Tag Archives: Samara Weaving

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021) Review

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

Snake Eyes G.I Joe Origins

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Henry Golding as Snake Eyes
Andrew Koji as Thomas “Tommy” Arashikage/Storm Shadow
Úrsula Corberó as Baroness
Samara Weaving as Scarlett
Iko Uwais as Hard Master
Director: Robert Schwentke

An ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage welcomes tenacious loner Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) after he saves the life of their heir apparent (Andrew Koji). Upon arrival in Japan, the Arashikage teach him the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing him something he’s been longing for: a home. However, when secrets from Snake Eyes’ past are revealed, his honour and allegiance get tested — even if that means losing the trust of those closest to him.

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I was somewhat interested in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (not to be confused with Snake Eyes starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Brian De Palma). I’m not that invested with G.I. Joe, I only watched the first live action G.I. Joe movie in the late 2000s and I don’t remember much from it. So hearing that Paramount would be making another attempt at a franchise based off the popular action figure line didn’t really get any reaction from me. However, the casting of Henry Golding in the role of the character of Snake Eyes interested me, as Golding has been great in the films I’ve seen him in. Here he would get the spotlight in his own action movie. Also from the trailers, the action looked pretty entertaining, and eventually I was interested enough to check the movie enough. I know that critically it’s not been receiving the warmest of receptions, but I enjoyed the movie for what it was despite its many issues.

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I should preface this once again with the fact that I am not that familiar with the lore of G.I. Joe, so I’m coming in as an outsider. First of all, the story is not all great, in fact it’s pretty formulaic and generic. The plot has a MacGuffin as a big part of it, there are 3 trials or challenges that the lead character needs to pass, and there are plenty of cliches with honour, loyalty and the like. On the whole it plays things kind of safe and slow with not much standing out about it, but it is serviceable and kept my interest well enough. The film moves at a decent enough pace, though the first act is a little too slow. Despite my issues with the story, it actually does have some good parts to it, and gave the story more humanity than I was expecting. Even though the film does contain some somewhat large action set pieces, the scale of the story is fairly small and personal. This film serves as an origin story for not only Snake Eyes, but also his soon to be rival Shadow Storm, their character work was interesting and I was invested with what was happening with them. Snake Eyes is a flawed and conflicted character. Without getting into plot points as the trailer doesn’t show them, he is not the most likeable of people, especially with his main goal throughout much of the movie and what he does to get closer to it. Usually some blockbuster movies try the whole ‘flawed hero’ approach to the protagonist that feels by the numbers and weak, but this film actually stays way more committed to that idea than I thought it would. The character is not likeable for the most part, but that was a choice, a risky one that I at least admire. Also this movie made Storm Shadow a very sympathetic and interesting character, it was interesting seeing the origins of the feud between him and Snake Eyes. If there are more movies developed in this universe it would be interesting to see them again. I know that die hard G.I. Joe fans won’t be happy with some of the decisions made, as this movie changes up some of the backstories, especially for Snake Eyes. Again though, I am not a G.I. Joe fan, and I thought it made for an interesting enough origin story. As you might’ve noticed from the tag at the end of the title, this is essentially setting up a G.I. Joe cinematic universe. There are a couple of known characters from the series who play small but notable parts in the story of this movie. The setting up of the larger universe doesn’t quite gel with a fairly contained morally ambiguous tale of revenge that the movie is going for. With that being said, it mostly focuses on the Snake Eyes origin story despite its sequel baiting moments.

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The cast on the whole do well. Henry Golding plays Snake Eyes and he’s one of the highlights of the movie. He had a lot of charisma as expected considering his past performances, it’s also just as well that he is playing the role considering this new take on the character. Andrew Koji also stands out as Storm Shadow and is really good in his part. The two characters as mentioned earlier are the strongest parts of the movie, and the actors delivered on their roles. Other notable actors are Samara Weaving and Ursula Corbero respectively as Scarlett (from G.I. Joe) and Baroness (from Cobra). They are in this to play small roes to tie this story into the G.I. Joe universe they are setting up. They are good but are only in it for a little bit. Outside of them however, the cast are wasted, even those who have martial arts talents like Iko Uwais. All the characters outside of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are dull and underdeveloped, more or less a tool for action sequences and exposition dumpers. The main villain is particularly very boring and doesn’t have any screentime to have a character or personality.

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Snake Eyes is directed by Robert Schwentke, whose past work included Red and the last two Divergent movies. I thought the direction was mixed overall. I will say that there are some technical elements that are quite good. First of all it has a sleek look to it with some nice scenery. I appreciated the use of real locations and sets, Tokyo particularly gives some visually striking production designs. Where the problems start is when you look at the action. From the early responses when the movie came out, I heard that the action was quite bad. I personally don’t think it’s that bad but it definitely has a ton of issues. There were legitimately good shots, set ups and pieces of stunt chorography, so it’s not lazy by any means. However, some of the camerawork is unnecessarily shaky, and the rapid editing really makes these scenes worse. Thankfully some of the action actually works quite well and is entertaining. It’s just disappointing that the action wasn’t better considering the amount of work put into them.

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I know that Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is being negatively received, and while it has many issues I don’t think it’s bad. The somewhat generic story, most of the supporting characters, as well as some handling of the action really brought down the film, but some of the cast (particularly Henry Golding and Andrew Koji) really delivered on their parts, the main origin story made some decisions that I surprisingly liked, and even some of the action was fun. I would actually like to see this universe continue especially with these actors, hopefully in something less formulaic and better directed.

Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020) Review

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Bill & Ted Face the Music

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]  Violence & coarse language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Theodore “Ted” Logan
Alex Winter as William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq.
Kristen Schaal as Kelly
Samara Weaving as Theadora “Thea” Preston
Brigette Lundy-Paine as Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan
William Sadler as the Grim Reaper
Anthony Carrigan as Dennis Caleb McCoy
Erinn Hayes as Princess Elizabeth Logan
Jayma Mays as Princess Joanna Preston
Hal Landon Jr. as Captain Jonathan Logan
Beck Bennett as Officer Deacon Logan
Kid Cudi as himself
Amy Stoch as Missy
Holland Taylor as The Great Leader
Jillian Bell as Dr. Taylor Wood
Director: Dean Parisot

The ruler of the future tells best friends Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) they must compose a new song to save life as we know it. But instead of writing it, they decide to travel through time to steal it from their older selves. Meanwhile, their young daughters devise their own musical scheme to help their fathers bring harmony to the universe.

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I watched the first two Bill and Ted movies (and rewatched in the case of Excellent Adventure) recently, they were quite enjoyable if flawed movies from the 80s and 90s. With the third instalment released in 2020, I was wondering about how it would be. With an almost 30 year gap since the previous movie, I had no idea how it would turn out, especially as those movies felt like they were very much of their time. Bill & Ted Face of the Music actually turned out to be pretty good, and better than I was expecting.

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There is a worry about reboots (even though it’s the third instalment here), especially with franchises where the last movies came out a long time ago. You’d expect that it would just retread familiar territory and be a cash grab ultimately. However it captures the charm of Bill & Ted, while providing enough stuff to make it fresh and unique on it’s own right instead of just rehashing the first two movies. It not only delivers on the original’s heart and spirit, it also pushes the story further, more than I expected it. It keeps the DNA of the original two movies intact but have an incredibly heartfelt story to go with it. Like with the past movies, they are at the right length at 90 minutes, is very fast paced, and it just really works well. It’s also got quite a lot of good humour that works quite well.

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Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves reprise their iconic roles of Bill & Ted, and even after nearly 30 years later, they still have the charisma and chemistry which made the characters so great in the first place. They aren’t the only main characters in this movie, there’s also Samara Weaving and Bridgette Lundy-Paine who play Bill & Ted’s daughters. Their dynamic was also great and they embody that same spirit of their fathers, and it’s great when they are all together onscreen. William Sadler return as Death from Bogus Journey, once again he stole every scene he was in. The rest of the cast are good too, Anthony Carrigan was also a standout among the supporting cast.

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Bill & Ted Face the Music is directed by Dean Parisot, the direction is serviceable and is good enough for the movie to work. The visual effects in the first two movies weren’t that good, and that’s mostly because of it being the 80s and 90s so they can still be enjoyable in a cheesy sort of way. While the effects here are a little better, they are a bit average, and the colour palette overall is rather drab and boring at times. The composed music is also rather standard blockbuster music, which pales in contrast to the previous soundtracks.

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Bill & Ted Face the Music was quite enjoyable for me, capturing the charm and fun of the first two movies while feeling updated for today in all the right ways. If you didn’t like any of the other Bill & Ted movies, it’s not worth checking out. However as someone who does like the movies, I was pleasantly surprised by it, it really was a fitting conclusion to this trilogy. If you haven’t watched any of the Bill & Ted movies, I at least recommend giving Excellent Adventure a viewing, it’s a classic for a reason.

Guns Akimbo (2020) Review

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Guns Akimbo

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, drug use & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Miles Lee Harris
Samara Weaving as Nix Degraves
Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Nova
Ned Dennehy as Riktor
Grant Bowler as Degraves
Edwin Wright as Stanton
Rhys Darby as Glenjamin
Director: Jason Lei Howden

Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is a video game developer who inadvertently becomes the next participant in a real-life death match that streams online. While Miles soon excels at running away from everything, that won’t help him outlast Nix (Samara Weaving), a killer at the top of her game.

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I and many people on the internet became interested in Guns Akimbo from the moment pictures behind the set of Daniel Radcliffe holding two guns while wearing a bathroom became viral. Also, I liked Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving, so I was even more interested. Guns Akimbo looked to be a very over the top action comedy, so I was just going into the movie expecting that. I will say it doesn’t quite reach its fullest potential as I hoped, but I still enjoyed it.

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With this premise, of course it was going to be an over the top movie, and Guns Akimbo certainly is that and it aware of it. From the first two scenes, it really does feel kind of edgy. I have seen some movies that try to be edgy and they can really get on my nerves (something like Assassination Nation) and I completely understand if that tone really turns people off. I wasn’t a fan of it, but I tolerated it enough. Most of the movie is just Daniel Radcliffe running with guns stuck to his hands and the comedy is that he doesn’t really want to kill people for much of the movie. It does get old at a point and a little repetitive. Some of the logic by Daniel Radcliffe’s character is also a bit annoying, there are some specifically where he tries to cover up his situation of having guns fully bolted to his hands, and it just doesn’t make sense. There’s particularly a whole scene with him and his ex-girlfriend which he could’ve handled so much better. The comedy is very hit or miss, it tries hard at it though. It’s not so bad that it’s constantly cringy but a lot of the jokes don’t land. Speaking of cringe though, the writing is really not that good and is quite eye rolling at many points. The movie also does try to be something like a sort of satire and commentary about online trolls, social media and the internet today (ironic considering a certain controversy involving this movie’s director). However that aspect is just hard to take seriously, which is ironic considering that this movie is very clearly a comedy. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t constantly throw that in the audience’s face for much of the movie and mishandle it. Finally, for as crazy as they wanted to make the movie, the storyline itself is quite predictable and unimpressive. Side note, but this movie also tries to set up a sequel that will never happen.

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The main cast do well in their parts. Daniel Radcliffe was kind of the perfect fit for this lead role and movie, as a mild mannered geek who doesn’t want to kill people but is stuck with guns in his hands. He’s particularly great with the comedy, and he even works with the action towards the end of the movie. I for one am down for the Daniel Radcliffe taking on crazy and weird projects post Harry Potter. However it is Samara Weaving who takes the movie to another level, as the killer hunting Daniel Radcliffe down. She’s energetic, owns all of her scenes and is a clear standout despite some of the iffy writing. I just wish she was in the movie more as like a co-lead. Both Radcliffe and Weaving share great chemistry too.

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I’m not sure if I’d say I liked the direction or not, I just know that it certainly tries very hard. It is very over the top and stylised, and sometimes the style can really fail. Within the first 20 to 30 minutes you can figure out whether it is for you or not. The camera spins and rotates and moves around at times, it’s like a less hyperactive version of the Crank movies. The action itself can be quite fun at many points, especially towards the end. With that said, at times a lot of the action can be flat out ruined by some of the editing, and the action isn’t exactly particularly standout or anything.

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Guns Akimbo is not for everyone and really doesn’t succeed as well as you’d hope it would, both with the messy script and the flawed direction. However I still like the movie, it’s got some fun moments, and ultimately both Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving carry it. If it looks appealing to you from the trailer, check it out for yourself. Again, you’ll figure out very early on whether it’s for you or not.

Ready or Not (2019) Review

Time: 95 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast:
Samara Weaving as Grace Le Domas
Adam Brody as Daniel Le Domas
Mark O’Brien as Alex Le Domas
Henry Czerny as Tony Le Domas
Andie MacDowell as Becky Le Domas
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Grace (Samara Weaving) couldn’t be happier after she marries the man of her dreams (Mark O’Brien) at his family’s luxurious estate. There’s just one catch — she must now hide from midnight until dawn while her new in-laws hunt her down with guns, crossbows and other weapons. As Grace desperately tries to survive the night, she soon finds a way to turn the tables on her not-so-lovable relatives.

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A lot of people have been talking about Ready or Not, a low budgeted over the top horror thriller that became a massive hit, grossing over 9 times its budget. Outside of the premise I didn’t really know what to really expect from the movie, but with all the praise that was being thrown at it, I was looking forward to it. Ready or Not turned out to be one of the surprises of the year, a simple but entertaining thriller that works incredibly well for what it is.

Ready or Not is short at 95 minutes long, but it makes the best of that runtime, with a very fast pace that has you entertained from beginning to end. It sets up the scenario, characters and locations quickly, all the while giving off an uneasy vibe and atmosphere before the games really begin. It’s definitely got a wacky premise, with the rich family taking part in ‘weird’ games (and its at least somewhat making a commentary on rich people), thankfully the movie leans in heavily with the craziness and doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is definitely a dark comedy and you aren’t supposed to take it completely seriously, and the vast majority of it, from the insane scenarios to the dialogue, are handled mostly well. The third act also takes an insane turn that I will not spoil, worth seeing for yourself. Ready or Not doesn’t break any new ground in the genre, however it didn’t have to.

Samara Weaving excels as the lead character as the bride who finds herself caught up among her in rich in-laws’ deadly games. Although much of the movie works fine on its own, I can’t imagine it being as good without her great performance here. Her character of Grace goes through a lot, physically, emotionally and mentally, and she expresses a wide range of emotions over the course of the film. She’s capable enough to survive, yet is very vulnerable as she’s struggles to survive against the overwhelming odds. I haven’t seen Weaving in much but she’s definitely an actor to keep an eye on in the coming years. The supporting cast making up the rich family also play their roles well, including Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny and others. While not all of the characters are fleshed out as equally as each other, they are given distinct characteristics. So they’re more than just a bunch of random human killers that the main character has to go up against, like many movies of that genre.

Ready or Not is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, and their work on the movie was pretty good. Now the directing style isn’t any special and is pretty familiar to similar to that of You’re Next and other similar thrillers, but I do like how the movie looks. This is a 6 million dollar budgeted movie and they put that money to very good use here. The entire movie pretty much takes place inside this mansion and it does well keeping you contained there for the entirety of the movie. The kills are brutal and what you’d expect, and they only get more insane as the movie progresses.

Ready or Not isn’t going to redefine the horror genre in any way, but it is a short and simple yet bloody and darkly funny horror thriller that entertains quite well. It knows what kind of movie it is, is stylishly and effectively directed with plenty of thrills, and Samara Weaving’s performance at the centre holding everything together. If you like these types of movies and you want a fun time, definitely give Ready or Not a watch.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Review

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, rape themes, suicide & offensive language
Cast:
Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes
Woody Harrelson as Sheriff Bill Willoughby
Sam Rockwell as Officer Jason Dixon
John Hawkes as Charlie Hayes
Peter Dinklage as James
Lucas Hedges as Robbie Hayes
Abbie Cornish as Anne Willoughby
Samara Weaving as Penelope
Caleb Landry Jones as Red Welby
Sandy Martin as Mrs. Dixon
Director: Martin McDonagh

After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command, Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) — an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence — gets involved, the battle is only exacerbated.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. On top of having a great cast with Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, it was Martin McDonagh’s next film, and so that had my undivided attention. His previous movies, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths were amazing and some of my favourite movies. So understand that it means a lot when I say that Three Billboards is a career best from Martin McDonagh.

Martin McDonagh’s writing is absolutely fantastic, no surprise there. A lot of elements of his style of his writing in his previous films here too. The dialogue is once again pheromonal, ranging from comedic, to shocking and sometimes even heartfelt. Three Billboards is hilarious at times, with comedy often appearing in surprising moments but at the same time the film is quite dark, bleak, and very emotional. Not many people can switch tones on a dime and make it work effectively but McDonagh is one of the few people who can do it. One of the best parts about Three Billboards is that you can’t predict what’s going to happen, which is why I recommend not looking into this movie too much before watching it, I only watched the trailers going in and I was surprised by a lot of things that happened, and I’m not easily surprised. This is a very original screenplay and nothing is in black and white, there are really no heroes or villains here. The characters are well realised and given more depth than you might initially think they have. One thing I know that will definitely divide people is the ending, it was quite abrupt and not quite what I expected, if I was going to compare it to another movie ending, it would be to No Country for Old Men. However, I think that there was a real reason for this decision and something about it made me okay with it, but I will need to think about it more.

Frances McDormand is fantastic here, she’s had many great performances but this is her best performance since Fargo, and it’s possibly better which is saying a lot. She’s likable, tough as nails and really is a force of nature on screen, while maintaining some vulnerability, Mildred Hayes one of the best characters that Martin McDonagh has written. She really was the perfect actress for the role, I can’t seen anyone else playing her. Woody Harrelson’s performance as the chief of police who McDormand’s Mildred is calling out shouldn’t be overlooked either. His performance here is very nuanced and emotional, this is some of the most emotional work that Harrelson has done and he really is great. Sam Rockwell is quite an underrated and great actor, so its no surprise that he gives an excellent performance here, but this might also be one of the best performances he’s ever given. He plays a racist, dim-witted, violent and unstable cop. On top of having to be both hilarious and vile, he’s also got to have this unexpected arc (which I won’t go too deep into) and all I’ll have to say is that Rockwell was remarkable and pulls it off. Other actors like John Hawkes, Sandy Martin, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges and Caleb Landry Jones all do great jobs and each have their moments to shine.

Martin McDonagh’s direction of Three Billboards overall is good. The direction isn’t really the highlight or focus of the movie but McDonagh does the best he can to make it the best it can be. The cinematography was good, complimenting the performances and writing while never overshadowing them. Carter Burwell’s score also fits perfectly with the movie, it’s there when it needs to be there to and at the right moments. The only out of place thing in terms of the direction was at one point there was an obviously looking CGI deer, that took me out of the movie a bit but that’s just in one scene.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is absolutely fantastic. The performances were amazing, especially from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell and it’s Martin McDonagh’s phenomonal writing and direction that makes it all fit together to make a remarkable movie. Hilarious, shocking, dark and emotional, Three Billboards is one of my all times favourite movies of 2017.