Netflix Movie Review: The Ice Road

Ever since the release of “Taken” in 2008, there has probably not been a more prolific actor than Liam Neeson. The problem is that just about all the parts Neeson has taken since his huge hit with Taken, seem to be more or less the same character. This is an error in strategy, with not choosing film roles that would stretch Neeson as an actor. Instead it seems that Neeson is going for the money resulting in roles that blend together, ultimately into nothing memorable enough, considering how good an actor Liam Neeson is.

The idea of “The Ice Road”, released on Netflix is a unique one, probably taken from the TV series “Ice Road Truckers”. There is an accident in a coal mine in Canada where 26 workers are trapped. The only solution is to commission 3 tractor trailers – for redundancy – to transport a machine that can pump poisonous air from the collapsed mine and save the 26 coal miners. The problem is, the only way to this Canadian coal mine via frozen road over lakes, during the most dangerous time of the year.

The main character Mike is played by Neeson, a professional truck driver who lives in barren and cold North Dakota and Gurty, played by Marcus Thomas, who is Mike’s mentally disabled brother, who was injured in the Iraq war. Another trucker Tantoo, played by Amber Midthunder has a brother who is one of the trapped coal miners. Laurence Fishburn has a surprise small part in this film as a manager of a trucking company who also makes the trip across the dangerous ice roads. The main story here is all about corporate greed and cruelty, that any person who has been an employee of a large company can easily recognize. I thought that the story was somewhat convoluted and perhaps overly complicated, but in the end was an effective thriller with a good ending.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for The Ice Road are a very low 47%, which is ridiculous considering the solid story and acting. My rating is 75% and I do recommend this film.

Movie Review: F9

About 25% into the new and extremely stupid Fast Five movie “F9”, Tyrese Gibson makes a speech about all of the insane action scenes in this franchise and wonders why nobody ever died and nobody even has a scratch on them. I think this was the screenwriters attempt at making fun of this 9 movie series, because there is no reason to make action that are this level of insane and over the top. What is the point of making movies this out of the world-makes-no-sense-idiotic-crazy and stupid. Less is more.

Why cant the creators of these movies make the simple decision to do two things. First make a movie that has a plot that makes sense and then create special effects are not so ridiculous. For example , there is a scene where Torreto played by Vin Diesel with passenger Letty played by Michelle Rodriguez decide to jump onto a broken bridge that seems to be made out of rope – in the hope that the rope will wrap around one of the wheels and then propel them into an arc onto the other side of a mountain. Why write a scene like this? Why do the producers and director have to be so over the top ridiculous? Another scene has Roman played by Tyrese Gibson and Tej played by Ludacris has both of them inside a Pontiac while floating in space. The reason why they were in space was part of an incongruous and once again – ridiculous plot that made zero sense. Like the last movie, why the producers of these movies take no time to explain why the characters are doing what the are doing is just about the most infuriating part of sitting through these two hours. Why not come up with a good solid idea that involves action and science and then fill the audience in on why things are happening? The reason why this does not happen is because the producers only care about the special effects, a good story that makes sense takes too long to write.

Charleze Theron is once again in this movie, making her debut in the last and also bad movie in the franchise “The Fate of the Furious” playing the evil Cipher. The bad news is that she agreed to make the last movie and the good news is that in this latest installment her part is very small. There is no explanation why her character hangs out in a giant plastic enclosure, adding another annoyance to this two hours. Also her hairdo this time around is as bad as her character.

The big action scenes at the end of this mess involve super powerful electric magnets and when they are turned on, all metal items are immediately attached to this. These magnets are used by several cars to pull other cars to them, and then when the magnets are turned off, they propel away from the magnet and crash into walls and other cars. There is a very large train-like car that is pulled by the magnets by two other cars making it stand on its front and then fall over on its back. This probably violated all laws of physics and within the audience I was in, people were actually laughing at how ridiculous this stunt was. A better movie would eventually be a documentary showing how all the non CGI stunts were filmed. Apart from that there is nothing good in this movie because even the special effects were so ridiculous they invoke laughter rather than awe.

John Cena plays Dominic Torreto’s brother in this film and there is only one scene where they fight that I thought was well done, with a back story involving their father, a car race and a misunderstanding that would in normal circumstances have been resolved between the two of them, long before their conflict within this story.

The actor Sung Kang returns to this franchise even though his character Han died in a car accident several movies ago. The explanation about how or why he is still alive was as equally ridiculous as the rest of this very bad story. I find the too often story line involving characters dying in this film franchise and then later they are alive again, insulting to the audience. Plausibility, continuity and a rational story is always better than another cheap special effect.

The ratings for this movie on IMDB are a correct and very low 5.3. Rotten Tomatoes is a too high 62%. My rating is 40% only because of the hard work of the stunt people who created some of the special effects. This movie is so ridiculous and stupid it should not be seen unless you are drunk. All of this being said, the movie “Furious 7”, released in 2015, the last film involving the late Paul Walker was a good movie, with a good story and excellent special effects. If you have not seen Furious 7, see this movie and run from this latest horrendous mess.

Netflix Movie Review: Good on Paper

Comedian Iliza Shlesinger has been one of the best standup comedians in the last few years, along with Amy Shumer, Kevin Hart and Dave Chappell. In one of her standup specials she has told a story about a man who she met on a plane who then became her boyfriend. It turns out that this man lied about every aspect of his life, including graduating from Yale, managing a hedge fund and even lying about his mother dying of Cancer. Shlesinger has written a screenplay about this experience – now on Netflix called “Good on Paper”. Unfortunately the ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB are around 50%, once again demonstrating how difficult it is to write and produce any movie.

I thought this movie had some good aspects, including Shlesinger mixing parts of her standup act throughout this entire movie with some good acting with the remaining cast including Margaret Cho and Ryan Hanson. The problem with this idea however is that in the end, there was nothing new here, not enough comedy and eventually the whole story degraded into a revenge film. This movie would have been much better with more humor from Shlesinger both with her standup act and within the story and some new ideas that we have not seen before.

The critics are wrong ranking this film as only 50%, my rating is in the 65% range but I cannot recommend it, with the possible exception of big fans of Shlesinger’s standup act.