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 Moviie 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.

Quien a Hierro Mata (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Quien a Hierro Mata Review
(aka “Eye For an Eye”)

Director: Paco Plaza
Writers: Juan Galiñanes, Jorge Guerricaechevarría
Stars: Luis Tosar, Xan Cejudo, Ismael Martínez

Revenge movies. Nothing is more fun than watching a blood-curdling film in which a victim, who has been beaten to a pulp or almost tortured to death, resurrects and ruthlessly and cruelly takes revenge on his or her assailants. Revenge films come in different variations and gradations. The only similarity they have is that those who are the cause of all the misery generally get the short end of the stick (except in “Eden Lake”). Revenge films have been in circulation for a long time and yet form a tasteful subgenre. Who remembers “The Toxic Avenger”? A hilarious and bloody film in which a nerd, constantly being bullied by local kids, mutates into a nasty chemical creature that takes revenge in a violent way. Or the controversial film “I Spit on Your Grave“? “Revenge“, “Hard Candy” and “John Wick“? The line is big and always has one outcome: mutilated perpetrator(s) and a victim who leaves the past behind with his/her head held high and determinedly faces a new, carefree future.

In “Quien a Hierro Mata” (aka “Eye For an Eye”), the protagonist Mario (Louis Tosar) cannot completely let go of the past. Images from that period haunt his mind and everything indicates that this nurse at a senior care facility can never settle for the injustice done to his family. The seemingly calm and easy-going caretaker nevertheless has a bright future ahead of him. His wife Julia (María Vázquez) is pregnant with their first child. Nothing seems to get in the way of happiness. Until one day Antonio Padin (Xan Cejudo), the notorious head of a drug cartel, has decided to exchange prison life for a stay in the retirement home where Mario is employed. Antonio Padin suffers from a terminal illness that slowly paralyzes him. And apparently, the relationship between him and his two sons Toño (Ismael Martinez) and Kike (Enric Auquer) is so sour that he opts for the retirement home rather than waiting for his end at home. By coincidence, there’s a link between Mario and this deteriorating old man that causes Mario to slowly transform from a good-natured person into an avenging angel with a dark plan.

Let me immediately warn the action movie fetishists. This is not a Hollywood film in which the action scenes follow each other at a shockingly fast pace. The film is a real slow-burner, with some violent scenes here and there in the first half. Just to demonstrate that the Padin family aren’t only hard-working entrepreneurs, operating a thriving crab-industry with associated culinary establishments. You’ll see that the traps on their fishing boats can also be used for other purposes. And when the two brothers visit their father in the retirement home, just to report to him about their future plans with Chinese customers, they make sure everybody knows that they are untouchable and feared individuals. Kike in particular is an annoying guy with a short fuse who, even without hesitation, questions his father’s mental health and treats him disrespectfully.

“Quien a Hierro Mata” is a dark and gripping thriller that excels thanks to its raw realism and the way in which various actors portray it. All credit to Louis Tosar for showing in a solid way how a tragic past (shown through a whole lot of flashbacks) determines how he judges over certain actions. The imposing beard hides every emotion. His character immediately reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix in “You were never really here”. The ius talionis principle that he applies here (hence the film title) is what makes this film more unique compared to other revenge films. This vigilante ensures that the perpetrator undergoes the same treatment under the same circumstances. Let’s put the make-up department in the spotlight as well. Because, the way Antonio is slowly changing looks terrifying. I was just wondering if Antonio Padin noticed what was happening to him.

I admit it. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Spanish-language films several times already. After “Aterrados” and “El Hoyo” I also thought this was a successful film. Certainly not a disappointment, after I started watching it on Netflix without any prior knowledge. First of all, you think this is an average revenge movie with the same known story line. But this soon changes due to the sudden twist and the shocking denouement. It’s wonderful to see how they’ve managed to change the tone of this film from ordinary to moderately chaotic aggressive. The film shows how deep-seated hatred can change a person. It’s not an exceptional film, but it’s relentless and definitely worth watching. I was just wondering one thing. How is it that this retirement home didn’t simply refuse the admission of a known and feared drug lord?

The Way Back (2020) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

The Way Back Review
The Way Back Review

Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
Stars: Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Janina Gavankar

There are lots of similar sports movies like “The Way Back“. Moralistic stories about how a trainer manages to bring a floundering team to unprecedented heights. Preferably, the team consists of a few foul-mouthed hotheads who want to impress the others by acting tough. Usually, they have a talent for the sport they practice, but lack of discipline makes them miss constancy. To the annoyance of the appointed coach at that moment. Of course, they are allergic to any type of authoritarian behaviour. Until the new coach comes up. Preferably an old sports star who can look back on a successful sports career and who comes to the rescue by using clever pedagogical techniques. First of all, he gives each of the team members a figurative kick in the butt. Suspends the most rebellious pain in the ass (who of course comes back crawling to ask if he can be re-included in the team because the sport is vital for him). Then the gruelling training sessions begin in such a way that this bunch of misfits finally starts winning games and slowly propel them to stardom. You saw it in “Coach Carter”, “Slap Shot” and to a lesser extent in “Major League”. “The Way Back” follows this same scenario. Only here the coach is also struggling with his personal demons.

I’m not a real Ben Affleck fan. Not that I think he’s a bad actor. Maybe the movie choices he made were a bit unfortunate. With “Daredevil” as the most terrible career choice, in my opinion. But here Affleck shows that he does have acting talent. Perhaps personal life experiences are the reason why he was able to empathise with the role of coach Jack easily. A tormented person who lost everything after a tragic event and sought refuge in drinking. Something Affleck has experience with since he has already admired the inside of a rehabilitation centre several times. Probably because of this that the scenes during which he carelessly drinks, look so realistic. As well as the way he behaves when he’s not in a bar. The manipulation, the sneaking around, and the search for excuses. Typical behaviour of an addict trying to hide his weakness. “The Way Back” tries to portray this addiction meticulously. If you see the umpteenth beer can disappear from the fridge while a spare one is already put in the freezer to stay cold, you as a viewer know that Jack is not a social drinker but a problem drinker with a fixed routine.

Like many other film productions, “The Way Back” has been disadvantaged by the Corona pandemic. Had the original release date not been shifted from late 2019 to March this year, the damage would have been limited. Hence Warner Bros’ decision to release this movie directly on various platforms such as iTunes and Prime video among others. Now, I myself don’t consider it a requirement to watch “The way back” in a cinema. Apart from the admirable acting of Affleck, this film is nothing more than an average film that doesn’t impress in terms of originality. It seems as if a pre-printed checklist has been used for this type of film. A group of young people with a wrong attitude and who, as a basketball team, wallows in the role of the underdog. Check! Ex basketball player whose life is in a downward spiral. Check! Miraculous revival of the despised basketball team. Check! Family tragedy that ruined the coach’s life. Check! Obviously a relapse happens. Check! Once again a miraculous resurgence leading to a happy ending. Check! It feels like a three-pointer every time a check is placed on this list.

In short. The film won’t win a prize in the category of originality. The already well-trodden paths of previously released sports dramas are followed too carefully. But what Ben Affleck demonstrates here (and I know I’m repeating myself) makes that this movie effortlessly exceeds the average. Only the way and period in which he defeated his demons, felt romanticised. And finally, you should not confuse this film with the 2010 film of the same name about a Polish prisoner who could escape from a Russian gulag with some fellow sufferers. The only similarity the Ben Affleck film has with the latter is that the road followed by the group of young people is also full of obstacles. And giving up is also not an option. So if you run into it anywhere on a VOD channel, give it a try. It’s not really a waste of time.

Z (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Z Review

Director: Brandon Christensen
Writers: Brandon Christensen, Colin Minihan
Stars: Keegan Connor Tracy, Jett Klyne, Sean Rogerson, Stephen McHattie

Movies with creepy little boys. With “Z” you also have the feeling you are getting yet another horror in which such a demonic boy is in command. Only recently I saw “The Prodigy” where the son of the house slowly develops a deviating pattern of behavior. That movie was about reincarnation. In “Z” it’s about having an imaginary friend. When Joshua Parsons (Jett Klyne) introduces his friend “Z” to his parents, they don’t really worry at first. They think it’s probably just a phase their kid has to struggle through. They even think it’s cute, in a certain way. Until suddenly school friends don’t want anything to do with Josh anymore, Elizabeth (Keegan Connor Tracy) becomes aware of strange things and finally, Joshua is also suspended from school because of intolerable behavior. At that moment, Elizabeth starts to realize that this imaginary friend has a tremendous influence on her sweet son.

Until halfway through the film it seems like an ordinary average horror. Including, something terrible happening to one of Joshua’s school friends (with or without Z’s collaboration) and Joshua revealing a horrible drawing in his bedroom. Believe me. Draw a black top hat on the head of this scary creature and you have the twin brother of “The Babadook” in front of you. Now is the time for Elizabeth to sound the alarm, while dad Kevin (Sean Rogerson) is still in a phase of denial and suffers from utter blindness, and get in touch with psychologist Dr. Seager (Stephen McHattie) to present the problem. The well-known tricks from the horror genre are being used in “Z” of course. So again the shady spots with scary sounds. Toys that come to life. And nocturnal wanderings through the semi-darkness (while every sensible person would turn on the light anyway) with a few jump-scares as a result. Even a creepy bath scene couldn’t fail to come.

And yet the film cleverly changes the mood and shifts the focus from a scary invisible friend to a long-forgotten childhood trauma that set the whole mechanism in motion. And before you realize it, the creepy horror story has given way to a sort of psychological thriller. From here, Joshua is no longer central, but the story focuses on Elizabeth. And frankly, the way Keegan Connor Tracy gives shape to this character was of exceptionally high level. An obviously confused person who slowly but surely sinks further into complete madness as a tormented soul. The father’s character contrasts sharply with that of his family members. In the end, I found it a meaningless person and quite implausible as a father figure. On the one hand, he said nothing about the red notes from school that exposed Joshua’s misconduct. On the other hand, he’s blind with anger when hearing that his son has been prescribed medication without his knowledge. Ah, as always in horror movies, it’s usually the fathers who navigate through the story carefree and never notice anything suspicious. It’s usually the mother figure who experiences strange sensations and concludes that disaster is imminent.

I can’t say the film “Z” was really scary. Maybe deliberately not depicting the phenomenon “Z” explicitly, does cause some tension. A cleverly applied gimmick so the viewer’s imagination has to do most of the work (with a terrifying wall drawing as inspiration). Ultimately, it’s mainly the mood that’s essential in this film. In hindsight, the film covers different topics. Youthful growing pains and parental concerns. Nightmarish phantoms and unresolved trauma. As a parent, you expect your offspring to inherit some of your character traits or personal qualities. However, in “Z” this legacy is not something you’d expect. And even though this delusion isn’t excessively visualized here, its presence is clearly felt in every dark, grim scene.

The Banker (2020) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

The Banker Review

Director: George Nolfi
Writers: Niceole R. Levy (screenplay by) (as Niceole Levy), George Nolfi (screenplay by)
Stars: Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult  

What an amusing movie this was. Such a movie you start watching and before you know it, the end credits roll across your screen. Even though the subject won’t get you very excited. The world of real estate and banking. A world populated with stiffs in perfectly fitting suits who prefer to juggle with repayment schedules and capitalisation rates while using a jargon that a normal human can’t make heads or tails of. I sometimes have my doubts about whether they understand it thoroughly themselves. And the reason why it became an entertaining film is not only due to the packaging but also because of the Holy Trinity Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, and Nicholas Hoult. A colourful (pun not intended) cast that effortlessly works through dialogues and plays so naturally that it seems as if they have been working together for years.

In addition to the real estate market as a subject, there’s also the issue of racial discrimination that was still visible in the U.S. from the 50s. A black man who wants to settle in a white neighbourhood wasn’t so obvious. Let alone that he could also take out a loan to buy and sell real estate in such a neighbourhood. Hence the idea of Bernard (Anthony Mackie), a Texas-born African-American who is firmly convinced to succeed in his intent to make money from doing business rather than manual labour, to recruit Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) as a business partner and use Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) as a straw man. Well, they aren’t exactly ideal partners. The first is a flamboyant bon vivant and blabbermouth who comes across as an untrustworthy slick. And Matt is a hard worker with a good heart. Only he’s not really blessed with a top-level brain like Bernard.

The first half of the movie is the more light-hearted part. The start of the Bernard Empire and the process of turning Matt Steiner into a convincing businessman. For me, this was the most hilarious part. The golf lessons where Samuel L. Jackson excels as the extravagant golf teacher and the math part Bernard takes care of. The amusing discussion that Steiner had with a wealthy man while trying to buy his building, was the ultimate climax of this period of training. And when this first chapter is over and the gentlemen are gradually taking over the real estate market in California, the next chapter pops up. The more serious part of the movie.

The first part not only showed how the two gentlemen managed to circumvent the discriminatory way of doing business in a devious way. It also showed how black people were deprived of the right to develop themselves in American society during that period. Loans and property sales were simply forbidden. Bernard’s plan to subsequently buy a bank in Texas, where segregation was still very much present, in order to support his black fellow man, is what you see in this tailpiece. Needless to say, this wasn’t a smooth operation.

“The Banker” is based on true facts and I believe it truly shows how it went in the U.S. and how people were deprived of decent housing. Perhaps Bernard Garrett intended to act as a benefactor and pave the way for African Americans. Maybe he was doing it out of self-interest, too, simply to prove to himself and his father that you could succeed if you firmly believe in it. Anyway, “The Banker” is a great movie with a serious part and a very entertaining part. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s the cast that takes the whole thing to a higher level. A must-see for sure.

We Summon the Darkness (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

We Summon the Darkness

Director: Marc Meyers
Writer: Alan Trezza
Stars: Alexandra Daddario, Keean Johnson, Maddie Hasson

We Summon the Darkness is a good example why you don’t turn-off the game at halftime, even if your team is getting its ass kicked. Sometimes you just gotta be patient.

Alexis, Valerie and Beverly are hot metal chicks who meet three guys at a concert. Afterwards, they decide to continue the party at Alexis’ dad’s house, who’s apparently gone for the weekend. The film drops hints of what the plot might develop into – there’s been a series of murders that appear to be the work of devil worshippers – but for the most part, the entire first act consists of these guys drinking and name-dropping ‘80s metal bands.

The first thirty minutes are almost embarrassingly awful. The story takes place in 1988, presumably for the sole purpose of superficially establishing its metal cred (or Wikipedia skills). The dialogue is forced, banal and boring. More glaringly, none of these characters feel even remotely authentic. The girls, in particular, come across as caricatures from Headbanger’s Ball. Though I never quit any movie I’m tasked to review, I was certainly tempted a few times here.

Some of you might recall Super Bowl LI, when the Atlanta Falcons were annihilating the New England Patriots. By halftime, the game was all but over. I’m sure some frustrated fans in Boston probably shut-off the game to put themselves out of their misery. However, they missed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Sometimes patience is a virtue. We Summon the Darkness takes a sudden, wonderfully clever narrative turnaround and never looks back. The plot does-indeed involve the serial murders mentioned earlier, but not how you’d expect. To explain in any real detail would spoil the party, but I didn’t see it coming. Yet at the same time, it isn’t quite out of the blue. With hindsight, the setting, superficial dialogue and manufactured metal chicks make total sense…it’s actually a triumph of subtle foreshadowing. And of course it has to take place in the ‘80s. That decade was the pinnacle of “Satanic Panic,’ when bible-thumping Chicken Littles were all over the media, warning the world of the dangers of engaging in anything fun. And as it happens, those same Chicken Littles figure into the story, as well.

We Summon the Darkness is more of a brutal black comedy than pure horror. While there’s certainly enough tension and blood to keep the horror crowd happy, it’s just as often quite funny, albeit morbidly so. And although some of the cast look a little too old to pass for young metal heads, the performances are pretty good. Part-time scream queen Alexandria Daddario appears to be having an especially good time, not-only playing against type, but engaging in some prime scenery chewing.

So what was initially shaping up to be an interminable eye-roller ends up being one of the more amusing new films I’ve reviewed lately, similar in execution and tone to You’re Next. It takes some patience to endure the first half, but football has four quarters for a reason: It’s never too late for a comeback.

 

Robert The Bruce (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Robert The Bruce Review

Director: Richard Gray
Writers: Eric Belgau, Angus Macfadyen (Written by)
Stars: Angus Macfadyen, Anna Hutchison, Zach McGowan

Movie fans might recall this guy. He’s the wormy one who ended up betraying William Wallace because he stupidly trusted his conniving old man. At the end of Braveheart, he’s seen continuing Wallace’s fight against English rule, now as the king of Scotland. While Braveheart’s historical accuracy is often dubious, the real Robert the Bruce did indeed lead Scotland in the war for their independence.

But Robert the Bruce isn’t about that glorious career caper. It’s immediately obvious this sequel-cum-spin-off doesn’t have the budget for that. Instead, the story takes place an undetermined number of years after Braveheart. Robert (Angus MacFadyen) may be king, but he’s lost a half-dozen battles and England has put a price on his head. Weary and defeated, he essentially gives up, ordering what’s left of his army to go back home.

He wanders into the wilderness alone, then is later attacked by three of his own troops hoping to collect the bounty. Robert defeats them, but is seriously wounded and taken-in by Morag (Anna Hutchinson), a widow whose husband was killed fighting for Robert a few years earlier. Still loyal to the king, she and her kids nurse him back to health during the winter, though her young son, Scot, is initially resentful. Meanwhile, local sheriff & Morag’s brother-in-law Brandubh (Zach McGowan) is scouring the countryside, hoping to kill Robert and collect the bounty.

Forgoing the epic grandeur of Braveheart, Robert the Bruce is a much more scaled back affair, largely focusing on Robert’s relationship with Anna and her family while he regains his fortitude. MacFadyen slips back into the role quite nicely, though he’s considerably more brooding and introspective, making him far more sympathetic this time around. But while Brandubh is a formidable foe and well-played by McGowan, the other supporting characters are static at-best and little Scot is actually pretty irritating.

As for the overall story, I’d have preferred one based on what’s revealed in the end-title cards, which explain that Robert the Bruce went on to liberate Scotland and become a national hero. But I get it…the wallet ain’t big enough for epic battles. So what we have is more like a transitional chapter. As such, it’s sometimes interesting, though a little too long for its own good and nearly bereft of any real action until the bloody final act.

Still, for a budget-conscious spin-off most of us probably weren’t asking for, Robert the Bruce isn’t a cynical cash-in. It’s a sincere effort to bring additional complexity – and redemption – to one of Braveheart’s more pitiful characters. Despite being a little meandering, it’s worth checking out if you keep your expectations in check.