12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 9)

After today’s post there will only be three parts left. Almost there, we can power through this, friends. So let’s go.

So today we’re talking about “Holiday Rush”, a 2019 Netflix dramedy about Rush Williams (Romany Malco), a popular radio DJ who gets fired just before the holidays. So he plans to find new ways to get back on the air, but in the meantime grabs his spoiled kids and moves in with his aunt (Darlene Love) just to stay safe over the holidays. Considering the cast, I expected this movie to be a straight up comedy. But no, it’s more of a dramedy, which in itself is fine. But hoo boy, I found myself bored. Due to none of the writing being particularly nuanced, along with poor pacing, you get a narrative that had me checking my watch every few minutes. Which is a shame, because there are some incredibly talented people in this cast. From Romany Malco, to Sonequa Martin-Green, to Darlene Love, to Deon Cole, you have a lot of genuine talent in this… that said, they don’t feel like they get properly used. Take Deon Cole for example. He can be extremely funny. But he gets no good jokes here at all. And before you ask, yes, there are a few genuinely chuckle-wrothy lines/moments in this. I counted three. But still, that kind of just reiterates what I said. The cast feels somewhat wasted on an undercooked script that otherwise has some decent potential.
So in conclusion, “Holiday Rush” isn’t great.

On the ninth day of christmas, I watched something quite dull
But at least no one bashed in my damn skull

Movie Review: The Guardian Angel (1990)

Oh hi. Ready for another Summer of the Swedes entry? Cool, let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Guardians Angel” (Original title: Skyddsängeln).

Some fictional European country, the 1910s. A revolution rages on, and one of the country’s ministers (Etienne Glaser) has decided to have a nice, relaxing summer with his family in the countryside. He has also brought his new bodyguard (Philip Zandén). And we follow these people as they go through ups and downs throughout the summer. This film tries to say things about stuff, but it never succeeded in putting it in my head. I don’t mind a movie trying to say something about humanity or politics or whatever the fuck, but you got to have a clever way of saying it that speaks to people. This right here is just fucking pretentious and boring, seldom doing anything remotely engaging. And even in those rare moments where something that could be called mildly interesting happens, the presentation (which we’ll get deeper into later) pushes it into nonsensical pretentiousness again. And while pretentiousness can be acceptable (see Ingmar Bergman), you’re gonna need something interesting to back it up… which this tale doesn’t.

The characters try to be dramatic and engaging and interesting, but guess what… nah. They all clash, as if they’re in different movies. Take Etienne Glaser for example. He very much has the vibe of an uptight asshole in a 50s drama. But then you have Björn Kjellman who feels like he should be in a 90s rom-com. And then there’s Philip Zandén whose performance feels like what Matthew Macfadyen would end up as if he wasn’t allowed to be expressive. The actors are trying, and generally I can’t actively say anything about their performances (except for Björn Kjellman, whose performance just feels weirdly anachronistic).

What’s interesting about the music in this movie is that there isn’t much of it. And the little we get is music licensed for the film. It doesn’t have a typical score. But how do these few licensed tracks work throughout? Eh. The tracks themselves aren’t bad, but the way they’ve been implemented just feels slightly off.

Based on a novel by Ricarda Huch, “The Guardian Angel” was directed by Suzanna Osten. And I have mixed feelings about the execution of her directing. It’s clear that she knows what she wants in her direction, the confidence is very evident in what we see. However, some of the choices made don’t really work for me. There are some shots that are a bit… off. But even more baffling is the editing, which is all over the fucking place, often just leaving me stunned as to why you would make a lot of those cuts, sometimes causing a weird sense of nausea even.

On imdb.com this movie has a score of 6.6/10. That’s all I got… the movie barely fucking exists on my usual sites.

“The Guardian Angel” is a bit too slow and pretentious for me, just ending up being a drab and less than engaging experience. Its plot is slow and nonsensical, its characters not that engaging despite (mostly) good acting, weirdly chosen music, the direction okay, and the editing being fucking baffling. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Guardians Angel” is a 3,11/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Guardian Angel” is now completed.

Zzzzz…

Movie Review: Carnosaur (1993)

I can already hear the comments asking why I watched this movie, let alone review it. Well, let’s just say that I am currently petitioning to get morbid curiosity labeled as a federal crime in order to prevent shit like this from happening to me again.

Ladies and gents… “Carnosaur”.

A scientist manages, through some sort of bioengineering, to bring a dinosaur to life, which then promptly escapes from the lab… seeking to eat any living thing that comes in its path. Do you like “Jurassic Park”, but wish they took out all the awe, the whimsy, the fun, the suspense… and basically anything that makes a good story out? Well then “Carnosaur” is for you! Look, I expected schlocky entertainment, that’s fine. But could you at least aim to make said schlock fun? This right here is boring. How do you make an 80-minute movie about a murderous dinosaur this sluggish and dull? The writing here isn’t even a funny kind of bad, it’s just bad bad.

The characters are so boring and uninteresting that I didn’t recognize them beyond “Main-ish guy”, “Scientist lady”, and “Clint Howard”. Which is a shame, because there’s some genuine talent in this cast. Diane Ladd, Raphael Sbarge, Ned Bellamy, and Clint Howard are all talented people, I think they all at least try to do something good with the material here… but they all unfortunately can’t elevate this web sock of a script. Except for Clint Howard, he at least seems mildly self-aware about it all.

The score for the movie was composed by Nigel Holton, and it’s not great. His compositions are eclectic, poorly structured, and a bit week. I get that he’s going for the good ol’ monster brass. What does that mean? Loud, a little bit chaotic, utilizing a lot of staccatos to create a sort of scare effect. And while I respect that… it doesn’t really work here due to somewhat poor compositions.

Based on the novel of the same name written by John Brosnan, “Carnosaur” was written and directed by Adam Simon… and if you’ve read the previous sections, you might figure out my thoughts here. I get that this is low-budget, but I’ve seen low budget films that work around their limitations even better. The shot composition is passable at best, and the editing is quite meh too. If I have to give a few words of praise to anything, the effects work is alright. The dinosaur effects look fine, and there’s a few pretty alright gore effects too. But overall the craft in this isn’t great.

This movie hasn’t been very well received at all. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 11% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 3,6/10.

I love dinosaurs. I love a bit of schlock. But “Carnosaur” somehow really let me down by being boring, unfocused, drab, and not having a single interesting character. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Carnosaur” is a 1,02/10. So definitely skip this one.

My review of “Carnosaur” is now completed.

How can you make dinosaurs boring?

Movie Review: Inferno (2016)

I have a bit of a soft spot for this franchise. I thoroughly enjoy the novels and I do enjoy the other movies. So let’s see if the newest one is any good.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Inferno”.

Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) finds himself waking up in a hospital in Florence, not remembering anything that happened in the last 48 hours. And soon he finds himself on the run with his nurse (Felicity Jones), trying to follow clues to stop a plague from being unleashed. And all of this is somehow related to “The Divine Comedy” (AKA “Dante’s Inferno”). And to be completely honest, I found the plot here pretty dull. Now, none of the previous movies had particularly amazing plots, but at least there was something that could be held on to. But this is just dull and not very interesting. Which is sad because there are some clever ideas in this that could make for a really interesting plot. However they are not used cleverly at all in here. It’s dull. And the twists in this movie are not that great. They’re there, and I didn’t exactly predict all of them… but they weren’t really that good.

The characters in this movie are for the most part pretty uninteresting. Robert Langodn is somewhat interesting, but that’s mainly becaue he’s played by Tom Hanks who does a good job with what he’s given. Felicity Jones in the movie gives a good performance even though her character for msot of the movie is kind of bland and uninteresting. Irrfan Khan plays a kind of shady dude in the movie and he’s probably the best thing in it. His character is actually a little interesting and even has a few fun lines. And Khan gives a solid performance. We also get Ben Foster as a rich dude that more or less pops up every now and then in the movie, and he was… okay. And saying that makes me kind of sad because Ben Foster is one of those actors who usually gives excellent performances that are also kind of over-the-top (in just the right way), but here he is rather dull. Here’s what I have to say about the cast: The actors are trying, and for the most part they give good performances… but the characters are not really that interesting.

The score for the movie was composed by Hans Zimmer and it was pretty good. While this isn’t one of his best scores, it was still good and it almost worked to make certain scenes more exciting… almost.

This movie was (just like the previous ones) directed by Ron Howard and he did an okay job. The biggest problem here is that the movie looks like it was made on a TV budget. The things that made me remember “Oh right, this is a theatrically released movie!” was the cast and the locations they featured in it. Speaking of which, the places featured in the movie… beautiful, an absolute treat for a culture nerd like me. But the camera work doesn’t look bad at all, but it also doesn’t have any real style to it.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 19% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 42/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

“Inferno” is a very dull movie in an otherwise okay franchise. It has a dull plot, dull characters, good performances, pretty good music, and okay directing. However, it is brought down quite a bit because of the plot being as dull as it is, with characters being really uninteresting, and because of the bland directing. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Inferno” is a 5,55/10. So I’d say that you should skip it.

My review of “Inferno” is now completed.

This movie clearly didn’t know how to use it’s Ben Foster.

 

 

Movie Review: Child 44 (2015)

Adapting a book to a film is a very serious gamble. Sometimes you can  succeed very well and get something as great as Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, or you get something as mediocre as “The Hunger Games” (That’s right, I said it). So for you aspiring filmmakers out there want to adapt something into a movie… be careful.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Child 44”.

The Soviet Union, 1953. Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) is a member of the Russian Military police that takes on the the task of investigating a series child murders. And what follows is a tale of betrayal, redemption, and other fancy words. The basic story of this movie is actually really good and could be incredibly compelling… however, the execution of said story in this movie is not that good. I wouldn’t say that it was bad, but you can tell that the movie’s reach exceeds it’s grasp. The people who made this film clearly wanted to make the plot compelling and suspenseful, but in the end it was just kind of… meh. Which is kind of sad, because the ideas they set up here are actually good. The execution on the other hand is not that great. It’s kind of boring. I can appreciate a slowly paced movie, but the pacing in this movie is kind of shit.

The characters in this movie are decently interesting. I wouldn’t say that I was too invested in them, but they weren’t bad. Tom Hardy plays the main character Leo Demidov and actually gave a great performance. I actually did kind of care about his character, but that’s mainly because of Hardy’s great performance. Noomi Rapace played Hardy’s wife in this movie and she was good. Joel Kinnaman plays one of Hardy’s colleague in the movie and he did a really good job. His character was a bit psycho, and Kinnaman portrayed that very well. Gary Oldman is also really good in the movie, even though he doesn’t get to do too much in this. Jason Clarke pops up very briefly in this movie, and he does a really good job even though, like I said, his appearance is rather brief. We also get Fares Fares as another one of Hardy’s colleagues and he gives a really good performance. So yeah… there are a bunch of really solid performances in this movie.

The original score for the movie was composed by Jon Ekstrand and it was pretty good. While it never did anything overly unique/original, it was still well composed and fit the movie fairly well.

This movie was directed by Daniel Espinosa and he did an okay job. The shots for the most part look really good, but I think that’s more thanks to the cinematographer, Oliver Wood. There are a few action scenes in this movie and they are… okay. The main problem with them is that they are too shaky. I know that it works in “Bourne Ultimatum” (also shot by Oliver Wood), but here it just looks bad. Basically when there is no action and people are simply talking or there is some establishing shot, this movie looks great. But when action comes it turns into a shaky, quickly cut mess. Also, remember when I talked about adapting books at the beginning of the review? Yeah, this movie is based on the book of the same name written by Tom Rob Smith.

This movie has not been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 26% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 41/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,5/10.

“Child 44” is a movie that has glimpses of greatness throughout it’s entire runtime, but ultimately falls flat. It has a meh story, okay characters, great performances, good music, okay directing, and good cinematography. The things that bring it down is an uncompelling plot, characters not being the most compelling, and action scenes being shaky as shit. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Child 44” is a 6,22/10.
So it might be worth a rental.

My review of “Child 44” is now completed.

In Soviet Russia, movie watch you.