Movie Review: Force of Nature


Rather than reviewing one of the latest Pay Per View movies that have been released – “Forces of Nature”, I thought a better idea would be to examine how movies this bad, with well known actors are even made in the first place. This alone would be a great idea for a documentary entitled “Why and How Bad Movies are Made”.

In the case of this very bad movie, why any actor – known or unknown – could read this script and then decide to risk their careers by agreeing to take the part is more interesting than listing the boring details of one day in the lives of 2 cops, Cardillo and Jess during a Hurricane in Puerto Rico.

The two cops are played by Emile Hirsch and Stephanie Cayo. Cayo is an unknown actress and Emile Hirsch is well known and not too long ago was making some very good movies. While it is understandable to want to stay current as an actor, but choosing a bad role in a very bad movie, cannot be a good idea, no matter how badly things are going for you in the movie industry. This is also true of Kate Bosworth, who has not made many movies recently after being prolific about 10 years ago. Taking this role will do nothing to revive anyone’s acting career.

As for Mel Gibson, despite doing everything in his power to say and do the wrong thing for the last decade he is still a great movie director and is also very rich, so why did he decide to be in a movie this bad? Mel Gibson’s appearance in this bad movie is the most confusing part of this waste of 2 hours. This is one of those cases where I think there was some Hollywood favor that was owed. Despite being the main draw for this movie, Gibson’s appearance seems very awkward and out of place.

As far as the plot of Forces of Nature, the most interesting part of this entire story was one of the tenants in this run down Motel who has a violent pet Alligator who he feeds hamburger from a local food store. The criminals in the Motel trying steal valuable paintings in the building was completely unwatchable.

Forces of Nature has a 4.4 rating on IMDB and a 9 on Rotten Tomatoes and for a change, both of those numbers are accurate. Nobody should waste their time or money on this remarkably bad movie.

This excerpt from a review of Forces of Nature by Paul Byrnes summarizes one reason how and why bad movies are made:

“Some movies are born bad; some achieve badness through lack of care or budget. Some seem to aspire to it and director Michael Polish has had a long enough career to know the difference.”

 

Movie Review: Chemical Hearts


When a person has been through a traumatic event – the plot of the new Amazon Prime streaming film “Chemical Hearts”, a severe car accident – the worst thing you can say is “get over it”. Traumatic events in any person’s life heal in proportion to the level of trauma, and that person’s ability to rationalize and slowly set it aside over a defined period of time. There is no speeding up this process, and in many cases some people never are able to get past the traumatic event. The famous phrase “Time Heals All Wounds” is just not true in every case.

Chemical Hearts is about a young woman, Grace Towns, who is in high school and was a passenger in a car with her boyfriend. One day the car swerves into some rocks and her boyfriend is killed. Grace receives a severe leg injury that requires a cane for her to walk. This is an example of a life trauma that nobody will get over quickly. Then add the guilt of “why did I live” and “if we had only done this instead” – that are typical thoughts for anyone who has been through something as traumatic as a car accident where someone is killed.

Through the high school newspaper, Grace meets Henry Page, a fellow student and member of the newspaper. Over time, Grace and Henry get involved in a very complex relationship that includes Grace reliving the accident and her guilt over still being alive and becoming involved with someone else. The plot of this teenage drama is different than any other similar movies I have seen in the past and I thought the complex relationship drama was well done and well acted.

I thought the acting in this film was excellent, with Lili Reinhart as Grace and Austin Abrams has Henry. All of the other actors were very good in their roles throughout this film, even though one side story about two lesbian students seemed more like “2 hour filler”, than something that should have been included in the screenplay.  I have been mostly impressed with the quality of originally developed movies with both Amazon and Netflix over the years. 

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this movie at only 57% is completely wrong and the audience rating of 86% is a bit too high. My rating is around 75% for the solid story and acting and I do recommend this movie. 

Movie Reviews: Deep Blue Sea 2, Deep Blue Sea 3


In July 1999, a very well made Shark thriller was released called “Deep Blue Sea”. The story was a very good one. A woman scientist was desperate to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease because her mother died from it. Her plan was to breed Sharks and change their DNA, so their brains would greatly increase in size – hopefully finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, by increasing the brain power of Sharks they became much more dangerous and proceed to wreck havoc within an underwater lab comprised of huge compartments and tunnels – essentially the same idea behind all of the Jurassic Park movies.

The original movie in 1999 had four well known actors, Samuel L. Jackson and Thomas Jane, LL Cool J and Micheal Rapaport. The 2 sequels were low grade B movies with no known actors. The problem with all 3 of these movies, much more so with the last 2, is that there are too many scenes where supposedly intelligent people do very stupid things. Scenes where people dive unprotected into the water trying to save another diver, or investigate a known disturbance when they have no chance to survive within a large body of water with fast moving, super intelligent and vicious Sharks. The most iconic scene in Deep Blue Sea was Samuel L. Jackson’s speech to get all of his colleagues to calm down and a shark jumps in the air, grabs him from behind and drags him back into the water.

To me it is obvious that in 2017, 18 years after the release of the original Deep Blue Sea, that it was decided to finally make a sequel for one reason. The reason was the huge popularity of “Shark Week”, so two bad movies were thrown together with no real script only for marketing reasons. None of the two sequels were widely released and both went to DVD, recently resurfacing with On Demand. I for one, had no idea that two sequels were made from the original very good Deep Blue Sea that was released in 1999. In all 3 movies there are scenes of massive blood and gore, caused by human beings being eaten alive by large killer Sharks. Due to budget reasons, the special effects in the first version released in 1999 are much better than the sequels that were released in 2017 and 2019.

For fans of Sharks, Shark Week or a movie about highly intelligent vicious sharks, see the original movie, and run from the two sequels that are bad films with no real story. I agree with the very low ratings for the two sequels.

Movie Review: Project Power


For sale is a pill that when taken can give any person super powers for exactly 5 minutes or kill them by setting them on fire, freezing them to death or blowing them up. This is the insane premise for the new Netflix movie “Project Power”, starring Jamie Foxx. The problem is, like so many insane action movies with an off the wall idea, the insane premise is never enough to carry the whole two hours. Also In this case, why would anyone take any pill for 5 minutes of super powers, when they could actually blow up by taking the pill?

The story is muddled, boring and run of the mill with crazy special effects in what amounts to the two main characters, Art, played by Foxx and a police officer named Frank, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, running around through different chase scenes, looking for Art’s daughter who was kidnapped by the head drug pusher of these super power pills. We never find out how or why these super power pills were invented throughout the entire movie. 

There is a side story with Art and a young woman played by Dominique Fishback, who is one of pushers of  these pills that for the most part works, but is not enough to save this bad story. 

I consider this a pretty bad action movie and unfortunately with rare exception, Jamie Foxx has made too many bad action movies in this career, this being the latest one.  

I agree with the low 62% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for Project Power and do not recommend this film. 

Movie Review: An American Pickle


The concept of a man falling into a vat of pickle juice 100 years ago and only because of the pickle juice he could been preserved and has not aged a day when he was revived is completely absurd. This absurdity is the entire premise for the new movie on HBO Max “An American Pickle”, starring Seth Rogen. There is nothing wrong with having to suspend all common sense in order to buy into the main story of any movie – especially a comedy. The problem with this movie is that even after you suspend all of that common sense, there is nothing that is funny.

Seth Rogen also plays the great grandson Ben Greenbaum, of Herschel Greenbaum and overall I thought the double shooting of both characters played by same person was well done. The story comes down to a billboard that was placed over the gravestone of Herschel’s wife and an attempt to start a new pickle business in order to get 200 thousand dollars to pay to get the billboard taken down. Obviously, this is not a strong enough of an idea to carry a 2 hour movie.

What is most strange with this film are the relatively high 75% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and the very low 46% audience ratings, including IMDB. In this case the critics are very wrong and the audience is right. There is nothing worth seeing here, and I do not recommend this movie.

Hulu Series Review: High Fidelity


The movie “High Fidelity” was released in 2000 and starred John Cusack. To this day High Fidelity is one of my favorite movies, because of the stories involving relationships, humor, music and the performance of Jack Black, in what is still his best role.

Due to the outstanding quality of High Fidelity the movie, remaking this into an 8 part series on Hulu had to be a daunting task. This version is basically about the same thing. The owner of a small music store, Robyn(Rob) Brooks, played by Zoe Kravitz, hires two employees, who barely do their jobs or come to work on time. While struggling to keep the store alive, Rob suffers through a series of bad relationship experiences and tries to figure out why he is always being rejected. Why he feels, he is doomed to always be alone. This Hulu series contains many similar excerpts from the original movie and effectively stretches this 2 hour story into an 8 hour streaming series.

The supporting cast starting with Rob’s employees, Todd Louiso and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who plays the Jack Black role were very good in their roles, but Randolph did not get close to being as funny as Jack Black was in this role 20 years ago. I remember enjoying the elitist music egomania of all the employees of this small record shop 20 ago and their ongoing hobby of enumerating their top 5 favorite music categories throughout the original movie. This also happens in this Hulu series remake, but less than the original movie.

I thought this High Fidelity remake series from an original movie, one of the few I have ever known about, was very well done and I highly recommend it.

Hulu Series Review: Little Fires Everywhere


The new Hulu series “Little Fires Everywhere”, is one of the best serious dramas about every day life, living through high school and race relations that I have ever seen. This 8 part series stars Reese Witherspoon and Keri Washington as two women in their 40’s at the opposite ends of the social status of Shaker Heights Ohio.

Keri Washington plays Mia Warren, who along with her daughter Pearl are homeless and mostly living in their car.  Mia is a starving artist, who is very cash poor due to a series of life challenges.   During a random drive by,  Elena Richardson, played by Witherspoon, notices Mia and Pearl living in a parked car and at first tries to help them, by offering them cheap housing, and then a job for Mia as her maid.  All of this happens despite Mia’s obvious dislike of Elena who is both helpful and condescending to both Mia and her current lot in life.  Many of the scenes in this movie involve Mia trying to hold back her rage as Elena talks down to and disrespects her, to a level that at times was very hard to watch.  There are people like this in the world who derive pleasure from piling on more misery to people who are just trying to get through life. They seem to feel better about themselves only because they feel superior to someone else so they try to knock them down.  

Elena is a reporter for a local Shaker Heights newspaper and her husband Bill, played by Joshua Jackson is a high priced lawyer. Over time, Mia’s daughter Pearl becomes close friends with Elana’s two sons and both of her emotionally challenged daughters Issy and and Lexi. What is most impressive about this 8 episode series is how over time the lives of all of Elana’s children become more and more connected to both Mia and her daughter Pearl.  

Towards the end of this movie there is a new story involving one of Elena’s close friends and a very complex child custody case that also has a connection to Mia’s past when she was a teenager.  All of this leads to a huge climax that involves a house fire that I thought based on what was happening, was too extreme to support this level of drama. Based on the unresolved ending at the conclusion of the 8th episode, there is a strong possibility of a second season of Little Fires Everywhere.  

This series has been nominated for 3 Primetime Emmy’s including Keri Washington who was outstanding in her role as Mia, as well as the entire cast. The other nominee is Lynn Shelton as best director, who unfortunately passed away this past May at only age 54 of a rare blood disorder. This series was also nominated for best limited series and has my vote for the best series of 2020.  

This is the first time I have used the free first month for Hulu and I thought that the quality of this production was every bit as good as Amazon Prime or Netflix.   Little Fires Everywhere gets my highest recommendation as does Hulu that contains very impressive content.

 

Top 100 Movie Review Websites on the Internet


I am proud to announce that this movie review website, that has been in existence since October 2014, has been chosen by Feedspot as one of the top 100 movie review websites on the Internet. Currently we are #60.

I want to thank all my loyal readers who have followed this website from the beginning.

To access Feedspot, Click this link: Top 100 Movie Review Blogs

Movie Review: Fatal Affair


As far as the new movie on Netflix “Fatal Affair”, starring Nia Long and Omar Epps, the real story is how can this same exact movie, be made so many times. The entire story is always the same. A largely black cast, a love affair gone wrong, one of the partners, either a man or a woman is either mentally disturbed or insane. Then there are several incidents that prove that the person who was rejected is completely off the deep end, and then the climax includes several characters running for their lives, physical violence and the insane person, along with other people in harms way, die.

What would be a better movie is a documentary about how or why this very same film has been made so many times. Given the relatively marketable fame both Epps and Long have, it is hard to believe that they would agree to perform in a another copy of a film that has been made so many times.

I agree with the very low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes of 16% and 4.4 on IMDB and I do not recommend this mostly bad film.

Movie Review: The Old Guard


Since the release of the impressive “Atomic Blonde” in 2017, Charlize Theron has now become a highly skilled Martial Arts actor, that now also includes the new Netflix movie “The Old Guard”.

The Old Guard is one of those science fiction action movies that requires the audience to suspend all common sense, because this story is about a group of immortal soldiers who have been alive for about 1000 years. They cannot be killed, even when they are shot in the head or riddled with bullets. The one trick in this plot is that, after being killed unknown number of times these soldiers are no longer able to come back to life. Due to all of this absurd life and death complexity, this film runs a fine line from being entertaining mostly because of the Martial Arts action to being ridiculous because the immortality angle mostly does not work.

Originally there are 4 soldiers led by Theron who have been traveling the world for centuries fighting in wars and saving lives, but through their common dreams they find out about a new immortal soldier Nile, currently in the US army, played by KiKi Layne. What follows for the rest of this story are events we have seen before including a scientist who wants to capture all the soldiers so they can be studied and fighting various enemies with gunfire and Martial Arts. The last quarter of this story is mostly about the group’s ongoing attempts to evade capture by this evil scientist. At the very end of this story, there was a very strong suggestion that this is the first of a series of movies with these characters, that will probably be determined based on the Netflix ratings for this first installment.

Despite the strong 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I give this movie a 70% rating and a very marginal recommendation, mostly for fans of solid Martial Arts action.