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DAY SHIFT Review: A Vampire Flick For Action And Stunt Enthusiasts

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DAY SHIFT Review: A Vampire Flick For Action And Stunt Enthusiasts

Jamie Foxx is Bud Jablonski, a hard-working, blue-collar dad spending their days at their run-of-the-mill pool cleaning job in the California sun. This is not your normal pool cleaning job though. Truth is, it is a front for their real job: hunting and killing vampires. As good as they are at their job the pay is just not as good as when they were a part of the union, which they handedly had a part in their expulsion from. With the surprise news that their estranged wife, Jocelyn, wants to sell the house and move their daughter over to Florida to live with Jocelyn’s mom. 

 

Bud needs a smack of cash quick to pay some big bills so they will stay in California. This means they have to go back to the union and get some union jobs. This also means they now have to have a union rep, Seth, tag along and make sure they don’t break any of their rules or they’re back out on his own. How could matters get any worse? Bud is put on the lean Day Shift, where a vampire’s love of the sunshine is obviously a factor. 

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Ah, there’s also Audrey San Fernando. They’re a local real estate magnat and high ranking vampire with a plan to boost the vampire population in the San Fernando Valley. Bud’s just done something that got their attention and if Audrey has anything to say about it there will be a reckoning: blood for blood. 

 

Day Shift is the debut feature film of JJ Perry, a stunt veteran with 35 years of experience in Hollywood. After all those years taking the fall for Hollywood’s best it’s time to rest those bones and make this his first effort calling the shots behind the camera. Perry directs a screenplay that was written by veteran writer Shay Hatten whose credits include John Wick 3 and 4, Army of the Dead, Army of Thieves, and Rebel Moon. Hatten wrote Day Shift with first timer Tyler Tice. With the type of filmography that Hatten has you can already begin to understand what kind of movie you’re in store for when watching Day Shift. Big moments with a bare amount of information in between the set pieces to keep things moving towards a bigger finish. 

 

Everyone on screen does well with the material given to them. Foxx is as good as you would expect him to be. His ‘Oh now I’m mad’ moments drew snickers but he handles the action and the large set pieces very well. David Franco’s Seth is meant to be the comic relief in this film and if the material were good enough for his comedic chops it would be worth more than a mention. Snoop Dogg is… not an actor, so there’s a certain amount of lenience that you give the hip-hop legend as he goes through the motions in some of the scenes. 

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There is an issue with the villain, Audrey San Fernando, played by Karla Souza. Audrey is just not villainy enough. Their plan for the takeover equates to little more than vampire gentrification, which is funnier than the comedy elements in the film. Minor incidents in the first half are meant to establish their badness but these are really lightweight. Anyone who plays a villain deserves better than this. 

 

Scott Adkins and Steve Howey make an appearance as the Nazarian brothers, high rollers in the vampire killing business. They inspire awe in Seth and in their scene do an insurmountable amount of damage to a nest of vampires in one of the main set pieces. Of course, there is never enough Scott Adkins to our liking but his name is not at the top of the bill. It was good to see him, and see him slaying vampires willy nilly.

 

So where did Day Shift win for us? We were won over by the action set pieces. We want to give a slow clap to Perry and the stunt team: stunt coordinators Troy Robinson and Justin Yu, fight coordinators Felix Betancourt and Michael Lehr, and we wish we knew who to directly credit for the awesome driving scene midway through the flick. 

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Off the hop, credit is due for taking contortionists beyond the typical backbends you see in most horror films. Oh they’re there, but the coordinators utilize these skills to create some back breaking moments that would leave any mere mortal dead from the neck down. They found out how far everyone could bend and created moves, hits and slams that exploited that range of motion to its fullest. 

 

Few rigging teams have done this much work, for an unbelievable amount of rigging stunts. There are so many (SO MANY!) people flying through the air after getting shot, changing direction midway through an arc because of a second impact, and more ratchet pulls and dead man stunts from rigger Pat Romano and team than we care to count. Oh, the poor effects team that had to digitally remove the webs and webs of rigging wires. 

 

There is some really wild use of drones in this one as well. Look for the drone that starts inside the car and rises up through the sunroof to follow the car chase. We believe that credit is due to Tommy Tibajia, a professional fpv drone pilot for all this amazing work. He captures some amazing transitions that you could never do before with standard rigs and arms. It is nothing as dizzying as the work we saw in Michael Bay’s Ambulance, you don’t get the vertigo inducing effect. It’s drone camera work done very well, traversing a greater distance in less time and we become more immersed in the scene as it plays out. 

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A game of one upmanship between stunt performers turned directors is afoot! The same way that Sam Hargrave elevated action cinema with his hands-on work in Extraction, Perry has taken the tools that have always been there and pushed them further. 

 

WeI will not say that this is a breakout moment for Perry like Extraction was for Hargrave. We largely think that the paint by numbers story and a lackluster villain do nothing to make Day Shift a memorable film for the casual viewer. At its most basic Day Shift is a light, possibly funny diversion for you this weekend. 

 

Action enthusiasts however will find more to… chew on. 

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We do love the nod to a classic, thirty-five year old vampire flick right at the very end there. A nice tip of the hat there. 

 

Day Shift is now streaming globally on Netflix

Day Shift

Cast
  • Jamie Foxx
  • Dave Franco
  • Snoop Dogg

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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