Reviewed by Adam Donato
Old is an adaptation of a graphic novel called Sandcastle. Once again, M. Night Shyamalan tackles the suspense thriller genre in a way that nobody else can. Despite the mixed critical reception of Glass, it was an overwhelming success at the box office. Now with a prime release date in the heat of the summer, Old premieres against the lowly Snake Eyes spin-off and leftovers from Black Widow and Space Jam. Can M. Night reestablish himself as an event filmmaker?
This movie tells the story of a family who goes on vacation to this beautiful beach resort and finds themselves trapped among others on a secluded beach that seems to have strange effects on their bodies. Suspicions arise when a dead body is discovered and the children start to age rapidly. Total chaos ensues as the gang tries to escape. An interesting concept that is ripe with potential. Mix that with some of M. Night’s mastery of suspense juxtaposed with his odd sense of humor, and it makes an edge-of-your-seat blockbuster.
A good amount of the suspense comes from body horror as the group finds themselves at odds with their own changing bodies. It’s not gory, but it’s not easy to watch either. What’s scarier is the consequences that come with aging rapidly and the paranoia of the members themselves. The rapid aging adds a level of urgency that keeps the movie going at a fast clip. There’s a good amount of attention to detail as characters grow older and face difficulties that come with that.
Not only is the film scary, but it also has a lot to say. The mystery of the movie is wrapped up in a satisfying manner that only strengthens the themes. These concepts are explored through external conflicts brought forth by each of the individual parties in the groups. Everything is deliberately placed and adds to the overall point of the movie.
One of the most important aspects that make this movie work is the performances. Having the aged children still speak like children strengthens the weight of their situation. One line that Shyamalan loves to toe in his movies is having characters that feel natural. He has a way of making characters talk that makes them seem so weird and jokes that border cringe. In a movie based on having characters react to strange things happening, this weirdness only adds to the uneasiness of the events in the story.
Certainly, this is a film that is sure to stick with audiences. It's definitely something that takes time to marinate so one can dissect everything it’s trying to say. This is the type of movie that is prime for a rewatch, which won’t be hard because of its entertainment value. There’s laughs, suspense, and genuine heart here that makes Old not only one of the best movies of the summer, but also the year.
Old hits theaters on July 23.
Reviewed by Adam Donato
Director S.K. Dale debuts his first feature film known as Till Death, a story about an unfaithful wife in a failing marriage who finds herself handcuffed to her dead husband while at a reclusive lake house on their anniversary. Megan Fox herself headlines the movie as Emma, the cheating wife. She is joined by other morally questionable men played by Eoin Macken, Aml Ameen, Jack Roth, and Callan Mulvey. Does Megan Fox carry this movie as well as Emma carries her dead husband?
Did you know that Megan Fox doesn’t only make movies about giant fighting robots and turtles? She’s had herself a nice little acting run since 2019. Nothing worth mentioning, but she even led a movie or two. Despite the fact that Jennifer’s Body came out over a decade ago, it still proves that Fox can lead a good horror movie. In this movie, she doesn’t have very much to do at all. For the first twenty minutes, she’s just kind of over everything and for the rest of the movie she is both literally and metaphorically being weighed down. She’s definitely a notable enough movie star to interest audiences to see this movie and some people will just see this because she’s a famous celebrity crush. Other than that, not much going on here.
So if your lead isn’t doing much, then what else is left here? The title is clever. Weirdly enough there’s another movie called Till Death coming out this year with Evangeline Lilly and Jason Sudeikis. It’s just cute because the whole movie is about how she is tethered to her dead husband and the whole “till death do us part” thing is funny. They can’t part because he is dead.
There is a large chunk of this movie that is just Emma dragging her dead husband around the lake house looking for clues. It is beyond slow and frustrating watching this carry out. The plan of revenge upon Emma is so convoluted anyways. The finishing act of the plot to get back at her is so over the top. Without going into spoilers, the movie delves into a very generic bad guy going after the final girl situation.
Overall, the movie was just under passable. Megan Fox is a character unto herself and even she was underwhelming. I can’t wait to see this movie in the free section on VUDU. Until then, theatrically released horror movies are overachieving this summer and are much more likely to quench that horror thirst. That being said, it will be nice to see Megan Fox in more movies. It’s worth a second glance just for that.
Till Death hits theaters and VOD on July 2.
Reviewed by Adam Donato
Summer is the time for fun and love, but June in particular is important for pride. What a perfect time for Summer of 85 to be released. Directed by François Ozon, this film is about two young men who become infatuated with one another until their love runs dangerously hot. The film stars young guns Félix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, and Philippine Velge.
Obviously, comparing it to Call Me By Your Name is unfair. That’s an Oscar-winning movie and even though it’s a similar type of romance that takes place in the summer of a beautiful European country, this should be judged on its own. Certainly can recommend it to those who are a fan of Call Me By Your Name. Summer of 85 is an enjoyable movie. Obviously it’s beautiful thanks to the setting. A lot of the music is fits and adds to the vibe.
The performances are the highlight of the movie. Lefebvre and Voisin have a lot of chemistry and own all of their scenes. Their romance is easily sold and a delight to watch. The worst thing you could say about it is that it wasn’t given enough time. At just about ninety minutes, their romance feels rushed. That did help with expressing the nature of their relationship. Being that it was a young summer fling, it would be underdeveloped and rushed. That being said, the third act comes seemingly out of nowhere and takes the viewer out of the experience.
This leads to the larger point in that it is a very typical movie. The plot is very run-of-the-mill. That is until the third act where things become more unique. Getting to the conclusion is rushed, but once they get there, they wrap things up quite nicely. Starting the movie at the end is also problematic. This makes the plot behind the romance feel contrived and unnecessary. It’s one of those things where all of the problems could be solved very easily, but the main character is being weird. Obviously the circumstances allow for a lack of strategic actions, but as a viewer, it is extremely frustrating. Also, it does take place back in 1985, so times were different, but still.
Overall, Summer of 85 is an enjoyable watch. The movie leans into the season and provides for solid vibes. The romance is cute despite their adolescence providing much poor decision-making. It will be interesting to continue to see Ozon’s other projects as there is clear talent here. Check it out by the end of the month and especially before the end of the summer. Double feature it with In The Heights for some summer fun.
Summer of 85 hits theaters on June 18.
Review by Adam Donato
When it comes to movies, Antoine Fuqua’s directorial career ranges from pretty solid to whatever. Training Day is one of the greatest movies of the 21st century, but in the last two decades, it is clear that it was an anomaly. His latest entry, Infinite, is more of the same. This time, we don’t even get to see someone as good as Denzel Washington.
Mark Wahlberg stars in this action and he just might be the most unlikable movie star in the business. Just like Will Smith and Liam Neeson, Wahlberg is the same guy in every movie. Imagine how great he would be if he stopped trying to lead big movies like this. Remember when his best role was a supporting one in The Departed? One may have to think back hard because Wahlberg is getting old and in Infinite, his age is really starting to show.
Besides name recognition, why is Wahlberg starring in this movie instead of Dylan O’Brien? The plot is that of the typical fantasy-adventure movie. A lost soul is lured into an adventure by the white rabbit, usually in the form of an attractive love interest, as he discovers that not only is he special, but he might just be the chosen one meant to save the world. This feels like a franchise setup and Wahlberg is dangerously close to fifty. That being said, he has enough personality to carry this movie to at least mediocrity.
None of this matters because Wahlberg plays a character who realizes that he is a reincarnation that has lived many lives. So in the sequel, his character will be played by somebody different. That is if the reaction to this movie necessitates a sequel. Obviously, there have been sequels to movies that went straight to streaming, but who knows these days. It used to be where the box office would say it all. Those days are coming back, but they’ve been gone for a while now. Will fans be talking about Infinite? Will people sign up for Paramount+ so they can see Infinite and stay for the other content? Streaming services don’t reveal their stats, so who is to know.
To address the supporting cast, they’re actually pretty solid. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a commanding villain. Obviously, he’s the best actor of the bunch and his talent is on full display here. Sophie Cookson plays the white rabbit and the most interesting part about her character is that she is not the love interest. What a relief too as she is just about twenty years younger than Wahlberg. O’Brien and Rupert Friend are barely in the movie enough to have an opinion. Jason Mantzoukas is an obnoxious jokester as usual.
The reincarnation aspect of the movie is not without interest. The concept of two groups of people who live continuous lives fighting against each other for the fate of the world is somewhat basic. One of the cool things about it is that the bad guys put the souls of the good guy on a disc instead of killing them because they will just be reincarnated anyways. It’s also just interesting how all the characters can come back as other people in other lives. Honestly, this would be solid material for a franchise if there was a first film that would establish more of a impactful foundation. Wahlberg is a temporary fix. He’s no longer a franchise starter, arguably never was. The later Transformers movies deserve zero recognition, but inserting Wahlberg in the lead role only barely kept them afloat.
Infinite is serviceable enough. Nobody is subscribing to another streaming service or even getting a free trial to watch this movie. There is a ceiling on how good a Wahlberg movie can be. To this movie’s credit, thanks to the concept it is one of his better ones as of late. Seeing as the book this movie is based on barely got made anyways, it’s hard to see Infinite growing past the first film, at least not with the budget and name recognition this first installment had. It’s not necessarily bad, but this hero’s journey doesn’t have enough to make it feel fresh.
Infinite is now streaming on Paramount+.
Reviewed by Adam Donato
Dylan O’Brien stars in Flashback, a psychedelic thriller as a man who tries to find a woman from his past. The film is written and directed by Christopher MacBride whose only other notable project was directing The Conspiracy. The woman being searched for is played by genre favorite Maika Monroe. The movie was originally titled The Education of Fredrick Fitzell and was screened back in 2020 at the Sitges Film Festival.
O’Brien plays a man trying to get his life together as he gets a new place in his old hometown. Running into an old friend, he starts to have flashbacks from his life. Most importantly, he has flashbacks about how he experimented with drugs. Mercury was a popular drug in school and was exclusively associated with his meetings with Monroe. For some reason, he is completely obsessed with Monroe who mysteriously disappeared. His life is ruined by his inability to cope with the past.
The performances are all solid for what it’s worth. They all definitely seemed like they were on drugs the entire time. Monroe in particular is especially annoying as her character is constantly spouting off nonsensical wisdom about how people live their life. It’s almost depressing seeing O’Brien spiral out of control over some girl he took drugs with in high school. That being said, his arc by the end is satisfying enough to salvage the experience of watching this movie. His performance is certainly the most notable of the bunch. He does a good job of carrying the movie himself.
The flashbacks in the movie are visually interesting and lacking in any kind of comprehension. After a while, it’s hard to care whether they are in the past or present or if anything ever happened. By the end of the movie, nothing is accomplished and it feels like a complete waste of time. There’s this drug cult that seems to induce flashbacks from O’Brien. They pass him by throughout the movie and say random things to him repeatedly. It’s overly convoluted and the entire motivation of the protagonist is not strong enough to keep the audience invested in whatever is or isn’t happening.
It’s not terrible by any stretch, but Flashback is not necessarily worth your time. It’s also not popular enough for someone to make a YouTube video explaining the timeline. Fans of O’Brien are probably the only ones for whom this film would be recommended, as his performance is the most palpable thing in the film. However, anybody who recreationally used drugs should avoid it, as it is a depressing venture into the long-term effects of experimenting with drugs.
Flashback hits theaters and VOD on June 4.
Reviewed by Adam Donato
History is one of the most important subjects. Final Account exhibits a collection of first-hand accounts from actual Hitler Youth, now in old age. They talk about their experiences, their jobs, and more importantly their reflective feelings about what they participated in. This documentary is obviously depressing in many ways but is a necessary part of history for people to learn about. Directed by Luke Holland, there is plenty of purposes and remorse showcased here.
One of the most insane parts of history when regarding the Holocaust is the fact that some people deny that it happened. This is addressed in the documentary by people who were actually there and to see their reactions is heartbreaking. It gives this telling of the story purpose as members of the S.S. talk about what they did, all over pictures of real-life places where all of this happened. Tastefully enough, nothing too gruesome is shown until the end. Here is an admittance by people responsible for one of the greatest human atrocities ever committed.
Responsibility is a funny word in this context. One of the heaviest questions addressed in the documentary is whether or not their complicity in this event makes them perpetrators. This is certainly the most emotional and compelling part as it's a double-edged sword of a question. They participated in what happened, but there is a case to be made that they had no choice for they would’ve been persecuted themselves if they didn’t follow in suit.
There is a lot to be said about humanity here. The interviewees explain why they got into it in the first place and how they were ignorant in their faith. Most condemn what happened and their part in all of it, but one of the more interesting aspects is seeing some of them justify themselves. They see what they did as accomplishments and deny to face the reality of the situation.
The music in the documentary is very sad. There are a lot of long shots of locations of important events that took place. The combination of these things after hearing deeply reflective and poignant recounts is haunting. There is plenty of time to sit in what was said and imagine the horrifying things that took place. Definitely the type of movie that makes one reflect on the world and appreciate the time we live in today. Hopefully, this doc will help be a time-capsule where people recognize the impact that something like this has, not only on the victims and the world, but it’s something they have to live with for the rest of their lives.
Final Account is certainly a bleak affair. Nobody likes reexperienceing one of the greatest human tragedies, but this documentary does a lot of teaching and offers a lot of reflection about what’s wrong with people and the world. This movie has a limited theatrical release, but will more likely be seen by children in schools during history class.
Final Account hits theaters on May 21.
Reviewed by Adam Donato
Horror director Alexandre Aja returns to direct a feature for Netflix called Oxygen. Melanie Laurent stars as a woman who is stuck in a health pod and has to discover why she’s there. The film is spoken in French but dubbed in English for American audiences. Oxygen provides an at-home alternative this weekend with three wide release films coming to theaters but may find some competition on Netflix as The Mitchells Vs. The Machines came out recently and Army of the Dead releases next week. Does Oxygen stand out in its own genre enough to stand out on streaming this week?
Many films show the main character trapped in a small space trying to use their smarts to make their way out. The thing that makes Oxygen feel fresh is the futuristic setting. Liz, played by Laurent, is encased in some kind of futuristic chamber. She is “accompanied” by an OS system, M.I.L.O. voiced by Mathieu Amalric, who Liz talks to so she can try to contact the outside world. Without the memory of how she got there, Liz struggles with reality as the oxygen levels continue to decrease. This struggle puts a necessary clock on the conflict. As her oxygen gets lower, the tension rises. Simultaneously, Liz experiences all the stages of grief as she is haunted by her past life and the people that she seems to have lost.
A movie like this is only as good as its lead and Laurent does a terrific job. Her terror and sadness are both authentic. It’s hard to not feel for this seemingly innocent woman. Watching her use her cleverness to put the pieces of the puzzle together and her resilience to make it through is endearing. It’s already known that she can lead a movie, but it will be nice moving forward for her to get more widespread notoriety as the average film fan may only recognize her from Inglorious Basterds. She certainly carries the entire movie in Oxygen.
The science-fiction aspect of the movie is compelling. It’s funny to hear the excuses the story comes up with to keep her in the box. Apparently, breaking open the box is a federal offense, which is funny because who cares at that point. There are definitely a few good twists and turns in the movie as the science fiction aspect of the movie starts out extremely vague. Anybody who is not good with rats should certainly avoid the movie as they are a prominent feature as Liz has flashbacks of doing testing on lab rats and is haunted by them.
Certainly an entertaining new addition to Netflix’s now extensive film catalog. Oxygen does a great job of making a familiar concept feel new. The movie is headlined by a great lead performance from Laurent. Make sure to fit this one into your streaming schedule for an interesting science fiction movie.
Oxygen hits Netflix on May 12.
Reviewed by Adam Donato
Jason Statham stars as Jason Statham in Guy Ritchie’s newest feature, Wrath of Man. This time, Statham works as a driver of vans carrying ludicrous amounts of money that are often targeted for robbery. Filled with plenty of cheesy “tough guy” dialogue and generic action scenes, Ritchie is back doing what he always does. At least it’s not a bad live-action Disney remake.
The most frustrating thing is imagining how many people will go see Wrath of Man and didn’t see Nobody. The middle-aged white guy action flick genre is an ever-flowing well of mediocrity and Wrath of Man is no exception. While Nobody is still rocking at one matinee showtime a day, Wrath of Man will reign supreme at the box office as dad movies are slim pickings at the moment. It’s a safe bet of a movie for MGM, which debuted their new logo on the first teaser poster for this movie. Statham and Ritchie are known quantities and deliver the bare minimum here.
Speaking of the bare minimum, at a certain point Statham’s character exits from the movie and the story follows a completely new set of characters for thirty minutes. All of the cool Statham scenes are in the trailer, except for the last twenty minutes. It’s not even like The Gentlemen, where the majority of the cast is full of big names. Come for the Statham, stay for Josh Hartnett, Jeffery Donovan, and Scott Eastwood. Fun fact, that trio could’ve all traded roles and the movie would be exactly the same.
Wrath of Man is an American remake of a French film called Le Convoyeur. (This is one of the few Ritchie movies to be set in America, by the way.) The original was met with mixed reviews from audiences. Expect the remake to receive a similar reception as it’s generally entertaining and satisfying enough. At the very least, the run time clocks in just under two hours. It’s hard to imagine Ritchie did much improvement upon the original. That is unless the original also has the main character say the word “poo-poo”. The timeline is confusing and the amount of toxic masculinity is through the roof.
This Mother’s Day weekend, please do your mother a favor and do not take her to the theater to see Wrath of Man. It’s good enough to pass, but that’s what makes it even more frustrating. Statham became a parody of himself in Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw and is due for a reinvention. Wrath of Man is like if someone got an AI to write a Ritchie movie starring Statham. If that’s your bag, more power to you. Can’t say there weren't a bunch of tough guys shooting each other.
Wrath of Man hits theaters on May 7.
Reviewed by Adam Donato
Michael B. Jordan is one of the hottest young actors working in Hollywood today. Snagging the lead role in a Tom Clancy franchise movie is very on-brand as he headlines other manly franchises like Creed and Black Panther. Unfortunately for Jordan, an update on his box office stardom will have to wait as this action thriller heads to Amazon Prime. Jordan isn’t the box office guarantee like Liam Neeson, but April has been much more fruitful for theaters than January and The Marksman was able to scrape out $15 million domestically then. Damn pandemic. The Rocky brand holds more water than Tom Clancy, but it would’ve been interesting to see if Michael B. Jordan could carry the box office like he carries this movie.
There’s nothing new here when it comes to the story. Clancy isn’t even to blame though, because the script is nothing like the book. It is reasonable to be disappointed still because one of the writers for the movie was Taylor Sheridan. That being said, the story is fine and allows for the best part of the movie, Jordan taking people out. Regardless of how whatever the movie is, watching this super agent take care of business is entertaining enough. Not to mention, a good portion of this movie takes place underwater because Jordan has lungs the size of his balls. In all seriousness, he handles the emotional beats. He kicked ass and looked good doing it. There was enough personality being showcased while doing it for the performance to hold one's attention. So can he carry another franchise on his own? Yes, but whether anybody sees Without Remorse on Amazon Prime is hard to say with the lack of buzz. There was a Super Bowl ad, but that was almost three months ago.
Stefano Sollima directs Without Remorse hot off of Sicario: Day of the Soldado. It’s not surprising to see the director of such an uninspiring sequel make a franchise origin story that is similarly uninspiring. There’s a second book and an after-credits scene so it’s fair to question whether there will be a follow-up. The answer to that question was always box office, but in today’s film climate, what qualifies a movie as a success anymore? The real question is whether or not the franchise should continue. Tom Clancy has a seemingly endless treasure trove of source material, but John Krasinski and Chris Pine also didn’t leave an impression on current popular culture with their entries in the franchise.
While Without Remorse would be dead in the water without Michael B. Jordan, it’s worth mentioning a solid performance from Jodie Turner-Smith. Queen and Slim was an underrated gem and it’s good to see her doing things. Guy Pearce was exactly what one would expect from Guy Pearce, which is frustrating because he’s not bad, but it’s certainly nothing notable. Jamie Bell comes off as annoying, but that may just be the character. These actors are better than this movie, but at least they won’t get blamed for it.
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse is a standard action movie. Jordan carries the movie with ease and has some solid backup around him. The story is a typical revenge movie. For what it is, it delivers exciting action sequences and a capable leading man. May the sequel be more impressionable so that all the dads who are faithful Tom Clancy fans can continue to enjoy the same movie over and over again.
Tom Clancy's Without Remorse streams on Amazon Prime beginning April 30.
Reviewed by Adam Donato
Most people who grew up with a television set know what Sesame Street is. Marilyn Agrelo directed a documentary to showcase the origin of this iconic children’s franchise. The documentary is based on the book by Michael Davis and features many of the original filmmakers that made the show happen giving interviews about their experiences. The story details the revolutionary movement in children’s television, a show for kids with the intent to educate.
It’s really sweet seeing all these people come together to do something good. The most interesting part of the documentary was finding out how much more good that the show was responsible for. Sesame Street was more than just teaching the alphabet and numbers. The show was basically a topic of political discussion as it had its finger on the pulse of the civil rights movement. The entertainment industry may just be that, for entertainment, but its got a large impact on how people perceive the world. For the youth of America, Sesame Street was instrumental for early childhood development.
The cast mainly focuses on some of the more essential creators of the show, along with Jim Henson, some of the stars of the show, and members of the crew. One of the more poignant parts of the documentary is when they address the passing of one of the important members of the show. Obviously, this was hard for the cast, but the brilliant decision was to give it to the kids straight. In one episode, they had Big Bird, a character who was very childlike in nature, react to the passing in an extremely authentic way. This is one of the more heart-wrenching moments as the documentary emphasizes the family vibe that the team had onset.
All the archive footage is magical, obviously. The biggest advantage of the documentary is the puppets themselves. They’re so colorful and fun to watch. There’s no doubt why this show was so popular. The interview footage is cut between short clips from the show, which is always humorous. It’s also interesting to see below the bottom of the screen. To see the puppeteers playing the characters on the show is cool. There’s so much thought that was put into the show that nobody really thinks about until they see this documentary and their eyes are opened to how important this show really was.
Just like the show, Street Gang can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. Even the kids will enjoy seeing the puppets on the screen. This documentary will really hit home for the older audience who definitely grew up with these characters. A lot of nostalgia to unpack. Check it out if for a wholesome good time.
Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street is now in theaters and hits VOD on May 7.