We’re back with a few more movie reviews, and I’ve got to say that I’m starting to enjoy this format! I still get to watch the movies I want to, but now I can watch them on my own schedule and I keep things nice and succinct. The only problem is that I’m not getting these out in a timely manner, but relevance is overrated, am I right!? Anyway, let’s take a look at three movies that I’m sure you saw a while ago but are still interested to hear what some guy on the internet has to say about them! Let’s get started!!
Bullet Train is owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by David Leitch
A hapless assassin given the codename Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is on a very simple mission to retrieve a briefcase on a train heading to Kyoto. Naturally, these kinds of things never are that easy and he laments his bad luck while dodging other assassins on the train, and is haphazardly embroiled in a plot that is bigger than he could possibly imagine and seems to be heading in one very bloody direction.
I’m not a guy who will turn his nose up at over-the-top action spectacles or something that is intentionally cheesy and a movie like this should have been my jam by default, but even the best ingredients will go to waste if given to an untalented chef, and I just found this whole thing to be insufferable. It’s convoluted without being clever, smarmy without the charm to make up for it, and artificial to the point that nothing seems to actually matter. The only part of the movie that resonated with me was the relationship between Lemon and Tangerine as Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson had great chemistry and added some genuine heart to an otherwise insincere story, and while I feel like this is one of the most Monkeys’ Paw wishes imaginable, I’d kind of like to see what could be done with a spinoff focusing on them specifically. Andrew Koji also stands out from everything else with a very angry and desperate performance that’s still about as one-note as everything else in the movie, but at least it’s a different note being played and does a great job playing it. Everything else though is just laden with insufferable dialogue and compounding coincidences that just drain any investment you can have in the characters or the plot itself; especially our protagonist who is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. For that kind of story to work, it has to ultimately circle back around to them actually being the right person to be there, but that would require a level of emotional investment that this movie is just unwilling to extend and so Brad Pitt feels like as distant to the story as those of us sitting in the theater watching him awkwardly stumble his way through a place he doesn’t belong; like an uninvited party guest asking everyone where the bathroom is. With the threadbare story, the quip-tastic dialogue, and the general lack of impact or weight from any of the narrative beats, it falls somewhere between a Rick and Morty episode and one of those award show skits with a bunch of celebrities are comically inserted into another movie. If we take it on these terms, as little more than entertainment fluff with a bunch of famous people in it, does it manage to work? Sort of, I guess. It’s competent in its action and the actors are fine for what they’re asked to do, but it’s also not that inspiring or clever in its shallowness and I had my fill of everything it had to offer well before it got to its big cameos at the end. At best it’s a misguided attempt from Hollywood to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of early Tarantino as well as the director’s own early success with John Wick, and at worst it’s the cinematic equivalent of Steve Buscemi in a backwards baseball cap asking his fellow kids how they are doing. It’s not without its charms, but why settle for the smoothed-over corporate version of stylized action shlock when the genuine article is easier to find than ever?
Slender Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Sylvain White
I mean we’re already getting a Five Nights at Freddy’s movie with Christopher Columbus of all people putting their weight behind it. Why WOULDN’T there be even more horror movies based on memes? I fully expect someone to announce an Until Dawn or a Layers of Fear television series by the end of this week if this movie manages to make its budget back, but dubious starting points aside there are PLENTY of horror movies out there that have ridiculous premises yet still manage to be either genuinely chilling or a lot of fun to sit through. Can the Slender Man mythos manage to make for an entertaining feature film, or was this story best left on the internet to fade into further obscurity? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a group of friends Wren, Hallie, Chloe, and Katie (Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, and Annalise Basso) who have a sleepover one night and decide to look up this whole “Slender Man” thing, whatever that is! They manage to find their way to a video (presumably right next to the one from The Ring) where they follow the instructions in it and then… nothing happens. Well nothing happens at first, but they start to have nightmares about the dapper monster and Katie even seems to be engaging with the mythos on their own until they eventually disappear during a school field trip. Wren, Hallie, and Chloe, eventually find her laptop and see all the Slender Man related things she was looking into including some sort of ritual that should supposedly bring her back if they follow the steps correctly. Of course they mess it up and under Demon/Human contract law, if you make a mistake, that’s your ass! And so the three of them are slowly but surely either driven mad by the creature or just taken away as he seems to have the ability to do whatever he wants with no real way for them to stop him, and he even starts to look towards some new victims that only makes it that much more urgent that they find a way to either stop him or at least appease him enough to have him decide to stop on his own. Can the girls survive this onslaught of psychological horror and monster attacks to discover the secrets of what this creature really is? What is it that Slender Man is after, and is there a way to give him what he wants before he takes everything from him? Did anyone check to see if he was just mad about the script? If I was him, I’d be doing this just because of how awful the script is.
Wish Upon and all the images you see in this review are owned by Broad Green Pictures and Orion Pictures
Directed by John R Leonetti
Geez, while everyone else is going to see the new Planet of the Apes movie, I’m stuck watching the horror movie they dumped in theaters to “compete” with it. Sigh… well, you never know! We got a fair amount of REALLY solid horror movies last year and while there were a few at the absolute bottom of the barrel (*cough* Incarnate *cough*) even the more average fare was above what was normally expected. Maybe now that the bad stuff is out the way like The Bye Bye Man (ugh…), we can finally get to some of the better horror movies… right? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Clare Shannon (Joey King) will soon be the latest victim of some sort of mysterious Chinese wish box that her dad Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe) had found while dumpster diving. Is that like a job you can make a living off of? He doesn’t seem to do anything else in the movie. Anyway, just for a lark it seems, she makes a wish while holding the box and sure enough it comes true! However, the box comes with a terrible price that she’s not made aware of immediately where every wish ends with someone she knows getting killed in very ludicrous ways, and surely there are MORE consequences to be found if she continues to use it! Will she manage to figure out the mysteries of this magic box before it’s too late? Will the new life she gets from making these wishes turn out to be everything she’s always dreamed of? What if she wishes for the box not to kill anyone, or even infinite wishes!? WHAT THEN!?