[EXPRESSO] Samaritan (2022) | Old Man Steel

Catching up to some of the later releases i didn’t cover yet, with the Amazon Prime Video exclusive Samaritan, as in Stallone wants to ride on the superhero train, and honestly why the fuck not?

I like this “i’m gonna make movies until i die on film” attitude, i really do.

The plot tells of a young boy, Sam, that believes the old guy living in front of him it’s actually Samaritan, a superhero thought to have died in an explosion 25 years ago, alongside his rival and brother, Nemesis, who planned to lure him and finally end it for good.

But there’s also a crime lord, Cyrus, who plans to become the new Nemesis, inherit his will, and Sam gets caught in his machinations while trying to score some cash for his mother…

It’s exactly what you’d think it would be, especially by factoring in Stallone as the lead character, and by that i mean it feels like a 90’s movie, in pretty much every aspect, from the setting of the city suburbs, the villain sporting a very 90s hairdo and personality (and a Robocop arcade machine in his lair), the lack of smarthphones, and of course the way the superhero elements are framed and used does remind one of older genre entries from that decade.

This isn’t a flaw, it’s just playing it “old school”, which means we can have a simpler story not overreliant on how many FX studios can you kill with crunch… albeit one where the twist it’s pretty easy to guess as the material will result very familiar, but not necessarily for the worst.

Decent cast, solid performances, fairly well produced (aside from one istance of that creepy digital deaging), overall Samaritan it’s a decent ol’ school superhero film and an enjoyable lil surprise.

[EXPRESSO] Crimes Of The Future (2022) | Biomeat: Flesh Nectar

David Cronenberg is back on the big screen with a… remake of his early film Crimes Of The Future. “Remake” in name only, as it just shares the cyberpunk setting, his passion for the pleasures of mutated flesh, and the idea of a future where human bodies can create new organs (often without apparent function), alongside a new kind of sexual perversity steeped in medical science.

That aside, it’s pretty much its own thing, fully befitting the style of directing Cronenberg would master later, but instead of a pederast ring obsessed with perverse secretions and strange malodies, the plot here focuses on the aspect of the human body spontaneously producing new, strange and wonderful organs, to the point surgery has been repursosed as a method of performance art, encouraged by an unexplicable disappearing of pain and sicknesses for the human race as a whole…

The movie follows two world famed “body artists” Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and his assistant Caprice (Lea Seydoux) as they perform artistical surgery sessions by removing the new tumoral organs that keep growing in Saul’s body, but the duo it’s approached by a weird goverment wing that wants to establish a legal, official list of the new organs, and a father that’s willing to give the body of his dead son so the duo can perform a public autopsy on him..

While one might argue that Cronenberg here is revisiting an old cyberpunk concept two decades later…. i’d say the premise still feels intriguing and novel, and because cyberpunk itself has aged into almost irrilevancy and hasn’t moved forward… this doesn’t feel as dated as it could.

Despite that and suffering from some abrupt sequences, it’s still quality Cronenberg, not him as its best, but good stuff, overall, even if this future feels less so today.

[EXPRESSO] MEN (2022) | Manstalking 101

AH, yes, that sequel to The Woman we were waiting for, and by Alex Garland nonetheless, um!

One hell of a title that goes straight to the point, does tell you what it’s actually about, and it’s not ashamed to be beyond blunt in the handling of its themes of misoginy and female abuse.

The movie tells of a woman renting out a house in a small countryside english village for two weeks, in order for her to recover from seeing her husband commit suicide (by jumping off from a balcony in the apartment above theirs) after she decided to finally divorce him.

But instead of some quiet solace to process events, she’s stalked by a naked man from the woods, and confronted by a variety of other men that are either condescending, hostile, weird or abusive, most of which seem to share the same face.

To be honest, considering the director involved, MEN it’s kinda disappointing, and not necessarily because it’s so decisively non-subtle about its themes (after all, social media showed us how subtlety is less and less effective), but more because the script lacks the usual sophistication and quality, so we have this really good cast and direction, some incredible (and incredibly disgusting) scenes in the latter half that in themselves make the movie worth seeing, good atmosphere..

…. but also a very slow moving first act, and the script trying to make up for its excessively straightforward nature by overdosing on the “A24”-isms to the point it’s kinda silly, since it mostly stylistic filler that should have been dialed back, since it doesn’t add any real substance and hammer over the already obvious motifs.

Again, it’s just disappointing, but overall a decent horror thriller still worth watching, as the final act definitely delivers “the goods”.

[EXPRESSO] Bullet Train (2022) | Assassins Pastiche Express

Better late than never, but as promised here it is, after months of waiting.

And honestly i don’t quite get its mixed reception (at least by the american or english speaking press as a whole)… well, i kinda do, but it’s not like it was deceptively advertised, at all.

Bullet Train it’s indeed the kind of movie you would expect to see from the director of Deadpool 2, just declined into a Tarantino-esque genre pastiche, throwing in deliberate cliches from yakuza movies as it all takes place during what starts as a normal voyage in one of Japan’s high velocity trains… aside from the protagonists being a collection of professional assassins/hitmen with a job to do while on the train, including a “recovering & recalcitrant” assassin (played by Brad Pitt) that would rather try to obtain some inner peace and signed up only to steal a briefcase from the train, but finds out everyone on board is after the very same thing…

The mesh of Deapool style comedy (minus the 4th wall brutalization) with the obviously Tarantino inspired style of dialogues (one of the assassins has a thing for profiling people via Thomas The Tank Engine comparisons, for example) and taste for ultraviolence so over the top it’s outright funny at times… works extremely well, as the narrative using flashbacks to quickly characterize the various assassins. Great cast too.

Sure, the humour at times it’s a bit too much “Deadpool-ish”, but it’s quite tolerable and i was honestly surprised by how funny the movie turned out to be, though i understand that the combo of direction and writing could result irritating to some. Still, i had a really good time with Bullet Train, not gonna lie to appease anyone or crap like that.

Dumb as hell, but a blast nonetheless.

[EXPRESSO] The Cuphead Show (Season Two) (2022) | Cup Me Twice

Since i didn’t proper disliked the first season (see the previous review, if you would like), yeah, whatever, i watched all the Shaman King’s Netflix adaptation, i can watch this, while i wait for the complete physical release of the game to come into existence.

Continuing up from the first season’s cliffhanger, we have Cuphead and Mugman thrown into jail after they were basically set-off by the charming con-maister Chalice to enter the cookie factory on the hush, and then.. they escape/get out of it in the first episode. So much for that.

Yeah, a strong, over-arching narrative wasn’t the forte of the first season, but despite hinting at the focus being on the character of Miss Chalice, introduced right at the end of the previous season, hanging around with the boys… even that gets resolved quickly, so any kind of plot is thrown out of the window for episodic adventures.

Mundane, episodic, adventures.

Yep, if this sounds familiar, it’s because i ultimately i have the same feelings (and criticisms) about this second season as i did for the first one: short episodes that look good but lack any real substance or interesting stories, while not being outright bad or offensive, and once again it’s clear the target audience isn’t adult fans of the videogame, animation buffs, but just… kids.

I did bother with this second season to see if it was better in any significant way, but honestly it would have been worse if the Devil (and with him a semblance of story, fun and wit) didn’t eventually come back for a couple of episodes, but thankfully he does.

But again, it don’t matter anyway, since Netflix ordered 36 episodes overall, there’s a cliffhanger, so it’s pretty much a given we’ll see a third season/slice/part.

Yay? Maybe? Whatever, later!

[EXPRESSO] Full Metal Alchemist: The Final Chapter – The Avenger Scar (2022) | Alexander “Ahoge Cum Head Tumor” Armstrong

As you might be aware, more live-action Full Metal Alchemist films were on to way to make it a trilogy, actually a two parter, announced last year to celebrate the manga’s 20th anniversary, directed by Fumihiko Sori (Ping Pong, Vexille) and both already released theathrically this year in Japan.

Now we’re getting the first part of this “Final Chapter”, The Avenger Scar, internationally via Netflix, so let’s talk about it, i did review the first FMA live action film back in 2017.

It follow directly from when the 2016’s FMA movie left, and – as the title lays out – it’s about a nameless serial killer that is roaming about Central City offing State Alchemists, dubbed “Scar” due to his “X” shaped headwound.

The brothers encounter Scar but suffer defeat and have to escape, while the intrigues surrounding the military and the Homunculus unfold..

Like the previous movie, you’ll ask yourself why bother making live-actions like these, for the obvious reasons, which include some character designs clearly never meant for real people.

I wasn’t ready to see live-action Alexander Armstrong, nor could i ever be. Jesus.

If you can get over the many absurdities that come from the “anime/manga to live-action” transition, you’ll find a decent, fairly faithful adaptation of this part of the series, with some changes to the plot that basically relocate some events earlier or later and some fairly necessary concessions that had to be made anyway to have a 2 hours film.

It’s not the bad adaptation you think it is, nor it does the material quite the justice it deserves, but it’s a decent retelling, acting it’s ok, and it does what it sets out to do.

With some questionable effects at times, but at least it’s definitely better than the Bleach live action movie.

[EXPRESSO] NOPE (2022) | Cosmic Slide

As usual, we had to wait for NOPE to release here well before it US theathrical release, but it was definitely worth wait, i can say that much already.

And this is one that definitely leaves both a lot to discuss and yet it’s best enjoyed by just going in with minimal to zero knowledge about the premise. And it was brilliantly marketed too, because we had no idea what the hell this movie was gonna be about early, especially with such a deliberate tease of a title, but even with later trailers it wasn’t much clearer.

But i guess giving the basic premise isn’t doing the movie the disservice you would expect, so…

Set in a desolated California valley, NOPE tells the story of a brother and sister that work in movie biz by providing trained horses for cinematic purpose and struggle to continue upholding the job and the ranch their father left them after his sudden and unexplicable demise.

One day, they notice something strange is lurking there, hiding in the sky, so they set out to discover and film whatever is it, but the revelation it’s as outright absurd and defies logic.

To not give the movie away, we’re going in a “ufo-cosmic horror” direction, but even that won’t exactly give away the twist nor the execution, and this is far from one of those movies that erronously stakes everything in hiding the monster to excessive degrees, and NOPE has a lot more to it than just the “surprise factor”.

And honestly Peele just delivers another excellent piece, one distinct from his previous efforts, but still plentiful of his great ability to balance terror and comedy with a story that’s captivating and fairly original to boot.

Ten “ The Scorpion King 2001 crew jackets” out of ten.

SUPER Summer Nap

You know the drill (and i announced it before), every rubric aside EXPRESSO (i will review NOPE soon enough, and i plan to review this way,Crimes Of The Future, MEN and Bullet Train, which are releasing in cinemas here very late this August) is taking a break from today until the 16th of september, maybe a little earlier, but for the rest of August we’re taking a fairly deserved (if i can say it myself) break.

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #14: One Piece Stampede (2019)

Oddly a movie title that could have also worked for Chopper’s Kingdom on The Land Of Strange Animals, since that actually has bull-like animals going into stampedes, while walnuts are disappointingly missing from the 14th One Piece film, One Piece Stampede, which doesn’t really have a “wild west” theme of sorts, despite its title, but delivers with a smorgasboard of characters from the series.

Fitting as its main raison d’etre was to celebrate the animated series 20th anniversary.

And indeed in retrospect its become even more clear the main goal of One Piece Stampede was to bring together an all-stars ensemble of One Piece character, especially the ones rising in popularity and that make their film debut here, like Trafalgar Law, Kidd, Boa Hancock or some oldies-but-goldies, like Smoker and Tashigi. Yep, in case you forgot or didn’t read the review of Episode Of Alabasta… they were actually absent from that one, absurd as it sounds.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #14: One Piece Stampede (2019)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #13: Film Gold (2016)

*cue crazy prospector’s laugh *

We’re finally getting to the One Piece films i’ve actually watched in theathers while they were new, and coincidentally audiences also had to wait a while before seeing a new One Piece film, 4 years to be precise. Most likely as they realized they couldn’t keep cranking them out on annual basis because otherwise Toei would find even more of its staff overworked to death. Just a hunch.

An upside of this 4 year gap is that audiences were gonna be even more eager and ready to get hyped at the prospect of a new One Piece film, one that had a very huge marketing campaign behind it, and was definitely ready to rack in the titular auruos substance, so much it had a world premiere on Jule 15th at the Emirates Palace’s hotel in Abu Dhabi, then released a week later in Japan. Not THAT surprising, considering how a Saudi fan pretty much singlehandedly funded the documentary about Dinosaur War Izenborg, simply called The Return Of Izenborg.

But today we’re talking One Piece Film Gold, so back to that!

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #13: Film Gold (2016)”