This week I dived into my Amazon Prime collection of movies and selected a few newer films and a couple from a few years back starting with 2017.
I chose to watch the gritty thriller/drama “Hotel Artemis,” the action survival feature “Crawl,” a bit of a mysterious social commentary movie “Wish Upon,” the action-comedy “My Spy” and the futuristic wild ride movie “Guns Akimbo.”
Without even meaning to - I stumbled onto two of these films that featured one of my favorite action heroes Dave Bautista a WWF wrestler turned actor. Ever since watching him as Drak in “Guardians in the Galaxy” as well as a detective in “Stuber” I am not shy in saying how much I love this guy.
I enjoyed each of these movies for each of their own merits, and recommend them all for a fun and/or high anxiety-ridden movie experience. Some really marched right up into my realm of appreciation as my favorite movies are high action, gritty and filled with conflict.
That said, here are my reviews for this week.
My #NativeNerd scoring system
When reviewing movies, I employ the decimal system to a tenth of a point. So instead of 7 stars, I might give a 7.4 out of ten. Some movies aren’t an eight but deserve a little more than a seven.
8.9 out of 10
My quick quote: “Jodie Foster delivered a performance I didn’t think would be possible for her. But she did a great job in showcasing a nurse with a tragic story in a 2028 L.A. riot”
Synopsis: As rioting rocks Los Angeles in the year 2028, disgruntled thieves make their way to Hotel Artemis -- a 13-story, members-only hospital for criminals. It's operated by the Nurse, a no-nonsense, high-tech healer who already has her hands full with a French assassin, an arms dealer and an injured cop. As the violence of the night continues, the Nurse must decide whether to break her own rules and confront what she's worked so hard to avoid. Starring Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Day, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Dave Bautista, and Zachary Quinto.
If you have read any of my past reviews, you may or may not have noticed I am not a fan of Jodie Foster’s previous work. Her choices just aren’t my style. But in “Hotel Artemis”, Foster delivered an extremely original performance.
Jodie didn’t hold back. Where some actors may shy away from showing any sort of normal human age degradation, she dives in headfirst unafraid of what she demonstrates.
“Hotel Artemis” does what it should in showcasing a degrading social world environment that for all its technological upgrades, leaves behind humankind.
The actors all work together to deliver a satisfying package, Zachary Quinto is the son, that is failing to rise to fill his father’s shoes, of the criminal boss, (portrayed by the fascinating actor Jeff Goldblum.) Dave Bautista, who goes by the name Everest, due to his imposing stature, plays a lackey of sorts to the mentally ailing head nurse, played by Jodie Foster. Sterling K. Brown plays Waikiki, a criminal struggling to manage his loose cannon of a brother and Sofia Boutella is an assassin of sorts named Nice. Waikiki and Nice aren’t their real names, they go by the vacation-themed room names.
It’s a great movie now on Netflix, I enjoyed it mostly for the surprise delivered by Foster.
7.5 out of 10
My quick quote: “A bit over the top with it’s ‘go get ‘em champ’ mentality, but the alligators scared the bejeezus out of me.”
Synopsis: When a massive hurricane hits her Florida town, young Haley ignores the evacuation orders to search for her missing father, Dave. After finding him gravely injured in their family home, the two of them become trapped by the rapidly encroaching floodwaters. With the storm strengthening, Haley and Dave discover an even greater threat than the rising water level -- a relentless attack from a pack of gigantic alligators.
This movie, at its core, is a little bit of an eye-roller, in that a badly injured father repeatedly sends his competitive swimmer daughter treading water at high speeds right past the potential chomping sharp tooth-filled mouths of giant alligators.
In this movie, which I really did enjoy for all of its cheesy elements and admittedly great jump-scares, a dad repeatedly sends his daughter on these mini-missions to get a boat, swim past deadly giant gators, or any other missions of lunacy that could easily get her killed.
Look, sir, I don’t care how great of a swimmer your daughter is, don’t send her past giant alligators because “she swims good.”
I laughed aloud at a few moments because this dad obviously isn’t thinking about his daughter’s real safety.
But for all I am poking fun, this movie was great. It was also nerve-racking and pretty scary. For all of its less-than-recommended moments of clear thinking during a massive hurricane and associated flash floods, this is a great movie to watch with family and friends.
As I say, I poke fun, but I really did like this movie.
9.4 out of 10
My quick quote: “Guns Akimbo” is a blast, literally. Daniel Radcliffe does an exceptional job portraying a nerdy angry troll who gets thrust into the underground social media world he didn’t ask for”
Synopsis: Miles is a video game developer who inadvertently becomes the next participant in a real-life deathmatch that streams online. While Miles soon excels at running away from everything, that won't help him outlast Nix, a killer at the top of her game.
Wow, “Guns Akimbo” is artwork on the canvas known as film. I truthfully never thought Daniel Radcliffe would do much more after Harry Potter, but he continues to deliver great and believable performances in everything I have seen him in.
The film work, choreography, color saturation, editing and everything else in this film is majestic.
The story is a great one in that it gives a lot of people catharsis. This movie is all about catharsis in that anyone who has ever hated a troll, gets to see this guy thrown into the real game. Gonna talk the talk? Then walk the walk.
Miles talks smack online, then gets thrown into the online world he is talking about, with two guns attached to his hands with metal rods and bolts shoved through them. Yikes. Then along comes Nix, the female champion.
Radcliffe’s quirkiness is his charm, and as we see him attempting to continue to escape from Nix without getting killed is the resonating theme. He interacts with a homeless guy, who is seriously hilarious, as well as geeky gamers, co-workers, a mean boss and his ex-girlfriend.
All of this movie is pure gold, though I wish there was a bit of better resolution in some parts.
But all in all, I highly recommend this movie. There is a ton of beauty in the ugliness of an online world filled with commentators, geeks, and the rest of a community world that is never had enough of brutal, yet entertaining content.
Now on Amazon Prime.
7.4 out of 10
My quick quote: “Be careful what you wish for Clare, the demon might come after your soul. Of course, I wanted the filmmakers to develop that concept a bit more.”
Synopsis: Jonathan Shannon (Ryan Phillippe) gives his 17-year-old daughter Clare (Joey King) an old music box that promises to grant its owner seven wishes. Skeptical at first, Clare becomes seduced by its dark powers when her life starts to radically improve with each wish. Everything seems perfect until she realizes that every wish she makes causes the people who are closest to her to die in violent and elaborate ways.
So Clare finds a weird box covered with ancient Chinese writing. As a student taking Chinese in school, she manages to read the words, “Seven wishes.” And off we go. But as all wish movies usually go, the wishes have a catch. In this case, an ominous “bwa ha ha” catch with a lot of ugliness connected to it.
Dammit, can any person finding a wish ever get off the hook? I guess the moral of any wish story is that “there is never any such thing as a get rich quick scheme.”
So Clare makes a few wishes, a few things happen that were unexpected and yeah, lather rinse, repeat. I sound like I am being a bit tough, and I did like the movie, but I wanted a bit more. What happens if you wish for more wishes? What happens if you wish for nothing bad to happen? If you get in a pickle by the bad box, why can’t you wish not to be put in a pickle?
Be creative folks. Ok maybe Clare made some dud wishes at first, but she clues in eventually. So make some real bonkers wishes, what about superpowers? Invisibility? Flames from your fingertips?
Or how about this one? Grant me the power to grant wishes? Sheesh.
Ok, I am being tough, and maybe the character Clare doesn’t think too much outside the box, so I can accept the redeeming qualities of the lessons attempting to be taught here. So yes, I can recommend it.
But I would have rather seen Clare run into a war zone and save the hostages as bullets were bouncing off of her.
Now on Amazon Prime
9.2 out of 10
My quick quote: “I love this movie. Tons of fun. Dave Bautista and Chloe Coleman form a great duo that was unexpected in a hilarious way ”
Synopsis: Nine-year-old Sophie catches JJ, a hardened CIA operative, spying on her family during a routine surveillance operation. In exchange for not blowing his cover, JJ begrudgingly agrees to show the precocious girl how to become a spy. What at first seems like an easy task soon turns into a battle of wits as Sophie proves you don't need much experience to outsmart a seasoned agent.
This film was hilarious, further enforcing my appreciation for Dave Bautista. Thrown in the young actress Chloe Coleman as Sophie, and I am hooked.
This was a truly great movie. Chloe Coleman showed Dave Bautista his match with this greatly paired duo who must combine efforts to help the CIA catch a bad guy. Throw in a fish named Blueberry and I just can’t stop giving good marks.
Kristen Schaal was also great as the IT tech helping with surveillance and of course I have always loved Ken Jeong as the head of his CIA department.
Bautista and Coleman are the best duo I never expected. And Coleman’s sarcastic one-liners aimed directly at Bautista were masterful.
I don’t want to give too much away in the way of the storyline, but Sophie stumbles onto the secret operations of the toughened CIA agent JJ and wants to learn the ropes. This just worked for me.
Go check it out if you want to laugh, a lot.
Now on Netflix
#NativeNerd Vincent Schilling is the associate editor for Indian Country Today and a film industry certified movie reviewer.
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