Weird grouping of releases this week. Up first is Invincible Dragon. I was looking forward to this because I’ve enjoyed Max Zhang in other films and he seems to be getting pushed as the next big thing in Asian action films. Unfortunately it was a major disappointment. Zhang plays a detective who gets beat by a serial killer. His fiancée is missing and presumed dead. They strip him of his job title. The killer is taking out female police officers and might be tied to Zhang’s fighting past. MMA star Anderson Silva also appears. The movie is a bit of mess seeming like it wanted to be an action-comedy at times like Enter the Fat Dragon. It also wanted to be a cop-drama at times, but would break into lighter elements. There’s some bad CGI too with a public transportation scene and a bungee cord fight and boat/dragon part that had me laughing in my seat. Oh yeah I almost forgot about the dragon part. As a child Zhang’s character played with a multi-headed dragon and he has a tattoo of a dragon that he believes helps him. It’s a mess of a flick which is a shame because if it was a straight-up action-comedy it could have worked or if it was a straight-up cop drama it could have worked. Too many tonal shifts hurt it.
Sticking with kind of a mess, The Deeper You Dig is out on Blu-ray this week. This comes from a family of filmmakers I’m not familiar with and is about a girl accidentally being killed by a new neighbor. It’s a snowy area, the new neighbor was driving a bit drunk and hit her with his truck. He tries to cover it up, but the girl’s mother is a Tarot card reader and is trying to find out the truth about her missing daughter. The neighbor is being haunted by the dead girl and he starts to unravel. It’s not bad exactly, but it’s also all over the map. At times it’s straight to the point and he’s trying to hide out from the cops and the mom. Then it gets into him seeing the girl all the time and it confused me at times with the haunting. The ending definitely is a bit weird too. But I’m sure there are fans out there of the people involved who will enjoy this release. It also comes with another film of theirs, The Hatred.
Third we have a documentary called Botero. It is about the artist Fernando Botero. If you know who that is and are familiar with his work, you’ll enjoy it. If you read me often enough you know that art is not a subject I’m great with. I had never heard of this guy, but some of his work looks familiar. He’s known for big rounded characters both in paint and sculptures. He traveled the world discovering painters that inspired him living in New York, Paris, Colombia, etc. He’s a family man and his children are a big part of the documentary. His daughter gets some old art of his from storage. He invites all his family once a year to his estate. There’s a wedding. He comes across as super interesting having lived quite the life, I just never heard of him despite being the world’s most popular living artist.
Staying with documentaries, The Harvest is next. It’s about the country of Georgia and how it’s the 2nd largest Bitcoin exporter. But the film isn’t just about that. It shows vineyards and farm lands struggling to get water while tech booms around them. Super computer systems with huge cooling systems run endless wiring while animals and farmers struggle to survive. It’s supposed to show you the different dynamic, but I honestly didn’t get much from it. It’s beautifully shot, but the narrative is rather dull. There’s not enough people in it to break up the monotony of the photography.
Next is The Blue Eyes, a film about a couple traveling in Mexico who finds the man possessed by a shape shifting witch. They have a family connection to the area as well as the witch. There’s a super creepy dog who follows them from town to town. It’s not great, but it’s at least watchable. For a film that came out in 2012 without a known cast, I at least found it decent enough for a one time viewing. It won’t wow people and the ending might bother some, but I kind of liked it.
The animated film To Your Last Death is next. It has a voicecast including William Shatner, Ray Wise, Morena Baccarin and more. It’s about a daughter of a ruthless business man who survives a game of death her father set up. A supernatural being let’s her relive the events to hopefully save her family. The being is part of a bigger game for other supernatural beings to wager on and watch. The cast is great, but I don’t love this type of animation. And don’t think because it’s animated it’s a movie for kids. Nope this is 100% for adults with some fantastic violence and gore. Eventhough I didn’t love the look, I loved the violence and it might be something I could see myself watching again.
Balthazar Series 2 is out this week. Think of it as a French Sherlock with a quirky lead actor who works in forensics opposite the female Chief Inspector. It’s sort of Sherlock in terms of the mysteries with a bit of Lucifer with the back & forth between the male and female leads. Episodes include a missing infant, bones that trace back to the Middle Ages, a knife attack might be part of a copycat serial killer, a woman hung from a bridge, the Bubonic Plague, a dead woman dressed as Snow White, and Balthazar starts to lose it himself. It’s an easy show to binge with 10 episodes with an overlapping story connected throughout the season.
Next is Double Cross Season 1. This is about twins, a brother and sister named Eric and Erica who try to save the women in their neighborhood from a sex trafficking ring. She works at a hospital emergency room and sees the effect all of it is having on their neighborhood. The story is good, but the acting is pretty rough. There are too many stereotypical characters and the production value isn’t great. I don’t know if this show will continue or if it should. Pretty forgettable besides all the negative aspects of it. It was tough to get through even with only a handful of episodes.
The next few releases come from Mill Creek Entertainment. Up first is Battlefield Earth. I’ll be honest, I had actually never seen the film before. I know it has a legendary stigma for being one of the worst movies ever made, but it can’t be that bad right? Well yes and also no. I’ve seen far worse, but in terms of mainstream releases, yeah this one is pretty horrific. I’ve seen independent movies that should have never been released and movies intentionally made bad, but this is just bad. The acting is bad. The CGI is laughable. The story is a joke. None of it makes any sense. It’s the year 3000 and yet somehow jet planes that have been sitting for a 1000 years still have good fuel to fly with? The aliens have been in control for years, but haven’t learned a thing about the man-animals like what they eat? In that time period humans have lost some ability to talk or lose skills, but also kept a lot of ability to communicate and do jobs? It’s shot so weird so that the aliens appear larger than the man-animals. The number of fingers on those creatures change throughout the movie. The length of Barry Pepper’s hair changes throughout the movie. Ok it’s a terrible movie, but you do have to watch it for yourself if you haven’t.
Sigourney Weaver did a Snow White movie I had never heard of, Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Sam Neill loses his wife during childbirth and his daughter Lillian is raised by him and her new step mother (Weaver). Weaver tries to kill her and her husband and this is definitely not the Disney version of the film. It’s based on the Brothers Grimm version. The production value is pretty solid with great costuming. The CG isn’t bad and the acting is good as well. Again don’t expect the Disney version with singing dwarves. Expect a bit more action, darkness and violence. I’m sure there are some fans out there waiting for this release.
With Rick Moranis back in the news, this double feature of Big Bully/Wrongfully Accused is coming out at the right time. I hadn’t seen either film in forever. Big Bully still holds up pretty well. Moranis plays a writer who moves back to his hometown to teach at his old school. Tom Arnold plays the adult version of his bully who changed his ways. Until Moranis comes back to town. It’s not great, but I’m a sucker for Moranis and he’s good in it. Wrongfully Accused comes across very dated. It’s a spoof on The Fugitive starring Leslie Nielsen. A lot of the jokes probably worked great at its release, but fall flat today. Nielsen is fun, but if you don’t get some of the references, the jokes won’t land.
Last for Mill Creek is The King and I. This is an animated version of the famous story of English school teacher Anna traveling to Siam to teach the Royal children. This is the type of animation I prefer and this is definitely for the kids. It’s musical (as expected) and seems a lot more kid friendly with fun characters and lots of colors. There is a sorcerer, a monkey, a dragon and so much more. Miranda Richardson voices Anna in this 1999 version. It reminds me of 1990s Disney releases that tried to be more entertaining and fun for the whole family.