‘Day Shift’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

A hardworking dad Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx) out to provide for his daughter uses a boring pool-cleaning job as a front for his real gig: hunting and killing vampires. Director J.J. Perry sets the tone early on in Day Shift when he gets right into the action with Jablonski and how he hunts vampires. Audiences can relate to him because he is a father doing the best he can for his daughter, as he sells certain vampire body parts for cash. He can track these vampires and hunt them down with a shotgun to get this money. The action is jam-packed at the very beginning and gives a strong sense of how the movie is going to play out. 

Like any other vampire movie, there are rules set within the universe that help audiences understand how everyone operates. The only issue with that is the exposition in regards to how they over-explain their vampires and what they do. It could have been handled a bit differently and not as dense as it was, considering there was a more playful tone at the beginning of this movie. It does get darker as the movie goes on, which would explain the shift. The characters are separated at first but then they all come together in the end to have a final standoff that further explains the history of the vampires in the town. There is a nice mix of mystery between all the characters, but ultimately it drags and the pacing doesn’t work in its favour.

The one reason to watch this vampire-hunting Netflix film is the action. From the moment it started, the fight choreography and special effects are what grabbed my attention. When Foxx was fighting the first vampire, the camera angles and the swift movements of the character impressed me. It felt like Perry wanted to almost make it a video game type of feel with those action sequences. The sequences got more graphic as the movie went on, which is what made it so much fun to watch. There were moments where the VFX on the vampires worked well and almost disgusted me because of how realistic they looked. Perry sold the believability of the vampire-hunting through the action scenes and that’s all anyone can ask of this movie. 

Day Shift had the potential to be better than it was if he focused more on the story than the action. There needed to be a balance for this movie to be a memorable addition to the Netflix library. Unfortunately, the jokes did not land and it wasn’t as funny as they thought it would be with Dave Franco and Snoop Dogg in the mix. Is it a fun action movie? For the most part, yes. But it doesn’t have the strength in the story for it to be engaging at all. In this case, the action does overpower the storyline, so it feels like a mindless action movie where you’re just waiting for those awesome scenes. Foxx is always great but it didn’t feel like he had much to do with his character at all, which didn’t do much for the story. 

‘The Moviegoer’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

For all diehard moviegoers, this short film is definitely for you. At a young age Ross Munro loved movies, he saw Carlota Vivas on the big screen and fell in love. Not only did he love her, but he loved escaping into the universe she was part of. She was a Venezuelan star and Munro wanted to support her. In doing so, Munro made this documentary-style animated short film to show the day in the life of a moviegoer. Saturday afternoons meant everything to Munro and after sharing his childhood story through some adorable images, he explains how fans went to the movies on Saturday. Almost everyone can connect with this short film and Munro because we’ve all had one designated day to go watch a movie.

The animation was a nice touch, especially showing a young version of Munro heading to the theatre. There’s something almost magical about the whole experience when it is viewed from a child’s perspective. Munro has a fun, almost quirky tone when doing the voiceover and explaining the inflation rate of actually heading to the movie theatre. It’s almost impossible to believe that it cost one dollar to go to the theatre with transportation, snacks and the movie ticket included. Munro makes the viewer feel nostalgic because of how it was before, and how different everything is now. It used to be a Saturday afternoon trying to find something different to watch, or going to watch your favourite actor on screen. And now, it has become an event, where people may go to the theatre once a month.

Munro was able to bookend his short film quite nicely by sharing his personal life with audiences. When Munro shared that he was able to get Maria Carlota Vivas to produce this short film, it was something special. It felt like the audience went on a journey with Munro in such a short period that it felt rewarding. It’s important to integrate personal stories because it then makes audiences feel connected to the characters and the work. That is exactly what Munro did with The Moviegoer. It’s sweet, sentimental, and quite funny. He was able to highlight the important moments of his life that could very much parallel any other diehard cinephile. 

The Moviegoer is a lovely short film highlighting the experiences of growing up a movie fan. What it’s like to pick up your first camera, or fall in love with your first movie. Those experiences shape you into the person you become. And the movies you watch always hold a special place in your heart. Munro also speaks to the Canadian experience as becoming a hockey player at a young age was a must and it took away from his movie watching. There are plenty of actors out there, but movie fans have a select few whom they would run to the theatre for without batting an eye. Munro made something so special and deeply personal, that it feels like an honour to have watched this short film. 

‘Bullet Train’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

When action films become adrenaline-fuelled mysteries like Bullet Train it makes for a really fun movie. David Leitch returns to the big screen with a really fun cast, some witty banter, and great action scenes. Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an unlucky assassin who’s determined to do his job peacefully after one too many gigs have gone off the rails. Fate, however, may have other plans as his latest mission puts him on a collision course with lethal adversaries from around the globe — all with connected yet conflicting objectives — on the world’s fastest train. The story does get lost a little bit because there are too many characters in play, but it still does the job.

The characters made the movie go by incredibly fast to the point where you don’t feel the runtime until the very end of the movie. There were many side stories and backstories with each additional character that added to the mystery of the White Death, but it did lean towards a messier narrative. The concentration on the story slowly fades into the background once Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) come onto the train. Their chemistry is what held everything together for the majority of it. It almost felt like they’ve worked together for years and should continue to do so after this movie. The brotherly bond between the two of them and their batty accents made for the most entertaining duo of the year.

Each entrance got more elaborate than the last with the graphic violence displayed in their backstories. The choppy editing made those scenes intense and Leitch did not shy away during those action scenes. It will make you get into the movie because of much of the visuals you feel. The fight choreography on the train was executed well and there were some unique moments as well. The banter between Tangerine and Ladybug while fighting was a lot of fun, and made those scenes worthwhile. Brad Pitt’s character of Ladybug was fine at the beginning, but the constant use of “bad luck” being the reason why he gets himself out of situations got old fast. Even though the movie is centred on him, he was my least favourite character in the movie. 

Bullet Train is a fun action movie to get lost in for two hours. It has a really fun cast, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll connect with these characters instantly. Leitch does a great job grounding Lemon and Tangerine as assassins, and you feel for them in the end. There are three great cameos, one that pleasantly surprised me, one that made me smile, and one that didn’t make any sense. It was also unfortunate that Bad Bunny didn’t get that much screen time as The Wolf because he was one of the more interesting characters on the train. It is a fun time at the theatre because of how funny the characters were when interacting with each other. 

‘Luck’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

John Lasseter has given everyone some wonderful animated films over his time at Pixar. Now, with his new company Skydance, he brings his expertise to another animated feature with Luck. A story that begins with a teenager named Sam, turning eighteen years old and leaving her orphanage. She hasn’t found her forever family, but she is determined to help out her young friend Hazel find hers. In the opening of this feature, we see a very uncoordinated and awkward Sam, who usually keeps to herself because that’s all she has known her whole life. And, on top of that, she has the worst luck imaginable. Hence, the title. Shortly after she has a very messy day in her apartment, she meets this black cat on the sidewalk – usually bad luck for many- and her luck changes when she finds a penny. 

The lucky penny then changes her outlook on life and she has good things happen to her for half of the next day. However, being clumsy and not knowing she has to hold onto the penny, she loses it. Sam winds up on the same corner and sees the cat named Bob, who is voiced by Simon Pegg. After this point, the heartfelt and emotional family dynamic that was at the start of the movie slowly vanishes into a leprechaun adventure. Bob, accidentally leads Sam to the luck headquarters and Sam is determined to find another penny to take home with her for Hazel. At first, it felt so fast-paced and the actions when Sam had the penny were extremely fun. There’s so much to play with in animation and that’s why the simple story was working. The middle is where it fell apart and the direction of the story became messy.

Even though the animation was fantastical because of all these different creatures and the world of bad luck, the rendering of the characters felt a bit off. The mouth movements weren’t as fluid, and you could tell that they didn’t match the dialogue. It felt like their mouth was catching up with the dialogue. The animation was really strong when the creatures and leprechauns were involved because they made them so adorable for kids to enjoy. The obstacles Sam and Bob had to face were fun to watch because of the distinction between good and bad in the land of luck. They used rich colours to set them apart and the lesson learned by all is that fate can be at the end of a good situation or a bad one. All decisions that are made, or ones that are made for you by the universe, all eventually lead to something different.

Luck had the potential to be a strong animated feature for Skydance, but the original message got lost in the adventure in the Land of Luck. There are emotional moments at the beginning and the end to bookend Sam’s story, but the middle just drags on. Some action scenes were done extremely well because animation can stretch those boundaries, but it was pretty generic. They spent too much time in the land of luck without ever going back to what little Hazel was doing in her world. It felt detached from the family dynamic and that’s why it didn’t work as a whole. Two different stories are being told here and they don’t mesh together unless. Bad luck happens, but it doesn’t define your situation in life because the universe and your decisions can lead you to other open doors. 

Luck begins streaming on Apple TV Plus on Friday, August 5th.

‘Wedding Season’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Romantic comedies are usually a reflection of the social climate we currently live in. And dating in this generation has been even more difficult than before. The one thing that remains the same is the pressure families put on their children to get married, especially their daughters. They don’t realize that careers can sometimes take over the void of not having a partner by their side. Getting lost in their work after a failed relationship can sometimes be more fulfilling than diving into the dating pool again. Working towards your own goals should be seen as something rewarding, instead of it seeming like it’s taking away precious time from dating and starting a family. Each generation has been through its hardships, and sometimes the relationship aspect is placed on the back burner. In Wedding Season, there’s this exploration of what it truly means to be happy. It’s more of a self-fulfilling journey than a community-based one according to how Indian families operate. 

In true rom-com fashion, Asha (Pallavi Sharda) and Ravi (Suraj Sharma) pretend to date after their parents set them up to avoid the pressures that come with the summer wedding season, only to find them falling for each other. We have seen this story many times before, but they did manage to add something new to the mix. Asha is very career oriented after things ended badly in her last relationship. And Ravi is just floating by trying to just live life for himself. The key to any romantic comedy is banter and chemistry, which is what they both had. Sharda and Sharma were very natural with each other and that is why it felt like the easiest pairing in the world. It was interesting to watch their dynamic change throughout the movie as they both fell for each other. It’s getting to know the person without even trying that strengthens the relationship. Asha was very transparent from the start, but Ravi was not, which causes some issues later on.

We have seen families get in the way of relationships before and what this movie teaches everyone is that children do not live to make their parents happy. These decisions have changed over generations, and now it’s more about being content with someone who brings you peace, no matter the status. It was lovely to see different couples from all races and religions come together over this wedding season. All couples face insecurities and hardships, and this movie shows all of that effectively. Nothing is ever perfect and that is why if you truly love someone, you will always work at that relationship no matter what. There are many lessons in this movie and it was heartwarming seeing everything work out in the end. Sure, it’s a bit generic, but the cultural authenticity of the family unit and the wedding season added another layer to this genre. Parents always want the best for their kids because they had it difficult growing up. They want them to prosper and have a better life, but sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. 

Wedding Season is a sweet romantic comedy written by Shiwani Srivastava and directed by Tom Dey for Netflix. It does have some lovely moments between the two leads and they will most likely steal everyone’s hearts. Many have been through a situation similar to Asha and Ravi, and it’s almost like validating those feelings or situations. Love comes in all forms and relationships can flourish in the strangest ways. It begins as a community effort from both sets of parents, but then ultimately it was Asha’s ability to open herself up to the idea of loving someone again. A similar romantic comedy storyline is there, but the actors within the family unit, and the leads give it something extra. It’s a very nice addition to the romantic comedy section in the Netflix library.