[EXPRESSO] Red Notice (2021) | Buddy Thief Routine

So, the “Dwayne Johnson” genre of Hollywood films got a new entry, and in order to engineer it being even more palatable, cast also Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot in it.

What does the bald muscle god among men do here? He works as a FBI agent that reluctantly has to team up with an art thief (Ryan Reynolds) in order to catch an even worse and infamous criminal, a jewel thief (Gal Gadot), after a legendary egyptian treasure. The usual caper shenanigans ensue, done in the modern half self-aware style with a flavor of the National Treasure variety.

Yes, if this sounds as generic and carefully stuffed with big budget and popular actors to ensure people would go see it… it’s that, but it only had a limited theatherical release in theathers as Netflix distributing rights from Universal, so they can spin data they don’t share to make marketing posts on Twitter on how much it was viewed… without actually telling us HOW much it was viewed.

Make no mistake, this is conceptually as safe and milquetoast as you can get from Hollywood in terms of action comedy, it’s processed meat, so ridden with cliches and ferociosly mediocre it’s kinda hard to even get engaged in the “plot” or even squeezemuch entertaiment out of it, as you know exactly how all is gonna go down, made worse by a bloated runtime and franchise pretensions.

I mean, it’s about what i expected from the director of Skyscraper (also with Dwayne Johnson), Rawson Marshall Thunder, and by and large most movies “The Rock” is in, though he has been in far worse and far better ones, this is just your average summer popcorn flick, heck, arguably even more “fire and forget” than usual.

It sure is some content, just kinda there.


[EXPRESSO] The Hand Of God (2021) | Neapolitan Piece

The new movie from acclaimed italian director Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo, This Must Be The Place, The Great Beauty, Youth, The Young Pope, The New Pope), available worlwide on Netflix this 15th of December, but also having a limited theathrical release from the 24th of November, definitely here in Italy, likely somewhere else, check your local cinemas to be sure.

The Hand Of God it’s a drama set in 1980s Naples (the director’s hometown), about a young boy called Fabio, but more often “Fabietto”, that gets the chance to achieve one of the biggest dreams of a young soccer fan: meeting Diego Armando Maradona, that just happens to pass by Naples.

But this is soon followed by a tragic event that will change his life forever, and Fabio’s turmoil to cope with life ensemble of contradictions, disappointments, joy, all with a biographical bent, as it encompasses events from Sorrentino’s upbringing in Naples, his fascination with cinema that would eventually develop and be nurtured, etc.

It’s no secret that Sorrentino’s style it’s basically a “best hit” of the acclaimed italian directors of old, especially Fellini, he himself made no mystery of it, like, at all, but i reject the idea of him being just a mediocre copycat. There’s something to be said about his desire to emulate Fellini in its own peculiar way (and the deliberate display of reveling in his own stylistical bend), and kinda continue his legacy, despite the absurdity, impossibility and self-awareness at the futility of such a quest.

This movie it’s no different, a modern neorealism tale of real life, cinema and family, that display an incredible grasp on both comedy, drama, and cinema (regardless of your opinion on Sorrentino’s style, he’s definitely no slouch), and also serves as a powerful period piece as well.

Noteworthy stuff.

Extinction PS4 [REVIEW] | Mockbust On Titan

Remember this one? Most likely not, i don’t blame you if you didn’t even out this was out when it released in 2018, at least until it entered – deservedly so – that year’s “Top 10 Worst Games” list, only to immediatly fade into the miasma of obscurity, where it should really remain.

But since i like raising the dead for a laugh and try to make people remember the lessons of old, in the hope there will be something to learn and so avoid wasting money on stuff that was launched on the market to no fanfare. And if it nothing else, it’s fun to reignite some old dumpster fires.

In the case of Extinction, the main takeaway is that you shouldn’t be afraid of anything you wanna put out on the market, not because you should dump whatever garbage you want, but because it’s hard to say you shouldn’t do what you want, as games like these somehow managed not only to get released, but to get the full boxed retail and “multiple tiers editions” treatment.

Be bold, ye children of the Yellow Turbans, i guess this is the takeway. Don’t be garbage.

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I knew the Cruis’n series was a fan favourite since the N64 days, but i never played one until the recent Cruis’n Blast, developed by Raw Thrills… and boy i played the shit of the arcade cabinet in these years. One of my favourite arcade racer ever, and i don’t even particularly care about racers.

Guess i wasn’t alone since an updated expanded version arrived on Switch (boxed to boot) for Halloween 2021, costing 40 bucks as MSRP.

In terms of content, it has the 5 tracks found in the arcade version, plus 24 brand new ones, now all laden with extra collectables necessary to buy and unlock new cars, also coming in more variety, regarding both regular vehicles and the triceratops n stuff.

Obviously stuff like the helicopter isn’t given away immediatly but will require getting gold trophies, collecting a lot of keys and money, levelling up cars and stuff, but there a good amount of content for the single player experience and gameplay it’s still such pure mindless arcade racer fun.

The controls and mechanics have been slightly altered and improved from the arcade version, but it won’t take much to discover how to “wheelie” over other cars, spin in the air and drift to collect a boost (Mario Kart style). Just remember that the original cabinet didn’t have a brake pedal, it’s that kind of uber arcade experience, with lots of spectacle and shit happening on the tracks, like the London Eye breaking loose, Yetis, etc.

More importantly, it’s indeed the absolute “Blast” the subtitle claims it to be, the IA isn’t bad even at Normal difficulty, and obviously it’s even better with 4 players.

I can’t recommend it at full price to due some performances hiccups and no online multiplayer, but i do recommend it, absolutely.

Resident Evil Vendetta (2017) [REVIEW] | Remote Zombies

As Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City was released in theathers earlier this week (in most countries), let’s take a look at the final Resident Evil CG animated film, Vendetta, which is also technically the last of the “CG trilogy”, as in all three movies have Leon Kennedy as the main character and are set in the same universe of the Resident Evil games, to contrast with the live action film series (as previously said).

The biggest change – but not the most noticeable – is the animation, with this film produced by Marza Animation Planet instead of Digital Frontier, the studio behind all previous Resident Evil CG movies and even the short film Biohazard 4D Executer that we started this little retrospective with.

The name might not say much, but it’s actually a studio that started by providing CGI cutscenes for the Sonic The Hedgehog games, and eventually for both anime TV series and even full lenght features, working alongside japanese animation titans like Toei for the 2012 3D CG Space Captain Harlock movies, even Lupin III The First, and more recently being one of the production companies for the new Sonic The Hedgehog movies, in a kinda poetic turn of events.

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Resident Evil Damnation (2012) [REVIEW] | Slavic Struggle

4 years after Degeneration, Capcom followed it up with Damnation (i would wager they didn’t plan the titles beforehand, at all), made mostly to promote Resident Evil 6, released in Japan roughly 3 weeks before, as it acts as a prequel to that game’s storyline.

So yeah, it’s not really a sequel to Degeneration as there are no returning characters from that movie aside from Leon S. Kennedy and Hunnigan, and the events from that film don’t really ever get brought up or serve any purpose to the story of Damnation.

They just don’t.

Which i understand from a functional standpoint, you don’t wanna have people lost if they didn’t watch Degeneration, that movies was released 4 years prior and these CG movies didn’t exactly make people and fans drool over them en masse. But you could have tried to make some fuckin connections happen and try to build an overarching plot of sorts, if nothing else to artificially make the various plots seem more important and better due to the interconnection.

In hindsight it’s not a problem, so let’s talk about the plot of Resident Evil Damnation.

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Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008) [REVIEW] | Airport Outbreak

While not the first CG Resident Evil movie ever (that “honor” goes to the previously feautured “Biohazard 4D Executer”), Degeneration is arguably the first proper full lenght animated feature based on the Capcom series, intended as an opposite entity to the live action movie series, as those followed the plots of the game very, very loosely, but Degeneration clearly sets itself within the universe of the games, set sometimes after Resident Evil 4 and before Resident Evil 5.

Why it is this film (and the following sequels) kinda ignored, you may ask.

The answer i feel it’s pretty much as obvious as kinda inevitable, and can be really summed up with “motion capture based 3D CG animation”, which has never been too popular among either hardcore or casual fans of the franchise, or self-proclaimed “animation lovers” for that matter.

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Biohazard: 4D Executer (2000) [REVIEW] | Parasite Evil

While we wait for the new Resident Evil film reboot, i’d figure we’d take a look at the other forgotten Resident Evil film series, the CG animated one that basically most people don’t remember, know or care to do any of that.

But before tackling the movies you’ve might actually vaguely heard about, we need to go deeper and unearth the first actual 3D animated Resident Evil movie, 4D Executer, so unknown and so “important” it never got the Resident Evil title, so it still uses the japanese title for the series.

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[EXPRESSO] Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop (Season One) (2021) | It’s time we blow

I was gonna make a full review, but then realized it wasn’t deserving of it.

Often you see people wondering who the hell is the target for live action adaptations of anime series that etched theirselves as classics, even more when it’s a series that become a hit even outside the anime circles, so you can’t really pull the snarky excuse “no normal people have seen the thing”.

In this case, i feel no one, because it’s incredible how they managed to create something that not only the fans will despise but newcomers will just find bad, and wonder why the hell people liked Cowboy Bebop to begin with.

An adaptation of an anime that should actually work better than most in live action, but manages to be a genuine complete wreck.

It’s also a live action adaptation made by and for people that scoff at anime, because that sentiment it’s made pretty much manifest by the many changes made to excuse, justify or alter many elements and expand on stuff regardless if it makes sense or if it’s good.

This was always gonna be different from the original, but this is such a witless, soulless, boring, badly paced and barely recognizable adaptation that fundamentally misunderstands the material and it’s willing do any random garbage with it, hypocritically treating the original as gospel but without really respecting it, or even understanding it, not really caring too much to anyway.

The fairly cheap CG it sparely uses to remember you it’s technically set in space doesn’t help. I seriously hope the budget for the One Piece live action they’re also working is higher than this.

The cast it’s quite good and does an unbelievable job, but they can’t save this pitiable, hackneyed, utterly ill-conceived trash from itself. Don’t even bother hatewatching it.

Ninja Phantom Heroes USA AKA Ninja Empire (1987) [REVIEW] | To Survive Ninja, You Gotta Become Ninja

OK, ok, this is really the last one for this november!

Where will the magic of carthwheeling ninjas takes us today? Under which fake names will we have to see Godfrey Ho and crew credited? IDF Film and Arts or Filmark International?

But nowhere else that inside a prison labor camp…at least the new footage does, alongside crediting Bruce Lambert as director and Duncean Bauer as writer (who are you trying to kid, Godfrey Ho?).

Also, yes, this under their “Filmark International” company name, and it happens to also be one of theirs non-Richard Harrison ninja films, instead having Danny Raisenbeck (as usual billed as Joff Houston), and being the (uncredited) film debut of Sophia Crawford, later famous for her stuntwork on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Power Rangers and Kung Fu – The Legend Continues.

You can also find this on Youtube, also uploaded by “The Wu Tang Collection”, their copy having the “Ninja, Phantom Heroes USA” title and japanese subs. A classic, as we learned.

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