Review – Intensive Care

Directed by: Jared Bentley
Distributed by: Screen Media
Starring: Tara Macken, Jai Rodriguez, Leslie Easterbrook, Kevin Sizemore

Intensive Care PosterRetirement is hard on anyone, when special forces operative Alex decides to take a step back from the intense life of the battlefield it’s a simpler life caring for the elderly in the nursing field until one-day, things take a hard turn.

Intensive Care puts Alex our central character into the life of an in-house nurse for a slowly dying elderly woman. One day things change-up from the usual routine as Danny, a seemingly entitled and broke grandson appears into the fray hoping to check on their health and see how close they might be to shoving their way in for a chunk of the wealth. While past nurses may have fallen under his charm, Alex is an entirely different cut of cloth but it’s not something she tends to flaunt around.

It’s a tale as old as time, a bratty relative comes back into the fray, expects the world to fall at their feet when that fails they orchestrate a hostile plan of action. Okay nevermind, that’s pretty exclusive to this situation specifically, Danny has a hard time taking no for an answer and that leads to some very foul play all around. Thankfully this mashup of nursing and special ops play comes together well as the film teases skill sets and bits of action to build up Alex leading up to the conflict. Instead of rushing to scene after scene of action, it’s paced with reasonable breaks and development.

Some films can’t really set up a strong narrative with choreography to develop the experience, we see Intensive Care actually balance that workload, giving time to fight scenes without feeling generic and bland or relying on rough prop execution to oversell a moment. Given the nature of Alex, it’s natural that she’s going to essentially play with her prey a bit and in a single moment, end the entire fight in a swift stroke which fits the execution.

The general camera work is clean, the camera motion is kept to a minimum, lighting feels organic and even in the transition from day to evening, there’s an attention to detail to keep a consistent presentation without overdoing it. Fight scenes have a smooth transition to showcase the action and tension in the room, not falling flat to a single position and angle that keeps the immersion running.  The team does good work to keep the momentum with a modern pacing, not attempting to get absorbed into too many motion effects or complex moments. The bathroom scene is actually a solid representation of that in the movie.

Audio and soundtrack play a vital role, selling action moments as glass breaks, heavy objects clash and tense moments between criminals and Alex build. There’s a nice presentation of ambiance to the household as voices don’t completely sound like they’ve been handled in post-production sitting in a studio lacking any atmosphere or reverb from the room. There’s warmth, echo and a genuine appeal as the sound develops from room to room with variations in-depth throughout.

Overall, Intensive Care is a fun action film, running just over an hour with a good base premise to grab viewers and solid action moments to bring entertainment. Tara Macken does a great job holding up the film as the lead and bringing the fight scenes to life, lending experience and enthusiasm to help create tense moments without feeling stiff and bringing emotion to the moment throughout. The cast and crew round out the film with a higher production value on the film while still having moments to play with the audience here and there.

Review – Elves

Produced by: Pikchure Zero
Directed by: Jamaal Burden
Starring: Stephanie Marie Baggett, Deanna Grace Congo, Amy Jo Guthrie, Melissa L. Vega

This holiday season, while everyone gets cozy around the fire and feels a calming cheer, horror fans can buddy up with Elves, a new sequel to The Elf. Taking in a holiday horror flick that puts the lives of multiple people on the naughty list into turmoil as they’re put into murderous challenges allowing them to survive.

It all starts out well, you’re hanging out with friends, some well over the holiday spirit, a few shots go down and suddenly you’re tricked into signing up for a dark ritual for survival. Friends are dying off left and right and so are strangers in the town as possession, hallucinations, and more fill the air. Well, that might not be how it goes for everyone, but in Elves it sure is. The film uses creeper vibes throughout the runtime in visual and audio form to keep things just weird enough. The dolls themselves are a bit nightmare inducing, if you thought those cherub porcelain figures at the store were creepy, they’ve got nothing on these dolls.

The story wastes no time getting into action, the group finds itself at odds to process the fate they’ve been dealt and the movie systematically runs through their challenges and actions. It’s brutal and blunt while also playing to the apparent fouls of their lives leading up to that point. When resistance is met the elf turns things up a notch to make sure they play along. As with many horror films of this genre, it’s not some unity moment where they all group together and overcomes the odds, there are some brutal handouts for everyone.

Composition wise it’s a pretty consistent film, the contrast between the every day and the darker moments is clear, switching to high contrast or extreme darkness with murky ambiance. The cast does well with the work, showing signs of paranoia, fear, and apathy. You get a feel for the lone wolves that would rather let everyone else burn if it means they can get another day and how everyone seems to underestimate the power of a traumatizing elf doll.

Elves is definitely something geared for the horror fans out there, and for those hoping to spring a fun twist to the holidays, it’s a good way to kill an evening with something out of the ordinary that still plays to the season. The story has fun twists and turns, there’s an air that everyone is genuinely doomed and I can’t say enough how utterly creepy that elf doll is and how it’ll haunt me for a few weeks at least. Running a movie based on an inanimate object isn’t easy and it’s done in this case with enough mysticism and visual play that it slips in there without being weird.

Review – Clyde Cooper

Produced by: Souvenir Films
Written by: Peter Daskaloff
Starring: Jordi Vilasuso, Abigail Titmuss, Richard Neil, Aria Sirvaitis
Runtime: 81 minutes

Throwback films to the old detective noir era are always interesting, mixing what was essentially a simpler era with modern technology while still trying to have the same atmosphere. Clyde Cooper is the latest film to take on this tricky formula, putting itself in the near future and pitting a gumshoe detective against untraceable figures and mob-style opposition. We see Clyde hit the ground running with a classic case, trying to trace some steps on a basic missing person and finding himself tumbling down a rabbit hole of trouble.

For all it’s challenges Clyde Cooper delivers a simple and effective storyline with enough twists to keep it going. Just when one angle seems more or less the case, another clue drops, Clyde gets a new idea and the movie rolls with it. The device is active just enough for the film to not seem overly repetitive. As it does pay homage to this detective era, there’s flirtation, smooth talking, and general suave attitudes for all. For those unfamiliar, it might not have the fastest pacing but it is about the way it goes, dramatic moment, sudden interference or obstruction and try to find the trail again.

Jordi Vilasuso does his best to play it cool and calm, often throwing in pickup lines casually and playing them off innocently. While the smooth voice is an interesting change, it never really deviates in emotion, it’s awkward for the character as it robs it of some depth as everything is just constantly okay. Outside of the suave design of Clyde, there’s pretty much the vaping which replaces nervous cigarettes or cigars while they think and drink on the case. There’s almost too much mystery as to why he’s that calm in any situation. A troubled breath, hint of deeper fury would have gone further to develop Clyde more.

That said, overall Jordi and the cast do well with the film and at least keep a consistent bar, it’s a weird case, to say the least. For a detective that seems to like to keep it as simple as they can, it just pushes them well out of comfort. At just over an hour the film is pressed for storytelling but the cast gets through it without a hitch while also staying close to form as a classical mystery.

In the technical realm, the film plays out well, the depth of field creates a more immersive effect and the use of multiple camera angles helps give a fuller presentation vs a single camera setup. The audio mastering in public scenes has nice value with depth and atmosphere, letting the sound team enhance key moments with simple and eerie tones just at the right time. Lighting allows play between key characters, moments, and the background characters so nothing just goes into obscurity.

Detective stories are a challenge, reproducing those moments of the era with new technology available really makes for a troubling case. A detective doesn’t have to just go head to head with everyone on their suspect list necessarily and guessing games about prints or DNA are less likely to happen with accurate tools out there. Still, Clyde Cooper works to minimize the reliance on pure technology and goes back to snooping, rough Q&A, and having bad guys get lucky with the drop on him. For fans of tributes to the era, it’s a fun way to pass some time while still offering some fresh takes.

Redbox starts Spring Cleaning with a new sale

Kicking off from today through April 1, Redbox is putting pre-owned movies and games on discount. Movies kick off at $3.99 and games start at $4.99 and shoot up from there.

Highlight titles include the following:

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming DVD or Blu-ray $5.99
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 DVD or Blu-ray $4.99
  • The Hitman’s Body Guard DVD or Blu-ray $5.99
  • Wonder Woman DVD or Blu-ray $4.99
  • Cars 3 DVD or Blu-ray $4.99
  • The Boss Baby DVD or Blu-ray $3.99
  • Dishonored 2 PS4/XBO $9.99
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare PS4/XBO $14.99

The games sale includes PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles, for the most part, there’s some decent variety for titles from 2016-2017 minus the Xbox 360 which is just 3 Call of Duty titles.

Check out Redbox for more and hopefully, the kiosks in your area have the titles you want in stock.

Review – Spent

Director: Lisa Mikitarian
Produced by: Sam Mikitarian
Screenplay: Lisa Mikitarian
Studio: Indie Rights

Mortality is a strange thing for people, the power of it can send someone down near infinite paths, in the case of the Schumacher family it’s a little bit of fantasy and exotic wonder as they face one of their family with brain cancer in the final stages. What they weren’t prepared for as they packed their bags and said farewell to the lives they once knew is a sudden twist by Herbert of his terminal diagnosis.

Lonnie is Herbert’s son, a theater worker basically with low ambition, awkward social cues and high hopes for a car saleswoman and the vehicle she’s slinging his way. Evelyn is Herbert’s beloved wife, dabbling in so many luxuries once denied in her life with Herbert behind the wheel with fantasy for beaches and pampering. The duo arrives on screen with their lives ahead mapped out until it all takes a massive detour, the shift causes turmoil for them and their established significant others who find these changes unacceptable to the pampered lives they were anticipating. Bad taste in partners seems to be a running theme between Lonnie and Evelyn, they easily fall into the pressures of their partners and really get the storyline running.

The whiff of half a million dollars in savings upon Herbert’s death drives all four characters in the story into dark and dastardly deeds to get their payout. The future once so certain unfolds in new ways with twists that force Herbert’s family to face the darkness they’ve fallen into. While they want this future they’ve painted so brightly, is murder really an option? The struggle consumes and twists and turns them to really face what it is they’re actually doing and acting on.

Overall the story and delivery are interesting with their own twists and angles, Nick Nerangis plays the unassuming Herbert who takes this second chance with new optimism and light. A light that draws a fair amount of empathy from the audience as his wife and son work their angles in the background, each with such selfish desire. Connie Lamothe and Darren Barzegar both play their family roles with distress, fed up with the status quo and completely unaccepting of the new hand life has dealt out to Herbert. The cast has a very unassuming air to their characters, devious but honest in their inexperience to something like affairs and seducing potential inheritance boyfriends to run away.

Overall the pace of the story could pick up speed but it’s not something that kills the experience, it’s a story of miracles and greed and murder mixed with a dose of love and sometimes that’s messy, actually… it’s probably always messy, that just seems like something that probably would never go well. There’s certainly plenty of twists, guilt, and frustration throughout Spent that make the story such an interesting and entertaining dark tale.  For those looking to take a stroll for something different, Spent delivers with dark comedy and constant surprises from life itself to the Schumacher family and their significant others.

Release Date: December 15, 2017
Platform: VOD and Theatrical (Trailer)

Cast:
Sally Anderson
Darren Barzegar
Erin Harth
Sonya Kalian
Connie Lamothe
Janna Livingston
Nataly Martin
Joe Mayes
Nathan McDonald
Madeline Mikitarian
Nick Nerangis
Hannah Overholtzer
Anna Grace Padgett
Tony Villa

Black Panther Teaser Tailer!!

The hype is real people, Marvel has just dropped a teaser trailer for Black Panther, and fans should will be please with whats coming in 2018. In quick run down we see Wakanda in all its glory, along with the Dora Milaje in action. The main villain Erik Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan also is shown in action. any concerns fans had for the movie should be answered, Black Panther looks as if it will continue Marvels dominance in its next phase of films, and I for one can’t wait.   

Review – Pitchfork

Director: Glenn Douglas Packard
Produced by: Glenn Douglas Packard, Darryl F. Gariglio, Noreen Marriott
Associate Producer: Shaun Cairo
Screenplay: Glenn Douglas Packard, Darryl F. Gariglio
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment

Horror is a touchy genre, so much focus on visuals, shock and awe leave viewers almost always expecting something to pop out right at them all the time, with such a high level of anticipation it’s interesting when films play around with the inner workings to deliver something out of the norm. Pitchfork follows a group of carefree college kids as one of their friends faces their parents after coming out to them.

There’s a mix of favorability within the cast, people pulling dirty deeds on each other and generating a sense of wonder on who falls prey first to this beast of the night. Most of the cast are blissfully ignorant of the troubles lurking on the farm, throwing a farm rave of sorts while everything goes down. Oddly enough Pitchfork runs with a long lead into the damage and even when it goes down it’s not a rapid-fire affair, instead, it’s methodical and downright cruel in some delivery but it’s what helps shape the experience.

Pitchfork uses the classic teen slasher experience and twists it around while also dousing the story with a blast of psychological shock on top of all else, it’s what helps define the movie as the events layer into a bloody mess. I can’t say I completely expected the twists and turns the movie took and efforts it made to defy classic staples of horror movies in the mainstream. It’s campy and violent while carrying disturbing twists which grab curious fans from across the spectrum.

While I came into Pitchfork expecting bodies to start dropping in typical fashion, it was anything but that. The film develops its own pacing and general structure that leaves viewers waiting for what lands next.

Cast:
Daniel Wilkinson
Lindsey Nicole
Brian Raetz
Ryan Moore
Celina Beach
Keith Webb
Sheila Leason
Nicole Dambro
Vibhu Raghave
Rachel Carter
Andrew Dave-Collins
Carol Ludwick
Derek Reynolds
Addisyn Wallace
Anisbel Lopez

DVD / Blu-ray release date: May 2nd, 2017

Review – Mom & Me

Writer & Director: Ken Wardrop
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment

Mothers day is around the corner and a new limited release movie is landing early to remind many of us about those unique relationships with the mothers in our lives. Mom & Me joins Joe Cristiano in his pursuit for motherly stories from Oklahoma, deemed one of the manliest states in the US. It’s a mixed series of emotion, hearing tales of childhood discipline, discovering later in life friendships and growth and more.

Just over an hour in clips and stories the experiences sweep across the board, while generally upbeat the tales do have darker periods which adds a unique dose of honesty to the film. While there are segments of love and respect from many, there are also tales of frustration and rebellion and the realizations that eventually came from those conflicts which brought about new appreciation and growth.

Young or old there’s an interesting crossover of experiences throughout Wardrop’s film and the cameos that highlight the interactions between those callers and their mothers. Not everyone has a happy ending, some had bouts of violence, drugs and other life struggles that they faced but the unique theme is, in the end, their mothers persevered and came back when their kids still needed them most and those moments etched themselves into the minds of those men.

Overall Mom & Me brings viewers back to their own memories with their mom or significant parent in their life. The reflections bring smiles and pull a tear or two out while listening to stories of care, persistence, struggle and forgiveness. For Oklahoma listener’s there is little doubt about the impact and position their mothers had in their lives and how it’s shaped them after realizing the power the relationship brought to their lives. It’s hard to say it’s specifically a feel good piece, there are so many windows for viewers to reflect on the past, the present and the future and where they stand themselves.

The filming highlights multiple dynamics of those relationships told while cutting itself short enough to not overstay its welcome. As a VOD title or a casual film to catch it would deliver a worthwhile experience and that’s what makes it stand out given the timing of the release, allowing viewers to take a moment to let it all soak in after it’s all said and done.

The Dark Tower (2017) Official Trailer

The day has arrived of the first official trailer for Stephen Kings The Dark Tower, the trailer gives us a quick rundown of what’s to come in the theatrical release. We see Idris Elba as Roland “The Gunslinger” in action, pulling off some spectacular shooting in the trailer, The Man black played by Matthew McConaughey makes a brief appearance also. The majority of the trailer focuses on Roland and Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) and how the two of them meet.  It’s been awhile since I’ve read the Dark Tower books but form news of how closely Akiva Goldsman wanted to stay true to the books I’m sure this film will turn out just fine.

“Did you tell the kid, whoever walks with you, die’s by my hand”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi & Battlefront 2 Teasers released!!!

This past weekend at Star Wars Celebration 2017, fans were given a few treats. The first one being ths Star Wars Battlefront 2 teaser, and the second one being Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser. The Event turned out to be a huge success, while I wasn’t able to attend the event I did however was able to catch some of it on stream. Both trailers feature some cool cameos from popular characters, however the movie teaser was the most anticipated.

The trailer features Luke Skywalker, who appears to be training Rey in the ways of the jedi. We also get a cool shot of the Knights of Ren walking on a battlefield, but then scene that got most people going was Luke Skywalkers statement about the time of the Jedi’s is over.