Day Shift

Release: Friday, August 12, 2022 

👀 Netflix

Written by: Tyler Tice; Shay Hatten 

Directed by: J.J. Perry

Starring: Jamie Foxx; Dave Franco; Meagan Good; Natasha Liu Bordizzo; Eric Lange; Karla Souza; Snoop Dogg

Distributor: Netflix

 

 

**/*****

A stuntman of many years, J.J. Perry sinks teeth into his first directing effort with Day Shift, a fun but forgettable vampire-themed action/comedy. For the most part this cartoonishly violent send-up plays the way you would expect from someone whose experience lies more on the technical side of things. Day Shift is mostly style over substance with a few clever spins on vampire mythology thrown in.

The goofy story revolves around Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx), a cash-strapped family man who cleans pools in sun-drenched SoCal as a cover for his real job as a vampire hunter. A protracted and vicious fight sequence early on proves he’s highly skilled and capable of defending himself. But he also seems to prefer doing things his own way. His off-the-book methods have led to his dismissal from the Union, which operates by a strict code of conduct, and his odd hours and constant excuses have created a rift in his family. Ex-wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) is giving him a week to come up with $10k to cover their daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax)’s private school tuition and braces or she is putting Bud in her rearview once and for all. 

Meanwhile Audrey (Karla Souza), a powerful vampire posing as a real estate agent, has infiltrated the local market with plans of restoring the balance of power between her fellow bloodsuckers and the humans who now hunt them for their fangs. Souza is a game participant, chewing the scenery as a hammy villain who laments how the mighty have fallen. Sadly the script reduces her grand ambition to a predictable and boring revenge plot. When Audrey gets a whiff that Bud’s recent kill is none other than her daughter, she makes it her life’s work to draw even.

Unsurprisingly, like the vampires in this brave new world, it is the stunts that rule the day as well as the night. Brutal confrontations come thick and fast, whether it’s a one-on-one beatdown with an elderly woman or a tag-team effort in bringing down a stronghold. However not all of the stunts pulled are over-the-top fight sequences in which the dead and the living alike are tossed across the room like rag dolls. Supporting characters are their own spectacles, be it Eric Lange adorned with the world’s worst wig as grouchy union boss Ralph Seeger or Snoop Dogg busting out the snakeskin boots as Big John Elliott, a vaunted union member whose get-up hints at a myth never fully explained.

The union is Bud’s best chance of making the money in time, and Big John has the kind of clout necessary in getting him reinstated. But of course there are caveats. The rogue cowboy will have to work the less profitable day shift while being chaperoned by union rep Seth (Dave Franco), who will report directly to Seeger any and all code violations his partner is sure to commit. If only the avid rule-abiding accountant can avoid developing a conscience and/or devolving into a mess of involuntary bodily functions when things get real.

The pairing of Foxx and Franco is a curious one but it is let down by the hackneyed script from Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten. The odd-couple dynamic feels forced and never allows the actors to build convincing chemistry together. Franco is sentenced to making a fool of himself while Foxx gets to look stoic and heroic busting heads (or severing them in this case). Though the ultimate gag may be the very idea of casting the notoriously intense alpha male actor in a movie this absurd. The guy who once portrayed Ray Charles to Oscar-winning effect may not get turned into a comedic punching bag, but he does at one point get to experience that unique sensation of being thrown up a flight of stairs.

Day Shift certainly is colorful, and in more ways than one. Toby Oliver’s cinematography bathes the San Fernando Valley in an exaggerated color palette and like Souza’s super-vamp and her sense of fashion it calls just a bit too much attention to itself. The action pops, as do various joints and limbs thanks to the radical new vampire concept — think street contortionists, not so much Dracula. I guess you have to appreciate the little things here. The milieu is whacky (I love the idea of a pawn shop trading in vampire teeth, and treasured character actor Peter Stormare being the guy behind the counter). In the end Perry’s vision has spurts of imagination but rarely at a storytelling level.

Please don’t get all bent out of shape but I have to re-kill you.

Moral of the Story: Knowingly silly, Day Shift plays up the vampire mythology to mildly entertaining effect but with a smarter script it could have been a Zombieland, which is already what it feels like it’s going for. It has that same kind of hyper energy. Unfortunately it lacks the strong characters that could have made it more memorable.

Rated: R

Running Time: 113 mins.

Quoted: “So you just gonna light your finger on fire, huh?”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited. 

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

Month in Review: October ’17

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

Ah, nothing like putting out a Month in Review post a week late. And as you may have noticed, October was another insanely busy month of film reviewing on Thomas J. For those of you who have been able to keep up with this blistering pace, man. You all are the real MVP. And I thank you with one winky face.

😉

In this edition join me on the confession couch as I open up about major movie omissions and my inexplicably resurgent interest in watching more Independence Day. I also lament the disappearance of my all-time favorite movie candy and $6 Tuesdays.

Thor: Ragnarok — TONIGHT! See you there?


New Posts

New Releases: Stronger; The Foreigner

Blindspot Selection: Cujo (1983)


What’s Been Playing in the Background

October introduced me to Bladerunner. You read me right. I had never seen Ridley Scott’s classic science fiction epic until a few weeks ago. I instantly fell in love, but then, that was kind of my destiny. The Tears in Rain monologue in particular trapped me in a glass case of emotion. I don’t know how you really sort through your favorite movie moments of all time, but I do know that Roy Batty’s eventual acceptance of his own mortality is one of them. The plan was, of course, to see the original in advance of the premiere of Denis Villeneuve’s sequel. You haven’t missed anything there. As soon as I see 2049, you’ll know about it.

And speaking of falling in love: Stranger Things 2 will be my winter warmer for the next several weeks. This show is phenomenal and I have become so cozy in its world. I expect to find much solace in it while House of Cards, my first true Netflix love, is apparently collapsing.

But here’s where things get weird. While I’ve been procrastinating tending to my Blind Spot reviews and learning what those Nexus replicants are all about, I’ve had no such hesitation returning (again and again) to that terrible and awful and embarrassing sequel to Independence Day. (If you’re going to throw things at me after reading this, try to at least throw things that are soft. You know, pies and things of that nature. No beer bottles, please.) Anyway, yeah. It didn’t take many not-very-sober viewings to confirm that indeed Resurgence is, as the French would say, merde. But then I started to think about how dumb it was that Jeff Goldblum saved us from those little green bastards by infecting the mother ship with a computer virus . . . in an age where we were running Windows ’95.

Big Tom has realized that some things in this world just aren’t as holy as they were to Little Tom. The sequel may be in direct competition with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in terms of being 2016’s most hated movie. Audiences everywhere took this long-delayed/ill-advised sequel as a personal sleight. The writers had 20 years to prepare, apparently — so why didn’t they prepare better lines? “This is definitely bigger than the last one” is a pretty poor attempt to deflect from the fact that there’s really no justifying the aliens coming back. But, whatever. This movie has grown on me, like a benign tumor. Dr. Brakish Okun’s reappearance is the most unlikely thing ever, but I’m glad it was able to be contrived. Brent Spiner is a lot of fun in these movies. And though Liam Hemsworth is no Will Smith, I’ve also warmed to him. So here is where I stand  (and talk about damning with faint praise): Resurgence has improved from being “terrible and awful and embarrassing” to being just “terrible.”

Meanwhile, and on a less serious note (what am I talking about, this is way more serious!), my regular enjoyment of movie theater snacks has been somewhat interrupted because of Maltesers. Specifically, the disappearance thereof. My local AMC theater used to carry them. It was pretty random, though. You get shelves overflowing with American confections and then you get this one British outcast. As someone who regularly shuns concessions at the theater because things like the Dollar Tree exist and you can buy candy there for less than the mark-up price at the theater, I made the exception for these tasty little pooh-colored morsels.* What do they expect me to do now, go back to Skittles? Ugh.

This isn’t as annoying as my even-more-local Cinépolis seemingly doing away with $6 ticket Tuesdays. Down the road from me is a crummy little complex at the end of a crummy little strip mall where crummy projectors often play good movies, but those discount rates have made visits there more attractive. That theater has changed ownership more times than I can count, yet $6 night has been the one constant. (Well that and the fact that you really don’t want to touch anything once inside the theater.) The price may have only gone up a dollar, but what’s to stop it going up again? And if it does, I may have to start prioritizing my theater trips. It may well be time I start ravaging Netflix for more alternatives. Maybe I’ll become a more regular patron of AMC if it does one of two things: 1) diversifies its weekly showings or, better yet 2) BRINGS BACK MY DAMNED MALTESERS!


Double Feature

Baby Driver · June 28, 2017 · Directed by Edgar Wright · If all you need is one killer track, I choose Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. This high-energy heist film leaks charisma all over the road as it follows a youthful and talented getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) who burns rubber day and night for Doc, a shady mob boss played by Kevin Spacey. When a meet-cute with a diner waitress (Lily James) pumps the brakes on Baby’s aimless drifting, Doc’s Good Luck Charm must make a choice between a life of crime and an uncertain future with Debora. The story’s assembled out of parts from countless other films of course, but it’s the synergy between the production’s aural and visual elements that not only make Baby Driver instantly engaging, but consistently and almost unreasonably entertaining. The choreography on display is such that Wright’s new movie becomes more a musical sans the random dance interludes, one where the song selection may be important but the placement of those songs is where the true artistry lies. Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss’ editing entrances with rhythmic precision and the director’s familiar energy and passion ensure the project steers as far away as possible from self-conscious affectedness, while barreling down the road with purpose and a great sense of humor toward something more pure and honest. One of the summer’s most feel-good and bittersweetly fleeting escapades. (4/5)

Only the Brave · October 20, 2017 · Directed by Joseph Kosinski · Only the Brave presents Mother Nature as an ultimate and merciless foe as a group of dedicated firefighters seek to prove themselves among America’s most elite responders. From the director of such vacuous (if gorgeous) sci fi fare as Tron: Legacy and Oblivion comes an altogether more impressive work, one that deftly balances visual spectacle with touching human drama. Joseph Kosinski’s steadily absorbing tribute pulls inspiration from the GQ article by Sean Flynn, dedicating the bulk of its two-hour running time to fleshing out a handful of the 20-member Granite Mountain Hotshots, a Prescott, Arizona-based squad who faced the ultimate test when they came up against the infamously deadly Yarnell Hill fire in the summer of 2013. The cinematic treatment benefits from an all-star cast who provide great depth to broadly drawn characters, with Josh Brolin leading the charge as the gruff but likable crew supervisor Eric Marsh, torn between his professional and personal commitments. He’s got a lot of support from the likes of James Badge Dale and Taylor Kitsch who contribute to the Band of Brothers-esque camaraderie but arguably overshadowing them all is Miles Teller as Brendan ‘Donut’ McDonough, a former heroin addict who vows to turn his life around by seeking employment with the volunteer fire department. Only the Brave may be the beneficiary of the gut-wrenching facts upon which it is based (the likes of which you are strongly encouraged to ignore until after you’ve experienced the film), and yet the contributions of Academy Award winners Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly are as indelible as they’ve ever been. (4/5)

 

* If you’ve never had Maltesers, don’t let anyone try to convince you they’re the English equivalent of Whoppers. That’s a HEINOUS lie.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-2014-Movie-Poster

Release: Friday, May 2, 2014

[Theater]

His greatest battle begins, and so does mine. . .

The web-slinging hero is back on the big screen in 2014 but it is much to many viewers’ dismay that the final product doesn’t deliver the goods. . .at least, not in terms of doing it the way recent superhero packages have handled things. And while people up and declare the latest chapter in Steve Rogers’ saga as being a bold break from convention within the genre (I am inclined to agree), they ought to give consideration to this non-Marvel film property as well.

My spidey senses are tingling, and they sense a filmmaker desiring to go a different direction as far as the story’s presentation is concerned. Busy with multiple villains offering multiple story arcs that impact on Peter Parker’s double-life in a multitude of ways, the plot to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is considerably less focused than that of it’s predecessor, as it appears more interested in presenting conflicts and developments episodically rather than condensing information into a taut and dramatic narrative.

As you make these choices, Mr. Webb, keep in mind: with great power comes great responsibility.

It’s another (read: fantastic) day in the life of Spider-Man as he slingshots his way through tight corridors lined with looming edifices and over the heads of captivated (and conveniently placed) on-lookers — plucking children, police officers, even a desperately lonely and low-level OsCorp engineer named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) out of harm’s way as an out-of-control tanker truck carrying plutonium samples and driven by a crazed Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) smashes through the city. The chase is pretty convenient for Spidey as he kicks crime’s ass on his way to his high school graduation, where his non-web-spinning girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is preparing to deliver her valedictorian speech.

At a life crossroads, Peter and Gwen discuss what the future holds. For Gwen, it’s looking like an opportunity to study at Oxford University on a prestigious scholarship; for Peter, it’s likely more tangoing with the criminal underworld. It’s this very reality that drives a wedge in their otherwise idyllic relationship; Gwen says Spider-Man is great and all, but she needs Peter more. And clearly that part of Peter is unwilling to up and drop his duties to the city. Undoubtedly it is this conundrum, this tug-of-war between two souls that drives the film’s drama, rather than the hero’s relationship(s) with the villain(s). Odd that a romance should take precedence over the fantastical concerns of the titular superhero that we were led to believe would comprise his ‘greatest battle,’ but fans of the franchise should take what they can get. After all I’m trying to stay positive here.

The strength of chemistry between leads Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield is a big positive. While their relationship was certainly on solid footing in the previous film, TASM-2 really allows it to blossom. It’s too bad the rest of the film’s backdrop isn’t as compelling. The emergence of foes like Electro — whose chuckle-inducing radiance is the result of an unfortunate (and somewhat predictable) accident involving Max and a tank of electric eels — the Green Goblin, and the Rhino seem less like threats than elements that get shoehorned in to give Spider-Man something to do while contemplating permanently breaking away from Gwen.

In the context of this story, each of these characters come and go in a flash, acting as brief chapters in a much bigger story that will likely encompass this movie and the next. And so, they feel like nothing more than afterthoughts. It’s a tactic that, in addition to making these threats feel a tad wasted, leaves a lot of dead space in between action sequences, a fact that really hampers the film’s pacing and flow. We also aren’t ever afforded the opportunity to really dig into the motives of any of the villains. Even Electro is considerably underdeveloped for being the film’s most immediate threat. Oh. . .right, he wants attention. Whoop-dee-doo. So do I. . . . which is why I developed a movie blog! 😀

Awkward pacing and lots of narrative drift are problems that any general moviegoer is likely to pick up on, though the above is hardly an exhaustive list for those who flat-out reject this franchise as a legitimate entity. It probably doesn’t need to be said that if the first film didn’t do much for you, this one will do much, much less.

While cheesy dialogue is built into the formula of not only this franchise but the one preceding it, levels appear to be left unchecked this time around. It was as if Marc Webb set the dial on ‘Silly’ and left it there. In a variety of contexts, dialogue ranges from eye-rollingly to face-palmingly bad. At times the script can’t possibly seem to be in final draft form. Paul Giamatti’s over-the-top Rhino is exemplary. One hopes he gets more to do in future installments. . .and that his character actually gets to materialize as well. Same applies to Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborne, a.k.a. the Green Goblin, whose descent into madness is at once very difficult to empathize with, and categorically cliché. Beginning with the obligatory deathbed scene he shares with his rapidly deteriorating father, and culminating in a thoroughly disappointing final fight scene, the Goblin’s story arc feels contrived.

At the end of the day, the film aims at displaying the second chapter in the new Spider-Man canon by casting a web of multiple threats and thematic elements, but it ultimately fails to focus on any one thing. Reiterating, The Amazing Spider-Man has good reason to exist; the Webb-era has ushered in a more emotional and slightly more personal world surrounding Spider-Man and his origins are better accounted for here. But the current story needs to be more than just how well Garfield and Stone get along, even if their dating in real life actually seems to positively influence the film rather than distract from it.

Now let’s just hope they stay together, for I fear if the two split up that that’s exactly how we get Spiderman 3: The Marc Webb Edition. I’m pretty sure I would not be able to handle Andrew Garfield turning into an emo Spider-Man.

zappin-da-beeaaasss

zappin’ da beeaasss!

2-5Recommendation: Though it falls pretty far short of being a superior version that expands upon its predecessor’s ambition, this follow-up still offers a lot of the emotional release that the first one did, and the visuals in this film are pretty spectacular. In fact, they are amazing and truly deserving of that description. Less so is the script, which may turn away even a fair amount of fans. Not being the most devout reader of the comic, but a supporter of the re-boot all the same, I really and truly believe Marc Webb could have done better. This isn’t a bad film but it certainly is guilty of underachieving.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 142 mins.

Quoted: “Hey, lick that. You are not a nobody, you are a somebody. You’re my eyes and ears out here.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com