Movie Review Weekly Roundup: May 2 – May 8, 2021

The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017) directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan.

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 Quarry (2020)

DIRECTOR: Scott Teems.
WRITERS: Scott Teems and Andrew Brotzman (script), Damon Galgut (book).
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Crime, Mystery, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 43min.
LANGUAGE: English, Spanish.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: May 2, 2021.

A white man commits a heinous crime and feels guilty about it. But he does nothing about it over and over and over again as a Mexican American person unwillingly becomes his scapegoat. The entire plot is stagnant and continually perpetuates the racist tropes in movie storytelling for the sake of convenience. I did not care for the story even though the actors are good at their job.

Death of Me (2020)

DIRECTOR: Darren Lynn Bousman.
WRITERS: Ari Margolis, James Morley III, David Tish.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Horror, Mystery, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 35min.
LANGUAGE: English, Thai.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: May 2, 2021.

The best way I could describe the movie is to refer to it as a lightweight knock-off of Rosemary’s Baby and Wicker Man, but based on a rural island right off the coastline of Thailand. The main couple is not completely familiar with all of the social customs celebrated and honored by the island residents; therefore, the outsiders quickly fall into a deep rabbit hole of terror. I thought the movie was going to be horrendously cheesy and bad. I began my viewing of the movie with a preset of low expectations. It actually entertained me a bit more than I had anticipated. I might actually watch it again at some point in the future.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)

DIRECTOR: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan.
WRITERS: Paul Fisher, Bob Logan, et al.
GENRES: Animation, Action, Adventure.
LENGTH: 1h 41min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: May 2, 2021.

The movie does not feel like anything special, other than an ode to Asian cinema and pop culture wrapped up in American sentimentality and jokes. I am completely aware that the Ninjago world pre-exists as a line of LEGO products before the movie’s release. I say its storyline jumps the shark if it wasn’t for that tongue-in-cheek shark joke that appears early on in the movie. It made me laugh. Who wants a shark? You get a shark, and you get a shark! Nom, nom, nom, nom!

Mighty Oak (2020)

DIRECTOR: Sean McNamara.
WRITERS: Matt Allen.
GENRES: Comedy, Drama.
LENGTH: 1h 42min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: May 2, 2021.

The movie comes across as an after-school special is blended with a sentimental movie for the Hallmark Channel. It’s cute, sentimental, and adorably cheesy. Since the vast majority of the movie was shot on location in many suburban neighborhoods of San Diego, it quickly made me feel homesick. I was born and raised in southern California. Many of the locations appearing in the movie are familiar territory for me. Shout out to Lestat’s Coffee! In fact, a favorite restaurant of mine is located right across the street from the Lafayette Hotel, which is prominently featured toward the end of the movie.

Some Kind of Heaven (2020)

DIRECTOR: Lance Oppenheim.
GENRES: Documentary.
LENGTH: 1h 23min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: May 8, 2021.

The documentary is okay. The subject focuses upon a depressive slant in an otherwise joyous environment. The featured players at the forefront of the story are either lonely or in a downward spiral. But they are surrounded by shiny, happy retirees. I understand documentaries must discover and present a story to focus on from start to finish. But why this depressing angle? Why not focus on any or all of the other happy people who live in the retirement community?

From Hell It Came (1957)

DIRECTOR: Dan Milner.
WRITERS: Richard Bernstein (script), Jack Milner (story).
GENRES: Horror, Science Fiction.
LENGTH: 1h 11min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: May 8, 2021.

I watched this cheesy, low-budget thanks to Svengoolie‘s weekend show on MeTV. It is so corny to the point of plausibly being a guilty pleasure movie. The run time is short and sweet, clocking in around one hour and eleven minutes long. Clearly, it is intended to be the B-movie at a double feature matinee back in the 50s. It seems so weird with a contemporary perspective how they hired non-Polynesian actors for the speaking roles of the local island natives. It is not a complete washout. There are a few Pacific Islanders hired to serve as background actors in a few of the scenes.

OtherLife (2017)

DIRECTOR: Ben C. Lucas.
WRITERS: Kelley Eskridge, Ben C. Lucas, Gregory Widen.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Crime, Drama, Mystery.
LENGTH: 1h 36min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: May 8, 2021.

The movie is a decent science fiction story. Although it feels more like it could be an episode from a television series, it still is an enjoyable watch. Lead actress Jessica De Gouw carries the vast majority of the movie’s screen time. She does a decent job with her performance. I liked the movie and would probably watch it a second time at some point later on.

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