BARE BONES: MA (2019)

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MA (2019)

Cliché filled thriller finds pretty high school student Maggie (Diana Silvers) moving back to her mother Erica’s (Juliette Lewis) home town after her parents separate. Maggie soon makes friends and when out in pursuit of some liquor to party, they meet lonely Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer). Sue Ann starts to buy them booze and soon invites them to use her basement to party in. As “Ma” gets more and more involved in their lives, her behavior starts to get stranger and stranger. Maggie soon starts to believe their new ‘friend’ has ulterior motives for her hospitality, but what is she up to and why?

Aside from an unsettling performance from veteran Spencer and a solid heroine in Silvers’ Maggie, there isn’t much to say about this flick. It’s a routine and very familiar thriller from writer Scotty Landes and director Tate Taylor, who don’t bring anything new to the stalker/crazy person sub-genres. Ma’s hidden agenda is no surprise, as it is revealed to us, over the course of the film, through flashbacks to Sue Ann’s days in high school and what pushed her over the edge, so to speak. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, plays out exactly as we expect and not portrayed in any way innovative or creative. Aside from good performances from the leads and from supporting cast members Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans, there would be very little to recommend here. The cast, especially Octavia Spencer, deserved better material and we deserved a better movie.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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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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