Movie Review Weekly Roundup: March 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.


Adverse (2020)

DIRECTOR: Brian A. Metcalf.
WRITERS: Brian A. Metcalf.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Crime, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 34min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: March 14, 2021.

After his Oscar-nominated performance in The Wrestler (2008), it has been a hit or miss for Mickey Rourke’s subsequent films. This movie is decent but mostly forgettable. There are plenty of good actors who appear in it; for example, Sean Astin, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Penelope Ann Miller. However, Thomas Ian Nicholas has the leading role, and his performance needs improvement. Particularly the display of anger, panic, and anxiety just does not seem believable enough. Otherwise, the movie is better than I had expected when I sat down to watch it. But it does not leave a memorable impression on me.


Skyfire / 天·火 (2019)

DIRECTOR: Simon West.
WRITERS: Wei Bu, Sidney King.
MPAA RATING: Unrated
GENRES: Action, Drama, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 34min.
LANGUAGE: English, Mandarin.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: March 16, 2021.

Sure thing, this movie might have Jason Isaacs appearing in a supporting role. But the movie is basically a re-wrapped version of Jurassic World (2015) featuring a volcano instead of dinosaurs. The majority of the production was shot with the actors speaking in Mandarin, but I watched the dubbed version featuring voice-over actors performing with American accents. The dubbed version sounded a bit disjointed with the on-screen performances. The two elements do not mesh together very well. I thought the entire story is a bit cheesy. When it comes to disaster flicks about volcanoes, I am preferential to Dante’s Peak (1997).


Critical Thinking (2020)

DIRECTOR: John Leguizamo.
WRITERS: Dito Montiel.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama.
LENGTH: 1h 57min.
LANGUAGE: English, Spanish.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: March 17, 2021.

John Leguizamo directs and acts in this movie. It is based upon true events which occurred in the late ’90s at a high school in Florida. The structure of its story feels like a typical movie centered around a high school sports team that makes it all the way to the state championships. But the sport they are playing is not basketball, baseball, or football. It is the school’s chess team. Yes, chess. I really enjoyed watching the movie. I would definitely consider it to be worthy of a second and third viewing. Maybe I will order take out from Red Lobster to enjoy during the next watch.


Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

DIRECTOR: Zack Snyder.
WRITERS: Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder, Will Beall.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Categories.
LENGTH: 4h 2min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: March 18, 2021.

Zack Snyder’s version is better than Joss Whedon’s theatrical cut. It fleshes out the details of the story arcs and backstories for the characters. It also includes more screen time for the supporting characters from the other DC Universe films, which is nice to see. One thing I struggled with is the aspect ratio. Why did Snyder go with the old-school 1.33:1 television aspect ratio? It makes the visual feel of the movie a bit cramped and goes against the widescreen coziness of all the previous superhero movies in recent decades. It took me a while before I discovered the formatting was intended that way for maximization of the IMAX screen in a theatrical projection. Also, I think the moment when Barry Allen meets Iris West for the first time and then saves her life from a car accident is an emotionally satisfying highlight of the first half. The most appealing element about this version would be the feeling of completion. It fleshes out more of the story with greater detail. The pacing does not feel rushed. And there are a lot of new supporting scenes that help explain the story as a whole.


Breaking News in Yuba County (2021)

DIRECTOR: Tate Taylor.
WRITERS: Amanda Idoko.
MPAA RATING: R
GENRES: Comedy, Crime, Drama.
LENGTH: 1h 36min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: March 20, 2021.

The pacing is fast-paced and in a rush, and only the primary plot points are holding up almost every scene. There is no time spent on letting the characters live in the moment and letting the tension build. It just feels like a “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” of a movie. I really like a lot of the actors who appear in this movie. But the story and pacing are absolutely horrendous. It is not even worth a second viewing.


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