You’re the one doing it all.
You’re not a robot.
In my film review of the movie “The Hollow Child“, I started again with a plea about trailers and I summed up the reasons why I avoid them. I saw the trailer from “Upgrade” by chance at the beginning of this year. Believe me, I was ecstatic and enthusiastic. “I HAVE to see this movie“, I thought. There are trailers that look inviting and afterward, the film looks very disappointing. But “Upgrade” certainly doesn’t belong in this category. On the contrary. This is one of the best films of the year for me. An excellent SF provided with a wonderful concept and which gradually switches to a tough revenge film. For me, it was an exciting mix of “Robocop“, “John Wick” and “Demon Seed“. “Robocop” because of the cybernetic aspect. “John Wick” because of the extravagant violent part. And “Demon Seed” because of the overall moral of the whole story. A successful cocktail that results in a titillating film.
STEM means voice in Flemish. Coincedance?
“Upgrade” tells the story of Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), an old-skool-styled guy who is restoring old-fashioned Pontiacs and who’s horrified by everything that’s related to high-tech stuff. The evening Asha’s (Melanie Vallejo), his wife, fully automated design car malfunctions and crashes, they are being attacked by some violent gang. The result is a lifeless girlfriend and Gray having a shattered spine. And that’s when the millionaire Eron (Harrison Gilbertson) appears and presents his latest revolutionary chip STEM. An artificially intelligent microchip that functions as a superior brain so the paralyzed Grey can lead a normal life again. And even more.
Let’s twist again.
When you’re able to watch this movie with the necessary skepticism and you don’t take it too seriously, then this B-movie styled, action-packed SF is a welcome change and a way to de-stress after a hard day’s work. The story itself can’t be called groundbreaking or original. It all seemed a bit too predictable even to me. There’s only one thing I hadn’t seen coming. And that’s the final twist. What a pleasant surprise that was.
The action is finger licking awesome.
And when you like neatly-filmed action scenes, then you’ll enjoy this flick as well. The confrontations in “Upgrade” are such that I gladly re-watched the same scene over and over again. Not because I enjoy seeing bloody, horrible scenes. But because the choreography looks extraordinarily good and in a certain way, they managed to provide it with the necessary humor. The tilting camera. Grey’s surprised face. And the way the bad guys are killed. It all looks damn perfect.
Just go watch this top-notch movie.
I can’t think of anything bad about the acting. Logan Marshal-Green knows amazingly well how to show different emotions. From helplessness to bewilderment and purely evil. The entire pallet of emotions is shown. And the opponents all look fearless and ruthless. Equipped with ingenious cyber-like assault weapons and futuristic deadly gadgets (even an innocent sneeze is deadly). The only thing I was annoyed about is Gray’s way of moving. Although he was told at the beginning that he wasn’t really a robot, his body moves like a purebred Robocop. But that’s the only remark I can think of. My advice is to go and see this highly entertaining cyberpunk SF as soon as you can. Just do it!
My rating 9/10
A Kind of Kidnapping – Dark Comedy with Politics
Written and directed by Dan Clark, this fairly star studded independent film follows a young couple who are stuck in a financial situation, and decide to kidnap a sleazy conservative politician in order to receive a ransom, that will allow them to escape their static lives.
Patrick Baladi (The Office) plays Hardy our creepy politician, Kelly Wenham (Double Date) plays Maggie, a complex woman who seemingly is always drawn to the “bad boy”, Jack Parry-Jones (The Crown) plays Brian our voice of reason within all of this, or is he?
The character development is well written and allows the space for character arcs, unlike a lot of small films, where there isn’t that room in the script. The three main leads feel very grounded and familiar, everyone knows someone like this in their life or perhaps public figures in the media.
The performances of the main three lead actors are great, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think this film would work as well. Alongside the strong performances, the editing of the film helped to navigate this non-linear plot and allowed the film to peel aways the layers of backstory which all helped to create a stronger character driven piece.
As the film was nearing the final act, it felt as though it was dragging a little. Dan Clark mentioned in the Q&A after the screening how this was a short film before and I can definitely see how it could work in a confined setting really well. Maybe there was a bit of padding in second to third act to reach that feautre length requirement that didn’t aid certain character moments.
If you want to hear my full thoughts, the best thing to do is check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
When independent film is fighting for its life, A Kind of Kidnapping is the light in the dark. This is one of the better British produced indie films I’ve seen in a long time.
A Kind of Kidnapping is out on digital on 24th July on iTunes, Amazon, Google and Sky.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the [series/movie/etc] being covered here wouldn’t exist.
Ms. Davis’ Close Friend | Film Review
This short film written and directed by Richard Schertzer tackles the themes of mortality, loneliness, and memory through the perspective of the main character Marina Davis (Danette lllig), a breast cancer patient.
Marina is visited by her carer, Katie (Kike Ayodeji), who lends warmth to her character and provides a ray of hope for Marina’s daily struggle. Marina’s sole family is her son John (Donald Imm), who is away for college and on a trip to China, so she can only video contact him, which adds to Marina’s loneliness. Then Angel of Death (Trey G. Riley), an enigmatic figure, enters the picture. This causes her to ponder life and death, as well as what will happen beyond.
The film’s primary highlight employs a sombre colour scheme to depict the protagonist’s sorrowful mood. The sceneries are mostly grey, black, and white in colouration. The lack of colour suggests that the character has lost interest and enjoyment in life, seeing everything as drab and depressing. Instead of informing the audience how the character feels through speech or narrative, the film uses this visual technique to show the audience how the character feels.
Marina is placed in the centre of the frame by the director (Schertzer) to illustrate how she is the major focus, but also how the other characters swirl around her. Despite the fact that the tale solely takes place within the structure, Schertzer captures the audience’s attention with unique views, angle frames, and music soundtrack. While the concepts are similar to the Netflix series After Life (2019-2020), the short film allows the spectator to empathise with the character’s emotions.
‘Wednesday’ Co-Stars Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White to Star in Romance Film ‘Winter Spring Summer or Fall’
Even the folks at Netflix couldn’t have thought that Wednesday would turn into the hit that it did. The Addams Family property is one that many in the cultural zeitgeist are aware of, however, many would be hard pressed to believe that the mythology within that franchise is as rich as Tim Burton has been able to make it with the series. One of the reasons for that is for Jenna Ortega who plays the titular Wednesday Addams, and she has lined up her next project.
According to an exclusive from Deadline, Ortega will re-team with Percy Hynes White, who plays Xavier Thorpe on Wednesday for the romantic drama, Winter Spring Summer or Fall. The film will be the directorial debut of Tiffany Paulsen with Ortega serving as an executive producer on the project. Winter Spring Summer or Fall is described as Before Sunrise meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower following two teens coming-of-age into adulthood who meet and fall in love over four days throughout the year in all four seasons, hence the title of the flick.
Ortega has been skyrocketing to stardom due to Wednesday but has had a massive year in film and television. The young Latina was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the Netflix original but also starred in horror films Scream 5 and X in 2022. She’ll next be seen in Scream 6 which hits theaters in March 2023. The highly in-demand actress will also star in a crime thriller for Paramount titled Finest Kind alongside Ben Foster and Tommy Lee Jones as well as Miller’s Girl for Lionsgate where she’ll star with Martin Freeman. Ortega’s co-star Hynes White is best known for his lead role in Fox’s X-Men based series, The Gifted where he played Andy Strucker.
Paulsen is best known for writing the Netflix holiday rom com Holidate which starred Emma Roberts. Additionally, Paulsen also wrote About Fate which stars Roberts, Thomas Mann, Madelaine Petsch and Britt Robertson which is streaming currently on Amazon.
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