Three films just released on streaming platforms, are they worth a perusal? One yeah, another is meh, the other one is kinda ok
For the past two days, I took a break in my regular scheduled programming to watch a few films on HBO Max for a Native Viewpoint review. Turns out some of the films are also on Disney plus and Hulu.
These three films all happened to be plopped onto the main page of HBO Max,one of my favorite streaming platforms aside from Disney Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime of course. I have been wanting to see Free Guy for some time as Ryan Reynolds is definitely one of my favorite comedic actors. Taika Waititi also makes an extended appearance in the film.
I’ve also liked the Kingsman franchise (that might be changing as you may see in this review) and I had been looking forward to Antlers as I had heard there was an Indigenous theme as well as Native actor Mr. Graham Greene, which I have interviewed in the past.
Here is my score, summation, consensus or non-consensus with other Rotten Tomatoes critics and even a few predictions:
In my reviews, I give my score from 0 to 10 on a one point decimal scale. I feel I can be the most fair that way. As a film lover, I don’t give a lot of terrible reviews, because I appreciate the work that goes into them so much. That said, there are a few over the years that have garnered a “Rotten” on my Rotten Tomatoes critic page.
Here are my reviews:
Native Viewpoint Score: Free Guy 8.2/10
My one sentence summation: Not a bad comedic role for Reynolds, who was once again a laugh a minute, and Taika Waititi was refreshing, but a bit corny in it’s formulaic wrap-up.
Plot summary: When a bank teller discovers he’s actually a background player in an open-world video game, he decides to become the hero of his own story — one that he can rewrite himself. In a world where there’s no limits, he’s determined to save the day his way before it’s too late, and maybe find a little romance with the coder who conceived him.
My review: Ryan Reynolds as Guy in Free Guy by 20th Century Studios was pretty much everything I expected it to be. It was over the top, ridiculous, overly-violent and most of all, hilarious.
As a video game player myself and a certifiable Native Nerd, I loved the thought of exploring the world of an NPC (non-player character) you know, those weird people in the background that sometimes you can interact with, take money from or run over in a cartoon car? Yeah, Ryan Reynolds was one of those guys.
Some of this film’s exceptionally beautiful moments are the hilarious cameo’s (some I didn’t even know existed until I read the IMDb cast list.) But the cameos include Hugh Jackman as the player in the alley, The Rock as the lone bank robber, John Krasinski as the silhouetted gamer,
Chris Evans as himself and even Jeopardy’s own iconic host, the late Alex Trebek. Already watched the movie and missed a few? Don’t feel bad, so did I.
A sincere shoutout to Taika Waititi as the Soonami game company owner Antwan, who seemed as if he was having the time of his life, Jodie Comer as Millie aka Molotovgirl, who was a delight to see acting with such honesty, Joe Keery as Keys (loved the mustache moment) Utkarsh Ambudka as Mouser (loved the bunny suit and kiss buttiness toward Antwan) and the always awesome Lil Rel Howery as Buddy the security guard.
But if I do say so myself, I feel as though Lil Rel Howery was seriously under utilized, he is one of the most hilarious comedic actors I know and I would have loved to see more from him, but perhaps he was softened as not to upstage Reynolds. I think he could have come across much stronger if he had been given a bit more freedom. I am waiting for his starring movie moment, trust me, I’ll be there.
One of my favorite characters was Dude, with his unfinished script lines and exaggerated everything, I loved it.
But all said, the ending was a bit of a wet fish. I love the explosions and over the top occurrences, that’s what gaming is all about. I want to play with things that go boom, not a misty rainbow. But still, funny as all heck.
Native Viewpoint Score: The King’s Man 6.4/10
My one sentence summation: With all of the excitement of the Kingsman franchise so far, this was a bit of an over-historic dud.
Plot summary: One man must race against time to stop history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds as they get together to plot a war that could wipe out millions of people and destroy humanity.
My review: Meh. I was so looking forward to a great prequel. But this was a bit stinky. It sped up a bit as things progressed, but the movie was half over by then.
I don’t really understand the reasoning behind this plot. Why did the filmmakers, who saw that audiences loved the Kingsman movie franchises so far, with hidden passageways, exploding lighters and bulletproof umbrellas, suddenly think their audiences wanted to watch an extensive historic documentary?
This was a bitter disappointment to me. They literally wasted the wild talents of Rhys Ifans as Grigori Rasputin, who lasted until about halfway through the movie until things finally got interesting. Anyone else think he looks like a Russian Alice Cooper by the way?
As far as acting goes, Ralph Fiennes certainly isn’t a bad actor, but I just felt frustrated the entire movie that things just weren’t flowing, he was certainly the Duke of Oxford, but I wanted him to just get on with it and romance Polly, portrayed by Gemma Arterton. I did enjoy her acting as well as Djimon Hounsou, my favorite actor in this movie.
But all said, I wasn’t too bummed at all when a major devastating event happened, because I truly couldn’t invest in the movie period.
Bring the old tailor back to life folks. Stay away from the history, at least as far as I am concerned. Truth be told, for most of the movie, I was rooting for the bad guys.
Native Viewpoint Score: Antlers 7.1/10
My one sentence summation: Not too bad, a couple of jump scares, but not the best scary movie I’ve seen. The Indigenous theme seemed a bit mismanaged, and as a Native man, believe me I am accustomed to it.
Plot summary: A small-town Oregon teacher and her brother, the local sheriff, discover a young student is harboring a dangerous secret that could have frightening consequences.
My review: I expected this movie to be a lot more scary than it was. But it quickly became formulaic, as it jumped into the storyline.
It started out as so many horror movies do, a Native voice comes into the scene, with English words. Beware, blah, blah, blah, something that is poetic, something that is foreboding.
Soon there will be a Native elder telling people, white people, a warning, “Don’t mess with that Native stuff, it’ll kill you.”
And sure enough, it does. Kill people I mean.
There was a moment I caught that I wonder if it was scripted, by Graham Greene, who nailed it. And though it was an extremely small moment in the film, I caught it and loved it. Greene, who plays the retired sheriff Warren Stokes, asks about the little kid who has a dad with let’s just say ‘troubling behavior.’ Greene (Stokes) asks if the kid is Native, to which everyone says no. Stokes looks at them all a bit puzzled, holds up an old book, then tells them about the Native story of a troubling character in Native lore. I won’t spoil it for you.
As a Native man, It was a real moment for me. So I appreciate the filmmaker’s who allowed this moment in.
Keri Russell as the character Julia Meadows, an adult victim of abuse, did a great job as did the young actor Jeremy Thomas as Lucas Weaver. Good stuff kid, I was impressed. Jesse Plemons was the living breathing sheriff of that town, I bought every bit of it.
The jump scares were good, but I have to say overall, the weird smoking heart of the monster was just a bit corny and weird.
I also felt the Indigenous aspect was a bit of a discarded element, much as the medicine bags that were hanging in the mine tunnel. I felt as though the Indigenous aspect of story was once again more of a sidecar to the actors involved.
Many times, but not always, If you watch a film made by Indigenous filmmakers, you might notice that the Indigenous theme, or Indigenous ideology is as much a part of the film as the lead actors. It lives, it breathes, just as everyone else does.
And I feel as though that element was missing in this film.
Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is the founder and editor of Native Viewpoint. With over 16 years of experience as a Native journalist and former member of the White House Press Pool. Follow Vincent on Twitter at @VinceSchilling or on any other of his social media accounts by clicking on any of the icons below.
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