BREAKING IN (2018)

Directed By: James McTeigue 
Written By: Ryan Engle 
Cinematography By: Toby Oliver 
Editor: Joseph Jett Sally 

Cast: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Christa Miller, Jason George 

A woman fights to protect her family during a home invasion.


This movie plays like the second half of PANIC ROOM. Where instead of trying to protect her family while criminals are trying to break in. She is trying to break in to save her family.

The film is a thriller but isn’t as action oriented as it appears. As going in was kind of hoping this to be Gabrielle Union’s PASSENGER 57 type action film.

Unfortunately with this film everything is so basic that one wishes it at least had a stylistic director to set it apart or make it seem special in some way. Though this film is still Better than Halle Berry’s thriller KIDNAP.

Still it feels like a lifetime movie only with a minor edge to it and more violent. Even though throughout there is barely any blood in it. It’s low budget but works well within it.

This film has many roll your eyes moments of ridiculous actions and rationale. One truly unbelievable moment after another that feels unexplained which is like most of this movies details vague.

Though will say the movie makes Gabrielle Union a believable hero. While looking great and going up against stereotypical garden variety villains. (The leader, the vicious one, he one who is on the fence as far as morals go and the technical person.) As she shows a mother’s devotion and what happens if they threaten them.

Now while the film is swimming in cliches that are predictable. Which are forgivable as I don’t want to pick on the film for it’s simpleness, but you know what kind of film you are going to get from the trailer and while the film isn’t trying that hard it provides a certain level of entertainment. It’s a thriller really the whole family can watch and enjoy.

One of the few of only black female action heroines even if it is a thriller. A nice start, wished it could have been Angela Bassett. As she was robbed of an action career in the 90’s as she is in shape and can act too.

One stereotypical character makes you wonder if actor Clifton Collins jr. Was too old for the role or maybe turned it down or wasn’t available. As it seems his usual type of role.

There is a third act mini twist that isn’t believable but I will say offers a surprise. That the film doesn’t earn. Shocked it was Directed By James McTeigue as usually his films are much more visual and atmospheric as well as visceral.

This film also seems to include the cliche in African American themed thriller where the Caucasian female friend is of course one of those most viciously slaughtered. In What seems like a glorified bit role usually as these films need a Caucasian victim other then the villains eventually and is a sharp turn on when in action films and thrillers the black character usually very few in the film if any. Is the first one killed or gave up their life to save others.

This film takes place in one location a sprawling estate. As the film introduces plot elements to move story along quicker the. Forgets about those elements time to time.

This is a female empowerment film as most of the villains keep bringing up their thoughts that women are weak, meek, stupid and emotional. Not that the characters seem like they would respect women otherwise.  

Grade: C-

FANTASY ISLAND (2020)

Directed By: Jeff Wadlow
Written By Jeff Wadlow, Chris Roach & Jillian Jacobs 
Based on the television series “FANTASY ISLAND” Created By: Gene Levitt  Cinematography: Toby Oliver 
Editor: Sean Albertson

Cast: Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen, Mike Vogel, Austin Stowell, Kim Coates, Michael Rooker, Robbie Jones, Parisa Fitz-Hanley, Ian Roberts

The enigmatic Mr. Roarke makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. But when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives.


don’t know exactly who the audience for this film is supposed to be. Though whoever it is I am sure wasn’t envisioning a horror film.

The film sticks to the horns of fantasy island whereas the guests get to live out their fantasies only with some kind of twists involved that they didn’t foresee. 

The film is rather simplistic but thinks It’s clever by having a big reveal. Only to take away any credit it might have built up which was little, to begin with. As it feels generic. 

This might have been noteworthy if made in an earlier era. Which it feels like it comes from more than the 1990s. Though now instead of high concept it feels like a horror script thrown into a familiar tv show, for recognition and comes off as disposable and barely noteworthy.

It’s a shame because the film has a good cast. At least it gives actors who are usually relegated to supporting roles some room to shine even if the film is an ensemble. 

Should have been suspicious when seeing Michael Pena in the lead as he is a good actor, but always seems tied to these disappointing cinematic reboots of more niche television shows, that you would never imagine becoming films. 

Though the premises of fantasies seem kind of simple and then once the twists come. They seem to come from shows and movies we have seen before. Especially the revenge fantasy involving the bully from childhood. Where all of a sudden a monstrous huge surgeon becomes a slasher. 

I can understand if it was just trying to be the greatest common denominator entertainment but here other than the lush visuals of the landscapes. The film just feels like it is going through the motions where once everything. Seems tied together still feels like a waste of time. 

As even the fantasies come across as cheap. For a film based on the supposed imaginations of its characters. The film seems to have no imagination of its own

In the end, it feels like a cash In Done quickly and doesn’t even Impress with its gold visuals or fantasies 

Grade: F

HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U (2019)

Film Title: Happy Death Day 2UWritten & Directed By: Christopher Landon
Based on characters created by: Scott Lobdell
Cinematography: Toby Oliver
Editor: Ben Baudhuin 


Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Ruby Modine, Steve Zissis, Rachel Matthews, Sarah Yarkin, Suraj Sharma, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton, Missy Yager, Jason Mayle, Rob Mello 


Having survived the farcical but utterly life-threatening events in the first film, the feisty sorority sister, Tree Gelbman, finds herself in the same college dorm, thankful to be alive. However, this time, it’s Carter’s roommate, Ryan, who claims that he is reliving the same paradoxical day over and over again, as a mysterious paranoid killer in a single-toothed baby-faced mask with a big kitchen knife has made a habit of murdering him. Under those circumstances, a valiant but vain attempt to face the challenge, once more, will send Tree back to square one, trapped in an all too familiar and blood-drenched time loop. How many deaths separate Tree from a truly happy birthday?

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THE DIRT (2019)

 

the-dirt-netflix

Directed By: Jeff Tremaine
Written By: Amanda Adelson & Rich Wilkes
Based On The Book “The Dirt” By: Neill Strauss, Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars
Cinematography: Toby Oliver
Editor: Melissa Kent 


Cast: Iwan Rheon, Pete Davidson, Kathryn Morris, Machine Gun Kelly (Colson Baker), Douglas Booth, Daniel Webber, Katherine Neff, David Costabile, Tony Cavalero, Max Milner 


The film doesn’t break the mold when it comes to telling the story of the band. It tries to be more humorous considering the darkness of the tales and tone in general. The characters occasionally break the fourth wall and talk to the audience Mick Mars more than anyone as he still stays the strangest and most mysterious member of the band. Now while the movie is based on the bands autobiography THE DIRT. It also remind some of the bands behind the music special from back in the day and for how much the film tries it still comes off as more a television movie. Due to the more limited budget, sets state of production and wigs. Though with this kind of material it could never play on regular television. So it’s no surprise it is a Netflix presentation. As there is plenty of nudity, sex and drugs to go around.

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