Reel Reviews: End-of-summer films

By on August 28, 2019

‘Ready or Not’

“Ready or Not” is a movie about hide and seek, and moviegoers must have taken it seriously, hiding away from this film as it opened with a measly $7.5 million take and landing outside of the top five at the box office. You have to wonder what is going on with Fox Searchlight films* after their recent runs — Oscar-worthy yet bewildering “The Favourite,” lost at the box office “Tolkien,” and highly disappointing “The Aftermath”– have the motion picture company looking like it might need a bit of decapitation, like one of the characters receives in “Ready or Not,” a farcical horror based on the child’s game.

The Le Domas family built a fortune on games, but their success is fixed to ancient rituals including game playing on the night of a wedding to welcome the new member of the family. If a new member pulls “hide and seek,” which happens to Grace (Samara Weaving), the game is played to the death. So, family members Daniel (Adam Brody), Tony (Henry Czerny), Becky (Andie MacDowell) and others set out to capture and sacrifice the new bride.

But all does not go as planned in this mild, she-power slaughterfest where death is mostly accidental and self-combustible. The film is slick, fun, and written (by newbies Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy) to connect with our heroine, which we can easily do as we root for her to survive. And on the other hand we can root against some of the idiots in the family, like the wimpy Fitch Bradley (Kristian Bruun) and coked-up soccer mom Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) who are both good for a few laughs.

As for being a horror film, there are some “can’t stand to look” moments, which makes “Ready or Not” entertaining, but not very memorable.

*Upcoming Fox Searchlight films include the puzzling-looking space tale “Lucy in the Sky” starring Natalie Portman in October, and “A Hidden Life,” a World War II story written and directed by Terrence Malick (“The Thin Red Line”) in December.

Welcome to the family — or not. Members of the Le Domas family in “Ready or Not” include (left to right) Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Adam Brody and Elyse Levesque.

‘Angel has Fallen’

The old platitude goes something like: it’s not how hard you fall, but how quickly you pick yourself up that counts. Well, not really in the case of “Angel has Fallen,” the third installment of Presidential action flicks staring Gerard Butler as secret service specialist Mike Banning and Morgan Freeman as speaker turned POTUS. While “Olympus Has Fallen” (2013) was a fast-paced thrill ride and the sequel “London Has Fallen” (2016) was just massive “Angel has Fallen” falls short and leaves the viewer with a sense of apathy. This should be the final chapter in this story.

This time, an aging Banning is framed for an attempted assassination using state of the art military drones. Insert several comments about plot holes and bad acting/stunts here-intentionally left out to save space. On the lam, Banning seeks the help of his off-the-grid father played by Nick Nolte. Nolte’s performance is off the charts and really overshadows everyone and everything, making his appearance almost a detriment to the movie as a whole.

In the end, and as expected, Banning is cleared of charges, his wife and child are unharmed, and the President is safe and secure back in the White House. The most entertaining part of this film is the end scene and that is not a dig; it’s the truth.

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