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Voyagers | A Ridiculous Piece of Psychological Sci-Fi

Unhinged and completely preposterous.



*Warning: This piece contains spoilers for Voyagers.*

About twenty minutes into Neil Burger’s Voyagers, where the film’s two main characters, Christopher (Tye Sheridan) and Zac (Fionn Whitehead), stop drinking “the blue,” a medicine that suppresses their impulses and pleasure receptors, it becomes clear that the movie will start to veer off from a rather promising sci-fi confinement picture into something completely ridiculous and barely comprehensive. Before, it established a story of how a group of scientists artificially conceived astronauts will be the first generation of an 86-year long mission to reach a planet ripe for colonization. “The blue” is a drink that keeps the astronauts in check so they do not make irrational decisions. Once the two main characters take the blue, however, it’s a completely different story.

Zac becomes increasingly psychotic, thinking he can get (and do) what he wants and become the new chief officer, after the previous one, Richard (Colin Farrell), dies while on a repair mission with Christopher. The astronauts believe it’s an Alien, which allows Zac to instill fear in the minds of its gullible crew, to pit it against Christopher, who believes rationality will prevail. He’ll convince half of the crew that the Alien is “inside” the astronauts, and the only way they’ll be able to complete the mission is by finding and killing it. However, there is no Alien as it’s revealed that Zac murdered Richard to take control of the mission and have “free will” instead of control from drinking “the blue.” It’s now up to Christopher and Sela (Lily-Rose Depp) to regain control of the ship and kill Zac before he manipulates the crew further.

Voyagers' Review: 'Lord of the Flies' in Space, and in Cool T-Shirts -  Variety

With a concept this out-there, Voyagers could be the type of film conspiracy theorists revel in, as it showcases what they admittedly think is happening during the COVID-19 pandemic, where blue-drinking sheeple blindly follow instructions like a herd, but the free-willed spirits will ultimately prevail. What they don’t know is that rationality, science, and pragmatism always prevail, as conspiracy movements are a barrage of self-owns; they denounce the “controlled” and “brainwashed” sheeple when they protest their own brainwashed and crazed-up theories inside a herd, walking down in the same direction, blindly following their shepherds. Zac represents the fear-driven shepherd, who’ll manipulate and brainwash irrational astronauts to act on impulse after they’ve all stopped drinking the blue, which will result in hedonistic activities and pure hysteria, as he’s able to easily manipulate everyone by making them think an Alien is among the crew.

You’d think the crew would be able to think critically and exercise judgment when they see that Zac is responsible for Richard’s death. Still, even then, he’s able to spin it brilliantly by making them believe he did it because he “saw the Alien in him.” And people blindly believe him, through an “invisible enemy” that may infect the entire ship, but most notably out of fear. But here are the facts: there is no Alien, but there is a mission to complete and succeed for the third generation to arrive at the planet. Christopher will try to rationalize the crew, but unfortunately, he can’t stand up against a tyrant who wants total control over the mission under the guise of “free will.” Many sequences involving Zac, Christopher, and Sela are profoundly misogynistic, with moments of sexual assault disguised as “pleasure” for Zac. These scenes are terribly uncomfortable to watch and add nothing strictly to the main plot.

As an actor, Fionn Whitehead excelled in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. However, Voyagers is his most embarrassing film to date, playing an antagonist without any form of nuance or menace. He’s only evil because that’s his true nature. When he stopped drinking the blue, he felt more pleasure but revealed who he really is towards the group: a misogynist, self-serving asshole. Whitehead exudes those traits quite well, but the script he’s given makes his character feel more caricatural than anything else. Other actors seem fairly unengaged with its story, with Tye Sheridan continuing to prove he cannot carry a film nor make his lines feel urgent in any capacity. Zac’s mutiny feels like an urgent situation the chief officer must solve. Still, Christopher never feels pressured to regain control of the ship and nonchalantly tries to find strategies with Lily-Rose Depp, who is as bored as Sheridan is.

Sheridan impressed audiences in Ready Player One and Mud but barely held attention in films such as Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse or his tenure in the X-Men saga. As such, without compelling actors and a competent script, Voyagers barely holds attention. The only decent actor in this mess gets killed after twenty minutes of screentime, with his talents wasted as those were the only sequences where the film truly soared. Colin Farrell can be in a film for less than five minutes (see Artemis Fowl) and can still impact the audience. That’s how legendary an actor he is, but his talents shouldn’t be used for films like this.

“A film like this? What kind of film is this?” you may ask (or not). I have no idea. It desperately wants to comment on current world situations, where leaders exercise control over free will, but “free will” ultimately becomes control if more gullible people become brainwashed in what they think is “free will.” Here’s some food for thought: we’re not “free.” We must always abide by rules that govern our society while quasi-living in our own free path. Freedom or, in this case, free will isn’t earned by “awakened” individuals fighting against so-called tyranny when they are the real tyrants preventing society from emancipating itself through rationality & science. It’s only earned when we, as individuals, develop critical thought and stop letting the uncertainty of the outside world dictate our feelings. That’s legitimate free will and not the freedom to do what you want, when you want, at the peril of others for your egotistical self. If you may think I’m a pessimist or a bit of a downer, then that’s fine, but that’s what I grasped while watching Voyagers: a film that wants to raise awareness on the question of free will vs. control, but becomes a rather unhinged and incompetent psychological sci-fi film instead. You’re better off watching The Matrix, which asks the same overall question in a more thoughtful light.;ab_channel=LionsgateMovies

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The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar Is Wes Anderson’s Delightful Take On Roald Dahl’s Sweet Story



Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in Roald Dahl's 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' (Netflix)

Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson have both left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of generations. Dahl’s timeless stories have enchanted readers for decades, while Anderson’s groundbreaking films have pushed the boundaries of cinematic storytelling. Their unique talents and shared appreciation for the power of literature have now converged in Anderson’s latest masterpiece, the modern short film adaptation of Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Anderson, known for his extraordinary attention to detail and distinctive visual style, brings Dahl’s adult-friendly tale to life in a truly captivating way. With a star-studded cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley, the film stays true to the author’s original text, with the actors delivering their lines directly from the page. This dedication to the literary essence of the story sets the stage for Anderson’s exceptional storytelling.

Dev Patel as Dr. Chatterjee, Sir Ben Kingsley as Imdad Khan and Richard Ayoade as Dr. Marshall in Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Following his previous successful adaptation of Dahl’s work with the Oscar-nominated The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson is poised to once again captivate audiences with The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. In a mere 37 minutes, this short film manages to deliver a delightful and heartwarming experience that can beat any full-length feature film. The commitment and power of the A-list cast shine throughout, ensuring a resounding success on multiple levels.

From the very beginning, Fiennes embodies Dahl himself, narrating the tale as he seamlessly transitions between the comfort of his home and the picturesque outdoors.  By applying freeze-frame techniques and cleverly staged tableaus, Fiennes and his fellow actors walk through different sets that are magically transformed by on-screen “stagehands” right before our eyes. This dynamic interplay between reality and cunningness is a testament to Anderson’s growing fascination with the theatrical aspects of filmmaking.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar not only captures the imaginative essence found in Dahl’s works but also showcases the filmmaker’s mastery of visual storytelling. Each scene is meticulously crafted, with Anderson’s staging drawing heavily on theatrical influences. Costume changes happen seamlessly on camera, resulting in Ben Kingsley’s Khan humorously questioning the whereabouts of his mustache. Furthermore, practical effects, including a delightful box trick, add to the mesmerizing experience of witnessing the film’s creation unfold before our eyes.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar and Ralph Fiennes as the policeman in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Anderson’s choice to create a short film rather than a feature-length production proves to be a stroke of genius. The pacing remains consistently engaging, ensuring that viewers remain captivated from start to finish. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a visual feast, an entertaining experience, and, above all, a whole lot of fun.

When it comes to acting, it’s so hard to pick a standout because whenever an actor comes on the screen, he or she gives a performance that stays with you. Benedict Cumberbatch is magnetic in his portrayal of Henry Sugar and mesmerises you with a performance that shows his acting prowess. Ben Kingsley shows us why he is one of the greatest actors of all time. His monologues are truly special. Meanwhile, Dev Patel and Richard Ayoade are the magical new entrants in Anderson’s world of magical stories. Both of them are brilliant in their respective roles.

On the other hand, Ralph Fiennes showcases his versatility by embodying Roald Dahl in the most fantastic way possible.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Roald Dahl’s rich storytelling finds new life through Wes Anderson’s innovative cinematic techniques. Their creative collaboration results in a short film that is visually pleasing, emotionally compelling, and brimming with the charm and magic that have made both artists legends in their respective fields. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is not to be missed, as it brings together the best of Dahl and Anderson, leaving audiences enraptured by its undeniable allure. Experience this enchanting journey, and let yourself be swept away by the power of imagination.

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Expendables 4 Movie Review | Explosive & Funny!



Expendables 4 (Lionsgate Movies)

The following piece was written during the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie material being covered here wouldn’t exist.


A new generation of stars join the world’s top action stars for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Expend4bles. Reuniting as the team of elite mercenaries, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Sylvester Stallone are joined for the first time by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia. Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. But new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.

Iko Uwais as Suarto Rahmat (Lionsgate Movies)

The Expendables Film Series

I highly recommend catching up on the other movies in the Expendables film series.

Expendables 1 (2010)

The only life they’ve known is war. The only loyalty they have is to each other. They are the Expendables: leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Couture), and precision sniper Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren). Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas). But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice, one that might redeem their souls or destroy their brotherhood forever.

The Expendables Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 2

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) — with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard — are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time — six tons of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that’s nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. That is done the Expendables way….

The Expendables 2 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 3 (2014)

In The Expendables 3, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. In order to defeat Stonebanks, Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

The Expendables 3 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Movie Review

Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Sylvester Stallone bring the explosive energy needed to give us an explosive performance on-screen. The new members, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia bring in a breath of fresh air with new attitude and fighting styles to keep us entertained. This movie is the fourth in the Expendable film series, but there is definitely no clear link between this movie and the prequels. Each movie in essence is a new mission and Expendables 4 can be watched without watching the previous movies. I suggest watching the previous three movies to experience the explosive action that you get when you combine our favorite action heroes.

Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, leader of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 4 was great and delivered yet another action-packed mission filled with awesome fights, humor, cultural references and explosions. However, it wasn’t difficult to spot the main villain and there aren’t much surprises in terms of the new action stars who join this mission.

The movie starts us off with the Expendables in a race against time to retrieve nuclear warheads, but the mission goes south and instead of sticking to orders, one of the soldiers attempt to save his team member instead, which results in a failed mission and a casualty. The story follows the combination of accomplishing the mission while delivering a can of revenge-based whoop-ass. The last fight isn’t as explosive as the cast but still manages to deliver a plot-twist finale.

Megan Fox, Andy Garcia & Jacob Scipio, some of the newest members of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

A future sequel should really consider a completely new group pick up the baton and leave us in suspense as to who the new heroes and villains could be. I love a good surprise with a side of plot twist in any movie.

There is no post-credits scene, so no need to wait till the very end. The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the plot twists you can expect from the movie. Overall, my rating for Expendables 4 is a 3.5 out of 5.

Make sure to watch at a cinema near you!

Expend4bles Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

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Sung Kang’s ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a Campy Horror-Comedy With Superb Performances



Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen in 'Shaky Shivers' (Cineverse)

If you thought that Sung Kang can only thrill you with amazing car stunts, then you are wrong. The acclaimed star is set to take you on an entertaining ride with his directorial debut titled ‘Shaky Shivers’.

The latest horror-comedy film marks the feature directorial debut of Sung Kang, renowned for his roles in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise and several other big projects. The movie stars Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen, with an ensemble cast including Jimmy Bellinger, Erin Daniels, and Herschel Sparber.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

From the very beginning, ‘Shaky Shivers’ grabs hold of your attention with the comedic chemistry between lead actresses Brooke Markham (Lucy) and VyVy Nguyen (Karen). Their hilarious banter and dynamic friendship draw you into their world of magic, mayhem, and monstrous encounters. While a few other characters make appearances, the heart of the film rests on the shoulders of Karen and Lucy, whose relatable and believable friendship makes the story even more bewitching.

One of the best aspects of the film is how Sung Kang skillfully directs the title despite limited cast and limited settings. It still manages to keep audiences engaged and entertained. Kang also pays homage to classic horror films like ‘American Werewolf in London’ and injects fresh energy into the scenes while showcasing his comedic flair.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

If you are one of those who enjoy unapologetically goofy and fun movies, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is undoubtedly a fun watch. Embracing its campiness, the film doesn’t try to be anything other than an enjoyable ride filled with supernatural elements. The characters have a helpful book of spells that they use to solve problems, which adds a clever and funny element to the story that will make you laugh..

While categorized as a horror-comedy, ‘Shaky Shivers’ leans more towards comedy than horror. However, don’t worry, as the supernatural beings like werewolves, zombies, and witches make their presence known throughout. The practical effects and impressive monster makeup, reminiscent of old-school horror flicks from the 70s and 80s, immerse you in a world of creatures and enchantment.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

The plot of ‘Shaky Shivers’ escalates in an exciting and compelling manner, filled with unpredictable twists and goofy surprises.  While it may not leave you terrified, the perfect blend of supernatural ambiance and comedic moments guarantees plenty of laughter and enjoyment.

In conclusion, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a must-watch horror-comedy that delivers on laughs, friendship, and supernatural encounters. With its engaging storyline, talented cast, and Sung Kang’s impressive directorial debut, the film is a delightful addition to the genre. So grab a large tub of popcorn and take your family for this fun-filled ride.

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