Thank You, ‘Resident Evil,’ I Do Feel Welcomed to Raccoon City

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CREDIT: Sony Pictures/Screenshot

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Tom Hopper, Avan Jogia, Donal Logue, Neal McDonough

Director: Johannes Roberts

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: November 24, 2021 (Theaters)

As far as Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City goes, I’d really like to talk about the acting. Particularly, the performances of the “With” guy and the “And” guy. I’m talking Donal Logue and Neal McDonough, baby!

When you have an unabashed genre flick like this one, you need guys who can deliver exactly what’s asked of them without any winking or second-guessing. And that’s precisely what they provide. Also, let’s talk about McDonough’s hair. He usually keeps it pretty cropped, but when he first shows up, he’s got quite the set of locks. I was like, “Who is that? I know I recognize that face and that voice.” When I realized who it was, I was more than a little blown away.

All the other main players held my attention well enough. I don’t have any strong attachment to the Resident Evil franchise, but somehow I have a soft spot for its cinematic efforts.

Grade: Occasional Zombie Dog Eyes

Wet ‘n’ Hungry Movie Review: Crawl

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CREDIT: Sergej Radović/Paramount Pictures

I don’t particularly enjoy close-up shots of cinematic animals being killed or injured, even if those beasts are the predatory antagonists. And even, apparently, if they are as merciless as the alligators in Crawl. We already know from Piranha 3D that Alexandre Aja knows how to effectively craft a creature feature, but that experience is not sufficient preparation for his latest. Fish faces do not generate empathy in the way that gators do, and a mass of stereotypical beachgoers getting chomped apart in ridiculous fashion is more comical than visceral. Crawl, on the other hand, is a much more intimate affair, maintaining a singular focus on a father-daughter duo stuck at the bottom of a house in the middle of a hurricane. You might find yourself laughing from the consistently clutch timing of the kills, if you can remind yourself that this is just a movie. But man, considering that this doesn’t look all that different from the future, or really the present, of the southeastern United States, it’s hard to sit still.

I give Crawl 7.5 Ripped Limbs out of 10 Chomps.

This Is a Movie Review: ‘The Death Cure’ Wraps Up the ‘Maze Runner’ Trilogy with High-Octane Action and Personal Battles of Class Warfare

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CREDIT: Joe Alblas/Twentieth Century Fox

This review was originally posted on News Cult in January 2018.

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson, Walton Goggins, Barry Pepper

Director: Wes Ball

Running Time: 142 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Zombie Makeup, a Few Puncture Wounds, and Some Explosions

Release Date: January 26, 2018

Readers, I must be upfront with you: The Death Cure is the only Maze Runner movie I have seen. I was not yet on a regular reviewing beat when the first two came out, but as the trilogy comes to its conclusion, the assignment has fallen to me. Now, I suppose I could have made time to get caught up on the first two, but I often contend that viewers can watch multi-chapter entertainment properties in whatever order they feel like. The Maze Runner franchise is probably not the best choice for doing so, as it is the type of film series that doesn’t waste any time playing catch-up for newbies. But I decided to experiment a bit and see if any enjoyment could be had amidst the confusion.

The good news is that The Death Cure’s spectacle is exciting and well-crafted enough to be enjoyed devoid of context. The opening action chase sequence of vehicles barreling towards a cliff plays like a postapocalyptic cross between the opening of Fast Five and the tank chase from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It is not as death-defying or as instantly iconic as its predecessors, but it sets itself apart enough to not be overly derivative. Director Wes Ball’s only three feature films thus far are the Maze Runner trilogy, but he has proven himself technically capable to fill in any openings that may exist in the action genre.

As for the story, I was generally able to fill in what must have happened in the first two enough to follow along, and it is not exactly what I was expecting. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his crew are dealing with the aftereffects of a virus that has infected most of the world’s population, leaving many zombified while those who are well-off wall themselves in the Last City. Thomas is one of a few who are immune, and he could be instrumental in developing a cure, but he does not exactly agree with the methods of those dedicating themselves to finding one. There is plenty to be gleaned here about the struggle between the 99% and the 1%, and I appreciate that that point is not underlined too hard.

It is also welcome that this series (or the conclusion of it anyway) is not too beholden to the stereotypical “chosen one” YA narrative. Sure, Thomas holds the key to saving humanity, but that fact is accidental, and it does not really have anything to do with what makes him a good leader. As for a (good) quality of this genre that The Death Cure does play into, there is its surplus of quality adult actors (Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, Walton Goggins, Barry Pepper) popping up in supporting roles.

Ultimately, The Death Cure is a bit too long. There is no need to flirt with two and a half hours when much of the last act involves one group chasing after another, and then that second group chasing after the first, moving along in a constant struggle to get to the last stand. But while it is a bit thick with narrative, it never lags. This is not particularly groundbreaking cinema, but it is also no cheap knockoff. It is unique enough and content enough to explore its own little world to make it worth a visit.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is Recommended If You Like: The Hunger Games, I Am Legend, The Action Sequences of the Indiana Jones and Fast and Furious series

Grade: 3 out of 5 Infection Checks