‘Christmas Chronicles 2’ is a Netflix 2020 Christmas comedy that’s the follow up to the 2018 film ‘The Christmas Chronicles’. Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Darby Camp, and Judah Lewis all return from the first one. Outside of them, ‘Christmas Chronicles 2’ brings in Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Jahzir Bruno (The Witches), and Tyrese Gibson (Fast & Furious).
Belsnickel (Dennison) is a disgruntled elf who is now human, who intends to get revenge on Santa by going to the North Pole and stealing Christmas forever. He must use Kate (Camp) as his ticket to get into the north pole by tricking her.
After watching the trailer, this did not look like it would be good. Why make a second one? Because money, that’s why, that’s the driving factor to everything, and I figured that’s all that would be behind it. I was happy to be wrong, even though they wrapped up everything in the first one. This one brings a fresh new plot that makes it worth it. Of course Kurt Russell has an even bigger rock n roll scene. The run time is a little long at two hours, but it doesn’t lag much, so time isn’t an issue. In the end this is a movie the whole family will enjoy. It brings a heartfelt message across with a rebellious teen finding acceptance and love, a scared kid finding his courage, and a rebellious elf finding his way. I give it a 7/10
‘Alien Xmas’ is a 2020 Netflix children/family Christmas movie staring Keythe Farley (Mass Effect 2), Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad!), and Kaliayh Rhambo (SEAL Team). ‘Alien Xmas’ follows the story of an alien race called the Klepts, they have no joy and steal everything and anything they can. Their newest plan is to go to earth and set up a machine to turn off earth’s gravitational pull. Once it is off, all of earth’s possessions will float into space where the Klepts will steal it. They send X, the smallest of the Kelpts, to the North Pole to set up the machine, but he soon changes his ways and learns the true meaning of Christmas.
I wouldn’t necessarily call this one a movie, more of a short or a Christmas special, it’s only 42 minutes long and after credits the run time is only about 38/39 minutes. It has an old retro, old-school feel to it. The animation style is done similar to the old Christmas special ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, and that’s pretty cool. It’s like most Christmas movies, like ‘The Grinch’, where there is a grumpy character who stays grumpy until he learns the true meaning of Christmas. We’ve seen it a million times. However, they put a unique twist on it, and bring back the old animation style. For that ‘Alien Xmas’ is a winner this holiday season that the whole family will enjoy. I give it a 7/10
‘Get Duked!’ is a 2020 Amazon Prime original English horror/comedy staring Jonathan Aris (The End of the F***ing World), Samuel Bottomley (Tyrannosaur), Viraj Juneja (Pandora), Rian Gordon (Final Score), and Lewis Gribben (T2 Trainspotting). Four teenage boys are sent to compete in the Duke of Edinburgh Award trek across the highlands in order to help turn their lives around. While hiking across the highlands the boys start getting hunted by a mysterious man and woman.
There isn’t a lot of good horror/comedies out there, and I always compare them to ‘Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil’. While most don’t stack up to it, ‘Get Duked!’ actually does. It’s original, witty, and funny. There were several parts where I laughed out loud. It has the perfect blend of horror mixed with comedy. This one is worth the watch, i give it a 9/10.
‘The War with Grandpa’ is a 2020 comedy with a pretty simple concept a kid gets in a “war” with his grandpa. When an elderly grandad moves in with his daughter, he takes over his grandson’s room, which puts his grandson in the attic. His grandson declares a declaration of war, and pranks on each other soon ensue. ‘The War with Grandpa’ stars Robert De Niro (Raging Bull), Oakes Fegley (Pete’s Dragon), Uma Thurman (Kill Bill), Rob Riggle (Night School), Cheech Marin (Up in Smoke), Colin Ford (Daybreak), and Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths).
So a couple of varying opinions here, I went to see it with my wife. She was excited about the movie with the bar set really high, I on the other hand didn’t think it looked too good so I went in with the bar low. I was really surprised to see the star studded cast, I wasn’t expecting this movie to be that loaded. The premise, I thought was a little dumb, instead of getting into a prank war, why didn’t the grandpa just go and tell on him? But then we wouldn’t have a movie. Soon I forgot about that and waited to see what they were going to pull on each other. The pranks are funny and lighthearted. It’s an overall funny, lighthearted movie that the whole family will enjoy. Even though it didn’t live up to my wife’s expectations, it exceeded mine. I give it a 7/10
‘Wheels of Fortune’, not to be confused with the popular game show ‘Wheel of Fortune’, is a 2020 comedy that you can currently find on Netflix. It isn’t really popular as it’s hard to find anything online about it, reviews, etc.. It stars Matt Jones (Breaking Bad), Noureen DeWulf (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past), John Ducey (Will & Grace), and Matty Cardarople (Stranger Things). Bo Jackson (Jones) is a redneck gearhead who never met his father, after his father dies, he finds out he is left in his very wealthy father’s will. In order to collect his inheritance he must compete in a series of races to prove he’s a winner/worthy of the money.
‘Wheels of Fortune’ has it’s funny moments, and the story is original. However it’s pretty predictable, you can pretty much guess what is going to happen at every turn, which makes it an okay movie. The cast isn’t strong enough to be a great movie. Jones, DeWulf, and Cardarople are all good actors/actresses but they’ve all been side role characters up to this point. It might have been a better movie with a different cast headlining. In the end I give a 5.5/10.
‘Holidate’ is a 2020 Netflix original romantic/comedy that’s arrived just in times for the holidays. With October over, the scary movies move over for the Christmas movies, and this is the first Christmassy one of the season. ‘Holidate’ is a pretty simple concept, a holidate is a date just for holidays only. ‘Holidate’ follows the story of Sloane and Jackson, two people who are sick of dating but don’t want to be single on the holidays. After meeting each other in the mall, they decide to be each other’s holidates. This includes all holidays, Christmas, new years, valentines day, St. Patrick’s Day etc.. ‘Holidate’ stars Emma Roberts (American Horror Story), Luke Bracey (Point Break), Kristin Chenoweth (RV), King Bach (The Babysitter), and Manish Dayal (The Resident).
I said this one is a Christmassy movie and not a Christmas movie because the fact it covers all the holidays. However our story starts with Christmas and ends with Christmas, so close enough. I’m not a big fan of rom/com, but this one looked pretty good, and I like the original concept of this movie. ‘Holidate’ follows a typical rom/com plot, the main stars don’t like each other, but then they slowly start to fall for each other, but because of some stupid reason they can’t be together. The movie even takes a shot at themselves by saying this is the basic plot of all rom/com’s, which is pretty funny. Luke Bracey is funny, he reminds me a lot of Chris Hemsworth, same accent, same sense of humor, and similar mannerisms. I’m already a fan of Emma Roberts from her roles in American Horror Story. Overall it’s not as funny as I would have hoped for, but Bracey and Roberts have a good connection and the movie works for it. It’s a good kickoff for the Christmas movie season. I give it a 7/10.
‘The Empty Man’ is a 2020 horror movie staring James Badge Dale (The Kitchen), Stephen Root (Office Space), Sasha Frolova (Red Sparrow), and Marin Ireland ( Sneaky Pete). The Empty Man is a supernatural spirit that is basically manifested from bad thoughts. You summon the empty man by blowing into an empty bottle on a bridge. The first day you hear the empty man, the second day you see him, and the third he gets you. When a group of disappearances occur, a one time detective looks into it, only to find out he may have bitten off more than he can chew.
I went and saw this one on Halloween night and what’s a better way to spend Halloween than watching a scary movie. ‘The Empty Man’ is an interesting one, it really doesn’t fit the horror genre. It’s more of a crime/mystery movie with a splash of supernatural substance thrown into it, it reminds me a little of ‘The Grudge’. The story is great and the acting is solid, the problem is the run time. It’s just shy of being a two and a half hour movie, which is crazy for a movie labeled a horror film, I can’t think of another one with that run length. Even a really scary one, if it’s not a very solid story, it’ll lose peoples interest. This is what happens with ‘The Empty Man’, it’s a great story but not strong enough for the run time. If they trimmed the fat, it would be an amazing film, but it’s about 45 min or so too long. Because of that it’s a mixed film that makes you just kind of shrug and say ehh at the end. I give it a 6/10
‘BORAT: SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM ‘ is the sequel to ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’ or which everyone knows as ‘Borat’, I didn’t even know the first ‘Borat’ had that long of a title, I just knew it simply as ‘Borat’. It’s been fourteen years since the first ‘Borat’. This is a sequel I didn’t know was coming but, it was one we all needed. Other than staring Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat himself, we get introduced to Maria Bakalova, who plays Borat’s daughter Sandra Jessica Parker Sagdiyev. Borat 2 starts out as explaining where Borat has been the past 14 years, after returning back to Kazakhstan, his country is so ashamed of him for putting them in bad light that they send him to the Gulag. Kazakhstan now wants to get in America’s good grace by sending Borat back to America to bring Mike Pence a gift. Not any gift though, Kazakhstan’s top celebrity monkey. Sandra Jessica Parker Sagdiyev sneaks into the crate the monkey is stored in on it’s way to America. She eats the monkey in order to survive, so now with no monkey Borat must offer Mike Pence his daughter instead.
I could argue the two most influential movies of my generation are ‘Napoleon Dynamite’, and ‘Borat’, both came out when I was in high school, and like both, kids were walking around doing the voices and quoting the movie. Still to this day both are still quoted and the Borat voice is still a thing. So when Borat 2 came out, I had to watch it, and I was not alone. Opening weekend over 1.6 million houses tuned in to watch Borat 2, in the words of Borat I would say that was a “great success”. Like the first one Borat is crude and has a lot of wtf moments, but that’s just Borat. This one gets more political and takes a lot of jabs at the republican party, and one thing I do have to say is it is dirty how they tried to trap Rudy Giuliani. You have to see the scene to know what I’m talking about, he was laying back tucking his shirt in. It’s clear as day nothing more. Overall this movie is great, it’s hilarious, and major props to Sacha Baron Cohen on being able to still trick people in 2020 especially after his sky rocket to fame after the first Borat. I give it an 8/10.
’30 Miles from Nowhere’ is a 2018 horror/thriller that you can find on VUDU staring, Carrie Preston (Claws), Rob Benedict (Waiting), Cathy Shim (Reno 911!), Marielle Scott (You), Seana Kofoed (American Princess), William Smillie (Chicago Fire), and Postell Pringle (Grand Theft Auto IV). Five college friends reunite for a friends funeral who happens to live in rural Wisconsin, and soon it becomes a fight for survival.
There’s a lot to unpack here, and it’s not so good. It has an ‘IT’ feeling at first, a group of friends get back together that haven’t seen each other in years. Instead of getting together to fight an evil clown they’re getting together for a friends funeral. The build up is very slow, with a lot of dialogue, which I believe dialogue is important. It builds up the scene and lets the viewer know important details, but this dialogue goes nowhere, and just muddles the story. Not only that the characters are very stereotypical. All this is within the first thirty minutes of the movie, once you get past this, the action starts to take place, if you can call it that. The jump scenes are terrible, it’s like they just added whatever they thought is scary and threw it into this movie, cockroaches, random blood, and rabid dogs. I’ve seen a lot worse movies, but this one isn’t good. My wife and I quote said “this wouldn’t scare a 12 year old.” I give it a 4/10, and the only reason it’s that high is because the ending manages to pull it in some.
Since it’s Spooktober, I’m going to continue with the scary/horror movies, even though that’s the majority of what I watch anyway. ‘The Owners’ is a 2020 horror movie from England staring Maisie Williams (The New Mutants), Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who), Rita Tushingham (Doctor Zhivago), and Andrew Ellis (Clink). Three friends decide to rob an elderly couples house, who are loaded, one of the friends girlfriends unwillingly gets involved when the elderly couple comes home earlier than expected. Things quickly go from bad to worse when the elderly couple decides to fight back.
There are several movies where robbers break in and it quickly goes wrong for them. For instance ‘Becky’, that I recently reviewed, or even the classic ‘Home Alone’ is the same presence. What separates ‘The Owners’ is the elderly couple turns out to be evil, and I mean evil. You’re cheering for the robbers to get away the whole time. This movie screws with your head, and has you glued to the TV wanting to find out what happens, and what exactly the elderly couple is hiding. I love horror movies that do this versus pointless gore and killing, a good horror film needs a strong plot behind it. The only downfall with ‘The Owners’ is it basically finishes up a hour in, then the last half hour feels dragged out, and it takes a weird turn towards the end. Overall it’s a solid horror movie and is worth checking out. The Plot is good, The acting is good, and it keeps you intrigued. You can check this one out at your local Redbox. I give it an 8/10.