Knock at the Cabin – Movie Review

TL;DR – An intense, claustrophobic look at the potential end of the world    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is an audio queue at the end but not something you need to stay for.

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Warning – This film contains scenes that may cause distress.

The Cabin.

Knock at the Cabin Review

If you look across the media landscape, the post-apocalypse is all the rage at the moment, but what about an excellent old-fashioned apocalypse? A film about struggle against all odds, looking doom in the face, and maybe not getting out alive in the end. Today we look at just such a film that both embraces and is a bit sly about it simultaneously.

So to set the scene, Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge), and Wen (Kristen Cui) have gotten away from the world and are spending some time relaxing in a cabin in the middle of the countryside. A perfect escape from the world, so remote there is no cell service among all the trees and picturesque lake you can swim in. It is a delight until one moment, Leonard (Dave Bautista) walks up to Wen when she is collecting grasshoppers. He tells her not to be afraid, but he and his friends need to get into the cabin her fathers are in, and they need the whole family for something special to stop the end of the world.

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Spoiler Alert – Movie Review

TL;DR – Well, if ugly crying in the cinema surrounded by people ugly crying in a cinema is a recommendation for you, then here it is.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

A bubble being blown.

Spoiler Alert Review

I am someone who does not mind a good cry in the cinemas. It can be cathartic and shows that the filmmakers have connected with you on an emotional level. However, there is a difference between having a good cry and being so emotionally devastated that you are ugly crying in a room full of strangers. And when I say ugly cry, I mean ugly. Well, today, we are looking at a film that did just that.

So to set the scene, Michael Ausiello (Jim Parsons) focuses his life on his work, like ranking all the Gilmore Girls from Best to Rory [which like fair]. But one night, after being dragged out to a club, he spots a man across the dance floor that smiles at him, so he waves back. Actually, Kit Cowan (Ben Aldridge) was smiling at his friend Nina (Nikki M. James) at the bar, but he took up the bait. It is the perfect meet-cute, bar the fact that, spoiler alert, we know from the start that this relationship is destined for tragedy.

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M3GAN – Movie Review

TL;DR – A weirdly wonderful film, full of camp and tension.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

M3GAN in a pile of soft toys.

M3GAN Review

Artificial life discovering sentience is one of those thematic moments that can land you on the whole spectrum of cinema. It can be thought-provoking life After Yang, menacing like 2001: A Space Odyssey, or could flip about in between, such as Lost in Space. Today we look at a film that skews more towards the menacing, where we see that Asimov might have been on to something.

So to set the scene, Cady (Violet McGraw) is travelling with her family when tragedy strikes, and she is left alone to go live with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). Her aunt is not ready to be a parent, and both struggle to bond until Gemma shows Cady what she is working on. A new toy and AI robot girl called M3GAN (Amie Donald/Jenna Davis) that pairs and bonds with her primary user. Everything is going well until one day, when they have a conversation about death.

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The Pale Blue Eye – Movie Review

TL;DR – It has a mood and the performances to match, but the narrative just didn’t hook me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

Warning – Contains scenes that may cause distress.

Cadets in formation.

The Pale Blue Eye Review

It is time to jump back in time when women’s dresses came in many layers, the army was dressed in blue, and mutton chops were everywhere. It is an era I like when we jump into mysteries because it feels like a world where everyone is prim and proper, but that is just a veneer. It is in this world we find ourselves in as people start dying in the most unpleasant ways.   

So to set the scene, it is a foggy night, but from the gloom, we can see a man hanging from a tree. It is 1830 in Hudson Valley, New York, and Det. Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) has just been summoned to West Point Military Academy by Superintendent Thayer (Timothy Spall). They need someone with discretion. A cadet killed himself, and then his body was violated. This is a political timebomb, and the academy is desperately trying to get the case solved before certain senators in Washington find out.                   

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The Woman King – Movie Review

TL;DR – A powerful film of courage in the face of insurmountable odds.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film

The Agojie rise from the grass.

The Woman King Review

It is now time for us to take a look at the final film before we finalise our best of 2022 lists. The Woman King was a film that I tried to see several times when it was in cinemas, but the times never lined up. Indeed, I could only add it to the run-down because it just dropped on-demand. But in a year of stellar action films, we have another understanding contender to add to the mix.

So to set the scene, in West Africa in 1823, a new king Ghezo (John Boyega), has just ascended to power in the Kingdom of Dahomey. But they are under attack from the Oyo Empire, who have been pillaging Dahomey villages using proxies to sell the people to the Europeans as slaves to work in the plantations of Brazil. Ghezo is on the losing side of this war, but he has one last strength: the Agojie, led by Nanisca (Viola Davis). It is a time of castigation as many forces move inside and outside the palace, and it is uncertain if Dahomey can survive the coming storm.    

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True Lies (1994) – Exploring the Past

TL;DR – While some parts of this have aged as well as blue cheese in the sun, you can’t help but feel the pull and allure of a story swinging for the fences at every opportunity. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film

True Lies Review

When getting ready for my 2022 best of lists, I discovered that I had revied 99 films this year. Which made me wonder, what could be the lucky number 100? Just as I pondered that, True Lies finally made its way onto streaming. I have not seen this in years, but while I loved it when I was younger, the years are rarely kind to films like this. But given the year that James Cameron has had with Avatar, it was all the better time to jump back to one of his classics.  

So to set the scene, an exclusive party is taking part on a snowy cold night at Lake Chapeau, Switzerland, at a heavily guarded chalet. But not all the guests are coming in the front door. Some are cutting through the gates to the lake under the ice. Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) works for a secret US counterterrorism unit called Omega Sector and is investigating the billionaire art dealer Jamal Khaled (Marshall Manesh) as a possible front for laundering money to Islamic Terrorists. But no one outside of the agency and his team, Albert “Gib” Gibson (Tom Arnold) and Faisil (Grant Heslov), not even Harry’s wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku), knows what he does. One tango later, Harry must make a less-than-quiet exit from the party. But while his work and home life are separate entities, they are about to come crashing together.   

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Fall – Movie Review

TL;DR – Captures that tension of being isolated from the world with rescues just being out of reach at all times.  

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to view this film.

The tower from afar.

Fall Review

As we get closer to the end of the year, there has been one film that I have been avoiding. I have a deep fear of heights, and seeing an epic tale of survival (maybe) half a km up in the air on the big screen was a bit of a stretch. But on the small screen, where I can pause and walk away, well, it is now time to give it a go.   

So to set the scene, on a sheer cliff face, two married climbers Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Dan (Mason Gooding), make their way up the side of the mountain with their friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner). But just when they are going to make it to the top, Dan gets spooked by a bat and falls off the mountain. He tries to swing back when his anchor gives way, and he falls to his death. Fifty-one weeks later, Becky has cut herself off from the world and is at the bottom of a deep bottle pushing everyone, including her father, James Connor (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), away. Trying to help her friend get out of their funk, Hunter gets Becky to come out and climb a decommissioned 2,000-foot (610 m) B67 TV tower in the middle of the desert. The accent went well, but coming down is always the most challenging part.      

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After Yang – Movie Review

TL;DR – There is a beautiful sadness to After Yang as you connect with the characters on the screen while also becoming introspective of your own life.   

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film.

Yang's memories.

After Yang Review

At the start of the year, one of my colleagues recommended that I should check out After Yang, and well as is clearly apparent, I have been quite tardy on that request. But a promise is a promise, and also, a soft-science fiction film exploring the nature of sentience in a shifting world should be 100% my jam, so it is silly that I missed it up until now.  

So to set the scene, we open with a family in a green field trying to take a photo together. While things look fine on the surface, with father Jake (Colin Farrell), mother Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith), and kids Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) and Yang (Justin H. Min) coming together to join in on a family dance-off contest. But Yang is an android built by the company Brothers and Sisters bought to help connect Mika with her Chinese culture. However, something has gone wrong with Yang’s central core, and he has shut down, and now Jake and Kyra have the difficult job of finding out what to do next.

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Samaritan – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a perfect film for Stallone, but it becomes hampered by many factors, including one of the weakest villains in an age.    

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this film.

Joe on his back after getting hit by a car.

Samaritan Review

As we come crashing towards the end of the year, there is still a genre dominating the cinema landscape, superheroes. However, while the DCU flounders and is about to go through a massive rejig, and even the MCU has lost a touch of its lustre, there is space for someone else to do something grand here. With that in mind, we head to the good v bad narrative of the Samaritan.  

So to see the scene, two boys discovered they had extraordinary powers a long time ago, but while learning to control them, people got hurt, and soon the town came and lynched the boy’s parents in a fire. While one boy became Samaritan, a protector, the other became Nemesis, driven by their thirst for revenge. After duelling for years, Nemesis leads his brother into a trap to save the town. Samaritan sacrificed himself to take his own brother down. People still wonder if Samaritan died that night, but Sam Cleary (Javon’ Wanna’ Walton) knows he is alive, or at least hopes so. But when he gets caught up with Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk) and Reza (Moises Arias) and gets stuck in the middle of a beatdown, only one person can save him, his neighbour, the surprisingly strong Joe (Sylvester Stallone).

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The Contractor – Movie Review

TL;DR – A sadly predictable story with some good performances.     

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this film

Warning – Contains scenes that may cause distress.  

A Military Cemitry.

The Contractor Review

If there is one group of people you can reliably know will be the bad guys, it is a private military outfit. I mean, take Angel Has Fallen, Black Adam, and Secret Headquarters, to name three of many examples. And when you look out at the world, it is not an entirely unearned reputation. When I heard that Chris Pine would be playing PMC in a film as the main lead, I had to give it a look.  

So to set the scene, James Harper (Chris Pine) is a Green Beret in the US Army who has had to take illegal steroids to treat a keen injury. When he is discovered and discharged from the army, he has few choices left, and he needs to take a private military contractor job for a fellow veteran Rusty Jennings (Kiefer Sutherland). Rusty was recommended by a former squadmate Mike Hawkins (Ben Foster), because he is not like one of those other PMCs. James and Mike must head to Berlin for a black mission because it is not officially signed off on. But things fall apart when the Berlin Police show up.

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