Category Archives: Action/Thriller

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) Movie Review

Before the release of this new Guardians of the Galaxy installment, I felt like Marvel had zombified me. Since the studio’s massive saga-ender Avengers: Endgame, I have continued going to the theater to see each new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. None of these films have moved me in any sort of way. I simply show up, sit numb in the dirty theater seat, and then leave the film without any strong emotions whatsoever. Even Spider-Man: No Way Home, a film many enjoyed, left me strikingly cold. I simply no longer care about this multi-franchise empire.

However, something about James Gunn’s take on the Guardians works on me in a different way. Where Marvel’s phase four (are we on four? five?) felt like a series of films introducing or re-introducing characters without a meaningful sense of Continue reading Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) Movie Review

My relationship with the John Wick films has been a turbulent one. My review for John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum revised my review of John Wick: Chapter Two. In re-watching the films in preparation for this new, epic-length chapter, I found my fondness for the first film waning. There is enjoyment to be had in all three films, and the stunt work in the first film was arguably a wake-up call to the rest of Hollywood to step up their action movie product.

But I have also found myself increasingly exhausted by the prolonged action sequences, flurries of bullets, and metric ton of broken glass. I had to question, then, what my response to an almost three-hour long fourth film in this franchise might be. My expectations were in flux. Parabellum is Continue reading John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) Movie Review

Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre (2023) Movie Review

Guy Ritchie has spent the most recent stretch of his career making passable yet somewhat anonymous and, frankly, lacking action pictures. Following the bungled Aladdin live action film for Disney, which I don’t think was necessarily Ritchie’s fault (he wasn’t the right choice for the material to begin with), he has been trying to get back to the brand of film that made him a name in the first place.

The Gentlemen was fine but not my bag. Wrath of Man has some nice sequences but is repetitive and drab. This time out, Ritchie goes for a sprawling, international espionage thriller — he’s trying for a James Bond or Mission: Impossible vibe.

The film opens with your standard issue “gathering up the usual suspects” routine. Two government bureaucrats (Cary Elwes and Eddie Marsan) discuss the crew for their next important job — something involving Continue reading Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre (2023) Movie Review

Cocaine Bear (2023) Movie Review

Cocaine Bear is the type of movie that “works well in the room,” so to speak. The pitch to Universal on this probably went over like gangbusters. It’s a fun premise with an undeniably eye-catching title, and a film that could be marketed to a college crowd during a slow box office weekend. It is a movie about a bear that does cocaine and wreaks havoc on a forest full of people. That’s not the most difficult movie to find an audience for. And judging solely on one theater in a small market during the film’s Thursday night preview screening, it looks like it did in fact reach that audience.

I saw two movies on this Thursday. One was Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in its second weekend; the other was Cocaine Bear. Ant-Man, a huge release with a massive budget that is part of one of the most profitable franchises of all time, was attended by me and two others. Cocaine Bear, meanwhile, was Continue reading Cocaine Bear (2023) Movie Review

Act of Violence upon a Young Journalist (1988) is a Cult Film You’ve Never Heard Of

This is installment five in our “Psychotronic Cinema” series. (What is psychotronic cinema?)

Act of Violence upon a Young Journalist is a cult film object from Uruguay, but it is relatively unknown in the U.S. It circulated in some film circles in South America, seemingly years after its original direct-to-video release in 1988. A documentary was made a couple years ago, called Straight to VHS (directed by Emilio Silva Torres), that documented the strange absence of the film’s director, Manuel Lamas, from public life, which has rendered details on the film’s production and its release scant.

The doc is good, although I don’t think it answers as many questions as it asks. What makes the doc and its distribution important is that Continue reading Act of Violence upon a Young Journalist (1988) is a Cult Film You’ve Never Heard Of

Knock at the Cabin (2023) Movie Review

I have never known what to do with M. Night Shyamalan’s career. You can’t fault the guy for trying to do unique things with the thriller genre. But there are recurring aspects of his filmmaking which have bothered me, and these problems came to a head with the one-two punch of Glass and Old. The writing, acting, and tone in those movies irk me.

On the other hand, Shyamalan has surprised me pleasantly on multiple occasions. Split is really well-shot and holds the tension. The Visit has a few memorable moments. Going back to the first act of his career, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable both hold up well, I think. And Praying with Anger is Continue reading Knock at the Cabin (2023) Movie Review

Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

A phenomenon occurs when a cult bad movie becomes big enough. The reputation grows to the point where it becomes implausible that the director would not grow aware that their film is not enjoyed for the reasons they intended. When and if they do become aware, they have a choice to make. They can go the Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2) route and insist that they made a good movie in spite of the criticism, or they can go the Tommy Wiseau (The Room) route and claim that they set out at the beginning to make a dark comedy.

I cannot tell for the life of me if Birdemic 3′s James Nguyen has reached this self-aware state. The quality of his filmmaking has not Continue reading Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) Movie Review

Bodies Bodies Bodies, on its surface, is a movie I should instantly fall in love with. It is a light horror comedy riff on the whodunit with a cast so stacked with great young talent that I almost couldn’t believe it when it was announced. Drop the cherry on top that it is an A24 picture, and my fears that this was a half-thought-out satire churned out as a genre programmer went out the window.

Churned out genre programmer Bodies Bodies Bodies is not. As for the satire, I must admit I was unimpressed. Early buzz from critics and audiences alike is Continue reading Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) Movie Review

Review: Punta Sinistra — Fantasia Festival 2022

Director Renaud Gauthier came into my radar with the 2019 film Aquaslash, a bare-bones slasher film taking place in a water park where a serial killer has inserted large blades inside of a water slide. It appeared to me that Aquaslash was the sort of movie that hearkened back lovingly to the B-movie slashers of the day. The problem was that the film was not well-made in its own right, so instead of coming off as a B-movie homage it came off as a purposeful attempt at the “so bad it’s good” variety (emphasis on the bad). At the very least, Aquaslash was good for a few cheap laughs.

Gauthier’s newest feature, Punta Sinistra, is an ultra low-budget crime film set in Mexico. From its protagonist’s half-baked voiceover, it feels like Gauthier is going for a neo-noir vibe. This hero, a journalist from Canada, travels to the island of “Punta Sinistra” to investigate a Continue reading Review: Punta Sinistra — Fantasia Festival 2022

2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Shin Ultraman, Country Gold, Give Me Pity!

Shin Ultraman, Country Gold, and Give Me Pity! are screening as part of the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs from July 14 – August 3.

Shin Ultraman

Shin Ultraman is the second Toho Pictures reboot of classic characters to be written by Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno, with a third film planned. And Shin Ultraman immediately comes across as a sibling to the 2016 Shin Godzilla, with its Continue reading 2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Shin Ultraman, Country Gold, Give Me Pity!