Movie Review: The Rental (2020)

Have you ever just wanted to get away for a weekend? Just sort of get out of the house and have some fun, recharging a bit. Yeah, maybe don’t. Or do, I’m not your mother.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Rental”.

The story here follows two couple (Dan Stevens/Alison Brie and Jeremy Allen White/Sheila Vand) as they rent a nice, big, fancy cottage for the weekend, as a way to unwind and celebrate a bit. But not long after they arrive they discover some sinister stuff going on around, which not only may threaten their lives… but also forces some dark secrets to come out. I like this setup, it takes elements of both a slasher and a domestic drama, which could make for a really interesting narrative… shame it doesn’t live up to that though. Because for most of it I wasn’t interested in what was going on. The story beats themselves are actually pretty interesting, but the way they were handled was just so dull. What’s even more egregious is that when the plot felt like it was picking up for its second act, it ended like four minutes later. So the ending feels very abrupt. And when you combine that with the overall execution of everything else being subpar, you get an overall poor narrative.

The characters in this, like the plot before them, have interesting setups… but in the end I don’t care. They don’t have much going for them in terms of personality, and I’d probably mix them all up if I wasn’t already familiar with some of the actors. I mean, you have Dan Stevens (who I love), you have Alison Brie (who’s good in things), you have Jeremy Allen White (who I’ve heard good things about), they all do fine, even though they got very little to work with. Sheila Vand does fine with her role. And Toby Huss who shows up briefly is alright too. It’s a good cast that does the best they can with very subpar material.

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, and I think they did an okay job. It is dark and droning and very reminiscent of their other scores in those ways. So yeah, their score here is fine. Not their most original or well composed, but solid enough.

“The Rental” was co-written and directed by actor Dave Franco, and I think he did an average job. His directing here is fine, passable, serves its purpose in an average manner. This is a bit of an issue when it so clearly wants to be a creepy, suspenseful thriller, and at no point did I ever really feel uncomfortable or tensed up. I do commend his directing in that it has some snappiness to it, no shots feel like they drag or like they rush, I think that stuff is handled decently enough. But good shot composition and half-decent editing doesn’t really make me spooked, despite the movie clearly wanting me to be.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.7/10.

Despite a solid setup and a good cast, “The Rental” is sadly a bit of a miss. It has a poor plot, uninteresting characters, good performances, okay music, and mediocre directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Rental” is a 4.60/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Rental” is now completed.

That title is kind of ironic, because this movie isn’t really worth renting.

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: 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.