Tag Archives: Olivia Munn

The Predator (2018) Blu-Ray Review By D.M. Anderson

The Predator

and the Joy of Junk Food

Director: Shane Black

Writers: Fred Dekker, Shane Black 

Stars: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Sterling K. Brown, Yvonne Strahovski, Jake Busey, Brian A. Prince.

Who doesn’t occasionally love a decadent snack of empty calories? That’s why I’m a little perplexed right now. Having seen The Predator twice now – once in a theatre and again for this Blu-ray review – I’m still left with this question: Did I watch a different movie than everyone else?

The movie may not have been a critical darling, but what surprises me is the overall negative reaction from audiences, especially longtime fans of the franchise. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but as tasty treats go, The Predator is easily the most satisfying of all the sequels. Much more than the insipid Predator 2 and the somewhat under appreciated Predators, this one has a lot of the same unhealthy ingredients that made 1987’s Predator such enjoyable junk food, right down to musical cues from original composer Alan Silvestri’s iconic score.

Maybe my expectations weren’t that high to begin with – we ain’t exactly talking the Star Wars saga here – but I found The Predator to be a lot of fast-moving, trashy fun. While the film certainly remembers – and acknowledges – the timeline and events established by its predecessors, it isn’t simply more of the same. It has the audacity to tweak with the formula just a bit, adding an alien agenda, of sorts (kinda like extra nuts & fudge on a sundae). It turns out that Earth is more than just the Predators’ favourite hunting ground. Without spoiling the snack, they’ve come to better themselves, so to speak, and need us – one character in particular – to become more efficient killers.

Some of the new ingredients are admittedly ridiculous (alien hunting dog, anyone?), but last thing this franchise needs is the original’s basic plot rehashed yet-again. Besides, the narrative moves along at such a frenetic pace that there’s no point trying to scrutinise it until later. That’s like regretting that sundae while you’re eating it. In the moment, The Predator is by-far, the most action-filled – and bloodiest – entry in the entire franchise, unbound by anything resembling restraint.

But what really sets this one apart from the sequels is its characters. Like the original film, squaring off against the title creature is an eclectic team, this time consisting of soldiers who’ve been relieved of their duties for a variety of criminal or psychological reasons. Self-dubbed The Loonies and led by super-sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), they are an intensely likeable and amusing bunch despite their sordid histories, making them more than just typical cannon fodder. Olivia Munn is also on-hand as Casey Brackett, the biologist who-first discovers the Predators are evolving, as well as McKenna’s autistic son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay). Refreshingly, Rory isn’t a token kid who merely exists to be rescued (though he eventually does need rescuing); his acute abilities make him integral to the plot (which I’ll concede is also a bit silly).

Writer/director Shane Black is definitely the right guy for the job. In addition to having a supporting role in the original, he did a lot of uncredited rewrites, most-notably the more humorous touches that later became one of his trademarks. Like other action-oriented films he’s since written and/or directed, The Predator is often very funny…even goofy on occasion. A healthy sense of humour has been missing from this franchise for a long time, though some viewers may feel Black tips the scales too much in that direction for their liking.

That being said, I enjoyed The Predator just as much the second time. Sure, it’s ultimately cinematic junk food, but so was the original, which didn’t take itself all that seriously either. In a way, the film plays a lot like a nasty variation of the Jurassic World films, more content with being big, brash popcorn entertainment than breaking new ground. Though some purists may balk at that, sometimes empty calories are just what we need.

Deliver Us from Evil (2014) Movie Review By John Gray

Deliver Us From Evil Review

Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Scott Derrickson (screenplay), Paul Harris Boardman (screenplay)
Stars: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn

Scott Derrickson is well known these days for directing Marvel’s Doctor Strange, but before that his supernatural films explored much darker territory. Horror is one of the most over-saturated film genres around, with the majority being mediocre at best. With Sinister, the Exorcism of Emily Rose and Deliver us from Evil, Derrickson distinguished himself as a director interested in more than cheap scares. As a self professed Christian who is open about his faith, he is perhaps an anomaly in Hollywood, but also among horror directors. Why would a devout catholic want to make scary movies?

He answers this question best in Deliver us from Evil, his 2014 movie starring Eric Bana. The movie tells the real life story of Ralph Sarchie, an NYPD officer turned exorcist. It’s an origin story of sorts, relating Sarchie’s first encounter with the supernatural, and his subsequent journey from skeptic to believer.

Bana is well cast as the tough cop with good instincts (‘radar’, as his partner, played by Joel McHale, calls it) who is slowly being worn down by the cruelty he sees everyday. His wife is the devout Catholic of the family, played with heart by Olivia Munn. Sarchie on the other hand, lost his faith a long time ago. He can’t reconcile the suffering he witnesses on the streets with the concept of an all loving God. Soon he is drawn into an investigation of what Edgar Ramirez’s Father Mendoza calls, ‘primary evil’. Mendoza is one of the most interesting characters in the film, a hard- drinking, chain- smoking former drug addict who clearly struggles with his vow of celibacy. Ramirez plays Mendoza’s multiple contradictions well, coming across as haunted and compassionate in equal measure. I’ll also mention Sean Harris here, who does an excellent job as the ‘big bad’. Harris is often cast for his whispery voice and striking, angular face, but preforms the physical acting required of him here brilliantly, especially during the movie’s final scenes.

Rather than jump- scares, the movie relies on a heavy sense of dread and excellent special effects work, as well as its deeper philosophical underpinnings, to draw you in. The film makes good use of shadows to create atmosphere, rather than the usual, ‘because its a horror movie it has to be dark.’ There are jump scares, but they are earned, and never fake outs just to raise tension.

What impresses most is the questions you are left with when the movie ends. This is one of the marks (perhaps the mark) of a good film, in my opinion. When a movie lingers with you, and you discuss it with your friends, or find yourself thinking about it weeks later. This means the film has resonated, that it was more than disposable entertainment. Whether or not you believe in the supernatural, this movie asks interesting questions about the nature of evil, and the nature of human- kind in general.

The scene which stuck with me the most wasn’t scary or tense. It’s a dialogue scene. Mendoza and Sarchie are sitting in a bar, discussing the case. Ramirez says, “People always talk about the problem of evil, but nobody ever talks about the problem of good.” He’s speaking of the famous paradox; since the world is full of evil, how can there be loving God? He looks around the New York Fire Department bar they’re sitting in and points out that every man in there is willing to rush into a burning building to save complete strangers.

What makes the movie nuanced is that it doesn’t say, ‘The devil makes people do bad things, while God makes them do good things.’ People are still responsible for their actions. In another beautifully played scene, Sarchie confesses to Mendoza that he lost control while chasing down a child molester. The choice was his, he screwed up. Rather than judgement, Mendoza stresses that Sarchie has a choice to make about who he wants to be in the here and now. That’s what works about this movie. Whether you’re religious, agnostic, or just a horror fan, you’ll get something out of it.

 

Office Christmas Party (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY

Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Writers: Justin Malen (screenplay), Laura Solon (screenplay)
Stars: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance

Plot:  When his uptight CEO sister threatens to shut down his branch, the branch manager throws an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day, but the party gets way out of hand
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 41%  Audience 41%

Why I watched it: From time to time I break up my routine by watching a comedy, now I’m very picky with comedies, I love to laugh and I think I have a good sense of humour but most comedies leave me cold, now this one I liked the cast so I gave it a try.

Random thoughts: Off the top of your head how many movies have Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston been in together, I count 4, that’s a lot.

What I liked: This is a likeable cast, I will say so many comedies have an abrasive cast or the tone is mean spirited at least Office Christmas Party was pleasant for the most part.  There’s a lot of funny people in this film, maybe too many cause there’s not enough screen time to go around but I have to give them credit almost everyone gets a moment.  Two actors stand out for me Kate McKinnon steals the movie, she’s different her vibe is a bit off but she has amazing timing and she can pull off some weird characters and her she’s a side character but she’s really the only one in the cast to take what is a one-dimensional character and flesh out more. She was a hoot.

Also Courtney B Vance, he’s not known for his comedy but he under plays for the first half then let’s it loose and he has some nice moments. The tone is good, like I said it’s not a mean comedy, there’s a conflict but it’s got a good message about treating your coworkers and employees like family, about caring for them and trying to make Christmas special, nothing wrong with that. Also think that the cast had an easy chemistry with each other and it did feel like these people worked together, Bateman and Munn being the glue to hold the office together and Miller being the well meaning but goofy boss.

What I didn’t like: The Christmas theme is lost here, honestly it could have been just an office party, sure Miller dresses up as Santa but this didn’t feel like a Christmas movie, it’s a comedy but not something anyone would watch every year at Christmas. I like Jason Bateman, I think he’s very under used just go watch The Gift to see his range but man he’s typecast playing the same guy in these comedies, he’s the nice but bland voice of reason and here he doesn’t even get to be funny and his relationship with Munn doesn’t really work cause they have no meaningful screen time together. This is the main problem of the story they throw too much in, too many side characters and sub-plots and they don’t have the time to really flesh everything out.

Aniston is playing the comedy villain cliche and I mean right down the line she’s so a cliche.  I would say they could have cut at least four characters and spread out the time to everyone else to make this a tighter and funnier film. The ending is a head shaker, really they have to rally to save the company and how they do it is just silly and not very believable.  Also one thing I’m realising with the comedies coming out now, we have this loose improve thing going, and you see it when they show the bloopers, just riffing on a scene and you realise that there’s not so much a script but an outline and I think that’s why these comedies come out uneven cause some stuff works and some seems out of place or just doesn’t fit the tone.

Final thoughts: Honestly I didn’t dislike the film, I didn’t love it and I thought it didn’t work completely but I did smile and I laughed a couple of times and there was effort here so it’s not a bad film just not great or even really good but it’s watchable and it did have it’s moments.

Rating: 5/10