Sweet Girl (2021)
Written by Philip Eisner & Gregg Hurwitz
Directed by Brian Andrew Mendoza
Netflix original movies/shows can be hit or miss. There are times when their movies feel like the thing you settled for when you rent something. You’re left with the subpar version of what you wanted. You stare at the title, think you’ve seen the trailer, but everything is a blur as things melt one into the other. All titles are similar, the colors, nothing bright or new.
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Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)
Written by Navot Papushado & Ehud Lavski
Directed by Navot Papushado
Seth and I don’t always agree on things, as shocking as that might seem. When I first saw Gunpowder Milkshake’s trailer, I could feel the intrigue bubbling within my system, almost dashed to bits and pieces as my husband went, “Ew, no.” (Ed. note: I have literally zero memory of ever seeing this trailer)
Let’s not fault the man; he did not grow up watching martial arts/action movies. Unlike my husband, raised in a Christain household, my single mom tended to let us rent movies at will. If those movies didn’t even up being the regular popular picks, they managed to be action movies many times.
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Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Written by Lawrence Kasdan
Directed by Steven Spielberg
It’s interesting watching these movies and seeing them juxtaposed, realizing the gap in quality between what Disney was putting out in 1981 and Paramount in the same year. Raider of the Lost Ark came on June 12, putting it up against Mel Brooks’s History of the World Part 1 and Clash of the Titans. Both of these are delightful films but compared to Raiders, I just don’t think they can hold a candle. The script here is tightly written with some of the best set pieces in an adventure-action movie to date. However, as I have revisited films during my flashback series, sometimes I discover a beloved classic has many more flaws than I remembered, and that can reshape how I feel about the movie.
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Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
Written by David Goyer, Justin Rhodes, & Billy Ray
Directed by Tim Miller
After recently rewatching Terminator 2: Judgment Day, I became curious about the latest attempt to revive the Terminator franchise. At this point, we now have three separate timelines branching from T2 that all seem to fail to continue a story that feels finished. I watched the T2 Director’s Cut, and it has an ending scene with John Connor grown in the new future where he serves as a senator. It felt like the day had been saved; everything was wrapped up. But of course, Hollywood couldn’t let that be when there was more money to make. I had seen Terminator: Genisys, which is unwatchable, and wondered what damage control would be done in Dark Fate if maybe they had made a palatable follow-up.
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Mortal Kombat (2021)
Written by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham
Directed by Simon McQuoid
I was never a Mortal Kombat fan. In our house, we had an NES for the longest time and only upgraded in the late 1990s to a Playstation. I haven’t really enjoyed the fighting games I have played. It’s a genre that doesn’t appeal to my sensibilities. I get bored with those kinds of games a few minutes in but can click away for hours at Civilization or some tycoon management sim. However, because I was the right age for it, I know a decent amount about Mortal Kombat just through culture osmosis. I can’t say I had any expectations for this adaptation, and it definitely met the bar I set for it.
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Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
Written by Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein, Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields
Directed by Adam Wingard
No one ever thought the Godzilla films had great human stories, even going back to the original Toho productions. I’m not kidding myself that we ever had some person on the ground that delivered a compelling character arc. However, I feel like we are at a point where you could do that? But this movie certainly doesn’t achieve that, and I would be hard-pressed to recall a single name of any human character in this movie. Below I will include them when I summarize the plot, but that will only be after googling the cast list because they leave no impression whatsoever and probably should have just been deleted from the final cut.
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Written by Lana & Lilly Wachowski, and Brian Helgeland
Directed by Richard Donner
I’ve previously mentioned Richard Donner when I reviewed Ladyhawke and discussed how he is a perfect example of a journeyman filmmaker. Assassins is yet another example of this. Here we have a story that is rife for stylish exploitation, but instead, we get a very by the numbers shooting. The cinematography is mostly standard except for a few interesting choices here and there. Donner just simply isn’t anywhere close to being an auteur, and that’s not a bad thing. In the case of this film, it really could have used a filmmaker with a more inventive touch.
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Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)
Written by Jonathan Hensleigh
Directed by John McTiernan
I saw the first Die Hard movie by accident. My dad went to the video store and rented it without checking the rating. We were a lazy evangelical household in all the least fun ways, one of them being “no movies above a PG-13,” even then, it was fairly strict. I definitely knew kids with crazier parents, but we were still not normal. So, as we watched the film and the first “fuck” was said on screen, we all turned and looked at my dad. That said, we never shut the picture off and watched the whole thing. That is the only Die Hard movie I ever saw until I watched this, the third installment in the series.
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The Jewel of the Nile (1985)
Written by Mark Rosenthal & Lawrence Konner
Directed by Lewis Teague
You don’t hear too many people talk about the 1984 comedy-action film Romancing the Stone. It was the film that set director Robert Zemeckis on his path to helming the Back to the Future series. It was expected to flop and got Zemeckis fired as director of Cocoon, but as we can see, it all turned out in his favor. Romancing the Stone was a box office success, and he proved the studio doubters wrong. Studios want to exploit movies that do well and will always push for a sequel. Romancing the Stone is the type of film that could be a franchise, so on the surface, the idea isn’t bad. However, when all the director has moved on to a more significant project, and the writer dies tragically in a car accident after her career has just begun, it becomes murkier waters.
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Dragonball Evolution (2009)
Written by Ben Ramsey
Directed by James Wong
There are some signs a movie is going to be bad. When it comes to properties being adapted to the screen, one of the biggest red flags is when the picture opens with long-winded narration explaining something that happened two thousand years prior. Dragonball Evolution spends its opening moments moving us through a digital mural of images of our villains and explaining what happened back then. The narration only serves to create more confusion and talks about characters in a way that assumes the whole audience is familiar.
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