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Jungle Cruise – Review – Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson Keep The Big Budget Film Afloat

July 27, 2021

Quick Thoughts – Grade – B-  – Jungle Cruise is a big budget Disney oddity that plays like The Pirates of the Caribbean, met The Mummy, and they teamed up with National Treasure, The African Queen, and The Rundown to form a supergroup. Normally comparing a movie to others feels a bit reductive, but one can’t help drawing comparisons. In the end, it’s worth watching because of Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, The Commuter, Non-Stop), and starring Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jack Whitehall and Jesse Plemons, this $200 million budgeted adaptation of the popular Disney ride is a sight to behold. The producers clearly want to capitalize on the past success of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, so they’re back with another tale about treasure, supernatural shenanigans, and boats. You can’t help but be impressed by the immense scale of the film, as it’s loaded with 1000+VFX shots, massive sets, and an A-list cast who are totally committed, and very engaging. The screenplay by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa and Michael Green (John Norville and Josh Goldstein received story credits) is welcomely bonkers, as it offers up healthy doses of sass, twists, and enough plot to send the film pinballing all over various jungles, caves, and rivers. . 

Jungle Cruise focuses on the hunt to find the Tree of Life, which is located deep in an unnamed jungle (hence the cruise), and possesses healing powers that can benefit all of mankind (or be used by evil Germans). Hunting for the Tree of Life are British scientist Dr. Lily “Pants” Houghton (Blunt), and her brother MacGregor (Whitehall), who hire steamboat captain Frank “Skipper” Wolff, to take them up the river in hopes of finding the mythical tree. Making their already treacherous journey more difficult, is the fact that they’re being followed by Prince Joachim (Plemons), a German maniac, who Lily stole a valuable artifact from, which oddly enough results in Joachim murdering a bunch of English scientists (the movie is quite violent). From there, it’s a race against time as the two groups battle whitewater rapids, piranhas, and angry “undead” conquistadors who also want to find the Tree of Life. 

Jungle Cruise works because of Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson. The two know exactly what movie they are in, and seem to have a blast trading bad puns, verbal barbs, engaging in action scenes, and wearing pants. The incredible amount of sass between them does get a tad stale, but you get the feeling that the two are equals, and because they are wildly stubborn, they won’t give up the fight. If you are a fan of Jesse Plemons, the film is worth watching because he puts on a wild German accent, and has no problem unloading thousands of bullets (that come from his submarine) in public spaces as he hunts down his rivals. His villainous character is super cheeky, but he also murders a bunch of people, which creates a weird dynamic in the PG-13 film, as bodies fall all over the place in bloodless moments of violence.

In the end, Jungle Cruise is worth watching because of how unique it all is. There are recurring gags involving face punches, then, there are bonkers supernatural plotlines, CGI cats, and Paul Giamatti using a wild Italian(?) accent that comes and goes (that’s part of the joke). Also, there is a moment involving copious sexual innuendo that feels out of place in the Diseny movie, but, since it’s so random, the oddness is welcome. The movie is nowhere as good as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Blake Pearl, or National Treasure, but there is enough there to make it worthwhile. Also, anything with Blunt and Johnson being charming isn’t all bad. 

Final thoughtsJungle Cruise is a pleasant journey, and if you enjoy Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson, you should check it out.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 378: Only the Strong, Dance Fighting, and Inspirational Teachers

July 27, 2021

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and Erik discuss the 1993 cult classic Only the Strong. Directed by Sheldon Lettich, and starring Mark Dacascos, Stacey Travis, and Paco Christian Prieto, the movie focuses on a gang war that breaks out after a former green beret starts teaching capoeira to at-risk high school students. In this episode, they also talk about dance fighting, spin kicks, and the excellence of Mark Dacascos. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)  – Review: A Fantastic Documentary About the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969 

July 24, 2021

Quick Thoughts: – Grade – A – Directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Summer of Soul is an excellent documentary loaded with epic musical performances and valuable history It’s easy to see why it won the Grand Jury Prize, and the Audience Award at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Between The Sparks Brothers and Summer of Soul, 2021 has been a strong year for music documentaries that inform the populace about either bands or music festivals that have gone under the radar (or almost disappearing from memory) for decades. Watching the uncovered live music that had been sitting in a basement for nearly 50 years is thrilling as Thompson shows us performances by Stevie Wonder, The 5th Dimension, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, and Gladys Knight. The Harlem Cultural Festival (AKA Black Woodstock) drew more than 300,000 people over six free concerts, and happened at an important moment as racial tensions and the Civil Rights Movement were in full effect throughout the country, and the promoters were hoping that the festival would prevent rioting and arrests during the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. 

In between the performances, Thompson loads the documentary with musicians, writers, and celebrities who discuss the timeframe, changing racial climate and how the Black Panthers were hired to do security, as distrust in the NYPD (and their lack of help) forced promoters to bring in alternate security to keep attendees from rushing the various musical acts. It’s wild to think the festival took place during the first moon landing, and it’s enlightening to see the concertgoers showing a lack of concern about the epic undertaking that cost billions. One of the highlights of the documentary is producer Musa Jackson. He attended the festival when he was four years old, and watching him watch the uncovered footage is an emotional experience. 

The 40 hours of concert footage was shot by director Hal Tulchin, who filmed all six of the shows, and couldn’t sell the footage afterwards, so the concert footage sat in a basement for decades. When Thompson became aware of the footage from producer Robert Fyvolent, he said “What would have happened if this was allowed a seat at the table? How much of a difference would that have made in my life? That was the moment that extinguished any doubt I had that I could do this.” It’s sad to think that the concert footage didn’t reach a wide audience after it happened, but, hopefully now, a lot of people will watch it and want to learn more about the artists and their history.

Final Thoughts – Watch Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) on Hulu.

Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast – Episode 55: Blowy-Uppy Machines, Fighting in Flip-Flops, and Medieval Shark Knights

July 24, 2021

You can listen to Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast on Apple Podcasts, SpreakerSpotify, Tunein, Podcast Addict, Amazon, Google Podcasts, and everywhere else you listen to podcasts. Also, make sure to like our Facebook page!

Please make sure to rate, review, share, and subscribe!

Jay and Mark are joined by Lisa Leaheey (@LisaPas220 on Twitter) to discuss the seventh chapter on the Deep Blue Sea 3 Blu-ray. In this episode, they discuss fancy aquatic explosion machines, fighting in flip-flops, and medieval shark knights. Enjoy!

Please make sure to rate, review and subscribe to the DBS podcast.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins – Review: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji and Karuka Abe Shine. But, the Poorly Edited and Choppy Action Scenes Let Them Down

July 23, 2021

Quick Thoughts – Grade – B- – Snake Eyes is a fun ride that is massively let down by its action scenes that are choppily edited, shakily filmed, and in no way showcase the talents of Iko Uwais, Peter Mensah, Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, and Karuka Abe. Hopefully, the film will be a success (in spite of its flaws), and propels the excellent cast to bigger and better things. 

Directed by Robert Schwentke (RED, R.I.P.D.) and written by Anna Waterhouse (Rebecca, Race), Joe Shrapnel (Rebecca, Race), Evan Spiliotopoulos (Beauty and the Beast, The Huntsman: Winter War), Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins tells the story of how Snake Eyes, the fan favorite G.I. Joe character became a world-renowned hero. In terms of acting, costumes, and production design, the movie is a success as Henry Golding proves himself to be a capable action hero, and his costumes and surrounding locations all look great. However, the action scenes are wildly bad, as they are edited into oblivion, and don’t give the actors any room to shine. The ideas behind fight coordinator Kenji Tanigaki (Enter the Fat Dragon, Monster Hunt 2, Flash Point) brawls are sound, but any semblance of coherence is lost as it looks like Schwentke wanted the action scenes to look like a Bourne movie chugged Red Bull, then watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and chugged more Red Bull. the over-edited fights are baffling when you have special talents like Iko Uwais (The Raid, Triple Threat, The Night Comes for Us), Peter Mensah (Spartacus) and Andrew Koji (Warrior), and you never let a shot linger for more than one-fifth of a second. Why not set up a wide-shot, get all the coverage, and let audiences see what the actors trained months to do. 

Action aside, Snake Eyes is a lot of fun as it tells the story of how Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) goes from being an angry orphan to becoming a super soldier. After his father is killed by some gangsters, Snake Eyes becomes a pit fighter who is hired by the Yakuza to assist in sneaking automatic weapons into Japan. However, after he fails to pass his initiation by refusing to kill a guy named Tommy (Andrew Koji), the two escape to Japan where Snake Eyes learns that Tommy is part of the Clan Arashikage, a powerful family who protect Japan from evildoers who threaten violence. From there, nothing else will be spoiled, just know that Cobra gets involved, there is a cup fight, Samara Weaving has a bathroom fight, and we get to meet some beautiful ancient creatures. 

Most importantly, Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Iko Uwais, Karuka Abe all shine. They are legit actors who must’ve trained hard for this film. All of their fights (when we can see them) showcase their skills, and it would be nice to see a sequel that showcases their physical talents more. 

Final thoughts: Go watch it, and support the excellent actors.

Joe Bell – Review – Solid Performances From Mark Wahlberg and Reid Miller Elevate the Drama

July 21, 2021

Quick thoughts: – Grade – C+ –  Based on a true story, Joe Bell features standout performances from Mark Wahlberg and Reid Miller. 

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, and written by the Oscar winning duo of Larry McMurtry (I love his book All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers) and Diana Ossana (Brokeback Mountain), the extremely intimate Joe Bell tells the story of a man attempting a cross country walking trip with the goal of raising awareness about bullying. The fly on the wall cinematography by frequent Mark Wahlberg collaborator Jacques Jouffret (Bloodshot, The Purge, Mile 22) brings back memories of Friday Night Lights (movie and TV show), and if you haven’t seen the show or movie, just know that the documentary style is refreshingly intimate and shows just how committed Mark Wahlberg was when he signed onto the project. The non-linear storytelling and certain narrative chocies will most certainly turn some people off, but, if it speaks to people who need to hear the message, this film will be a success. 

Joe Bell tells the story of Joe Bell (Wahlberg), a man who attempts a cross country walk to speak out against bullying after his son’s suicide. His son Jaden (Reid Miller), came out when he was a sophomore in high school, and was subjected to intense bullying, and not enough support at home, this led to him attempting suicide and later dying at an Oregon hospital. The tragedy received widespread coverage, and inspired Joe to walk across the country in order to raise awareness about bullying. 

It’s clear why Jake Gyllenhaal and Cary Joji Fukunaga wanted to produce the film, because it is an interesting story filled with heartbreak and twists. However, the narrative flies all over the place and does not give us many glimpses into the personal lives of the characters. It’s never quite clear who Joe Bell really is, and despite Wahlberg’s strong work, he comes across as a surly dude who has a lot of demons that he needs to let go of. In recent interviews, Wahlberg explained that Joe was abused as a child, and in his mind, not beating his kids made him a good parent. This explains a lot about his character, because he constantly steamrolls his family, gives bad advice, and never really listens. However, since he isn’t violent, he is being a better parent than his father (family scars always run deep). If the narrative would’ve allowed us more time to get into his head, it would’ve been stronger. That being said, there are some strong moments between Wahlberg, Miller and Connie Britton (who plays Joe’s wife Lola), who are at their best when they have time to let their characters breathe, and exist in quiet moments that showcase how committed they are to the movie. 

Final Thoughts: Joe Bell is worth a watch because of the strong performances from Wahlberg and Miller.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 377 – 12 Rounds, Renny Harlin, and John Cena

July 21, 2021

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark, Phil, and Adam (of the Go Figure YouTube show) discuss the 2009 action film 12 Rounds. Directed by Renny Harlin (listen to Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast), and starring John Cena, Ashley Scott, and Aidan Gillen, the movie focuses on what happens when a super criminal sets up a wildly intricate revenge plan. In this episode, they discuss Renny Harlin, practical action scenes, and beautiful helicopter explosions. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 – Review – A Fun End to the Ambitious Horror Trilogy

July 17, 2021

Quick thoughts: – B+ – Fear Street Part 3: 1666 proves that horror trilogies can end strongly, and hopefully director Leigh Janiak will move on to higher profile jobs after her success.

After enjoying the first two installments of the Leigh Janiak (watch Honeymoon!) directed Fear Street films, it was a bit disconcerting to know that it was going back in time to discover the origin of the evil witch Sarah Fier. Movies like Hannibal Rising, Halloween (2007), The Thing (2011) have gone back in time to discover the origin of evil, and they’ve felt completely unnecessary because they explain what doesn’t need to be explained. However, any worries were dashed as Fear Street Part 3: 1666 has some fun tricks up its sleeve, and it ends with an extremely entertaining finale that will leave a smile on your face. The movie does an excellent job of going back in time to solve the Sarah Fier mystery, and that should be applauded as it’s quite daring and inspired. The twist on the witch trials of the 1600s is neat (and brutal), and it ties together everything that follows.

Most importantly, the movie brings back Kiana Madeira, Gillian Jacobs, Benjamin Flores Jr.,  Darrell Britt-Gibson (watch You’re the Worst) and Fred Hechinger for more horror shenanigans. One of the main strengths of the series is putting new faces on the screen, sure the actors have appeared in other shows, but this trilogy will hopefully propel some of the young actors into bigger and better roles.

Fear Street Part 3: 1666 is an interesting watch as the glossy digital cinematography by Caleb Heymann (Stranger Things, The Mortuary Collection) is combined with shots of dead children who’ve had their eyes ripped out. While the violence isn’t exactly graphic, and is aided by CGI, it comes across as more startling as the sharp digital frames play on the screen. It’s compelling to watch, as characters are ripped apart in bright HD, because you’re almost lured into thinking it’s going to be Stranger Things-esque (lots of the Stranger Things crew worked on this), but then someone is stabbed in the throat. Between this trilogy and The Mortuary Collection (watch it on Shudder), the world now has some slick looking horror that is geared towards teenagers looking to get into the genre. 

Final Thoughts: If you are looking for a horror trilogy that sticks the landing, check the Fear Street trilogy.

Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast – Episode 54: Funky Boxes, Feet, and Cranky Sharks

July 15, 2021

You can listen to Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast on Apple Podcasts, SpreakerSpotify, Tunein, Podcast Addict, Amazon, Google Podcasts, and everywhere else you listen to podcasts. Also, make sure to like our Facebook page!

Please make sure to rate, review, share, and subscribe!

Jay and Mark are joined by Paige (@gaytaylorswift on Twitter) to discuss the sixth chapter on the Deep Blue Sea 3 Blu-ray. In this episode, they talk about cranky sharks, evil v-necks, and gratuitous feet shots. Enjoy!

Please make sure to rate, review and subscribe to the DBS podcast.

Gunpowder Milkshake – Review: A Fun Action Film That Showcases the Skills of Karen Gillan

July 15, 2021

Quick thoughts: Grade – B – Gunpowder Milkshake is a wild ride full of unique action scenes, fun performances, and a dark sense of humor. After starring in the Guardians of the Galaxy and Jumanji films, it’s neat seeing Karen Gillian carrying her own action film. 

Directed and written by Navot Papushado (watch Big Bad Wolves), Gunpowder Milkshake tells the story of what happens when a group of well-armed male gangsters attempt to kill Sam (Karen Gillan) an assassin who went rogue during a mission, saved a child from kidnappers (long story), and accidently killed a rival crime lord’s son during a prior “botched” job (basically, she’s pissed a lot of people off). The problem is, Sam is the daughter of a famed assassin named Scarlet (Lena Headey), who disappeared 15 years ago, but still managed to train Sam in the art of murdering people with ease. Thus, when Nathan (Paul Giamatti), a middle-man for a powerful crime syndicate, starts sending out hired henchmen to kill her, they are all killed in hallway fights, parking garage chases, and bowling alley brawls Eventually, things get really crazy when Jim McAlester (Ralph Ineson), a rival crime lord, whose son was killed by Sam, sends out his henchmen to finish the job. The added manpower forces Sam to reconnect with her mom, and head to The Library, where Florence (Michelle Yeoh), Anna May (Angela Bassett), and Madeline (Carla Gugino) help her murder more people.

Gunpowder Milkshake does a fine job of creating various action scenes that all feel unique. During one scene, Sam doesn’t have control of her arms, so she has a young girl named Emily (Chloe Coleman) tape weapons to her hands. Another brawl plays out in super slow-motion and features eye slashes, head shots, and exploding windows. The stunt coordinator Volkhart Buff (Hitman: Agent 47, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and fight choreographer Laurent Demianoff (Warrior Nun, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) do a solid job of creating different fights that don’t feel repetitive, and allow Gillan, Headey, Bassett, Gugino and Yeoh to shine. 

The German locations all look excellent, and they fit well with the stylized look created by cinematographer Michael Seresin (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Step Up). Also kudos to costume designer Louise Frogley (Contagion, Bull Durham, Ant-Man and the Wasp) for creating memorable costumes that fit the look of each character. It’s neat seeing Gillan beat up people while wearing a bowling jacket (that fits perfectly), and watching Gugino murdering henchmen while wearing a purple pastel cardigan. 

The biggest weakness of Gunpowder Milkshake is the script by Papushado and Ehud Lavski. Yes, it creates a neat world full of familiar elements (which is totally fine, action movies have been stealing from each other since the beginning), but the stylized dialogue never feels totally organic, and occasionally plays like a screenwriter was writing something “cool.” Aside from a few cringe-worthy lines of dialogue, the movie is an absolute delight that will hopefully build a big audience and stay Fresh on the Tomatometer (it’s currently at 67%). 

Final Thoughts: Gunpowder Milkshake is a lot of fun, and is worth a watch.

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