Blood Red Sky

My friend Chris asked me if I had watched Blood Red Sky on Netflix and I told him I had not. To be honest, I have been souring on the movies on Netflix as it seemed that most of them are wastes of my time so I had not intended on watching it. Then Chris said it was a worthwhile watch and so I looked for some time to work it into the schedule.

I am really glad I did.

Single mother Nadja (Peri Baumeister) and her son Elias (Carl Anton Koch) are boarding a plane so Nadja can go to New York and get an experimental treatment for a rare illness that she is suffering from. In the airport, Elias meets a friendly man named Farid (Kais Setti) and they connect.

Unfortunately, the plane that they were getting on is one that is targeted by a group of terrorist, led by Berg (Dominic Purcell) for hijacking. Things go crazy after this.

I’m going to spoil the first twist because the poster does so. SPOILER Nadja’s illness is that she had been bitten by a vampire. The more blood that she drank, the worst she became. Things get out of control quite a bit after this. END OF SPOILER

This was a tense and exciting film. The action taking place on the claustrophobic environment inside the airplane really made it unsettling and I was never sure what was going to happen. The film started with the plane landing with assistance from the tower and the army looking to get the “terrorist” to release his hostages. Then we flashed back to see the story unfold. This was a solid way of starting the movie.

It turned out to be bloody and violent, all very effective. The other passengers on the plane are a variety of people, but are not that important in the overall story. They were there to throw wrenches in the works for the story. While they were interesting, none of the others stood out.

Of the villains, the one that really stood out was Eightball (Alexander Scheer), who was shown immediately to be the most crazed of the terrorists. He was doing some just evil things and you really wanted to see this guy get his comeuppance. The rest of the terrorists are fairly vanilla.

The one major issue I have with the movie is that it was too long. It was over two hours and I feel as if this could have been a much better, tighter film at 90 or 95 minutes. Still, this is a minor problem since I really did enjoy Blood Red Sky.

Blood Red Sky had an independent movie feel with some decent looking effects for our spoilers.

I guess I should thank Chris. This is a good Netflix film.

4 stars

Stillwater

I had absolutely zero clue what this movie was about. Not only that, but I had it in my head that the film starred Mark Wahlberg and I did not realize that it was not Wahlberg and was, in fact, Matt Damon until well into the movie. Not my best moment.

However, I really enjoyed Stillwater, so there is that.

Mat Damon (not Mark Wahlberg) played American Bill Baker, who left his hometown of Stillwater, Oklahoma to go to Marseille, France to see his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin), who had been serving time in prison for the murder of her female lover. Allison claimed to be innocent and she wanted her father to go see a local lawyer with new information. Unfortunately, the new evidence was hearsay and the lawyer told Bill that she would not move forward with an appeal.

Bill decided that he would look into the new evidence himself, which meant searching for a young Muslim boy Akim (Idir Azougli) who had been overhead bragging about getting away with stabbing a girl.

Along the way, Bill meets Virginie (Camile Cottin) and her young daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvaud) whom he befriends. Virginie helped with translation and Bill bonds with Maya.

Some of the best scenes of the movie were between Matt Damon and Lilou Siauvaud. She was a charming young actress and she held her own against Damon. Comparing that relationship with the damaged relationship of Bill and Allison is fascinating as well.

Matt Damon is at his best here. He played a typical redneck American, but he showed so much more than the normal stereotype. He made Bill such a respectful and apparently decent individual that you can understand the pain he was going through. I know that I was hoping that the tough circumstances was not going to drive him back to alcohol, which apparently had been a problem for him in the past. When the film chose not to go in that direction, I was quite happy about it.

The film was too long. I think it should have shaved 10-15 minutes off the time, which would have made it a tighter story. However, I absolutely liked how this movie avoided the clichés that movies like this would usually fall into. You are never quite sure where the movie is heading and that is a nice change of pace.

Academy Award winning director Tom McCarthy directed Stillwater which was apparently loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox, who had been falsely imprisoned in Italy. Amanda Knox has struck back on the film, claiming that the film is profiting off her story.

Despite the controversy, as film itself, I enjoyed Stillwater. As I said, I had no idea what the film was about going in and that helped my enjoyment of the movie.

4 stars

The Green Knight

Based on the Arthurian story, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the new movie The Green Knight debuted this weekend, written and directed by David Lowery.

The classic tale becomes a little more supernatural in the movie, though there are certainly magical elements in the original story as well. Gawain (Dev Patel) is King Arthur’s nephew and steps up to face the mysterious Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) who appeared from nowhere and challenged the knights to step up and deliver a blow. Green Knight said that he would allow anyone to deliver one blow to him and that the following Christmas, the same knight would come to the home of the Green Knight and allow him to deliver the same blow.

Gawain decapitated the Green Knight with his blow, but is shocked when the creature stood back up and rode off, head in hand, laughing.

The year passed and Sir Gawain started off on the trek across the land to find the Green Knight’s Chapel and settle his honor.

I’m going to be honest, I was bored for a good chunk of the movie. I found most of the first hour of the movie to be slow-moving and dull, and not in the way of character development either. This movie simply did not have my attention and I was finding myself watching the time.

The conclusion did not improve a bunch, though I was more engaged in the last 20 minutes or so.

The movie is utterly beautiful though. The CGI and the imagery on every scene is breathtaking and masterfully rendered. The magical creatures and the surrounding environments are exceptional to look at and gave me something to look at when I was bored with the story.

Dev Patel was his typical wonderful self. His performance was solid, even though I was not entranced with the story it was telling. Patel was one of the strengths of the film.

The Green Knight was a beautiful film to look at, but was so slow and dull, it was a difficulty watch. It is a masterfully created movie, but a tale that I could not enjoy.

2.9 stars

Jungle Cruise

Based on the Disney Park ride, Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt opened tonight. Disney has made other theme park rides into major motion pictures (Pirates of the Caribbean) and this is their next attempt at finding a franchise within their park.

Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) were trying to get their hands on an arrowhead that they believed could lead them to an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities in the Amazon jungle. Lily hired boat skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) to take them down the Amazon following a map and the arrowhead. They are being pursued by Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), who wanted the pedals from the tree as well.

Jungle Cruise was a fun film, with some great charisma with Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. They are easily the best part of the film. They are in an adventure that is fun, but somewhat convoluted.

I also enjoyed Jack Whitehall in this film. His character works well in opposition to the Rock, and their friendship is earned through the film. There are a couple of great scenes between them that looks deep into their characters.

Dwayne Johnson dropping all the puns and “dad” jokes in here is a fun character trait, and, some of the jokes are massive eye rolling jokes.

Some of the supernatural elements of the story do not work as well as the rest. There are three magical beings from the past, led by Edgar Ramirez, and these characters, which are important to the plot, just feel forced.

The CGI here is not very strong. There is a big cat character in the film and it looks pretty wonky most of the time. It reminded me of the Call of the Wild dog. The three villains too were mostly CGI and those characters are difficult to see many times because their CGI is not good. Much of the setting shots are beautiful and the cinematography is excellent.

Jungle Cruise is a fun adventure with a lot of action and two outstanding lead characters. There is a good villain in Plemons. While there are story issues at times, Jungle Cruise is fine. Is it perfect? No, not even close, but as a good time, Jungle Cruise hits.

3.2 stars

Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two

The second part of the adaptation of the comic classic The Long Halloween appeared on Vudu today and I eagerly snapped it up. I had loved the first part of the two-part animated film earlier this year and I was excited to see the conclusion. It was also a benefit since I had not read the Batman classic before and I did not know how the comic resolved the mystery so I was even more looking forward to this.

I must say that I found the conclusion a little less awesome as the first part. I still loved it, but there was just something about this conclusion that left me a touch underwhelmed.

We kicked off with Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) under the control of Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff). After several months, Catwoman (Naya Rivera) was finally able to free him, but not before several hits were carried out by the assassin Holiday. Holiday was targeting the family and employees of Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver). Suspicion for the Holiday crimes had come around the DA Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel). Batman and Captain James Gordon (Billy Burke) were unsure that their friend was the killer, but after a courtroom attack scarred half of Dent’s face, his darker side was coming out.

The first half of the second part felt really long. Even with some of the specific holiday deaths strung together in a montage. There was a whole section of Dent and Catwoman fighting a gunman beneath the pier at the beach that felt extraneous. The whole motive for Catwoman’s involvement was a tad wonky in my mind. I won’t spoil it here, but apparently there is some connectivity to the comics here. I did not like it.

The animation and voice work in The Long Halloween Part Two is excellent. I think the animation works extremely well for the Batman character and the setting of Gotham City.

Putting this together with part one, Batman: The Long Halloween was an excellent adaptation of one of the great Batman tales ever.

4 stars

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

I had not intended to go to this movie, but I decided to go to it today anyway. I’m glad I did.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is the continuing sequel to the 2019 low budget horror hit Escape Room, picking up a few weeks after the events of the first film. The sole survivors from the last film, Taylor Russell, playing Zoey Davis and Logan Miller, playing Ben Miller, return and are trying to move on with their lives. Unfortunately, Zoe is having a difficult time doing that.

Since law enforcement is not believing their story of events, Zoey convinces Ben to head to New York to go after Minos, the evil company behind the escape rooms so they could bring them to justice.

Once in the city, they find their way trapped in a subway train with a group of other people who were also survivors of previous escape rooms by Minos. The group tries to work together to be able to escape the escape room with their lives still intact.

Let me start off with this. The movie is dumb. Yes, it is improbable. The escape rooms are fairly impossible to pull off, even for a multi-billion dollar corporation. But here is the undeniable fact. I had fun watching the characters attempt to survive the encounters.

Taylor Russell is a star. I think she is just beautiful and I enjoy her as the brains behind the survivors and the main protagonist that Minos seems to be after. I kept thinking that she could be a great actress for the MCU (Kitty Pryde, perhaps?). She made it easy to support the characters. I think the chemistry and relatability with Zoey and Ben is off the charts. Logan Miller is another actor here who I would love to see more of in the future.

Some of the other characters that were brought in for the sequel were very one dimensional, but I did enjoy Rachel (Holland Roden) who I found engagingly sassy and a nice addition to the group. I could have used more for the actors Indya Moore and Thomas Cocquerel, who had some basic flavor but were meant as sacrifices to the concept. Although, Cocquerel’s character Nathan did pull off a Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride save, so there was that (No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Nathan!)

The escape rooms themselves are the major stars of the franchise and these are all pretty good, building suspense as clocks ticked down to the doomsday part of the room. Sure it is improbable, but F9 sent a car into space. You suspend disbelief that there are possible and hope for the heroes to escape.

There were a couple of ending twists that did not hit well, the second one especially. The first surprise was interesting, though hard to accept because of the timeline. Still, I like that they are trying.

I had some laughs. I was nervous for the characters. I tried to find the answers to the puzzles before the characters did. I had a good time. Dumb, yes, but dumb fun for sure.

3.3 stars

Jolt

This weekend saw the debut on Amazon Prime of a new movie called Jolt. It looked kind of interesting so I decided I would give it a try. I was enjoying it a great deal so I thought I’d heck on where it was on Rotten Tomatoes and I was disappointed to see it only at 36%. I thought maybe it got worse as it continued, but I enjoyed this all the way through (with the exception of one scene).

Lindy (Kate Beckinsale) has a problem. Despite being beautiful, funny, smart, she suffered from a rare condition that leads to her having impulse control to the max. Her violent and homicidal reactions could only be controlled by a shock vest that she was given by her therapist, Dr. Munchin (Stanley Tucci), where she can self-shock herself when she feels the bloodlust overcoming her.

Munchin had been encouraging Lindy to get out and find a relationship where she could invest her feelings, helping to replace the anger. Against her better judgement, she gets hooked up with Justin (Jai Courtney), who seemed to be perfect for her, and everything started going great. Until, that is, when Justin is found dead, shot in the head in an alley. Lindy, angry at the loss of someone she was starting to have feelings for, dedicated her life to tracking down Justin’s killer. The cops assigned the case, Detectives Vicars (Bobby Cannavale) and Nevin (Laverne Cox), were a hurdle in Lindy’s path.

Kate Beckinsale is fantastic here. She is funny, witty, and seriously bad ass. Over the years trying to prevent the homicidal impulses, she had picked up several ‘skills’ of the trade so she was a top notch fighter as well as other items that helped her in the mission of revenge she was on. Beckinsale dominated every scene with her presences and witty repartee.

The few scenes between Beckinsale and Courtney were charming and sweet. Even though you had not known Lindy for long in the movie sense, you see just how patient and caring Justin was with her which made his death all the more painful.

There is a surprise in act three, and I had thought about it earlier in the film. Although I did not come out and say that I knew exactly what was happening, I did read the signs that were there. That did not bother me here because the twist was not as important as the journey was for Lindy.

The film used a technique that took us into Lindy’s head to see how she was imagining what she was going to do to these people who annoyed her and that was very effective and funny. There were a couple times when I was not sure if it was images in her head or if she was really doing the action. That made the whole thing feel compelling.

There was only one scene that I hated and it took place in a nursery with Lindy and Detective Nevin. I would have preferred for this scene to not be in the movie because it through too much shade onto Lindy and made me question her motives.

With that exception out of the way, the rest of the movie was fantastic and I had a blast watching it. Kate Beckinsale carried the film and she was a huge star here. The surprise cameo at the end was also weird. Oh, and there is a mid-credit scene.

4.1 stars

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

This one is a real mixed bag. On one hand, this is heads and shoulders better than any of those other G.I. Joe movies from 2009 and 2013. On the other hand, the bar was really low for those films so Snake Eyes had to really stumble badly to not exceed those.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins tells the background of one of the most popular of the characters from the G.I. Joe franchise Snake Eyes, even though it felt more of a story of Stormshadow than Snake Eyes at times.

We started out with young Snake Eyes as a child (not called Snake Eyes yet.. played here by Max Archibald) who was with his father (Steven Allerick) in a cabin. Giving a real Mortal Combat (2021) feel to it (you could almost have photocopied the scene), people arrived to try to kill his father and little Snake Eyes had to escape to save himself. His father does not make it out and Snakey had to watch the cabin burn with his father inside.

I was impressed with the performance of Max Archibald as the younger version of Snake Eyes. He had to deliver several different emotional beats and he does an excellent job.

Years later, we met underground fighter Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) who was beating the crap out of other fighters. He was approached by Kenta (Taskehiro Hira) who wanted Snake Eyes to work for him. Snake Eyes took him up on the offer and was involved in cutting up fish to hide gun shipments inside. Then, there was a traitor in their midst and Snake Eyes was given a gun to kill Tommy, the said traitor. Snake Eyes can’t do it and the two of them fought their way through all of the gang. After escaping from their clutches, Tommy (Andrew Koji, doing his best Tommy, the Green Ranger impression) offered Snake Eyes t come with him to his clan.

Tommy was the next in line to rule the clan, currently run by his grandmother (Eri Ishida), and he wanted Snake Eyes to join the clan so he could fight by his side. There are three challenges that Snake Eyes has to complete to pass the test and if he couldn’t pass it, he would die.

Snake Eyes struggled with his anger, his need for vengeance and his guilt during these trials.

I did not know this was going to happen, but we got some other members of the G.I. Joe cast making appearances here. From the Joes, Scarlett (Samara Weaving) was here and we also got the Cobra villainess, The Baroness (Úrsula Corberó) These two women were fun, but seemed out of place for a good chunk of the film.

Some positives. Henry Golding was fantastic as Snake Eyes. He is a great actor and really worked in the role. Although the character of Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe never spoke and Golding talked all the time, I feel that may be a future development for the character. I really liked Golding.

Even better was Andrew Koji, who was the perfect casting for Stormshadow. I believed in this character the entire movie. Of course, this brings up one issue I had with the film. This felt like Snake Eyes was the antagonist of his own movie. It felt like Tommy was the protagonist and he was the character who had the most story arc. I did not quite understand why the film was setting them up as such. Were we to be cheering for Snake Eyes? Because that felt wrong. Also, when Tommy turned to the dark side, that felt a bit rushed. Either way, both castings were excellent and I liked their interactions.

I have seen this criticism elsewhere and it is 100% the biggest flaw of the film. This being an action film with a lot of fighting…HOLD THE DAMN CAMERA STILL!!!! I have never felt as if I needed a Dramamine before as much as I did during EVERY fight scene in Snake Eyes. You could not see anything happening during EVERY fight. If this was a stylistic choice, it was a bad one. I have seen shaky cam before, but never as much as we see in Snake Eyes. The inability to see action scenes in an action movie ruined what could have been a passable movie. There are times when I came to dread the next fight.

As I said, this is better than The Rise of Cobra or Retaliation, but it does not reach the level that it could have been. It may be a positive step forward and maybe a sequel will imporve.

2.8 stars

Old

M. Night Shyamalan is back again with his next trip into the bizarre world of movie making with Old, a horror/thriller with that definitive Shyamalan flavor. M. Night has had some tremendous successes, specifically early in his career with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. He followed those up in the middle with some horrendous films such as The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth. The last few years, Shyamalan has righted the ship with The Visit and the Split/Glass films. I no longer look at a film with the name M. Night Shyamalan attached to it as something I desperately want to avoid.

In fact, even with the films that he failed with, you can generally consider Shyamalan’s film, at the very least, original and creative. They may not always be good, but he takes a swing.

So I did approach the new film, Old, with a hopeful thought. I knew the premise of the film from the trailers (which give away too much) that a group of people are stranded on a beach where they are aging rapidly. Unfortunately, I came our of Old feeling underwhelmed. I did not hate the movie, but it seemed to be missing some important parts to it.

The early film spends some time with a family of four, Guy (Gael Garcia Bernal), his wife Prisca (Vicky Krieps), their 11-year old daughter Maddox (Alexa Swinton) and 6-year old Trent (Nolan River). Guy and Prisca were having problems but wanted to give the kids one more weekend before they told them about whatever the trouble was. So they went to this special resort. The resort manager (Gustaf Hammarsten) met them and offered them a special trip to a hidden beach. The family took him up on it. They were joined by several other characters who had less character development than our family of four on the trip.

They had to hike through some strange rock formations to reach the beach, but once there, everyone seemed happy. That would not last.

Honestly, the acting performances were not top level. I actually found the young version of Trent, Nolan River, to be cute and charming, especially when he was paired with another young actor named Kailen Jude who played Idlib. Of course, he would eventually age into Alex Wolff and Maddox would age into Thomasin McKenzie. As I said, the acting was not great, but I do not think they were given a great script to work with. The dialogue, in particular, felt really clunky and not realistic. Even Alex Wolff, who I have really enjoyed in past films, did not standout in a positive manner. To be fair, Wolff was trying to act as a 15 year old kid with the mind of a 6 year old. The problem was this was not shown well enough. Trent as Nolan did not act in the manner that Alex did and so we had nothing to compare it with.

Another issue was that the time on the beach did not lead to anything. It was like we saw a laundry list of things happen but they had no lasting implications outside of the ones that led to a specific character death. Those deaths did not factor into the plot much either. It was more like a slasher movie than a psychological thriller.

Ken Jeong was in the movie and he distracted me. It is not his fault, but he was on LOST and I spent ever second of the time he was on screen trying to remember his LOST character’s name (it’s Miles, by the way. I don’t know why I can never remember that). That is my issue, not the movie’s, of course.

There was another scene, which I will not spoil, that has to be considered weirdly icky. I am not saying that it couldn’t have worked, but the execution on it just was missing and there was zero consequences of the situation.

Oh, and there was a famous rapper already on the beach when they arrived. The character’s name was… Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre). I’m not even kidding. It was not played for a joke. I actually liked the character, the actor gave one of the better performances and there were some good things done with him, but Mid-Sized Sedan???

There were some good part as well. Some of the middle section scenes were decent and did build some tension and confusion. There were some good scares, one in particular involving the stunningly beautiful Madrid (Francesca Eastwood) in a cave with Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie.

The ‘Shyamalan ending twist’ was one of the best parts of the movie. I wish that this was shown earlier in the film and that we developed it more because this could have changed the idea of the film.

Old is based on the Swiss graphic novel called Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters and there are some interesting ideas here, but, unfortunately, it is just not tied together well enough to be effective. The film has some moments but it feels as if the negatives outweigh the positives. It is better than those really bad Shyamalan movies, but does not hold up to the best of the director, either.

2.8 stars

Pig

Crazy Nicolas Cage trying to get his stolen pig back. That is what I thought of this movie when I first saw the trailer for Pig, and I was fully bought in. However, after seeing the movie, I can honestly say that this is 100% deeper than I thought it was going to be.

The movie started and I thought that this was going to be the second Nicolas Cage this movie this year where Cage doesn’t say much of anything (Willy’s Wonderland), but as Pig progressed, we got more dialogue from Cage. Not a lot, mind you, but more than Willy’s Wonderland.

Rob (Nicolas Cage) was a former chef who retreated to the wilderness of Oregon with his truffle pig to hunt truffles for a younger truffle entrepreneur Amir (Alex Wolff). One day, someone arrived and attacks Rob, taking his pig. Rob leaves the wilderness in search of his missing pig.

Do not make the mistake that I have heard many people making. This is not John Wick or Taken with a pig. Pig does not turn into a revenge thriller. Nic Cage’s Rob may have a set of particular skills, but they’re not the same kind of skills Liam Neeson or Keanu Reeves’s characters possessed. To be fair, I don’t know if John Wick or Bryan Mills could cook up a tasty pheasant dinner.

This is a deeply emotional character piece, looking into Rob, Amir, Darius (played by Adam Arkin) with some wonderful writing and amazing performances. Nicolas Cage gives one of his best performances of the last several years, taking nothing away from his other work, but he is completely standout here. The scene where Cage and Wolff go to a Portland restaurant and Cage winds up dressing down the chef (David Knell) who was a former apprentice of Rob’s, is a masterclass in writing and execution. That scene alone is worth the admission to the film.

I also love that Nic Cage goes the entire movie with the blood stained face that happened when he was attacked by the pig-nappers. People kept asking him if he needed medical attention or if he were alright and Cage just kept on going. It is a true character choice that tells you more about that character than you expect.

Alex Wolff is also very good here. Wolff who has been playing the young teen/adult characters steps into a more mature role than what I am used to and he knocks it out of the park. He has a bright future ahead of him.

Pig is a really exceptional film with great performances, especially the lead performance from Nicolas Cage. It may seem silly, but the film takes you into an emotional depth that I did not expect. Pig is a beautiful tale of love and loss.

4.4 stars

Space Jam: A New Legacy

A film that will certainly reignite the debate over who is the true GOAT of the NBA and the Space Jam universe: Michael Jordan or LeBron James.

Other than that… not much here.

I watched Space Jam: A New Legacy on HBO Max today. I was always a fan of the Looney Tunes but this really stretched that fandom thin.

LeBron James and his video game loving son Dom (Cedric Joe) are abducted by artificial intelligence Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle) into the Internet via a video game that Dom created. Al G. forces James to play a basketball game for their freedom. James is sent through the Warner Brothers world to recruit players for his team and he wound up with a group that he did not expect.

I don’t know if this sounds familiar, but the plot is pretty much the original Space Jam with Michael Jordan. There are some new twists here and there, but the general idea is the same. The special effects are really well done here and certainly surpassed the original. That is about where that ends.

The film spends a good deal of time simply promoting all of the Warner Brothers franchises out there, from DC to King Kong to Harry Potter. Most of the opening of the film was a giant advertisement for the WB. Some of these are fun, but they get old quickly and most of them are at the cost of the story.

I give LeBron James and Don Cheadle a lot of credit though because they are doing the best they can with what they have. Cheadle seemed like he was having a lot of fun with his over-the-top villainy and James does not make himself look good in the first half of the movie. LeBron James is a bad dad? That was unexpected.

However, the rest of the movie is predictable as can be. I wonder who was going to win? Yeah, I know already.

There was one cameo during the halftime of the basketball game that was clever and funny.

I was bored with most of the new movie and I expect that most adults would be. I will say that kids will probably enjoy this as it is targeted more towards them than me.

I’m not sure why this movie needed to be made. There does not seem to be any purpose to do another Space Jam movie outside of ego. Maybe that is the true story.

1.9 stars

Fear Street Part Three: 1666

Three weeks. Three movies. Netflix has something special here.

Fear Street Part Three: 1666 is a hugely satisfying conclusion to the Fear Street trilogy that started just a few weeks ago on the streaming service.

When last we left Deena (Kiana Madeira), she was seeing through the eyes of the witch Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel) back in the days just prior to the infamous curse that split apart the settlement of Union into the two rival cities Sunnyvale and Shadyside. We then follow Sarah along through the tragic circumstances that led her to be hanged by the town for witchcraft.

I do not want to spoil anything here because the film is exceptional and the story takes a distinct path that is going to be enjoyed more with the uncertainty of what is being seen. I will say that the first half of the film takes place in 1666 and is paced remarkably. The film was moving at such a rapid fire pace that it looked as if everything was going to be wrapped up within the first hour and I was wondering what the rest of the film was going to be.

The answer to that is the film gives us Fear Street: 1994 Part Two (which they actually label as such). It takes us back to Deena and her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr) and they continue on their efforts to try to break the curse and save their town from the continual murders that happen over the years.

1666 stuck the landing here beautifully, giving us a great conclusion to the story. The film is shot exceptionally, creating a distinct feel between the two parts of the film. The first part makes one think of horror movies like The Witch with the way it looked. It also showed us the way of the mob mentality and how easily it is to have one’s faith and identity manipulated and taken advantage of.

The tone remained consistent through the whole trilogy, creating some really solid frights and an anxiousness for the audience. It carefully honored the different types of horror movies and genres through the trilogy and made each one fit within the narrative that they were telling. Director Leigh Janiak brings everything together masterfully and shows that she has a flair for the horror genre.

This trilogy, based upon the books of R.L. Stein, was a risky proposition from Netflix, especially with some of the other original movies they have on their site, which runs has a low level of success per flick. However, Fear Street has three excellent horror movies and should be considered the pattern for future efforts on the streaming site.

4.5 stars

Batman: The Long Halloween Part One

The adaptation of one of DC Comics’ most classic Batman stories is split into two parts, with part one of The Long Halloween debuting first. And what an adaptation it was.

DC Animation has been very successful over the years, but this one feels as if they took an extra step to make this special. The animation here is so much better than what we have seen before from DC and the story is done extremely well.

There is a killer running around Gotham knocking off people tied to Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver) on holidays, starting with Halloween. Batman (Jensen Ackles), Jim Gordon (Billy Burke) and D.A. Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) team up in an attempt to stop the Holiday Killer from continuing the reign of terror.

I have not read The Long Halloween comic, though I have heard of it. I am unaware at the comic adaptation which makes me all the more anxious to see this wrap up in Part Two. Part One showed a Batman who had not mastered the art of detective skills as he jumped from one theory to another. The film added the confrontation with the Joker (Troy Baker) in an airplane over Gotham, which was exciting and very much in character with the Clown Prince of Crime.

We meet Selina Kyle (Naya Rivera), who is in a relationship with Bruce Wayne while playing around as Catwoman. The Dark Knight visited Calendar Man (David Dastmalchian) at Arkham in an attempt to get a clue on the identity of Holiday. Calendar Man was creepier here than I had ever seen him as a character in the books.

The voice cast is really good, but, to be fair, it sounded as if Ackles and Baker were doing imitations of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, the two most iconic voice actors for batman and the Joker (both Conroy and Hamill are in the EYG Hall of Fame).

It was a fascinating choice to set this in the early days of Batman before he had become the “World’s Greatest Detective.” Seeing Batman struggle with the clues and fail with his theories creates an air of fallibility in Batman that is not usually there and it helps maintain the mystery.

With the inferior adaptation of The Killing Joke, it looks like more care and love has gone into bringing The Long Halloween to the screen. I am anxious to see if I am correct with my guess on who Holiday is (I am avoiding looking it up on Wikipedia) and I am excited for the release of Part Two at the end of July.

4.25 stars

The Devil Below

Netflix has promised to release a new movie every week to their streaming service. Unfortunately, for every Fear Street and Army of the Dead we get, there is a The Devil Below to balance it out. In fact, I would dare to say that the quality of the movies such as The Devil Below is what is the rule instead of the exception.

By that I mean that it is crappy.

A team of researchers arrive in the Appalachian country to investigate a series of coal mines that have been ablaze for decades. When the open one up, they realize quickly that they have made a mistake and have unleashed something previously contained.

BO-RING!

There is nothing here to grab your attention or to make you give a care about any of the characters here. All of the characters are lacking any depth to their character, being nothing more than one trait, a one-trick pony.

And the monsters… well, let’s just say that they resembled the Flukeman on The X-Files crossed with Audrey II, but not quite as scary. They are shot in the worst way possible, that made them more funny than frightening.

This is the type of movie that makes me not want to explore the rest of these Netflix movies.

1 star

Son

Son, the new horror film on Shudder, is really frightening.

I mean, frightening as hell.

After a terrible childhood and past, Laura (Andi Matichak) seemed to have gotten past it. She lived alone with her son David (Luke David Blumm). One night, she woke up and found a group of people in her son’s room. She ran for help, and, when she returned, they were all gone. Police detective Paul (Emile Hirsch) believed her when no one else would.

At this point, David got real sick, puking blood and going through convulsions. The doctors had no idea what was happening to him, but Laura knew that it was somehow connected to her past. When David’s illness took an unexpected turn, things became even more frightening.

Holy crap was this intense.

This is one of the better of the creepy child category of horror genre we have seen in quite awhile. I was very impressed with Luke David Blumm, who carried some powerful moments in the film with a great maturity. He and Andi Matichak had a wonderful chemistry, and you believe that she loved her son no matter what.

As the film moved on, you are never quite sure what was happening even when you see it before your eyes. With the questions of Laura’s background in play, the thought that none of it was real was a possibility, which helped bring a surreal quality to the movie.

The movie is unnerving and packed a surprisingly powerful emotional beat to it. This is one that you do not want to watch late at night in the dark if you expect to sleep. A well done, suspenseful horror film that had me not sure what was going to happen next.

4.1 stars