Quick Reviews: Week Of 08.26.2022
Flash Reviews Of The Upcoming Weekend's Movie Releases
Here are my thoughts on the movie releases from the weekend of 08.26.2022 in alphabetical order of their respective release dates. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I grade films when I review them.
- Plot: After her job and relationship implode on the same day, Sofia starts from scratch and meets a dashing Spanish chef who might be her missing ingredient.
- Review: Even for yet another low budget, incredibly predictable, romance flick from Netflix that feels like it could've premiered on the Hallmark or Lifetime channel, That’s Amor feels especially cheap, corny, and derivative.
Lets be real, you already know if you care to even bother to watch this or not. This by no means is the film from this subgenre of “TV movie” that will win over those who find these kind of movies eye-roll inducing. I’m sure other reviews for this one will be incredibly tough on it’s flaws. So if you’re one of those folks, I would say you can honestly skip this one easy.
However if like me (As I constantly remind everyone about each weekend it seems) you are a sucker for watching these as comfort food “one and done” watches, the film’s shortcomings will be cancelled out by its very formulaic and predictable story structure that gives us exactly what we want from these movies. I obviously don’t mind because these are the sort of movies I could easily skip from reviewing, but I tend to enjoy the light fare to kick-off the weekend so I always make sure to keep an eye out for them on the Netflix upcoming release calendar.
If I were to say anything that makes this movie different than the other straight to streaming rom-coms, it would be that it does dare to go into more adult suggestive themes that make these people feel just a tad more real than you’d typically get. It also features a Latino as the male romantic interest to a white woman which is stunningly still pretty rare to see in a culture that usually has the male be a white man falling for a person of color but never seems interested in reversing those gender roles. So as a Hispanic man married to a Oklahoma girl born in Texas I appreciated that aspect, identifying with the male co-lead’s family’s quirks and likes/dislikes.
But after that, this movie is short, simple, and provides no other reason to exist than for those hopeless romantics like us who enjoy these movies about amor to lounge about the couch and watch this as we eat a snack and just chill out for a bit.
- Initial Grade: B/C
- Plot: With his family away, a devoted stay-at-home dad enjoys his first “me time” in years by joining his hard-partying old friend on a wild birthday adventure.
- Review: Coming from someone who actually liked parts of The Man From Toronto from earlier in the year, I knew Me Time was going to potentially be one of those heavily flawed Kevin Hart lead comedies that I might just like enough regardless of its sins. It surely wouldn’t be the last either if it ended up the case. What I wasn’t prepared for was how cheap and lifeless it would come off as.
This time instead of being chased around by hitmen, Hart’s character is galivanting with his hard partying friend played by Mark Wahlberg - the former playing the straight man and the latter playing up the goofiness. The movie also features other major names like Regina Hall, Jimmy O. Yang, John Amos, Anna Maria Horsford, and even Seal!
And yet with all those major names announced and Netflix’s big money backing it, this feels like one of the cheapest looking, inconsistently funny films to come out of the streamer’s library. And that includes when put up against films like That’s Amor as well. I was stunned at how low budget everything felt outside of the big names in the cast, and when I say everything I mean everything! Even the score sounded like it was stock music.
But maybe the comedy could overcome the technical flaws here? While I’d be lying if I said I didn’t chuckle every now and then, I have to say Hart’s previous Netflix comedy which got just as equally bad reviews elsewhere was much funnier to me. The comedy in this feels especially forced and at times goes for lazy gross out humor. Some punchlines and moments didn’t land, and when they did it’d be followed up by another miss.
Okay so maybe the cast can overcome all the flaws and elevate the movie? Sadly only to a point and not everyone in the ensemble. Maybe its because he felt badly miscast, but Wahlberg felt like he had been mailing it in with his performance and line deliveries, and the characters in this are so badly written that some of them don’t show up until mid-way through the film and then vanish before showing up at key moments in the film again.
Before I let it sound like I downright loathed this movie, I did not. Did I like it? No. Am I baffled at how obviously rushed the production was from top to bottom? Hell yes. Did I still chuckle a few times and found myself wanting to see how they wrapped the main plot up? Yep. But will I ever watch this again? Extremely likely not. This is right where it belongs as a straight to Netflix streamer but honestly there’s better Netflix-backed Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg starring films that are more worth your time on the couch or bed.
- Initial Grade: C+
- Plot: Thirteen year old Sam Cleary suspects that his mysteriously reclusive neighbor Mr. Smith is actually the legendary vigilante Samaritan, who was reported dead twenty years ago. With crime on the rise and the city on the brink of chaos, Sam makes it his mission to coax his neighbor out of hiding to save the city from ruin.
- Review: With how saturated the superhero subgenre is these days, I always appreciate an attempt to do something new and original with it. Thus why I was hoping that Samaritan could be a nice surprise in the way DC League Of Superpets was for me, but instead I came away feeling almost as if I had just seen Secret Headquarters all over again.
Sylvester Stallone is the main draw here as the title hero, but his performance for me came off a bit dry and hard to grab onto. He also barely gets to do any action until the finale, as most of the movie is a seemingly endless round of his newfound kid-fan doing stupid things that get him into trouble; and thus Stallone’s Samaritan must step in and save him - multiple times. The villains are less than threating and the main antagonist never feels like a true problem for our superhero-in-retirement.
The writing is pretty formulaic and predictable, especially certain parts of dialogue. And the movie’s cinematography leaves much to be desired. There are lags in middle sections that almost left me completely bored, and while the final confrontation with the bad guys had its moments, it was also pretty uninspiring and left me without feeling the weight of the stakes involved.
I wouldn’t call this horrible, I can see young boys liking it for what it is. I really dug the concept myself and there were some rare moments they had me; but if you really want to be a good Samaritan I’d say skip this barring your kids begging you put it on for them.
- Initial Grade: C+
- Plot: After the death of her mother, Evie is approached by an unknown cousin who invites her to a lavish wedding in the English countryside. Soon, she realizes a gothic conspiracy is afoot and must fight for survival as she uncovers twisted secrets in her family’s history.
- Review: The plot that I have written down for this one was provided by what I could find from its Letterboxd listing. The trailer that the studio made for this one reveals all those secrets the plot description is alluding to and thus if, like me, you had already watched the marketing, you’ll end up realizing towards the final act that you practically have already seen this entire movie truncated down to those few minutes. So its going to be hard not to review this movie without that perspective.
Were it not that I spent most of the time anticipating the major event in the trailer, I may have been more intrigued with the two-acts-worth of building up to the big twist that’s spoiled in the marketing. Granted its not anything that re-writes the mystery or horror genre, but it does make the finale lack more bite (no pun intended) if you already know what’s happening.
But if I try and force myself into the mind of someone who didn’t see the trailer, would I truly have enjoyed the film more? Probably not by much quite honestly. Because at a certain point the mystery and intrigue starts to overstay its welcome and by the time all things are revealed at the end, it almost feels like the movie is rushing towards its finish when it realizes its runtime is about to come to an end. And that’s before mentioning the very cheap jump scares that this movie is littered with as a replacement for the real horror that you have to wait until the finale for anyways.
At the risk of getting into spoiler territory, I did enjoy the lore building aspects here and there and as someone who grew up watching old Dracula films I liked the ambition of building off the vampire mythos. I also found the main lead played by Nathalie Emmanuel to be sympathetic enough and I could see myself in her shoes to an extent and thus feared for her a few times.
But what’s left over remains a movie that attempts to slow burn its way to what should be a stunning revelation scene, but comes off pretty generic and not that close to scary either. The marketing for this movie was a huge disservice to it but a premise like this should’ve invited a stronger script. Unless you’re just that hungry to check this one out for yourself, I’d suggest you wait to rent this during spooky season rather than trek out to your local theatre to see this one.
- Initial Grade: C-
THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING
- Plot: A lonely and bitter British woman discovers an ancient bottle while on a trip to Istanbul and unleashes a djinn who offers her three wishes. Filled with apathy, she is unable to come up with one until his stories spark in her a desire to be loved.
- Review: George Miller’s latest film, Three Thousand Years Of Longing, is quite the departure from his previous film, Mad Max: Fury Road, that made a big splash at the Oscars. Starring Idris Elba as the djinn and Tilda Swinton as the mortal who awakens him, this movie had some actual early Oscars buzz going until its Cannes release was met with some mixed reactions and reviews.
Going into my screening of this I saw everything from those who called it one of the worst films of the year to one aspiring filmmaker I follow on social media that has proclaimed this tied with Everything Everywhere All At Once for his top film of the year so far. Its been that wide ranging when it comes to views on this movie.
Let me get the negatives for me out of the way first. This film is almost all compromised of long drawn out stories of the many lifetimes the djinn has been witnessed to, and that could easily make the main plot feel like something that barely seems to be getting anywhere. In fact most of the movie is spent in one small hotel room with the characters casually walking around in bath-robes. In fact once the movie shifts over to the final act, it feels almost like it didn’t really earn the moments in it and makes the transition in story structure feel sloppy.
Furthermore, while Elba and Swinton are trying their best with the material and by no means give bad performances, their romance feels very wanting and the way it progresses reminded me of the way romance was written in movies back in the thirties and forties. Clearly this film’s script needed some major polishing up, but alas this is the final cut and its one that is plenty messy throughout its structure.
But I tend to be more on the positive side than not overall on this one. I was fascinated and intrigued by the individual stories that were told throughout a vast majority of the movie. I loved the aesthetic look it had, adoring the production and costume design and some well done visual effects. But the main highlight for me was hands down Miller’s Direction that had me ready to campaign for a nomination for Best Director (Which will not be happening). All of these positives outweighed the negatives and left me feeling like I watched a decent, supernatural, fantastical, romantic fairy tale as I left the theatre.
If this film’s structure in the way it uses various stories and characters that come and go loses you early, the entire movie will too. Its certainly more of a dialogue driven film than some might anticipate given the subject matter. However if you’re a bit of a hopeless romantic or enjoy ancient mythical stories or just enjoy a fantastical and supernatural story period, this might be right up your alley. I wouldn’t say this left me longing to see it again any time soon, but I did enjoy it just enough that I’d just barely give it an above average grade.
- Initial Grade: B-