M. Night Shyamalan has built a career on horror-mystery movies that don't always work, and that all seem to be chasing the lightning-in-a-bottle he found with his 1999 mega-hit, "The Sixth Sense." After a long string of clunkers, his 2016 "Split" got his fans excited that he was finally "back," but the follow-up, 2019's "Glass" all but shattered those high expectations.
With "Old," he effectively makes a feature-length Twilight Zone episode that isn't among his worst films (this is no "The Happening" or "After Earth"), but it is far from his best. And if "The Sixth Sense" or "Unbreakable" is too high a bar to set, even on its own, "Old" doesn't exactly revel in anything that feels new.
The first "Escape Room" film dropped with little fanfare back in January of 2019. But the low-budget teen-friendly horror film - capitalizing on the growing popularity of "escape rooms" across the country - was a modest hit, grossing over 150 million worldwide, having been made for under 10 million.
It's star, Taylor Russell, was relatively unknown - and she still is - but Russell is an absolute A-list star in-the-making (mark my words). Her likability and talents raised that first film above other throw-away teen horror films, and her continued presence in this sequel has elevated "Escape Room" to one of the most unlikely, yet entertaining, original IP franchises-in-the-making in recent years.
Indie films, above all others, are ones that I root for to succeed. But sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. "The Birthday Cake" is one of the oddest little films you'll come across, and not in a good way. It contains a mix of what seems like flavorful ingredients that when blended together, leaves a terrible taste in your mouth.
This is one course worth passing on altogether.
"The Dry," based on the 2016 book of the same name by Jane Harper, is already one of the highest-grossing Australian films of all-time. Like many other films, it was set for release during the Summer of 2020, but didn't make its Melbourne premiere until last December.
Now arriving state-side, it's time for American audiences to discover what all the well-warranted hype is about.
"Wrath of Man" is a tough-guy action-film featuring characters with names like Bullet, Hollow Bob and Boy Sweat Dave, who all talk in witty sound-bites and phrases typically found in movies but not in real life. In other words, of course it's directed by Guy Ritchie, the director of other like movies such as "Snatch," "RocknRolla," "Revolver" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."
But instead of simply existing as a stylized heist movie and finding comfort in that, the convoluted plot of "Wrath of Man" turns this into an over-long, shoot-em-up that devolves into mindlessness the further it goes along.
Granted, there are not too many films about grain entrapment to compare "Silo" to. But this tense, focused drama/thriller has enough uniqueness and intrigue to suck you in, if not overwhelm you, with sharply-drawn yet simplistic characters and a strange situation that benefits from the audience not knowing its dangers.
"Revenge is a dish best served cold," Khan tells Captain Kirk, in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." That film also featured Spock, an alien being who otherwise, was not capable of human emotion. Spock would have had what it takes to star in "Tom Clancy's Without Remorse," since showing emotion is not a prerequisite. Its subject, played by Michael B. Jordan, is a ruthless, cold and unfeeling individual who kills, kills, kills as he tries to hunt down his wife's murderer.
"Without Remorse" is a revenge tale not just served cold, but without any spice or flavor. It's a bland genre entry that renders its star useless. And come to think of it, Spock would have never touched this film, seeing how monumentally illogical the whole thing is.
You're alone. You turn on the TV as not to alarm anyone in the house. You survey the room. You see your wife gracefully picking up a toy, clearly she must have a child. Probably toddler age. You see a toddler run naked into the room. Suspicions confirmed. You begin to focus. You settle in to watch a movie. That movie is called "The Virtuoso." You think the movie should be good. You notice the credits say that it stars Anthony Hopkins. You note that he is now a two-time Oscar winner, having won previously for his role in "The Silence of the Lambs." You remember you also liked him in that show "Westworld." You are inspired by your own knowledge of Oscar history and HBO. You turn up the volume. You crack open a beer. You wait.
There are no aliens, no secret attacks, no mutinies in "Stowaway." The entirety of the film is presented as a moral dilemma, the kind of situation a group of college psychiatric students might try to work through over the course of a semester.
It's small in scale despite taking place mostly in the outer reaches of space, but "Stowaway" carries with it both some dead weight and some unexpected surprises.
Many are describing "Voyagers" as "Lord of the Flies" in space, because that's the quickest and most effective way to describe what it's all about. But despite the talented young cast and a sleek, futuristic look, "Voyagers" drifts a little too far away from relevancy.
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