What We're Watching: July 9, 2021

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Brock: "I applaud what Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021) is going for. There is a definite good-natured vibe, and fun silliness in the characters and the screenplay. I hesitate to say anything too negative about it because frankly I recognize this movie wasn't made for me or my comic sensibilities. Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo have exceptional chemistry, no doubt. They looked like they had a ton of fun, but I found them really annoying. Really liked Jamie Dornan throughout, and his song was the highlight of the movie for me. All that being said, I defy anyone to come up with a good argument why this has to be 107 minutes long. It could have been a crisp 85 minutes, then the credits. A lot could have been trimmed here. Prove me wrong."

Jakob: "These days even indie films have a professional polish and sheen to their production, which makes Bad Girls (2021) feel extra rough and amateurish. That’s a compliment. The plot is thin—three strippers go on a drug-fueled murder binge while kidnapping their favorite rock stars and racing to freedom over the border to Mexico. The editing is frantic (though confident in its craziness). Its microbudget means shootouts and fights feel like something filmed by Rudy Ray Moore. Again, this isn’t criticism. This is a film proud of its exploitation, trash cinema roots. It never tries to justify all its orgies, acid trips, and punk rock. That said, there is more than just gore and shock to the film. The camera work and effects energetically visualize the film’s many drug trips. I was rarely distracted by the performances from this group of unknown actors and even found some genuinely enjoyable. Like the films of iconoclast John Waters, this midnight movie is a celebratory shotgun blast to the face of society’s values."

Jason: "If you're triggered by Tarantino's depiction of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood you'll want to stay away from 2016's Birth of the Dragon, which fictionalizes Lee's unrecorded (which means everything is based on hearsay) 1965 fight with martial artist Wong Jack-man. The fight, and Lee, both take a backseat to a 'Who cares?' romance involving one of Lee's students (Billy Magnussen), who is trying to win the heart of a waitress trapped under the thumb of the local Chinatown madam. The fight choreography is passable, although the wire stunts are obvious and unconvincing. Director George Nolfi can't balance the parallel plots or the tone, and Philip Ng's depiction of Lee is not as memorable as Jason Scott Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story or Mike Moh in OUATIH. Not recommend."

Heath: "I checked out what is no doubt one of my most anticipated films of 2021 - Space Jam: A New Legacy. Nostalgia for the 1996 original combined with a continued love of the Looney Tunes and the NBA made this a must watch, and despite all of the expected technical advances since the original movie, it's just about on par with the first one for entertainment value. LeBron James is definitely a better actor than Michael Jordan is, and this is such a visually stunning experience whether it's in live action or animated mode. Don Cheadle looks like he's having an absolute blast as the villain, a trouble-making computer algorithm who traps LeBron in a cyberverse populated with every Warner Bros. character ever. It's a tad overlong and the story might not hold up to much scrutiny, but this cyber-Space Jam is worth seeing for its astounding visuals alone."

Santiago: "Ghost in the Shell (1995) is a cyberpunk classic. While I think it's short length means it can't delve as deeply into its thought-provoking themes as it wants to, it makes up for that with a rich atmosphere, a haunting soundtrack, detailed animation and great action sequences. A definite must-see for any anime fans, cyberpunk fans, and a good introduction to anime for any newbies to the genre. Speaking of Intellectual Property that's related to Scarlett Johansson, this week I'll be going to the cinemas to finally see Black Widow! I've been really looking forward to seeing a Marvel film on the big screen again, so hopefully it will not disappoint!"

Adam: "Dynasty Warriors (2021) is based on the video game series of the same name. The story is based loosely around the Chinese historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms. I've always enjoyed the game-play and story, and with so much action involved there should be a rather simple (if not overly fresh) way to translate this to film. The trailer alone got me very excited, with the soundtrack to the trailer being one of my favourite tracks from the series. The action and effects look good too. If you are into the genre, and haven't played the game, it's absolutely worth your time. Being one of the better video game movies of all time isn't exactly a high bar, but we will see if I'm excited after I've watched the movie as I am to watch it!"