[EXPRESSO] Beast (2022) | Lion Puncher Idris Elba

I know what some of you thought when this one was announced.

“Isn’t this basically a remake of the movie “Prey” from 2007, but with Idris Elba?”

And indeed i thought the same, but luckily i forgot pretty much anything in detail about that movie, despite watching it in theathers when it came out, i only remember it being either quite shit or not good.

But yep, the premise it’s the pretty much identical, with a family going on a safari only to be forced into confronting a killer lion on a revenge mission against humans, after it survived an attack from some poachers. Don’t worry though, this potentially interesting facet it just mentioned and never explored, because it would cut into the cliched interactions between the family members.

Just some minor differences as it’s just the dad and the two daughters, since the wife died and this safari was meant as an experience to elaborate grief together, this type of mild tripe layered on top, but it’s kinda different as it’s a modern killer animal movie, so it not a full-on horror-thriller affair, it has horror elements but – curiously enough – it’s more about very old school adventure style scenes, despite the big antagonist being a lion acting pretty much like a slasher villain.

Keeping in mind it’s not really a horror (or horror-thriller) film, Beast it’s fairly entertaining, the acting is solid, good production values, and its hard to dislike a movie where Idris Elba punches a lion in the face multiple times, but the script is too cliched, generic and uninterested in actually explore any of the potential themes the premise provides, the characters don’t fare much better, so it ends up being a pleasing enough, fast moving experience but also quite a throwaway one.

[EXPRESSO] Moonage Daydream (2022) | Sovereign Supreme

There are many kinds of films based on and featuring music behemoths, but when we step outside of fully fictionalized retellings with a proper plot, we often see two specific kinds prevail, the docufilm, the mixture of live recordings with some talking heads providing hindsight and opinions on the importance of the band/artist at various points in time.

Sometimes it will be something else entirely, be it the full lenght silent anime film/music video of Interstella 5555, or the mix of a music video-style narrative wrapped around live recordings done in Metallica: Through The Never.

But usually, the promotional pieces will tut about this not being another docufilm based on a popular, world-beloved music legend, as if the word “docufilm” itself has become dirty.

Though, in the case of Moonage Daydream, the claim of this not being labeled as “just another music docufilm” is actually true, as this it’s a full on experience, a proper spaceborn roller coaster into the life of David Bowie, trying to understand the nature and intimate essence of the chameolonic rockstar, helped by the privileged access of director Brett Morgen (Crossfire Hurricane, Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck) to the complete catalogue of archive footage and with full blessings from Bowie’s estate.

It’s a tall order to make justice of the incredible, majestic and ever transforming figure of David Bowie, but Moonage Daydream actually manages to do it, marrying rare archive footage, previously unreleased live performances, stunning visuals (that i feel benefit from the IMAX treatment) and depth without being bond to a strict linear narrative or having things overexplained by other people telling what they think David Bowie was as a person and rockstar,

It’s also incredibly well edited, with a delightful smorgasboard of movie references that are just the cherry on top. Masterpiece? Masterpiece.

[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] 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.

[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)”

[EXPRESSO] Shark Bait (2022) | Jet Ski Adrift

Just before i was gonna import it on DVD, it arrives localized in cinemas here, and you can bet yo’ ass i’m not gonna miss a shark movie showing in theathers in this day and age.

Especially since it hails from the company behind the 47 Meters Down series, and last year’s shark flick Great White, so it comes with certain expectations.

Plot is fairly simple, in usual shark movie fashion.

A group of friends celebrating Spring Break abroad decides – on the last day of the festivities – to steal a couple of jet skis and drunkenly fuck about with them before going back home.

They have an accident and find themselves adrift, trying to survive and search for any help they can get, with one of them sporting a badly injured leg that eventually attracts sharks…

Nothing original, but some of the best shark movies that opt for a more realistic approach and actually are horror thrillers do work off straighforward scenarios like these, where most of the action happens in a very restricted scenario, and this movie it’s no exception.

Honestly it has a lot going for it, from very good production values, very good looking shark and practical gore effects, but it manages to create quite the satisfying tension and solid atmosphere, so it doesn’t just look the part of a professional “big budget” released.

It’s decently acted too, shame that it could have been proper good if the characters were more than likeable cliches, and if the third act didn’t overused the shark, sacrificing tension for action in a very rushed fashion, mostly to even further drag out the finale.

Still, it’s a decent, solid shark movie, a lot more captivating than i expected, and it’s definitely better than Altitude’s last year offering, Great White.

The not review of The Deer King not coming soon at all

So, i honestly kinda forgot The Deer King was a thing, but i still wanna kick myself for missing the 3-days only theathrical screenings it had… and i will reserve a good kick in the nuts for whoever thought to really NOT market it AT ALL. Absolute zero marketing.

Heck, i even saw Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie in theathers last week, not a single trailer for this movie not even for that screening, not even a newsletter from a partner anime or streaming related site about animation to remind one that this thing was coming to theathers and i should totally preorder my ticker, like it’s a Marvel movie or something.

So much i learned about the movie playing his 3 days run by pure habit of checking my local cinema’s upcoming slate of releases (and of course was stealthly added to the list too), when i couldn’t organize myself to even catch it at the very last minute.

Aside from missing the chance to review it on EXPRESSO, i’m also angry at the distributor, are you insane to NOT publicize a new animated movie by ex-Ghibli (a name which is extremely well known as Disney here in Italy as well) staff outside of a single trailer and just vague entries on anime news sites? I know you are, because they also decided to bring back to cinemas older Ghibli movies without zero fanfare.

I don’t mind the latter at all, mind you, but i feel like i’ve been bamboozled.

What the fuck is this non-marketing bullshit for Ghibli and Glibli-tied movies coming to cinemas?

Not that the movie it’s getting that warm a reception here as well, pretty lukewarm, but still, i wanted to see it on the big screen for myself, which i feel i won’t get to do, i really don’t expect to see the distributors give the movie back in theathers for some more days, given how it was quietly released.

Guess i’ll wait for the Blu Ray to dribble into existence later, or for it to appear on streaming services.

Hope you enjoyed this ramble for what it was, because there’s no surprise announcement or meaning or secret logic behind this post.

See you later for some sharks and crocs.

[EXPRESSO] Lightyear (2022) | Space Mediocrity

Ok, let’s leave aside the whole “identity crisis debacle”, despite Pixar being outright silly in starting the movie with the premise that THIS is the movie that in 1995 spawned the Buzz Lightyear toy Andy from Toy Story got. Also ignoring the 90’s animated TV series that served as a backstory to the character, because it’s clear this is a different interpretation-canon.

WHATEVER, who cares, let’s move on from this non-sense.

Though i can understand it’s quite tempting to do so since the ludicrous meta footnote is ripe for lampooning, and the actual movie leaves very little to say for itself.

But first, the plot.

I has been described by many as a sort of rip-off of Interstellar for children, and i agree, as we see Buzz and company investigate a newly scanned planet that the ship flew by during their voyage.

This alien world immediatly reveals to be rife with hostile fauna and flora, and in attempt to escape, the ship gets damaged, forcing Buzz and all the other people on board to camp and live there, while they find a way to create the specific fuel need for lightspeed space travel in order to contact base and leave the planet. They do manage to create the special fuel, but things turn for the weird as Buzz keeps failing the lightspeed flight test and returns to learn that his minutes long voyages translate to years of time passing in his absence….

I’ll say that this ain’t bad. I didn’t expect much from the trailer, but sadly despite the plot having some potential to be better, it all comes off as a generic “origin story” through and through, from the action to the characters, everything it’s pretty mild, predictable and – again – generic.

Enjoyable, but sadly quite middling overall.

Dinosaurs and Snakes Of June (plus some Violet / Scarlet Pokeposting)

First, the EXPRESSO review of Jurassic World Dominion is coming a little later than expected, for personal reasons, basically. Wanna see it leasurely and shit.

Second, a full lenght review of GITS SAC 2045’s second season is coming.

Second, June will feature a decent number of snake movies’ reviews, as it will lead into what usually is Shark Month, but this year will be a “double feature” in terms of theme, for the hell of it. You’ll see.

Lastly, i feel like i should say something about the newly revealed gameplay trailer for Pokemon Scarlet/Violet, as i did post my musings on the Pearl/Diamond remake and Legends Arceus.

Maybe it’s because i’m old enough to have done this dance over and over, i’m kinda mild over what was shown. I like the “tribal vs technology” theme, the legendaries look like Yu Gi Oh 5DX bikes, and i’m happy there’s gonna be more emphasis on multiplayer.

The very few new pokemons shown really don’t do it for me in terms of designs, i do like the Spain-inspired look of the setting (and the player character with that spanish catholic schoolboy/girl vibe), and as i literally just happened to beat Pokemon Legends Arceus, i’m sure this will expand the formula, as Arceus’ open world template it’s not complex but it’s actually fun and well executed, exactly the good change of pace the series has needed since a while ago.

Maybe as we’ll get to see and learn more how the open world will be “more open” than in Arceus, what features will be returning and what new stuff will be added… i’ll most likely warm up to this new mainline game. We’ll see.

Didn’t help that it was announced very quickly after Legends Arceus launched, way earlier than anyone expected, i mean, come on Nintendo, it will sell zillions even if you slated this to release in early january 2023.

Guess they couldn’t wait even for december this time around. Geeze.

Giant Monster March 2022 is GO!

Some things come and go, but giant monsters are forever!

Yeah, while i’m still keeping the bi-daily posting rate, starting tomorrow for this month every posting day when there’s not a new movie EXPRESSO review there will be a full lenght giant monster movie review. Simple as that, so see ya tomorrow for the first one of this year, hoping this will become a yearly institution! 🙂