Secret Headquarters Review

Secret Headquarters is the latest film in an ever-growing gluttony of superhero films. Every major studio, including Paramount, who had the MCU under their umbrella before selling them off to Disney, is trying to get into the superhero game and the streaming wars on top of that. They need material for their service that doesn’t have Star Trek in front of it. The superhero genre could have done without their effort, though, because it’s not that good.

Owen Wilson plays a man who is inadvertently given the powers of a God and uses them to go around saving lives as the planet’s one true savior, the Guard. However, he never tells his son about his little secret. On a father-son weekend, Charlie Kincaid (Walker Scobell, The Adam Project) — the spitting image of Owen Wilson, perfect casting — is left behind when his father gets an urgent message that he has to go to a conference. He says he’ll be right back, though. So in perfect planning, the kid invites his friends over, and they discover pop’s secret lair.

Just like what kids would do, they have fun exploring the lair and trying things out. Some are good experiences with dad’s gadgets, and some they should leave alone. Unbeknownst to them, they set off a tracker and the head of an evil maniacal organization who has been tracking the Guard’s every movement but didn’t know where his lair was until now, the leader of which is played by Michael Peña. They come to get all of the Guard’s secrets and a powerful orb that is the main source of his power.

The kids have to stand up to Peña’s men but aren’t much of a match for them. Wilson wasn’t around much in this film, and his father-son stuff didn’t come until the third act when he had to help rescue his son and his friends from Peña. This story is right out of superhero 101. The father has to help save the day when a relative/family member gets into trouble. The problem is this film is so contrived, and you could see all this story coming from a mile away. 

I can see the attraction of the time for Wilson, but Peña is terrible as the villain. I don’t know why besides a paycheck he would have taken this one-note character with no redeeming qualities. Peña has done some good stuff in the past, namely in superhero films, including the Ant-Man franchise. However, his performance in this might be the worst superhero villain I’ve ever seen. This goes beyond a one-note character. It’s just bad acting, and the script plays into that acting, so it’s a double whammy for Peña. He needs to start looking for better projects than this if he wants his career to keep going.

Wilson gives his everything in this role, but it’s not his fault the script is awful from Christopher T. Yost, Josh Keonigsberg, and Henry Joost. They have an underlying story of this father-son relationship, but it doesn’t blossom into anything. It’s bogged down by all the superhero stuff and CGI visual effects that get in the way of the real story. Add on top of that a comedic stick that Peña and others are embracing. This film should have been more serious, but instead, it went the childish route which turned me off completely.

Secret Headquarters had a good premise that in the right hands — maybe Chris Columbus, for example — could have had a worthwhile father-son story. Instead, it gets sidetracked by a comedy routine by Peña (nobody’s laughing), visual effects spectacle, and a subpar script and direction. Paramount may have done the right thing by dropping this pile of trash on their streaming service. I don’t think many people would have seen it otherwise. This film gives a bad name to the superhero genre.

2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Foinder/EIC disappointment media

Fall Review

Survival films are films where one or more individuals are trapped in a location for many days without means of getting help from anybody. Films like Buried127 Hours, and Cast Away have stood the test of time. You can add another survival film to the list: Fall by director Scott Mann. His other films aren’t very notable, so this one could be the big breakout film that could get him noticed as a filmmaker to keep your eyes on in the future.

Becky (Grace Fulton) is an adventurer who likes to climb mountains with her best friend, Hunter (Virginia Gardner). After a tragedy while climbing, she goes into a shell and starts to drink herself into a stuper every night for months. Even her father (Jeffery Dean Morgan) can’t get through to her. Her best friend returns after being away for a while, and she has a new adventure for them to conquer. She wants them to climb a two-thousand-foot radio tower in the middle of nowhere. Reluctantly she agrees.

Fall is a relatively simple film. Its concept is easy for viewers to get behind: two young women get stranded on top of a two-thousand-foot radio tower without means of escape. Like most of these types of films, the characters have some items at their disposal that help them in their plight to get help which are ways to forward the plot. This film has a couple of cell phones, a rope, and a drone that helps move the story forward. These are useful items in the overall scheme of the film.

In survival films, you must be interested in the trapped characters. The two main characters in this film were engaging to watch because the writers infused their personal relationships into the film’s plot. While stuck two thousand feet up in the air, they were able to get past issues in their past. With such a simple concept, the film needed something to help move the story forward, and the backstory of these two women was what hit the spot for the film. It worked very well in this regard.

The fact that these two characters were stuck so high up allowed the director to get some fantastic shots while they were up so high, so the cinematography looked excellent. Also, the film did something strange that was a little odd to me. While the characters were sleeping, they had nightmares. I didn’t think this fit very well in the film, but considering how simple the story is, the writers probably threw this stuff in to add a little flair to the film. 

Fall is a survival film that doesn’t break new ground, but it had me scared as soon as these women started climbing that two-thousand-foot radio tower. I have a bit of vertigo when I am up high and when I see films with scenes that are very high like this one is. So my vertigo kicks in, and I get scared. I feel like I am up there with the characters, and if I’m not careful, I’ll fall. This film worked perfectly in that regard. I felt the heights, which put me right in the character’s shoes.

Fall worked on several levels for me, even though it didn’t break new ground in this genre. The relationship between the two main characters was very engaging, and I bought into their backstory. My vertigo kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the film. I just couldn’t sit back, and that helped me be invested in the movie. Scott Mann has made a film that will keep viewers engaged from these two points of view. It’s an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter for an hour and a half.

3 1/2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Borlman Foinder/EIC disappointment media

Summering Review

James Ponsoldt has been directing for a while now. He has more than a few films under his belt, including The Circle and The End of the Tour. His most successful film as far as critical and fan acclaim is The Spectacular Now. His latest film, Summering, is a little different from his other films. This time, he’s directing kids, which he’s not done before. Usually, he directs stories about young adults or teens trying to find a place in the world.

This story follows four adolescent teen girls — Dina (Madalen Mills), Mari (Eden Grace Redfield), Lola (Sanai Victoria), and Daisy (Lia Barnett) — as they are enjoying their summer vacation. While doing their usual pastime, exploring the nearby woods surrounding their homes, they come across a dead body. This leads them down a rabbit hole as they try to figure out who this person is while also trying to avoid any suspicion from their parents.

The girls are best friends and are getting ready to enter middle school. They are worried that they won’t be friends anymore. This little adventure might be their last time hanging out with each other. They’re all from different backgrounds, so they may be heading to different schools. Their parents have different motivations for them. They believe these girls have futures and want to control them — all except one of them, that is.

Ponsoldt’s style in this film is very minimalist. It seems he had a smaller budget than usual to work with. Even though he gets a few named actresses as the mothers, he has a relatively unknown cast. That helps with an indie budget. Following four girls around a non-descript city doesn’t cost a lot. The real story is these girls’ relationship with each other. They develop a bond that they don’t want to end.

As far as coming-of-age stories go, this one is a bit simpler and not as confusing or complicated. It’s pretty straightforward storytelling. These girls aren’t that different than most kids their age. They just want to do something with their lives and be somebody. However, it really struggles as a kids’ movie. It just doesn’t have a magical feel to it like other similar films. They keep referencing Bridge to Terabithia, but this film is far from that in many ways.

Summering isn’t anything special in the coming-of-age genre, but it has a charm to it anyway. This wasn’t a terrible film, but it’s not the best work Ponsoldt has done in his career. The budget might have to do with that. The minimalist feel of this film didn’t work in the end. Other filmmakers have done similar things better in the past. Hopefully, Ponsoldt will rebound with a better film next time out.

2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman EIC/

Emily the Criminal Review

There is that time in your life when you feel lost and afraid and don’t know where your life is going. You go to school, drop out because it’s too much for you, and you end up in a dead-end job that doesn’t allow you to live your life the way you want. You aren’t living to the fullest extent of your potential. So you do something that isn’t necessarily legal to make ends meet. That’s the story of Emily the Criminal by director John Patton Ford.

The title character Emily is played by Aubrey Plaza (Ingrid Goes WestParks and Recreation). She is working a day-to-day job delivering food for a catering service until one of her fellow employees tells her how to make some quick and easy cash. She goes to the place, and it turns out to be credit card fraud that they want her to do. She’s so desperate to make some money she accepts the deal even though it’s illegal. She gets involved with Yousef (Theo Rossi), who helps her learn the ropes.

A few movies have dealt with characters who feel they’ve got nothing to lose because they are at the bottom of a barrel. That’s this film in a nutshell. Plaza plays this character perfectly. She shows her desperation at times, making the character more engaging. Sure, what she’s doing is illegal, but it’s out of desperation that she does this. The film even shows her trying to get legitimate work; when that doesn’t work out, she resorts to this criminal activity to survive.

The director doesn’t do anything crazy with the filmmaking style. He keeps it simple. He uses close-up shots to show the reaction of various characters in the film, specifically Plaza’s character, in multiple interviews and such. How she reacts is key to how the film flows after that. Plaza plays this character as any of us would when confronted with some of the negative things that happen to her. Her emotions are the crux of her character.

Look, I know what people might be thinking. You don’t have to resort to criminal activity to get back on your feet — you just have to keep fighting and clawing your way back. Well, that’s not always the answer. Sometimes I relate to her plight — you feel like you are just hitting your head against a wall and getting nowhere. No matter how hard you try, nothing works. I’ve felt that way a lot in my life. Criminals are sometimes driven to that life out of desperation with no other path to go down.

Emily the Criminal premiered at this past year’s Sundance Film Festival to a lukewarm response. I can understand why. The subject matter isn’t the easiest to relate to for most people. On the other hand, I can relate to both sides of this story. This character reminds me of my own life right now. No, I’ve not resorted to criminal activity to make ends meet, but I understand what it means to struggle. Plaza gives an excellent performance as this desperate woman with nowhere to turn, and Ford does an equally adequate job depicting her trials and tribulations. This is a good film chronicling a struggling woman who does whatever it takes to survive. In that sense, it works.

3 1/2

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman/EIC disappointment media

The Sandman Review

The Sandman is based on the DC Vertigo comic book series in the late ’80s and ’90s. It was written and created by Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and various other artists who drew the stories. It was an adult series of comics chronicling the comings and goings of Morpheus, the lord of dreams, and his family members. This is a highly regarded comic book series, so the fact that it finally became a television show streaming on Netflix is no surprise to anybody, let alone its fans. The series was developed by Neil Gaiman, David A. Goyer, and Allen Heinberg for Netflix. The time is finally here for fans to get to see this show.

Morpheus/Dream (Tom Sturridge) is kidnapped by Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) and imprisoned in his basement for one hundred years. While there, his tools of the trade — his pouch sand, his helmet, and his red ruby — were stolen by a woman named Ethel Cripps (Niamh Walsh, Joely Richardson). When Dream finally escapes, he goes in search of his tools. He comes in contact with various members of his family, Death (Kirby Howell Baptiste), Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie), demon hunter Joanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), and the son of Ethel Cripps, John Dee (David Thewlis).

This show has two distinct story arcs within the ten-episode first season. The first is a road trip where Dream engages with his trusty librarian friend Lucienne (Vivienne Achearnpong) and a Raven, Matthew (Patten Oswalt). They visit Cain and Abel (Sanjeev Bhaskar, Asim Chaudhry) and make their way through Hell and Earth. The second arc of this series is about a girl, Kya Ra (Rose Walker), known as a vortex, her friend Lyta Hall (Razane Jammal), and her brother Jeb. They are hunted down by Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), who tries to use the girl to usurp Dream’s power and Realm.

The show has visuals early on that are gorgeous. The early episodes depict various realms, including the Dreaming, Hell, and other locations. Most of the show is of people walking and talking or talking and riding in cars. This is where the bulk of the dialogue and story take place. The supernatural abilities of the show’s characters are also pretty cool — mainly the sand and ruby effects. The music in the show by David Buckley is also very good and lends itself to this dark and somber series perfectly.

The writing of this show could get lost in all the fantasy effects, cool sets, and production value, but it doesn’t. Specifically, two episodes that really stood out to me are Episode 5, “24/7,” and episode 6, “The Sound of Her Wings.” These two episodes get to the heart of the series from the perspective of John Dee and Death, respectively. In episode 6, Dream learns about himself and his mission which changes his outlook on life and the world and how people’s dreams affect the world in negative and positive ways. These two episodes made me think about life and its value as I watched them. That’s pretty cool when a show can do that.

This show has a huge cast led by Sturridge in the leading role but has a lot of pretty good character actors doing some fantastic work. Some are hamming it up like Christie, Oswalt, Mark Hamill (Mervyn Pumpkinhead), and Mason Alexander Clark (Desire). Still, others like Holbrook, Thewlis, Howell Baptiste, Coleman, and Ra are doing solid work here. This show could make these actors give crazy wild performances, but most take this material seriously and do a very good job. Sturridge as the star is the real standout. I can see why he was cast as the leading character in the show. He demands the camera when he’s on screen. I was glued to every word he said.

Not having read any of the comics, I didn’t know what I was getting in for with this show. I only knew that various literary groups and fantasy awards highly regarded it. Neil Gaiman is considered one of the best writers in the world with this kind of material. The dark, macabre, and fantasy elements were right up my alley. The cinematography made the world these directors and writers created come to life beautifully. The road trip storyline worked pretty well for me, learning about this world that Gaiman created. The story in the second half of the series was fine as well. Episodes 5 and 6 were my favorites. The acting by all was pretty good, especially Sturridge as The Sandman. Fans of this comic book series will surely enjoy this series that came to life. Netflix had another hit on its hands.

4 1/2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

Prey Review

Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, now 20th Century Studios, a few years ago. All the hubbub was about them getting the Marvel characters back into the fold. Well, I think people have forgotten that Fox had a massive catalog of films Disney could pick from that were pretty good IPs, one of which is the Predator franchise. Arguably this franchise hasn’t always been good — just look at the last film by Shane Black. The Predator was a huge letdown from where I’m sitting. It hasn’t always been bad, though — Predators, starring Adrien Brody, which came out in 2010, wasn’t half bad. The standard bearer in this franchise will always be the original Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Jesse Ventura. That original film has another one that can stand alongside it: Prey.

Prey depicts a group of Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest around the time the French started to explore the area. This tribe of Comanches the film depicts is led by a fierce warrior, Taabe (Dakota Beavers), whom his people are proud of. He has a younger sister that wants to prove herself amongst the tribesman. Naru (Amber Midthunder) is always trying to tag along with the other warriors in the tribe. She’s a good tracker and wants to prove herself in other ways. When a beast is noticed killing and leaving spineless caucuses in the surrounding area of their village, she starts to warn the others about it. When they don’t take her seriously, she embarks on a mission with her trusty dog sidekick to show the others what she’s talking about. She may be over her head, though.

Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) is the director of this film from a script by Patrick Aison. These two combined create a place and time in American history that has long been forgotten; a place where native Americans roamed the wilderness, plains, and mountains. They knew how to hunt and forage for food and were very good at it. This film wholeheartedly embraces those aspects of life back then and immerses the viewer into this breathing world we had forgotten. Creatures like mountain lions, wolves, and bears were roaming around freely, and these people lived and thrived amongst them. I just wish this were on the big screen so I could see all this beauty in its glory. That’s just nitpicking, though. This film looked gorgeous nevertheless.

Prey has a great look and feel, but that’s not the only tremendous part of the film. The acting by all, but most especially Amber Midthunder, is fantastic. She’s a revelation in this film. I felt like a part of her world and how she thought things out and fought every second for survival against not only a vicious alien hunting machine, a Predator (Dane DiLiegro), but the elements and those other vicious animals I mentioned. Without saying much, she made this character understandable and relatable. She did things we would do if we were in her position. She was trained by her tribe and learned these survival instincts on her own. In a tribe with a hierarchy, you must sometimes learn to fend for yourself. She did that and more, and I loved every second of it. The fighting, running, jumping, and even hiding were glorious.

All the things I talked about in this review are great, but the central part of this review has to be whether or not this is a good Predator film. If that part doesn’t work, it is a failure, and I am here to say enthusiastically it’s not a failure — it’s a huge success. The main story of a Predator film is they come from outer space to hunt and fight the best they can find on a given planet, and this specific Predator found a handful on this young Native American girl. Of course, his ability is second to none, so he had to be outthought by this young girl. And there is an analogy in the film, but I won’t spoil it. The Predator was awesome, though, and he fought like a total badass, Just what we would come to expect from a Predator. He uses all the technology we’ve seen in other films in the franchise, which makes for some pretty cool visuals. There are a lot of bloody scenes, which made me happy. Those that are squeamish might look away at some of these scenes, though.

Prey asks who the Predator and the prey are, and that answer is glorious to find out. The cinematography is gorgeous even though it’s on Hulu and not on the big screen. The action and survival instincts are on par with Rambo: First Blood. It’s visceral and realistic as far as I’m concerned. Amber Midthunder is incredible in this role. She was born to play this character. She brought everything she had to this film, which shows in the end result. Dan Trachtenberg and Patrick Aison should be proud that they made a movie in a long, storied franchise that people will talk about for years to come. It’s a rebirth of a franchise I liked but not loved. Now I am excited about where Disney can go with this IP. That’s all thanks to the filmmakers and actors who gave it their all, bringing the world another great Predator film.

5 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Foinder/EIC disappointment media

Bullet Train Review

David Leitch is a director who has been attached to some pretty fantastic franchises in his short career as a director. He’s been involved with DeadpoolJohn Wick, and the Fast and Furious franchises in various stages of production. He has also done a new original movie in Atomic Blonde. Based on the book by Kōtarō Isaka, Bullet Train is another new property from this man who seems to be involved in one successful film after another.

The players involved in Bullet Train are as varied and extensive, with many colorful monikers. The first is Ladybug (Brad Pitt). He has a bad luck streak. He has taken a mission to retrieve a suitcase after Carver, another agent, gave up the gig. He gets on a train with many other people who want the case, namely The Twins, Lemon (Bryan Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). These two must bring a young man back to his father, a gangster known as The White Death. The Prince (Joey King) is a young girl pretending to be something she’s not. A few of the other characters in this crazy action film are The Wolf (Bad Bunny), The Hornet (Zazie Beetz), Yuichi Kimura (Andrew Koji), and his father, The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada).

Leitch is known for his action set pieces, and Bullet Train is no different than the other films he’s been involved in. This film is one giant action sequence set on this train, with plenty of fight scenes done masterfully. In one scene, I couldn’t even believe what was unfolding in front of my eyes. Most of the rest of the action scenes and fight scenes were fantastic through and through. Some involving swords and or gunplay blew my mind. People will be talking about the action in this film for weeks and months to come.

There was a lot of hype around this film leading up to the release, and it was not lost on me. It completely lived up to it. It had everything from brilliantly written and delivered comedy lines to jaw-dropping cameos. Just when I thought this film couldn’t get any better, it did. There were even easter eggs within the film that were called back later on. This film had layers on top of layers of storytelling that were crafted phenomenally throughout. How the writers threaded this story together was masterful.

A storytelling aspect in the film that was pretty cool was a series of flashbacks that helped define some of the characters’ backstories. Why were they where they were in the movie at that time? The writing in this film by Zak Olkewctz is next level. It’s based on a book, but the seeding of the characters’ backstories was done brilliantly. How Leitch and company edited these scenes together made for a more cohesive film all the way around. 

This film had many amazing parts from a below-the-line perspective. The visual effects were seamless. I couldn’t tell at all which scenes were real or computer generated. I could imagine what could have been created with a computer, but I couldn’t see it with my naked eye. That makes it that much more impressive from an editing perspective. The stunt work was incredible as well. It looked like the actors in these scenes were fighting, running, and jumping. So Leitch, who has a background in stunt work, knows how to disguise these scenes to make them look authentic and make the film look that much better. I was blown away by the editing by Elisabet Ronaldsdottir and the stunt work coordinated by Leitch. These aspects of the film were amazing.

Bullet Train is the savior of the summer. It’s coming out when there isn’t anything to go up against it. Early August can be hit and miss, but I suspect that once word of mouth gets out on this film, people will be flocking to see it again and again. Especially once it opens up in other countries, the buzz will be like a thick lather of sweat on one’s body after a good workout. I don’t think there is a film this year since Everything Everywhere All at Once that will have garnered this much buzz. 

Leitch knows how to make enjoyable action films. The action set pieces are phenomenal and the layered writing accompanied by the best editing in any film this year besides Everything Everywhere All at Once and incredible cinematography. The acting by the entire cast is brilliantly performed. The humor mixed with the more dramatic scenes worked perfectly as a yin and yang. Throw in some pretty cool songs from “Staying Alive” at the beginning of the film to “Everybody Needs a Hero” towards the end, and you have the best movie of the summer that should and will endure for weeks to come as word of mouth spreads.

5 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

My Name is Sara Review

Over the decades, many films have been about Jewish survivors of WWII. I haven’t seen any about Polish Jews fleeing to Ukraine, one of many countries attacked and taken over by Nazi soldiers. My Name is Sara is a film about a 13-year-old teenage girl that went through a lot during this time in history. This film is based on a true story.

Sara (Zuzanna Surowy) is a young teenage girl escaping her hometown of Koreths in Poland with her older brother. They end up in Ukraine, where she finds refuge with a farmer, his wife, and their two children. Every day was a struggle to keep her secret from them and everyone else around them, along with trying to stay out of the farmer’s way, which wasn’t easy. He’s not a very nice man even though he took her in.

Director Steven Oritt takes what we’ve seen in other WWII films about survivors and infuses his unique take on the subject matter. There are a lot of scenes of the family farming or doing chores around the farm which shows how the struggle during this time was real. He mixes these scenes with various scenes of Nazis giving the family a hard time in the or back at their farm. These scenes show how the main character is constantly in turmoil with everyone around her, including the farmer who is harboring his own secret.

The scenery in the film is pretty well done. The cinematography shows this country of Ukraine as a beautiful landscape at times but also a brutally cold place. These Eastern European countries can be unforgiving during the winter months. The sets were very well reproduced, and I felt I was back in time during this era in history. The clothes and hairstyles were on point as well. This film looked authentic from top to bottom, making me invested in the story.

The acting in the film was nothing spectacular. I noticed some of the performances were a little clunky. This may have been because they were inexperienced actors. Sometimes how the actors delivered their lines was a dead giveaway of their experience. Others were more confident in their line delivery and seemed more at home in the film. This wasn’t a surprise for lower-budget filmmaking and or actors in foreign countries doing English dialogue. This can be excused as far as I’m concerned.

My Name Is Sara is a competent film with a good enough look to make it worth your time. Oritt, the director, does a thorough job despite the limitations he has to work within the cast and budget. If you’re looking for something different this week, this is worth checking out.

3 1/2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

Vengeance Review

B.J. Novak might be a name not many people are familiar with, but he’s actually been around in the business of acting and directing for a while now. He’s most famous for his role in the NBC sitcom The Office from 2005-2013, where he played Ryan Howard, but he also had a small role in the Quentin Tarantino Film Inglorious Basterds. In his latest project, Vengeance, he writes, directs, and stars for Focus Features.

Ben Manoalowitz (B.J. Novak) is a man who is trying to find himself. He is a journalist and fledgling podcaster in New York. One morning, he gets a call from Ty Shaw (Boyd Holbrook), the brother of an old flame, saying she died and he needs to come to Texas for her funeral. When he gets there, he gets the idea of starting a podcast investigating her death. He enlists the help of a friend back in New York, Eloise (Issa Rae), who has experience producing podcasts.

Novak’s character starts to get to know the family of Abilene (Leo Tipton), and he quickly realizes that this town is not a big place and the people in it aren’t that hard to figure out. He started questioning the locals, such as two law officers with no interest in the case, a local small-time music producer (Ashton Kutcher), and some cartel members. Everyone seemed to like this woman. But that leaves the big question: why would anyone kill such a nice girl that everyone in town liked?

Novak relies on his dry sense of humor in this film, and most of the characters have a similar sense about them. He tries to ingratiate himself with the family, which is his way of getting them to open up about their sister/daughter. He becomes a part of the family in a way when in actuality, he barely knew the woman in question. They take him in like he’s one of their own, but they harbor a big secret. In fact, this entire backwater Texas town does.

Novack’s filmmaking style and storyline aren’t necessarily the best. It leaves something to be desired. The camera work isn’t all that special, and the story was predictable. He relies on some famous friends to help him in the film, like cameos from John Mayer and such, to get the audience to the fact that this film is slow and plotting and doesn’t say anything about these people we couldn’t figure out from the very beginning of the film. He needs work in his writing and directing characters; his own character isn’t all that interesting either. He is pretty dull.

Vengeance is one of those films where a somewhat notable actor decided to go out on their own and test the waters to see if they could make something people would like. The fact of the matter is this film is slow and plods along like a snail, and the characters, especially Novak’s, are uninteresting to watch and listen to. Although a decent effort by Novak and company, the movie is all over the place in terms of tone and quality. I’d say he should go back to sitcoms where he’s safer in his environment.

2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media

Paper Girls Review

The comic book genre has come a long way since the dark and brooding Batman films of Tim Burton and the statuesque Christopher Reeve in Superman and its sequels, notably the second one by Richard Donner. Sure, the occasional Barb WireThe Crow, the Blade trilogy, or The Walking Dead has come along, but most comic book movies or tv shows have been about superheroes. That has all changed recently with the new show from Amazon Prime called Paper Girls

The show starts with four teenage girls Mac (Sofia Rosinsky), Erin (Riley Lai Nelet), Tiffany (Camryn Jones) and KJ (Fina Strazza), getting ready to deliver their newspapers the morning after Halloween in 1988. While on their newspaper routes, they see purple lightning in the sky. They go to check out the phenomenon on their bikes. What happens next is crazy. They inadvertently get involved in a war between two groups of warring time travelers. One group is the resistance, and the other is the law.

This show is based on the comic book series by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang. Vaughn is no stranger to getting his series turned into films. He wrote the Kick-Ass and Kingsman series, both of which became movies. All the episodes have a familiar look to them not to confuse the audience. This is due to good directing, writing, and cinematography. Paper Girls is produced by Legendary, which is no stranger to spectacle films, so this show was going to look good no matter if it was bad or good. It’s pretty good, though. It kind of has a realistic look to it, like a Michael Mann film. 

One of the things that makes this show entertaining and engaging is the relationship between the four girls. They all have different motivations and attitudes towards the world, making them not always get along with each other. They come from different backgrounds and are of different races and sexual orientations, and so forth. They are really a different subsection of the country as a whole. A lot of girls their age, I think, will gravitate towards this show in different ways. With school getting started in August, this might be a popular show for teenage girls to watch, and if they like it, they can tell their friends.

There is a sci-fi aspect to this show: time travel. This show does a pretty good job of dealing with this popular trope. I feel time traveling has been overdone in Hollywood, but this show deals with it in an exciting way. These girls need help to get back home and how they figure out how and who they can trust and not trust is the main focus of the show. Along the way, they learn a lot about each other. Back to the Future comes to mind when I think of how the story unfolds, but it’s done very well. And writers should learn from Vaughn on this point.

Paper Girls was a lot of fun. Before I started watching the show, I hadn’t heard of the comic book series from Chaing and Vaughn. It just had an interesting premise, and it seemed cool to me. I’m glad I gave it a chance now because I really enjoyed it a lot. The sci-fi aspect, including the time travel, was good, but the four girls and their relationship, good and bad, throughout the show was the driving force for me. These young actresses were outstanding and kept me engaged with them throughout their ups and downs in the series. I think many girls their age will gravitate to this show for a good reason they can relate to them as well.

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media