Review of "Brahms: The Boy 2"

While Sean (Owain Yeoman) was working late on a project, his wife Liza (Katie Holmes) and son Jude (Christopher Convery) are attacked in their London flat during a home invasion. Liza suffers a concussion and Jude is so traumatized he stops speaking, communicating by writing message on a pad he wears around his neck. The family decides they need to take a break from the city and rent a guest house on the Heelshire property. The Heelshire home has been vacant since the murders that took place there a few years earlier. A speculator bought the house and attempted to turn it into luxury condos, but various delays caused him to abandon the project. While the family is strolling through the woods, Jude is drawn away from his parents toward a patch of ground with a porcelain hand sticking up from the dirt. Digging in the soft ground, Jude finds an antique doll that he calls Brahms. Liza cleans up Brahms and he becomes Jude’s constant companion. During another walk with Liza, Jude finds a box with clothes for the doll. They also meet Joseph (Ralph Ineson) and his dog, a German Sheppard named Oz. Joseph describes himself as a caretaker of the grounds. Oz growls at Brahms and Jude. Strange events occur in the vacation home with a TV turning itself on, unexplained footsteps and voices, and Liza’s nightmares involving Brahms. Is there more to this doll than just a creepy dead stare?

“Brahms: The Boy 2” is a sequel to the financially successful but critically derided “The Boy” from 2016. Both films heavily feature a lifelike antique doll and the odd events that occur in its vicinity. I hadn’t seen “The Boy” prior to its sequel, but out of curiosity, I rented it after I watched the follow up. While both films share the same director and writer, I was shocked at how the creative team seemed to have forgotten what happened in the first film while making the second. And aside from that, the sequel is painfully dull and doesn’t follow its own rules.

“Brahms: The Boy 2” implies the child of the married couple is already a little twisted before meeting the doll as he enjoys scaring his mother. In the opening scene, Katie Holmes’ Liza walks in their home and Jude can be seen in the openings between the stairs. It’s that classic horror movie scene where the victim walks in the room and the villain is slightly out of focus in the background, then walks out of the shot. In this instance, this sets up Jude frightening his mother, something he was taught to do by his father. Jude takes an abundance of joy in scaring his mother and that’s supposed to set up the audience for what’s to come. However, the film doesn’t work that hard to frighten us for the rest of the scant 86-minute run time. The only other time the audience might feel a surge of adrenalin is when Joseph’s dog barks when we meet he and Oz for the first time. No other moment in the film comes close to providing any sort of thrill after that.

Precious little happens in “Brahms: The Boy 2.” After the home invasion in the opening minutes and a child being impaled on a sharp stick midway or so, there isn’t much going on in the film. Katie Holmes struggles mightily to look concerned, confused and frightened by all the nothingness going on around her. It’s a losing battle. Holmes and the rest of the cast are trying to swim upstream with both hands and one leg tied behind their backs. All they can do is flop around as artistically as possible. It’s not pretty to watch.

If you haven’t seen “The Boy” and plan to, you will want to skip this paragraph as there will be spoilers for the 2016 original. You’ve been warned. Ready?

SPOILERS

In the final act of “The Boy,” we learn Brahms, the actual child of the Heelshires, survived the fire that was thought to have killed him and was living in the walls of the home wearing a porcelain mask similar to the doll. Actions that appeared to be done by the doll, or a spirit living in the doll, were done by the now nearly 30-year-old Brahms. There was nothing supernatural about the strange events. In “Brahms: The Boy 2,” the living Brahms is nowhere to be found and everything happening around the doll may be supernatural. Scenes from the first film are repurposed for the sequel while also retconning the story to make it fit. The way this film ends it makes it appear there is something else that channels the otherworldly forces at work. The film’s writer, Stacey Menear, apparently doesn’t mind changing or ignoring the rules of her own creation for the sake of expediency. Retconning is common in long-running genre franchises. Major and minor tweaks to the history of “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and the “X-Men” franchises don’t seem to have hurt the desire of audiences to keep watching their favorite characters. Sometimes there is online fanboy outrage, but people keep buying tickets and the world keeps turning. However, when you are only two films into what is hoped to be an ongoing series, you can’t be taking an eraser to your too brief history.

“Brahms: The Boy 2” is rated PG-13 for terror, violence, disturbing images and thematic elements. Terror, not so much. We see hot candle wax thrown in a character’s face. A character is hit in the head with the butt of a shotgun. A woman is attacked in her home by two masked men. She fights back but is struck in the head and knocked unconscious. We see a boy bullying Jude about his mental issues after the attack. A child is shown impaled on a sharp stick. The carcass of a dead animal is shown in the forest. Disturbing images are shown in Liza’s dreams.

Maybe the writer was out of ideas. Maybe the deadline crept up and the creative team played word association games to get the script done (the release date was moved back twice). Maybe the studio wanted to get another inexpensive film in the same universe out in theaters hoping no one would care it wasn’t very good. “Brahms: The Boy 2” is worse than not very good, it’s boring. It’s less than 90 minutes long but feels like more than two hours. I give a film the benefit of the doubt if I get the impression the makers actually tried, but this pitiful sequel feels like those in charge gave up and slapped some scenes together so they could move on to the next project. They fulfilled their contractual obligations, cashed their checks and the audience be damned. I know movies are mostly about making money, but they should also be about not insulting the paying audience. On that front, the makers of “Brahms: The Boy 2” failed miserably.

“Brahms: The Boy 2” gets one dim star out of five.

Only one new film is opening in wide release this week, but there some interesting arthouse films that I might need to see as well. I’ll review at least one of the following:

The Assistant—

The Invisible Man—

The Lodge—

Listen to Comedy Tragedy Marriage, a podcast about life, love and entertainment, available wherever you get podcasts. Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman123@gmail.com.

Link to "Fantasy Island" Review

Click below to see my WIMZ.com review of “Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island.”

https://wimz.com/blogs/stan-movie-man/1723/review-of-blumhouses-fantasy-island/

Opening this week is a horror sequel and the fifth time this classic book has been made into a movie. I’ll see at least one of the following:

Brahms: The Boy 2–

The Call of the Wild–

Listen to Comedy Tragedy Marriage, a podcast about life, love and entertainment, available wherever you get podcasts. Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman123@gmail.com.

Review of "Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)"

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker have broken up, for good this time. Harley is looking to establish herself as a criminal force to be reckoned with in Gotham, however without the protection of her former boyfriend, she becomes of the target of everyone with a grudge against her. One of those people is Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), nightclub owner and the king of crime on the east side of Gotham City. Sionis has plenty of enemies of his own including GCPD Det. Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). She’s been building a case against him for years but can’t get enough evidence to get support from DA Ellen Yee (Ali Wong). The singer at Sionis’ club is Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). She has a beautiful voice and a hidden ability. She also has a crush on Sionis. Someone is using a crossbow to kill some of Gotham’s organized crime figures. That someone is Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and she’s also attracting Sionis’ attention. However, Sionis has his eyes on a bigger prize. The Bertinelli organized crime family was gunned down years earlier, but no one was ever able to put their hands on their fortune valued in the millions. Sionis knows all the account numbers hiding the Bertinelli’s millions were laser etched on a 30-carat diamond and he has finally tracked it down. He sends Dinah and his enforcer, Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), to pick up the diamond, but it is stolen by a teenaged pickpocket named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). Sionis puts a half-million-dollar bounty on Cain’s head, sending everyone in Gotham’s crime world, including Harley, looking for her. As the hunt for Cain heats up, Harley, Montoya, Huntress and Lance find themselves forced to team up to protect the young pickpocket’s life and their own.

“Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn)” is another in the trend of giving the bad guys their own movie. We’ve gotten “Suicide Squad,” “Venom” (both getting sequels), “Joker” (possibly getting a sequel), and now “Birds of Prey.” While not strictly about villains, three-fifths of the main characters are criminals in some way, so majority rules. As has happened in all but “Joker,” the bad guys rally to fight a worse guy, making them the good guys that do bad things for the best reasons. Since watching villains do things with no redeeming value is depressing (but profitable as in “Joker”), the trend of villain-centric films is something of a cop out since they wind up being the heroes by the end. “Birds of Prey” continues this trend but does it with such style and attitude, you don’t mind seeing a rehash of most other bad guy stories.

Margot Robbie’s Harley is the narrator of “Birds of Prey” and, reflecting the characters scattered personality, the movie’s story jumps around in time. While I initially found the jumbled narrative annoying, it eventually makes sense as all the story threads tie together. While this isn’t the most imaginative way to tell a story, it works to fit in with Harley’s unfocused nature.

“Birds of Prey” teeters on falling apart for most of its runtime. Between Harley’s insanity, Sionis’ cruelty, neurosis and suggested bisexuality, and the over-the-top violence, director Cathy Yan dances on the razor’s edge of catastrophe. To her credit, Yan manages to pull back from the precipice and deliver a film that gives the audience insane stunts, graphic violence, and characters with enough redeeming values to forgive their past transgressions. All while staying true to the characters and their comic book origins.

Yan and writer Christina Hodson fill “Birds of Prey” with plenty of action and, more importantly, humor. The film is plenty dark when it needs to be, but even when Harley is facing certain death at the hands of Sionis or any one of the people coming after her, she manages a funny quip or an imaginative way out of her sticky situation. The script gives funny moments to just about every speaking character, and even finds some humor for Harley’s pet hyena she names Bruce.

DC films had developed a reputation for being awfully dark and overly serious. “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” was certainly guilty of that, and to a lesser extent, “Justice League.” The shakeup of leadership in the DC Extended Universe seems to have allowed some lighter, more humorous takes to be applied to the most recent films. “Wonder Woman,” “Shazam,” “Aquaman” and now “Birds of Prey” have all been significantly less dour than their predecessors. The odd man out here is “Joker,” but I have my own theories as to why that doesn’t count in the DCEU. Listen to the next episode of Comedy Tragedy Marriage for a more thorough explanation. That episode should be out on Tuesday evening, February 11.

“Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn)” is rated R for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material. Several legs are broken at the knee with that joint bending in the wrong direction. A few arms suffer similar fates at the elbow. There are numerous shootings including an entire multi-generational family being gunned down. Several people get shot with crossbow bolts with some of those injuries being very bloody. A family has their faces peeled off. Numerous bad guys are hammered with a giant mallet. A character is blown apart by a hand grenade. That’s a small portion of the violence in the film. The drug material involves a humorous scene where Harley uses cocaine stored in police evidence as a shield from bullets. The bullets rip through the pallet of coke bundles, creating a cloud around Harley. She inhales deeply to gain energy to fight against those attacking her. To be honest, I don’t remember any overt sexual moments in the film. Foul language is common throughout the film.

“Birds of Prey” was initially thought to debut with an opening weekend box office of around $60 million. While it took the top spot in its first weekend, it brought in what is considered a surprisingly low $33 million. Some analysts think the problem is the R rating keeping younger audiences away. “Suicide Squad” was PG-13 and opened at over $130 million. I don’t think that was entirely the issue. To be perfectly honest, I believe there was a combination of misogyny and no highly powered villain playing a big role in the story. The largest segment of the comic book movie audience is male. The only men on screen in this film are vile. With no one to reflect their hero fantasies back to them on screen, men comprised 49 percent of the opening weekend audience (according to numbers from Box Office Mojo). I believe that lack of strong male on screen presence is why some of the nerds that normally fill theaters stayed away. And, with all its faults, “Suicide Squad” had some flashy villains like Enchantress, El Diablo and Killer Croc. While one of the characters in “Birds of Prey” is Black Canary, she only uses her powers to full force once. No one is flying, shooting fire, wielding magic or looks like a humanoid crocodile ripping out necks. Fortunately, such things don’t trouble me enough to stay away from what is a fun adventure, and those holding a grudge over very little testosterone on screen should get over it.

“Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn)” gets five stars.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing the likely very unromantic film “Fantasy Island” for WIMZ.com.

Other movies coming out this week:

The Photograph—

Sonic the Hedgehog—

Listen to Comedy Tragedy Marriage, a podcast about life, love and entertainment, available wherever you get podcasts. Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman123@gmail.com.

Review of "Gretel & Hansel"

Gretel and Hansel (Sophia Lillis and Sammy Leakey) live in a dark time of plagues, poverty and famine. Their father has died and their mother, unable to feed them and becoming mentally ill, sends them out to find work and food on their own. Traveling through the dark woods, they become more and more hungry, resorting to eating wild mushrooms that cause them to giggle uncontrollably and hallucinate. Eventually, they run across a house that emanates the smell of cakes, bacon and other delicious foods. Gretel sends Hansel in through a window where he finds a huge table set with a roast pig, fresh fruits, pies, breads and more. Looking through the window, Gretel sees her brother swept up by a dark figure. Trying to break through with a rock, Gretel is preparing to start a fire when the home’s owner appears. Holda (Alice Krige), holding Hansel, is an elderly woman that invites Gretel to come in. Inside the dark house, Gretel and Hansel eat to their heart’s content. Holda is a bit odd but unthreatening. She tells the pair they are welcome to stay as long as they wish. Hansel thinks the pair have hit the jackpot, but Gretel is unsure. She has experienced some of the world and knows nothing is given without something expected in return. Holda doesn’t seem to want anything from the two but accepts their offer to do chores in exchange for food and a bed. Gretel notices there are no animals or fruit trees around and wonders where the pig, beef and milk come from. Holda begins to teach Gretel the ways of witchcraft and she is a quick study. Soon, Gretel begins having nightmares of secret rooms filled with corpses and children hiding in the woods. Nothing in Holda’s cabin is quite what it seems: The food, the dreams, nothing.

As I left “Gretel & Hansel,” I wasn’t exactly sure what to think. The film is stylish, going for a combination of depressing grey and smoky orange color schemes to light the film. There are massive storytelling gaps that might be considered artistic in a French impressionistic film from the 1950’s but now cause more confusion that anything else. There are no scares in the movie, only moments of tension and dread as you wonder what might be about the happen next. There’s also a thread of sadness and pity for these two children, sent out into a world that has nothing to offer but abuse, arduous labor and death. It’s not exactly the film to see if you’re looking for a lighthearted romp or a scary dive into a nightmare, but it might work if you’re forgiving and looking for a challenge.

To be honest, nothing much happens in “Gretel & Hansel.” There’s backstory involving the dark magic that appears later, a moment of peril as a strange man attacks the pair and a funny moment where the desperately hungry children trip balls after ingesting some magic mushrooms. Once the pair arrives at Holda’s cabin, the story puts on the brakes until the very end. There are some nightmares where Gretel sees a room under the house with a big table. The table has corpses under a sheet. There are other nightmares that might be real. Much of the film involves Holda and Gretel talking. It isn’t anything that interesting yet is presented as a revelation of dark insights. It works well enough to instill a desire to see what’s next, but the film only delivers anything truly interesting at the end. That ending feels undeserved and beyond what could be expected. I don’t want to spoil it for those wanting to see it, but “Gretel & Hansel” requires patience to find enjoyable.

“Gretel & Hansel” is rated PG-13 for disturbing images/thematic content, and brief drug material. I described the drug material earlier. The pair eat the mushrooms out of desperation, not to get high. There are scenes of blood, entrails and a severed limb poured onto a table. There is also a dream sequence showing children appearing on the other side of a mirror and pounding to get out. A crazed man is shot by an arrow in the head to prevent him from attacking the children. A nobleman asks Gretel if she’s a virgin. There is no foul language.

The original fairytale has received Hollywood’s attention before, most recently in 2013 with “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” an R rated action movie where Jeremy Renner plays Hansel as a diabetic, caused by all the sweets he ate at the witch’s house. He and Gretel, played by Gemma Arterton, roam the countryside, killing witches for money. It was a silly film with more in common with “The Avengers” than Grimm’s fairytale, however it made over $250 million worldwide on a $50 million production budget. Perhaps that’s why this film got made.

“Gretel & Hansel” didn’t make me feel much of anything. It is an interestingly shot film with a great deal of potential. Focusing on Gretel, as the title suggests, is a good idea from co-writer and director Oz Perkins, son of “Psycho” himself, Tony Perkins. It is a shame that so little came from it. Made for a paltry $5 million, the film will likely make a profit and provide Perkins with more directing opportunities, however this seems like a missed opportunity. Sophia Lillis is a very good actress. She made an impression with “IT: Chapter One” and deserves a vehicle that will fully showcase her talents. Unfortunately, “Gretel & Hansel” only makes her stick out like a sore thumb because she doesn’t put on a British accent. It seems like a careless oversight to not have her a voice coach so her character would blend in better with a largely UK cast. That is just one of many mistakes this film makes. And still I found myself enjoying the movie despite its best efforts to turn me against it.

“Gretel & Hansel” gets three stars out of five.

There’s only one new film opening this week, “Birds of Prey.”

Listen to Comedy Tragedy Marriage, a podcast about life, love and entertainment, available wherever you get podcasts. Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman123@gmail.com.

Link to Review of "The Gentlemen"

I watched and reviewed “The Gentlemen” for WIMZ.com. Click the link to see my thoughts on Guy Ritchie’s latest stylish crime flick.

A fairy tale turned horror movie and a violent revenge drama open this week. I’ll see and review one of the following:

Gretel & Hansel–

The Rhythm Section–

Listen to Comedy Tragedy Marriage, a podcast about life, love and entertainment, available wherever you download podcasts. Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman123@gmail.com.

Review of "Dolittle"

Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.), the doctor that talks to animals, has exiled himself in his compound since the death of his wife Lily (Kasia Smutniak). He’s still surrounded by the animals he rescued with Lily, including a cowardly gorilla named Chee-Chee (voiced by Rami Malek), a constantly cold polar bear named Yoshi (voiced by John Cena), a duck with an artificial leg named Dab-Dab (voiced by Octavia Spencer), a glasses-wearing dog named Jip (voiced by Tom Holland) and leading them all is a headstrong macaw named Polynesia (voiced by Emma Thompson). Dolittle’s isolation is broken when a teenager named Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) shows up with an injured squirrel. The squirrel was accidently shot when Tommy was out hunting with his uncle and cousin. Tommy bundles up the squirrel and Poly guides him to Dolittle’s. Dolittle performs surgery on the squirrel, named Kevin (voiced by Craig Robinson), and he survives but swears revenge on Tommy. Also arriving at the mansion is Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado), Queen Victoria’s niece. She tells Dolittle the Queen is ill and needs his attention immediately. Reluctant, Dolittle initially refuses to leave the compound, but the animal’s rebel and force him to go. When Dolittle arrives, he sees an old friend from medical school, Dr. Blair Mudfly (Michael Sheen) is treating the Queen. Mudfly is dubious of Dolittle’s methods and animals and is jealous of his talents. Also on hand is Lord Thomas Badgley (Jim Broadbent), representing Parliament. Using Jip’s sensitive nose, Dolittle figures out the Queen has been poisoned by drinking tea laced with the poisonous plant Deadly Nightshade. The only cure is a rare fruit that grows on only one tree, located on an island that doesn’t appear on any map. If the cure isn’t administered soon, the Queen with die, so Dolittle, several of his animal friends and Tommy, who has appointed himself Dolittle’s apprentice, set off on a dangerous journey across treacherous seas, looking for an island that may not exist and encounter animal friends and human foes from his past.

Watching “Dolittle,” I kept waiting for the moment the film completely falls apart. With mostly negative reviews and a Rotten Tomatoes score in the teens, I assumed the movie would begin showing us characters late in the third act we hadn’t seen before or would start espousing Nazi propaganda. None of that happened. Sure, its muddled, messy and has the pacing of a child fed only sugar and crack, but “Dolittle” is an enjoyable catastrophe.

“Catastrophe” is too strong a word, but there are things about the film that don’t make a great deal of sense. For instance, there are phrases said by the animals that didn’t exist at the time, like “Code Red.” Access to an unconscious Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) is far too easy. While the guards act like they are going to try to stop a gorilla, ostrich (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani) and polar bear from being near the fallen queen, they don’t fire their guns or draw their swords. It appears anyone in nice clothes and with a friendly face could walk into the palace. I realize these issues, and more are due to the comical and fantasy aspects of the story and must be forgiven to some extent, however what I have a harder time wrapping my head around is Robert Downey Jr.’s accent.

Why did he choose to sound like a male version of Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire? And why was that choice apparently made after principle photography as his voice appears to have been dubbed for the majority of the film? Speaking in low whispers, as if telling a secret to someone that isn’t there, Downey is difficult to understand through the film, and his dialog is frequently repeated or expanded upon by an animal or human costar. It’s one of many odd choices by Downey for a character that’s been portrayed in movies by Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy.

Like his choices in the “Sherlock Holmes” films, Dolittle is a person beset by quirks and twitches. He’s antisocial, preferring to live in a world of his own making. He is a creature of habit that hates to have his routine disrupted. Dolittle is protecting himself from pain caused by people leaving him, so he’s banished people from his life. I suppose that’s okay for someone that is surrounded by a menagerie of friendly animals with whom he can converse, but the animals in “Dolittle” are just furrier versions of people in their behaviors and personalities. Since they depend on the doctor for care and food, these analogs will never leave him and, in my opinion, that’s cheating the only redeeming factor of this Dolittle. He misses his wife with such a deep grief he cannot force himself back into the world. If he had also pushed all the animals away, then I might be a bit more sympathetic to the character, but he has replaced people with talking animals.

It sounds like I didn’t enjoy the film at all, and yet I did. Once you get used to Dolittle’s quirks and other oddities, you are swept up in the frenetic pacing of the film that hardly allows the audience to absorb one strange event before the next begins. From the introduction of Dolittle and his zoo of a house, to his arrival at the palace and the introduction of the villain, to the start of the voyage, “Dolittle” doesn’t slow down. That’s works in the film’s favor as the audience doesn’t have time to ponder the weird events as they unfold.

The CGI animals are obviously CGI. Sometimes they look more digital than others and the sight lines between the human and animal characters don’t quite line up. Despite this, it never bothered me. Perhaps it was the voice work by a wide and diverse cast that made the second-rate effects more palatable. Emma Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Tom Holland, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer and John Cena all turn in enjoyable performances as a variety of animals. Most of them are far more interesting than any of the humans.

Michael Sheen had to pick splinters out of his teeth with all the scenery he chews as the villain Dr. Mudfly. His evil ark is easy to predict as soon as his character is shown picking leeches out of a jar to apply to Queen Victoria to treat her mysterious illness. He even has a twirlable mustache which, for some reason, he doesn’t twirl. That seems like a missed opportunity for such an obvious bad guy.

Antonio Banderas is perhaps the oddest casting for Rassouli, King of the Pirates. While Banderas, nominated for an Oscar for his starring role in “Pain and Glory,” gives it his all, the role is underwritten and a throw-away character that solves a problem late in the second act. There’s an effort to make Rassouli something bigger by giving he and Dolittle a past connection, but that only serves to make the meaninglessness more obvious. Still, Banderas does his best with a role that probably took only a couple of days to shoot.

“Dolittle” is rated PG for some action, rude humor and brief language. There are a couple of scenes of mild violence including a brief battle with the Queen’s guards, cannon fire that sinks a ship, an explosion in an arms cache, some leaps and falls that might be considered dangerous and a diver nearly lost in the sea. None of it should be stressful to even young children. The rude humor consists of fart jokes. Bad language is mild and widely scattered.

The humor in “Dolittle” is what actually won me. While it is basic prat falls and more than a few fart jokes, it works as a light diversion for a world that’s on fire and tearing itself apart. Could it have been better, much, much better? Yes, it should. Robert Downey Jr.’s first film since his final appearance as Iron Man should have been more polished and, maybe more meaningful. Instead, we get a movie about a guy that talks to animals and goes on adventures, that sounds like male Mrs. Doubtfire and whispers and twitches a great deal. It won’t win any awards, except may a Razzie or two, but it also isn’t the least bit offensive and children may love it, while leaving their parents to wish for something more. And yet, I still liked it.

“Dolittle” gets four stars out of five, and may God have mercy on my soul.

This week, I’ll be reviewing “The Gentlemen” for WIMZ.com.

Also opening this week is “The Turning.”

Listen to Comedy Tragedy Marriage, a podcast about life, love and entertainment, available wherever you get podcasts. Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman123@gmail.com.

Review of "Underwater"

The Tian corporation is making another attempt at putting an ultra-deep-sea oil drilling rig at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, seven miles underwater. Previous efforts have failed for mysterious reasons. The base where the crew is housed is called Kepler and the drilling rig is called Roebuck. One morning when mechanical engineer Norah Price (Kristen Stewart) is brushing her teeth, Kepler suffers massive structural failures, causing flooding and implosions. Price and Rodrigo Nagenda (Mamoudou Athie) go looking for emergency escape pods, but their way is blocked by more damage. As they try to find an escape from the ocean floor, they find fellow crewman Paul Abel (T.J. Miller) buried under rubble but unhurt. The pair digs him out and continue their search for safety. They find Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel) unhurt and unsuccessfully trying to contact the surface. The four then head to the control room where they find biologist Emily Haversham (Jessica Henwick) and engineer Liam Smith (John Gallagher, Jr.) also unsuccessfully trying to contact the surface. None of them knows why Kepler is coming apart at the seams, but the leading theory is earthquakes. Captain Lucien suggests a plan where they don high-tech pressurized suits and walk the mile to Roebuck where they might be able to contact someone or access more escape pods. There chances of success are slim and even lower since the cause of all their problems is a mysterious creature lurking in the depths that is unhappy about the intrusion of humanity in its home.

January usually is a dumping ground for movies, especially the first couple of weeks. You get Oscar contenders that had limited releases in December, but the majority of new movies are the cast offs, the unwanted, the redheaded bastards at the family reunion. In other words, January is often the landfill where garbage movies go to die. That brings us to “Underwater.” Shot back in 2017, “Underwater” was made by 20th Century Fox prior to its purchase by Disney. What struggles the film and film makers had due to the change of ownership and the reason for the release delay are unknown, but it shouldn’t have taken over two years for the film to arrive in theaters. Maybe it got lost in the transition or maybe Fox and Disney execs saw the movie and decided to bury it. Whatever the reason, “Underwater” is a good example of a January film.

It isn’t that “Underwater” looks cheap. The sets and pressurized suits look like they could exist. While the characters sometimes use the technology in ways that don’t make sense or seem impossible, nothing in the film looks like it’s such a leap that it would be 100 years before it would be available.

The movie has a claustrophobic design to many of the sets. There are some larger room and long hallways, but most of the film takes place in narrow access shafts, small elevators, collapsed structures and inside the suits. If you feel tense while being in a confined space, you might want to skip “Underwater.”

My issues with the film are based more on the actions of the characters, including the monster, and how much of it doesn’t make sense. There are some very stereotypical horror film behaviors on display. For instance, late in the film, Norah is awestruck as she sees the monster, missing an opportunity to run away. There are a couple of characters that sacrifice themselves in ways that are supposed to be brave and unselfish but feel more like a screenwriter trying to force the audience to feel something for generic tropes. The monster misses some opportunities to take out most of the cast when they become separated. It seems omnipresent for patches of the film then disappears if the script needs it to. Even the design of the drilling facility doesn’t make much sense. If you need to get from Kepler to Roebuck, how do you do that? It isn’t clear if a transport train we see the survivors riding is how teams get to Roebuck or another part of the facility. Do they take subs? Are they sent there directly from the surface? If so, what is Kepler for? This is another example of me thinking too much about meaningless details, but if you put that much information in a movie it should make sense. There are other examples of little details that confused me but those would be spoilers. Much of “Underwater” doesn’t seem to care of it makes sense.

“Underwater” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and terror, and brief strong language. There are a couple of bloody deaths, including one where a body implodes. We see a couple of dead bodies amongst the wreckage of the destroyed station. Foul language is scattered.

Perhaps the best thing about “Underwater” is the monster. We don’t get a good look at the creature until near the end of the film and even then, it is somewhat hidden by the murkiness of the water. It resembles bits and pieces of other movie monsters including ones from “Cloverfield” and “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.” I wish as much effort had been put into the story and the characters as the monster, then maybe “Underwater” would have been worth the trip to the theater. Sadly, generic characters behaving in nonsensical ways in a predictable story with a decent monster is what we are given. If you are forced to see this film, be ready to hold your breath.

“Underwater” gets two stars out of five.

Two new movies open this week. I’ll see and review at least one of the following:

Bad Boys for Life—

Dolittle—

Listen to Comedy Tragedy Marriage, a podcast about life, love and entertainment, available wherever you get podcasts. Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman123@gmail.com.