Sucker Punch – #MovieReview

Hello out there all you internet people. Slick Dungeon here, back with a movie review for ya. This time I am reviewing the Zack Snyder directed glossy action photo come to life known as Sucker Punch.

Heads up that there will be spoilers in this review so if you want to watch it before reading the review, you have been forewarned.

The movie stars Emily Browning as Babydoll, a young woman who is locked up in a mental institution and copes by envisioning it as a brothel. It’s actually both more complicated and more simple than that. There are basically three layers to the film and I will talk a little bit about all of them.

One of the things you can say without question is that the film looks great. It’s highly stylized and there are tons of interesting shots and camera movements happening, along with some pretty impressive CGI.

But that’s about all there is. It’s full of amazing style and pretty close to zero substance.

At the beginning of the movie, we are treated to a wordless opening where through action and lots of slow motion shots, we find out that Babydoll has an abusive stepfather. We also see an incident in which the stepfather tries to abuse Babydoll’s sister, and through Babydoll’s actions, her sister accidentally ends up dead. The stepfather is apparently able to frame it that Babydoll is insane and should be locked up in a mental institution and be lobotomized. Blue, one of the orderlies in the institution, played by Oscar Isaac, knows that Babydoll is not at fault but accepts payment from the stepfather to allow the lobotomy to happen. The day finally comes where the procedure is going to happen and right before we see the spike go into Babydoll’s eye, the movie shifts focus into a sort of dream realm where Babydoll is in a brothel. And then within this dream realm, when Babydoll dances, she enters a third realm in which she is a skilled warrior with a ragtag team of women with her. These women are in the brothel and exist in the mental institution as well. For the purposes of this review I am going to call these realms, the warrior realm, the brothel realm, and reality.

In reality, Babydoll has spotted a few things that might help her to escape the mental institution. When she goes into the brothel realm, these items exist as well. In the warrior realm, Babydoll is told what she needs to get in order to be free. She has to get a map, fire, a key, a knife and solve a mystery. In the warrior realm, she learns to be a fighter and how to get these items. Then she shifts back into the brothel realm and one of the women on her team has gotten the item. I don’t want to give everything away so I won’t go too much into how that’s all accomplished.

Most of the movie plays out in what you might call a, “collect the coupons” style. They have to get a thing, they get a thing, then that leads to another thing. Only after they have all the things, can the story continue. In this case, obviously, the point is for Babydoll to get all the stuff and escape the mental institution in real life. It seems like she’s able to accomplish it all in the brothel realm, with some sacrifice occurring, but it’s less clear whether or not she can do this in reality.

I’m not going to let you know if she escapes or what happens in the end, you’ll have to watch for yourself to find out. But I did have a few questions and comments about the movie.

  1. I’m really tired of the trope of evil mental institutions. So many movies and television shows do this. If a mental institution of the type depicted in these movies existed in reality, they would be shut down in a heartbeat. I’m not saying abuses don’t occur in existing institutions, that obviously happens, but the vast majority of people who work in this field, are legitimately trying to help people overcome their illness. Now, I know this is a really stylized movie and you can say that this is just fictional and makes for a good story. I understand that argument but I find it hard to believe that any current institution would do a lobotomy. It’s not a procedure, if you can even call it that, that makes any sense. And the institution looks grimy and run down and it’s just obvious there are abuses everywhere. This type of institution occurred in the early days of mental health but we are long past all that. This is just a pet peeve of mine but why do so many filmmakers take the lazy way out and use a mental institution to portray menace? It’s old, it’s boring, and it’s inaccurate if you put it in the modern era.
  2. Leaving all that aside, the things that Babydoll has to get in order to escape the institution make no sense from a logical point of view. She has to get a map. The map is a blueprint of the institution that Blue keeps in his office. Why in the world, would that map be framed in his office? If it’s a plan in case of fire escape, that would be posted everywhere for anyone in the institution to see. If it’s a blueprint of the actual building, there is no logic to keeping that in your office. It would be an obvious way for someone to figure out an escape.
  3. The key doesn’t make any sense either. Blue wears a master key to all doors around his neck. While this might make sense in the Brothel realm, it makes no sense in the institution. Weirdly, the key is not on Blue in the Brothel realm, but is on his neck in reality. If you work in a mental institution, especially one that might have residents who could reasonably attack you, jewelry would not be allowed for the staff for obvious reasons. So why in the hell would you wear a freaking master key around your neck where anyone could grab it? That makes no sense.
  4. The fire also makes no sense. In reality an orderly has a Zippo lighter that he fiddles with. Babydoll wants it to start a fire with so that the doors would be unlocked. No way this item is allowed in a mental institution, again for extremely obvious reasons. If a staff member is a smoker, it would be expected that they go outside to do that and have their lighters, cigars, cigarettes or whatever out there. Now you might think that the orderly could still have sneaked it in, and you would have a point. But then it makes no sense that he is playing with it. Why would you allow a lighter in this place?
  5. The one item that does make sense is the knife. They get that from the kitchen staff and clearly you need knives to cook. What doesn’t make sense is that the chef wears a knife belt around himself. It’s not like having the knife holstered at your back is logical for a chef. Why didn’t the chef us a knife block or something similar?
  6. Despite all that, if you can get past these things, and enjoy the movie, it’s not a bad time. I’ve certainly seen worse movies but I do wish Zack Snyder had done like, twenty minutes of googling on mental institutions and thought about the logic of some of these things.
  7. When Babydoll starts dancing in the Brothel realm, all the men seem to get hypnotized, and can’t look away from here. What kind of incredible dance moves does she have? No idea because they always cut away to the Warrior realm when she starts dancing. From what I can tell, her dance mostly involves her slowly moving her shoulders and walking slightly forward. Couldn’t they have shown the dance once? I mean come on.
  8. I think the most enjoyable part of this was the whole Warrior realm where there is lots of action and cool effects. Babydoll and her team seem to exist in a kind of steampunk world where there are zombie soldiers, giant robots, orcs, dragons, bombs, and samurai. I want to see that movie. Could we just have that movie start to end? We could forget all the other stuff and maybe get some actual character development and then this wouldn’t just look good but might also be good. Can we get that please?
  9. Like a lot of other movies that choose style over substance, (I am thinking of Suicide Squad in particular) the soundtrack is phenomenal. There is really good music here and it pairs well with the visuals. It makes me feel frustrated that it wasn’t a better movie because of that.
  10. I understand a lot of what the movie was trying to convey. The men in the movie were all horrible people, with one single exception. The women are abused in reality and in the Brothel realm but get to be amazing fighters in the warrior realm. I respect the intent, but it comes off as pretty much cartoonish. Look, there is a man, he is evil with a capital E. There is nothing more there. The women are good with a capital G. I’m not saying this type of characterization never works, but this film didn’t spend enough time building it up so it doesn’t work. Snyder should have spent his time thinking less about how things look and more about what the characters are about for this movie to make sense.

Now, it might sound like I just utterly hated this movie. I didn’t. I really think the visuals are interesting. None of the actors put in poor performances. The soundtrack is amazing. But, it never comes together. There’s just not enough story here. All style, no substance. If you are looking for a movie that you don’t need to think too much about, that has plenty of interesting action, and is for the most part predictable, it’s a decent time.

Stylishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Winchester – #MovieReview

Hey all you spooky spirits out there, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back with another movie review for you all. This time I am reviewing Winchester, the movie about Sarah Winchester, her extremely bizarre house, the 1906 earthquake, and the deadly weapon she and her family profited from financially, the Winchester repeating rifle.

Fair warning that there will be spoilers below so if you want to watch this before reading the review, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay, back now? Good.

The actual history of the Winchester house is incredibly interesting and if you ever happen to be in San Jose, California, it’s a must tour attraction. I promise you there are absolutely no other houses like it on the entire planet. If you are lucky enough to take the tour, you will learn that Sarah Winchester was subject to several tragedies in her life. Her husband died and so did her only child. She did have a niece named Marion and Marion had a son named Henry. The movie proclaims that the house is still one of the most haunted mansions in North America. I’ll leave that up to debate as I tend to be pretty far on the skeptical scale when it comes to things like that. I’m not saying there aren’t supernatural things, or that people haven’t seen them, I’m just saying I would need to see a lot more solid evidence myself, first hand to be all in on it.

That being said, if anyone did have a reason to be haunted it was Sarah Winchester. The guns that her husband made and profited from killed hundreds of thousands of people in her life time and played a huge part in the civil war. The Winchester rifles were the gun of choice for the Union Army, and they were also used to slaughter and intimidate Indigenous People. That’s not including simple random gun violence where innocent people might have been killed by the lethal Winchester.

Sarah felt a huge amount of guilt over the fact that her family profited from this and long held the belief that she was cursed. She also very much believed in Mediums who could channel spirits and communicate with the dead. This was actually a fairly popular belief in the early 1900’s in California. Sarah was absolutely convinced that she was cursed and that the ghosts of those who were killed by Winchesters were haunting her.

While all that is interesting, and is touched on in the film, here’s the part that I think is the most intriguing. She thought that the best way to get rid of these ghosts was to constantly add to her house, adding, removing and remodeling at all hours of the day, seven days a week. She supposedly had these fits where she would sketch out rooms that she thought the ghosts were telling her to make. Being no dummy, she didn’t want the ghosts to just roam freely so she came up with utterly bizarre rooms as well. She thought this could trap or confuse the ghosts. Some of them you see in the movie but definitely not all of them. The film features the famous “stairs that go nowhere”. This is a staircase that literally leads to the ceiling with no way out. They also feature the swinging chandelier that is alleged to move when no one is in the room and there is no wind or anything that would cause it to move. They don’t include my favorite room (or at least I don’t think it was in the movie) which is just a room that has a floor made of trap doors. According to the tour, these rooms were meant to confuse the spirits but the movie has a little different take on it, saying that Sarah would build a room that she saw in a vision and then remove it once the spirit is freed. I don’t know if that’s true or not but it sort of makes sense.

Now that I have given you a mini-lesson on the history of the house, let me tell you about the movie. At the start of the movie we meet Dr. Eric Price. He’s recovering from a traumatic event involving himself, his wife, and a Winchester rifle. I won’t go into more detail on that in case you still haven’t watched the movie.

The good doctor has been medicating his pains with alcohol, women and opiates. He gets a knock on his door and is promptly hired by the Winchester Repeating Rifle company. See, there is a bit of a power struggle between Sarah and the other shareholders of her company. She owns 51% of the company so what she says goes. She wants the company to start making things like roller skates instead of guns. The board of directors realize that Sarah is exhibiting, eccentric, to say the least, behavior. They want Sarah evaluated by a psychiatrist who can evaluate her mental state. If she is declared mentally unwell, she no longer has her stake in the company.

Most of the plot goes in a direction you might expect. The film comes down very solidly on there actually being ghosts haunting the place. The doctor starts seeing odd things while he is there to do his evaluation and tries to just ignore it as a side effect of withdrawal. Sarah proves herself to be every bit as odd as was expected, but so many strange things happen, it’s hard for the doctor to doubt her.

While there, Marion experiences some pretty harrowing events involving Henry. He falls out of a window and at one point even attacks Sarah with a rifle. The movie plays it that Henry was possessed.

Now I am going to spoil one big detail so if you really want to watch this first, do so and come back here.

Okay back?

The center piece of the movie is when a ghost seems to invade the house, in a room full of Winchester guns. This haunting is so bad that the whole house shakes, people die, and plenty of damage is done. The movie pretty much tells us that this supernatural event is what tore up the house.

But here’s the thing. This movie takes place in 1906. That’s the year of the famous San Francisco earthquake that led to a ton of destruction and devastation. People died, buildings collapsed, fires raged for weeks after. It would have been a cataclysmic nightmare for anyone affected by it. And one thing we know for absolute certain? They epicenter was not The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose California. It was clearly centered just west of San Francisco, which is nearly an hour long drive from San Jose.

I think this is why critics actually hated this movie. While Helen Mirran’s performance is a little odd and even at times comical, she was playing an extremely eccentric woman. The doctor with his backstory is pretty far fetched but I can understand why they threw that in the movie. It made for good dramatic effect. But to imply that this haunting caused the 1906 earthquake? That’s pretty far off base both metaphorically and geographically.

Now, it is an absolute fact that the house did sustain damage during that quake. There is no question about that, and I do believe some workers there even died. This was back before buildings were required to be retrofitted to withstand earthquakes so a house even sort of near the epicenter certainly could have sustained a good amount of damage and a large house like the Winchester one, with all its construction happening was virtually guaranteed to take damage.

The story unfolds in it’s natural conclusion, which I won’t spoil here, other than to say it’s extremely predictable. But here’s the thing. I still think you should watch it. I think this is probably the only film I will ever say this for but don’t watch it for the story, or the time period, or the acting. Why should you watch it? For the architecture. I don’t know how much of this was allowed to be filmed on site and how much they reconstructed but watching the movie is nearly as dizzying as going through the house itself. There are nearly 100 rooms, all of them unique and strange. We only see a fraction of that, but it’s enough to give you a sense of how odd it is.

After you watch the movie, whenever it’s open again, go and take a tour of Winchester Mystery House. It’s absolutely fascinating and one of the oddest tours you can find yourself on.

Mysteriously yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Bulbbul – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m back with another review of a film, this time, a horror/supernatural film from India called Bulbbul. This is on Netflix right now and although the plot can be somewhat predictable here, if you don’t watch any other movie on Netflix, you should check this one out. There will be very mild spoilers here but I definitely won’t give much away as far as plot, but then again, it won’t really have any twists or turns that knock you out of your seat anyway.

The plot centers around the titular character Bulbbul. At the beginning of the film she is a child bride in the 1880s during the Bengal presidency. Bulbbul is so young in fact, when she is wed, that she mistakes her brother-in-law who is around her age, for her husband, who is significantly older. Her husband, Indranil, also has a twin brother named Mahendra. Both characters are played by Rahul Bose, while Bulbbul is played by Tripti Dimri. Bulbbul, lost in her new surroundings finds some solace in her companion Satya, Indranil’s youngest brother. Satya is played by Avinash Tiwary. Satya tells Bulbbul stories about a witch who haunts the woods they live in. Bulbbul and Satya become virtually inseperable, which causes conflict with Indranil. I’m not going to go much more into the plot other than to say, you can see that it is a story of a romance that is not allowed to be, against the backdrop of supernatural events and the abuses of men who think they can get away with harming women and children.

If that plot is sounding tried and true and like it might not be worth watching, I would say you may have a point. However, the cinematography in this film is breathtakingly beautiful. Honestly, I don’t know if I have seen a better use of color palette in a film. From the very beginning credits, it’s clear how gorgeous this movie is going to be. When supernatural events occur, the screen is awash in deep reds, and even when it’s more of a normal situation, the beauty of the scenery is something to behold. The only time the camera seems to see things in actual real colors and tones is in the scenes between Satya and Bulbbul. It provides an anchor to an otherwise fairy tale or dreamlike quality that the movie has. The acting is engaging and there are no poor performances anywhere to be found. Tripti herself is especially fascinating to watch.

There are moments in the film that remind me slightly of the book Dracula and I think that’s intentional by the filmmakers but it works. The frequent use of flash backs and flash forwards is a little disorienting at times and I’m not sure how much the film benefits from that decision but at all points during the film, there is so much for the eyes to take in, it’s nearly impossible to look away. We can all feel for the plight of Bulbbul and empathize with what happens next but the real triumph of the film is its ability to mix its social commentary with the utter beauty of the film itself. You will sometimes hear film makers remind audiences that movies are a visual medium. This movie proves how true that is.

If you are not sure about this one, just sit down and watch it for a few minutes. If you are not utterly stunned by the masterful cinematography, deep performances, or beautiful music, nothing on film will truly impress you. Bulbbul is technically in the supernatural/horror genre but I think it’s more on the line of a fairy tale, just one of the darker ones. There isn’t much need of blood or gore here, and there is at leas one scene with almost none of that that disturbed me immensely and it’s a scene that I will still think about a long time from now. And as horrific as it was, it still made use of that masterful cinematography I was talking about. If you sit through the movie, I guarantee it will stay with you too.

Visually yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Lovebirds – #MovieReview

Hello internet people, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back with another film review for you all. I’d been watching a lot of horror, which I love to watch by the way, but I was ready for a bit of a break and wanted to watch something with some humor in it. I went for The Lovebirds which is pretty much just the same plot as Date Night only instead of starring Tina Fey and Steve Carrell it stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani.

The movie centers around a couple who were in love once but feel like they have lost the magic. Jibran and Leilani used fell in love quickly but now they argue about everything including whether or not they would win The Amazing Race. They are due at a friend’s dinner party and even though they have an argument they decide to go. On the way they break up and Jibran, distractedly driving, plows into a man on a bicycle. The man is more or less okay and the couple are about to get on with their lives when a man gets into their car, tells them that he is a cop and pursues the man on the bicycle. At first this just seems like a bit of excitement until the man just kills the guy on the bicycle and then runs over him repeatedly. The rest of the movie is the couple ending up in fish out of water situations where they are mistaken for criminals, cultists or worse.

The plot pretty much plays out as you would expect and I won’t really go much into it here. It’s a comedy of errors with each situation leading to the next and becoming more and more ridiculous and hilarious. Along the way, the couple also, as you would expect, start to realize they still have feelings for one another. The romance isn’t anything you haven’t seen either.

Still, despite the fact that this is a movie with an old familiar plot and subplot, it manages to deliver well on the comedy and the performances are hugely entertaining. Nanjiani and Rae are very well paired, with his dry wit matching excellently with her exuberant personality.

Not every bit of comedy hits but when it does, it scores some big laughs. My two favorite scenes were when the couple are interrogated by the bad guys and are given the choice between bacon grease to the face and something behind a door. I won’t give away what it results in but it’s worth watching. The second is when the couple inevitably get taken in by the police. I can’t give any of that away but it had me laughing pretty hard.

The plot feels almost unnecessary at times because it’s extremely predictable and there are moments when I was wishing this was just a comedy riff off between the two stars. But the physical comedy is fun and there are enough jokes that if you are in the mood for a bit of romantic comedy, this is like comfort food. It’s good and it’s always there and you know what you are getting before you take the first bite. Predictability aside, it’s got some smart humor in it and it never gets so crazy that it’s completely goofy. It’s a fun ninety minutes when you need a little break from reality.

Comedically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Boy – #MovieReview

Hello all you internet boys and girls out there. Slick Dungeon here back to review another creepy movie for you all. There will be some mild spoilers but I won’t give away the whole thing.

The Boy stars Lauren Cohen, of The Walking Dead and Supernatural fame, as Greta. Greta has had trouble at home in America with an abusive boyfriend and she has taken a job in England to be a nanny for an elderly couple’s child. When she arrives, it turns out that the “boy” is just a life size and very creepy looking porcelain doll. The couple give Greta strict instructions on how to treat the boy, what his routine is, and everything she needs to do to take care of Brahms. They refer to the doll as a living being and treat it essentially as you would an actual child.

Greta does make a friend while she is there. Malcolm, played by Rupert Evans, is the local grocer and delivers food up to the huge house in the countryside where Greta is staying. He also treats Brahms like an actual boy whenever the elderly couple are there but it’s clear he is just playing along.

A lot of this movie does unfold in the way you are probably picturing. That is, pretty much like Child’s Play or any of the subsequent Chucky series, but without the humor. Odd things start happening when it’s clear no one else is in the house. Greta’s shoes go missing and are returned. Strange sounds happen. And most importantly, the creepy as can be doll, moves when there is no possible way for it to have gone anywhere.

At first I was getting impatient with this, feeling like I knew exactly where it was going. I was mostly thinking how Lauren Cohen knows those guys from Supernatural and they would make quick work of a cursed doll, and this could be a forty-five minute television episode instead of a full length film. But then, Greta starts playing it smart, if a little oddly. I’m not going to let you in on what happens from there in case you have not seen it, but it’s worth an entire watch through.

While this film got bashed by certain critics, and I can see why some of them did not like it, I don’t think it deserved the drubbing it got. It’s moody and strange and there are definitely some jump scares that seem a bit silly, but overall, I am pretty sure you are not going to expect what happens in the end.

If you like the creepy doll form of horror, this one is right up there with the good ones in my book.

Creepily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

1922 – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to review the Stephen King short story adaptation of 1922 playing on Netflix. There will be some spoilers but I will try to keep them mild here.

As far as Stephen King adaptations go, mileage tends to vary. Consider 1922 to be one that lands on the good side of these things. While the film can’t be quite as disturbing as the novella written by the master of horror, it does an excellent job of getting close.

The story revolves around a man named Willfred “Wilf” James and is played by Thomas Jane. Wilf is a gruff and quiet rancher whose wife has inherited a plot of land after the death of her father. Wilf wants to expand his farm with the land but Ariette (Molly Parker) wants to sell the land and move to Omaha instead. The pair have a fourteen year old son named Henry who is in love with his girlfriend Shannon (Kaitlyn Bernard).

Wilf and Ariette are long past loving each other and it’s clear that this argument is not going to work itself out. Wilf decides that the only way for him to get the land that he hopes to pass on to his son is to murder his wife. He even enlists Henry’s help to do it.

The fact that Wilf murders his wife should not be a spoiler for this because it’s what happens next that is surprising. The act that Wilf and Henry commit come to haunt them both in different ways. The film takes us through the rest of the year of 1922 seeing what happens to Wilf and Henry throughout.

Thomas Jane gives a masterclass example of conveying horror in a quiet but ever present manner. When you get down to it, it’s a simple story but the unfolding of events in the film leaves the viewer disturbed and on edge for the entire film. Certain sequences recall other King stories and adaptations, what with the prominence of endless fields of corn growing everywhere.

At no point to we ever really like Wilf but that won’t stop the viewer from being disturbed by what happens to him. The frequent use of rats in the film come at the most unexpected times and the imagery it puts in the viewer’s head will stick with them long after they have seen the film. And of course, the whole time, the viewer is thinking that Wilf really should have moved to Omaha.

Unlike a good portion of Stephen King stories, the end of this one does not disappoint. The horror is raw and gripping all the way through.

If you are a horror fan or a Stephen King fan (I know those groups mostly overlap) this is a great way to spend a little less than two hours. I just wouldn’t recommend having any snacks handy while you do unless you have a strong stomach.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Babysitter (2017) – #MovieReview

The Babysitter

What’s going on you young hooligans out there? It’s me, Slick Dungeon, back again to tell you about a wacky horror comedy that’s now showing at your local Netflix. I’m not sure this is the kind of movie that needs this type of disclaimer but there will be spoilers for The Babysitter in this review.

I’m a sucker for comedy horror films, especially the ones of the several characters die implausibly horrible yet also hilariously funny deaths in completely unlikely circumstances due to the actions of a child variety. It’s a very specific genre, but I like it okay?

This is also in the category of a ton of critics hate it but somehow people keep watching it anyway. Let me tell you, I’m on the side of the people watching it anyway. No, it’s not high quality cinema, there is no meaningful revelation you will make because of watching it, but it’s fun okay? It’s still okay to have fun sometimes. For real.

The Babysitter stars Samara Weaving as Bee, the eponymous babysitter, and Judah Lewis as Cole, the babysittee. Cole is twelve years old and still has a babysitter. It’s pretty embarrassing because he is already picked on. However, Bee is cool, pretty and gets along well with Cole. Even his bullies think Bee is cool.

One night when Bee is babysitting Cole, he stays up past his bed time to see what she really gets up to after dark. Turns out it’s a whole lot of murdering and satanic ritual stuff. Needless to say, Cole is freaked out and has to get out of the situation without, you know, ending up dead. One by one Cole goes up against the cultists and one by one ends up obliterating them, usually through accidental means. I don’t want to give up the whole ballgame here by telling you how those deaths go, but some of them are downright hilarious. None of them are really believable, but reality isn’t what this movie is about.

This movie is basically Home Alone if Kevin McCallister was up against murderers instead of robbers and Kevin had unleashed full kill mode instead of less deadly methods. Oh, and also if Kevin did all of that nearly completely by accident. Cole and Kevin do both use fireworks though, so there’s that.

Like I said I don’t want to spoil how the deaths happen so I am just going to share with you my favorite part of the whole movie. If you can get behind this part, then you should watch it. If you think this part is stupid, well, there are a bunch of other things to stream. One of the cultists is a high school quarterback named Max, played by Robbie Amell. He has Cole right where he wants him, he’s about to just end Cole forever when he hears the sound of an egg being thrown at Cole’s house. This is one of the kids who bullies Cole egging his house yet again. Max lets Cole go, drags him over and insists that Cole go and confront his bully. He even gives him a pep talk before he goes over there. It’s hilarious how fast Max goes from deadly killer to older friend who is just looking out for his neighbor and back again. Cole does confront the bully and Max is right back to trying to kill Cole. Less than five minutes later Max is dead. I loved how Max was totally cool with killing a kid but thought that egging was just over the top. To me the scene was really funny.

While this is not the funniest, or scariest horror comedy I have ever seen by a long shot, it’s got enough in it that if you are a fan of those types of movies, it’s worth a try. I mean really, you’re probably reaching the end of your Netflix queue anyway so have a little bit of a bloody laugh.

Comedically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Vast of Night – #MovieReview

It’s Like a Long Twilight Zone Episode and I’m NOt Complaining

Hey people out there catching my signal, it’s Slick Dungeon. I’m back again with a movie review for ya. This time I watched the sci-fi, quiet horror film that is getting all the buzz lately, The Vast of Night.

The film takes place in the fictional town of Cayuga, New Mexico and is about Everett and Fay, two characters caught up in things they can’t explain in the 1950’s. Fay is played by Sierra McCormick and Everett is played by Jake Horowitz. Both performances are fast paced, tense and low key brilliant.

Just a warning that there will be mild spoilers in this review but I won’t give too much away.

The film starts off with us looking at a television screen and getting an opening that essentially mimics The Twilight Zone. That sets the tone immediately as we transition into the town of Cayuga, where everyone is abuzz with getting ready for the high school basketball game. We met Everett immediately and it’s clear that he is the smartest guy in the room considering that everyone at the school wants his attention on a number of random things, including fixing scoreboards, setting up recording systems and repairing cables that have been chewed through.

One of the people wanting Everett’s attention is Fay. She has just bought a new fashioned tape recorder and wants Everett to show her how to use it. The dialogue in these scenes if fast paced and cigarette filled and it takes a moment to get your bearings as the viewer. We find out quickly that Fay would be a good match for Everett because she is able to talk about science in a way that impresses him. In fact, for me the scene that really got me into the film is when Fay starts describing these far in the future science articles that perfectly describe smart driving cars and cell phones. After that I was all in on this film.

Fay

Everett is not going to the basketball game because he hosts a radio show and needs to be at work. Fay works the telephone switchboard and is also unable to attend the game. They are about the only ones in town that won’t be there.

Every once in a while the movie reminds us how this begins by pulling back and showing us, or someone or something, watching the events unfold on a screen.

Things really get going once Fay starts to pick up an odd noise on the phone lines. She thinks it’s odd and has Everett listen to it. After that he plays the sound on the station and asks if anyone can identify it. Things get really interesting once a caller says he can.

I don’t want to give the story away from here but let’s just say Everett and Fay spend the rest of the night trying to understand what is going on. Whether or not they do, you’ll have to watch the film to know.

The film does miss on one point, it does not really address some of the injustices that were prevalent during that time period. While this film is not about that, I think that any film taking place in that time period produced now has a bit of a duty to at least address how bad it was for anyone who was not a straight, white, man at the time. There is a little bit but it barely brushes by the audience. But I digress.

The only other thing that really bothered me about this film is one that I have seen in multiple films, books and even in songs. The town is in New Mexico but the radio station is called WOTW. Not to put too much geography on you here but that’s west of the Mississippi. Any station west of the Mississippi is supposed to start with a K. I know how easy it is to make this mistake if you are from the east of the Mississippi. As someone who lives on the west of that river, it is always 100% confusing to see a station in New Mexico start with the letter W. So please, if you are east of the Mississippi and you make a movie on the west coast, start your stations with a K and if you are west of the Mississippi and you set your movie on the east coast, start your stations with a W. There are some people like myself who would really appreciate the effort.

The performances are outstanding and I felt like it was a really gripping, if a bit long episode of The Twilight Zone. Lucky for me, I love that show, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this. The tension is quiet and builds very well. Enough happens to keep the viewer engaged while still allowing for a low budget film.

Right now the place to find this is on Amazon. It’s a worthy 90 minutes to spend if you want to watch a bit of eerie mysteriousness. For my money it’s definitely worth a watch.

Mysteriously Yours,

Slick Dungeon

Equilibrium – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here, back to tell you about a dystopian country where feelings are not allowed, Sean Bean, does what he does best, and people are not able to shoot each other because of angles.

Equilibrium is a 2002 science fiction film starring Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs and Emily Watson. Now, don’t get me wrong when you read this review. I really enjoyed the film. The film feels oddly prescient for the time we are in now. The action is really good and all of the performances are engaging. But I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t over think this by a million degrees. So just because I am pointing out inconsistencies and giant plot holes doesn’t mean I didn’t like it or that you shouldn’t watch it.

Fair warning that there will be spoilers ahead. I mean, this was made in 2002 so I think the expiration date on that warning is a bit old but I can’t continue the review in good conscience without mentioning that.

It’s the early twenty first century and world war three has just happened. I should mention this film is fiction. A dystopian society much like you would find in 1984 or A Brave New World or even Fahrenheit: 451 has developed. I should reiterate that this film is fiction. As a result, there is a menacing and vaguely defined police force that is cracking down on insurgents for doing such things as looking at art, loving one another, and reading poetry. I should again mention that this film is actually fictional. It was made eighteen years ago but a lot of this film feels like right now is feeling. And it was even more striking when the villain, who turns out to be leading the whole thing says this, “…it is not the message that is important, it is our obedience to it.” He says this to get a law enforcement officer (Christian Bale) to commit an unlawful act. So yeah, spot on to how this moment in America is right now. But let me remind you, this film is fictional.

Enough with my tangent, on with the plot. The whole idea of this society is that we need to suppress our human emotions chemically, to maintain peace. It’s illegal to feel anything at all and those who break this rule are subject to imprisonment and ultimately death. Christian Bale plays John Preston, a “Grammaton Cleric” who is trained in advanced weaponry and fighting skills. It’s his job to seek out and bring to justice, “Sense Offenders”, who are basically anyone that feels an emotion. Preston is good at his job and is ruthless about meting out his twisted version of justice, up to and including, burning the Mona Lisa and killing his partner for reading a volume of Yeats poems in the first ten minutes. R.I.P. Sean Bean. Again. He’s really good at getting killed in the first act of anything isn’t he?

Preston’s back story is tragic because his wife who seems to have loved him, was executed by the same police force he works for. He has since dedicated his life to stamping out all those who feel emotion and is very good at spotting anyone who does. But, he ends up missing a dose of his emotion suppressing drug and starts to feel. Meanwhile, Taye Diggs, who plays Andrew Brandt, a replacement Cleric for Sean Bean’s character, is starting to suspect something is up with Preston. There is a bit of cat and mouse and Preston does some things he’s later not proud of. He ends up meeting Mary O’brien who is played by Emily Watson. It turns out she was dating the Sean Bean character. Preston brings her in but his world view is starting to change.

The movie continues with a bit of action, some subterfuge, some back and forth and lots of gun violence and slick action sequences. In the end, we of course want to see Preston beat “Father” who is the man behind the totalitarian regime. We also want to see Preston show some emotion to his own children. I won’t tell you quite how we get those answers but I don’t think it’s spoiling too much to just say the good guys generally win.

There is also this stark contrast from the beginning of the film, full of drab and dark colors, including the uniform the Clerics wear, that changes at the end when Preston dons a white suit, because, you know, good guy and all.

As enjoyable as the film was, I still wanted to know a few things.

  1. Okay, so emotion is bad but even these Clerics go around talking about being proud or feeling guilt or whatever. The also say things like good morning. Good is pretty subjective and an emotion could be attached there so are these Clerics just exempt or what? It doesn’t seem like it since they have to take the drugs too. How do they define emotion? I didn’t see the consistency here at all.
  2. The Clerics are specially trained to be total killers. They go through this rigorous program and are able to beat hordes of people shooting at them. How do they do this? Because they train to counter the angles of gunfire that are most probable to come at them. Essentially the point is that they would use probability and physics to best their opponents. While that sounds and looks really cool, uh I have a question here. Has no one ever killed one of these guys because they held their gun at a weird angle, got off a random shot accidentally, or you know, found out this secret method of training that seems to happen in the middle of the public and like, lowered their gun by three degrees? I mean really, it seemed to me that maybe James Bond wouldn’t have a shot at killing these guys but what about Mr. Magoo? How did that Cleric die? The guy couldn’t see that well so he shot at a 34 degree angle and well, what can you do about that am I right?
  3. My next question is about the emotion suppressing drug. How the heck did they get that formula so perfect? It seems to be an absolutely identical injection for every human taken at the exact same time. No one has a weird reaction to this? Not a single person feels no effect from this? Heck, we can’t even give Tylenol to the entire human population without huge problems for a good portion of people so, whoever made that drug, give them a raise.
  4. Back to the Cleric emotion thing, there is one point where Taye Diggs’ character and Christian Bale’s character are facing off in a fight, in front of the head honcho of the dystopia. Diggs, great actor that he is, is clearly angry during the whole kerfuffle. I mean no question from his body language and what he says. How did he not get fired for that?!?! I mean that is an emotion! Anger is an emotion, so what the heck. And to believe the dictator here, what he wants is to stomp out these negative emotions that caused war in the past. I can’t say for certain how WWIII starts in this because they don’t say but I bet you anger was involved. Come on evil megalomaniac if you are gonna make that big a stink about reading poetry, get rid of people getting mad too.
  5. Christian Bale lives in this drab apartment with no decorations on the walls and no sheets or blankets or pillows on his bed. They show him at least twice sleeping on his bicep. So, uh, are pillows just to emotional in this world or what? Like, no you can’t have a pillow because you will cause a war if your neck is comfortable. Burn that.
  6. There are a ton of hidden rooms in this movie. Preston is really good at looking at or feeling a wall and punching through to find like a secret room with all kinds of art. Who built this stuff? I mean how do you get a secret contractor so you can build a room where you look at art and play a phonograph? Vinyl was really in during this whole movie too btw.
  7. My last questions get kind of involved and give a bit of a spoiler for the end so again be warned before you read on. The guy who was supposed to be Father is really a sort of simulation that is run by another guy we have seen earlier in the film. This guys plan is to get Preston to start to feel something so that he would be able to join the resistance so that he can get to the resistance to wipe them all out. So Preston does do that, then they trick Preston into coming to where this guy is in a ruse to make it seem like the resistance wants Preston to kill Father. But it turns out that Father brought Preston there so he could kill Preston, knowing that a. Preston is deadly and b. there are still members of the resistance out there. I have two questions about this. First, wasn’t there a freaking simpler way to get to the resistance? You had a woman who was taken prisoner you could have just let her go and then followed her. Pretty sure you could have found them then. Secondly, why would you bring Preston to you to kill him? I mean Taye Diggs’ character had like thirty-seven opportunities to just shoot him at point blank range. Why do that though, when you can bring him to your bunker so that he can just mow through all your dudes and kill you right? I mean, I guess that’s what we needed for the movie to happen? Classic bad guy stupid move and in my opinion it takes what was a smart movie and makes it dumber than it should be.

All that being said, there was some sweet, sweet sword fighting going on, so all good.

I hope you are all staying safe out there and that you enjoyed this review. If you want to feel like you are living in the film, you know, turn on the news. The film is better though, it’s fictional.

Equilibrialy Yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Uncut Gems – #MovieReview

The One Where Adam Sandler Yells and Kevin Garnett Obsesses Over a Rock

Have you ever seen an Adam Sandler movie where he didn’t yell like a maniac? I don’t think I have. Some of his movies are funny and he has one or two that are better than the rest. But this one is supposed to be different because… it’s a drama? Okay, yeah, that makes this yelling different I guess? Also, Kevin Garnett is in this so, that makes it different too?

I just watched Uncut Gems, and while I can see why some people think this is the performance of Adam Sandler’s lifetime, I don’t see it. Fair warning because I am going to spoil this movie in this review. If you want to watch first before you read on, you have been warned.

Uncut Gems is a story about a jeweler who has purchased well… uncut gems. He is hoping to sell them at an auction to make a huge profit over what he paid for it. The jeweler, played by Adam Sandler, is in major gambling debt, is having a terrible time in his relationships with his wife and children, and scams every third person he sees.

One day, Kevin Garnett, played by, uh Kevin Garnett of course, shows up to the jeweler’s store. After trying to sell hims some stuff, Adam Sandler shows Garnett his uncut gems. Garnett asks to borrow it and the jeweler lets him. Sandler then places huge bets on the game, because, you know, gambling addiction, and as you might expect, things get worse from there.

The rest of the film basically follows Adam Sandler running around, scamming people, and chasing down Kevin Garnett to get the rock back. Meanwhile, a bunch of goons are after Adam Sandler because he owes them money. There is a lot of yelling, a lot of toxic masculinity happening, and a somewhat shocking end.

I did think the performances in this were actually good, and I can see why people respected Sandler’s performance. But here’s the thing with this one, it’s just any of Sandler’s characters if they were not funny and they got to say the f word every three seconds. I didn’t really feel like there was much point to this film somehow. It was just a lot of run around and trying to keep up with how Sandler scammed whoever got a little exhausting.

Honestly, to me the bright spot in this was Kevin Garnett. He plays himself but there are professional athletes who have a hard time pulling even that much off. I’d sort of like to see him in a different movie, actually playing a character in the future.

While this movie got some award buzz, it’s really not there in my mind for winning. I think Sandler could have an Oscar turn in him sometime but between this one and Punch Drunk Love, I prefer the latter.

Another side note here is that they have Idina Menzel in it but she doesn’t sing. That’s a complete waste of talent, although she does a great job as an actress here.

I did have a few thoughts on the movie.

  1. The very beginning shows a horrific accident that happens in the mine where the gem is discovered. It then transitions to Adam Sandler’s colon. I am not kidding. His colon! Did we have to see that? I mean really?
  2. The jewelry store that Sandler works out of is in some upper story of a building and you had to be buzzed in to get to the store. I’ll be honest, the whole geography of the store in the building confused the hell out of me. I couldn’t tell what freaking floor it was on, let alone how you would ever hear about this place. Who runs a jewelry store like that?
  3. Speaking of that door, it sticks and is a major, major plot point in this thing. You know what I couldn’t help thinking? Why wouldn’t you get that fixed?!?!?!?
  4. What kind of an idiot loans a gem that you think is worth a million dollars to anyone, even if it is just overnight? This is one of those films that could have been over five minutes in if the main character had made one single rational decision.
  5. Adam Sandler in this movie is like, the worst husband and father ever. Like seriously, the worst. In addition he seems to have an apartment while also living in a house with his wife and kids. Just seeing how sleazy this guy is, how in the hell is the wife ever surprised at the terrible stuff he does?
  6. Speaking of which, why is anyone friends with this dude?
  7. Also, how does he know freaking everybody? Is being a jeweler how you get famous? Man, I missed my calling.
  8. The door with the buzzer seems to let you in or out. I was also under the impression that you could let someone only in or out with it. At the end there are some guys who are really mad at Adam Sandler (justifiably so) but Sandler lets them into rather than out of the store. Not that the guy deserves what happens next, but that was a stupid, stupid move.
  9. I really did not need to see Sandler ugly cry.
  10. Could we just have The Wedding Singer 2 next time Sandler is going for dramatic yelling? Please?

I hope you all stay safe out there and if you see any uncut opals, don’t lend them to Kevin Garnett. Just don’t.

Sparklingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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