FlixChatter Review – UNDERWATER (2020)

In 2017, prior to its acquisition by The Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox was in production of a Sci-Fi/Horror genre film Underwater, with actress Kristen Stewart taking the leading role. Now a part of much larger studio and release schedule, the film, directed by William Eubank, would not get a release date until the start of 2020. Having a release date in the second weekend of January, it usually means that the film can face stiff completion from other films released during the 2019 holidays and still attracting moviegoers weeks later, such as Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker and Jumanji: The Next Level. There is also the competition for viewers from Oscar contenders, such as 1917 and Parasite. But with a Sci-Fi/Horror genre, Underwater could have potentially gained viewers who were just seeking some fun thrills and chills.

Unfortunately, Underwater has neither thrills nor chills that amount to much of anything. The premise is quite simple; Norah Price (Kristen Stewart) works deep underwater at a drill seven miles to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. As what seems like a massive earthquake hits, a section of the Kepler 822 Station where Price is stationed starts to suffer a catastrophic breach from the pressure. One moment Price is brushing her teeth and the next moment, there is water coming from all directions. Price is able to locate a fellow mechanical engineer Rodrigo Nagenda (Mamoudou Athie) and the two of them prevent a larger breach from happening, escape the area and rescue another crewman Paul Abel (T.J. Miller). The three try to locate escape pods but find them all deployed already, and they must search go to another section of the station where there are more escape pods located.

The trio runs into Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel), who takes them to a control base where they find biologist Emily Haversham (Jessica Henwick) and engineer Liam Smith (John Gallagher Jr.). The group decides to put on pressurized suits and walk one mile across the ocean floor to the Roebuck Station 641. This is where things start going all wrong and slowly but surely, we start losing the minor characters that Norah Price found along the way. First, Rodrigo’s helmet is faulty and cracks from the pressure, killing him instantly. Next they find a menacing hatchling creature, which does quick work of Paul by dragging him underwater before being ripping his suit out and killing him.

The remaining four survivors continue their journey by walking across the ocean floor (I mean what could possibly go wrong???), but another human-looking creature appears, and drags Smith into a cave. Captain Lucien manages to pull Smith out, but tries foolishly goes for Smith’s bolt gun, giving the creature the chance to drag Lucien quickly up through the water and away from the other three. Price manages to locate Captain Lucien, but when the mysterious creature begins ascending, Captain Lucien sacrifices himself so that Price may escape the increasing change in pressure, killing him in the process.

Price is a now alone, without knowing what happened to Smith and Haversham. She manages to reach the abandoned Shepard Station, replaces her used up pressurized suit and leaves the Shepard Station, continuing toward another even deeper station called the Roebuck. Price conveniently runs into Smith and Haversham as she approaches the Roebuck, but also notices a nest of the humanoid creatures hanging from the ceiling and they try to sneak by to no avail. A tiny pressure suit noise causes one of them to wake up and attack Price. She gets partially swallowed but is able to kill the creature and break free, and Haversham rescues Price as they continue their way into the Roebuck.

They realize that the previous earthquake was no earthquake (duh!!!) and enormous creature reveals itself and causes an explosion, which starts to damage the Roebuck. The gigantic alpha creature, which had destroyed their rig earlier, emerges from around the Roebuck surrounded by even more of the humanoid creatures. SPOILER ALERT (highlight to read): The three survivors are able to reach the escape pod bay, but Price discovers that only two work, with a third being damaged and unusable. Price gives up her spot so that Smith and Haversham could take the last two working escape pods, and she stays behind. Knowing she is already going to die, Price raises the energy levels of the core engines so that they explode, killing the creatures and allowing the escape pods to reach the surface.

The Price character has many resemblances to Sigourney Weaver‘s Alien character Ripley. She seems to always have the upper hand on those humanoid creatures, and isn’t even afraid to take on the gigantic alpha creature, much like Ripley went toe to toe with the alien creature in Ridley Scott‘s 1979 sci-fi/horror thriller. The difference here is that Ripley used quite a bit of strength and her own smarts to out-power and outwit the alien creature. On the other hand, Norah Price is just a throwaway character and Kristen Stewart plays her role with more trauma and distraught, which makes you think that she is getting incredibly lucky with her decision making more than having any extraordinary abilities.

The bottom line is I’d rather watch Ridley Scott’s Alien for a billionth time rather than watch even a few more minutes of Underwater. I think it was a mistake for 20th Century Fox/ The Walt Disney Studios to finance it and release it in theaters. Perhaps they should have left it for streaming on their platform Disney+ or found another streaming partner, such as Netflix. While it would be alright to see this film sitting at home, I wouldn’t recommend anyone waste their time/money by seeing it on the big screen. Especially if you’re hoping to make any sense of the ending, its best you just go along with the ride and hope to make it out alright on the other side.

– Review by Vitali Gueron


Have you seen UNDERWATER? Well, what did you think? 

Guest Review: Office Christmas Party (2016)

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I haven’t been a huge fan of recent comedy films. There are a few I’ve enjoyed, but mostly they blur together in a mess of pop culture references, gross-out humor, and lazy sexual innuendo. This is exactly what I expected of Office Christmas Party, and that’s exactly what the movie delivered. However, there were a couple performances that made the film at least mildly entertaining.

Office Christmas Party follows a group of employees at a data storage company-specifically Josh (Jason Bateman), Tracey (Olivia Munn), and Clay (T.J. Miller), whose father started the company- in their effort to woo a potential client (Courtney B. Vance) to prevent their branch from being shut down. Their method: throw the most amazing office Christmas party, despite the strict instructions not to do so given by the company’s CEO- Clay’s sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston). As anyone who has seen the trailers would expect, the extravagant affair quickly devolves into a near-bacchanalian revel.

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One of my biggest issues with this movie was one that I’ve had with several comedies that have come out over the past few years: it dates itself. It makes pop culture references that might be funny when the movie comes out (and even that is debatable), but will be irrelevant within a year. At the beginning, a character shows Josh his family Christmas card, where he, his wife, and kids are dressed up as One Direction (aren’t they technically broken up now? Was the scene filmed before that happened?). During a meeting, a disgruntled employee complains about the internet’s obsession with Grumpy Cat (which I’m pretty sure stopped being a relevant meme at least two years ago). During a prayer, Clay asks God to let Prince and David Bowie know how important they were to everyone, referencing specific celebrity deaths that happened THIS YEAR. It’s a nice sentiment, and the shout-out earned a few chuckles from the audience, but even a year from now, this reference will have no context. Having so many jokes that rely so heavily on current pop culture means the humor will fall flat after a very short amount of time.

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My second biggest issue with this movie was Jason Bateman’s character. Not Jason himself-he’s a talented actor who performed well with what he was given-but his bland, middle-aged white guy with the same non-personality as countless other recent comedy; the straight man to the cast of wacky characters. Despite technically being the main character, he could have easily been removed from the film and we wouldn’t lose anything. This movie could have been a lot better if it focused more on Clay trying to run the branch and prove to his sister that he’s capable of being more than just a goofball. T.J. Miller seems capable of handling a bigger role; he was easily the highlight of the movie, and as hilarious as he is, he has a couple genuinely touching moments that show he’s able to do some serious acting. Kate McKinnon was another highlight as Mary, the socially awkward stick-in-the-mud H.R. representative; true, it feels like a character from an SNL skit, but her performance was still fantastic.

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I wouldn’t recommend seeing this in theaters, just because it is so forgettable. If you’re a fan of the cast, it might be worth checking it out on Netflix or whatever other streaming service it ends up on, but there’s no reason to catch it on the big screen.

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Have you seen ‘Office Christmas Party’? Well, what did you think? 

10 reasons Deadpool movie won me over

To be perfectly honest, I never thought I’d actually be writing a review of Deadpool, let alone a top 10 list praising the movie. I hadn’t been anticipating this movie at all – crass, vulgar, foul-mouthed movies aren’t my thing and I’m not exactly a fan of Ryan Reynolds as an actor. But all the massive buzz got this movie blogger intrigued, I simply just had to find out what the fuss is about. Heck, I even went to the screening twice as the first time around the film couldn’t be played.

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Well, it ended up being a pleasant surprise and I totally get why people are flocking to see it. It’s shattered all kinds of box office records with $150mil domestic gross ($264 mil worldwide) which is unheard of for an R-rated flick opening in the month of February!

The Guardians of the Galaxy‘s director James Gunn weighed in on its success, “Deadpool was its own thing. THAT’S what people are reacting to. It’s original, it’s damn good, it was made with love by the filmmakers, and it wasn’t afraid to take risks.” (you can read his FB post here) Yep, I agree with him.

Here are 10 reasons why the Deadpool movie won me over:

1. The self-deprecating humor

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Photo from Archonia.com

I LOVE British comedies as they rarely shy away from poking fun of themselves. Deadpool relentlessly pokes fun at himself, the actor playing him, and even the studio that made it. That bit about the studio not being able to afford more X-Men characters in the movie got the biggest laughs. There are a plethora of jokes on Reynolds himself and his failed superhero flick Green Lantern. It’s also not afraid to make fun of famous people, that bit about David Beckham’s helium voice is absolutely spot on!

2. The retro throwback to 80s pop culture

As Reynolds is close to my age, I really appreciate the references to 80s pop culture, especially the music. I mean, WHAM! was huge back in high school, and we all were crushing on George Michael. Boy I’d never be able to listen to Careless Whisper the same way again.


I also laughed so hard when You’re the Inspiration by Chicago played on, that was my brother’s favorite band and he’d listen to it endlessly in the car until my ears bled!

3. That it IS a love story

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The marketing folks over at Fox have done some genius marketing for the film. The first time I saw this V-day poster I had a good chuckle. But hey, it turns out, Wade and Vanessa are genuinely in love, imagine that! The love story is actually pretty compelling and you get why he’d do whatever it takes to protect her. Reynolds and Morena Baccarin have a fun, playful chemistry together. I also think that it’s nice to see that they opted to hire an actress close to Reynold’s age as his love interest instead of some pretty young thing like they did in his previous superhero movie.

4. There are some bad ass women in this movie

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Brianna Hildebrand is quite memorable as the brooding Negasonic Teenage Warhead. She didn’t have many lines in the movie, but the brief exchanges between these two are pretty funny. There’s Gina Carano as the villain’s henchwoman (natch!) There’s even a hilarious bit when she dropped to the ground forcefully like Superman, obviously poking fun at the famous superhero landing. I think it’s even funnier the fact that Gina used to date Man of Steel himself, Henry Cavill. I think Vanessa herself is no damsel in distress. Even when Deadpool went to save her, she got some ass-kicking scenes of her own.

5.  I actually care about Wade Wilson

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Kudos to the writers (Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) as well as Reynolds himself in making a character worth caring about. The fact that Wade didn’t start out to be a superhero had a lot to do with it. [spoiler alert!] He’s also the first superhero who suffered from cancer. I actually felt really bad for him, and for Vanessa when he left her. No matter how cool a character is, if you don’t give a reason for us to care for him/her, it’s hard for us to care for the movie, too. In a way, it made me think that his crazy antics is perhaps a means to cope with his pain.

The accelerated healing powers that he got as a result of the rogue experiment could’ve been another ho-hum origins story. Yet here it felt like the hero’s earned it and we root for him after all he’s been through. That superpower isn’t just cool for the action stuff, but it also made for some of the funnies, albeit cringe-worthy, jokes in the movie.

6. The awesome opening credit

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Ok, the opening credit is definitely one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie. It immediately establishes the tone and style of the movie, the extreme self-awareness and brazenness in roasting pretty much everyone involved. As we watched an action scene being frozen and played in slo-motion, we get quips like “the writers are ‘The Real Heroes Here” and “the director is ‘An Overpaid Tool” and the likes. They made fun of some of their own movie clichés like having a [one note] British villain and gratuitous cameo. It’s as if they’re making their own ‘Honest Trailer’ video of their own movie, ahah.

7. Hilarious supporting characters

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Ok so the villain is pretty much one-note and humorless (Ed Skrein), though all the jokes about his English teeth was indeed funny. But Karan Soni as Dopinder the Indian cab driver and T.J. Miller as Wade’s BFF Weasel had some hysterical lines. I think the ‘avocado’ line that Weasel said to Wade after seeing his face after the experiment is so mean yet because they’re good friends, you can’t help but laugh while cringing at the same time. Oh, and Colossus has never been funnier here w/ his Russian accent. Most of his scenes with Deadpool are simply hysterical, and the fact that he’s so polite provides an amusing contrast to the juvenile & irreverent Wade.

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8. Biting wit delivered with fun action sequences

Ok so the R-rating is absolutely warranted and it’s definitely more violent than John Wick where a lot of the shots fired are quick and blurry. But just like that film, this film certainly had some stylish action sequences. First-time director Tim Miller, who had a background in visual effects, did a nice job staging the high-octane action throughout. But what made it even more memorable is the biting wit that accompany the action. Having the protagonist constantly wise-cracking as he shoots and make human kabobs out of people certainly makes it extra fun to watch.

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9. Ryan Reynolds is perfect in the role

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You can’t make a top 10 list about Deadpool and not mention Ryan Reynolds. In many ways, he’s the reason the film worked as he & the filmmakers have fought hard to have their brazen vision of this comic-book character come to life in this adaptation. He’s played this character before in the lame X-Men Origins: Wolverine but it barely made a mark. But here, he got to showcase what he does best, that is comedy. I really don’t care for him in dramatic roles or even as a typical action hero. But here he’s so at ease at making fun of himself which is a brazen act in and of itself. Reynolds definitely got another leash on his superhero life as Deadpool will become a massive franchise after its gargantuan box office take. I’d say he should stick to this genre of action comedy as that’s what he does best.

10. The fact that it turns the conventional superhero formula on its head

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I think the whole concept of a raunchy superhero movie alone isn’t a recipe for success. Yes it’s different from the PG-13 stuff that Marvel & DC put out there, but if that’s all it’s got going for it, I don’t think the movie would be as successful. I think the fact that the movie IS relentlessly hilarious means the humor hits the mark. The “breaking the fourth wall” style also works well for the movie, which apparently is loyal to the comics. I’m not familiar w/ it but things that work in the comic books don’t always translate well on screen, so props to the writers & filmmakers for somehow making it work. It actually creates some of the funniest bits in the movie and makes Deadpool likable as he’s sort of ‘one of us.’ The pop-culture commentary and zings also made it fresh and has huge appeal to millennials AND baby boomers alike.

Now, despite all the praise, this isn’t a movie I’d readily watch again though. The graphic violence, sex scenes, full frontal nudity, and that whole scene at the strip club are gratuitous and not something I enjoy watching. But overall, this movie is pretty darn entertaining. I give props to the filmmakers for delivering on the promise of an unconventional superhero movie. It does exactly what it says on the tin and it’s refreshingly daring in its approach.

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So, what do you think of Deadpool? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

FlixChatter Review: Disney’s Big Hero 6

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I had never even heard of this film before until I saw the first trailer with a robot resembling a fluffy Pillsbury doughboy and I was immediately won over. My pal Prairiegirl who isn’t normally into animated features suddenly couldn’t wait to see the movie. There’s something so captivating about the big, puffy marshmallow creature and its backstory definitely appeals to both my brain and my heart.

The film starts out with two brothers, Hiro (Ryan Potter) and Tadashi (Daniel Henney), as Hiro’s participating in a back alley robot fights in a town called San Fransokyo. Tadashi thinks Hiro’s just wasting his genius potential with all fun and games, and he takes his younger brother to the robotics lab at his university. There Hiro’s introduced to Tadashi’s brainiac pals: Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), Fred (T.J. Miller)… and Baymax. He may look like nothing more than a big fluffy toy, but Baymax is actually an advanced personal healthcare bot that’s been Tadashi’s passion project for years. “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?” Baymax asks in his soothing mechanical voice, and he won’t deactivate until the patient is satisfied with his care. Tadashi hopes that his creation will help millions of people some day.

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The lab visit inspires Hiro to want to enroll at the school, and he worked tirelessly to come up with an imaginative thing on his own to wow Professor Callahan (James Cromwell), head of the robotics program. Just as Hiro reaches a milestone with his own creation of microbots, the film soon takes a tragic turn at the university. It’s following a personal loss that Hiro forms an unlikely friendship with Baymax, who in turns help him find out just what really happens at the university expo that night.

The second and third act of the film pretty much become an action adventure as Hiro gets help from Tadashi’s friends to find out who took Hiro’s microbots. These swarms of tiny robots that can link together to form any kind of shape/arrangement is evidently something that can easily be manipulated for both good and bad purposes. Now, I didn’t know Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comics until after I saw the film. So that explains the superhero-flavor of the action sequences, and the quirky band of heroes definitely remind me of the Guardians of the Galaxy team, yet another lesser-known Marvel heroes. The third act with all the high-flying adventure is beautifully crafted, but it also feels a bit too frenetic and familiar. I have to say that it’s the hilarious moments between Hiro and Baymax that truly made the movie for me. The scene at the police station and a set of plastic tape featured in the trailer is even more hilarious!

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I kind of wish the movie spend more time with Baymax in his um, birthday suit as it were, he’s far more adorable than when he’s wearing a protective metal suit that makes him look like a bloated Iron Man. The process of getting him into the suit is absolutely hilarious though, but just the way Baymax looks lends itself to slapstick hilarity, especially when it’s running out of battery. It’s a hoot to watch just watching the thing move or do simple things such as walking up the stairs or cuddling Hiro’s fat kitty. It also provides for genuine emotional moments that doesn’t feel forced at all. He’s programmed to heal and he more than delivers in terms of both physical and emotional remedy. As I’m watching it, I’d want my own personal Baymax. His big fluffy hug alone would guarantee to boost your morale no matter how crummy your day’s been.

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Disney’s done it again. In the past five years, it seems that they’ve managed to somehow match Pixar in crafting a story that’s not only highly entertaining but with a high emotional quotient as well. I have to say this is one of the most fun I had at the movies this year, rivaling The Lego Movie early in the year. The 3-D visuals are incredible – the quality of animated features these days have been amazing and it just gets better and better. The aerial view of the city in the flying sequences are jaw-dropping-gorgeous and worth seeing on the big screen.

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I love how the story inspires kids to explore their imaginations and relish their youthful creativity. But it’s how much it appeals to the heart that leaves a lasting impression on me. Altruistic notion is not uncommon in the age of superhero stories, yet when that moment appears here, the sense of loss feels all too real. But then again, I’ve found that animated features can be as poignant and moving as any live-action dramas, if not more.

Kudos to directors Don Hall and Chris Williams for making a character that’s so easy to root for, and a movie that’s both delightful and inspiring. The voice cast are great too, and they’re refreshingly diverse as the ethnicity of the characters have been changed from the comics version. I could easily watch this again and I don’t mind seeing the sequel that’s surely to follow. So Baymax, I’m definitely VERY satisfied with your care 🙂

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Have you seen this one? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?