BARE BONES: WARCRAFT and WHIP IT

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WARCRAFT (2016)

Video game based flick tells the tale of the world of Azeroth, which has been invaded by Orcs from the dying world of Draenor. As the Orcs prepare to open up a portal using the life-force of Azeroth’s citizens and bring in their massive army, an unlikely group of heroes, including a noble Orc chieftain, band together to stop them and save the land.

Co-written, with Charles Leavitt and directed by Moon director Duncan Jones, this is an insufferably boring fantasy adventure. It’s not quite a mess, but seems like a bunch of random action vignettes strung together over the course of it’s 2 hours without much of it actually effecting the already thin plot. The cast is also rather bland with live actors, like Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper and Paula Patton teaming up with CGI creations voiced by other actors. And as for poor Paula Patton, she looked embarrassed and uncomfortable the entire time in her green make-up and lower jaw fangs as a half-breed Orc. The production is lavish and the flick is very FX heavy, yet lacks intensity, substance and most of all, heart. It’s a very cold and dull fantasy that never at any moment is the least bit involving, despite the abundant action and frequent scenes of magic and monsters. And worst of all, you sit through two hours of this mundane sword and sorcery epic for an open ending that resolves little. A waste of two hours unless you are a fan of the game and absolutely must see it.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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WHIP IT (2009)

Drew Barrymore scores in her directorial debut with a funny, sweet and fiesty little movie about Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page), a young woman finding herself and what makes her happy, when she joins a roller derby team. Now all she has to do is keep her straight-laced, beauty pageant obsessed mom (Marcia Gay Harden) from finding out before the ‘Hurl Scouts’ reach the finals!

Sure it’s a bit slow paced and the rollerderby scenes could have had more energy, but for a first flick, Barrymore entertains without being preachy and gets good performances from all her cast, so we’ll let her slide. She also succeeds in presenting the clichéd aspects of the story in a fresh way and earns points there too. An entertaining and fun little indie flick with it’s heart definitely in the right sassy place. Whip It is based on the novel Derby Girl by Shauna Cross, who also wrote the screenplay and c0-stars Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon and Green Room’s Alia Shawkat.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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REVIEW: SEVENTH SON (2014)

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SEVENTH SON (2014)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

In this book-based fantasy flick, there is an order of knights called “Spooks” who deal with beings of the supernatural. Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is the last of his order who has trouble keeping his apprentices alive. Years earlier, he fell in love with the witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) and instead of vanquishing her, imprisoned her after she became increasingly cruel and powerful. A Blood Moon is occurring and it’s supernatural powers have freed Malkin, who is gathering her forces for revenge. Now Gregory must find the seventh son of a seventh son and train the boy, Tom (Ben Barnes) to help him defeat Malkin. It won’t be easy, Malkin is prepared for Gregory and new apprentice Tom, finds fancy in the daughter (Ex Machina‘s Alicia Vikander) of one of Malkins servants, Lizzie (Man Of Steel‘s Antje Traue).

Based on the book The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delany and directed by Russian director Sergei Bodrov, Seventh Son is an amusing if not forgettable fantasy adventure. Working from Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight’s screenplay, Bodrov keeps things moving fast and there is plenty of supernaturally tinged action and loads of otherworldly creatures to occupy this fantasy world. Bodrov has a very fitting visual eye for subject matter such as this and the characters are endearing enough to get behind or despise depending on their role as hero or villain. The FX are well done, though the creature CGI is a bit less convincing as the settings and other supernatural elements and the story is familiar and simple enough to make it breezy entertainment, even if it won’t stay with you. There is also lush cinematography from Newton Thomas Sigel and a majestic score by Marco Beltrami. The film got a lot of flack upon release and was considered a box office bomb, but for a night on the couch it passes the time surprisingly well and does entertain if you don’t expect too much.

The cast is fine for the most part with Bridges and Moore having the most fun in their roles. Both veterans have a good time with Moore especially enjoying a role needing her to go over-the-top often. Ben Barnes is a little bland as apprentice Tom, who unknown to himself is the son of a witch, but is likable enough. Oddly, Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington has a small role as Gregory’s ill-fated first apprentice and might have been a livelier choice.  Alicia Vikander is pretty and mysterious as the witch’s daughter Alice, though we have a good idea where her allegiances will eventually lie. There is also an amusing supporting cast of familiar faces as Malkin’s minions such as Djimon Hounsou, Jason Scott Lee and Antje “Faora” Traue.

Overall, I had fun with this flick. It’s not a classic and it’s fairly forgettable, but also, perhaps, judged a bit too harshly upon it’s initial release. There are plenty of fantasy elements, lots of action, creatures and magic and the cast, especially our two leads seem to be having a good time. Director Bodrov keeps things moving and has a sumptuous visual eye to create a world to set this book-based adventure in. Nothing overly memorable, but passes the time on the couch quite nicely if you go in with moderate expectations.

-MonsterZero NJ

  3 battle axes.

13th warrior rating

 

 

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