[EXPRESSO] The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan (2023) | All For Two

Saw the trailer for this some months ago, looked quite good, and i do agree the timing is good to have another cinematic adaptation of Dumas’ legendary tale… heck, even two, as this is actually a two-parter, with the sequel, The Three Musketeers: Milady, shot alongside this one and set to release in French theathers come december, and guess mid-January 2024 here.

After all, i think the last adaptation of the story people still have any collective memory of was… the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy animated film.

That and the Paul W.S. Anderson one, which would be the more mainstream recent one released worlwide (there were some awful italian ones recently, FIY), but i never saw it, and i have a suspicion many did but later pretended they didn’t because i’ve never saw it discussed, even to throw shade at the director.

Regardless, i’d say the timing it’s well calculated, as we also aren’t drowning in swashbuckling historical action adventure big budget films at the moment.

I’m not gonna bother outlining the story because it’s the Three Muskeeters, since it’s such a renowed tale of historical adventure and political intrigue set in France’s Ancient Regime , the characters are pop culture icons in their own rights, but if this IS your first exposure to Dumas’ opus, it will be quite easy to follow regardless, thanks to a good pacing, a fairly straighforward plot and solid characters that are – especially the titular heroes – deliberatly simple to get the hang of.

The short version: it’s a pretty good modern version, with a great cast that includes international names, good action scenes that sport a more realistic feel, good characters, great production values, and it’s mostly faithful to the source material. Honestly i’m quite looking forward to “Part 2”.


[EXPRESSO] Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) | Laugh The Die

Dungeons & Dragons need to introduction, i feel, nor i could give it one since i barely even played it at all, tabletop ain’t my thing, but i simply cannot praise the D & D community for pushing back about that OGL mess, which is extra hilarious in hindsight since that’s what you want, Wizards Of The Coast, to push an unpopular revision/change of such a rooted experience, out of the blue, and do so when you have a movie based on the license about to hit theathers.

THAT addressed to the best of my knowledge/competence, i don’t have much baggage with D & D – just making it extra clear -, so i approached the movie as a modern fun action fantasy with mages, rogues, and people turning into owlbears, as its own thing, one could say.

The plot sees a charming thief and his party of unlikely adventurers stumbling upon a forgotten relic and basically doing the “big heist” of their carreer, only to get double crossed and inadvertitly gave the relic to people that were planning to do some very, world ending evil shit with it, so after escaping prison and getting most of the old party back, they will have to get revenge, save the bard’s daughter and eventually the world from what they unwittingly aided bring upon.

It’s no wonder it got such good reception, because it’s a lot of good fantasy fun, with lots of monsters, traps and fantasy stuff, entertaining action scenes, fun & likeable characters, good comedy that also reminds us you can use quips to actually enhance jokes and characterization, not just as a substitute of actual comedy or just diffuse tension, which is “fresh” once again in this media climate, especially for the nerdy-ish inspired sides of big budget cinema.

[EXPRESSO] Pantafa (2023) | Abruzzidook

Time for a freshly released italian horror film that will probably never leave “the Boot”.

Oh yeah, the italian mish mash of Somnia, Hereditary and Babadook that apparently was wished upon by someone, with a slightly laughable title even in its original language, at least if you’re not familiar with the regional Abruzzian folktale of the “pantafica” (here’s where the italian readers giggle, reasonibly so), a sort of ghost/witch.

The plot concerns a woman, Marta, moving with her daughter Nina to the little mountain burg of Malanotte (lit “Badnight”), in hope of curbing Nina’s sleep paralysis by escaping the frenetic rhythms of city living. But it happens that the house they moved into isn’t really helping, as is the lack on any children on the streets of Malanotte, and Nina symptoms get even worse, as she begins hallucinating a ghost of sorts that while sleeping steals her breath.

And bugger me senseless, it’s a surprisingly solid, effective mesh of the aforementioned movies, as it uses Southern Italy folklore to frame the uneasy relationship between the mother and the daughter, as well as the obvious conflict between the ways of small village seeped in religious rites, superstitions, legends, etc.

It’s a shame because it would even be straigh up good, if it didn’t slip notably at the end, with some rushed scenes in the final act that feel like the director decided to kinda learn the “wrong” lessons from the movies that clearly inspired it, but still, it’s a surprisingly well produced folk horror-thriller, gripping and definitely above mere decency, and i wasn’t always sure where exactly the plot was building to, already way more than i bargained for.

Flawed and a bit frustrating in how close to being great is, but still, color me pleasantly surprised by Emanuel Scaringi’s movie.

There Is No Prank

So, the prank of “April 1st” this year is not only the lack of any prank, but the fact i’m gonna take a couple days off, so reviews will resume on the 4th of april, and we’ll catch up on the more recent big film releases, sorry if the last weeks were kinda lacking in this department.

Also, keeping in the tradition of this “1st april posts” i made here, i’m gonna recommend you wishlist Ena Dream BBQ on Steam, which is gonna be a free game based/continuing on the hit webseries ENA by Joel G.

Literally, that’s it, so sod off to the steam page, here’s the link.

[EXPRESSO] Decision To Leave (2022) | Mountain Malaise

Let’s celebrate San Valentine’s day by talking about the new opus by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Stoker, The Handmaiden), which has earned rave reviews, after the award for best direction at the 75th Cannes festival last year.

So, the short version of it it’s that Decision To Leave it’s freaking amazing, fantastic, well deserving of the glowing reviews that it got, and that’s the movie you should bring your Valentine date to see, instead of the 4K 3D remaster of Titanic that been re-released in theathers, being that movie’s 25th anniversary and whatnot.

The longer version is as follows.

Decision To Leave it’s about detective Hae-Jun, investigating the mysterious death of a man, apparently occurred while he was climbing a mountain-side.

He soon meets the deceased man’s wife, Seo-rae, a woman of chinese descent and mysterious enough to become the principal suspect in the investigation, especially since she doesn’t seem very afflicted by her husband’s death.

As he keeps digging deeper into the case, by interrogating and learning more about her, Hae-Jun, finds himself fatally obsessed with the widow, making him both scared and enraputed by Seo-rae, to the point he starts mixing his forbidden affair and his duties as detective, swallowed up by a storm of conflicting emotions that impact his investigation and integrity as a police officer.

It may not sound too original, understandibly so, but make no mistake, this a top notch police thriller romance drama, through and through: the investigations are intriguing, the characters are complex, compelling and “perfectly flawed”, the drama it’s excellent, the romance is great as well, and overall direction it’s enthralling to say the least, making for a slightly long watch where nothing feels amiss nor you ever feel like some editing was “needed”.

Absolutely a must watch, just go see it already.

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #8: Episode Of Alabasta: The Desert Princess and the Pirates (2007)

What happens when Toei wants a new One Piece movie out each year but doesn’t wanna pay someone to write an original story? We get what are basically “recap movies”, that’s what happens, with this being the first but not last istance of the series dabbling in cheap arse territory, and an iffy proposition in itself.

Sure, you may want to see the canonical events from that arc of the series on the big screen, with better animation and production values overall, and i get why Alabasta, as it was the arc that really made people take notice and cement One Piece as one of the biggest shonen manga series ever, so for many fans the proposition of seeing the classic arc on the big screen had some attractive.

I see very little point in describing the plot since it’s a recap film, and Alabasta it’s like one of the most beloved and notorious arcs in the series as a whole, but let’s pretend you don’t know. Let’s cover the basics, just in case.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #8: Episode Of Alabasta: The Desert Princess and the Pirates (2007)”

One Piece Film Retrospective begins!

As promised, at long last we’re reviewing all One Piece films here on Wise Cafe International, to celebrate the new One Piece film releasing in japanese theathers the 6th of August 2022, One Piece Film: Red, which also it’s the first film One Piece movie about or involving Shanks outside of the usual flashbacks with Luffy as a kid.

Before some one points this out, yes i did review all these movies (aside from Stampede, which also had just launched in japanese theathers) years ago on one of my older italian blogs, but this are all new reviews, completely rewrote from the ground up (so to speak) of all 14 already released One Piece films, and will be posted daily from tomorrow until the 15th of august.

After that i will be taking a break from full lenght reviews and stuff until for a month, maybe 3 weeks at best, but until further notice we’re starting again at full gear from 15th of September.

In the meantime only the EXPRESSO rubric will remain active.

I won’t be doing a ranking since Film Red’s release would immediatly make the ranking outdated halfway through the retrospective, maybe next year, since One Piece movies now seem to come every 3 years or so.

Oujia Shark (2020) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs

2020 was one hell of a year, and homegrown filmakers pumping out shark movies like these didn’t help the situation. Especially if this one was actually finished in 2017 (to ride on the gravy train of Oujia: Origin Of Evil, released in 2016 as the prequel to the 2014’s film Oujia), but wasn’t released for 2/3 years, that’s the mark of quality if i’ve ever saw one. I mean, this isn’t an exception to the rule like Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, which undeservedly sat unreleased for 3 decades.

Yeah, let’s end the month on something extra tacky and cheap, but let’s give Mark Polonia a deserved rest, since we have Brett Kelly directing this one, using the age old trick of using a pseudonym, “Scott Patrick”, and it’s not the only time he used this specific one.

Why bother in the internet age i don’t know, but i guess it’s tradition, after all.

Yep, the director of fan-unfavourites like Jurassic Shark and its quasi-sequel Raiders Of The Lost Shark, which we previously covered before. And a bunch of mockbusters of the 1st MCU cycle, alongside something called She-Rex. Hmmm! takes note

Continua a leggere “Oujia Shark (2020) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs”

[EXPRESSO] Top Gun: Maverick (2022) | The other kind of “dogfighting”

Guess i’m really showing my age in saying i never saw Top Gun in “my days”, but i didn’t, so i simply watched the 1986 movie literal hours before going at the cinema to see this legacy sequel.

And honestly it’s good, it’s a pretty loyal follow up that feels like a proper continuation of where we left off 36 years ago, and while of course the movie has nostalgic moments harking to the original movie, they do serve a purpose as they directly affect some of the events in this sequel, so it ain’t a naked cynical attempt at milking the feels, because the movie honestly earns it.

The plot sees Captain Pete Mitchell basically dragged back by the military to serve as a Top Gun instructor (recommended by Colonel Tom “Iceman” Kazinsky), to prepare new cadets for a secret stealth operation involving the destruction of a soon to be operative uranium refinery captured by a “bandit force”. All made more complicated as among the cadets he sees the son of his old fallen co-pilot “Goose”.

Aside from some modern technological and the more vague identity of the enemy force, it’s pretty much the same formula, where character drama and “military slice of life elements” are the main trust, with a slower pace to compliment that, and the action scenes – despite what you might remember – aren’t the main focus, while they’re important, spectacular, and quite fun, with that level of hollywood bombast allowed by the pseudo-realistic approach.

For better or worse (like it being Air Force advertising), it’s definitely Top Gun.

This sequel also has more actual plot for the narrative to “stand on”, and the slightly longer runtime is mostly to add more action scenes of aerial combat, so overall it’s solid good blockbuster fun.

[EXPRESSO] The Lost City (2022) | Tumble In The Jungle

It has been a fairly slow week in theathers, otherwise i wouldn’t have bothered to watch this.

No offense, but that’s the truth, it’s just that slow of a week for cinematic releases, and this was my “pick of the litter” of sorts, as i do like the premise of The Lost City (no “Z”s this time).

A successful (but fairly elusive and private) writer, Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) has hit series of romance novels about exotic places and centers about the male protagonist Dash, a handsome man that appears on the covers of the novels themselves with the looks of male model Alan (Channing Tatum). One day she has to do a promotional tour with Alan, only to be kidnapped by milionaire Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), whom believes she actually knows how to reach the lost city she writes of in her eponymous book.

Alan then intervenes to show her that he can be an actual hero instead of playing the part of one, with the two stuck in a real jungle adventure trying to get to the treasure before Fairfax does, in what almost feels like a reverse Tropic Thunder-ish sort of scenario.

I’ll be quite honest, this is a very nice little treat, as the humour is surprisingly more wittier than i expected, Bullock and Tatum kill it as the odd couple of academic loner writer and flamboyant “himbo” thrown in an actual, real jungle adventure scenario, Radcliffe it’s great in his – by now usual – unlikely & unhinged villain shtick, and the fairly frivoulous tone works as intended.

It’s a very cute that’s funnier i expected, though the comedy can be uneven, could have helped if it was a bit shorter than its 2 hours runtime.

Still, The Lost City it’s overall quite decent, almost good.

Final Verdict: Decaf