Dallas Movie Screening

Dallas Movie Screenings started out as a mailing list on Yahoo Groups to facilitate finding free screening passes in the DFW area. When Yahoo Groups shut down, we are now posting screenings on our Facebook page at http://www..facebook.com/groups/dallasmoviescreenings
Earlier Reesa's Reviews can also be found at:http://www.moviegeekfeed.com

Logo art by Steve Cruz http://www.mfagallery.com

Website and Group Contact: dalscreenings@gmail.com

Monday, August 30, 2021

The Night House

Director David Bruckner’s “The Night House” can’t decide what type of horror movie it wants to be. On one hand, it explores its main character’s grief over her husband’s recent suicide, using the ghost angle to reflect on how his actions have affected her. On the other, it falls into the typical traps of modern horror movies, relying on cheap thrills and loud noises to jar the audience as Beth’s psyche weakens. It’s as if Bruckner is trying to straddle the line between art-house and mainstream. He fails at both.

Bruckner opens the movie with Beth’s (Rebecca Hall) return from Owen’s (Evan Jonigkeit) funeral. Hall portrays the character with precision, painting the portrait of a woman who’s haunted by her husband’s actions. She’s teetering on the edge and ready to fall off (easily the best element of this film). When the hauntings begin, the audience is left to wonder how much of what Beth is experiencing is within her own head.

As she starts to purge Owen’s possessions from the house, Beth begins to uncover secrets that make her question what she knew about him and their relationship. Her friend Claire (Sarah Goldberg) warns her to stop digging for answers but, of course, Beth doesn’t listen. This leads to some disturbing revelations.

Writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski introduce ideas then drop them just as quickly. The story seems like it will go in one direction then willy-nilly goes in another. Even the hauntings are inconsistent. They start with the typical loud noises, electronics turning themselves on, and shadowy figures you can’t quite make out before evolving into other terrains. Collins and Piotrowski include elements that ultimately don’t go anywhere, frustrating the viewer.

At its core, “The Night House” is a slow-paced haunted house movie. Although cheap thrills are inserted early on to try to liven up the proceedings, this will probably be a hard sell for most audiences looking for a thrill. To put it bluntly, I frequently wished this one would hurry up and end while watching it. The most frightening part of my film experience was the odd noises coming from the back of the empty theater (I was the only one in attendance at the showing I went to).

There are some interesting concepts and visuals scattered throughout the film so it’s not a total waste of time. Still, this is one that I think could have been handled much better.
(Review by Bret Oswald)

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Friday, August 27, 2021

Vacation Friends


**½ (out of ****)

We’re not really sure what to make of the second couple of protagonists in co-writer/director Clay Tarver’s Vacation Friends. They’re diametric opposites of the main couple that leads the story, so in comedic terms, they are perfect foils. In broader terms, though, this very raunchy, occasionally clever comedy doesn’t quite understand how to ingratiate us to them. It does help that Ron and Kyla, the carefree couple in question, are played by John Cena and Meredith Hagner, actors who are often very funny when given the right material. As for that material, again, there is a sense of warring attitudes here: Are we supposed to laugh at their weirdness or simply be uncomfortable about it?

If the approach taken by Tarver and his co-screenwriters (siblings Tim and Tom Mullen and Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley) wasn’t clearly meant to be a big, raunchy comedy, then one could see the movie working on the ruthless level of a Neil LaBute screenplay. Ron and Kyla would be unapologetic in a way that matched the surrounding attitude toward their behavior. As it is, the film is more simply going for the comic payoff to the bizarre friendship that develops. Ron and Kyla merely do weird things, both on the trip to Mexico where they meet the protagonists and during the wedding weekend that ensues after a jump forward in time.

We like Marcus and Emily, the main couple, a lot more immediately, not least because they are played with no shortage of charisma and chemistry by Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji. He’s the owner of a construction company who has become far too dependent and focused upon his work recently, and the pair, who begin the story as an engaged one, have decided to head to Mexico for vacation. Their troubles start immediately, with their room flooded by the Jacuzzi in the one above and the only other room in town belonging to a one-star hotel. They have, of course, arrived with the expectation of five-star treatment. That’s when they meet Ron and Kyla, whose devotion to a problem-free philosophy borders on recklessness.

That’s another way of saying that, yes, theirs is the room above (and the Jacuzzi within it), which is not surprising whatsoever. They serve Marcus and Emily margaritas with a more intense substitute for the salt around the rim. They make up wild and distressing stories about themselves to make their lives seem even more interesting than they are. When saying goodbye at the airport, they loudly embellish bomb threats and human trafficking and drug-smuggling suspicions for the laughs. Meanwhile, Marcus and Emily are more cautious, considerate, and stable.

It comes as no surprise, though, when the narrative jumps forward by seven months to the main couple’s wedding ceremony, where Emily’s father (Robert Wisdom) is dismissive of Marcus’ occupation (he’s a “construction worker,” despite numerous protests to clarify that label). Ron and Kyla crash the wedding, cause a major misunderstanding involving a pregnancy and one aspect of a wild night of drugs and booze, and somehow work everything out with Marcus and Emily by the end. This feels like the film’s final word on whether we’re meant to like or to gawk at this crazy couple. Vacation Friends is still an uneasy mixture of raunch and discomfort, though, with good actors who deserved more refined material.
Review by Joel Copling

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

(Review by Chase Lee)

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(Review by Chase Lee)

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The Lost Leonardo

(Review by Chase Lee)

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Director: Stephen Daldry

Studio: Bleecker Street/BBC Films

Together is always a message for people at home during the COVID-19 pandemic!

Being together is the positive message and vibe to those who missed seeing each other during this difficult, frightening time due to COVID and the uncertainty of their future lives. This film feels like an English-British version of Ed Helms’ Together Together film released in the same year, but this is all very different. Together is a dark comedy-drama film that deals with the heavy concerns of the COVID-19 that causes the entire world to go into quarantine until the world gets better and brighter. The film is directed by Stephen Daldry and features the duo of James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan.

Together follows the story from the very first days of the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020 until the present day. It focuses on a married, but dysfunctional couple who are re-evaluating their relationship and learn how to deal with the uncertainty of their future throughout this COVID-19 pandemic while caring for their 10-year-old son, Artie.

Stephen Daldry steps in as director to take on the challenge of crafting a film that takes place in the center of COVID-19 pandemic. Daldry’s films on his profile include Billy Elliot, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Reader and The Hours. For his work on Billy Elliot, The Reader, and The Hours, he received his nomination for Best Director Oscar for both films. All of his films, except Billy Elliot, have received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, so Daldry is highly an Oscar-trending talent when it comes to movies and onstage productions with unique storytelling.

This film only contains a very short cast of actors in the film. They are James McAvoy (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and Sharon Horgan (Pulling, HBO’s Divorce) as well as child actor Samuel Logan. McAvoy and Horgan portrayed their role as a married couple who expressed concern about the COVID situations affecting their lives, their relationship, and their son when they heard the news in the UK while Logan appeared as Artie, the couple’s son. The chemistry between McAvoy and Horgan is brilliant and so is the screenwriting coming from writer Dennis Kelly. Of course, COVID is a very scary thing, but the actors reassured us that we can get through this, they just keep lecturing and guiding the viewers to bring the positivity towards the audience and critics.

Although not all fourth-wall breaks and the monologues are not as funny and enjoyable compared to fourth-wall breaking fictional-characters like Deadpool or Ferris Bueller, some are very confusing as the director wants the audience to engage on opening a conservations about the certainty and the uncertainty on their well-being, their health, and their vibes at home. This movie and its story do feel like a stage play, since they mostly involve us in their conversations, they look straight to the camera and give us lectures on how to stay productive and active during this ongoing pandemic. It's kind of oddly-strange for a second, but it doesn't last long for me to be hooked on that story and the aromatics of this COVID situation on what needs to be done and well-handled.

Together is okay. It clocks in around 90 minutes, but it doesn't feel long for its time length. This movie is just on in the background, but then I just get caught by it. The acting is superb, and the script is funny, sad, and poignant. This movie is tough to watch, but rest assured, it is an insight into many relationships and the ups-and-downs they are willing to face during lockdown, like all of us. It is a compelling viewing pleasure. I wish lots of people, who spent the time doing new things or something to pass the time, would watch this.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Free Guy

Director: Shawn Levy

Studio:20th Century Studios

Free Guy is the funniest Ryan Reynolds movie ever!

So basically, actor Ryan Reynolds is just Ryan Reynolds playing as Ryan Reynolds in every Ryan Reynolds movie. And that’s the ticket to your comical needs of your desperation. Director Shawn Levy is turning up the heat for Reynolds right there to direct Free Guy. Having been written by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn, the film features the stars Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, and Taika Waititi.

Free Guy takes place in the open-wide video game world called Free City, where the game setting focuses on an average man named Guy who is a non-player character (NPC) working as a bank teller. With the Free City game being developed and programmed by founders Millie and Keys and published by Antoine, Guy soon becomes self-aware of his world being a video game when he falls in love with video game character Motolov Girl operated by Millie herself, and takes steps to make himself the hero, creating a race against time to save the game before the developers can shut it down.

Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) stands in as Free City’s non-player character named Guy who works as a bank teller until, upon meeting that female videogame character Motolov Girl, he realizes he’s living in a video game world instead of a real world while performing the same routine again day after day. Reynolds is basically having fun playing himself in a different character name, he certainly looks like he really enjoys his job as an entertainment actor and (possibly) the funniest actor alive. Whenever any director, such as Levy himself, needs him to bring the comedy down the house, Reynolds is there to save or satisfy their directorial needs.

English actress Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) plays her game role as Millie as well as her video game avatar Motolov Girl who Guy falls in love with. Comer nails down every inch of role she has ever given for the sake of the film, the story, her own character development, and the director’s wishes as well. She even helps Reynolds in the film by offering some advice about life and purpose. Thus, alternating Reynolds’ Guy character development and timeline.

Actor Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok) walks into the house as Free City publisher and the main antagonist Antoine. Judging by the casting, seeing Reynolds and Waititi seems like an atypical, peculiar combination, given the fact they worked together on a promotional short film of this as Deadpool and Korg in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the film, Waititi just keeps doing what like to do to bring out the drama and comedy towards his fellow acting co-workers on the set. His wildy “gangster” appearance is heavily based on how his game-playing persona really triggers his role as a game publisher and a game credit hog. Even though acting in a video game movie can be difficult, Waititi knows his skills, his steps, and his direction in every CGI/visuals-effect additions affecting his moments in various scenes of the film.

21 Laps Entertainment founder Shawn Levy is the director of the film. You may not know him but his film credits include the kids’ comedy flick Big Fat Liar, Cheaper by the Dozen (with Steve Martin), and the Night at the Museum trilogy (featuring Ben Stiller). He also produced Stranger Things and the 2016 film Arrival (with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner starring in), for which he was nominated for the annual Best Picture Oscar. Since this is a video game movie rather than a science-fiction movie, director Levy has the actors study video games and the designs to portray what lies between the video game world and the real world. Levy also has the CGI and visual effects crew to work on the video game worlds and the pieces of Ryan Reynolds’ exploration in the world while the actors playing as gamers do what other video gamers do in the film. Levy even went further to provide pop culture references and cameo appearances, taking many influences and hardball cases from various video games and video game films (like Disney, Marvel, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, Anime, etc.).

While the film is funnier to watch, the somewhat-distractive CGI, and little-too-much visual effects have really thrown off the edge from being a great sci-fi flick as the director took advantage of this video game atmosphere to create more depth to bring the cultural themes of video games. The story and its writing from Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn are a bit woolly while some character developments ended up being dry for its measurements. No matter, the comedy and the music from composer Christopher Beck really redeemed this film from being a commercial and critical flop and intentionally saved the light on both the game world and the real world. Levy and the crew both know that the temptation is irresistible.

The rest of the cast featured in the film are Lil Rel Howery (The Carmichael Show, Get Out), Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Joe Keery (Stranger Things). Howery portrays Guy's best friend Buddy, a bank’s security guard who always enjoys the same routine without a fuss until Guy inspires him to do what he really wanted to do in his life. Joe Keery receives his supportive, but superior role as Keys, co-founder of Free City, who helps Millie crack the codes for their game and the Guy character while Utkarsh Ambudkar receives his role as Mouser who assists Keys.

Aside from pop culture references shown in the film, the film also includes several, yet surprising cameo appearances that are really enjoyable and highly hilarious to see. They include Youtube streamers and professional gamers like Jacksepticeye, Ninja, Pokimane, DanTDM, and LazarBeam as well as celebrity actors Hugh Jackman, Dwayne Johnson, Tina Fey, John Krasinski, and the MCU regular Chris Evans. Speaking of cameos, this film is dedicated to Jeopardy host Alex Trebek who posthumously cameos in the film.

As aforementioned, Free Guy is the funniest Ryan Reynolds two-hour movie, but maybe the most surprising hit of all, lying between the OKs and the “very good” section. I felt like I’m seeing a modern, present-day Zelda game or watching any video game being played by someone else, but I mostly enjoyed Reynolds’ performance, numerous comedic laughs, and the cameo appearances from celebrities and gamers. Reynolds really killed it on his part and so does Comer under the blessing from the director. I mean, who knows, this is a smorgasbord of fun and lasagna-filled laughs for Ryan Reynolds’ fans out there. This film is definitely worth the wait and is hilariously a “must.”


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Thursday, August 5, 2021


Tom McCarthy has not made a bad movie yet.

He won an Oscar a couple of years back for directing he Oscar-winning "Spotlight" in 2015.

He always tells compelling and intriguing stories about the human condition. Even his so-so movies are notewoprthy. Namely the Adam Sander-led "The Cobbler," (2014) in which a person gains a new identity by slipping into someone else's shoes.

"Stillwater" is a Matt Damon-led movie, however. It follows his stint visiting his daughter (Abigail Breslon) oversseas, where she is accused of killing her former Arabic girlfriend.

While overseas, he befriends a mother (Camille Cottinoleen) and a daughter, Maya (Lilou Siauvaud). He strikes a friendship and relationship with the pair. The duo are essentially a lifeline for him as he deals with agovernment in a foreign land that cares little for human life and the right side of justice.

The pacing on this film is not altogether quick, but is more of a sllow burn tale.

Damon is solid as usual as well as Breslin, who always knows what she is doing.

On a side note, I interviewed McCarthy for "Win Win" back in 2011. I brought my copy of his directorial debut "The Station Agent." He signed it for me as well as his other effort at the time, "The Visitor" (2007) with Richard Jenkins.

So, "Stillwater" is a movie worth seeking out, but as aforementiomned their are not a lot of bright or dazzling fireworks rather just a satisfying means to an end with this entralling drama.


(Review by Ricky Miller)

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Director: Leos Carax

Studio:Amazon Studios

Annette is a dark, not-so-bright soap-opera movie for musical moviegoers!

Hate to say this, but if you have kids, please do not show this film to your kids if you’re a parent and a music buff altogether as this film contains much darker images and strong language despite being a musical film or an opera film. Annette serves a English directorial debut for French director Leos Carax. Written by the Sparks duo of Ron and Ruseell Mael, this film features the duet of actors Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.

The story of Annette focuses on the relationship between a stand-up comedian named Henry McHenry and his wife Ann Defrasnoux, an famous opera singer. As Ann gives birth to her newborn daughter, she and Henry soon realize how their lives are changing when their first child has been gifted with a natural singing talent, thereby becoming the famous singing celebrity called Baby Annette.

Star Wars actor Adam Driver stands up onstage as Henry McHenry, a drug-addictive and a stand-up comedian whose life turns upside down when he makes sexual advances on his wife due to his drug abuse, while French actress and musician Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) shines the light as Henry’s wife and the famous opera singer Ann Defrasnoux. Driver’s performance onstage as a comedian is beyond powerful, but he certainly pulls up a stunt in a weird position and the fact that the film didn’t bring much of his redeeming qualities, which is very unemotional to see. Cotillard, on the other hand, is essentially just a figurehead for kindness, passion, and purity who doesn't get much place and space to act. Though she, as both an actress and a singer, knows her music gig and background in the palm of her hand. The director of the film is Leos Carax. With his direction, the film is entirely an opera movie and is way too long but the story is basic and utterly predictable. Carax really had the choreography and musical numbers crew working on so many levels as if this movie is a lot more than just any average musical film. With that being done in a tight squeeze, they seem like they’re on fire on such good choreography, the set designs, and photography, which all of them are fabulous and amazing to see.

While parts of Carax’s direction and chemistry between Driver and Cotillard are perfectly well-balanced, nothing could hardly save the film, however. The crew made the film being so tightly paced and filled with intensity and musical numbers, which is actually really boring. All the songs follow the same lazy pattern as one only sees a lovely couple, but truthfully sees random people singing one sentence over and over again. And that dark ending and the Annette character at the very end seem very messy, unforgiving, and not helping as the Carax and the Sparks duo focused on adding newer, but heavily not-colored music pieces to the puzzle. This goes to show from the director that an apology and forgiveness are not enough. Forgiveness is, but not always, will be forgiven. So don’t expect anyone or God to forgive you when you go out there, doing bad things. All of the cast and crew would say that forgiveness is a very hard deed.

The film has a lot of emotional manipulation throughout the film and is almost a romanticization of domestic violence. Drug abuse, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, and domestic violence are the main themes of the movie. Like Promising Young Woman, Annette is clearly the major influence from the Weinstein effect when Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment towards women. All the stress, hard battles of marriages, and anxiety-inducing, especially for victims of such abuses, are the essences of what make romantic relationships far too worst as the main character gets away with a lot. If that’s the big case, this shows a prime example of another bad (and unhealthy) case of male gaze.

Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) and Devyn McDowell are also featured in the film. Helberg portrays The Conductor, who is also close friend to Ann Defrasnoux and a victim of Henry’s drug abuse, while Devyn McDowell plays her role as Henry and Ann’s daughter Annette whose singing talent gains popularity in the world as Baby Annette.

I really hate to break it to you, but Annette wasn’t a good movie, coming at 140 minutes for the film’s entirety. This looks very hard to watch and really nerve-wracking to see the habits of their relationship. I may love music but I felt like the beauty and artistry of this so-called “opera” film in the first half seemed too easy to enjoy but after that, they have increasingly died down, reducing the art of passion and music. But Driver and Cotillard are top-notch and even Helberg fitted in quite well. From what I witnessed, Driver could stand a chance of receiving his Oscar nomination (or perhaps a Golden Globe nom) for his role. While the film is tough to choose, the acting is outstanding, but the music songs are repetitive throughout the course. I don’t know what to say but please consider selecting a different movie if you can as choosing this movie makes you want to leave the theater during the movie or after the movie in dissatisfaction.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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The Suicide Squad

Director: James Gunn

Studio:Warner Bros. Pictures

The Suicide Squad is better than the original!

Just letting the fans know that The Suicide Squad is not a direct sequel to that disgusted original film, but is rather a standalone sequel. For some odd reason, lots of people didn’t like the original film due to the finishing touches of it with some fans and studio executives believing that the future of DC Extended Universe is in jeopardy. After James Gunn was [temporarily] fired from Disney and Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. and DC Comics seized the opportunity to hire him as director and writer of this sequel after looking for several replacement directors since David Ayer, the original director of Suicide Squad, has stepped out. The film features the returning star Margot Robbie, alongside Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, David Dastmalchian, and Viola Davis.

The Suicide Squad focuses on the task group of convicting prisoners, consisting of Bloodsport, Nanaue, Ratcatcher 2, Polka-Dot Man, and Peacemaker, who are sent by Amanda Waller to destroy Jotunheim, a Nazi-era prison and laboratory that holds prisoners and conducted experiments, as well as battle against the gigantic alien, sea-creature look-alike called Starro. Along the way, the team is also tasked to rescue Rick Flag and Harley Quinn, with the latter being held captive by the Corto Maltese President and his military comrades.

James Gunn (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy) is the director of this film after being ousted from Marvel for a short time. As director, Gunn has to fill David Ayer’s shoes as he cleans up Ayer’s mess from the original film as well as adding some new story twists on the settings, the characters, and the script-writing with the side of humorous comedy in the background. Gunn looks back at the original film as well as several war films and superheros to capture the tone and quality for the film’s storyline and unique, ballsy setting for the characters, and the creative CGI-bloody, violent action sequences splattering around the bushes. If one takes my advice, some examples for everything aforementioned include Platoon, Forrest Gump, Full Metal Jacket, and some MCU films.

Actor Idris Elba is a newcomer to this sequel, portraying his meatier, superhero role as Robert DeBois/Bloodsport, a criminal and mercenary with a technologically-advanced suit and weapons, while actress Margot Robbie reprises her role as Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn, a crazed criminal and former psychiatrist. Elba is originally going to be Will Smith’s replacement, but director Gunn gave him a new role to allow Smith to return in the future.

The other members of the Suicide Sqaud include John Cena (Ferdinand, F9) as Peacemaker, Sylvester Stallone (Rocky films) as the voice of King Shark, David Dastmalchian (Ant-Man) as Abner Krill/Polka-Dot Man, and Daniela Melchior as Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher 2, a young girl who can control rats and community with them.

This sequel is a unique combination between war films and superhero films, it blends humour and seriousness perfectly. Some of the scenes between John Cena and Idris Elba are hilarious, as well as the lines from King Shark. Even David Dastmalchian and Margot Robbie are such good helpers to trigger tons of die-hard laughs and colorful dynamics onscreen. The action sequences are highly stunning and bloody violent for that R-Rated advantage. My main guess is that the studio is very tired of giving the superhero films a PG-13 rating in order to get more views and audiences. But the main enjoyable parts are the funny chemistry of Bloodsport and Harley Quinn, the visuals, the humor coming from all characters and superheroes, and emotional moments from the main Suicide Sqaud team. The film felt like Gunn really takes his Guardians of the Galaxy directorial steps too well without any hassle. With good direction and great dialogue coming from writer Gunn himself, this sequel is filled with enduring, funny one liners and never takes itself too seriously, going straight out of boredom and confusion.

The returning actors from the original film are also present in this sequel. Viola Davis (Fences) returns to the sequel as Amanda Waller. Davis provided some background, hidden-antagonist feel right there while giving orders to the task force team whilst Joel Kinnaman returns to his role as Rick Flag, the leader of the Suicide Squad ordering the task force members on what to do, with Jai Courtney returning as Captain Boomerang. On the other side, the film also includes some small screen times of Michael Rooker as Savant, Taika Waititi as the first Ratcatcher and Cazo's father, Pete Davidson as Blackguard, Nathan Fillion as Cory Pitzner/T.D.K., formerly known as The Detachable Kid, and Sean Gunn as The Weasel. This Weasel character adds more die-laughing humor to it.

In conclusion, The Suicide Squad is an incredible sequel, maybe reaching greater, ballistic heights of an average DC Comics film that will jump out of your seat with glee and excitement. It clocks in at least 132 minutes. I will say this, this sequel is better than the original film and is basically like an Avengers movie targeting adults with violence, gore, irreverent comedy, and much, much swearing being placed all over. And yes, you will figure I said those words. Gunn really nailed his role as director and the cast all did a terrific job as well, especially Idris Elba and Margot Robbie. These two both killed it victoriously. The Suicide Squad is definitely a must, no joke, and this is a kind of DC film that will make Marvel look bad. So, I’m sending my compliments to Mr. James Gunn himself. This is the kind of Suicide Squad film lots of people have been waiting for at this very moment.


(Review by Henry Pham)

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Escape from Mogadishu

In the late 80's and early 1990's, South Korea and North Korea sent diplomats to Africa to woo the countries that will vote on their admission to the United Nations. Counselor Kang Dae-jin (Jo In-sung) and Ambassador Han Sin-seong (Kim Yoon-seok) try to meet with Somalian dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. Meanwhile the North Koreans, Ambassador Rim Yong-su (Huh Joon-ho) and Tae Joon-ki (Koo Kyo-hwan) who the South Koreans suspect of selling arms to the local rebels, suddenly find themselves at the beginning of a civil war to oust President Barre.

Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan, Escape from Mogadishu was based on the true events of the evacuation of both the North and South Koreans that had to work together to find a way out of the country. There's a bit of Argo and Black Hawk Down with tense and horrific violence as the diplomats and their families try to endure as angry rebels clash with Somolian forces who are just as cruel and corrupt. Not even their diplomatic status can help them.

This film is not your usual shoot'em up adventure. There is a more personal perspective of the characters in play. The career diplomats who serve in often hostile countries with their families. The spycraft, the bribes, the sensitive dance that one has to engage in to bring a favor to their mission. Counselor Kang is more hot headed and uses his press sources for intel. Ambassador Han is more measured and world weary having devoted most of his service with little resources. Their distrust of their Northern countrymen makes it a difficult choice to rescue Ambassador Rim, staff and their families when they run from their embassy after the rebels vandalize the building and steal all their belonings and money. Despite their political differences and rumor based fears, they let them in and feed them what little they had left. There is no power, food or water. The Somolian guards hired to protect them have suddenly left. They plan for the two groups to escape to other embassies. South Korea will go to the Italian Embassy as they have a relationship with them. The North Koreans are not welcome there, so they will go to the Egyptian Embassy. Unfortunately, Egypt can't help. Ambassador Han tells the Italians that the North Koreans are converting to the South, so they would be eligible to escape with them.

Despite the geo-political background of the times, it really comes down to the relationship of the two Koreas that have to put aside their anomosity and find a way out. Kang at one point realizes that the North Koreans can not go with them to the South or the children that they had to leave behind would become orphans. It's a harsh reminder of how different their societies have become.

Filmed in Morocco in 2019, the opening of this film was delayed by 2020. It opened in South Korea becoming the biggest opening of the year beating out Jungle Cruise. It's a fast paced, well acted actioner, with at the edge of your seat final act of the escape through the streets of the war torn city with both rebels and Somolian armies hot on their heels. At one point you can imagine the warring factions as mindless zombies chasing them as the pursuers have the same single minded purpose of death to all. It's one of those stories that no one would know about but should.
(Review by reesa)

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