FlixChatter Review – Netflix’s PROJECT POWER (2020)

With the pandemic still ravaging throughout most of the world, the summer movie season has pretty much been non-existent. Thanks to streaming services, we’re able to keep entertained with shows and movies while in lockdown. Netflix in particular has been busy churning out big movies throughout the summer season. Their latest is another take on the superhero genre and it’s also the lamest title for a movie that I can remember in a long time.

In New Orleans, a drug called Power has been going around the city giving its users superpowers for about 5 minutes. The head of the distributor is named Biggie (Rodrigo Santoro), the pills is growing popular with criminals around the city and local cop named Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is fed up and wants to put an end to the madness. He enlisted the help of a small-time drug dealer named Robin (Dominique Fishback), not only is she helping him taking down small time criminals, she also supplies him with the Power drug to enhance his abilities to fight the bad guys.

One day Robin is kidnapped by an ex-ranger named The Major (Jamie Foxx), he wants Robin to take him to the head of the drug operations. As it turns out, The Major is looking for his daughter whom he believes is somewhere in New Orleans and he ended up begging Robin for help. Things didn’t go as planned when they connected with one of the top drug dealers and The Major ended up saving Robin’s life. Now that she’s knee-deep in the whole scandal, she decided to help The Major and Frank even came along to take down the mysterious corporation that’s producing the drug and it’s being led by a doctor named Gardner (Amy Landecker).

The screenplay by Mattson Tomlin is sort of an allegory to how African Americans are being treated by the government here in the States. By setting the story in New Orleans, I assume he wants the audience to remember what happened to the residents of that city when hurricane Katrina destroyed it back in 2005. Tomlin also understands that people who’ll watch this film will want to see the actual power of the drug and there’s no shortage of that. If you’re a fan of superhero films then you’ll recognize some of the powers from other superhero films that’s being shown on the screen.

Before this film, I’ve never seen any previous work of duo directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Their style is nothing new, they pretty much copied the look and feel of Michael Bay’s films. Lots flashy cuts and heavy saturated colors on the screen. This is an action film, but I thought the action were kind of lame. Joost and Schulman tried to be “creative” when they shot the action scenes but when people watches action films, they want to see the action and not trying to figure out what’s happening on the screen.

The performances by the actors were pretty good. Dominique Fishback is the actress to keep an eye out for. Robin is the heart and soul of the story and I thought Fishback was a delight to watch on the screen. Since they’re both veterans, I thought Foxx and Gordon-Levitt did a fine job in their respective roles.

Of the recent big action films that’s been released by Netflix, this one maybe the most forgetful one to me. It’s not bad but it could’ve much better. If you’re bored on a Saturday afternoon, then you might want to check it out.

TedS_post


So have you seen PROJECT POWER? Well, what did you think?

Netflix FIRST LOOK: The Devil All the Time + Rebecca – coming this Fall

Well, it seems streaming content is in our future for a long, long time. If this THR article is to go by, this pandemic isn’t slowing the streaming giant at all. In fact, Netflix continues to spend a gazillion dollars for original films/shows. Well I ain’t complaining!! I’m grateful that my home cinema setup makes it enjoyable for me to watch movies at home.

Here are two I just read about in the past couple of days, both happens to be gothic thrillers, got me super excited! So fall movie seasons isn’t going to be too bleak after all.

THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME

Adapted from the novel by Donald Ray Pollock, the screenplay of this Southern gothic thriller is written by director Antonio Campos (Christine) and his brother Paulo Campos.

In Knockemstiff, Ohio and its neighboring backwoods, sinister characters—an unholy preacher (Robert Pattinson), twisted couple (Jason Clarke and Riley Keough), and crooked sheriff (Sebastian Stan)—converge around young Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) as he fights the evil forces that threaten him and his family. Spanning the time between World War II and the Vietnam war, director Antonio Campos’ ‘The Devil All the Time’ renders a seductive and horrific landscape that pits the just against the corrupted.

Now, I’m not typically into horror movies, but man, check out THIS cast!

  • Robert Pattinson
  • Tom Holland
  • Sebastian Stan
  • Bill Skarsgard
  • Riley Keough
  • Jason Clarke
  • Haley Bennett
  • Mia Wasikowska

Now check out the trailer!

Interesting to point out that even though the story is set in Knockemstiff, Ohio, most of the cast are not from the States. Riley Keough is the only American actor here, the rest are English, Australian, Swedish and Romanian descent. Fun seeing Batman-to-be Pattinson as a crooked Southern preacher, ahah, and hey, Spidey is pointing a gun at him 😀

This trailer promises something truly disturbing. I’m not a horror fan but I’m curious to check this one out. Fortunately it’s on Netflix so I can just turn it off it it gets to be way too scary for me, without worrying about making my money worth for the rental fee!

While the movie is set in Ohio and West Virginia, it was actually shot in Alabama. Per EW, Campos said “It was a challenging shoot just because there were so many locations and we were really spread out over a large portion of northern Alabama… The nice thing is Alabama hasn’t been filmed in very often, so it’s not as recognizable as some other places that have been filmed in and photographed thoroughly by various films and TV shows.”

Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson have previously worked together on The Lost City of Z, in supporting roles. It’ll be nice to see them team up again, and now Holland is a legitimate movie star since playing Spider-man. Oh, and speaking of Marvel superhero, initially Chris Evans was to portray Sheriff Lee Bodecker, but was replaced by his bff Bucky, er Sebastian Stan in the role.

The movie is scheduled to hit Netflix on Wednesday, September 16th, 2020.


REBECCA

Now this one is something many people should be familiar with, especially if they’re into Hitchcock classics. The most famous adaptation of the 1938 Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the same name starred Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine in 1940.

After a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo with handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), a newly married young woman (Lily James) arrives at Manderley, her new husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast. Naive and inexperienced, she begins to settle into the trappings of her new life, but finds herself battling the shadow of Maxim’s first wife, the elegant and urbane Rebecca, whose haunting legacy is kept alive by Manderley’s sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas).

I also LOVE the cast on this one…

  • Lily James
  • Armie Hammer
  • Kristin Scott Thomas
  • Keeley Hawes
  • Sam Riley

Armie and Lily are such an intriguing pairing and Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Danvers is just brilliant! Based on this Daily Mirror article, Kristin’s so believable in the role that she terrified her co-star. I’m a huge fan of Sam Riley too, always glad to see him in any role!

The article also mentions how the Manderley house is a character in itself, as it should be! It’s got Oscar-nominated production designer Sarah Greenwood who did Atonement which also has a memorable English estate in it. I’m curious to see Ben Wheatley in this, as he’s someone mostly known for his shoot-em-up action flicks like Kill List and Free Fire.

We now have a trailer!

Reportedly REBECCA will premiere on October 21 on Netflix.


Can’t wait for these two! What about you?

Netflix’s The Old Guard (2020)

I’ve been excited for this film since its trailer dropped last May… luckily, unlike theatrical releases that’s getting delayed indefinitely [even those as huge as Chris Nolan’s TENET], a Netflix release is a guarantee.

The Old Guard centers on a covert team of immortal mercenaries who’ve been living for centuries. First, we meet the group’s leader, Andromache of Scythia or Andy for short, played with her usual graceful-yet-badass self by Charlize Theron. She’s channeling her Mad Max: Fury Road‘s Furiosa here in her taciturn yet caring nature. Soon she’s reunited with three other members of the group, Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli).

They get hired by former CIA operative Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to rescue kidnapped children in South Suddan. Given that this tight-knit group’s been fighting to protect the mortal world for centuries, this sort of mission is definitely right in their wheelhouse. As it turns out, it wasn’t as much a mission as it is a trap which expose not only who they are, but what they’re capable of. While on the run, the group discovers through visions/dreams that there’s another immortal warrior out there in the world, and Andy promptly sets out to find her.

I particularly like the interaction between Theron and Kiki Layne (who was terrific in If Beale Street Could Talk) as US Marine Nile Freeman, who’s not exactly easy to convince to join the group. Nile has her own mind and naturally has a ton of questions about her own identity/ability and about this new group she’s being recruited into. There are plenty of fight scenes in this flick, but the one on the plane between Andy and Nile are pretty exciting to watch, which also serves to tell the story as Nile discovers just how powerful she is.

I like that The Old Guard isn’t so much an origin story… Greg Rucka, the author of the graphic novel who also penned the script, doesn’t reveal every backstory of the characters. In fact, Andy’s been living–and dying over and over again–for so long she could barely remember how old she is. There are moments when the characters reveal how they met. Andy and Booker met during the Crusades, while Joe and Nicky were one time enemies who actually [tried to] kill each other before they became lovers. It’s a fantastical, mythical story involving people with superhuman abilities, yet still feels grounded somehow.

The direction by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights) is thrilling but not bombastic. I mean, she’s not afraid to shoot some bloody, brutal fight scenes where Theron gets to hack multiple guys with her Medieval battle axe in a dance-like motion. But she also peppers the film with some quiet, introspective moments as the characters ponder on their immortality and how it’s not as easy as we mere mortals think it is. The nomadic lifestyle, the endless loss of loved ones they constantly have to say good bye to as they go on living… these are themes that are explored well here. Films dealing with characters living forever have addressed this before, but yet here it feels really personal and organic. The scene between Booker and Nile is quite heartfelt, with Schoenaerts giving his all, is a testament to how committed all the actors were in their roles. Joe’s declaration of love to Nicky is perhaps a first for a LGBT character in a superhero film of this scale.

Relative newcomer Kiki Layne, who hasn’t done a big action flick before, is quite believable here in her role. Nile is the one with the conscience, as she struggles to kill people the way the group’s done effortlessly for hundreds of years. It’s consistent with her faith in God that she’s shared briefly on the plane with Andy… even when it’s time for her to save the day, i.e. the scene of her in the elevator before the big showdown, she doesn’t lose her humanity despite her super-heroic ability.

Now, the film isn’t flawless however. While the immortal superheroes have intriguing character arc, their nemesis Merrick is your typical greedy pharma exec with a Mark Zuckerberg complex (complete w/ his hoodie-wearing wardrobe). I’ve never seen Harry Melling before but I think he’s miscast as he looks about as threatening as a meerkat. Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s Copley is morally ambivalent, he’s a man driven by a tragic past which leads to a misguided ‘solution.’ I’ve always liked seeing him in films, though he doesn’t get to do very much here.

Speaking of Ejiofor, I read an article earlier this week where he’s quoted as saying that he’s ‘…envious of Charlize Theron’s ability to tell narrative through physicality’ I have to say that it truly a gift not many actors possesses, but the South African native certainly does and she uses it well! There’s a scene in the beginning where the camera followed Andy simply walking in the streets, through a corridor, etc. All we see is the back of her head but yet we’re transfixed by her graceful yet confident style.

The big showdown at the end is kind of a mixed bag. I think the fight scenes are good, albeit with the use of contemporary songs doesn’t always work well. I didn’t completely hate it, but I wish they’d just stick to a dynamic score instead. The finale is left open-ended for a sequel, which involves a pretty important character shown in one of the longer backstory of the lead. I’m actually down to see more of this action fantasy, especially if they can retain the same director and cast. Hopefully they’d improve the music choices the next time around and find a more formidable foe worthy of these bad-ass immortal warriors.

Given that other female-directed/female-led action flicks like Wonder Woman and Black Widow are delayed this year, The Old Guard fills the void quite nicely. It’s got a heart as big as the big action pieces, and I’m sure glad to see a group of bad-ass superheroes with such a diverse cast.


Have you seen The Old Guard? Well, what did you think?

Trailer Spotlight: Netflix’s The Old Guard (2020)

Happy Thursday!! It’s rather gloomy here where I live, so it’s nice to see something that gets the juices flowing. Definitely something to look forward to July 10 as that’s the date it’ll drop on Netflix, yay!

A covert team of immortal mercenaries are suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered.

I’m not always excited for Netflix Original Movies, I mean I haven’t seen Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction, and probably never will. But there’s SO much going for it here that makes me yell ‘yeah!!’ even as I’m watching the trailer 😀

I do love Charlize Theron in action movies. She’s great as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road and also in Atomic Blonde, she looks believable here too as Andy (is that a nickname??) the leader of immortal mercenaries who’ve been fighting to protect the mortal world for centuries. As if they weren’t bad-ass enough by the looks of it, they’re also very hard to kill! Dayum, I certainly don’t want to be on their wrong side!

I LOVE the director too, Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights), glad to see her doing an action genre! It’s apparently based on a 5-part graphic novel of the same name by Greg Rucka. Now, as for the rest of the cast, we’ve got Kiki Layne who’s lovely in If Beale Street Could Talk, and three of my fave Euro actors who are all verrry easy on the eyes: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthias Schoenaerts and Marwan Kenzari.

I’m intrigued by the concept that they’re immortals. Who are The Old Guard and why they sent ancient warrior Andy to recruit the team? How do they get the immortal ability? Why are they protecting the mortals? And why they seemingly always in hiding/on the run? There’s a quick blurb about the group could potentially be weaponized, and looks like Ejiofor is their enemy here, it’s not clear exactly who his character is. One thing for sure, looks like even he’s shaking in his boots when the Old Guard are near!

Well, based on the trailer, I really can’t wait to see this!


What do you think of this trailer?

Netflix Original Movie Review: A Christmas Prince (2017)

When a reporter goes undercover as a tutor to get the inside scoop on a playboy prince, she gets tangled in some royal intrigue and ends up finding love – but will she be able to keep up her lie?

Ok so this movie was recommended to me by a dear friend and fellow Jane Austen fan a year ago. Though yes I do enjoy period dramas, especially the Austen or Brontë variety, I had trepidation about this one as it has that ‘so bad it’s good’ vibe. Well, I was absolutely right!

Honestly I’m amused by how popular these Christmas romance movies are which have been Hallmark/Lifetime specialty. I’ve never been a fan of them, but looking at dozens of them on Netflix, there’s clearly a huge market for these types of movies.

Amber’s pathetic attempt at a royal curtsy

Though The Crown proved to be one of the most successful Netflix original shows, do NOT assume this one has the same quality just because it involves the royals. Set in a fictitious foreign land called Aldovia, it’s basically every aspiring young American magazine journalist’s dream (or nightmare??). Amber Moore (Rose McIver) was unexpectedly sent by her boss to cover a press conference of Aldovia’s crown prince Richard (Ben Lamb, a Brit version of Taylor Kitsch). The young prince is a rumored playboy who’s been partying all over the world instead of preparing to take the throne following his father’s death. Now, we’d understand the appeal of a rich, good looking bad boy with a foreign accent, especially to a naive girl from a small town in Minnesota (yep, I didn’t make that up!). Well except that Richard isn’t quite the sexy bad boy we dreamed of expected, and soon we learn he’s actually a really, really good guy. I mean heck, according to his little sister Emily (Honor Kneafsey), his favorite pass time is practicing archery in his palatial garden.

The ‘hobo’ prince… but no worries, he’ll clean up real nice

Now, the storyline is actually quite amusing. The plot involves a secret identity, a mysterious poem and a pair of deceitful villains ready to snatch the throne, what more could you want? At 92 minutes however, the movie moves at a relatively breakneck pace that there’s barely any time for character development at all. But who has time for character development when there’s not even room for a sensible narrative? Apparently the Kingdom of Aldovia has zero concern for security, not a single bodyguard for their future King (who rides from the airport in a cab!) and none in the entire palace that Amber could easily sneak in and wander off (even most houses in Minneapolis suburbs has security cameras!).

Mrs Averill with Little Emily meeting the new ‘tutor’

Once Amber is in the palace, the level of incredulity is off the charts. She manages to fool everyone, including the seemingly discerning Mrs. Averill, palace secretary/head of communication (if you’re a Superman fan like me, you’d be amused by the presence of Sarah Douglas who played Ursa), that she’s in fact a tutor hired by the palace. Little Emily, who’s confined to a wheel chair due to spina bifida, immediately warms up to Amber (despite having driven her previous governesses away). Suddenly their instant besties and baking Christmas cookies together. Their friendship is utterly unconvincing, but of course it’s written in a way so the story can just move along to the actual romance.

The ‘archery’ scene where the two supposedly fall in love (cupid arrow, get it?)

Now, speaking of the romance, I’d be willing to forgive a lot of things in this movie if at least the romance is swoon-worthy. Unfortunately, I think it’s the biggest fail here as there’s simply zero chemistry between the two leads. Prince Richard is so wooden and awkward (not Hugh Grant awkward mind you, which can be endearing). Heck, those Nutcracker prince toy/ornament hanging around your house right now is likely more expressive than this guy!

I actually recognize Ben Lamb from the exquisite BBC/Starz series The White Queen and he’s far memorable there in a small supporting role. I had never heard of the New Zealander McIver before, but I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she’s a much better actress in a more compelling role. Here, neither of them is given much to do in a formulaic and decidedly-schmalzy script by Karen Schaler & Nate Atkins, and Alex Zamm‘s direction is serviceable at best. But I think the pair still fare better than the villainy-duo Simon (Theo Devaney) and Lady Sophia (Emma Louise Saunders) who are more annoying and lame than possessing any real threat.

The face I’d make if I were stuck doing this movie

The royal kerfuffle involves even more identity issues, on top of the fact that Richard has no idea who Amber really is, there’s a scenario questioning whether the Prince is the rightful heir of Aldovia. Those are pretty heavy subjects in a different, more substantial movie, but here everything just resolves itself nicely and conveniently. Richard doesn’t even have to change his expression at all throughout this whole ordeal. I rolled my eyes at the decidedly Bridget Jones-esque wintry finale complete with Christmas lights, snow falling and kissing.

Where’s Colin Firth when you need him?

I have to say though I had a big grin on my face when the movie ends. As far as feel-good rom-com goes, A Christmas Prince does have that warm & fuzzy quality if you’re willing to accept it for what it is. Incredulous, extremely predictable and even a little insipid, yes, but it’s also kind of sweet with its own kind of charm. I think young girls would love this flick, just like I did growing up watching those oversimplified Disney Princess movies. Come to think of it, Prince Richard’s royal garb looked exactly like Prince Charming’s in the animated Cinderella! Shot in Romania, the movie looks quite beautiful, and Netflix sure spends money creating the Aldovian castle and the quaint little town. If only they’d actually spend more money and time developing the story and characters instead.


Ok so apparently this movie is SO popular that Netflix has spawned a sequel! [oh lucky me!] So yeah I definitely will try to see The Royal Wedding and see what other shenanigans Amber would get herself into (and if Richard manages to actually conjure up a different expression this time around) 😉