Thursday, July 28, 2016

Harbinger Down (2015)

Number Rolled: 37
Movie Name/Year: Harbinger Down (2015)
Tagline: Terror is just beneath the surface.
Genre: Horror
Length: 81 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Dark Dunes Productions, Studio ADI
Producer: Camille Balsamo, Benjamin L. Brown, Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki, Kelli Kaye, Alexander Preston, Hadeel Reda, Doug Scroggins III, Jason Speer, Paul Stewart, Jennifer Tung, Tom Woodruff Jr.
Director: Alec Gillis
Writer: Alec Gillis
Actors: Lance Henriksen, Camille Balsamo, Matt Winston, Reid Collums, Winston James Francis, Milla Bjorn, Giovonnie Samuels, Michael Estime, Edwin H. Bravo, Kraig W. Sturtz, Jason Speer, Mick Ignis

Blurb from Netflix: Studying the effects of global warming aboard a fishing trawler, graduate students dredge up Soviet space wreckage that contains deadly organisms.

Selina’s Point of View:
For some odd reason I had it in my head that this was a war movie, not a creature feature. I really need to start reading descriptions – or at least looking at the movie poster – before I hit the play button.

I find it almost odd to be calling this film a ‘creature feature’ considering the kind of creature they used. There were no wolves, no sharks, and no zombie penguins. The creature they used is called a ‘water bear.’

Don’t start fantasizing about a swimming grizzly or anything, that’s as far from what this animal is as possible. Also known as a tardigrade, water bears are known for being able to survive extreme environments, including outer space. I don’t mean it can just survive inside the rocket, either. It can survive attached to the outside of it and dealing with the radiated, airless, cold vacuum of space.

Their adaptability might be terrifying, if they weren’t microscopic.

That’s right, the image you see above is a water bear magnified by hundreds.

Not only did this film use an animal I’ve never even seen referenced in movies, but they used a microscopic animal without turning it into some kind of outbreak film… and they did it successfully.

I’m floored.

Although there was a minor reminder of the core story of The Thing (1982), it wasn’t stealing the plot. It was like Harbinger Down paid homage to it. With the catchy one liners and quotes from old popular movies, such as Jaws (1975), the film paid homage to a lot of works that came before it while still remaining an original and interesting film.

Keep in mind, Harbinger Down was a low-budget B-Movie. Many of the scenes were visually remarkable for the amount of money they had to spend, but there were at least three scenes I can think of off the top of my head that looked like someone was trying to film their TV. So, no, the film was not perfect. It was, however, as close as I believe a B-Movie can get (aside from Clerks [1994]).

The actors were very good. Especially for a B-Movie. The film featured interesting characters that were played well, including two very strong female parts. I like to see that.

There was a touch of cheese in the script and graphics, but writer/director Alec Gillis (Alien Nation, Astronaut: The Last Push, Hunter Prey) really made that cheese work. He used the visuals to bring up memories of movies like Alien (1979) and Tremors (1990), which made the cheese and camp seem much better than it was because of the nostalgia factor.

It makes sense since Gillis worked special effects on Tremors, as well as Aliens (1986) and Jaws 3-D (1983).

Sometimes having a lower budget allows movies creators to really bring the creativity. In this film that creativity took what could have been a mediocre semi-creature feature to a new height.

I know it wasn’t received well by critics or Rotten Tomatoes. I would say I care, but it’d be a lie. I thought, for what it was, this movie was incredible. I enjoyed watching it and would watch it again. I already have friends in mind that I’ll be recommending it to.

I think this is more a case of people expecting A-list content and CGI from a B-movie than about people actually disliking the content altogether… and that’s not fair. This movie was funded by Kickstarter, and I think the people who invested did the right thing.

Cat’s Point of View:
Finally a creature feature that I enjoyed!

The fact that Lance Henrickson (The Lost Tribe, Phantom, Stung) was involved with the project was a selling point for me. He won my heart in the Alien (1979) franchise and I generally find that I enjoy things he has worked on.

This movie finds him as a boat captain rather than a cyborg or nefarious corporate executive. I appreciated the personal sub-plot involving him; as I felt it brought a bit more depth to the film.

Do I think that this movie was on par with Aliens (1986)? Not exactly. It was entertaining, though.

The performances of the crew members weren’t shabby. The cast aside from Henrickson are pretty new to Hollywood. There wasn’t anyone that I’d scream praise from the rooftops for, but the performances for most of them were solid.

This was the motion picture directorial debut for writer/director Alec Gillis (AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Blind Passion, Mattress of Solitude). I really hope that he continues to do some more storytelling.

He’s usually involved with special effects. In fact, he was the Creature Effects Coordinator for Aliens.

There are a few fun facts about this film. The company Gillis was involved with, Amalgamated Dynamics (ADI), was slated to work on the remake of The Thing (2011) with practical creature effects. The production team decided to go with CGI, instead, so their effects weren’t used.

Apparently in response to the increasing usage of computer graphics rather than practical real VFX, the team at ADI launched a Kickstarter campaign on May 8, 2013 for Harbinger Down. It was pitched as: “A sci-fi/horror film by Creature FX Designer Alec Gillis, that will celebrate Animatronics and Makeup FX . Help keep FX real!” The creature effects in this movie used zero CGI in favor of practical effects such as stop motion, animatronics, prosthetic makeup, & miniatures.

Last but not the least bit of trivia is that there are tons of Easter eggs in the movie that reference both Aliens and The Thing (1982). Happy hunting!

All in all, this was a good critter movie that I could wrap myself around. I would recommend this film to fans of the genre, especially vintage quality creature features.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 18%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain (2011)

Number Rolled: 35
Movie Name/Year: Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain (2011)
Tagline: Alright! Alright! Alright!
Genre: Stand Up Comedy
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Codeblack Entertainment, Comedy Central Films, Hartbeat Productions, Usual Suspects Productions
Producer: Jeff Atlas, Valarie Benning Barney, Dave Becky, Jeff Clanagan, Tamra Goins, Michael Goldfine, Kevin Hart, Blake Morrison, Quincy Newell, Ritchie G. Piert Sr., Pookey Wigington
Director: Leslie Small, Tim Story
Writer: Kevin Hart, Na’im Lynn, Joey Wells
Actors: Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Will Horton, Harry Ratchford, Na’im Lynn, Dwayne L. Brown, Nathan L. Smith, Joey Wells, Larry King, Robert K. Hart

Blurb from Netflix: Sometimes edgy and always hilarious, comedian Kevin Hart shines in this theatrical version of his record-breaking 2011 live tour.

Selina’s Point of View:
When I first started watching this film I was very confused.

I’ve seen the Laugh at My Pain special on TV before, and it was always just straight stand-up comedy. When this movie started, however, it was more like a documentary than anything else. I began to wonder if it was mislabeled or something, which pissed me off. I was wrong, though. The movie version of this particular Kevin Hart (Top Five, Get Hard, Ride Along) special simply has some bonus parts. A bit of a documentary in the beginning followed by a skit at the end and an interview during the credits.

I love the Laugh at My Pain special and I think Kevin Hart is hilarious in general. However, I don’t particularly enjoy documentaries usually, and this really wasn’t an exception. I would have preferred just the stand-up and the interview during the credits. I wasn’t fond of the skit either.

Maybe if I’d been expecting the documentary portion, I could have prepared myself for it… but it was like taking a sip of your drink and expecting tea but getting coffee. It might be perfectly fine coffee, but there’s no coffee in the world that’s good tea.

Regardless of the downfalls, I’d re-watch this special any day of the week.

Cat’s Point of View:
I love the juxtaposition of a comedy show against classical literature (our last review). There’s something funny about that random result already before even watching the movie.

Though, that doesn’t have anything to do with the show, itself, so I’ll get back to topic before I babble too far.

I like Kevin Hart (This is the End, About Last Night, Central Intelligence). He has a good sense of comedic timing, and his self-depreciating humor doesn’t go so far that it becomes awkward. He comes off as a guy that would be fun to hang around with – if only just to hear what came out of his mouth off the cuff in every-day situations.

This wasn’t your typical stand-up show where the comedian just presents a recorded stage performance from one of their tour gigs. It goes even one step beyond the ‘behind the scenes’ dressing-room and stage-side interviews and introspective.

This does actually play out a bit as an actual movie where Kevin Hart ‘goes home.’ He brings you along for a look at Philadelphia through his eyes – and with a comedic lens. It feels more like a documentary rather than any sort of dramatic production. He throws a little of that in, too – so you could say that there’s a bit of something for everyone included.

Of course, everyone that the MPAA applies to, that is. The rating of R is spot on, here. That being said, there wasn’t anything egregiously explicit. I really enjoyed his running theme, and I am afraid I might actually find myself spouting random quotes in the near future.

I didn’t get the ‘ending’ but I can’t really explain why without spoiling. SO! Have a look and see what you think!

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 71%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 84%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

P.S. Interview during the credits. Starts with a documentary portion.

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Great Expectations (2012)

Number Rolled: 29
Movie Name/Year: Great Expectations (2012)
Tagline: Prepare for a life of great expectations.
Genre: Drama
Length: 128 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: BBC Films, Unison Films, Lipsync Productions, Main Street Films, Number 9 Films, iDeal Partners Film Fund
Producer: Laurie Borg, Cliff Curtis, Jana Edelblum, David Faigenblum, Peter Hampden, C.C. Hang, Ed Hart, Zygi Kamasa, Harrison Kordestani, Christine Langan, Charlotte Larsen, Caroline Levy, Norman Merry, Emanuel Michael, Arti Modi, Mike Newell, Thorsten Schumacher, Stephen Woolley, Alexis Bishop
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: David Nicholls, Charles Dickens
Actors: Toby Irvine, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Sally Hawkins, William Ellis, David Walliams, Bernice Stegers, Helena Bonham Carter, Bebe Cave, Robbie Coltrane, Jeremy Irvine, Jessie Cave, Ewen Bremner, Olly Alexander, Daniel Weyman, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Helena Barlow, Tamzin Outhwaite, Holliday Grainger

Blurb from Netflix: Fate -- with a little help from a mysterious unnamed benefactor -- whisks a young orphan Pip from poverty to a life of unexpected wealth.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have never read Great Expectations. It’s one of those great classics that everyone read in high school or college, but I never really ever came across it. Even though it’s my mom’s favorite (I think… at least, I’m pretty sure). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live under a rock. I’ve heard of it and I know it’s written by Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield), but that’s all I knew going into this.

I wasn’t all too interested in this film when we rolled. It’s a period drama which isn’t my favorite and it’s long. For some reason, the sound was also kind of crappy.

So, I was grumpy.

However, I wound up really liking the film.

I understood immediately why the story is a classic. It’s an absolutely enthralling tale of romance and mystery. There are some classics that I just don’t understand the appeal of, but this one I got.

Add to the plot some fantastic actors, such as Jeremy Irvine (Life Bites, The World Made Straight, Stonewall), Helena Bonham Carter (Cinderella, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Les Miserables), Holliday Grainger (The Borgias, Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre) and Ralph Fiennes (Spectre, A Bigger Splash, The Invisible Woman), and you have a really spectacular film. I could have sat through more of it.

I’d recommend this film to anyone with a love for the classics or period dramas. Mystery lovers might also enjoy it.

Cat’s Point of View:
Great Expectations is one of the classics that I remember fondly from school. As unbiased as I try to be, I am already pre-disposed to like a film based on the book – as long as they stay true to the core of the story and the characters.

You could say I have great expectations. (I know, I couldn’t help it.)

I wasn’t disappointed with this movie. It was quite a relief, really, after the last few let-downs I’ve had. This film was executed with finesse and excellent casting choices, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The settings were realistic and full of the grit and grime of the time period. The costumes were exquisite in detail.

Mike Newell (Pushing Tin, Mona Lisa Smile, Prince of Persia: The Sands of time) breathed new life into the tale without having to give the whole thing a facelift. I am thankful that the film stayed ‘humble’ and focused on the story, rather than giving it the Michael Bay (Transformers, Bad Boys II, 13 Hours) treatment by packing in more cinematic bells and whistles.

Of course, I had a bit of an internal giggle that Miss Havisham was played by Helena Bonham Carter (Terminator Salvation, The King's Speech, Suffragette). Eccentric women in period pieces seems to be her wheelhouse and she makes it look effortless. Holliday Grainger (Stanley Park, Bel Ami, The Riot Club) was able to capture the depth of Estella through the flashes of her we see within the film.

Jeremy Irvine (War Horse, Now is Good, The Railway Man) was a good choice for Pip. He’s an up-and-comer and I really want to see how he grows. He grasped the essence of the country boy’s transformation very well. While his last name of Irvine seems to be a stage name, his little brother has adopted the same in following his footsteps. The younger version of Pip in the film was played by Toby Irvine, and is his only film credit at this time.

There’s more ‘6 degrees’ going on with this movie beyond Hagrid and Bellatrix LeStrange sharing the screen. Robbie Coltrane (The Brothers Bloom, Brave, Effie Gray) was an excellent Jaggers. He encapsulated the shady lawyer with questionable morals in a way that I forgot I’d seen him in other things until after the spell of the movie was broken. What’s the connection, you ask? He happened to play Mr. Hyde in Van Helsing (2004).

Another actor whom has donned the persona of Jekyll & Hyde is Jason Flemyng (Rock Star, Stardust, Ironclad) in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). His performance as Joe Gargery impressed me.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ralph Fiennes (Land of the Blind, In Bruges, Skyfall) as Magwitch. He’s no stranger to the Classics, having played Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1992). He often plays villain roles, though it’s refreshing to see him change it up a bit with a protagonist.

All in all, I loved the movie and while it didn’t offer anything flashy to the already-told tale, it was a notable rendition with substance and heart.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 49%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 18, 2016

#Horror (2015)

Number Rolled: 83
Movie Name/Year: #Horror (2015)
Tagline: Death is trending.
Genre: Horror
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Lowland Pictures, AST Studios
Producer: Amanda Carter, Ryan Alan Dearth, Urs Fischer, Erik Fleming, Catrin Hedstrom, Sydney Holland, Quentin Little, Jason Ludman, Seven McDonald, Jesse Ozeri, Brenna Perez, Oren Segal, Sylvia Sichel, Tara Subkoff, Brendan Walsh, Margaret Yen
Director: Tara Subkoff
Writer: Tara Subkoff
Actors: Chloe Sevigny, Timothy Hutton, Balthazar Getty, Stella Schnabel, Sadie Seelert, Haley Murphy, Bridget McGarry, Blue Lindeberg, Mina Sundwall, Emma Adler, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Lydia Hearst, Brenna Perez, Jessica Blank, Ted Christensen, Sadie Jensen-Blank, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Mackenzie G. Mauro, Tara Subkoff

Blurb from Netflix: Privileged tweenaged bullies get a taste of real-life terror when their online antics lead to a sinister game of “slashtag.”

Selina’s Point of View:
What the fuck did I just watch?

I remember watching the trailer for this video and thinking it looked kind of interesting. It definitely looked like a well-known recipe, but it still seemed like something I’d want to see. What they advertised, however, was not what I got.

What I wound up watching was something reminiscent of Uwe Boll’s (Bloodrayne, Blubberella, Postal) version of House of the Dead (2003). Not script or action-wise. No. That would be forgivable. It was Uwe Boll-esk direction. If a director is going to emulate someone else in the field, it should never be Uwe Boll. Never.

I want to stress that the storyline for #Horror was actually relatively good. Unfortunately, Tara Subkoff (Tanner Hall, The Notorious Bettie Page, Undermind) did not do the best job on the script. As for the directing… well… I already touched on that.

Regardless of how I feel about this film, I want everyone to remember that this was Subkoff’s directorial and writing debut. Not everyone hits a homerun right off the bench. This film was not good, but she may learn from her mistakes in a way that the arrogant bullshit artist that is Boll, never could. I wish her luck in future endeavors and I hope time and experience will aid her in honing her art.

I don’t recommend this film or anything that has ever looked like it.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ll be blunt. I didn’t really like this one very much. I do enjoy when social media and more modern cultural and technology clashes mix in with the horror genre, so I was crossing my fingers only to be disappointed.

I got pretty much what I expected from the clique of rich tween snobby girls and their slumber party antics. The deaths weren’t really original or surprising.

Mostly, as this movie was named with a hashtag, I was wanting to see more of how that tied in. Sure the girls’ involvement in social media is a big part of the plot, but it’s never made clear (at least that I could tell) how the ‘slashtag’ game fits in.

I have an inkling – but it’s all presented so spastically that it’s hard to follow. Flashes of brightly colored flashy images and boxes of text flying rapidly across the screen. If it was explained in all that – I was either too slow to catch it or my eyes are just too bad and I couldn’t read those text boxes.

Here was another case, as well, where an actor was rather underutilized. Balthazar Getty (The Tripper, Brothers and Sisters, The Judge) played the father of the girl whose home the ill-fated slumber party takes place in. I can’t wait to see what his involvement will be in the upcoming Twin Peaks (2017) series.

The art installations within the home were interesting, at least.

Another indie film powerhouse was on board with this project. Chloë Sevigny (The Killing Room, Big Love, The Wait) did well as the self-involved and negligent mother.  Though, I really think that Timothy Hutton (Serious Moonlight, Louder Than Words, Leverage) stole the show as the father of one of the characters.

I might watch this movie again just to see if I can read what I wasn’t able to catch before (pause button and frame by frame, maybe). Otherwise, I hold out hope that someone can give this sort of tale a different spin that makes a bit more sense.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 11%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

The Random Rating: R

P.S. This movie claims to be based on reality. What it is based on is an interview that Subkoff had with one of her daughter’s friends that had been severely cyberbullied. That said, it’s clear that the story was at least loosely inspired by that interview.

Movie Trailer: 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Ouija Experiment (2011)

Number Rolled: 64
Movie Name/Year: The Ouija Experiment (2011)
Tagline: It's just a game... isn't it?
Genre: Horror
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: La Luna Entertainment, La Luna Films, Out of Body Films
Producer: Stuart Alson, Nicole Holland, Felix McNulty, Josey Wells
Director: Israel Luna
Writer: Israel Luna
Actors: Justin Armstrong, Dave Clark, Leah Diaz, Belmarie Huynh, Miranda Martinez, Swisyzinna, Taylor Terry, Carson Underwood, Eric Window

Blurb from Netflix: Film student Brandon and four friends play with a Ouija board, unwittingly opening a portal to the spirit world and a drowned girl’s deadly mystery.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ve used a Ouija board before. I’ve never really understood what people see in it, though. It’s not nearly as creepy as the movies make it out to be and it’s not nearly fun enough to be called a game. It’s just a thing that exists. Of course, I have some very bleak beliefs about the afterlife and none of those beliefs allow me to put any stock in something like a Ouija board.

I really wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this film.

It delivered pretty much what I expected recipe-wise. Ouija board becomes a portal from the afterlife and people have to deal with malicious spirits. You expect the jump scares, you expect the scene where no one believes the first person to see the ghost, and you definitely expect some janky shaky cam.

There were, however, enough minor twists and differences between the recipe and what I saw for me to say that it was above average quality.

I enjoyed the actors quite a bit, for the most part. Justin Armstrong (Allegiance of Powers, Art of Survival, John Bosco in America) was pretty likeable for the character he played and Swisyzinna (Liquid Feet, Deceptions of Love, Wops the Movie) had a slow start, but when the movie started to flow into the creepy portions, she really came alive. The only two actors I had any issue with were Belmarie Huynh (Hoovey, Thug-Ocracy, Sweet Baby Love) and Eric Window (Circles, Sideline Confessions, Carter High), and I think that was more because I hated their characters than because of their performance.

My favorite thing about this movie was that it didn’t just rely on jump scares. Sure, there were some of those, but the story mostly revolved around a mystery that was woven into the plot. That mystery was decent enough that I didn’t really expect the direction it took.

I’d watch this film again, even with the shaky cam.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ll be upfront and say that I can’t stand Ouija boards. I won’t be around if one is being used, and it terrifies me that they market these things to kids. I mean, really? Making the thing pink and girlie doesn’t change the fact that it’s a tool to play with forces that you just don’t understand.

What drove me crazy about the shows MTV's Fear (2000-2002) and Scariest Places on Earth (2000-2006) was that they would throw inexperienced people into these situations and then give them tasks that were actually rather dangerous. These people didn’t know what they were playing with – or what was going to follow them home.

Before I get too far off on a soapbox, I have to admit that even though I have a healthy respect for and keep my distance from the things, I am still fascinated by Ouija boards all the same. It’s the same sort of morbid fascination that draws me to things like sharks and tornadoes (which, by the way is my absolute worst fear ever). I watched the heck out of the tornado chasing documentary series and even went to the IMAX movie – in the dome IMAX, not the overly large regular screen. I even white knuckled through the front row experience of my employee screening of Twister (1996)… much to the hand-pain of my then-boyfriend.

That being said, I expected more from this movie. I don’t know why. Netflix’s utter lack of stars on the recommendation apparently wasn’t deterrent enough to lower those expectations. I should have paid more attention.

This movie was a mess. I would honestly give it no stars, if I didn’t feel like that should be reserved for horrendous things like those centipede movies. This flick at least caught me with a few jump scares.

I was bored out of my mind. It was very hard for me to get engaged with the movie. I thought I was watching a soap opera for a little while. I was afraid it was going to even delve into soft-porn for a hot minute there. (I’m not trying to pun. It wasn’t steamy at all. Just cheesy backside nudity.) It was found-footage shaky-cam a lot of the time, which also didn’t help.

The action didn’t even really start until the last 40 or so minutes of the movie.

I wouldn’t recommend this, and I am seriously hoping we don’t end up with the sequel for review. (Though, I would watch that in a heartbeat over the centipede sequels. Seriously. Ugh.)

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 15%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 0/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 11, 2016

Leap Year (2010)

Number Rolled: 6
Movie Name/Year: Leap Year (2010)
Tagline: Anna planned to propose to her boyfriend on February 29th. This is not her boyfriend.
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Birnbaum/Barber, BenderSpink, Octagon Films
Producer: Su Armstrong, Gary Barber, Chris Bender, Roger Birnbaum, James Flynn, Jonathan Glickman, Cassidy Lange, Morgan O’Sullivan, Rebekah Rudd, J.C. Spink, Jake Weiner, Erin Stam
Director: Anand Tucker
Writer: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont
Actors: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, John Lithgow, Noel O’Donovan, Tony Rohr, Pat Laffan, Alan Devlin, Ian McElhinney, Dominique McElligott, Mark O’Regan, Maggie McCarthy, Peter O’Meara

Blurb from Netflix: Anna chooses February 29 to propose marriage to her boyfriend, but after meeting a charming innkeeper, she must evaluate her original plans.

Selina’s Point of View:
This film was dreck.

I was super excited to see Leap Year. I’d heard good things about it and I love Ireland-based movies. My favorite YouTuber is even Irish. (Jakesepticeye was on my top YouTubers list, but not at the top. After I wrote that, however, I saw more and more of his stuff and just fell absolutely in love with him. Now, his intro is my alarm and his outro is my ringtone.)

That being said, I was completely unimpressed with this movie.

Amy Adams (Trouble with the Curve, Man of Steel, American Hustle) definitely did nothing for me as the leading lady and I HATED her character. I didn’t find her likeable or relatable at all. She felt like a forced personality that was too annoying for me to care about.

Not only that, but the plot and script were so predictable that I was practically giving the actors their cues moments before they stepped on screen. There was nothing original about this film. It was as recipe as any movie could get. Like the writer was just trying to churn out the quickest film possible without bothering to care about the content.

Now, it wasn’t ALL bad.

Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, The Imitation Game) was phenomenal in his part and his accent was so well done that I had NO idea he wasn’t Irish. The old men that served as comic relief were VERY funny, as well. I’d watch an entire film based around their superstitious banter. Finally, Randy Edelman (27 Dresses, The Big Green, Shanghai Noon) did amazing with the music. It was peppy and very Irish. It fit the beautiful settings and the feel of the movie really well.

Despite the good aspects, Leap Year was not my kind of movie and I don’t feel the need to ever watch it again.

Cat’s Point of View:

I wasn’t exactly in the mood for a rom-com, so you can imagine that I had an internal reaction of ‘oh joy’ when this was the movie that the dice chose for us. Though, that was before I actually started watching it. I’d forgotten that this one was set in Ireland. Of course, I would have watched anyway – because professionalism! It helped me to be considerably more enthusiastic about it, at least.

There’s a bit of a confession I need to make first. I might have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. I have a bit of a bias towards Ireland and things Irish. (‘A bit’ might be an understatement.) I love the sights and sounds of Ireland – from the music to the language…the rugged and pastoral landscape… it just calls to me in ways I can’t quite explain.

Why do I need to make this confession? This film was shot in – you guessed it! – Ireland. I digress.

Amy Adams (Julie & Julia, The Fighter, Her) was a good fit for this movie. Believable as both socialite go-getter with a plan for everything and as the redhead returning to her roots and besieged by Murphy’s Law; it was easy to get invested in her as the main character.

I had tears at one point in the movie. Sure, that’s nothing new for me; but I have to be really emotionally invested in something for it to happen.

The humor of this film was brilliant. In some places it was subtle and others it cracked you over the head, but I didn’t feel that anything was overdone. I could relate to the shenanigans that occurred along the main character’s adventure. (I’m Murphy’s redheaded stepchild, I swear.)

For an English lad, I must say that Matthew Goode (Match Point, Watchmen, Stoker) did a pretty good job with ‘being Irish.’ I couldn’t tell you if his accent was right or not, though. It seemed to be fine to me – but I was just enjoying hearing his voice speak it. His character helped the emotional aspect of the movie immensely.

Sure, this wasn’t the most original plot in the world. In fact, it was a remake of a Bollywood movie Jab We Met (2007) with a gender swap. I didn’t mind, though. I didn’t even mind that they got a bit of their geography turned around.

I would have liked to see more of John Lithgow (Dreamgirls, This is 40, Interstellar) utilized in the film. The brief scene he is involved with does appropriately set up the plot, though. For an actor of his caliber, though, it just seems like a waste.

Before I get too carried away, I’ll leave you with a final bit of trivia. Fans of the History Channel series Vikings (2013-) might find one of the film’s settings familiar. There’s a scene in the movie that takes place at a lake where a large part of that show is filmed in County Wicklow.

I absolutely adored this movie and would definitely watch it again.


Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 21%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 47%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Amnesiac (2015)

Number Rolled: 71
Movie Name/Year: Amnesiac (2015)
Tagline: What he can’t remember is killing him.
Genre: Thriller
Length: 84 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: At Entertainment, Recidive SAS, XLrator Media
Producer: Jarod Becker, Charles Arthur Berg, Kate Bosworth, Eric Brenner, Lee Broda, Aleks de Carvalho, Erik Fleming, Grant Guthrie, Phillip Stewart Halpern, Sydney Holland, Lucas Jarach, Michael Kay, Corey Large, Mike Le, Alan Pao, Jacob Pechenik, Gary Preisler, Jason Price, Jeff Rice
Director: Michael Polish
Writer: Amy Kolquist, Mike Le
Actors: Kate Bosworth, Wes Bentley, Olivia Rose Keegan, Shashawnee Hall, Richard Riehle, Patrick Bauchau, Mia Barron, Adam Moryto

Blurb from Netflix: A comatose man awakens with no memory of who he is, and comes to believe that the woman caring for him is not his wife, as she claims.

Selina’s Point of View:
This movie was so boring that I had to watch it a second time because I fell asleep.

Somewhere near the start of this blog, I learned to find a way to stay awake during boring, or bad, movies so I wouldn’t have to re-watch them later. Not a single technique worked during this one. I started snoring up a storm at around the halfway mark.

Not only was the content incredibly predictable, but the script was obnoxiously bad and the entire movie was whispered. I think maybe six lines were said out loud.

Kate Bosworth (The Art of More, 90 Minutes in Heaven, Still Alice) was the only good part of the film. She played her character well and I truly bought what she was selling. She was about as creepy as it gets. None of the other actors really did anything for me, not even Wes Bentley (American Horror Story, The Hunger Games, The Four Feathers) whom I usually enjoy. I’m not sure it’s the fault of the actor’s, though. I think the characters were just complete tropes with no real background or depth.

‘Psychological thriller’ is one of my favorite genres. I love the mind-fuck, sit on the edge of your seat, heart in your throat kind of movie. I see how this film was trying to be a part of that genre… but it was just a sad, pale imitation.

Cat’s Point of View:
This was one movie that I didn’t have any preconceived expectations about.  Though, I generally find that I enjoy most of Wes Bentley’s (Jonah Hex, Gone, Insterstellar) work.

This film felt really slow, yet I think that fits in with the concept of the main character as an amnesiac. There are flashes here and there that don’t quite put the story together. In fact, nothing in the film really explains thoroughly what is going on.

Kate Bosworth (Straw Dogs, Heist, Before I Wake) was extremely unsettling and eerie in this role. The character speaks so softly and is composed with such precision – yet there is also this random aspect to her.

I found myself feeling a real sense of dread in a few places, and in others I just wanted to push for answers because it felt like things were so drawn out.

I didn’t like the portrayal of the detective by Shashawnee Hall (Evan Almighty, Not Safe For Work, Friend Request). I think it was a mix of both the delivery and the scripted dialogue.  The way the character was utilized at the end of the movie also really bugged me. Was this the writer or director’s attempt for a payoff after so much buildup of questions throughout the movie? It felt like it rushed the closure – as if they realized they were out of time and drew the method out of a hat.

I oddly enjoyed this film, in spite of its flaws. I don’t think I’d watch it again, though.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 21%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 12%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score2.5/5

The Random Rating: PG-13

P.S. This movie once went under the title: Unconscious.

Movie Trailer: