Quick Review: Underwater (Dir. by William Eubank)


Underwater-movie-poster

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.” – Mark Twain

I wasn’t entirely sold on William Eubank’s Underwater after leaving the theatre.

I’d seen that kind of film before in movies like Alien, Resident Evil, The Abyss, Leviathan, Deep Rising and Deep Star Six. It didn’t feel like it was giving me too much of anything new (especially when compared to last year’s genuinely jumpworthy Crawl), but I have to admit I did spent quite a bit of the film watching it from between my fingers. I’ll give it that. Additionally, I have to give the movie credit for taking no time to get things moving and staying pretty even throughout. Within 5 to 10 minutes of the movie’s start, you’re thrust right into a mix of terror from the unknown and claustrophobic environments. For someone with an attention span as short as mine, it’s impressive to see a film hit the ground running like that. It’s the kind of opening one would expect from one of the John Wick films. Longtime readers here on the Lens know that January really isn’t the month for the greatest films, though every once in a while, you’ll have one or two that dowell.

I think enjoying Underwater may be dependent how much comparing is done between it and older films. If you walk in blind, not expecting anything and are just looking to be entertained, you may enjoy the film more than I did. Do you absolutely have to rush to a movie theatre to see it? No, I don’t feel you do. Give it 3 months and you’ll have it on Digital/Blu-Ray. Would I run back to it in the theatre? Nah. If you’re a Kristen Stewart fan, or if the film’s something you’re genuinely interested in, have at it.

A group of miners find themselves struggling to survive after their rig suffers intense damage. Their goal is to reach a set of escape pods that can take them to the surface, but reaching it poses a set of challenges. The team comes to find that they may not be alone in the depths, which adds to their problems.

underwater-trailer

Kristen Stewart navigates the ocean depths in William Eubank’s Underwater.

The cast does well as can be expected, with Kristen Stewart (Charlie’s Angels) taking the lead as Norah, the team’s engineer. Joining her are Vincent Cassel (Eastern Promises) as the Captain, Jessica Henwick (Marvel’s Iron Fist) as  the biology scientist, John Gallagher, Jr. (Hush), Mamoudou Athie (The Get Down), and JT Miller (Deadpool) as the comic relief.  JT Miller in particular voices what would be the audience’s take as a fellow who just wants to get out of the situation. It’s Stewart and Henwick that carry the most weight with the film, and they handle it well. Their characters are smart and try their best to make it through the situations presented to them.

Visually, Underwater’s deep sea sequences have an interesting feel to them. Some of them feel more like the shaky cam shots from As Above So Below. There’s a bit of claustrophobia with watching certain scenes from behind the helmets. The monsters themselves are reminiscent of the ones you’d find in Cloverfield or The Mist with a number of jumpscares throughout. There’s very little in the way of blood and gore, since the film is PG-13.

I would have liked a larger body count. For the size of the rig, part of me expected to see more then just the 6 or 7 characters we have. Seeing more individuals face the creatures or the crumbling buildings could have added a bit of weight. That’s just a nitpick. The Nostromo was huge, yet only had a crew of seven.

Overall, I enjoyed Underwater more than I thought I would. It spends a lot of time doing things that other films already did, but does so in such a way where it’s not entirely wasted.

 

The New Mutants has a new date and trailer.


Marvel’s The New Mutants was a film that was supposed to come out in mid 2019, but was pushed back. The New Mutants focuses on a set of kids in a hospital and takes more of a horror/drama stance that’s similar to F/X’s Legion.  It’s a little different for Marvel, and fits for the Fox banner.

The New Mutants, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Alice Braga, and Charlie Heaton, is set to premiere in cinemas on April 2020.

Ryan Reynolds improves his game in the Free Guy Trailer


You have to hand it to Ryan Reynolds, he knows how to market his projects. In the course of a few days, he made an advertisement for a TV that linked to a new film and his gin company, Aviation Gin. He also made a separate commercial for Aviation Gin starring Monica Ruiz, who everyone knows as the wife in the Peleton ads. Now, 20th Century Fox reunites Reynolds and his Green Lantern co-star, Taika Waititi in Free Guy.

Free Guy has Reynolds playing an NPC (Non-Playable Character) in a Video Game that is due to be shut down. Using classic video game items like power ups, guns and dance emotes, Reynolds’ character decides it’s time to level up. While we’re not sure of where this all goes, it’s good to see Ryan bring some of that Deadpool flair under the Disney umbrella.

Free Guy, Directed by Shawn Levy (Date Night), is set to release on July 3, 2020.

Cleaning Out the DVR #24: Crime Does Not Pay!


cracked rear viewer

We’re way overdue for a Cleaning Out the DVR post – haven’t done one since back in April! – so let’s jump right in with 4 capsule reviews of 4 classic crime films:

SINNERS’ HOLIDAY (Warner Brothers 1930; D: John Adolfi) – Early talkie interesting as the screen debut of James Cagney , mixed up in “the booze racket”, who shoots bootlegger Warren Hymer, and who’s penny arcade owner maw Lucille LaVerne covers up by pinning the murder on daughter Evalyn Knapp’s ex-con boyfriend Grant Withers. Some pretty racy Pre-Code elements include Joan Blondell as Cagney’s “gutter floozie” main squeeze. Film’s 60 minute running time makes it speed by, aided by some fluid for the era camerawork. Fun Fact: Cagney and Blondell appeared in the original Broadway play “Penny Arcade”; when superstar entertainer Al Jolson bought the rights, he insisted Jimmy and Joan be cast in the film version, and…

View original post 549 more words

You’re Killing Me, Smalls!: Let’s Play in THE SANDLOT (20th Century-Fox 1993)


cracked rear viewer


Baseball movies are as American as apple pie, and everyone has their favorites, from classic era films like THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES and TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME to latter-day fare like THE NATURAL and FIELD OF DREAMS. There’s so much to choose from, comedies, dramas, and everything in-between. One of my all-time favorites is 1993’s coming of age classic, THE SANDLOT.

Like most baseball movies, THE SANDLOT is about more than just The Great American Pastime. Director David Mickey Evans’ script (co-written with Robert Gunter) takes us back to 1962, as young Scotty Smalls has moved to a brand new neighborhood in a brand new city. His dad died, and his mom (Karen Allen of NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE fame) has remarried preoccupied Bill (young comedian Denis Leary…. hmmm, I wonder what ever happened to him??), who tries to teach the nerdy kid how to play…

View original post 433 more words

A (Not-So) Brief Note On WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT (20th Century Fox 2004)


cracked rear viewer

Sometimes while scrolling through the channels one come across a pleasant surprise. So it’s Saturday afternoon,a thundershower has cancelled my plan to hit the beach, the Red Sox don’t start for awhile, and I’m clicking the old clicker when I land on WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT. I wasn’t expecting much, just a way to kill time; instead, I found an underrated little gem of a comedy that kept me watching until the very end.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT is an undiscovered classic or anything like that. It’s just a solidly made piece of entertainment about small-town life starring Ray Romano (riding high at the time thanks to his successful sitcom EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND) and Oscar winning Gene Hackman. Romano uses his nebbishy TV persona to portray Mooseport, Maine’s local hardware store owner “Handy” Harrison, who gets involved in a mayoral campaign against Hackman’s Monroe “Eagle”…

View original post 438 more words

The Great American Pastime: IT HAPPENED IN FLATBUSH (20th Century-Fox 1942)


cracked rear viewer

Major League Baseball’s Opening Day has finally arrived! It’s a tradition as American as Apple Pie, and so is IT HAPPENED IN FLATBUSH, a baseball movie about a lousy team in Brooklyn whose new manager takes them to the top of the heap. The team’s not explicitly called the Dodgers and the manager’s not named Leo Durocher, but their improbable 1941 pennant winning season is exactly what inspired this charmingly nostalgic little movie.

When Brooklyn’s manager quits the team, dowager team owner Mrs. McAvoy seeks out ex-player Frank Maguire, who seven years earlier was run out of town when an unfortunate error cost the team the pennant. She finds him running a club out in the sticks, and convinces him to come back to the Big Leagues. He does, bringing along his faithful bat boy/sidekick ‘Squint’, and just before the season’s about to begin, Mrs. McAvoy abruptly dies. Her family…

View original post 501 more words

RIP 20th Century-Fox (1935-2019)


cracked rear viewer

The failing Fox Film Corporation merged with Darryl F. Zanuck’s independent 20th Century Pictures in 1935, and quickly joined the ranks of the major studios of the day (MGM, Paramount, Warners, Universal, Columbia). Over the decades, the trumpet blows sounding the logo for 20th Century-Fox  became familiar to film fans around the world. Now, the studio has been purchased outright by The Walt Disney Company, and will be just another subsidiary to the House The Mouse Built. In tribute to 20th Century-Fox, Cracked Rear Viewer presents a small but glittering gallery of stars and films from the vault of that magnificent movie making machine, 20th Century-Fox:

20th Century-Fox’s first release was the bizarre drama “Dante’s Inferno” starring Spencer Tracy

Sweet little Shirley Temple was Fox’s biggest star of the 1930’s

Warner Oland as sleuth Charlie Chan was popular with audiences and critics alike (here with Boris Karloff in “Charlie Chan…

View original post 394 more words

Campus Kooks: The Ritz Brothers in LIFE BEGINS IN COLLEGE (20th Century Fox 1937)


cracked rear viewer


I haven’t posted anything on The Ritz Brothers since January of 2016 , so when TCM aired a trio of their films this weekend, I chose to review what I consider their best solo effort, 1937’s LIFE BEGINS IN COLLEGE. This was their first name-above-the-title movie, and features Harry, Jimmy, and Al at their zaniest, with the added bonus of comedienne Joan Davis as a kooky coed with her sights on Native American football hero Nat Pendleton.

Collegiate musical comedies were a popular sub-genre in the 30’s: COLLEGE HUMOR, PIGSKIN PARADE, COLLEGE SWING, COLLEGE HOLIDAY, et al, so it seemed the perfect milieu for the Ritzes to showcase their peculiar brand of nuttiness. The story is typical campus corniness, as George “Little Black Cloud” Black arrives at Lombardy College (crashing his motorcycle for an entrance) wanting to join the football team, and immediately developing a rivalry with football team captain…

View original post 488 more words

Review: Predators (dir. by Nimrod Antal)


Predators

It would be 20 years before those space-faring hunters, the Predators, would grace the bigscreen once again. Sure, they were part of the two Aliens vs. Predator films of the early 2000’s, but I don’t count them as part of the Predator franchise just due to the fact that they weren’t the headliner. Plus, those two mash-up films were all sorts of something awful.

2010’s Predators by Nimrod Antal (produced by Robert Rodriguez) looked to bring some new life into the scifi action franchise which the two AvP films quickly drained of life and excitement. From the early 1990’s til the release of this film, the franchise gradually built up it’s very own unique film universe which (through novels, comics, games, etc.) was as rich as any scifi franchise. Those who followed this world-building began to understand the Predators culture, mindset and technology.

For some, this meant erasing some of the mystery that made the Predator such an iconic film monster, but others thought it helped established rules for others to follow to help streamline the stories instead of relying too much on one-upping one story after the other.

Predators followed some of the world-building done prior, but also introduces a new wrinkle in the lore by adding the so-called “Super Predators” who were bigger, faster and meaner than the classic ones we’ve seen through the decades. Also new to the Predator lore was setting the film on an unnamed planet which would act as some sort extraplanetary game preserve where Predators could hunt their chosen prey at their leisure and on ground they know.

This new plot point adds a dimension to the film’s narrative in that the humans being hunted had no where to go. Their chances for survival even less now that whatever advantage they might have had on Earth go by the wayside. They’re now being hunted on Predator ground. It’s akin to sport’s game hunting where rich dentists and lawyers pay to hunt specific game in a controlled and managed way in the savannah’s of Africa.

Yet, despite these new additions to the franchise’s lore the film, for the most part, works as an action film. We have the requisite band of misfits, murderers and killers. The worst humanity has to offer but the best at what they do. They run the gamut of black ops mercenaries, elite snipers, drug cartel and rebel enforcers and right up to even a serial killer.

Leading this ragtag bunch, however reluctantly, was the enigmatic Royce played by Oscar-winner Adrien Brody (who actually pulls off the wiry, cold-hearted black ops killer). It’s through his character that the entire film hinges. He’s not the type to play well with others, let alone work with a team as disparate as the one he’s accidentally been stuck with on an unnamed death world. Still, the film works with him as it’s lead. It doesn’t take long for the viewer to believe that this character could easily kill everyone around him and have the best chance to survive being hunted.

He’s the stand-in for the audience who scoff at how those around him make one dumb mistake after another. This is not to say that he’s likable, because he’s definitely in the anti-hero mold who would sacrifice his own teammates if it meant living another hour. Yet, he also understands that his best chance at survival is to continue to use the others even if it means saving their lives.

Nimrod Antal has an eye for action that was very much a throwback to the McTiernan days of the franchise. He allows the scene to unfold in long, sweeping takes to establish a sense of the action’s geography. It’s a skill that less and less action filmmakers use nowadays as quick cuts and edits have become the go-to technique to make a scene more action-packed than it truly is.

Where the film suffers has less to do with Antal’s direction, but more on how exposition-heavy the film gets to try and explain the situation to the rest of the cast. Every time the film ends an action sequence we get some exposition to explain what’s going on to the characters. the writers even wrote in a character (played by a very game Laurence Fishburne) whose only role is to be Exposition Man.

Now, let’s talk about the new Super Predators. They’re an interesting trio of hunters that actually adds some new color and excitement to the Predator series, but at the cost of the more classic Predator we saw with the first two films.

We have three new types of Predators who represent three types of hunters. There’s the Tracker who uses a sort of alien hunting dog to flush out the prey. Then there’s the Falconer who uses a sort of cybernetic drone who scout ahead and look for the prey. The drone looks like something out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Falcon bag of gadgets. But it’s the biggest and baddest of the three, the Berserker, who headlines the new trio. Where the other two have a specific hunting role to play, the Berserker is just as its named. There’s no skill to this hunter, but just sheer brute force to take down what it’s hunting.

They’re a cool-looking bunch but they do detract from the more classic Predator. They actually make the original ones seem more than just a tad useless and helpless when put up against these newest trio.

Predators was definitely a couple steps above what audiences had received with the two Aliens vs. Predator films. Despite some shortcomings with an exposition-heavy screenplay and a narrative choice to make the classic Predator less intimidating, Nimrod Antal’s entry into the Predator franchise has enough action and new world-building additions to bring back some excitement into the series. It’s a shame that the stink from the two AvP films impacted this film and how many people ended up seeing it, but with each passing year more and more people have begun to rethink their initial negative feelings about Predators and give the film it’s just due of being a fun and exciting scifi actioner.