Movie Review Weekly Roundup: February 21-27, 2021

The following is part of a weekly compilation of movie reviews from The Buzz Track staff. These movies were watched in the previous week, and the reviews were originally posted on Letterboxd.


Escape from Pretoria (2020)

DIRECTOR: Francis Annan.
WRITERS: Francis Annan, L.H. Adams (script); Tim Jenkin (book).
MPAA RATING: PG-13
GENRES: Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 46min.
LANGUAGE: English, French.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 21, 2021.

Harry Potter portrays a South African political prisoner who MacGyver’s his way out of prison with two of his fellow inmates in 1979. I will dub this movie: Harry Potter and the MacGyver of Pretoria. The story takes its inspiration from actual events. I could not help but remember Ben Stiller’s television mini-series Escape at Dannemora. It is similar in concept and also pulls its inspiration from a factual incident. I liked Escape From Pretoria, but I would definitely recommend Escape at Dannemora over it any day of the week.


Greenland (2020)

DIRECTOR: Ric Roman Waugh.
WRITERS: Chris Sparling.
MPAA RATING: PG-13
GENRES: Action, Drama, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 59min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 21, 2021.

This movie feels pretty tame for an end of the world story featuring Gerard Butler. Greenland tends to lean towards the drama and emotion of the story. It does contain plenty of visual disasters throughout the entire movie. But it does not feel like an empty shell of doomful mayhem like Butler’s other apocalyptic movies. Although a decent production, this movie is not going to be appearing on my list of favorites.


Max Winslow and the House of Secrets (2020)

DIRECTOR: Sean Olson.
WRITERS: Jeff Wild.
MPAA RATING: PG
GENRES: Family, Sci-Fi, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 38min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 21, 2021.

For a family-friendly movie, I found it to be pleasantly enjoyable to watch. Its plot blends the elements of a teen drama, an escape room, and an academic competition. It then adds Alexa Voice Control and a slight dash of science fiction for a bit of fun. Do you remember Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One? I briefly thought about that movie while watching this one. There are numerous similarities in both stories, such as a competition among a group of young people who could inherit a large fortune. The grand prize is a personal gift of great value from a wealthy tech mogul. Anyway, I would recommend this movie for a family viewing or anyone who likes family-friendly stories.


The High Note (2020)

DIRECTOR: Nisha Ganatra.
WRITERS: Flora Greeson.
MPAA RATING: PG-13
GENRES: Drama, Music, Romance.
LENGTH: 1h 53min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 22, 2021.

Although the story seems like another variation of A Star Is Born or a hybrid of the plotline for becoming an entertainment success in Los Angeles, I found the movie entertaining enough. It’s definitely worth renting for a relaxing afternoon viewing. Just do not expect the story to be life-changing or pack an emotional gut punch.


Batman: Soul of the Dragon (2021)

DIRECTOR: Sam Liu.
WRITERS: Jeremy Adams.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Animation, Action, Adventure.
LENGTH: 1h 23min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 27, 2021.

Here is another installment in a string of feature-length animated films from DC Comics and Warner Brothers Animation starring America’s favorite gothic caped crusader. I mostly enjoyed watching this movie, especially when I compare it to a few of the other recent animated movie releases that occur within the DC Universe. A few personal observations from my initial viewing of Soul of the Dragon would be as follows. Act One: James Bond, Act Two: Enter the Dragon, and Act Three: Bury the Lead. Is the movie supposed to be about an ensemble cast of characters? Or an emphasis on a lead character or two? The title alone is referring to the names of two people. As the story begins, it switches between these two main characters. But then it starts adding several others into the mix, and that is when I wonder if I should be focusing on the success of the group dynamics or the individual characters. The movie is a modest tale that borrows from the style of other franchise films. I like it but would not be placing it on my list of absolute favorites.


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Movie Review Weekly Roundup: February 14-20, 2021

The following is part of a weekly compilation of movie reviews from The Buzz Track staff. These movies were watched in the previous week, and the reviews were originally posted on Letterboxd.


The Last Full Measure (2020)

DIRECTOR: Todd Robinson.
WRITERS: Todd Robinson.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, War.
LENGTH: 1h 56min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 14, 2021.

Here is another war centric movie filled with an all-star cast of actors portraying veteran soldiers. The structure of the story is all too familiar of a design. It is from a landlocked point of view from a homeland perspective. In this case, a person who works at the United States Department of Defense is the centric figurehead who learns about those who are courageous enough to be dispatched to other countries during wartime to fight for American patriotism. Its structure borrows a bit from the narrative design of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950). Upon my first viewing of The Last Full Measure, it is a good movie to watch. It hits all the emotional triggers for national patriotism and entertainment enjoyment.


Console Wars (2020)

DIRECTOR: Blake J. Harris, Jonah Tulis.
WRITERS: Jeff Goodby, George Harrison, Tom Kalinske.
MPAA RATING: TV-14
GENRES: Documentary.
LENGTH: 1h 32min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or CBS All Access.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 14, 2021.

This documentary is a fun walk down memory lane. It resides strictly in the realm of the early competition wars with the home video game consoles. In my own family, we played Nintendo and Atari throughout those years of the 1980s and early 90s. The documentary focuses on the competition between Nintendo and Sega during those early years. It was a decent viewing and a nostalgic walk down memory lane.


Waves (2019)

DIRECTOR: Trey Edward Shults.
WRITERS: Trey Edward Shults.
MPAA RATING: R
GENRES: Drama, Romance, Sport.
LENGTH: 2h 15min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 20, 2021.

This movie is a story told in two parts. The first half is about selfishness, self-loathing, and hate. It contains the clichés of an after-school special about a teen who abuses prescription drugs. The second half is about unconditional love, forgiveness, and the bumpy road through the grieving process. The constant change of the aspect ratio would usually annoy the hell out of me. But in this movie, I can see how it compartmentalizes the different emotional states in life perfectly for this story. I am surprised by my positive reaction to viewing this movie. The use of an Alabama Shakes song at the end strikes a perfect chord of feelings.


Affiliate Referral Links Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate referral links embedded within its content. This means The Buzz Track may be monetarily compensated when a visitor clicks on a third-party referral link and makes a qualifying purchase on the affiliated website.

Movie Review Weekly Roundup: February 7-13, 2021

The following is part of a weekly compilation of movie reviews from The Buzz Track staff. These movies were watched in the previous week, and the reviews were originally posted on Letterboxd.


VFW (2020)

DIRECTOR: Joe Begos.
WRITERS: Max Brallier, Matthew McArdle.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Crime, Horror.
LENGTH: 1h 32min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 7, 2021.

Norm and Death walk into a VFW bar. Then all hell breaks loose. With a handful of veteran character actors appearing in it, this movie is a splatterfest about a group of aging military veterans who never lost their skills for combat fighting. I like the actors who are in the movie. And a couple of the fight scenes are cool, too. However, the villains being a gang of drug dealers who look like they stepped out from a post-apocalyptic story is a worn-out trope that makes me yawn. All they want is their supply of drugs back so they can continue peddling it out to the addicts in the neighborhood. And the only people who can stop them are the Vietnam War veterans who usually pass their retirement years getting drunk at the local VFW bar. Hmm, so borderline alcoholics fight to the death to stop drug dealers peddling addictive behaviors? Meh. There are several scenes in the bar that is intentionally shot with a dark lighting setup. This makes it difficult to watch these scenes on a television set in a moderately lit living room.


Silencio (2018)

DIRECTOR: Lorena Villarreal.
WRITERS: Lorena Villarreal.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Mystery, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 38min.
LANGUAGE: Spanish, English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 7, 2021.

The concept of a landlocked “Bermuda Triangle” based in Mexico known as the Mapimí Silent Zone is an intriguing idea. However, this movie only uses the premise of the location to begin and finish its story. The entire midsection of the script takes place elsewhere. A magical stone taken from the Zone of Silence is the only tangible reference to the legendary location for the vast majority of the story. The best part that I enjoyed the most of the entire movie would probably be John Noble’s performance as the aging grandfather who suffers from a magically induced dementia.


Kiliç Aslan / The Sword and the Claw (1975)

DIRECTOR: Natuk Baytan.
WRITERS: Natuk Baytan, Duygu Sagiroglu.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Adventure, War.
LENGTH: 1h 49min.
LANGUAGE: Turkish (English dubbed).
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Alamo On Demand.
★☆☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 7, 2021.

Wow, the English dub had absolutely no budget to hire actual professional voice actors nor a decent Turkish translator. It made a cheaply made movie even worse. The story reminded me of Tarzan. Only in this movie, the orphan is raised by lions instead of apes. The fight sequences are a laugh a minute. Is he supposed to be a savage fighter with a savage pair of hands like a lion? Or is he supposed to be an Olympic gymnast who can jump around on trampolines followed by an athletic routine on the rings and bars? Seriously, though. The absurdity is a laugh a minute. If you love watching badly dubbed, low-budgeted movies from Europe, then this movie might be right down your alley.


The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

DIRECTOR: Susanna Fogel.
WRITERS: Susanna Fogel, David Iserson.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Adventure, Comedy.
LENGTH: 1h 57min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 8, 2021.

We need to see more comedy movies featuring Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis in the leading roles. If you disagree with me, then I should say that I would like to see more movies with the two of them together as comedy buddies. The Spy Who Dumped Me is way more enjoyable of a story to watch than Melissa McCarthy’s Spy (2015). Sorry, Paul Feig.


Game Night (2018)

DIRECTOR: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein.
WRITERS: Mark Perez.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Comedy, Crime.
LENGTH: 1h 40min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 8, 2021.

Here’s a dark comedy that is co-directed by the “kid” from Freaks and Geeks. I love that show. This movie is not exactly a gold mine of comedy, but just about everyone might know a real-life couple who resemble the main characters in this story. And that is what makes the movie so believably great. I liked the movie because it feels like a bit of a twist to the same old whodunit story or an adventurous comedy of bumbling upwards. The multiple false endings to keep the audience guessing the mastermind behind the game is a bit pretentious. But it’s okay. The story takes us on a fun ride. And I would not be surprised if everyone competitive game player would love to experience a similar competition. After all, the concept of escape rooms has skyrocketed in popularity throughout the county. And that concept has been seen in numerous horror stories before.


Queen & Slim (2019)

DIRECTOR: Melina Matsoukas.
WRITERS: Lena Waithe (screenplay), James Frey (story).
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Crime, Drama, Romance.
LENGTH: 2h 12min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 8, 2021.

Dammit. Can someone award Daniel Kaluuya with an Oscar already? The first movie I watched him in was Get Out (2017) on its opening weekend. He was nominated for that movie. Then what really sold me on his acting skills was seeing his performance in Widows (2018). With each new movie, it is apparent this guy is on his way to massive success in his career. This movie is very well done. Jodie Turner-Smith has also given a solid performance in it as well. And I am looking forward to watching more of her movies in the future.


Phil (2019)

DIRECTOR: Greg Kinnear.
WRITERS: Stephen Mazur.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Comedy, Drama.
LENGTH: 1h 46min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★☆☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 8, 2021.

The movie is horrendous. I like the actors who appear in this movie solely based upon their previous credits. It is almost unwatchable from the very start. The story is about a depressed white guy experiencing a mid-life crisis and becomes envious of a client who appears to have his life figured out. The story is formulaic, bland, and boring. It brings absolutely nothing new to the table. It seems to be a practical exercise in making a movie more than actually being an entertaining movie worth watching.


Mission of Honor / Hurricane (2018)

DIRECTOR: David Blair.
WRITERS: Robert Ryan, Alastair Galbraith.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Drama, War.
LENGTH: 1h 47min.
LANGUAGE: English, French, German, Polish.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 9, 2021.

It is not a jaw-dropping, award-winning movie by a long shot, but this movie is a decent watch. The entire story is about the Royal Air Force running low on fighter pilots during World War II, so they enlist Polish pilots for extra assistance. Of course, the drama ensues when several members of both sides appear to dislike each other with a passion. I probably enjoy watching movies that occur during World War II, to put it simply. Therefore I found watching this one rather intriguing.


New Jack City (1991)

DIRECTOR: Mario Van Peebles.
WRITERS: Thomas Lee Wright, Barry Michael Cooper.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Crime, Drama.
LENGTH: 1h 37min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 13, 2021.

It was good, but it could be better. It is clearly a dated movie with a narrow view of the drug-dealing culture in New York City. Having Chris Rock portray a drug addict is different from the rest of his roles. I will give some credit to this movie for that little bit of change. And then having Ice T portray an undercover cop in this movie years before his recurring role in Law & Order SVU is a prediction in its own right. Wesley Snipes is over the top as he usually is in most of his movie roles. Overall it was an okay story. The movie will not exactly appear in my Top Favorites list any time soon.


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