Thursday, June 4, 2020

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  Resident Evil:  A Good Reason for a Reboot.





Resident Evil:  The Final Chapter – 1 out of 5

It’s been a bit since I’ve played a Resident Evil game but, boy howdy, did I enjoy them.  The first three were so much fun on the old Playstation and I was wickedly in love with the new direction it took with the fourth one.  On the other had, the film series loosely based on the game franchise doesn’t get the same amount of love.  I will admit that I was cautiously optimistic about the first film but, sadly, was greatly disappointed with it because it haphazardly rode this line where it felt nothing like the franchise but contained enough reference where it at least seemed like it belonged—unfortunately, not belong strongly enough.  Add in some cheesy acting, a story that is coming off like it is trying too hard, and a lead who just didn’t have the charisma needed to lead the charge and the film was just disappointing to me…albeit one that was kinda fun to watch because of how lame it was (it was easy to riff on, is what I am trying to say).  Since then, it has been followed by weaker and weaker sequels (and yes, I’ve watched them all despite not liking them—like I said, they are easy to riff on).  In 2016, the final film in the franchise was released (it’s been stated the franchise is going to get a reboot—hopefully it is a little more faithful to the original games).  At the time, I didn’t see it and actually forgot it was made and released.  Recently, I was reminded of it and since there is a pandemic on, I figured that I would finally check Resident Evil:  The Final Chapter.  Well, I watched it…and it delivers about as well as the other films.

The face on this thing looks like the monster from Jeepers Creepers.  I don't know...
a crossover with a franchise made by a sexual predator is the last thing the Resident
Evil
 franchise needs.

The world is lost to a plague created by the Umbrella Corporation.  A creation called the T-virus was made in order to stop a disease but used instead to cause a zombie apocalypse.  A former security specialist for the company; Alice (Milla Jovovich), has been in a never-ending battle with them in order to stop them.  After the events of the previous film, she finds herself in the remnants of Washington D.C. where she was left for dead (hey, that’s another zombie game).  While there, she learns from the Umbrella Corp.’s artificial intelligence called The Red Queen (Ever Gabo Anderson) that she must return to where it all started; Raccoon City.  There an airborne antivirus has been created and it can kill everything infected with the T-virus but she only has 48 hours to achieve this.  Now it is a race against time to cure the world but Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Iain Glen), the maniacal CEO of Umbrella who wants to see the world recreated in his image, is out to stop her.

Yes, Alice, listen to the creepy child A.I. and get to Raccoon City!

I definitely applaud how this franchise captured how
cheesy Wesker is as a villain.  Let's be real, he was
pretty laughable in the original game.
The Final Chapter is probably the least enjoyable movie of the series—and I mean that as it is not an easy film to riff on and laugh at.  It honestly was a bit of a chore to sit through.  The story is so far gone from the games that it is barely recognizable as a game adaptation, the characters are not interesting (to say the least), and the story is trying so hard to be interesting and dynamic but it just feels so painfully bland and sterile.  To make matters worse, the plot moves way too rapidly.  You make absolutely no connection to new characters that are introduced and then, when they get killed off, the story acts like it is this emotional moment—meanwhile, I am questioning if the story ever even mentioned the character’s name.  Overall, the film just feels incredibly rushed and a lot of action sequences and moments of spectacle were added just to add some meat to a stew that was already very light and unfulfilling.

"Hurry, my flock of characters barely even worth getting any development!
We need to get to the next set of sequences where you die and we try to act like
it is an emotional impact to the overall story."

One of the hardest aspects about this movie to deal with (and definitely one of the biggest killers to its potential entertainment value for me) is the bland action sequences and the overly aggressive nature of the editing for these scenes.  I’m not sure why but it feels like there are one thousand edits for every 5 punches thrown in these sequences.  The film is so aggressive with its cuts during action scenes that it becomes very disorienting as it is too much for the brain to digest, it makes every punch and kick thrown impossible to watch, and made each fight sequence more of a potential creator for migraines than something that could entertain and excite.  The editing is so atrocious during these action sequences that it literally made me wonder if it was being used as a bandage in order to hide really bad fight choreography or hide stunt performers.  Either way, the action in this film is just atrocious due to horrible editing.  Seriously, you blink during an action sequence and you’ve just missed at least 15 cuts.

Okay, I will give you this one, Resident Evil:  The Final Chapter.  Having a human forced
to run on a tether behind a vehicle as bait for a horde of zombies is pretty cool.

Concerning the cast, I’m not really going to knock this one.  Granted, the performances are very much on the flat or cheesy side but this franchise has so many problems that even the greatest performance to ever exist (Vincent D’Onofrio as Edgar in Men in Black, that’s just a scientific fact that I just made up) can save this film or the franchise.  If anything, the performances, as “meh” as they are, are probably one of the film’s saving graces.  Sure, the characters are boring, lack dimension, and are impossible to feel anything for because they just aren’t interesting or commanding in the slightest but at least their inherent cheesiness offers up some mildly entertaining moments and something to at least chuckle at--even though this film is mostly a vast ocean of moments that are difficult to riff on.

Honestly, this isn't the worst thing Iain Glen has been in.  He was in Game of Thrones and
that show delivered such a bad final season that it actually retconned the rest of the
show and left us with such a bad taste in our collective mouths that we just decided
to scrub it from the pop culture collective and won't even rewatch the times when it was good.

That's about the same level of enthusiasm I have
when I watch a Resident Evil film.
Resident Evil:  The Final Chapter is less of a bang and more of a whimper ending for this already pretty “meh” franchise.  Despite it having a seemingly decent budget and excellent special effects, the film sorta feels like it is giving off a Direct-to-DVD vibe as it has an overall cheap feeling thanks to a story that is very shallow and a pace that feels like it is rushing to get things over with.  I am hopeful that a reboot will not only get something a tad closer to the video game or, at the very least, just be something a little more memorable and entertaining.  Overall, as far as video game adaptations go, this could have been far worse but due to the fact it feels so far removed from the game franchise it is hard to really put this in the game adaptation category.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The 6th Day

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  And on the sixth day, God made Schwarzenegger!




The 6th Day – 2 out of 5

I saw The 6th Day in the theater when it came out in 2000.  I was just starting my second year in college and I wanted to see some Arnold sci-fi action and, sadly, this movie just didn’t deliver.  I remember finding it very cheesy and I never gave it a second thought…that is, until recently.  With social distancing being the name of the game (not that I had a social life before this pandemic), I decided to revisit this one.  Why?  Well, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been very vocal about people staying home and assisting in flattening the curve and I figured I would revisit something I could have potentially judged too harshly the first go-around.  I mean, I’ve revisited some of his stuff and realized they were better than I gave them credit for so why couldn’t I do the same with The 6th day?  Well, I rewatched it and…well…it isn’t very good.

"Now, just relax as the burning lasers burn their way into your eye flesh."

In the not so distant future, guns are even more dangerous
thanks to needless explosive venting on them.
In the not so distant future (next Sunday A.D., probably), cloning is a normal, everyday process as people are getting their pets cloned on the reg and organ donation is done completely through the cloning process.  However, cloning an entire human being is a big No-No.  Despite this, a charter pilot named Adam Gibson (Schwarzenegger) comes home one night to the horror that his family is in the arms of a clone.  Before this can settle in, he finds himself being hunted by assassins from a cloning company called Replacement Technologies and the CEO; Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn), wants Adam dead.  While Adam fights for his survival, the question soon becomes apparent:  Is Adam the original or the clone?

I'm seeing double--Four Arnolds!
(This joke was stolen from The Simpsons)

Everyone will dress like they are in a snowboarding
ska band in the future!
My outlook on The 6th Day really hasn’t changed.  I still think it is a pretty bland and cheesy sci-fi film that doesn’t offer up much intrigue or exciting action.  It is most definitely a product of its time as it does what a lot of sci-fi films do of this era and pass off the counter-culture fashion as the new “normal” dress code but I was surprised by how much of it was kinda/sorta spot-on for predicting the future.  A lot of the little elements of the film and the future they presented are fairly common in 2020.  Granted, this isn’t too surprising since a lot of what they showcased was in its infancy and just starting to come to prominence when the film was made but it was pretty amusing to see this forgettable Arnold movie hit some predictions that turned out to be somewhat accurate.  This, of course, doesn’t include the fact the film presents the XFL as a huge sports franchise.  It would have been mind-blowing though if the film presented the league as a two-time failure.  That would have just been scary.

"Trust me, this will replace the NFL."

Damn.  He just looks like an incredibly boring
antagonist.
The performances in this film are not doing it any favors.  As much as I love Arnold, he doesn’t really seem to be giving his all to this role.  The same can be said about Robert Duvall, who plays a scientist for the clone company.  While neither of these performances are out-right awful, they only seem like they are going through the motions to deliver a passable performance.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have performers like Michael Rapaport, Sarah Wynter (one of the assassins for the clone company), and Rodney Rowland (another assassin for the clone company), all chewing as much scenery as possible.  Then there is Tony Goldwyn who comes off bored in his performance and then you have genuine great performances from Michael Rooker and Terry Crews (who both play operatives for the clone company).  This wildly unbalanced delivery from the entire cast is the main contributor to the overall feeling of cheesiness the feature has and it really stopped it from being a somewhat passable sci-fi feature.

If you don't love Crews than I don't want to know you.

I didn't like this movie but I still love you, Arnold.
Ultimately, however, the true killer for this one for me was the story just wasn’t that engaging.  There are some underlying elements that should work and should make for a good movie—like the “Am I the clone?” aspect—but it never feels explored deep enough or to a degree that it is interesting.  Additionally, there is also the reality that this film is not really exploring anything new in the world of sci-fi and, even though the “Am I the clone?” element is fertile ground for a decent story, there is no denying that this has been done and it has been done far better.  So, when all is said and done, this film just feels like it is going through the motions rather than trying to be something that stands out.

Am I supposed to believe that there wasn't a single person in the production who said
that this doll--that Adam is bringing to his daughter--isn't creepy as all fuck?!?

I won’t argue that The 6th Day is a boring movie but I won’t concede that it is an entertaining one either.  It had the potential to be a serviceable feature but ultimately felt like it wasn’t even trying to get to that point.  Instead, it feels like it just farted out a story and that a majority of the performers just weren’t that interested in the product—and the remaining actors were just there to act out and get attention.  Sure, it gets some points for presenting a future that has some elements that are commonplace within our current society (but, again, this was only made 20 years ago so there were bound to get some things rights since these aspects were already starting to be brought into our everyday lives when this came out) but these amusing moments just weren’t enough to make this a decent film.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Hunter

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  The sequel is called The Hunted.




The Hunter – 4 out of 5

As I am writing this, the world is caught in a pandemic and that means my days are spent going to work and being at home.  I only go out when I need groceries but, beyond that, I’m spending a lot of time sitting around my apartment.  The sad reality is this was my social life already because I’m kind of a drag to be around.  During these times,I find myself gravitating towards things I’ve already seen a million times (sort of a comfort food choice, I guess) or rewatching things I haven’t seen in a long time but I’ve also just been picking out actors I like, checking out their filmographies and finding something they’ve done that I haven’t seen.  Recently I did this with Willem Dafoe and found the movie The Hunter.  I sought it out and found it to be a hidden gem.

If Dafoe ever decides to do a folk music, here's the cover of his first album.

A biotech company hires a mercenary named Martin David (Dafoe) to hunt for the Thylacine, a believed extinct marsupial in Australia.  They want him to collect samples of its DNA and kill any and all remaining tigers so that no other organization can have this animals’ genetic material.  He poses as a scientist and lives with a young woman and her two kids.  David soon befriends the family but starts to become suspicious as he suspects other mercenaries were sent and he begins to get a bad feeling from a local named Jack Mindy (Sam Neill) who has been helping him.

"See this thing?  It is probably extinct.  If it is still alive,
we need you to kill it for profit--I mean, science."

The Hunter kinda sounds like it would be an action/thriller.  And when you consider it is about a mercenary who is hired to find an animal that is believed to be extinct, it almost definitely feels like you are going to be watching something akin to a thriller.  While the film does have some thriller elements working in its story, the movie is more about character exploration and the character of David growing to care for the family he is staying with and learning about their past trauma of the father and husband disappearing.  The film is delivering this element terrifically and it was incredibly engaging and super easy to get consumed with the story.  A big reason this worked so well was the fact the story was so incredibly balanced as it knew exactly the right amounts of interpersonal development and drama and knew how to blend it with the darker and more thrilling aspects of David’s story and his hunt.  Another reason this worked so well was the fantastic performances.

Hunters be hunting.

They're Australian.  Don't act like they have no idea
what a knife is.
Willem Dafoe has always been an actor that I’ve enjoyed because he has this uniqueness to him that few actors can achieve.  He can have these strange and incredibly odd choices for characters that works insanely well for the product he is in (and if tried by anyone else probably wouldn’t work) but he can also be insanely grounded and realistic.  What I’m saying is that Dafoe is extremely versatile and more so than I feel we give him credit for.  Dafoe delivers a very grounded performance and his evolution of a man who is just around for a job to a man who cares very deeply for the family he’s been staying with felt so natural and was so compelling to watch.  This performance is matched and complimented by the performances from the family.  Frances O’Connor plays the mother and Morgana Davies and Finn Woodlock play the children and all of their performances, despite being very different from Dafoe’s character, were on the same level and all added in making the story incredibly engaging through the growth and interaction of the characters.  Finally, Sam Neill is bringing his usual level of greatness as the character of Jack Mindy.  There’s a level of mystery to him that Neill just nails.  And, honestly, who doesn’t like Sam Neill? 

"Yep.  That's definitely a zit coming in..."

Finally, I really enjoyed the overall tone and atmosphere that The Hunter is presenting.  The movie is very heavy with its subject material but also dry for a majority of the story because it is more about evolution of character than it is about its thrills and chilling aspects.  However, this film also does the lighter moments very well and this compliments the incredibly heavier moments very effectively.  This movie doesn’t offer up straight up comedic moments but there are times when David’s interaction with the family is lighter and happier and it creates this nice balance as the movie is both dark and light.  The best place this film presents this mix is at the end as it is a dark ending that has this silver lining of beauty to it.  Sometimes when films attempt this mixture you get a chaotic shift of tone to tone but this film and story has this flow where everything feels so natural and organic.

Sure, it looks beautiful but this is Australia.  Literally everything in this photo is out
to kill you.

The Hunter is a simple but very effective drama that explores character very well.  The performances are fantastic and the story doesn’t overuse its more thrilling aspects and uses them to just the right enough degree that it is capable of making some very griping scenes and some very tense moments.  I had no expectations when I blindly jumped into this one and I left very impressed.  Metaphorically left because I was watching this in my house.  I didn’t leave to go anywhere to watch this.  

Monday, June 1, 2020

Executive Decision

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  In 2020, I never predicted that I would willingly watch a film with Steven Seagal in it.





Executive Decision – 3 out of 5

I’ve always been a Kurt Russell and, for some reason, in the 90s I was a bit of a Steven Seagal fan (well, kinda).  Despite the fact he clearly is an awful, piece of shit person, the early 90s had some somewhat decent action films with him.  However, I’m willing to bet they didn’t age well and are a bit awful to watch now.  Well, in 1996 the two men were in an action film together called Executive Decision and that seemed pretty cool to me at the time.  I’m not sure if this movie is ultimately what killed my enjoyment of Seagal’s films but I stopped caring about his movies pretty much right after this movie came out—and that isn’t really saying much because there was only like 3 or 4 movies before this that I thought he was somewhat cool in.  Anyway, this movie stuck in my memory for one very specific reason.  No, it’s not a great action film at all but rather the shock factor that came in the form of the story killing off Seagal’s character very early in the story.  And don’t complain about Spoilers because this movie is over 20 years old and it is solely remembered for this fact.  Well, with nothing but time on my hands lately, I decided to revisit this one for the first time since…well…probably since I first saw it in the 90s.  It holds up about as well as it did then.

I am not trying to fat shame Seagal here but this movie was before he could be compared
to a certain Elvis era.

After leaving Athens, Greece for Washington D.C., Oceanic Airlines Flight 343 is hijacked by a terrorist leader named Nagi Hassan (David Suchet) and is demanding his imprisoned leader; El Sayed Jaffa (Andreas Katsulas), be set free.  It is believed that Hassan has a bomb he plans to detonate aboard the plane so the army brings in consultant Dr. David Grant (Russell) and aeronautical engineer Dennis Cahill (Oliver Platt) to help.  A plan is devised where a special forces team lead by Lieutenant Colonel Austin Travis (Seagal) will board the plan via an experimental stealth plane but the boarding goes wrong and Travis sacrifices himself in order for the rest of the team to survive.  Now Dr. Grant, Cahill, and a team of soldiers must locate the bomb, disarm it and take back the plane before the terrorists discover the plane has been boarded.

The best hair in the business!

Executive Decision isn’t a terrible action film as it does have some great tense moments but there’s no denying how generic it feels.  It hits all the predictable notes you’d expect from a 90s action film:  Simple terrorist plot, white hero, attractive female caught in the middle of it all (in this one played by Halle Berry) and she ends up falling in love with the hero, etc., etc., etc.  The film is problematic for the usual trope of having Middle Eastern terrorists as the bad guys—and hell, this movie barely even bothers to show what this terrorist group stands for and their only real motivation is to free their leader as this movie doesn’t hide away from the fact it is leaning in hard on using skin color and nationality to vilify the bad guys.  The film isn’t really doing itself any additional favors as it lacks any real memorable action sequences.  Sure, there is a great tense sequence where Platt’s character is disarming the bomb as the plane is coming in for a turbulent landing and the stealth boarding of the plane is very exciting (and gutsy as they killed off Seagal’s character—this was during a time when he was considered a star and not a joke) but, for the most part, this film isn’t really doing much to stand out.

It is very strange that such a generic action film contained so much talent.

One thing I will say, however, is this film did a great job with its buildup and its entire first act.  Sure, the conflict is extremely generic but seeing the gears in motion as they enlist Russell’s character and go over how this team is going to board a moving passenger plane is extremely well done.  It feels developed to the best degree, it helps establish the characters (including the soldiers, which include the terrific actors Joe Morton and John Leguizamo), and it has a great pace to it where it doesn’t feel like it is rushing to get to the second act or like it is taking its sweet time.  The only downside is this great establishment sets up a high bar and a huge promise for something special to come but, unfortunately, it never reaches this potential that it sets up.

The same airline in Lost...as pointed out by a million pop culture websites.

Real Talk:  There's a lot of great talent in this team.
The performances in the film are, for the most part, great and are far better than they need to be—especially for a story that feels like an action genre paint-by-numbers.  Sure, Steven Seagal is his usual flat self and rewatching this 90s feature in 2020 makes me wonder how in the hell he ever became a star to begin with but his faltering is made up for by Kurt Russell giving his all.  Russell is also backed terrifically by Halle Berry, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, and Joe Morton.  Additionally, David Suchet and Andreas Katsulas are really good as the film’s antagonists.  So, from a casting standpoint, the film has got it.

"We are also demanding the deal with airline food."

If Steven Seagal didn’t die in Executive Decision, I probably would have forgotten about it and never rewatched it 20 plus years later.  Yes, the performances are good and it has some redeeming elements that make it a serviceable feature that doesn’t disappoint but it also isn’t one that is wholly satisfying and entertaining either.  Will I ever watch this one again?  Maybe in another 20 plus years when I remember who Steven Seagal was and want to see that Ken doll practical effect they did in order to kill his character off.  (Seriously, that doll looked too big to be able to be in that stealth plane.)

Maybe it is just me but those proportions look off.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Underwater

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  The last review had "under" in the title and so does this one.  I'm going for a short-lived theme that will end with this review.




Underwater – 3 out of 5

The advertisements and trailers for Underwater made the film look gooooood!  Yes, there was no denying that this was just another example of Alien and another example of Alien underwater but it still looked wicked and the trailer showed just enough to get me excited to see what monsters Kristen Stewart was going to be facing.  Hell, the trailers looked so good that I didn’t care that T.J. Miller was in the film (what a fall from grace and nosedive into douchebaggery that man took).  Well, the moment the film hit the home market, I sought it out…it didn’t live up to my expectations but I won’t argue that it was terrible either.

She doesn't like it when the fish tap on the glass of their windows.

A strong underwater earthquake causes massive damage to an underwater research and drilling facility at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.  Mechanical engineer Norah Price (Stewart) and her fellow employees, including the captain of the facility (Vincent Cassel), devise a dangerous plan to escape.  The plan involves using pressurized suits to walk across the bottom of the ocean to another facility and possibly ascend to the surface from there.  However, as they make their journey, they soon learn that they are not alone in the dark, gloomy waters and something is hunting them.

Underwater drilling researchers or Gears of Wars cosplayers?

Jaded viewers can and will call Underwater a generic rehash of monster films from before—mainly, an Alien-esque rehash.  There’s no denying that this film definitely feels like an Alien wannabe (and matters aren’t helped by the reality the title is super generic) but there’s a lot of Alien wannabes out there and a lot of them are very good.  Underwater is definitely not one of the great films that tries to be Alien but it isn’t an all-together terrible movie.  It’s got a lot working in its favor that makes it an excellent film but the drawbacks are just bad enough to keep it from achieving greatness and, instead, makes it settle for serviceable.

The movie only offers quick glimpses of the monster and so shall this review.

Everything is so vivid and clear in this movie.
One of the drawbacks of the film is the reality it is almost impossible to see what is happening during any underwater sequence.  These scenes are so dark, gloomy and murky that my ability to process what I was seeing was rendered inoperable.  However, this sorta becomes a double-edged sword because it does assist in creating atmosphere and sets a standard for tone that emphasizes a reality for the situation, in the fact that being that deep in that dark of water would be extremely disorienting and it would be really tough to see anything.  So, on the one hand, this film is presenting a very authentic feel by rendering most of the action this way and it also helps keep up the tension because you only catch glimpses of these mysterious creatures hunting and attacking the group.  Sadly, this starts to become very grating, exhausting for the eyes, and started to create diminishing returns for the tension as it quickly stopped being frightening not seeing anything and quickly just became more confusing as you start to realize all you are seeing is muddy water, quick glimpses of monsters, and a whole lot of quick panning and shaking of the camera.

I'm claustrophobic and have an intense fear of drowning.  I feel like this scene was a personal
attack on me and the film's way of trying to give me a panic attack.

I feel like I don't get enough Vincent Cassel in my life.
He is such an amazing actor and I would like to see
him in more things.
The strongest aspect this film has working for it is the cast.  Everyone is really kicking ass in this film.  Sure, T.J. Miller and his whole frantic, snarky guy trying to lighten up the mood definitely starts to wear out its welcome but the rest of the cast is doing a tremendous job.  Sure, the sad reality everyone is a cliché for these type of monster films but that isn’t necessarily working against them because the cast is doing a tremendous job with them.  Additionally, Kristen Stewart is doing a fantastic job of leading the charge and presenting a character who feels less like one of the monster movie clichés and like she has some real depth to her.  In the past, I have unfairly attacked her and her acting abilities because I was one of those “too cool for everything” types and I relentlessly mocked her for her flat delivery in the Twilight films.  Never once did I take into consideration that maybe she wasn’t right for the role or the reality she has other examples of her work where she is doing a great job.  Since those days, I’ve experienced more of her work and realized she has the chops and this movie shows it.  As Norah Price she has this incredible balance of being a determined leader, a vulnerable person with her own weaknesses, and a badass who is ready to make the sacrifices needed to save those around her.  She is (and this is going to piss some people off) basically her own form of Ripley and she nails it in Underwater.

"I'm here to chew bubble gum and kick underwater monster ass...and we never
brought any bubblegum to the facility because it wasn't essential."

At its core, Underwater has a lot going right with its story.  The setup is fantastic, the buildup to the monsters is incredibly intriguing, and the final moments are very satisfying.  The story even has its fair share of mystery as it doesn’t try to offer up much on the creatures or provide a whole lot of detail about their background so that is interesting in its own way.  However, a little more development in various aspects of the story probably could have been a welcome sight.  Maybe we don’t need more information on the monsters but maybe some more teases about what they are and why they showed up might have been cool.  The plot too, at times, feels like it is going through the predictable motions for this sort of story so more development might have hidden the “paint-by-numbers” feelings it sometimes had. 

There was a time when I would have been excited to see T.J. Miller in this film.

As it is presented, everything feels very serviceable with Underwater but not wholly memorable or enough to make this one an instant classic like the more popular monster movie this feature is emulating but, with a tad more care to the story and plot, maybe even a little more added on to the conflict setup and maybe some more buildup to the monsters, this movie could have been a whole lot more.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

6 Underground

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  I didn't see the first five Underground films.  Am I going to be lost?




6 Underground – 3 out of 5

It’s really easy to tease Michael Bay as a director because he only works in the action genre and his films have a relatively high EPM quotient (Explosion per Minute).  Honestly, that’s the last think I would criticize about him because I like action movies and explosions.  I’m more bothered by his creepy sexism and underlying racism that seems to exist in most of his films.  Still, I will say the guy can film the hell out of an action sequence.  Not that long ago, he released a film for Netflix with Ryan Reynolds (which is the aspect that caught my attention the most) called 6 Underground.  Already, however, the film has two things working against it:  Michael Bay and his love of sexism and racism and the fact it is a Netflix produced movie (those bad boys have a bad habit of feeling too long and too unbalanced).  Well, I recently checked it out and felt fairly neutral towards it but, for both a Michael Bay and Netflix film, it is surprisingly serviceable.

Get down from there!  If you don't get down you'll find yourself six feet underground!

Disillusioned with the horrors of brutal regimes all across the world, an American billionaire (Reynolds) fakes his own death and recruits various vigilantes for a squad out to take down the bad guys of the world that most governments can’t or won’t touch.  Their first mission is to stage a coup and take down the Turgistan dictator and install the man’s brother as the new leader…

Saddle up, buddy!  You're about to be the leader of a country!

From a concept perspective, the film has a great idea (although, the rich white guy being the savior to the downtrodden people of color feels very on-brand for Bay and his underlying issues with race in his films).  The problematic issues aside, I like the idea of the vigilante crew that has given up their pasts to be “ghosts” and now go out and take out the bad guys.  In fact, that concept feels more at home as a series than a film because, as a movie, it feels like too much.  6 Underground feels very bloated and like it is trying to do way too much in its running length (imagine that, a Netflix film feeling like it has too much going on).  As a consequence, I felt like I was thrown into a world that was already developed and only given little bits of deeper character development on only a certain number of characters.  Add in the fact that the plan to overthrow the dictator feels very large and very comprehensive that it feels kinda rushed and I can't help but feel it probably would have existed better as a series of hour long episodes rather than a two hour film.

Reynolds is handsome, charming and funny.  I should hate him because he is everything
I want to be and am not but no one can resist him.

It isn’t really a surprise, however, that the action in the film is very exciting.  It’s super over-the-top in the typical Bay fashion but I won’t sit here and lie and say it isn’t fun.  One of the biggest criticisms that faces Bay is that his action films are explosion heavy and, while I won’t deny that this film has its fair share of explosions, I will say that the action in this film is fairly exciting, varied, and having some truly one-of-a-kind and unique moments.  Bay mixes his explosions and rain of gunfire with some cool car chases (something he also is no stranger to) and some rad parkour sequences thanks to one of the characters being the parkour type (do parkour enthusiasts have a name?  I don’t feel like Google-ing to see if they do).  However, the best aspect to the action sequences takes place with a magnet device and the dictator’s yacht.  Without being too Spoiler-y, basically the yacht has a switch to make it a very strong and very dangerous magnet and Reynolds’ character uses it for some very exciting, wicked, and amusing moments during one of the film’s biggest action sequences.

Lots of collateral damage and bodies flying around a-plenty.  It is definitely a Bay film.

They're clearly above ground.  This movie is bullshit.
The cast in this one is fairly strong and they all play their parts extremely well.  Granted, this is a Michael Bay product so most of the characters are fairly over-the-top and the players seem to find that blend incredibly well.  Ryan Reynolds is his usual charismatic self and leads the charge for this one tremendously.  However, one performance that I found to be full of depth and intrigue (which is very rare for a Bay film) was Corey Hawkins performance as Seven; a sniper who suffers from survivor’s guilt.  Hawkins is a tremendous talent and he uses it to make Seven a standout character but it was a little surprising to see a character with this much emotional range and depth in a Bay movie.  I’m not belittling Bay here with this critique but his films have never been built upon dynamic and emotionally deep characters.

Why am I not seeing Corey Hawkins in everything?  Seriously, the guy is great!

6 Underground is a decently serviceable action film.  It scratches the itch for some great exciting and creative action.  The core concept too is incredibly strong and the cast is fantastic.  The story does feel overstuffed for a two hour film and I honestly think this would have been better served as a television series.  Granted the production costs for it as a series would be incredibly high but it would also allow for maximum usage of its concept and would allow some stronger character arcs and development.  Overall, it has some issues to it that hamper its potential but it’s also not something that I felt like wasted my time.