Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies!
Total Recall (remake) (2012)
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine
Director: Len Wiseman
Genres: action, sci-fi
Synopsis: Set in a dystopian future, Quaid (Farrell) is a drudge worker in a dead end job. Looking to inject a little excitement into his life, he goes to a place called Rekall, where fake memories are implanted of your choosing for a life-like adventure that is only in one’s head. He decides to be a spy and gets really confused when he wakes up from his “trip” and finds the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur. Most of the movie focuses on real assassins trying to kill him, where Quaid is trying to stay alive long enough to figure out what’s going on.
Impressions: It’s been awhile since seeing the original with Ahnold so I can’t compare the remake with it, but it’s a fairly entertaining action film. There are lots of special effects in this future world. Beckinsale feels wooden and unidimensional in her role, which was disappointing. Not a movie for anyone who suffers from paranoia as this movie is saturated with it — except it isn’t paranoia when everyone really is out to get you!
Etc.: from imdb: filmed entirely in Ontario, Canada in various locations; Most of the futuristic-looking firearms are actually contemporary weapons with little to no modification. The silver handgun carried by Lori Quaid and by various police in its blued form is a Chiappa Rhino .357-caliber revolver with a laser sight fixed under the muzzle; the police carry TDI Vector .45-caliber submachine guns; and the resistance fighters mostly carry Heckler & Koch firearms, including G36C assault rifles and UMP and MP5 submachine guns.
Awards: 2 wins and 6 nominations
Black Widow (2021)
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, Ray Winstone
Director: Cate Shortland
Genres: action, adventure
Synopsis: This is the back story of how Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow (Johansson) became who she is. Her long-lost sister, Yelena (Pugh) intersects her world, and together they decide to stop the monster, Dreykov (Winstone,) from his present plot towards world domination as well as keeping him from turning anymore orphans into killing machines. Unlikely allies are the “parents” the two girls lived with as children, Melina (Weisz) and Alexei (Harbour,) each badass in their own ways.
Impressions: I don’t follow Marvel Studios movies as they all seem to have a sickening likeness to each other. After reading reviews about “Black Widow” it sounded a little different, like there might be a pulse to it instead of a slick formula. My gut was right. The main cast have great chemistry together. By the end of the film you care about every one of them. I enjoyed the various locations it plays out in as well as the special effects. It’s also a movie I’d like to see again.
Etc.: filmed in 22 locations (click link to see them); “Black Widow” is the twenty-fourth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but one of only 3 character pre-quels.
Awards: 3 wins and 10 nominations
more etc. from imdb:
This is Scarlett Johansson’s ninth time playing Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow if you include Captain Marvel (2019). Johansson’s contract for this solo outing, although an extension, is independent from her original contract. Her salary for her supposedly final outing, as stipulated in her deal, is $25 million, with an additional $6 million bonus if the film’s worldwide gross is above $900 million. However, the latter stipulation became the subject of a lawsuit between Johansson and Disney, when Disney reportedly breached contract by releasing the movie simultaneously on their streaming service Disney+, which seriously limited its box office success.
Queen Bees (2021)
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, James Caan, Jane Curtin, Loretta Devine, Ann-Margret, Christopher Lloyd
Director: Michael Lembeck
Genres: comedy, drama
Synopsis: Helen (Burstyn) is an older lady whose forgetfulness results in a house fire. Her grown daughter had been gently encouraging her to sell the house and move into assisted living before the fire; while repair of the extensive damage takes place, Helen agrees to move into the complex temporarily. She’s resistant and gets even more so when she meets the “Queen Bees” that are top of the food chain bullies. Events unfold that shifts perspectives about the assisted living center and the bullies. Budding romances are also part of the plot.
Impressions: It’s nice to see senior citizens as active and enjoying life in a film as main actors. The cast are seasoned professionals who had me smiling and laughing some. For viewers in their 70’s, 80’s, and up, “Queen Bees” probably has a lot they can relate to. I can’t help but feel there is a sales pitch for seniors to sell their homes and move into joyful assisted living.
Etc.: filmed in Atlanta, Georgia; Burstyn was 86 years old; Curtin (71); Devine (69); Ann-Margret (77); Caan (78); and Lloyd (80) when this was filmed (in 2018.)
Awards: none known
The Trip (2021) I onde dager (original title) netflix
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Aksel Hennie, Atle Antonsen, Christian Rubeck, Andre Ericksen
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Genres: black comedy, horror
Synopsis: Lisa (Rapace) and Lars (Hennie) may have been a happy couple at one time but now they snipe back and forth viciously at each other. Lisa is an actress and Lars is a director; both of their careers seem to be on downward trajectories. The story opens with them driving to the remote family cottage for a getaway weekend, ostensibly to relax and maybe mend some of the rift that has grown between them. What each of them are unaware of is that the other has less than charitable intentions. What neither of them expect is a very big wrench being thrown into both of their plans.
Impressions: There is deliciously dark humor in the movie that frequently plunges into all-out horror when you least expect it. Both of the leads are well-known actors I’ve seen in good movies and they play well off of each other. The support cast is well-chosen also. How things play out keeps the viewers on the edges of their seats. Warning: there are disturbing scenes of violence and other disturbing themes as well.
Etc.: filmed in Norway; English subtitles; When Lisa and Lars are playing Scrabble, two of the visible words are Død (dead) and Snø (snow). Dead Snow and its sequel are also films by Tommy Wirkola.
Awards: none known
Free Guy (2021)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Taika Waititi, Channing Tatum
Director: Shawn Levy
Genres: action, adventure
Synopsis: Guy (Reynolds) works at a bank. Every day is the same, where violence permeates every aspect of his life except at home. He never questions it until he sees Millie (Comer) a gorgeous woman on the street that he’s never seen before. Millie leads Guy to an epiphany that he is nothing more than an NPC (non-playing character) in a video game. In his quest to win the heart of the very real Millie, who has injected herself into the game as Molotov Girl, the two worlds – real and virtual – begin to shift.
Impressions: It is entertaining to watch how the two worlds interact and to follow the story line of both the real world game designers and players and to watch video game characters become thinkers who are independent of the programming that created them. I see a lot of what happens in it as a metaphor, where the game world is a reflection of the real world. The atmosphere for the most part is light-hearted. The game layouts are bright, lively, and simple. Younger people will probably understand the programming lingo better than someone older, but the plot is still crystal clear.
Etc.: The fictional ‘Free City’ is based on Liberty City from Grand Theft Auto III (2001) and Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) games. In turn, Liberty City was inspired by the real-life New York.
Awards: 2 wins and 9 nominations