Matt’s Movie Review Roundup

Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream VI.”

It was a solid week for new releases with two anticipated theatrical films and a new release on Netflix. Below are my thoughts on this week’s big releases. If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.

65 (Theaters)
: Adam Driver and Ariana Greenblatt
Synopsis: The latest theatrical release is an epic from the past…way back in the past. It’s set on Earth 65 Million Years Ago, when Dinosaurs ruled the Earth. We meet Mills (Driver) a pilot on a distant, advanced planet. He’s contracted to lead a ship full of colonists in deep sleep, forcing him to be away from his family for a few years. He does it because his daughter is sick and the extra money will help her get treatment. But things don’t go as planned. His ship is hit by an asteroid field and crashes to Earth. All his passengers are killed—save for a young girl (Greenblatt), who is now an orphan and speaks a different language. Their only hope is to find the lone remaining escape pod, which is quite a distance away. But they’re not alone. Can they survive the wilds of pre-historic Earth and escape the planet’s surface before the asteroid comes around again? That’s the challenge in this film, which comes from writer-directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. There’s potential in the premise, and Driver is a sturdy lead, but this doesn’t come together well. The story and construction end up being dull. Even Driver seems somewhat bored at times. The action is OK but doesn’t draw you in and raise the stakes. It feels like the film follows a straightforward formula and delivers a somewhat predictable final push. Even at 93 minutes, it feels long because it doesn’t give the audience much to work with or invest in. It’s a clever premise but it doesn’t capitalize on that potential.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi action and peril, and brief bloody images.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Luther: The Fallen Sun (Netflix)
: Idris Elba, Cynthia Erivo, Andy Serkis, and Dermot Crowley
Synopsis: When a man hunts monsters long enough, how does he avoid becoming like what he hunts? That’s always been the fear for DCI John Luther (Elba), and it carried through five seasons of the show created by Neil Cross. We saw Luther use his skills to brilliantly solve crimes, while he also pushed the limits of morality and the law along the way. In the new film, Luther: The Fallen Sun, Cross continues the adventure in a self-contained film. For fans of the show, this is another entry into the world, building on what came before. And while it’s not the most accessible film for those who didn’t watch the series, it’s got a stand-alone case that should be engaging and gripping enough even to hook new viewers. Elba is back, reprising his role as Luther and he’s brilliant in the part. Here, he faces off against a sadistic serial killer (Serkis) who manages to find out the deepest secrets of all who cross his path. When Luther’s investigation gets too close, he digs up enough dirt on Luther’s past mis-deeds to send the cop to prison. There, the killer can continue his work and taunt the man who was trying to hunt him down. Soon, Luther escapes and teams with his former boss (Crowley) and a new detective who replaced him (Erivo) to stop this maniac and bring him to justice. I love the writing and the craft that’s gone into Luther, a series I’ve watched since it first debuted in 2010. The performances here are strong. Serkis makes for a great foil opposite Elba, while Erivo and Crowley as strong in supporting roles. As mentioned, Elba is incredible in this lead role and I loved the emotional journey we go on with his character here as he seeks some sort of redemption. The story works well and the case, while dark like those from the series, pays off in an interesting way. This is one of my favorite new films of the year so far.
Rating: Rated R for disturbing/violent content, language and some sexual material.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Scream VI (Theaters)
Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Hayden Panettiere, Josh Segura, Courtney Cox, and Dermot Mulroney
Synopsis: A year after we got our first trip to the Scream universe in more than a decade, we’re back. This time it’s clear we’re in the midst of what this team of writers and directors hope will be a new franchise. This is the first installment without original star Neve Campbell, though “legacy” characters Gail Weathers (Cox) and Kirby Reed (Panettiere) are back. This one squarely focuses on the “Core Four,” sisters Sam (Barrera) and Tara (Ortega) and their friends and twins, Chad (Gooding) and Mindy (Brown). They’re in college now and in New York City, but that doesn’t keep a new killer in a Ghostface mask from wreaking havoc on their lives. Soon, that brings back Gail, still a reporter, and Kirby, now an FBI Agent, to join with an NYPD Detective (Mulroney) to find the killer. Will they all make it out alive? Can Sam fight the demons in her head thanks to her father (Skeet Ulrich). That’s the question, but you likely already know the answer. I didn’t love the return to Scream we got last year. The writing was stiff, as was the character introductions and plot. The third act felt like a real miss. So, I was nervous to have the same writing and directing team back for this new installment. To be clear, this is an improvement. Some of the sequences are much better and the story and humor often works a bit better. But, for me, it doesn’t reach the height of previous installments. Some of the musing on film is a bit much. The last act, including the big reveal, also felt like something of a letdown aside from a sequence on the New York subway that was quite captivating. It’s a step in the right direction and the core four actors are growing on me but it doesn’t feel like it maximizes on its potential.
Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout, and brief drug use.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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