MOVIE REVIEW: 6 Underground

After more than 20 years deep in the scene of Hollywood, Michael Bay has become set in his ways. During a blast of a start with blockbusters such as “Bad Boys”, “The Rock”, and “Armageddon”, Bay looked like he was headed on a fast track for bigger and better things. Over time, the excitement dwindled into apprehension and caution. Instead of testing out new frontiers for his imagination, complacency became the new buzz word surrounding his films, with them featuring an increase in bolder and audacious action set pieces while there was a steady decrease in any figment of story or cohesiveness within the structure of his projects. Bay is a frustrating director to watch as he continues to settle for the bare minimum and not tap into his potential greatness. “6 Underground” is the action film that is the sum result of who Bay has become over the last decades – a generic filmmaker.

Action sequences in the film are arcadey and mayhem populates the screen, bloating it with a constant supply of weak enemies, chrome cars, bullets, blood, and extravagant stunt work. Adding on to the claustrophobia, the jagged editing is enough to trouble even people with the highest of attention spans. Many moments possess so many cuts in a short time that there is no room for the frames to breathe. When people fight hand to hand, you don’t see any of the blows connecting or landing at their destination. There is a heavy emphasis on explosions, even when you are not sure how cars and objects are easily combustible. Some of these sequences feel much longer than they need to be; the continuity required to allow momentum to build and deliver on its promise gets lost. On the contrary, elements of entertainment such as this would make for a fantastic video game. The film has frequent callbacks to games like “Call Of Duty” and “Grand Theft Auto” that will melt the heart of teenage boys everywhere with its hyper and energetic tone.

Wernick and Reese’s script is immature, barebones, and filled with a weird love affair for dated pop culture references – just like they’ve done in the “Deadpool” and “Zombieland” franchises. References span from “Breaking Bad” to Britney Spears to “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” to “Nick at Nite”, and then there is a painfully cringe-inducing rendition of the opening lines of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”. The release date says it’s the year 2019 but this film will have viewers thinking they are still operating in the mid to late 2000s. What passes for humor is stereotypical quips on different ethnicities, raunchy middle school sex ponderings, and lame use of poorly timed punchlines. We are in the mind of screenwriters who are trying to create mindless entertainment that is “cool” and “flashy” to stand out. The story is the last thing anyone is paying attention to; if anyone can crack the code as to why we have this group of wannabe mercenaries going around looking to take out villains on high pedestals, more power to them. Nothing makes sense as to why and how these characters came to be. The audience is told (through copious amounts of exposition) that a billionaire just decided to fake his death and become dead to the world. This techie then goes around looking for other people willing to share in the same sacrifice and become a part of this “ghost” team and make the world less evil to live in. Sounds great on paper but the choppy emotional beats and awkward time jumps make it difficult for anyone to wrap their arms around this material.

“6 Underground” is a playground that looks exciting to play in but nevertheless leaves nothing memorable to latch on to. Michael Bay is who I thought he was: a one-note director practicing the golden rule of insanity, making the same film over and over again expecting a different result. “6 Underground” is an audacious mess of the action experience.

Rating:


Caless Davis is a Seattle-based film critic and contributor to the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He loves any discussion of film and meeting new people to engage in film discussions on any subject. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Episode 193: Zombieland: Double Tap

Our traveling companions are back for another trip into Z-Land. Did this long-awaited and much-anticipated sequel hit the same mark that its predecessor did? We explain what did (not much) and didn’t (a lot) work for us.

Zombieland 2 Review – 0:02:06

The Connecting Point – 0:56:01

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MOVIE REVIEW: Zombieland: Double Tap

It’s a sequel too late in the making, but ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP squeezes out enough comedic chemistry from its excellent reunited cast to keep the audience laughing even when the lethargic plot fails to hold our attention. The original foursome of Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have been living together for 10 years in The United States of Zombieland and are making a home out of the abandoned White House when the sisters once again feel the need to strike out on their own – this time because Wichita fears commitment and the all-grown-up Little Rock wants to experience adulthood on her own. From there the story is mostly a road trip, with the group meeting new survivors, facing off against more dangerously evolved zombies, and contending with a colony of pacifists along the way to restoring their little family.

The film’s primary faults lie in an extreme reuse of/reliance on material from its predecessor, Columbus’ “rules” and old jokes are recycled frequently instead of introducing fresh new ones, and a lack of emotional weight. It’s not that we don’t care whether Wichita and Columbus end up happily ever after or if Little Rock will find love, but the film never reaches the heights of the original’s climactic Pacific Playland sequence when it comes to us caring about the fates of our characters.

The original cast is definitely giving their all even with less than stellar dialogue to deliver, and Zoey Deutch’s inclusion alone will be worth the price of admission for many; her extremely “extra” survivor Madison brings about the best banter in the film and elicited theater-wide laughter numerous times. I couldn’t decide whether I found her character more maddeningly annoying, hilarious, or attractive, and I mean that as praise. Deutch’s performance is definitely the one thing I won’t forget about the film and is worthy of all the memes it is sure to inspire.

Other additions to the cast include a short but hilarious appearance by Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch as Albuquerque and Flagstaff, a pair of eerily similar personalities to Tallahassee and Columbus, and an appropriately badass role for Rosario Dawson. However, though not without their charm, these felt more like cameos than significant additions to the plot.

One place the film definitely shines is in the action department, where the high-octane zombie kills are more creative and realistically bloody than ever before. The easily squeamish might want to sit this one since there is vomit and gore galore, but those who can stomach it will be rewarded with some of the most exciting action of the series during the film’s standout climax.

Sadly, the lack of moving, character deepening moments holds this back from being more than just an occasionally energetic, mostly funny nostalgic trip. ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP will likely satisfy fans of the first film, but the magic isn’t quite there and it feels like a big time missed opportunity to improve upon the original’s formula. The definition of a mixed bag: see it with tempered expectations and just enjoy the ride. Oh, and be sure to stay through the credits for a special treat.

Rating:


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 192: Zombieland

Kicking off a little mini run on zombie flicks for this October, we discuss one of the more unique entries in this sub-genre. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the United States of Zombieland, but there are moments of poignancy that give us the feels too. So go ahead and push play because it’s time to nut up or shut up!

Zombieland Review – 0:01:30

The Connecting Point – 0:52:13

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MOVIE REVIEW: Once Upon a Deadpool


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 051: Life

This week we are talking about the newest film from the writers of Zombieland and Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson, and Hiroyuki Sanada among others. Life is a fast-paced sci-fi horror/thriller in space that tells the story of what happens to a space station after they discover the first life from Mars. Not every movie needs to have incredible depth to be a fun viewing experience. We discuss that, why telling similar stories is okay, and more in this new episode.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:02:12

(Patrick – O.J.: Made in America)
(Aaron – The Guest, James Bond Films)

Life Review – 0:16:05

The Connecting Point – 1:06:10

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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