Mortal Engines and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Christian Rivers
There are always WAY too many movies coming out this time of year which means that I can fall a bit behind or forget to see movies altogether. HOPEFULLY that won’t be a big issue this year; especially if I can still find time to go out and see THIS film! Yes, it’s another movie adapted from a Young Adult novel that’s the first in a series, but unlike recent attempts like The Darkest Minds (ugh…), it looks like someone put some real effort into this thing with just how absurd the premise is and how much money looks to have been spent trying to realize it! Can this big budgeted world saving extravaganza be the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games, or is this yet another example of Hollywood having no idea how to adapt these kinds of books to the big screen? Let’s find out!!
In the far off future, after the bombs dropped and presumably after the Fallout games, humanity has decided that the best way to live in the ravaged hellscape of post-apocalypse Europe is to build cities on top of their cars and race them around looking for resources. I’m not quite sure how this is more efficient than say using airplanes and smaller vehicles to find stuff and bring it back to stationary cities, but then I guess I’m from the BOMBED INTO OBLIVION part of history, so what do I know? The biggest and baddest of these cities is London (which STILL waves the Union Jack a thousand years later) run by the nefarious Thaddeus Valentine who you KNOW is bad because he’s played by Hugo Weaving, and when they capture one of the smaller roaming cities he learns that there’s at least one person out there who’s quite cross with him. Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) was one of the captured city’s refugees, but it was all a ploy to get her that much closer to Valentine who she takes a stab at but only causes minor damage because some dude named Tom (Robert Sheehan) sees the attack coming and stops her from finishing the job. Through an elaborate chase scene, Tom chases her down to… I guess the city’s trash hole where she tells him that Valentine killed her mother before escaping the city through said trash hole. Valentine, realizing that one of his loyal peons has heard the ravings of an attempted murder decides that the rational thing to do here is not to convince him that she was lying or even to outright murder him, rather he throws him down the trash hole as well; very much alive and at least a little bit peeved by the whole experience. From there he finds Hester again and they tentatively team up to find a new city for him and a new assassination plot for her. Along the way they’ll run into raiders, slavers, some robot dude named Shrike (Stephen Lang), and even an Anti-London resistance movement head up by Anna Fang (Jihae) of which Hester is apparently the key to their success and not just one of many people who have a legitimate grievance against Valentine. Speaking of whom, he also has some sort of plan to make a Doomsday Weapon out of old technology which he will use to… conquer the world I guess? In any case, will Hester and Tom learn to become friends over the course of their ridiculously convoluted journey? Why DID Valentine kill Hester’s mother, and what other secrets is she hiding from everyone around her? For all the stuff these cities have scavenged, did any of them manage to find the plot?
Unfriended: Dark Web and all the images you see in this review are owned by OTL Releasing and BH Tilt
Directed by Stephen Susco
Somehow this ended up being a week where the three big movies coming out (this, Mama Mia: Here We Go Again, and The Equalizer 2) are all sequels to movies I’ve never seen, and I try not to avoid them if they’re direct sequels or prequels as the lack of context can make it hard to really judge a movie on its merits. Sure I’ve made exceptions in the past like Barbershop: The Next Cut, but I’ve got enough on my plate as it is to try and catch up on EVERY franchise out there (unless of course it’s the Fast and the Furious which I did binge watch all seven movies before seeing Fate of the Furious), so I just leave those ones up to the other critics. However, when it comes to sequels like THIS movie which seem to have nothing to do with the original and are mostly just using the name or premise, I’m fine with giving it a shot and looking at it as its own thing. Heck, I was downright intrigued by this film since it looks like they fixed the main reason I avoided the first one (i.e. there being a GHOST IN THE COMPUTER) and replaced with something at least a LITTLE more grounded! Does this manage to live up to its premise in ways that the first film didn’t sell me on, or was that the least of this franchise’s problems before I decided to jump onboard? Let’s find out!!
The movie starts with Matias (Colin Woodell) booting up his new laptop and installing one of his own programs on the hard drive; namely a program designed to parse speech and then translate it into American Sign Language. This is great because his girlfriend Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras) is deaf and it will make it that much easier for them to communicate, right? Well… not quite. It seems that there’s some tension between the two of them that Matias is gonna have to figure out, but let’s worry about that later! After all, it’s game night! Matias’s friends Nari, Serena, Damon, AJ, and Lexx (Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Connor Del Rio, and Savira Windyani) join with him on a skype call and they start to play Cards Against Humanity in a blatant show of product placement while Matias checks the hard drive of his new computer. As he looks through it though, it’s clear that the previous owner was into some shady stuff and Matias PROBABLY shouldn’t have… ahem, GOTTEN this computer from somewhere. These sketchy documents and video files would be bad enough, but it looks like the computer owner (going by the name Charon IV) has found Matias through Facebook and is REALLY determined to get his property back; even if it means hurting someone he loves in the process, like say… oh I don’t know… Amaya? Okay, but this isn’t THAT out of hand! All he has to do is give it back, right!? Well… easier said than done. Charon IV (Douglas Tait) is willing to do a trade, but Matias has seen too much and will surely get the attention of Charon IV’s friends if he’s not careful which can only make things worse and could put the rest of his friends in danger as well. What nightmares will Matias find on the computer, and is there anything he can do to stop these people? Cab Matias outsmart Charon IV and his friends just long enough to save him and his friends this night? What kind of self-respecting hacker uses a Macbook with OSX on it!? Not even with a Dual Boot to Linux!?