evil. I thought the two main female characters were much more well defined and their confrontation in the climax was so brutal and absolute blast to watch. Regina King looked like she has a great time playing a nasty villain.

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While it’s disappointing that the main characters were undeveloped, I’m still happy to have seen this film. We don’t get to see a western with mostly black actors that often and it’s great that Netflix was willing to make it happen. I’m quite sure that most major studios wouldn’t have greenlit this script unless there’s a white character that’s involved in the story, and of course that character will have to be played by a super star actor. The film is a lot of fun with excellent cinematography and killer soundtrack. If you’re a fan of the western genre, then this is a no brainer.

4/5 stars

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So have you seen Netflix’s The Harder They Fall? Well, what did you think?

Five new Netflix movies to watch in November

As we enter into Novemberrrrr … with temps dipping into the 30s (Fahrenheit), I know I’m looking forward to staying in more until the rest of the year. Thankfully streaming services have a ton of new content… I know I’m anticipating WHEEL OF TIME series that’ll hit Amazon Prime on Nov. 19. Well, with Netflix, there’s never a shortage of content that sometimes it actually takes time to figure out just what to watch. So here are five movies I’m looking forward to this month (you’re welcome!) 😀

The Harder They Fall

Nov 3 (tonight!)

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When an outlaw discovers his enemy is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western.

I’ve been wanting to blog about this but somehow I thought it’s coming out later this year. Well, it’s out tonight, and I can’t wait to watch! I’m not the biggest Western fan but with Idris Elba as a cowboy? Heck yeah!! He obviously can rock a Cowboy get-up, as he’s the only redeeming factor of The Dark Tower, ahah.

The ensemble cast here is amazing: Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, Zazie Beetz, Jonathan Majors, love it! The trailer promises something cool and stylish unconventional Western.

Passing

November 10

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“Passing” follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities.

I’ve been wanting to see this Rebecca Hall‘s directorial debut for some time as I read that she was inspired by her own family history. The term “passing” refers to the practice of members of minority or oppressed races, religions, ethnic groups, etc., pretending to be white (or otherwise members of the majority culture) to escape prejudice. Hall’s own mother, opera singer Maria Ewing and grandfather who were both biracial and had ‘passed’ themselves off as white so she wanted to explore that history that she never really had access to. I LOVE this evocative trailer and anything with Tessa Thompson is great in my book!

Red Notice

November 12

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An Interpol agent tracks the world’s most wanted art thief.

Ok I have to admit there’s really not much to recommend this one other than to just ‘check one’s brain at the door’ and enjoy the ride! None of these actors are known for their dramatic acting skills but they are fun to watch. I read on IMDb Trivia that Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot are each getting $20 million payday for their roles, dayum!! With a $200 million budget, it’s apparently Netflix’s biggest budget yet for a feature film. Man, frivolous fun sure is expensive, no wonder Reynolds can happily retire after this1

tick, tick…BOOM!

November 19

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On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City.

Lin Manuel Miranda is one busy guy and he continues to stretch his creative muscles. This amusingly-titled movie is his directorial debut which stars another Tony award winner, Andrew Garfield. I love that Garfield has grown to be even more of a versatile actor since I first saw him in Boy A in 2007. I remember seeing him up close at Comic-Con back in 2011 when he introduced himself as Spider-man, standing mere inches from me. He’s obviously SO much more than a pretty face. As for the subject matter, I wasn’t too fond of RENT when I saw it on stage years ago, so I’m mostly curious to see the film for Garfield’s performance.

Bruised

November 24

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A disgraced MMA fighter finds redemption in the cage and the courage to face her demons when the son she had given up as an infant unexpectedly reenters her life.

Speaking of Ryan Reynolds, well I read on IMDb that his wife Blake Lively was going to star in it under Nick Cassavetes’ direction. I haven’t seen anything with Halle Berry as the lead in ages, I think the last movie I saw her in was John Wick 3. This one is also happens to be her directorial debut. Apparently Berry is a huge UFC fan and two of the actors in this film are actually real MMA fighters!


What do you think of this Novemner lineup? Which one are you looking forward to the most?

FlixChatter Review – THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021)

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Back in 2016, Warner Bros. was trying to catch up to Disney/Marvel’s superhero films by creating the DCEU and Suicide Squad was one of the many films they scheduled to be part of that canon. When the film hit theaters in summer of 2016, it was a financial success, but met with terrible reviews by critics and most DC fans dismissed it. Now five years later, the DCEU is in kind of a mess. So, Warner Bros. decided to bring in writer/director James Gunn for a redo of the same film. Ignoring the previous version, Gunn aimed for livelier take on the lesser villains in the DC world by including graphic violence, vulgar language and stay as true to its comic book form as much as possible.

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Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) represents American interests around the globe, and she’s being tasked by her bosses to take control of a South American Island called Corto Maltese (fans of Tim Burton’s Batman will recognize that name) from the military leaders that overthrew the country. There’s a prison structure known as Jotunheim, which contains the mysterious “Project Starfish” and Waller doesn’t want Corto Maltese’s newly named president Luna (Juan Diego Botto) and his right hand man General Mateo Suarez (Joaquín Cosio) to take control of it. 

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To do this, Waller restarts the Task Force X program and assembled a new Suicide Squad for action, including T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), Savant (Michael Rooker), Javelin (Flula Borg), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Weasel, a grotesque creature ready to hit the beaches of Corto Maltese and take the island. The leader of the group is Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). Once they landed on the shores of Corto Maltese, Flag and his retag of would-be heroes were attacked. Unbeknownst to Flag, Waller sent another group of Suicide Squad that consist of Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), and King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone) to another part of the island and Flag’s team was a decoy. Waller directed Bloodsport and his team to find The Thinker (Peter Capaldi), a scientist who can provide access to Jotunheim. But the team struggles to work together, finding egos clashing and violent tendencies getting in the way of any plans and turning Corto Maltese into a war zone.

Written and directed by James Gunn, the film is full of graphic violence, foul language and probably the most comic book-ish looking of any DC or Marvel films that I’ve seen. The plot is generic, but he was able to give enough screen time of each of the characters for the audience to care about and some of the dialogs were hilarious. I don’t remember the last time I laughed this much watching a movie. Gunn and his cinematographer Henry Braham decided to shoot the film with Red IMAX certified cameras, and it looks spectacular.

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I enjoyed all the performances by the actors. Robbie looked like she had a great time playing Harley Quinn again. I love the bickering between Elba’s Bloodsport and Cena’s Peacemaker; the two alpha males always tried to better one another. Dastmalchian appeared in a lot of movies and TV shows as a minor character, but he got a lot of screen time here and his Polka-Dot Man is kind of sympathetic character. Melchior has some good moments with Bloodsport, who became a father figure to her. And the gag throughout the film about Bloodsport’s fear of rats is hilarious to me. As with many superhero or action films, the villains were pretty weak here. I think they should’ve made Capaldi’s The Thinker into a more sinister character and have him be the main villain. He didn’t really have much to do and by time we find out what Project Starfish was about, he’s out of the picture.

I don’t know where things are when it comes to the DCEU but if they decided to make another Suicide Squad or Justice League film, I want Gunn to be the man in charge. I had a lot of fun with this film and hopefully we get to see more hard R-rated super hero films like this in the future. 

4/5 stars

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So have you seen THE SUICIDE SQUAD? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review – CATS (2019)

Directed by: Tom Hooper
Screenplay by: Lee Hall, Tom Hooper

Most people who know me probably think I’m a huge Cats fan; I’m a choir nerd and a crazy cat lady (my Instagram account is mostly pictures of my boyfriend’s three adorable kitties), so a musical that combines two of my loves sounds tailor-made for me. Honestly, though, I never really got into it. I saw it at the Orpheum during an anniversary tour, and while I appreciated the beautiful music, clever choreography, and elaborate costumes, I had trouble connecting with the story- unsurprising, considering it’s based on a collection of T.S. Eliot poems. When I heard the musical was being adapted into a movie, though, I figured I would give it another shot.

Cats is about a group of alleycats called the Jellicle Cats (no, I STILL don’t know what Jellicle Cats are; based on the songs, it sounds like they’re basically just normal cats but some of them are maybe magic?) preparing for the Jellicle Ball, an event where their leader, Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) chooses one cat to ascend to the “Heavyside Layer,” basically a cat heaven where they will be reborn into a better life. The cats each perform for Old Deuteronomy in order to convince her to choose them. However, a nefarious cat named Macavity (Idris Elba) is also trying to be chosen, and is doing his best to get rid of his competition.

Okay, let’s get the obvious out of the way: the uncanny valley CGI character design. It’s not quite as bad as I was expecting-at least close up. The CGI fur is very realistic-looking, and it seems to be combined with practical costuming and makeup in some cases. That said, the full body shots looked so much creepier, and I am still super weirded out by how aggressively human the faces look. They put so much detail into the bodies, but the faces are mostly left as is, save for some CGI whiskers and occasional tufts of fur. Couldn’t they have done something with makeup or prosthetics? As it is, all I could think of was that scene in What We Do in the Shadows where Jemaine Clements’s character tries to turn into a cat.

Besides the unsettling character design, the movie is mostly pretty to look at. The production design is beautiful, and the choreography is impressive (if not necessarily well-shot); mainly casting professional ballet dancers was one of the best things they could have done for the movie. Some of the “cat-like” movements are a little uncomfortable, though. There’s this weird sexual energy about it, which for some stories or musicals is totally fine, and I know the stage show has a similar vibe, but knowing that it’s about literal cats makes it kind of awkward.

The other big topic I obviously have to comment on is the music. Overall, it’s decent; the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic hasn’t endured as long as it has for nothing. Several of the songs are fun, catchy, and in some instances, haunting. I liked the ensemble numbers, although the orchestration sometimes drowns out the vocals in some parts. Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella  obviously sounds fantastic in the best-known number, “Memory.” Jason Derulo gives a solid performance as the flirty and energetic Rumtumtugger; his diction suffers a little because he’s trying to sing with a Cockney accent, but I still really enjoyed his voice. Steven McRae as Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat is especially delightful; he has such a clear, bright, strong tone.

Taylor Swift’s Bombalurina only has one song, Macavity, and it’s…fine. She was obviously a stunt cast, because they gave her a song that’s not that vocally taxing. The song itself has this sultry vibe that Taylor’s breathy voice sort of works for, although it some parts it sounds more breathless than breathy, and I really would have loved to hear some more power behind the chorus. My biggest issue with the music was the shoehorned in Oscar-bait song, Beautiful Ghosts. It was written by Swift and Webber, but it definitely sounds more like the pop star’s song than the Broadway composer’s and doesn’t really fit the rest of the show’s tone. Worse still, it comes immediately after Grizabella’s first snippet of “Memory,” and having this slightly pretty but underwhelming song follow it dampens the effect of that moment.

The rest of the cast quality is pretty mixed. Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy and Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre cat are amazing actors in general and could make reciting the phone book sound good, so they do well with what they’re given. Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots and James Corden as Bustopher Jones are pretty groan-worthy; they’re the comedic relief, but they have way too much addded dialogue that’s basically just the individual actors’ brands of humor, and it doesn’t mesh with the rest of the movie. Idris Elba tries so hard, and he’s clearly giving it his all, but his character has been rewritten from a mysterious and malevolent presence to a cartoon villain, so there’s not much to salvage there. Lastly, newcomer Francesca Hayward as the abandoned kitten Victoria is, again, fine. She’s primarily a dancer, so her acting and singing aren’t spectacular, but she does okay with what she’s given. Her role in the movie is mostly as an analogue for the audience-someone for the other cats to explain the plot to- so there’s not much needed from her acting-wise.

This movie isn’t great. It’s not even so bad it’s good, which would at least be fun. Honestly, the source material just doesn’t lend itself to being adapted to a movie. Even with the added dialogue explaining the weird plot, the lyrics are still pretty bonkers and the anthropomorphized felines writhing around is uncomfortable, and  and while that might work on stage, it just doesn’t in film. Even if the character design hadn’t been terrifying CGI and the cast had been stronger, I don’t think anything could salvage Cats as a movie.

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Have you seen CATS? Let us know what you think!

FlixChatter Review: HOBBS & SHAW (2019)

If you were to tell me back in 2001 that a simple action film about cops and robbers would’ve spawn several sequels and now a spin-off and became one of the most profitable movie franchises in Hollywood, I would’ve laughed in your face. But almost 20 years later, that’s exactly what happened. Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Shaw both appeared in the last two FAST & FURIOUS films and with a good chemistry in the last film, the big wigs at Universal Studios decided to milk the franchise even more by making a movie about them.

When a group of MI6 agents decided break into a secure area to steal a deadly virus called Snowflake from some very bad people, they were interrupted by another set of bad guys and to prevent the bad guys from getting the virus, MI6 group’s leader Hattie (Venessa Kirby) decided to inject the virus into her body. This of course upsets the bad guys’ leader Lore (Idris Elba), a man with the speed and strength of a super human and in fact he refers to himself as Black Superman. Hattie being some kind of a super spy herself, was able to escape from Lore and his men. Now on the run not just from the bad buys but her own agency and the CIA, Hattie is going to need some help in order to survive.

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) now lives a simple life with his daughter in Los Angeles. When his old CIA agent pal shows up (a famous face cameo) and ask him to go to London and track down Hattie and the Snowflake virus, Hobbs wasn’t interested. Of course, he changed his mind when his pal said the virus is very contagious and will wiped out everyone on earth if it ends up on the wrong hands. Once he landed in London, Hobbs runs into someone he doesn’t like very much, Shaw (Jason Statham). As it turns out, Shaw was also recruited by the CIA to track down the virus and Hattie. But Shaw comes willingly because of personal reason, Hattie is his sister. After some bickering, Hobbs and Shaw located Hattie but so did Lore and his men. What follows is a chase that spans across the globe. Since this is still under the FAST & FURIOUS brand, the film includes several big car chases, shoot outs and hand to hand combats.

The last three FAST & FURIOUS films were in the same style as the James Bond and Mission: Impossible films and that’s exactly how this one turned out. In fact, writers Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce stole so many elements from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 and SKYFALL that fans of those films will notice the similarities. The film looks great and I appreciate that director David Leitch shot every action scene with care and didn’t go with the annoying fast editing and shaky style that plagued a lot of action films within the last decade. Unfortunately, most of the action were pretty boring to me, with the exception of a nifty motorcycle and car chase through the streets of London, the rest of the set pieces were just too bland and over CGI’d. I also think Leitch is not a very good storyteller, I enjoyed his last film DEADPOOL 2, but his other action picture ATOMIC BLONDE was kind of a dud. That film has so much potential to be great, but I found the pacing to be off and that’s how I feel about this film. The film relied too much on Johnson and Statham, but their constant bantering gets tiresome real fast. I think with a director who has more experience with comedy, it would’ve been a fun summer flick.

As usual, Johnson and Statham were good in their respective roles. They knew what kind of film they’re making and had fun with it. But as I mentioned before, their constant insults to one another got old and felt forced as the film progresses. After seeing her in last summer’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT, I was a fan of Venessa Kirby. I felt like she kind of look lost in this film. She wasn’t bad or anything, I just think comedy might not be her strength, but she did looked good doing all the action stuff. Her character is supposed to be close in age to Statham’s character, but in real life, he’s old enough to be her father. It would’ve been better if they’d written her character as his long-lost daughter or something besides being basically his twin sister.

Elba looked like he’s having fun with his evil role, but I don’t like seeing this pattern of him being cast as the villain in big budget films. Ever since I saw him in THE WIRE, I was a fan and thought he would be the hero in big action films by now and not the villain. Let’s hope he turn down any other villain role that studios will likely offer him again.

I believe this is the last of the big budget film of the summer and I thought it kind of underwhelmed. The film has potential to be a fun ride, but it’s just stuck in one mode and never really took off. Besides some laughs from a couple of famous cameos, the comedy also fell flat. Not the worst in the franchise (that belongs to part 2 and 3) but nowhere near as fun or exciting as the franchise’s best FAST FIVE.

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So have you seen HOBBS & SHAW? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

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Review by: Vitali Gueron

Pacific Rim Uprising is the sequel to the 2013 science-fiction monster movie Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Academy Award winner for Best Director and Best Picture). Uprising is directed by Steven S. DeKnight (in his feature-film directorial debut) and stars British actor John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Attack the Block) as Jake Pentecost, and American actor Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious, Suicide Squad, The Longest Ride) as Nate Lambert. Boyega’s character Jake Pentecost—son of Kaiju War hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba‘s character in the first film) is brought back to the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) after being arrested for stealing and selling old jaeger (robot) parts on the black market. He then is made an instructor and starts training jaeger program recruits with his estranged former co-pilot, Lambert (Eastwood).

The film also brings back Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day), who helped save the world in the first movie, and is now working for the Shao Corporation, a company whose mission is to mass produce remote controlled jaegers developed by Dr. Geiszler and Liwen Shao (Jing Tian — a Chinese actress best known for The Great Wall & Kong: Skull Island). Dr. Geiszler is developing a program that combines jeager technology with cloned Kaiju (a Japanese word for giant monsters) cells.

The rogue jaeger Obsidian Fury attacks a PPDC conference and Pentecost and Lambert must use their own jaeger to fight back (the gigantic robot is controlled by at least two pilots, whose minds are joined by a mental link). Upon destroying the reactor of a defunct jaeger production facility in Russia which Obsidian Fury is using as a base of operations, Pentecost and Lambert are shocked to learn that Obsidian Fury was controlled by a Kaiju’s secondary brain.

While Obsidian Fury is eventually defeated by Pentecost and Lambert, Dr. Geiszler releases an army of Shao Corporation’s drones who incapacitate almost all of the PPDC’s jaegers and inflicting heavy casualties on the PPDC’s human staff, including most of the jaeger pilots. The drones begin to open new breaches all over the world and are successful in bringing over three powerful Kaiju. Pentecost and Lambert have no choice but to assemble a team of the jaeger program recruits. These young recruits had only simulated battles and not yet fully grasped the task of the mental link joining in order to pilot the jaeger. The team uses the PPDC confronts the Kaiju with their four remaining jaegers in Tokyo and eventually up the side of Mount Fuji. The team is eventually able to defeat the giant Kaiju and arrest Dr. Geiszler so he can no longer pose a threat.

I believe this movie is set up to initiate third-and-final movie, where humans will be the ones attacking the Precursors (the alien race who created the Kaiju) in their own world. Unfortunately, this film does little to nothing to generate new ideas that haven’t been seen before, whether in the first Pacific Rim or in other films with similar premises, such as Transformers.

While it’s easy to say that this is just another Transformers remake, the biggest thing Pacific Rim Uprising has it going for it is John Boyega as the lead. Boyega is even credited as a producer on the film and he continues to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with, whether on the Star Wars movies—using his pretty convincing American accent, or in this movie—where he uses his natural British accent. Boyega also sports a fantastic mustache which makes him cool, yet believable “bad-ass” Kaiju slayer. Aside from Boyega’s charisma, there aren’t very many other moments here that make the movie anything to get excited about. If you previously loved seeing robots battling gigantic monsters and wreaking havoc upon the world, then you won’t be disappointed this time around.

For the majority of its audiences, Pacific Rim Uprising will seem like another bad idea by a giant Hollywood studio to reuse a story line that has become all too familiar. If their writers and casting departments can somehow add more interesting humans (such as Boyega) and subtract the meaningless robot/monster battles, then there might be hope for the third-and-final movie. Otherwise, it will just be an endless comparison between Pacific Rim and Transformers – a battle of which franchise is worst.


Have you seen ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – THOR: Ragnarok (2017)

It’s been almost two weeks since I saw Thor: Ragnarok and I’m still giddy thinking about it. In fact, I had just seen Justice League two nights ago and honestly I’d rather write about the latest Thor movie, and this is one I’d readily watch again.

Let me preface this review with the fact that I’m a huge fan of its director, New Zealander Taika Waititi, ever since I saw What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople a year later. Those two rank as one of my favorite films of all time. In fact, even with an all star cast that includes my personal cinematic heroine Cate Blanchett, I’m most excited about Thor: Ragnarok because of Waititi. And boy did he deliver!!

It opens with our Asgardian hero, sans his Mjölnir hammer, being chained by a creature named Surtur who plans to destroy Thor’s planet by fulfilling the propechy of Ragnarok. Chris Hemsworth is definitely much more comfortable in the role, having played Thor half a dozen times by now. But here he gets to show off his comic chops as well. He manages to escape, gets his Mjölnir and fighting mojo back and he returns to Asgard. It’s always a hoot seeing Tom Hiddleston’s Loki (I actually like him more than Thor from the previous films). I’m not going to spoil it for you but what he discovers there is one of the most comical bits of the movie. Let’s just say Taika made a great use of a famous A-lister that could’ve played like an SNL skit if it wasn’t handled properly. Love seeing Sam Neill making a quick appearance too.

The following scenes takes Thor and his half brother Loki to earth, trying to figure out the wherebouts of his father. The scenes involving them and Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is funny stuff as well, peppered with Taika’s brand of quirky humor. As it turns out, it itsn’t just Loki who wants to take over the rule of Asgard, and this time she wouldn’t stop at that. With a name like Hela, of course she wants to rule the entire universe and unleash hell! Miss Blanchett relish on the opportunity to be a sexy, leather-clad, rockstar-ish goddess from hell, with another easy-on-the-eyes actor from Down Under Karl Urban as her lackey. Yes she seems to be purposely chewing the scenery but it works, and it’s fun to watch.

It’s clear the two brothers are no match for Hela and so Thor gets banished to a planet of scraps where his next crazy adventure begins! The new characters Taika introduced here, Valkyrie (bad-ass Tessa Thompson), the Grandmaster (the eternally amusing Jeff Goldblum), a rock creature Korg (voiced in a hilarious high-pitched voice by Taika himself) are all memorable! Even Rachel House (who was hilarious in Hunt for the Wilderpeople) got some hilarious one liners in the movie. I LOVE Valkyrie and Korg I wouldn’t mind seeing more of both of those characters in future Thor movies or even a spin-off! I also love seeing Idris Elba back as Heimdall, who became the loyal guardians for Asgardians. This is perhaps my favorite ensemble cast of all superhero movies.

I read that Taika has always wanted to make the latest Thor movie more comedic, whilst making some creative updates the character and its universe. Well he certainly’s done the job smashingly well! Yep, the term ‘Hulk Smash’ would apply to this movie and all the scenes with Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), both as Bruce Banner and the big green creature, are massively entertaining. Everyone seems to be having a blast making this and it shows. But just because it’s chock full of hilarious bits, it doesn’t mean there’s no plot here. The story actually holds up and there’s even some nice moments between Thor and Valkyrie that points to her past as Asgard’s defender. There’s a hint there might be something less-than-platonic between these two and you know what, I’d welcome it! It’s certainly more interesting than Thor and Natalie Portman’s Jane.

I’m glad that Marvel once again took a chance on an indie director (following the success of the Russo brothers with the Captain America movies) and Taika Waititi is one of recent filmmakers I discovered who I REALLY want to see making it big. I love that he pushed for more Indigenous representation in his films. Apparently he hired many Aboriginal crew members and the film was shot in Australia. There are quite a few in-jokes for Kiwis and Australians, like the Aboriginal flag colors and the spaceships named after types of Holden, Australian-made cars. My relative actually owned one of those when I was growing up in Indonesia!

SPOILER ALERT! (highlight to read) I don’t know if anyone else noticed this but the plot has a bit of social commentary about how the White people conquered a lot of the Indigenous land. When they’re inside the Asgardian palace, Hela said something about the dark history of Asgard… how Odin used to conquer different planets and wanting to rule the universe, with her by her side. But then Odin gained a conscience and became a benevolent ruler, thus banishing Hela because she didn’t share his vision. She said ‘where do you think we got all of this gold from?’ When I heard that, it sounded like a commentary about colonial privilege, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being the ‘stolen generation’ and white Australians living on someone else’s land. Even the Grandmaster’s line ‘slaves is such a harsh word, I prefer “prisoners with benefits”’ sounds like a sarcastic jab against people calling an awful thing differently as if that would actually lessen its awfulness.

Well, I’m curious if people notice those things or not. One thing for sure, this has become one of my all time favorite movie, not just my favorite Marvel movie. The actions scenes are definitely fun to watch. There are bombastic fight scenes but they don’t feel overlong or overdone like in some other superhero movies. There’s even an entertaining spaceship chase and of course the Thor vs Hulk battle promised in the trailer is still epic and fun! That ‘friend from work’ line is one of the many quotable quips from Taika Waititi’s movies I’d use again and again.

You would think it’d be tough to live up to the super fun trailer w/the rousing Led Zepellin’s Immigrant Song, but the movie manages to do just that… and then some! So yeah, Thor doesn’t just get a spunky new haircut but Taika gives him a whole new attitude and refreshing new take on his franchise. The funniest bits in the trailer is still hilarious in the movie, there’s so much joy and laughter in the whole theater. Like a joyful, thrilling amusement park ride, you can’t wait to get on it again as soon as it’s over!


Well, what did you think of ‘THOR: RAGNAROK’? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?