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Thriller

Message from the King (2016)

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Message from the king

Summary

A mystMessage from the Kingerious outsider named Jacob King from South Africa arrives in Los Angeles to avenge his younger sister’s death.

Genre : Thriller
Country : USA/UK/Belgium

Cast :
Chadwick Boseman : Jacob King
Luke Evans : Wentworth
Alfred Molina : Preston

Director :
Fabrice du Welz

My opinion on “Message from the King”

“It’s Bianca.
She’s got a brother.
He’s in town, says he has what we’ve been looking for.
He’s out of control, Mike.
You told me Bianca was not a problem anymore.
Bianca isn’t a problem anymore. I’m afraid that’s his problem.”

Those who imagine the Los Angeles metropolis to be idealistically beautiful, they should adjust that view after watching “Message from the King”. The less beautiful part of Los Angeles is used here. An impoverished neighborhood where the vast majority of residents live in poverty and where crime and drugs are an obvious part of society. Ash gray ghettos full of human suffering. And that’s being emphasized by drizzly weather. The crowded mortuary is a reflection of these fading slums. A collection of nobodies who died because of an overdose, madness (drowned in a bathtub as an imaginary fish) and gang violence.

Message from the King

All you need is a bicycle chain.

This is what Jacob King (Chadwick Boseman) faces when he arrives in L.A. The reason why he’s staying in the city of angels is the sudden disappearance of his younger sister Bianca (Sibongile Mlambo). Soon he discovers the sore situation his sister got herself into and what it did to her : she earned a spot in the mortuary with a name tag on her big toe. The search for the murderers of his younger sister brings him in touch with all kind of figures. Trish (Natalie Martinez) the loyal neighbor points him in the right direction after which he meets a violent gang of Balkan criminals run by a certain Zico (Lucan Melkonian). Then there’s the rich dentist Wentworth (Luke Evans) and the wealthy movie producer Preston (Alfred Molina). And let me tell you. Some of them are getting to know the bicycle chain he just bought, in a less pleasant way.

Message from the King

Cape Flat.

For Jacob, these L.A. neighborhoods probably still look like charming neighborhoods compared to where he comes from. His sister Bianca, his deceased brother Isaac and Jacob himself, lived the largest part of their life in South Africa in the Cape Flat townships, a sandy area south of Cape Town and better known as “Apartheid’s dumping ground”. A dilapidated community where gangs rule. Both in the slums and in prison. Such as “The Number Gangs”. Isaac was a member of this notorious gang, until his death. Reason enough for Bianca to turn her back on her home country and to seek salvation in the United States.

Message from the King

I’ll be damned. It’s directed by a Belgian.

You could say this movie is a cheaper version of “The Equalizer” with Boseman having an equal personality as Denzel Washington. A cold-blooded but alert person who has control over his violent eruptions and who accurately follows the traces to solve the criminal puzzle in the end. However, the ultimate motive remains quite mysterious. Perhaps the only minus I could find in this hard-core, ultra-dark movie. In fact, it’s an ordinary revenge film that differs slightly from others because of its quirky atmosphere and tone. And afterwards I discovered the film was directed by a fellow countryman : Fabrice du Welz. Maybe that’s why this movie displays a kind of willfulness.

Message from the King

Why hesitate? Go watch it!

Even though this action-flick is soaked by cliché elements (corrupt policemen, a cunning politician and a prostitute (TeresaLights OutPalmer) who plays the Good Samaritan), you can speak of a stylish end product. No explicit violence scenes (the result is usually more explicit than the action itself) and a few star-like interpretations like that of Teresa Palmer. But especially Chadwick Boseman impressed. A man with few words, but hard negotiating techniques. From the very first instance, I was fascinated by him. In my opinion, this is yet again a rough diamond that simmers on Netflix undiscovered. Don’t let anybody stop you from watching this when you bump into it somewhere, because this will surely surprise you.

My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

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HORROR

Longlegs: An Atmospherically Distressing Exploration of Evil

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Longlegs [credit: neon]

Longlegs has been the talk of the town with early screening reactions terming it as “the scariest movie of the decade”, which not only raises eyebrows but also significantly raises expectations. Neon is backing it with a strong marketing campaign that has got many horror fans extremely excited about it. Oz Perkins’ latest horror feature stars Maika Monroe, Nicolas Cage, Blair Underwood and Alicia Witt.

 

The official synopsis says “In pursuit of a serial killer, an FBI agent uncovers a series of occult clues that she must solve to end his terrifying killing spree.” Maika Monroe plays Lee Harker, the FBI agent on the hunt for Longlegs, described as highly intuitive and sensitive, while Nic Cage who also produces the movie, plays the horrifying serial killer. Perkins sets the standard right off the bat with the very first scene of the movie, which proves to be just an appetizer for what’s to come.

 

Longlegs [credit: neon]

The movie is divided into 3 parts that act as the standard three acts in a feature. The first two acts are heavily focused on Lee as we get to know her and follow the FBI’s pursuit of a serial killer on a spree. Lee is a single child, lives alone in a cabin in the woods, and is highly intuitive, maybe even psychic. She is able to decode the clues left behind by Longlegs at the locations of the murders. Her performance is restrained yet penetrative and often symbolizes how the viewer feels while watching Longlegs.

 

Nicolas Cage is horrifyingly creepy as our serial killer. He is the best horror villain since Bill Skarsgaard’s Pennywise in my opinion. His screen time is limited but, highly impactful. The makeup and costume design deserves a lot of credit for his extremely gross appearance and at times you won’t be able to recognize that it’s Cage under that wig. He has a certain mannerism that is extremely distressing and just his words are enough to scare the hell out of you. Perkins manages to get the best out of both his leads, while the supporting cast is decent as well.

 

When it comes to the visuals, this is a very aesthetically strong film. Perkins manages to create atmospheric tension and fear with constantly changing aspect ratios and his color grading choices which are supported by a crisp sound design. Where he falls short is the writing. The movie is too slow at times which causes it to lose its intensity. Some of the dialogues also feel very generic or amateur, with jokes that feel abrupt and unnecessary.

Longlegs [credit: neon]

The movie also slips into multiple genres, most of which are intentional but do not necessarily work. It is a horror movie at the outset but also a serial killer crime drama, an investigative thriller with shades of noir and supernatural. The writing really falls off a cliff in the third act, with a twist that makes sense, but massively underwhelmes. That said, the way it explores evil is intriguing and offers a lot of food for thought. I would suggest going into this movie without any knowledge, the lesser you know the better.

 

Longlegs may not be the scariest movie of the decade but has more than enough to crawl under your skin and deliver pulsating chills. It has strong lead performances, effective jumpscares, and a beautifully unnerving aesthetic and works best when it explores evil and focuses on its characters. Horror fans should definitely experience this suffocating and haunting ride. Perkins’ latest feature is his best so far, but that said, it gets buried under its immense expectations.

Longlegs will be released in cinemas on July 12.

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Crime

Netflix’s Bodies Review: Stephen Graham’s Mind-Twisting Series Related To Dark?

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Netflix's Bodies

If you are a fan of time travel, crime, and mind-bending suspense then Netflix’s Bodies is perfect to binge-watch this weekend. Directed by Haolu Wang and Marco Kreuzpaintner, Bodies is based on DC’s graphic novel by Si Spencer – who has been tributed in the first episode. The story follows four detectives in four different timelines and they discover a naked man’s body with one eye gouged out, surprisingly it’s the body of the same person in different timelines!

Shira Haas and Stephen Graham

Shira Haas and Stephen Graham in Netflix’s ‘Bodies’

The 8-episode series parallelly shows four detectives – DS Hasan (Amaka Okafor) in 2023, DS Whiteman (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) in 1941, DI Hillinghead (Kyle Soller) in 1890, and DC Maplewood (Shira Haas) in 2053 twisted in the same case discovering facts that are beyond their understanding. DS Hasan from the year 2023 discovers that the case she has been working on has happened before, not once but twice decades ago. Much to her suspicion, the evidence aligns with her own case which leads her confused more than ever.

Stephen Graham is not limited to one timeline, his intense performance deepens the storyline, leaving viewers jumpy. Amaka Okafor, Shira Haas, Kyle Soller, and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd’s distinctive acting and effective dialogue delivery are appreciated but Fortune-Lloyd deserves a standing ovation for his shining performance. Graham and Soller’s costumes and makeup are on point in the show.

Jacob Fortune-Lloyd

Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as DS Whiteman in Bodies

With each episode comes mind-blowing twists that keep you on edge all the time. Each detective’s personal story and connection to people close to them adds more depth to their character and the choices they make. Even till the end of the last episode, the series holds your attention profoundly. Different timelines connected to one another may cause confusion at first but it only adds more fun to the story that leaves us in shock.

Now, if it reminds you of Netflix’s other popular German series Dark, directed by Baran bo Odar, then we can’t blame you. Bodies and Dark are not related to each other but they draw strong parallels to one another and it’s mainly due to different timelines, time travel, and hard-to-understand relations between the two characters. Although characters in Bodies are not connected to each other deep and twisted like in Dark but you need to keep a close eye to understand their connection. Dark, starring German actors Louis Hofmann and Lisa Vicari, is Netflix’s one of the most popular supernatural twists series and it is safe to assume that Bodies is no less than the 3-season German series.

Time portal in 'Dark' vs 'Bodies'

Time Portal in ‘Dark’ vs ‘Bodies’

Stephen Graham’s Bodies is a mind-bending, thriller series full of brilliant performances. Its captivating narrative and depth keep the viewers engaged and entertained.

Bodies is available to stream on Netflix.

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Reviews

The Dive Review | Worth The Plunge

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(RLJE Films)

Plot

A dive at one of the world’s most remote spots becomes a fight to the death for sisters Drew (Lowe) And May (Krause) when a landslide sends rocks tumbling into the sea, trapping May in the depths. As their oxygen runs low, Drew must make life-and-death decisions with no outside help in sight…

Sophie Lowe as Drew (RLJE Films)

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The story starts off with this the two sisters Drew and May going for a dive, and the one moment it feels like pure bliss, the next calamity strikes and the sisters are in a dangerous situation where one has to do her outmost best to save her sister. Throughout the movie you feel the tensions between the two sisters as well as the suspense and the will to survive. There is a history between the two sisters and the movie doesn’t really reveal much about the reasons for the tension between the two, but the dangerous depths is enough to bring two sisters together in the fight for survival.

Everything felt so real with how the sister reacted and how she tries everything which is possible in any danger situation. The performances of both Sophie Lowe and Louisa Krause deserves an applause.

Will there be a good ending? I invite you to come “sea” this movie and experience this suspense thriller on the big screen.

I rate this movie a 4 out of 5.

There is no post-credits scene, so no need to wait till the end.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any major points and is done brilliantly. You can even feel the tension in the trailer. Take the plunge, and watch at a cinema near you!

The Dive Official Trailer (RLJE Films)

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