Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and drive-ins including the musical drama “The Cuban,” the meta horror film “Random Acts of Violence,” the rock ‘n’ roll documentary “Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine” and the new Nicolas Cage movie “Primal.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the soulful drama “The Cuban,” the meta horror film “Random Acts of Violence,” the rock ‘n’ roll documentary “Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine” and the new Nicolas Cage movie “Primal.”
Imagine Noah’s Ark, but with killer CGI animals and a wise-cracking serial killer, and you get the general idea of “Primal,” the latest Nic Cage movie to go straight to VOD.
Frank Walsh (Cage) is a poacher in the jungles of Brazil; a loner who traps exotic animals for export to collectors and zoos in the US. His latest capture, El Fantasma Gato, is beyond rare. Worth maybe $1 million. “It’s a white jaguar,“ he says. “Maybe 350 to 400 pounds. Doesn’t like people.“ “Just like you Frank,“ says his kid sidekick (Jeremy Nazario) in the only comment that passes for character work in the “Primal’s” stripped-down b-movie world.
The action begins with Frank transports the animal on the large cargo ship. Trouble is, the US government is using the same ship to transport a psychopathic killer to justice. Held Hannibal Lecter-style in a cage below deck by Navy doctor Ellen Taylor (Famke Janssen) and Government lawyer Freed (Michael Imperioli), Richard Loffler (Kevin Durand) is a former military man turned international terrorist.
This is a B-movie, so no amount of security, chains or wild animals can stop Loffler from causing havoc on the high seas. Only one man, with a special set of skills and a rare white jaguar, can stop Loffler’s rampage. It’s nature gone wild on the high seas as Walsh snorts, “I’m going hunting.”
“Primal” is the kind of movie Nicolas Cage bangs out between visits to his tax lawyer. It’s a film so far beneath has talent you have to wonder why he signed on. Did he always want to work with a talking parrot? Does he get paid by the cliché these days? Hard to know. What is for sure is that “Primal” is one of those movies where the sheer stupidity of the story supplies the only entertainment value. The thrills fall short and the action is almost nonexistent but it’s almost worth the price of a rental to see Cage try and take down Loffler with a poison blow dart gun or argue with his parrot.
“Primal” will make you yearn for the days when Nic Cage movies like “Con Air,” “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “The Rock” promised and delivered offbeat delights. Cage brings his patented oddball performance style along for the ride but even that isn’t enough to give “Primal’s” bland storytelling and lazy action some zip.
Richard and CP24 anchor Stephanie Smythe have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the up-close-and-personal action of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” the supernatural thrills of “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” the spy comedy “Keeping Up with the Joneses” and the new Canadian indie “Mean Dreams.”
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the up-close-and-personal action of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” the supernatural thrills of “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” the spy comedy “Keeping Up with the Joneses” and the new Canadian indie “Mean Dreams.”
The word hardscrabble comes to mind while watching “Mean Dreams,” a new thriller from director Nathan Morlando. The two lead characters, star-crossed teenagers Casey (Sophie Nelisse) and Jonas (Josh Wiggins), don’t have any easy go of it. Her father Wayne (Bill Paxton) is a physically abusive drunk, while Jonas’s dad treats the fifteen-year-old like an adult. It’s a hard knock life, one that forces the two to mature quickly and make grown-up decisions.
Casey and Wayne are new to town. Wayne divides his time between drinking and looking for ways out of their new podunk town. He’s a lawman with little respect for the law, anything or anyone, including his daughter. When Wayne almost kills Jonas, Casey’s new neighbour and love interest, and local law enforcement (Colm Feore) doesn’t seem interested in helping, the young man takes it on himself to put some space between his new girlfriend and her abusive father. Their new life begins with the theft of $1 million in drug money, an action that brings serious consequences.
Echoes of “Badlands,” Terrence Malick’s tale of young love on the run, hang heavy over “Mean Dreams.“ Casey and Jonas are more innocent than Holly Sargis (Sissy Spacek) and Kit Carruthers (Martin Sheen) but their journey into antisocial behaviour rings a bell. Director Morlando may not be treading new ground here, but emotionally he veers off the beaten track, adding elements of innocence among the wolves that lends the story a welcome human aspect and motivation for their actions.
The villains—Paxton and Feore (SPOILER ALERT) are suitably villainous, amoral and sleazy excuses for human beings, but it’s too bad they feel like they just stepped out of Central Casting. Paxton is undeniably entertaining as the ruthless and vicious father figure, but he’s a mish-mash of every redneck creep we’ve seen before. Feore is given even less dimension, but is an imposing figure nonetheless.
The real heart and soul of “Mean Dreams” lies with Nelisse and Wiggins. If we don’t care about them, we don’t care about the movie and the two young leads are appealing even when they are pushed to extremes.
The critics hammered “The Captive,” a new crime drama from director Atom Egoyan, when it played at the Cannes Film Festival. Reaction at the French fest was swift and brutal for a film that features some good thriller elements but is sunk by plot holes, logic lapses and simultaneous under and over acting.
Set in Niagara Falls, Ontario the beginning of the movie is a slow burn, using a broken timeline to weave the stories of a young detective (Scott Speedman) transferring from homicide over to the Special Victims Unit run by Nicole (Rosario Dawson) with the mysterious disappearance of Cass (Alexia Fast) who was taken from the backseat of her father’s (Ryan Reynolds) truck as he picked up some food at a diner.
Held captive for eight years by a pedophile (Kevin Durand), the girl is locked in a hidden apartment where she plays piano and watches streaming video of her mother (Mireille Enos) at work as a hotel maid. When she isn’t on lockdown she’s used as online bait for a pedophile ring, a recruiter for other young girls. The police investigation is a dead end until a clue from an unlikely source breaks the case.
“The Captive” has an interesting enough premise, but in an effort to differentiate itself from a score of similarly themed police procedurals, it makes a few wrong turns. The choppy timeline works well enough, helping to build some drama, and the pedophile’s habit of planting mementos from Cass’s life—a hairbrush, a figure skating trophy—in the hotel rooms her mother Tina cleans, and then watching her reactions, is unspeakably cruel.
But, like so much of the movie, there is bad along with the good. Tormenting Tina is creepily effective but it is played strictly for dramatic effect, leaving a major logic hole in the story. Tina doesn’t call the police until she has enough mementos to open a junk shop even though it would have been the best and easiest way to catch the bad guys… unless you’re in a movie called “The Captive.” On “Law and Order” they would have nailed this creep in no time flat.
But this isn’t “Law and Order,” it’s an attempt at a more nuanced style of storytelling, but for us to care about the grace notes of the story we have to care about the characters. The premise is heartbreaking, no parent could be expected to hold up when their child is taken but the parents never become characters. They stop just short, instead acting out the broad strokes of grief. Reynolds is a loose cannon, prone to lashing out while Enos redefines listless, handing in a performance that borders on somnambulistic.
Then there is the Durand problem. A good thriller needs a good baddie but Durand’s performance, which I suppose is meant to be eerily otherworldly, comes across like an Ed Wood Jr. villain, all pursed lips and whispered dialogue. It’s strange and ineffective work that plays in stark contrast to Enos’s understated performance.
Unlike the best of Egoyan’s films “The Captive” doesn’t work on any level other than the surface. Sure, there are multiple stories—a 90’s style police procedural, the aftermath of the kidnapping, the parent’s devastation and the opera singing deviant and his ring of pedophiles—but none are developed past the superficial.