All posts by Movie Burner Entertainment

The Movie Burner Entertainment Organisation (M.B.E.) was founded in January 2017 by Executive Producers John Walsh (Editor in Chief), Kevan McLaughlin (Head of Development) and Stephen McLaughlin (Head of Programming) as an entertainment platform to provide Movie News and Reviews. “The Movie Burners” expanded the writing team and introduced experienced writers Chauncey Telese, D.M. Anderson, Michael McGeown, Anna-Maria McAlinney, Steven Wilkins, Philip Henry, John Gray, Gianni Damai, Gerry Brown and Elizabeth Brown (The Movie Couple) and Peter Pluymers on board with a vast knowledge of film and give their view on the latest and retro movie reviews. The Movie Burner Entertainment Organisation (M.B.E.) Official Website (www.movieburnerentertainment.org) hosts the reviews. The Movie Burners Podcast hit the airwaves on SoundCloud and are now weekly shows (Box Office Chat, MBE Heroes, Movie Burner News, The Blog Rundown and The Force Friday Show) that you can find on iTunes & YouTube.

Sweetheart (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

Sweetheart Review

Director: J.D. Dillard
Writers: J.D. Dillard, Alex Hyner
Stars: Kiersey Clemons, Emory Cohen, Hanna Mangan Lawrence

Let me first make a comment before I start spitting my opinion about “Sweetheart“. How the hell did this kid succeed in reaching the beach of this exotic island? I’m sure that after a few minutes of floating around in the ocean, she’d go down like a stone. That’s not entirely true, of course. Because, when I remember correctly, she was wearing a life jacket (with a backpack over it). I just wanted to point out that she had the most disastrous-looking swimming technique I’ve ever seen in my life. And the fact that not all tropical islands were used in commercials about “Bounty”, but are also the territory of evil, dark creatures from the ocean. And since shipwrecks don’t wash up on this island regularly, the creature was presumably on a fish diet before it could drag some human meat to his hole in the ocean once again. But this aside. “Sweetheart” is a fairly simple story about surviving.

Take the well-known story of “Robinson Crusoe” and mix it with the story from “Cold Skin” and you’ll get “Sweetheart” as a result. The difference with the Crusoe story is the key player. Here it’s someone of the female gender who’s being washed ashore on a beach. And also, she isn’t joined by a friendly native (such as Friday) but a scaly and life-threatening sea monster. And no, this ocean dweller doesn’t have the same amorous intentions as our gilled friend from “The shape of water“. In that case, the film would have gotten a more frivolous character and our survivor’s stay would have been much more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, this film doesn’t have much to offer. Actually, as much as Jenn (Kiersey Clemons) was wearing when she woke up there in the saltwater, feeling beach sand scraping between her toes. Nothing much. Only short jeans and a t-shirt. Fortunately, her knowledge of survival techniques was abundantly present. Without hesitation, this young lady runs through the checklist of the “Tasks to be performed when you wash up on an uninhabited island” list and starts installing herself on the island as well and as badly as possible. The first part is, therefore, a concatenation of moments where you can see Jenn handling these tasks. Estimating the perimeter of the island, developing hunting techniques, ensure a decent place to spend the night and thoroughly explore the island itself. Only the nocturnal threat was not on the list. Something for which she has to use her own personal inventiveness.

Most of the film consists of Clemons doing a solo performance. The success or failure of such kinds of films (as in “Mine” for example) is therefore entirely in the hands of that specific person. Should her acting be bad or unbelievable, the film will suffer a figurative shipwreck (how appropriate). Fortunately, that’s not the case here. She acts solidly and is convincing enough. The panic and subsequent calmness seem realistic enough.

Eloquence isn’t necessary here either. Most of the time the film is dialogue-free. Well, it’s hard to have in-depth conversations when you’re on an island on your own. And when an inflatable rescue boat appears on the horizon, with Jenn’s friends on board, it briefly creates some tension. Not for you as a viewer but for the participating actors themselves.

What remains is the aquatic creature. Yes, could this monster ensure some tense moments? Unfortunately, the creature is allergic to sunlight. In short, it’s only in pitch darkness (and an uninhabited island without artificial lighting is simply pitch dark) that you can see this rogue (partially). There are nevertheless some successful scenes in the film in which it shows how supreme it is in water. But except for a little growling and hissing, the monster is a bit disappointing. All in all, I didn’t think it was an exciting movie. Since it’s an exotic island, the film is peppered with breathtaking images of beaches and azure blue water. And isn’t that something an average earner can only dream of?

Advertisements

Lucky Day (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

Lucky Day Review

Director: Roger Avary
Writer: Roger Avary
Stars: Luke Bracey, Nina Dobrev, Crispin Glover

These days it’s kind of hype to create reboots or remakes of films from a bygone era. Even though I hate this kind of filmmaking and I see it as easy money, I got enthusiastic about “Lucky Day“. It’s not a reboot or a remake in the strict sense of the word. But the similarities with “Pulp Fiction” are so obvious, I automatically call it the ultimate reboot for this legendary 90s movie. And if there’s one person who could do the job without any problems, it would be Roger Avary, co-writer of “Pulp Fiction“. The only thing you could ask yourself is: “Who was waiting for this?”.

The whole movie is about Red (Luke Bracey), a safecracker, who leaves prison after 2 years and returns to his French-speaking wife Chloe (Nina Dobrev) and cuddly daughter Beatrice (Ella Ryan Quinn). He’s determined not to return to his criminal life. He just has a little rainy-day stash hidden away somewhere. The news of his release, however, also reached someone else. None other than Luc Chaltiel (Crispin Glover) personally flew over from France to take revenge on Red. Luc’s brother got killed during a robbery that went completely awry. And Red was part of the gang.

This movie has “Pulp Fiction” written all over it. It’s a cocktail of various facets that were so characteristic of this milestone in Tarantino’s oeuvre. Chloe’s hair itself looks like a copy of that from Uma Thurman’s. And there is also the overall atmosphere with a matching soundtrack and a mixture of absurd, cartoonish supporting characters. But it’s mainly about extreme violence and bloody scenes. So expect some like-watermelons-exploding heads and slashed throats. And all this is bathed in black, sometimes vulgar, humor. Crispin Glover as a car thief, who drives his car twice over the victim. His explosive confrontation with a police patrol. The absurd gunfight in the bar. The psychopathic way in which he causes a bloodbath during an art exhibition. Perhaps it’s not so impressive these days since we are overwhelmed with films full of extreme hard violence. But it still was enjoyable.

Without a doubt, Crispin Glover’s character is the most eye-catching part of this film. You always wanted to know how the weird and silly George McFly (Yep, father of Marty McFly in “Back to the Future“) would look like as a ruthless, brutal, psychopathic assassin with a heavy French accent? Well, this is your chance. Crispin Glover brilliantly parodies this. Maybe slightly exaggerated, but still extremely great. And extremely violent. For many, the French accent will be annoying. Yes, it might be even slightly offensive towards our French fellow men. To me, it felt like a theatrical parody. I read somewhere that you could compare him with Pepé Le Pew. But in the end, this extremely exaggerated accent suited his exorbitant attitude as the well-dressed, capricious murderer who’s looking for revenge.

“Lucky Day” has more of those absurd characters in store. For instance, Tomer Sisley as the eccentric bartender with a Hitler mustache. An over the top absurd role. Or the foul-mouthed probation officer Ernesto Sanchez (Clifton Collins Jr.). Compared to these characters, Red and Chloe can be called normal. Even though Chloe is rather eccentric when looking at her artworks. Art inspired by prison walls.

For me “Lucky Day” certainly wasn’t a boring movie. It was the perfect material to fill up free leisure time. The comparison with “Pulp Fiction” is made quickly. But admittedly it can’t match this brilliant film. For that, it lacks panache and originality. The brilliant renditions of Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman are of course matchless. And on a narrative level, “Lucky Day” must of course also recognize its superior. The harsh and relentless style full of violence, bloody brutality, and vulgar language certainly was highly present. But we were able to experience that already 25 years ago. It seems as if time stood still for Avary. Just like I still love music from the 80s. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. Not?

47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

46 Meters Down Uncaged Review

Director: Johannes Roberts
Writers: Ernest Riera, Johannes Roberts
Stars: Sophie Nélisse, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju 

47 Meters Down was a reasonably enjoyable little thriller similar to Open Water and The Shallows, though not as deftly crafted as either. While it didn’t leave much room open for a true sequel, nothing sells like a brand name, so this one takes the same basic concept down the bigger-is-better road…bigger production, bigger cast, bigger body count. But is 47 Meters Down: Uncaged actually better? In some ways, yes it is.

Instead of two terrified teenager girls trapped in a shark cage, we have four who are foolish enough to abscond with some conveniently-placed scuba gear and explore the sunken ruins of an ancient Mayan city. But they are not alone. Trapped down there for centuries have been generations of sharks, long-since rendered bleached & blind from being cut-off from the surface. I guess we aren’t supposed to ask how they managed to survive so long without a food source. Or maybe dumb teenagers simply pop-in on a regular basis.

Speaking of dumb, one big reason Uncaged is fun is because writer-director Johannes Roberts incorporates a few conventions generally associated with disaster movies, such as the access cave collapsing, or better yet, that one stupidly-reckless character whose actions not-only endanger everyone in the first place, her own egocentric sense of self-preservation repeatedly sabotages their chances to escape.

That character is Nicole, played by Sistine Stallone (yeah, Sly’s daughter). She leads the charge into the cave, is the reason they get stuck and ends up causing people to die. Watching this with my daughter, there reached a point where we’d start shouting “Way to go, Nicole!” However, since no one else has any real personality, she’s also the most entertaining character in the film…besides the sharks, that is.

While the concept – trapped underwater with a finite amount of oxygen – is similar to the first film, the setting of Uncaged is more interesting. With these characters swimming through increasingly deep & narrow passageways, there are some moments nearly as claustrophobic as those in The Descent. Ironically, the tension created by those scenes is often broken by the appearance of the sharks, which are predictably rendered with unconvincing CGI. In fact, one could even argue it might have been a better overall film without them.

But while credibility is often pushed to the breaking point – wait’ll you see the climax! – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is generally more silly fun than the original (which took itself a little too seriously). A brisk-pace, nifty setting and a few amusing critter kills (bye-bye, Nicole!) make some of the “oh, come on!” moments a little more forgivable.

The Curse of La Llorona (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

The Curse of La Llorona Review

Director: Michael Chaves
Writers: Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis
Stars: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez

“You used him as bait?
No. I used you all as bait.”

When I visited Eurodisney near Paris for the first time years ago (it seems like centuries ago), I was so overwhelmed and enchanted by the atmosphere and everything there was to admire. I literally hovered through this park for three days and had the time of my life. At the beginning of this year, I visited the park again (this time with my two young kids) and it was 3 days of fun again. However, it was far from the same as that first time. If you have been somewhere six times you know what to expect and you are no longer so impressed by it. The same applies to this film “The curse of La Llorona“. A horror movie that is part of the “The Conjuring” universe.

The entity La Llorona in itself is fairly well developed. But you could also say that about the evil nun that scared you in “The Nun“. I saw the latter at the beginning of this year and to be honest I found it rather disappointing. After two “The Conjuring” films, several “Annabelle” films and “The Nun” it starts to look like mass production. Now, it’s a golden rule that globally well-known brands always do the same thing. And that’s not to deviate from its formula for success. It ensures that people aren’t disappointed because they know the product very well. But with a product such as horror films, this can also lead to a worn-out formula. A worn off formula in such a way that it becomes boring and far from scary. And that’s exactly what you need in a horror. Creepy moments so that fear grabs you by the throat.

Not that I’ve ever experienced a feeling of fear while watching a horror. But this looked weak. I was looking at it as if I was watching the umpteenth repeat of “America got Talent”. Uninterested and numb. The La Llorona phenomenon isn’t remarkable. After a while, you come to know that it’s about a woman who drowned her children in a moment of madness and afterward killed herself. The legend grew into a sort of parenting trick that was used to teach children some discipline. I can already imagine how old grandmothers admonish their grandchildren with a standard sentence such as “If you don’t behave, La Llorona comes to get you.” Terrifying for the children. Not so impressive for an adult.

“The Curse of La Llorona” is full of jumpscares. That in itself isn’t a problem. At least when they are presented decently and preferably also in an original way. The jumpscares here, however, are so clichéd that you already know in advance where they will be used. The most intense and successful scene is the bathtub scene. Claustrophobic and effectively put together. It reminded me of “The Drownsman” (even though you can’t call that movie excellent). And maybe the involvement of Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz) can be called original. He’s not an average exorcist like the Warren couple in “The Conjuring“. I tend to think of him as more of a medicine man who performs voodoo-like rituals and lavishly sprinkles tree seeds and puts down a whole bunch of candles, just to stop La Llorona. To be honest I thought it was pretty funny. The moment when Olvera picks up his samba balls. And certainly his bone-dry reply in the end.

No, you can’t call this film successful. “The Nun” wasn’t that great, but I still place it above this film if I had to arrange them in a list. Perhaps it’s an interesting film for newbies to start with the horror genre. As a warm-up to discover the better stuff, as it were. For the seasoned horror film fan, it’s more likely to be a disappointment. So, I kinda have my doubts about the upcoming episodes from the “The Conjuring” Universum.

Doctor Sleep (2019) Review By Philip Henry

 

Doctor Sleep Review

Director: Mike Flanagan
Screenwriter: Mike Flanagan
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran

Following up one of the most revered horror movies of all time is no easy task, especially when that movie was also directed by one of the greatest directors ever. It’s like having The Beatles as your opening act, so you have to give Mike Flanagan points for even attempting this mammoth task. And then you have to give him even more points because he actually pulls it off; giving us a sequel that can sit proudly on anyone’s shelf next to its 1980 predecessor.

The film starts several weeks after what happened at The Overlook. Rather than de-ageing the characters and making them look like their faces are wrapped in digital cellophane, the parts of Wendy and Danny are recast for these scenes, and special mention must go to Alex Essoe for getting Shelly Duvall’s voice down to a tee. She may not look exactly the same, but in a blind test you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart by their voices. Dick Halloran is also back, this time played by Carl Lumbly, who slips into Scatman Crothers’s blazer like it was made for him.

The story sticks very closely to Stephen King’s novel. The opening scene sets the dark tone that the film will take when a child is killed by the True Knot – a group of nomads who travel the highways of America searching for children who ‘shine’ and then devour their psychic powers in order to live hugely extended lives.

When we first meet grown-up Danny – now Dan – he’s a mess. The sins of the father have transferred onto the son and he’s diving to the bottom of a bottle and wasting his life away drifting from town to town. But then he meets some kind souls in a small town and gets a job, gets into AA and gets his life back on track.

We then jump ahead eight years. A young girl called Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran) while using her ‘shine’ grabs the attention of the True Knot. They see in her enough power to sustain their group for years, but she’s also come to the attention of Dan, so it’s up to him to try to protect her as the True Knot close in.

I have to admit when I read the book I didn’t see the cinematic potential, but Flanagan pulls some really amazing, exciting and scary scenes out of the bag and delivers a film that doesn’t rush to get where it’s going, but never bores you either. I suppose he learned how to sustain tension over a long period while making the excellent Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House – for my money, one of the best TV shows of recent years.

There are a lot of nods to The Shining but they never just feel like fan service. These stories are intertwined and the structure of this story is nothing like Kubrick’s film. Flanagan hasn’t just tried to redo what the 1980 film did; he’s taken the elements he needs from it but very firmly crafted his own narrative with its own look and feel.

The film ends up back at the now-abandoned Overlook Hotel so there are a lot of familiar locations and faces popping up and saying: ‘Hello, Danny.’ McGregor plays this brilliantly; you really get a sense of his fear going back into the lion’s den when it’s the last thing he wants to do. The creepy feeling as he walks through the ruins of his father’s final rampage made the hairs on my arms stand up.

I only have a couple of minor gripes. Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) is from Northern Ireland (like me!) in the book and I was looking forward to hearing my local accent in this movie, but it isn’t there. I think she’s doing some sort of Irish accent in the opening scene, but it seems to get forgotten after that.

The other thing is the recasting of Jack. As I’ve said, I enjoyed most of the recastings, but Jack Nicholson’s performance in The Shining isn’t something you should try to duplicate – and they don’t. He isn’t the over-the-top crazed Jack we remember, and frankly the conversation he has with Ewan McGregor could easily be lifted from the film and not do any damage, so why they have this exchange which stops the film dead for a few minutes, is beyond me. It’s exposition we don’t need.

I enjoyed this film immensely. It’s one of the better King adaptations and a film I will undoubtedly rewatch many times. It succeeds on its own terms and doesn’t rely on terrible CGI for scares, nor does it hold back on the violence just to reach the under 12 demographic. This is horror how it’s supposed to be. By not trying to be Kubrick, Flanagan has delivered an inventive, emotionally engaging film that leads you into a maze of redrum and supernatural scares, and then shows you the way out.

Adopt A Highway (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

Adopt A Highway Review

Director: Logan Marshall-Green
Writer: Logan Marshall-Green
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Elaine Hendrix, Chris Sullivan

“When you commit a third violent crime,
you will be put away and put away for good.
Three strikes and you are out.”

Every now and then you come across such an unknown, idiosyncratic film, which was probably made with a modest budget and for which no huge marketing budgets have been made available. A film you don’t really expect too much from. That’s “Adopt a Highway“. It’s not a cheerful or action-rich film. I really expected a depressing drama. And even though there’s a moving moral in it, you can say there’s also another hidden message in this film. A message of hope, compassion, and modesty.

The introduction shows how Russell Millings (Ethan Hawke) leaves prison after being imprisoned for 21 years. Reluctantly. Somewhat anxious and timid. A man who’s alienated from society and who struggles to keep up with the contemporary pace. Someone who has never used a mobile phone, the internet or e-mail. And all thanks to a short-sighted policy in which someone is sentenced to a heavy sentence when he gets involved in something for the third time. No matter how small the criminal offense is. The so-called “three strikes” legislation. In Russell’s case, it is about owning a few grams of marijuana in the state of California. Something that has become virtually legal after those 21 years. An unreasonable punishment that ensured that he wasn’t given the opportunity to develop into a decent citizen.

Ethan Hawke probably demonstrates his best acting performance here. The way he plays Russell is simply breathtaking. He’s in the spotlight almost constantly. And his clumsy way of conversing and interacting with others is simply sad and pitiful. It’s not clear whether Russell used to be mentally deficient from a young age already or if he got numb from the years of imprisonment. In any case, he’s treated by the official authorities as insignificant and is left to himself a bit. He tries to live an honest life and tries to avoid following the wrong path again. A simple life where he earns a living as a dishwasher in a fast-food chain and sleeps in a motel. Until he discovers the adorable Ella (Savannah Sucher) in a garbage container.

Even though from the outset he realizes that it’s almost impossible for him to take care of a baby, he still hesitates to hand over the lovely baby to the authorities. What follows are touching moments that he experiences with the few-month-old Ella. His ignorance about taking care of a baby and the sense of responsibility that he suddenly experiences, take away the attention of the depressing life that he led until then. Even though Ella’s discovery brings a turning point in Russell’s life, this wasn’t the central theme for me. This helpless and innocent little girl shows gratitude in a spontaneous way. No disinterest, impatience or incomprehension as adults treat him. The most emotional scene is the one on the beach where Russell tells a part of his life story.

“Adopt a Highway” is a melancholic and endearing film that will touch a sensitive nerve with many viewers. Well, in my case it did. Some will call it a corny ending. I thought it was a logical conclusion. An example of humanity. It’s also a film about getting a second chance in life. I was surprised by the Blumhouse logo and I already assumed that this would be a very sinister movie. That’s certainly not the case. The explanation for the Blumhouse connection lies with the director Logan Marshall-Green who appeared last year in the Blumhouse production “Upgrade“. “Adopt a Highway” is, therefore, his debut as a director. And as far as I’m concerned he can certainly direct such a gem again. I’m ready for it.