We Die Young

“We Die Young” is a 2019 crime/drama starring Jean-Claude Van Damme (Kickboxer), David Castaneda (The Umbrella Acadamy), Elijah Rodriguez (The Book of Life), Nicholas Sean Johnny (Barry), and Charlie MacGechan (The Girl from the Song).

A young boy is determined to get himself and his little brother out of the hood and not let his younger brother follow in his footsteps. When a simple run of delivering two bricks goes bad, they end up finding help from an unlikely source, a war vet who suffered a terrible accident while deployed leaving him mute, and now suffers from PTSD.

This one doesn’t have much love on IMDb 5.2/10 stars. Looking at it from Jean-Claude Van Damme’s perspective I get it. His character doesn’t say a single word, which would be okay if it added to the story, but it doesn’t. There’s very little action from him, you could take his character out, and it’s the same movie. So, pretty much his character is pointless and doesn’t add anything to the movie. So, it the movie good? Yes, and the reason why, is because of the other actors, especially David Castaneda. He nails the gang leader roll, crazy eyes and all. It’s a gritty gang movie, with a couple of twists you won’t see coming. Overall, it’s worth the watch. I give it an 8.5/10. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.

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Choose or Die

“Choose or Die” is a 2022 Netflix original horror/thriller starring Lola Evans (The 100), Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes), and Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street).

A young girl who is trying to make her way out of the slums by coding programs runs across an old computer game with her friend. Once she plays it, she unknowingly gets trapped into playing a game that has dire consquences.

This a truth or dare style horror movie when you have two choices, and each round gets worse and worse with plenty of carnage along the way. I enjoy these type of horror movies, especially if they’re done well and not too cheesy. This one doesn’t have great ratings, but I found it surprisingly good. It didn’t go into much detail how the curse worked, or exactly how it all started, it just covered enough to make sense, they didn’t try to go too far and muddle everything up. Also, it has a pretty unique “final boss” sequence. Just don’t get too excited about Freddy Krueger himself being in it, Englund just does a voice cameo for the game itself. To me the movie works, I give it an 8.5/10, it’s a nice hidden horror gem.

Uncle Frank

‘Uncle Frank’ is a 2020 Amazon prime original drama/comedy. It has a stellar cast starring Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind), Sophia Lillis (IT), Peter Macdissi (The Losers), Steve Zahn (Saving Silverman), Judy Greer (Ant-Man), Margo Martindale (Sneaky Pete), and Stephen Root (Office Space). ‘Uncle Frank’ follows the story of Frank (Bettany), and his 18 year old niece Beth (Lillis). Frank is an English professor at a University in New York City and his niece is a new student there. She’s always looked up to, and admired her Uncle, but there is parts of his life he’s kept hidden from his family. Once Frank’s father and Beth’s grandfather dies, they must travel to their small, redneck, town for his funeral. Frank must find a way to come out of the closet to his close minded family while struggling with his alcoholism.

The trailer I saw didn’t really give much info on what it was about, so I went into it blind. This is a pretty heavy movie, it takes place in 1973 when the world wasn’t as open to the gay community, and unfortunately they were heavily persecuted. This movie only scratches the surface on what the gay community has had to endure, but it does a good job at it. It’s a great story about love and acceptance. Paul Bettany is a great actor and should be a house hold name, every role he plays he is incredible in. ‘Wimbledon’, ‘A Beautiful Mind’, ‘A Knights Tale’, etc… Sophia Lillis is a great up and coming actress and plays a great part beside Bettany. This movie is worth seeing, I score it a 8.5/10.

Almost Love

‘Almost Love’ is a 2020 Rom-Com starring Scott Evans(Grace and Frankie), Augustus Prew (Kick-Ass 2), Michelle Buteau (Always Be My Maybe), Colin Donnell (Chicago Med), Zoe Chao (Downhill), Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy), and Christopher M Gray (The Mist). ‘Almost Love’ follows the story of a group of friends all in different stages of their love lives. It follows a gay couple in their fifth year together and their relationship is on the rocks, a married couple who have been together fifteen years and are thinking about calling it quits, a woman who starts dating a homeless man, that she didn’t know was homeless, and a high school teacher who thinks she’s in love with one of her students.

I typically stay away from Rom-Com’s, as you can tell from my other reviews, but I gave this one a shot. I find most Rom-Com’s cheesy and just not for me. It has a couple of note able actors/actress’s in it, and I have to admit, ‘Almost Love’ surprised me. The story line is good, the acting is great, and it sucks you in. It has drama, comedy, and it manages to pull at your heart strings. I found myself cheering for the characters as they went through their struggles with love. Not only is it a good Rom-Com, but it’s a good movie. You can currently find it on Netflix. I give it an 8.5/10.

Honey Boy

‘Honey Boy’ was written by Shia Labeouf while in rehab as part of his therapy. ‘Honey Boy’ covers part of Labeouf’s childhood and his relationship with his father. Other than starring Labeouf ‘Honey Boy’ stars Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place), Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased), FKA Twigs, and Byron Bowers (The Chi).

While writing my review on ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ I stated my love for Labeouf as an actor, and how after going crazy it was great to see him making movies again. After watching ‘Honey Boy’ it’s understandable why Labeouf had a mental breakdown, he had a messed up childhood, and that’s putting it lightly. Labeouf plays his father in ‘Honey Boy’ and Jupe plays a young Labeouf. Labeouf knocks the role out of the park as well as Jupe, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of Jupe, especially as he gets older and transitions from child actor into adult actor. ‘Honey Boy’ also has subtle hints to Labeouf’s career like ‘Even Stevens’ and ‘Transformers’. ‘Honey Boy’ is a powerful but sad movie, I give it an 8.5/10.

My Spy

My Spy is a 2020 family comedy/ romantic comedy starring the man himself Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) and co staring Kristen Schaal (Bob’s Burgers). This is one I have been wanting to see all year since I first saw it previewed, unfortunately with the shutdown this movie didn’t make it to theaters and my plans of seeing it were put on hold. Good news though, you can now stream it on Amazon Prime.

Along side Bautista and Schaal, ‘My Spy’ also stars Parisa Fitz-Henley (Fantasy Island), Ken Jeong (The Hangover), Chloe Coleman (Big Little Lies), Nicola Correia-Damude (Shadowhunters), and Greg Bryk (Shoot ‘Em Up). ‘My Spy’ follows CIA agents JJ (Bautista) and Bobbi (Schaal). While they are undercover they are found out by 9 year old Sophie (Coleman). In order to keep Sophie quiet JJ becomes her friend and trains her on how to become a spy.

Anything with Bautista is going to be good, the guy is hilarious, and ‘My Spy’ is no exception. It wasn’t as funny as some of past movies like ‘Stuber’, and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, but it still has it’s funny parts. Overall it’s a feel good movie that the entire family will enjoy. I give it a 8.5/10.

The Vast of Night

‘The Vast of Night’ is a 2019 Sci-Fi/mystery. It takes place in a small rural town in New Mexico in the 1950’s. A strange radio wave comes across the radio, the young switch operator and young local disc jokey try to uncover the source. ‘The Vast of Night’ stars Sierra McCormick (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer (Texas Cotton), and Bruce Davis (Rattlesnake).

‘The Vast of Night’ is a unique movie, I can’t think of one like it. It has a ‘Twilight Zone’ mixed with ‘War of the Worlds’ feel to it. I went to the drive in and caught this one, which was pretty cool since the film is set in the 1950’s, it felt like being in the past. Not a lot happens during the film its an hour and half of pure dialog, but they pull it off. You stay transfixed to the screen and it only feels like it’s about a 30 minute movie, the writing is great. Only complaint I have is a lot of the film is dark so it’s hard to tell what’s going on. If it wasn’t for that I would give it a 10, because the writing does deserve it. I have to go with an 8.5/10, it’s definitely a must see.

Onward

‘Onward’ is a 2020 animated Fantasy movie by Pixar. ‘Onward’ was in theaters still when the quarantine was put in place, but you can now stream it on Disney+. Which I’m sure a lot of parents are thankful for. ‘Onward’ follows the story of two elf brothers who are given a gift by their deceased dad, they are not allowed to open it until they are both sixteen or older. The gift is a magic staff that allows them to bring back their dad for one day. They are missing a piece and are now on a quest to retrieve it in order to bring their dad back.

‘Onward’ has a blockbuster cast starring Tom Holland (Spider-man: Homecoming.), Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Parks and Recreation.), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld), and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Help.), plus many others.

The question with ‘Onward’ is not if it is good or not, but how good is it? Pixar hasn’t made a bad film, and at this point, I don’t think they are capable of it. Pixar always comes up with the most original ideas such as ‘Toy Story’, ‘A Bug’s Life’, ‘Inside Out’, ‘CoCo’, and ‘Monsters INC.’ Not only are their movies original, they also hit you in the feels harder than any other animated movies. You know it’s coming when you watch a Pixar film, and ‘Onward’ isn’t any different. So how does ‘Onward’ stack up? It does drag a little bit in the middle but is pulled all back together in the end. If this movie doesn’t at least make you tear up, you’re not human. The casting is great, Tom Holland and Chris Pratt are perfect for their roles. ‘Onward’ is another hit out of the park for Pixar and is going to go down as a classic with their other films. It is a must see, and I give it a 8.5/10.