Thursday, April 28, 2016

Icetastrophe (2015)

Number Rolled: 58
Movie Name/Year: Icetastrophe (2015)
Tagline: Mankind is on thin ice.
Genre: Sci-fi & Fantasy
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Cinetel Films, Reel One Entertainment, Ice Cap Pictures Inc.
Producer: Tom Berry, Lisa M. Hansen, Paul Hertzberg
Director: Jonathan Winfrey
Writer: David Sanderson
Actors: Victor Webster, Jennifer Spence, Richard Harmon, Tiera Skovbye, Mike Dopud, Johannah Newmarch, Andrew Francis, Ben Cotton, Boti Bliss, Jonathon Young, Tyler Johnston, Alex Zahara, Andrew Dunbar, Lane Edwards, Jason Burkart, John Stewart, Toby Levins, Scott Crouse

Blurb from Netflix: No. This blurb lies and contains spoilers. An impressive feat to include both. We will not be supporting this blurb.

Selina’s Point of View:
There is very little I like more than being surprised by a movie.

When we rolled Icetastrophe I groaned. There wasn’t any part of me looking forward to seeing it. It looked an Asylum movie, the title wasn’t doing it any favors, and the blurb was ridiculous. The only reason it wound up on the list to begin with was because both Cat and I enjoy apocalypse-type films. Especially me. Apocalypses are my bread and butter. (Is that the right plural of apocalypse? I’m not sure. Let me know if I’m wrong!)

I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

This film suffers from a terrible case of Tomorrow People (2013-2014) syndrome. It’s a decent movie marketed with a terrible title. In fact, when I found out that Icetastrophe wasn’t the name it originally aired under, I got excited. I thought maybe it just went to DVD under the terrible name. As it turns out, Icetastrophe was an upgrade from what it was originally. It aired with the title Christmas Icetastrophe. That one extra word made it so much worse.

I’m reminded of that scene in Robin Hood Men in Tights (1993) where the prince asks the witch how she got her name, “Latrine.” She answers that she changed it from “Shit-house.” He responds that it was a “good change. Very good change.”

But I digress.

The movie was pretty good, actually. The concept was a little off and it was definitely a B-movie in reference to the graphics, but there was something very interesting about it.

The script was decent, but that wasn’t the best part. There was some amazing acting involved. There’s one scene where Tiera Skovbye (Even Lambs Have Teeth, Sugarbabies, A Christmas Tail) has to play her character as being terrified. In a lot of B-movies, those horror screams are laughable. Skovbye’s performance was not. I 100% believed her. She wasn’t the only one to deliver a fantastic performance either. Richard Harmon (Continuum, The 100, The Age of Adaline) and Victor Webster (Continuum, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, Mutant X) were also great.

I know Webster from his past work as Coop on Charmed, but he’s the only actor I’ve seen much of. As a result, I don’t know if the acting was phenomenal due to the talent of the actors or the talent of Jonathan Winfrey (Even Stevens, Watch Over Me, Saints & Sinners) as a director. I’d easily believe either, or both, of those theories.

This film is a great example of how simple things can elevate a B-movie into something that you not only want to watch, but wind up enjoying.

If only the name wasn’t such complete crap.

Cat’s Point of View:
I feel compelled to open my review of this movie with a caution to completely ignore the blurb on Netflix. Not only does it give away massive spoilers, it has patently false information in it as well. There also seems to be a bit of a discrepancy in the movie’s title. IMDb, as well as most other sources have the movie titled Christmas Icetastrophe, as it was billed when it aired on the SYFY Network as their version of a Christmas Special in 2014.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, on to the movie!

This was pretty much your typical SYFY disaster movie. There were things that defied physics, plain ridiculousness, and a mixed bag of effects between cool and ‘are you kidding me?!’ in quality. The VFX team seemed to take a few notes from The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – but maybe not enough.

I didn’t love it; but I didn’t hate it, either. I was surprised to find that the film was reasonably enjoyable. Though, it’s definitely not one that I’d choose to watch again. There was a lot of conscious decision on my part to overlook things, and that took away from my ability to invest in the story.

The saving grace of this movie was Victor Webster (The Magic Stocking, Burning Palms, Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators). The movie overall just wasn’t up to his caliber. If he weren’t involved in this project, I think I would have done a whole lot of rolling my eyes and checking the countdown to see if it was over yet.

For your bit of trivia, it’s worth noting that he joins quite a few of his cast mates from the SYFY Channel show, Continuum (2012-2015), in this movie. It’s fun to think that the cast might have just decided to do this additional group project for kicks during a hiatus in filming of their regular gig. 

I digress.

There was an interesting angle to this film that was a bit on the subtle side. It seems that, in the spirit of Christmas stories, the movie paid homage to the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Webster’s character was Charlie Ratchet. That’s easily C. Ratchet, in ode to Bob Cratchit. The character’s son, played by Richard Harmon (Judas Kiss, Grave Encounters 2, The Wishing Tree), was even named Tim.

There was also a Marley, played by Tiera Skovbye (Painkiller Jane, Forever 16, Feint). Though as a twist, she was the daughter of Mr. Crooge; brought to life by Mike Dopud (Snow Buddies, This Means War, Assault on Wall Street). Exploring how she fits the classic tale’s theme would reveal a spoiler – but it’s in there!

There’s no Ebenezer in this movie, but the Crooge family isn’t exactly liked by everyone and does seem to have some decent parallel. Though, the most curmudgeonly of them all had to be the son, Scott Crooge. If you take Andrew Francis’ (Tin Man, Primary, Max Steel) bellicose character down to initials, you have S. Crooge.

I thought that was neat.

It’s that sort of concept layering that elevates mediocre movies like this one into something a little more special. I’d say it’s worth a watch at least once – if only to pick out the Carol theme.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 33%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score2.5/5

The Random Rating: PG-13

P.S. Is on Netflix as Icetastrophe but the original title was Christmas Icetastrophe.

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, April 25, 2016

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

Number Rolled: 43
Movie Name/Year: I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
Tagline: Do some time with the one you love.
Genre: Comedy
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: EuropaCorp, Mad Chance, Consolidated Pictures Group
Producer: Luc Besson, Linda Fields, Jeffrey Harlacker, Andrew Lazar, Richard Middleton, Far Shariat, Miri Yoon
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Writer: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra, Steve McVicker
Actors: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Antoni Corone, Brennan Brown, Michael Mandell, Annie Golden, Marylouise Burke, David Jensen, Dameon Clarke, Clay Chamberlin, Louis Herthum, Morgana Shaw, Joe Chrest, Griff Furst, Aunjanue Ellis, DeVere Jehl, Michael Showers, Beth Burvant, Lasdon Deyne, Kennon Kepper, Alyssa Tate, Andrew Sensenig, Nicholas Alexander, Maureen Brennan, Trey Burvant, Miriam Cruz, Tommy Davis

Blurb from Netflix: When a Texas cop realizes he’s gay, he changes his life and pulls con jobs that land him in jail, where he meets his one true love.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m a huge fan of Jim Carrey (The Number 23, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Bruce Almighty), so I wasn’t overly surprised when I thought this movie was hilarious.

It was a little on that stereotypical side where gay men are concerned, but it’s based off a true story so I’m not sure how much of that was exaggerated and how much was true. That’s the problem with movies based off a true story. They could be just minorly reminiscent of what could have possibly happened, or they could be 100% accurate. They could also fall anywhere in the middle.

So, commenting on the characters themselves is a moot point. That may really be the way the characters were in real life. In the words of Bad Religion, “life is the crummiest book I ever read. There isn't a hook, just a lot of cheap shots, pictures to shock, and characters an amateur would never dream up.”

That being said, I can say that this is a story I’m glad I watched play out.

Carrey and Ewan McGregor (Son of a Gun, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Amelia) had incredible chemistry on screen and played their parts amazingly well. I was deeply invested in their characters and was thoroughly entertained. In the end, that’s what a movie is all about.

Cat’s Point of View:
Sometimes I wonder if Jim Carrey (Yes Man, A Christmas Carol, Kick Ass 2) is even real. He’s this fantastic chameleon creature that one would expect to be frolicking with unicorns – a real, living, cartoon character. I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. (Not all cartoons are for laughs, after all.)

I think he had a spectacular performance in this movie. You could just feel the gears turning in his character’s head when he was flying by the seat of his pants. The emotional range he expressed within the dynamic between the two main characters seemed genuine. I laughed and I wanted to throw things at him; but I also cried.

Of course, the other half of that duo was Ewan McGregor (Incendiary, Beginners, Jane Got a Gun). He was perfect in the role of Phillip Morris. He just exuded the good-hearted, optimistic, and naïve nature of the character. He felt like a real person, though, and not a caricature of a gay man.

Their accents were a little funny – but I could be biased due to living in the general region most of the film is supposed to be set in. There is that saying that ‘everything’s bigger in Texas.’ I suppose that can apply to accents sometimes, too.

I was surprised to find that some of this movie was actually filmed here, in Shreveport. I was invested enough in the film that I didn’t even pick up on what part it was. I’m probably going to watch it again at some point just to see.

For your random bit of trivia, I present to you that the real life Phillip Morris has a cameo in this movie in one of the court room scenes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would recommend it in a heartbeat. I’m actually quite curious for the opinions of a few friends of mine, and will be prodding them to watch it, soon!

Just for a final bit of amusement, I feel I must share that the final two items on the ‘Thank You’ list in the credits are Redbull and Xanax. I can truly say that this movie was entertaining to the very end.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 72%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 61%

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

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Indigenous (2014)

Number Rolled: 88
Movie Name/Year: Indigenous (2014)
Tagline: There are places you should never visit. This is one of them.
Genre: Horror
Length: 85 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Kilburn Media
Producer: Trey Bohn, Mark C. Manuel, Ted O’Neal, Bryan O’Reilly, James Samson, Matthew Therrell
Director: Alastair Orr
Writer: Max Roberts
Actors: Zachary Soetenga, Lindsey McKeon, Sofia Pernas, Pierson Fode, Jamie Anderson, Juanxo Villaverde, Laura Penuela, Yana Galuz, Michael Mealor, Jaime Newball, Mark Steger

Blurb from Netflix: When five American tourists take a pleasure trip to Panama, they ignore warnings by the locals and come face-to-face with a bloodsucking monster.

Selina’s Point of View:
Once again, I had no connection to this film.

The settings were fine, the actors were fine, and even the script was fine. But that’s all it was. It was fine. Nothing stood out. Nothing was super interesting. The characters were completely depthless. Even the big bad wasn’t super interesting. It looked like a cross between the original Nosferatu (1922) vampire and Gollum from the Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) trilogy.

I won’t be watching the film again and I won’t be recommending it to anyone looking for entertainment instead of background noise.

Cat’s Point of View:
I get excited when we come up with a creature feature. The majority of these movies tend to fall into the B-movie category. This film would definitely be one of those.

There were, unfortunately, few things in this movie that would transcend mediocrity.

The acting was ok, and the Panamanian setting was beautiful and lush. The film fairly accurately depicts how easy it is to get lost or separated in densely wooded areas – especially ones you are unfamiliar with.

The creature was…interesting. I think that Mark Steger (The Pact, 400 Days, Holidays) did a great job bringing that swiftly moving nightmare machine to life. My problem wasn’t with the performance. My issue was how they identified the creature. To me, at least, it didn’t seem to fit the mythos presented.

Further, you could almost feel that this movie was following a recipe. There were so many tropes going on. I felt like I’d seen the movie before (and I know I haven’t). The social media element made it a little more ‘relevant,’ but that’s a stretch.

I think I actually sighed a bit because the film had nothing original to offer me. I almost missed the decent ‘noises in the foliage’ and ‘getting lost in the dark’ suspense factors because I was so tempted to haul out my phone to play a game.

This movie wasn’t terrible; but it was vanilla. There wasn’t anything to set it apart among creature features to make it worth either watching again or recommending.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 14%

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

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score2.5/5

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Final Girl (2015)

Number Rolled: 92
Movie Name/Year: Final Girl (2015)
Tagline: The hunted becomes the hunter.
Genre: Horror
Length: 84 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: NGN Productions, Prospect Park, Final Girl Productions
Producer: Kim Breslin, Rob Carliner, Tara Cowell-Plain, Jeffrey Donnelly, Dureyshevar, Dion York Foley, Jeff Kwatinetz, Jack Nasser, Jacob Nasser, Joseph Nasser, Marco Torres
Director: Tyler Shields
Writer: Adam Prince, Stephen Scarlata, Alejandro Seri, Johnny Silver
Actors: Abigail Breslin, Wes Bentley, Logan Huffman, Cameron Bright, Alexander Ludwig, Reece Thompson, Francesca Eastwood, Emma Paetz, Gracyn Shinyei, Desiree Zurowski, Sean Tyson, Brett London

Blurb from Netflix: A group of sociopaths that’s been killing girls in the woods for sport sets its sights on a teen who turns out to be a trained assassin.

Selina’s Point of View:
When we rolled this film, I thought it was a different movie. I thought we’d rolled The Final Girls (2015) which is a different movie from the same year, with a very similar name also starring Alexander Ludwig (Lone Survivor, The Hunger Games, Race to Witch Mountain). I don’t feel so bad being confused about it because… seriously… wtf?

Anyway, The Final Girls isn’t even on Netflix, but Final Girl was on my “want to see” list anyway.

I don’t understand the reviews this film got. Critics and audiences hated it. I just didn’t. I didn’t love it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’ll be the first to admit that there wasn’t any significant depth in it and there wasn’t much of a point to it, but it wasn’t made to be that kind of film. It hasn’t got its hands out begging for an Oscar. It’s along the lines of torture porn, but it’s more like revenge porn, I guess. Saw (2004) was nothing but torture porn and that movie was fine.

It’s not for everyone, but I enjoyed it. I thought the characters were interesting and I saw all kinds of influences from other works such as American Psycho (2000) and Donnie Darko (2001) in the way the actors portrayed their characters.

The scenes were beautiful as well. At times the director might have put more effort into the beauty of the shot than he did into anything else, but that beauty was worth it.

I don’t think I’d have been disappointed if I had seen this in theaters.

Cat’s Point of View:
This movie should not be confused with the similarly titled The Final Girls (2015), which also features Alexander Ludwig (The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, Vikings, Blackway). It seems to be a coincidence of timing that these movies were released in the same year. IMDb shows that Abigail Breslin (No Reservations, Rango, Maggie) was 16 at the time she filmed this; which would put the production year at 2012.

Moving on!

I really enjoyed this movie – from the nod to vintage slasher films in the movie’s title, to the female heroine, all the way through the concept of a living embodiment of karma.

One of my favorite characters in the film was “Danny Boy,” played by Logan Huffman (Refuge, Underdogs, Complicity). His character was completely unhinged and provided a bit of comedic relief (albeit dark humor). I was very impressed to learn that he improvised quite a bit of his performance. Further, a small, yet important, scene for his character in which he’s getting ready for ‘the big night’ was entirely his idea. This kid is going places.

This movie left me with lots of questions – and that’s a good thing. I was into it enough that I wondered about the story behind the story. Was Wes Bentley’s (There Be Dragons, Amnesiac, We Are Your Friends) character part of some larger organization? If not, it would suggest that there is a bit of a plot hole in time discrepancy – but I’d like to believe that this was part of something bigger. I didn’t even question that potential fudge until I was watching the credits roll.

I loved the woods settings with the ambient lighting in such a fashion that it provided crazy good profile shots with some of the scenes. It helped set the tone in the latter half of the movie.

There was only one element that distracted me from getting fully immersed in the story. Through most of the movie it was raining – and no one seemed to get wet! Sure it’s an aesthetics thing – but it’s the kind of little detail that just randomly gets under my skin. I would have enjoyed it more, and scored it higher had that not been the case.

Be wary of watching the trailer for this movie. It really seems to give away quite a bit that I think most watching this film would want to discover on their own as the story unfolds. 

I’d definitely recommend this film to horror fans who are in the mood for a good story and not as much gore as your typical slasher.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 27%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 22%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Crown and the Dragon: The Paladin Cycle (2013)

Number Rolled: 77
Movie Name/Year: The Crown and the Dragon: The Paladin Cycle (2013)
Tagline: Two dragons. One poisons the land. The other heals it.
Genre: Sci-fi & Fantasy
Length: 91 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Arrowstorm Entertainment, Wulf / Gourley Productions
Producer: Saad Al-Enezi, Jason Faller, Marcia L. Gaines, Mike Graf, Kynan Griffin, Jennifer Kirkham, Peter A.T. McQuillan, Maclain Nelson, Justin Partridge, Russell Southam, David M. Wulf
Director: Anne K. Black
Writer: Anne K. Black, Kynan Griffin, Justin Partridge
Actors: Elizabeth Adams, Owen Barton, Lemuel Black, Angus Brown, Alana Clohessy, Claire Cordingley, Amy De Bhrun, Stefan Dubois, Jennifer Griffin, David Haydn, Ava Hunt, Tom Murphy, Clare Niederpruem, Ciaran O’Grady, Nicola Posener, Vidal Sancho, Tim Treloar, Janine Ingrid Ulfane

Blurb from Netflix: Joined by a smuggler, a young noblewoman embarks on a treacherous journey through dragon-filled lands on a quest to fulfill her calling. (Some of the blurb has been removed due to spoilers. Why Netflix included a spoiler in the blurb is beyond me. Trust the Dice does not support spoilers.)

Selina’s Point of View:
I have an issue with writing a review for this film. There was nothing wrong with it (considering it was a B-movie that required a ton of CGI), I just couldn’t get invested in it. The only reason I can really give for why I had issue, is that it was predictable.

Now, I didn’t read the Netflix blurb before I played the film, which I guess is good since there’s a spoiler right in it, but I still knew everything that was going to happen by about five minutes in. There was nothing that really made this film stand out among other dragon-type fantasy films and books. It was your run of the mill recipe without anything really spectacular to make it stand out.

The graphics were fine for a B-movie. The actors were alright and had acceptable chemistry. The script wasn’t bad, but there was nothing exceptional about it.

I can only think of two words to describe this film and that’s: extremely mediocre.

Cat’s Point of View:
I love love love the fantasy genre. Needless to say, when this movie came up, I was pretty excited about it. Fantastic stories with magic, dragons, and quests have always been quick to capture my imagination and whisk me away to the lands between the pages or on the screen.

I didn’t feel entirely transported this time, but I did enjoy the movie overall.

For all that this film was released just a few years ago, I don’t remember hearing anything about it. It likely suffered from under-marketing here in the States. I’m fairly certain that marketing wouldn’t have helped it much at the box office. I imagine that may be why it wasn’t.

This movie was a mixed bag for me.

The story felt rushed in a few places, and then muddled in others. I’m afraid the action sequences just weren’t up to my expectations, either.

Tim Treloar’s (Wondrous Oblivion, Framed, Maleficent) Corvus character wasn’t as convincing as he needed to be – though, that may be a combination of a shortcoming in acting skill and a fumble in story and direction. There were some underwater scenes that were meant to be significant – but didn’t deliver a clear picture of why.

For a lower budget movie, the effects for the dragon were okay. It looked and behaved like a dragon, at least, instead of just a lizard with wings.
All that being said, there were quite a few things that this movie got right.

I loved the fact that the young noblewoman needed help; but not because she was helpless. There’s more to her story that I absolutely adore – but revealing that would be major spoilers.

I really felt the connection between the characters Ellen and Aiden played by Amy De Bhrún (Lovelorn, Vikings, The Bachelor Weekend) and David Haydn (Two Strangers, Kundalini, The Trap). There was real chemistry just sparking in the air between them in some scenes. In addition to that, I could have listened to Haydn talk forever. His Scottish accent was swoon-worthy.

Angus Brown’s (The Power of Three, Angels in Notting Hill, The Dream Children) character, Leif, was also well realized; and reminded me of the English soldier that set events in motion to anger William Wallace into joining the Scottish rebellion in Braveheart (1995).

There were also some great comedic moments in the film that felt organic and even nicely tied some of the scenes together.

The filming locations were breathtaking and really fit the essence of the story. It was no surprise to me that the entire movie was filmed in Ireland.

I feel I must also give kudos to the music team for this film. The soundtrack felt enmeshed as part of the story and was hauntingly beautiful in quite a few places. I loved the use of the uilleann pipes, which is the national bagpipe of Ireland – and also my very favorite musical instrument to listen to.

As I was researching the filming locations to see if my guess of Ireland was correct, I discovered that this movie was at least partially funded by a Kickstarter project. This certainly elevates my perception of the execution of this film – they got a lot of bang out of their bucks.

All in all, I was entertained and wouldn’t mind recommending this movie to others that enjoy this genre.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 19%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

The Random Rating: PG-13

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Left Behind (2014)

Number Rolled: 45
Movie Name/Year: Left Behind (2014)
Tagline: Some were saved, and some were…
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Stoney Lake Entertainment
Producer: Christopher Sean Brown, Bill Busbice Jr., Ed Clydesdale, Jason Hewitt, J. Young Kim, Paul Lalonde, John Patus, Willie Robertson, Michael Walker, J. David Williams, R. Bryan Wright
Director: Vic Armstrong
Writer: Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, Paul Lalonde, John Patus
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Lea Thompson, Nicky Whelan, Quinton Aaron, Cassi Thomson, Martin Klebba, Major Dodson, William Ragsdale, Jordin Sparks, Stephanie Honore, Gary Grubbs, Lance E. Nichols, Alec Rayme, Han Soto, Judd Lormand, Candice Michele Barley, Lolo Jones, Kamryn Johnson

Blurb from Netflix: After millions of people on Earth suddenly disappear, a pilot flying a plane stuck at 30,000 feet must find a way to ensure the passengers’ survival.

Selina’s Point of View:
So, I’ve been obsessively watching a new YouTube channel lately. This gamer, “InTheLittlewood” (channel: YOGSCAST Martyn), is hysterical. I’ve only been watching his Mario Maker videos and whenever there’s a bad level that drives him nuts, he has this saying: “balls to that.” I assume it’s some kind of British slang, possibly even wide spread, but he’s the only one I’ve ever heard using it.

What does that have to do with Left Behind?

Balls to that, that’s what.

This film was so bad. Chad Michael Murray (Agent Carter, Christmas Cupid, Gilmore Girls) and Cassi Thomson (Switched at Birth, Big Love, Cop Dog) were bright lights within the super preachy, super boring, darkness.

Now, don’t go ahead and start accusing me of just not liking it because it had a Christian theme. I don’t care about that stuff. I just watched Angels in the Outfield the other day and I still love it. That had a heavy Christian theme, it’s right there in the title. Look.

I had an issue with just how preachy Left Behind got, but you almost expect that from a rapture film.

The worst part, the part that made everything unforgiveable, was that it was just SO boring.  

I could barely concentrate because of that. I wanted to get into it because Murray and Thomson were really good. They are fine actors and they did great with what they had. Unfortunately, they didn’t have much.

I just can’t recommend this film.

Balls to that.

Cat’s Point of View:
We didn’t realize, at first, that this movie was a remake, or a reboot, of the story told in the Kirk Cameron (Tribulation Force, Fireproof, Saving Christmas) led cast of Left Behind: The Movie (2000). Both movies are based on the books by Jerry B. Jenkins (Tribulation Force, Midnight Clear, Though None Go With Me) and Rev. Tim LaHaye (Epicenter, What God Hath Wrought, Left Behind: World at War).

Before I get into my opinion on the film, let me first preface with the fact that I wanted to like this movie. Nicolas Cage (Next, Season of the Witch, Stolen) and Chad Michael Murray (To Write Love on Her Arms, Cavemen, Outlaws and Angels) in a Sci-Fi Thriller? Hell Yes!

Cage’s movies are hit or miss; but when he’s ‘in the zone,’ his movies can be outstanding. When you add Murray into the equation, my expectation just gets higher. I loved his work in One Tree Hill (2003-2012). It’s one of my favorite shows ever. (Don’t judge.) As a little ‘six degrees’ tidbit for you, this wasn’t his first time working with Nicky Whelan (Hall Pass, The Power of Few, Borrowed Moments). They both were in the Crackle series, CH:OS:EN (2013-2015).

I think that they did the best they could with what they had to work with – but this wasn’t their best work all the way around.

The premise in the Netflix blurb looked interesting – and reminded me a bit of the HBO show, The Leftovers (2014-). Though, this wasn’t exactly a Sci-Fi movie. It was too religion-centric. I’ll get back to that.

Vic Armstrong (Season of the Witch, A Sunday Horse, Eddie the Eagle) directed this film. He’s involved with the stunt teams or working as a second unit director or assistant director more often than not. Fun film fact for you – he was Harrison Ford’s (Firewall, Morning Glory, 42) stunt double in a good number of his movies in the 80’s.

With all of the beloved movies he’s been involved in over the decades he’s been behind the camera – I wanted more from this one.

I didn’t get it.

Sure the effects in this remake were better, and the plot was less jumpy and more concise – but overall it missed its mark.

Quite likely the source of my disconnect was the film’s preachy nature. It’s an evangelical work plain and simple – not a flight of fantasy or science fiction. I felt like I’d gone to church and they’d played the movie instead of a sermon – but not as fun as going to school and getting to watch a film instead of class work.

The references were thick throughout the whole film. I understand that it’s the point of the piece but it wasn’t marketed that way. Special effects and general technology differences with the 2000 movie aside, it seems like the original movie was packaged more honestly. It wasn’t as blatant throughout, but it did get a bit heavy handed late in the film.

I was left feeling a bit cheated and wishing that we’d come up with a different movie for our review this time around – but at the same time relieved that we got it out of the way so it won’t pop up in the future.

I won’t be recommending this one – and if anyone needs me; I’ll be over there in the corner listening to R.E.M’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine).”

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 2%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 40%

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

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

P.S. Remake of a movie by the same name made in 2000 which was based on a book with the same name written by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Legendary (2013)

Number Rolled: 35
Movie Name/Year: Legendary (2013)
Tagline: Search for the adventure.
Genre: Action & Adventure
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: China Film Group, Midsummer Films, Ripken Productions, Zhongshida International Media
Producer: Andy Briggs, Eryl Cochran, Moshe Diamant, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Sanping Han, Chris Harris, Robert Jones, Francesco juilland, Matthew Kuipers, Terhi Kyllainen, Arnaud Lannic, Christophe Lannic, Xiaodong Liu, Christopher Milburn, Peter Milburn, Carolynne Philpott, John Rogerson, David Turner, Haicheng Zhao
Director: Eric Styles
Writer: Andy Briggs
Actors: Scott Adkins, Dolph Lundgren, Yi Huang, Nathan Lee, James Lance, Lydia Leonard, Le Geng, Murray Clive Walker, Viktor Sobtchak, Tom Austen, David Thomas Jenkins, Li Shengye, Yang Caiyu, Paul Philip Clark, Ivan Kotik, Zhongyou Guo, Xu Bo

Blurb from Netflix: A cryptozoologist assembles his team for an expedition to China’s hinterland, where a primeval monster locals call the “Shocate” is believed to roam.

Selina’s Point of View:
I failed to read the description of this movie before I watched it. I don’t know why, but a creature feature was not in my expectations. I’m open to that kind of film, though. I like some pointy teeth and terrible graphics from time to time. This time, however…

The film was just pointless.

The characters were completely depthless and cookie cutter. They were even played by cookie cutter actors that didn’t seem to have their own style of acting. I saw the discount version of Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice, Her, The Village), Ryan Kwanten (Blunt Force Trauma, True Blood, Knights of Badassdom) and Jon Voight (Ray Donovan, Anaconda, Holes) in this movie. I didn’t even know they had discount versions.

I know that makes it sound like the actors were great, but please don’t overlook the phrase, “discount version.” By that, I don’t mean they just look like those actors but aren’t well known. I’ve seen a lot of actors that have been really great despite having nearly no exposure. That has nothing to do with anything. A “discount version” of an actor, at least when I use the phrase, means that I believe the directors wanted a specific type of acting and couldn’t pay for the real thing so they needed people who could copy the way other people acted, even if those copied performances were rough or just plain bad.

Aside from the acting, the story and script were both filled to the brim with tropes.

When you have a big movie, with millions of dollars in their budget, you’re going to get incredible graphics or incredible actors, or both. Those movies can afford to target the lowest common denominator with a ton of tropes. Small budget creature features can only do that if they find a way to make it a joke or otherwise twist it.

It didn’t even become so bad that it was good.

I’ve gone over this a hundred times. For a movie to be so bad it’s good, it needs to do at least one thing incredibly right. This film really didn’t get anything right.

Except the music, oddly enough. The music made me think back to The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). It had a nostalgic, almost amusing tone to it that could have elevated the film, if it had been utilized correctly. If the music was backed by a slightly stronger script, this might be a very different review.

Also, the big bad looked like a version of the Geico gecko that had been blown up with the ray from Honey, I Blew Up The Kid (1992).

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m not sure what I was expecting with this creature feature, but I’m not sure that I got it.

The movie was okay – but only just.

There wasn’t enough levity – either purposeful or brought on by ridiculousness – to make it one of ‘those’ B-movies. Most of the acting wasn’t horrible. No one was going to win any awards for this film, though. It was just…there.

I do appreciate what they did with the graphics here. The creature effects were mostly pretty decent. Things moved like they should have and nothing was too far-fetched.

Dolph Lundgren (The Killing Machine, One in the Chamber, War Pigs) can always be counted on to play a good heel. It was a bit odd to see him outside of an action movie, though. Maybe that’s why he took the role. Either that, or he cooked up something with Scott Adkins (Assassination Games, Zero Dark Thirty, Re-Kill) maybe? Atkins filmed this movie while he was recovering from a knee injury that put his normal action movie career on hiatus.

All told, I didn’t hate this movie but I’m not over the moon about it either. It’s doubtful I’d recommend it, because there are just so many other good movies out there for someone who’s bored.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 9%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 1.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

Movie Trailer: