Top_Dawg_Critic

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Reviews

Mass
(2021)

I never knew the critics are so bored.
I mean who the heck has almost two hours to waste staring at a conversation that could've lasted 15 mins smh? We thought 2+ hours had passed by, and when we checked, we barely were into this mess 45 mins. We wanted to stick pencils in our ears and eyes, to rid us of the pain we had just sat through. Fran Kranz has successfully made a film to punish people. Force someone to sit through this entire 2 hr paint-drying-pacing escapade to teach them a lesson. Heck, we can even use this as torture tactics against our enemies. Personally, I'd rather get waterboarded, at least it'll be over in 20-30 mins. Where Kranz really failed, is in his two hour torture, he should've added flashbacks to what happened. At least that would've given the viewer a break in the monotony, and created some level of thrill and suspense. Add the fact that the acting was horrible and seemed forced and fake - even the churchy young blond gal who was annoyingly overzealous. There was legitimately nothing redeeming in this film. It's a generous 2/10, only because I enjoyed watching Aunt Lydia out of her evil element.

Arctic Void
(2022)

Such a wasted opportunity.
Three writers and not one could come up with an actual ending? What's worse, is that this film could've so easily been epic. It had excellent directing, amazing cinematography, beautiful landscapes and settings, spot on score, and the cast and performances were great. For a low budget indie film, this can school even some experienced filmmakers on how to create the perfect suspense and environment for its genre. Even the writing was great until about the final act. There were no plot holes or technical issues, then the ending just got sloppy and boring. Seeing the little special effects with the animals brings the tension and suspense level right up, and you know it's building up to something huge, and then, boom!, a total let down. Budget can't be the excuse, because imagination is free. It's seems more like the writers got bored and/or lazy. Such an easy fix and what a shame. Sadly, it's only a 7/10 from me, all going to the first three-quarters of what was almost a perfect film, and it could've easily been more, if there was a little more effort.

Shattered
(2022)

Wasted star talent.
I feel bad for Malkovich and Grillo having to have this mess on their resume, they both deserve much better. The only other convincing performances was from the lovely Sasha Luss and Ash Santos. Experienced actor Cameron Monaghan seemed bored and barely awake, yet newb actress Lilly Krug performed her heart out as Sky, but was just too much, and came across borderline annoying.

Directing by Luis Prieto was decent although bland, and the cinematography and score were on point. But David Loughery's screenplay was unremarkable and predictable, and had every cliche for this genre. At least the pacing was decent, that the 92 min runtime got to the ending quick enough.

It's an ok one-time watch, even if just to see Malkovich and Grillo having a great time, and/or Lilly Krug, putting some sweet lingerie to good use. It's a generous 6/10 from me.

Blue Bloods: On the Arm
(2022)
Episode 11, Season 12

Wow, mad props to the writers.
Such a unusual-ly refreshingly unique episode. Truly amazing subplots, I for one, who's been watching police shows for decades, would ever expect to see. So well done with the usual show of humanity and the Regan logic. Loved it! Can't wait to see the next "hacker busted" episode. A perfect 10/10 from me - even if just for the originality in the entire episode's writing.

Shershaah
(2021)

This IS a world record!
Don't be fooled by the record breaking bogus all new accounts high reviews, this was a terrible film, not even close to the current rating. Chop that in half, maybe. The screenplay was all over the place and the acting bland. Directing was amateurish at best. The only redeeming quality was the cinematography.

A Living Dog
(2019)

An utterly long, boring, and amateur production.
I appreciate and support newb filmmakers (of which they aren't entirely new), even more when their film is independently funded, but there's no excuse for such long dragged out nonsense in the lazy writing.

It was just once scene after the other of the exact same nonsense - running, hiding, laser rays, repeat. The normally just-right 94 min runtime felt like almost 3 hours with the long dragged out and mostly unnecessary scenes, and the slow pacing. Aside from this story being told so many times before - all much better, there was just way too much filler and very little substance. Had this been chopped down to a 15 min or so short film, it would've shined, and made the dialogue-less 94 min runtime more bearable. I get that the machines have great hearing, but I doubt it was better than the aliens in "A Quiet Place", so being in a basement with nothing in sight for miles and zero dialogue, is lazy writing imo. Giving the viewer all this filler and expecting them to do all your work to figure out what's going on, in place of dialogue, is writing I'd expect from a 5th grade drama class. Never mind the cringeworthy plot and technical issues. Again, lack of funding is no excuse for lazy and sloppy writing.

What this film did have going for it, was an great score and excellent cinematography. The aerial views were all on point, but the irrelevant sudden shots of flower, bugs on the ground, etc, was just amateur directing and the cherry on top for the wasted whipped cream filler. The "machines" looked decent on the screen for the most part, but those CGI explosions and laser beams were a laughable 1970's quality. Even the editing (was there any?) was horrible. So never mind the current four reviews of 7, 8, 9 and 10/10 (hmm, I see a pattern), this is a very generous 5/10 from me.

Eternals
(2021)

Worst MCU movie ever.
This was the most unremarkable superhero movie I've seen. The writing was lazy, sloppy, clunky, convoluted, incoherent, and riddled with plot issues, especially with the dizzying and boring backstories. Aside from some decent S/VFX, there were zero "wow" moments. Rarely do I keep checking my watch to see how much more time I have to put up with this nonsense. Even the casting felt out of place, like anyone off the street can be made to look and act as a superhero. Jolie seemed bored. Gemma Chan and Richard Madden were the only convincing performances. Even each Eternal's superpower was lame, and confusing what exactly they can do (except Madden with his X-Men eye power). The one girl was a deaf Flash? It took four to five writers to come up with this slow-paced 156 min Eternally long and boring nonsense? What a waste of a budget. It's a 6/10 from me. Please, no part 2, and if it is a must, eliminate Chloé Zhao and the writers from the equation. Give it to Snyder.

Children Ruin Everything
(2022)

The perfect contraceptive TV show doesn't ex...
If you're considering having kids, this show might change your mind. So far so good for the pilot. All the funny stuff shown in the TV trailers was pretty much in this episode, and was still funny. The cast and performances were spot on, and the little brats were, well, brats. For now it's a 7/10 because I've seen everything in the trailers and knew what I'd get, so let's see what the next episodes give us.

The 355
(2022)

Another "Charlie's Angels" we didn't need.
Nothing really extraordinary here, just your typical predictable derivative cliched "Spy Agents save the world" - girlie style, and all the bad guys are, well, guys.

The action was decent, as was the cinematography and score, and all the ladies performances were great. But the writing was dull and riddled with plot and technical issues, and the runtime didn't really need to be 122 mins long. I mean we've already seen this many times before, usually in 90 mins.

It's a forgettable one-time watch, because there's no other decent action films starting off 2022. It's a 7.5/10, rounded up to an 8 for the lovely all star ladies that tried their best with what Kinberg gave them to work with.

Darwin
(2016)

A well-shot low budget Canadian indie sci-fi film.
This is editor turned newb director Benjamin Duffield's first full length feature film, written by actor Robert Higden in his first full length feature screenplay, and I must say, for newb filmmakers, this was a well shot film that will captivate you and hold your attention.

Although the premise is sci-fi, there's a little sappy romance thrown in, of which blends in nicely. The 77 min runtime flew by, even with the somewhat slow pacing. I would've liked to have seen more substance and/or some sub-plots, as well as some action thrown into the story, as that would've elevated this film to a higher level. I will say that the story is still unique in many ways, and certainly thought-provoking.

The cinematography and setting/landscapes were on point, and the score spot-on for a low budget B-film. The S/VFX were well done for a low budget. The performances were great, although I wasn't keen on the narrated voice. It was portraying Darwin, but clearly there was no way that would ever be his voice. Had they actually used Darwin's voice, it would've made a huge difference for the better. For that matter, even the dialogue and voice could've been better for the "World Authority". Overall a decent and entertaining watch, especially if you're a post-apocalyptic-sci-fi film fan. It's a well deserved 7.5/10 rounded up to 8 for the new filmmakers. Hopefully they take advantage of the potential for a Part 2.

The Commando
(2021)

Such a waste of decent talent.
I'm a fan of both Michael Jai White, and the almost 70 years old Mickey Rourke, who is - botox aside, still built like a brick house. But what experienced B-film writer, producer and director Asif Akbar, along with two other experienced B-film filmmakers/writers gave use here, is an embarrassment to MJW and Rourke. How these three seasoned filmmakers and producers could present this mess, is astonishing.

The conceptual story was interesting, and had potential. But the terrible screenplay with long dragged out scenes and laughable dialogue, along with Akbar's 5th grade drama class level of directing, just made the entire film cringe, with the viewer praying for the end credits.

The sound was off and distant - y'all ever hear of "boom mics"? The score was your typical B-grade loud, constant, annoying and unfitting score. The cinematography and camera work was horrid. The acting lacked any direction, and for the most part, you can tell the actors tried their best, considering. There were endless plot and technical issues. Even the action was poorly choreographed and looked like something out of the 80's. The editing was really bad, with scenes dragged out and/or unnecessary. The 93 min runtime felt endless with the slow pacing and dragged out scenes. There was just too much nonsense filler, and very little substance, and everything was predictable and cliched.

I don't know who's funding Akbar's films, but they should make him go to film school before handing over any more cash for other films. It's a very generous 3/10 from me.

Weekend Warriors
(2021)

Amateur hour... and a half.
Decent conceptual story, but horrible execution in every way. The writing and directing was so bad and amateurish, you'd wonder if either went to film school. Cinematography was washed out with terrible camera angles, and even worse editing. One example - a guy on a ATV is speeding past the camera's frame, then all of a sudden it's flipped over with the rider under it. Really? A 5th grade drama class wouldn't give us such amateur nonsense. The score was your typical constant non-stop annoying and unfitting B-film score. The screenplay was riddled with plot and technical issues with too much filler and very little substance. The 93 min runtime dragged on forever - even with somewhat decent pacing, mostly from these long dragged out and unnecessary scenes. With proper editing, you'd be lucky to present a cohesive and coherent story no longer than 60 mins. The directing was clearly a sloppy mess, and you can tell the actors tried their best with zero cast direction. The only stand-out performance was the very talented, sassy and funny little Juliet Rusche, who pretty much carried the entire film, and the only reason I'm giving this a very generous 3/10.

The 15:17 to Paris
(2018)

Proof, that amatuer screenwriters can take down even the best directors.
Why Eastwood would direct a screenplay from a Production Assistant/Secretary is baffling. He should've at least looked it over and made changes, or even team her up with a seasoned screenwriter. But what he gave us here, is a flop, and an embarrassment to his filmmaking career.

Even at a mere 94 mins long, the slow pacing and overstuffed filler made this feel like a dragged out 3 hour film. Many critics didn't like the timeline jumps, and/or the unrelated backstory of them as youngsters, but I didn't mind any of that at all. What failed those elements is the lack of cohesiveness of the subplots, and the horrible dialogue and constant cheesy useless scenes (e.g. Selfie stick pics). The only decent part was the 15 min action scene, but the rest was a flaccid dragged out bore. Even though the three actual non-actor heroes were cast, they didn't do too bad and were somewhat convincing, but feel they would've been much better with proper writing and directing.

It's still a worth watch, even to see the heroes reenacting their real life drama, but it's a one time watch when you have nothing else better to watch. It's a generous 6/10 from me.

National Champions
(2021)

A sports drama, without, well, any sports.
As a 116 mins long sports drama, I was expecting to see at least one game. But instead it was scenes in and out of hotel rooms with some soap-opera melodramatics and twists. I will say though, this did feel very real, and I'm curious if this story was conceived as a slap in the face to college football et al. The performances by all were excellent and captivating, especially J. K. Simmons, and the only reason I sat through the entire film. The ending was underwhelming, and I never did get to see any game, but the film was still unique and well put together. This may not be for everyone, especially if you don't follow college football or sports in general. It's a generous 7/10 from me.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
(2021)

The reboot we didn't need.
Don't get fooled by the "Resident Evil" in the name, this film is nothing even close to the OG Resident Evil franchise with Milla Jovovich. The writing and directing by Johannes Roberts basically gives us a dumbed-down version of the series as a prequel. It has every cliche possible for your basic zombie film, with choppy action, and a flat and sloppy screenplay that's riddled with plot and technical issues. The S/VFX and cinematography were the only decent parts of this film. The cast did their best trying to make this film interesting, especially Neal McDonough and the decent Venom-ish prosthetics and gorey visual effects, but even they couldn't save the writing and directing. If you go into this expecting the resemblance of dynamics and creativity from the original series, you'll be very disappointed. If you go into it as just another zombie flick, you might enjoy it. It's a generous 6/10 from me.

Last Looks
(2021)

Where's Waldo? Nobody cares.
This film was an all around bore and such a waste of talent. The 110 min runtime felt like over 3 hours, with slow pacing, and long dragged out and unnecessary scenes. I've never read the novel, but what I saw here was the lamest whodunnit film I've seen in a long time. The genres labeled where Action, Crime and Mystery, and I struggled to find any one of them. There were characters that were irrelevant and pretty much filler and a waste of film. The story was nonsense, and the sluthing was infantile and illogical. The screenplay was riddled with plot and technical issues, and scenes felt unfinished and/or unnecessary. The writing and some of the dialogue felt lazy and sloppy. It's something I'd expect to see on Lifetime in one of those murder-mystery TV shows with no name actors. Mel Gibson shined and pulled off that drunken snob Brit accent with ease, and Hunnam was ok. I wanted to see more of Morena Baccarin in that smoke-show outfit. Most of the cast did their best to save this mess, but even with the cool soundtrack, this was a huge miss. It's a generous 6/10 from me, mostly because Gibson was the only entertainment in the entire film.

Red Stone
(2021)

Neal McDonough deserves better than this.
This was probably one of the worst directed films I've seen in a long time. Novice writer and director Derek Presley also failed miserably in directing his cast, as everyone - except McDonough, seemed lost, bored, and didn't know how to act. He kept filming scenes that should've been ended, with the cast just standing around waiting for him to say "cut". Then you have a convoluted story with random unexplained scenes. What was the entire first 5-10 mins about? Drive up to a bridge, see a car, look around, a phone rings and you leave. Total amateur hour filmmaking. Never mind the ridiculous and easily avoidable plot and technical issues. Then you add the slow as molasses pacing, and the unnecessarily long - and what seemed unedited 97 min runtime, and you'll be pulling your hair out wanting it all to end. Presley should've at least had a seasoned writer fix his screenplay, because with such little substance and too much filler, this may have worked as a short or made-for-TV 1 hour film. Low budget B film or not, inexperienced filmmaker or not, there was no excuse to leave so many easily fixable flaws. I wouldn't even expect such a mess from a 5th grade drama class. The score started off loud and annoying, but either I got used to it, or it simmered down towards the end. This film did have some hope and promise to allow overlooking some flaws, but it just had too many of them, and knowing even a decent editor could've fixed most of them, is inexcusable. It's a very generous 3/10 from me, all going to McDonough who was the only one that did anything to hold up this mess while it was drowning.

The Matrix Resurrections
(2021)

The Wachowskis have overstayed their welcome.
My first issue is the casting; replacing with/adding all these kids to play adult roles makes for an immature and unconvincing film. The new Morpheus character was a joke and embarrassment to the original Matrix. I felt he was making a mockery more than anything else to Fishburne's character. Then adding a "captain" who looks 16 years old with blue hair and named Bugs(??) is cringeworthy and infantile. And how did most of these new characters develop a barely-legible British accent lmao? The only convincing and exciting actor was the amazing Keanu Reeves, who also gave us some laughs. Even Jada Pinkett Smith's acting felt as old and outdated as her characters age.

My next issue is the lazy convoluted and dull writing with the constant flashbacks from the previous films, that pretty much made this film a lame repeat of the original Matrix. Don't get me started on the major plot and technical issues. The entire first quarter of the film was just nonsense. The camerawork, mediocre action sequences and editing were amateurishly choppy and sloppy. The only interesting (and different) narrative was the love story, but that's not the only part the Matrix fans want to see. May as well just watch reruns of Teen Wolf.

The cinematography, V/SFX and score were the only decent parts. Time for Wachowski to take up needlepoint. It's a generous 7/10 from me.

Hitman
(2007)

The international version of 007 meets John Wick.
Nobody: Me with the ladies... is the Hitman character played awesomely by Timothy Olyphant's style with the ladies, a nice touch by writer Skip Woods, who imo wrote a knock-out screenplay. I saw this film after the 2015 more recent "Hitman: Agent 47" of which I wasn't too impressed by the hack-job by the director and writers - including Woods, who now I realize the blame goes to his writing partner Michael Finch (who also wrote the upcoming "John Wick: Chapter 4" and better not mess that franchise up like he did this one), seeing how excellent Wood's screenplay was in this one. I mean Wood's screenplay here was pretty much flawless imo, with zero plot and technical issues.

I'm actually baffled how the critics and audience slammed this one, some even saying the second (sloppy and convoluted) film was better. Wood's screenplay was outstanding with minimal cliches and some nice surprises with excellent action and twists in this one. I'd even say this film is in my top 10 of all time hitman films. So I'm not sure what more the critics expected. Director Xavier Gens hit this one out of the ballpark, especially considering back in 2007 he was a newb filmmaker and this one was only his 2nd full length feature film. His action shots and choreography were excellent, and the suspense and tension he created made the 100 min runtime fly by, I actually wanted much more. No so in the sequel that was terribly directed by Aleksander Bach.

The cinematography, sets, locations and score were spot-on. The casting and performances were all-around excellent, especially the lovely and alluring Olga Kurylenko, and Timothy Olyphant, who was way more convincing than the Mr. Bean-like character played by Rupert Friend in the sequel. Even Dougray Scott stole the show compared to the sequel's, Spock's Zachary Quinto.

I'll definitely be watching this one again, and highly recommend this to the genre fans out there like me. Ignore the critics, this one is a gem. It's a well deserved 8.5 rounded up to a 9/10 from me.

Sniper
(2020)

Having completed 12 international tours as a Navy SEAL-Team 8 sniper, I probably liked this film more than others.
I'm not sure if the writer and director are related, but this was each of the Huang's first filmmaking attempt as writers and director, and is clearly shows. The story was cliched and predictable, with a annoying sappy melodramatic score. The dialogue was cheesy, and my version of the English subtitles were worse than a fortune cookie's Chinese-to-English translation. There were plot holes galore, and most of the camera work was amateurish, but the sets, location and cinematography were decent. Even all the head-shot S/VFX were convincing, as were most of the action scenes. The slow-mo sniper shots and scope views were excellent and realistic. There were some technical issues, such as the few seconds require to re-chamber a round would've opened up return-fire tactical opportunities, but nevertheless, for an international film by amateur filmmakers, it was shot well. The 85 min runtime flew by with decent pacing. The acting was good for the most part. Thus it's a 6/10 from me.

Hitman: Agent 47
(2015)

One of the best Audi commercials I've seen
This film had amazing cinematography, excellent choreography, and I loved the over-abundance of mindless action, but one of the problems is the mis-casting of Rupert Friend, who imo, was the flattest, boring, and unconvincing action character I've ever seen. I kept visualizing him as a bald Mr. Bean, but Mr. Bean being the better action character. I'm sure part blame goes to the inexperience leading to failure of Aleksander Bach directing his cast properly, although for an amateur first-time filmmaker, his directing (especially the action) was very impressive - almost Michael Bay-ish. But the biggest problem with this film, was the convoluted, misguided, soulless, and muddled screenplay. Add the terrible editing - with scenes popping in and out of nowhere (who was the guy on the ground mid-end credits that opened his eyes, and why?). The score was spot on and most of the casting and performances were on point, especially the easy-on-the-eyes firecracker smokeshow Hannah Ware. Had this film had a once-over by seasoned filmmakers - even as consultants, it could've been the Polish/British John Wick. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it, especially the action, and thus giving this one a 7/10.

Mother/Android
(2021)

This felt like an overlong TV series episode. Wait, hmmm... 🤔
Writer, producer and director Mattson Tomlin's experience is short films, and you can tell after seeing this one. The 110 min runtime felt much longer with all the filler, little substance, and slow pacing. However, even though there's nothing groundbreaking in his story, it was still told in a suspense-filled way that it held my attention, and the added twist was actually brilliant and a refreshing change in the otherwise dragged-out forest camping excursion. Tomlin's directing, the spot-on score, and the excellent cinematography, successfully created a chilling atmosphere that felt eerily realistic. I only wish it had more substance, more apocalyptic action, more thrills, and less depressing melodramatics. I feel this concept and the way it was filmed, and the excellent performance by Moretz, could be a successful mini-series. Imagine the story continuing in Korea and it's not what you expected, and only then does the film's title start to make sense. Hulu, are you listening? I feel the critics also went a little hard on this one; considering the clearly low budget used extremely well, and the eerie feel Tomlin created, along with Moretz's stellar performance, this is deserving nothing less than my well deserved 7/10, but could've easily been at least an 8 and above with simple proper changes.

Don't Look Up
(2021)

What could've been a much better parabolic, paradoxal satirical dark comedy, luckily, was saved by the all-star cast.
Producer, writer and director Adam McKay had a great concept with some excellent ideas and dialogue, but it was sluggish, scattershot, and needed to be more refined, fun and absurd. He lazily didn't cash in on the full parabolic, paradoxal, satirical, and dark comedy key elements. What's worse, is that he had more than enough time in his ridiculously bloated 138 min runtime (for a comedy?) to get it right. There was substance to his story, it was just poorly executed, especially with all the added filler to fill in his runtime. Then adding the ridiculous scene edits popping in and out of nowhere, became annoying very fast. In the right hands, this concept could have been executed brilliantly.

Thankfully the buckets of all-star talent kept the interest alive, and helped to get us to the 138 min long finish line. I will say that I did see this twice, as to not disappoint two groups of friends. I enjoyed it much more (especially the hilarious - evident and sometimes hidden, dialogue) the second time watching this film, mostly due to our group's indulgence of alcoholic beverages and fine recreational pharmaceuticals. So I suggest also watching this film in a festive mood, and thus why I'm still giving this one a winning rating of 8/10.

The Matrix Revolutions
(2003)

Better story and visuals than the last one.
They really upped the ante with all the stunning visuals and effects on this one. It actually had a good story (still not as amazing or in-depth as the first film), told properly, albeit some convalusion. The fight scenes were of decent length and better choreographed. Cinematography was excellent and the score on point. 8/10 from me.

The Matrix Reloaded
(2003)

Huge fall from the original
The writing lacked much depth as most of it was filler with very little substance, a huge difference from the amazing story throughout the first film. There were too many melodramatics and too many and too long unnecessary fight scenes and visual effects. Sounds weird I'm complaining about the abundance of things I like, but without a solid story, they become less impressive and more of an annoyance. Let's hope the continuation is better. Sadly it's a 7/10 from me.

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