Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Bain about movies on VOD and in theatres to watch this weekend including the loud and proud Milla Jovovich actioner “Monster Hunter,” the Andy Samberg time loop rom com “Palm Springs” and the recent winner of the Best European Film Award, “Another Round.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Chadwick Boseman drama “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix), the time loop rom com “Palm Springs” (Amazon Prime Video), the loud and proud “Monster Hunter” (in theatres) and the recent winner of the Best European Film Award, “Another Round” (in select theatres and the Apple TV app and other VOD platforms).
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Angie Seth to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Chadwick Boseman drama “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix), the time loop rom com “Palm Springs” (Amazon Prime Video), the loud and proud “Monster Hunter” (in theatres) and the recent winner of the Best European Film Award, “Another Round” (in select theatres and the Apple TV app and other VOD platforms).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Chadwick Boseman drama “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix), the time loop rom com “Palm Springs” (Amazon Prime Video), the loud and proud “Monster Hunter” (in theatres) and the recent winner of the Best European Film Award, “Another Round” (in select theatres and the Apple TV app and other VOD platforms).
Director Paul WS Anderson and star Milla Jovovich made four movies together based on video game developer Capcom’s “Resident Evil” action-adventure series. Their new project, “Monster Hunter,” now playing in theatres, returns to the same well, this time bringing Capcom’s second best-selling series, after “Resident Evil,” to big, noisy life on movie screens.
The plot is straightforward. Jovovich is Captain Natalie Artemis, a last name she happens to share with the Greek goddess of the hunt. When she and her team slip through a portal into a world teaming with monsters, she partners with The Hunter (Tony Jaa), a warrior who specializes in battling giant monsters. If she wants to survive and make it back to her world, he is her best hope. “To kill a monster,” she says, “you need a monster.”
Anderson’s previous movies are like heavy metal concerts, loud and proud, with the finesse of a sledge hammer and “Monster Hunter” is no different. It’s a simple story told with sweeping shots of the alien landscape, a turn-it-up-eleven sound mix and more CGI creatures than you can shake a gaming controller at. Don’t come here for story arcs or character development, those qualities are as absent as subtlety.
The action sequences are shot motion-sickness style, with the camera in constant movement, making it hard to see who is beating the stuffing out of who. It’s a shame because Jaa is one of the most agile and entertaining action stars this side of Jackie Chan in his prime, but much of the time here he is a blur of fists and fury.
“Monster Hunter’s” plot is so thin, if you held it up to the light, you could see right through it. But this isn’t “War and Peace.” Heck, it’s barely “See Spot Run” story wise. Instead, it’s more an excuse to slap together some jump scares and, admittedly cool looking creatures, with elements borrowed from other movies like “Predator” and “Alien.”
2020 has been slim pickings for big off-the-wall action movies. “Monster Hunter” doesn’t offer much, but for anyone starved for no-nonsense—or should that be all nonsense? —pedal to the metal action, it just might do the trick.
Since 2002 Milla Jovovich has played a genetically altered zombie fighter with telekinetic powers in six Resident Evil films.
Like the undead fleshbags who populate these based-on-a-videogame movies, you can’t seem to kill this franchise, although the title of this weekend’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter seems to indicate the end is near.
But just because the Resident Evil movies aren’t Shakespeare doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from them. Here’s what I took away from Jovovich and Company in the last 13 years:
1. The undead have really, really bad aim.
2. No matter what stunt she has just performed, whether it’s plummeting 19 stories down an abandoned mine shaft, or battling legions of bad guys, Mila’s hair will, at most, only look slightly tousled, as if Vidal Sassoon had just finished running his magic fingers through her locks.
3. The amount of rainfall in the future makes Vancouver look arid.
4. To act in one of these movies you must perfect one of two facial expressions: a. steely determination, or b. uncontrolled rage (which can be alternated with a sadistic smile if necessary).
5. Characters will say, “What the hell is going on here?” when it is quite clear what the heck is going on.
6. Most of the people to survive the deadly plague that destroyed most of humanity look like Abercrombie & Fitch pinups.
7. Why take the stairs when you can drive a Rolls Royce down an escalator?
So there you have it — lessons learned.
Despite legendary director Jean-Luc Godard’s claim that, “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl,” both of which are amply on display in the Resident Evil movies, they still feel more like a videogame projected on a big screen than a movie.
But who cares what I or other film critics think? These movies have been phenomenally successful and for over a decade have proven to be critic-proof. Roger Ebert placed Resident Evil on his most hated films list in 2005 and called its sequel, “an utterly meaningless waste of time,” adding, “Parents: If you encounter teenagers who say they liked this movie, do not let them date your children.”
Leonard Maltin added to the pile on calling Resident Evil: Apocalypse “tiresome” while Dark Horizons said the third movie, Afterlife was, “perhaps the first 3D motion picture to simulate the experience of watching paint dry,” and yet the splatter flick went on to gross $300 million worldwide.
Critics aside, others in the film biz love the movies. Avatar director James Cameron called Resident Evil his biggest guilty pleasure and the Ontario Media Development Corporation acknowledged the Toronto-shot Afterlife as the most successful production in Canadian feature film history.
Bottom line is that in total, the series has grossed almost $1 billion — a feat recognized by the Guinness World Records Gamers’ Edition who called the Resident Evil films “the most successful movie series to be based on a video game,” awarding them with the record for Most Live-Action Film Adaptations of a Video Game.
It’s said the people of Pompeii regarded the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. with “a response more of curiosity than of alarm.” The volcano had burped and belched as many as 50 times over the years, so most of the city’s 20,000 citizens didn’t pay attention when Vesuvius started to gurgle.
Perhaps they were too busy visiting one of the city’s many brothels — like a proto-Las Vegas, this was the richest city of ancient times, ripe with amenities and vice — or enjoying their lunches of broad beans, olives, dormice (plumped up by chefs in terracotta jars) or even garum, made from the first blood of a still-gasping mackerel, to detect the cloud of deadly volcanic ash headed their way.
By the end of the day the dust “poured across the land,” claiming 2,000 lives. Buried beneath, “a darkness… like the black of closed and unlighted rooms.” The remains of Pompeii and its people were preserved, left untouched for two millennia.
Today the ancient city of Pompeii is one of the most popular attractions in Italy, drawing almost three million tourists annually. But if you can’t make it to the Italian region of Campania, a new movie aims to recreate the experience for you.
Pompeii stars Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning and Kiefer Sutherland in a love story about a slave-turned-gladiator (Harington) who must rescue his beloved, Cassia (Browning), before a rolling mountain of lava and ash dooms her to the ages.
The big action adventure take on the story directed by Resident Evil helmer Paul W.S. Anderson has an ancestor in The Last Days of Pompeii, a 1913 silent sword-and-sandal movie based on the Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton novel of the same name. That book has been remade eight times.
The most famous version came in 1959. The big budget CinemaScope production was to have been directed by Mario Bonnard, but when he fell ill on the first day of shooting, screenwriter Sergio Leone (who would go on to make classics like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) stepped in. It’s big on pageantry, just as the advertising taglines would suggest. It’s a “Fiery Summit of Spectacle,” the posters screamed, promising an inside look at, “the City that Lived in Sin and Died in Flame!”
Certainly it’s more puffed-up than Up Pompeii, a 1971 Frankie Howerd comedy that featured a speech by emperor Ludicrus Sextus during Vesuvius’ eruption.
“I say, Lurcio, how did my speech go?” he asks his servant as the city crumbles.