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!?
Upgrade and all the images you see in this review are owned by OTL Releasing and BH Tilt
Directed by Leigh Whannell
Well if it isn’t my good friend Blumhouse Tilt! How’ve you been, buddy!? Sure, you’ve released two of the WORSTmovies I’ve seen in the past few years, but let’s let bygones be bygones; especially now that you’re teaming up with Neon who’ve made one of the BEST movies I’ve seen in the past few years! Your newest movie is certainly getting a lot of buzz recently with great word of mouth and a kick ass trailer, so maybe there’s some hope for you yet, as long as you don’t work with Eli Roth ever again! Can Blumhouse’s latest film turn out to be an under the radar smash hit from a studio that’s VERY hit and miss? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the sad tale of Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) who’s living his average Cyberpunk protagonist life in a slightly cyberpunk future with his soon to be a cliché wife Asha (Melanie Vellejo) and everything is going about as well as you could expect for the first ten minutes of one of these movies! Grey fixes up old cars for rich people, Asha works at a cyber prosthetic company, and they couldn’t be happier if they tried! That is until their automatic car goes haywire, drops them off on the wrong side of the tracks, and they’re immediately assaulted by a few punks who kill her off (wow, what a surprise…) and leave poor Grey for dead! He somehow manages to survive however, though not without losing the use of his arms and legs, and he’s ready to give up on life when one of his wealthy customers Eron (Harrison Gilbertson) offers him a chance to test a medical miracle called STEM which is basically a small computer they insert into the spine that still hasn’t gone through OFFICIAL testing, but will surely give him back the use of his limbs along with a few other bells and whistles. After some initial hesitance (Grey isn’t one for all this new-fangled technology stuff), he agrees to do it and sure enough starts walking again almost immediately. Slight side effect though, there’s an AI inside the chip starts talking to him and STEM (Simon Maiden) seems more than eager to help Grey find the men who killed his wife and bring them to some sort of justice. Well Grey is certainly up for that, especially since the cop on the case (Betty Gabriel) hasn’t turned up many leads, but they have to be careful because not only does Grey need to keep the rest of the world from knowing he can walk again (he even signs a NDA about the procedure), he also has to keep his activities hidden from Eron who’s more than likely following his every move and wouldn’t be too pleased if his next step in medical science was used to rip people’s hearts out. Will Grey and STEM find the people who killed his wife and get him that sweet sweet vengeance he so desperately craves? What other side effects besides hearing voices and kicking extra amounts of ass will Grey have to deal with now that he’s got STEM sharing brain space with him? I mean, it’s not THAT bad, right? Who WOULDN’T want your operation system constantly reminding you to install critical updates right into your auditory cortex!?
Birth of the Dragon and all the images you see in this review are owned by BH Tilt and WWE Studios
Directed by George Nolfi
Now I’ve always been more of a Jackie Chan guy myself (sorry, but the guy has a much larger filmography and basically reinvented the genre by incorporating vaudevillian slapstick into the martial arts) but Bruce Lee is a dude who earned all the respect that he gets by being the first big Asian star in cinema and defining a genre of film for generations to come. There have been plenty of Bruce Lee films since his death in 1973, almost all of which were in pretty poor taste, but there hasn’t been one in quite some time so maybe now is the time to remind everyone just how awesome and badass he was with a brand new and super slick Hollywood production… or at least something approaching that. Can this film bring the man back to the forefront of action filmmaking one more time, or is this yet another example of how to pay tribute to him in the worst way possible? Let’s find out!!
The story begins in 1960s San Francisco where Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) hasn’t quite made it as a star but is certainly building up a following as the country’s greatest martial artist and a potential star of the silver screen. Of course, with this brazen attitude and willingness to teach anyone of any race the secrets of Eastern martial arts had gotten the ire of some of the more traditional masters back in China; including Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) who’s come to San Francisco as some sort of journey of self-discovery and repentance for his own misdeeds. One of Lee’s students Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen) goes to greet Wong Jack Man at the port and they soon form something resembling a friendship with the latter still not happy with what Lee has been teaching to people like Steve which has always been a sacred practice as well as Chinese one. Eventually Lee’s pride and arrogance (and to a certain extent Wong Jack Man’s as well) leads the two to eventually meet and have a rather public standoff that may someday lead to the fight to end all fights. Oh, and there are Chinese gangsters in this movie somewhere because what kind of martial arts movie would this be if there WEREN’T Chinese gangsters hanging around? Will Bruce and Wong find a way to hash out their differences, even if they have to face each other in combat to do so? Will Steve be able to save his girlfriend from those Chinese Gangsters we were talking about because OF COURSE that subplot has to be in here somewhere? Is it just me, or does the guy in this movie look more like Moe Howard than Bruce Lee?
Sleight and all the images you see in this review are owned by WWE Studios, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing, and Universal Pictures
Directed by JD Dillard
If I ever decide to write a screenplay, I have two ideas. One of them I’m still gonna keep to myself, but the other was a fake-documentary about a street magician who ACTUALLY had magic powers. I hadn’t really thought of it past that point (no idea what the conflict would be), but when I saw the trailer to Sleight it looked like someone had made a much better version of my idea and I couldn’t wait to see it. That kind of magic (or should I say MAGIC!) has always been of great interest to me, whether it’s Penn & Teller’s unique brand of magic comedy, the soft spot I have for at least the second Now You See Me movie, or even Zatanna from DC Comics who is one of my favorite super heroes of all time. Mixing that with a sort of low key X-Men origin story seemed like the kind of movie that would easily be one of my favorites of the year, and that’s saying something considering how good the movies have been so far! Does this manage to exceed my expectations as a pseudo-superhero movie with card tricks and drug dealers, or does this all devolve into a mess of poorly thought out ideas and wasted potential? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Bo (Jacob Latimore); a mild mannered young man with a little sister Tina (Storm Reid), a penchant for magic tricks, and a side job selling drugs to keep a roof over their heads. Now that last thing might sound rather risky to be doing, even if he doesn’t have much of a choice (both his parents are dead), but then again… who else would be better at hiding drugs than a master of sleight of hand!? Well I can think of at least ONE kind of person who’d be better! A master of sleight of hand who ALSO has super powers! Now he doesn’t make his powers obvious, but he clearly is using some sort of subtle manipulation of objects around him that no actual magician would have, so on top of being bad ass with a deck of cards he can ALSO avoid police suspicion with the way he can hide his products. This has led to him being a rather good dealer which is good news for his supplier Angelo (Dulé Hill) who wants to bring Bo deeper into his organization. On top of dealing with that and his kid sister, he also manages to meet a nice girl named Holly (Seychelle Gabriel) who he wants to be there for as well but Angelo pulling him closer keeps pushing him further away from them. Eventually things come to a head with Angelo and Bo has to find a way to get out from under his thumb once and for all, even if it means doing something he’s never wanted to do with the gifts he’s been given. Will BO be able to protect everyone he loves before Angelo takes everything away from him? What exactly is the nature of his powers and how did he get them? I wonder what his magician name would be. Bo the Benevolent?