Connect with us

Movies News

Review: Julius Avery’s Action Movie ‘Samaritan’ Wastes its Potential

Published

on

Review: Julius Avery’s Action Movie ‘Samaritan’ Wastes its Potential

Review: Julius Avery’s Action Movie ‘Samaritan’ Wastes its Potential

by Manuel São Bento
August 25, 2022

A few years ago, Overlord opened, which was one of the best surprises I hae ever experienced on the big screen. With almost no expectations, Julius Avery blew me away with his sophomore feature, so when I learned that the filmmaker was exploring a dark take on the superhero genre, I immediately got interested in this project. Despite understanding the reasons behind the “superhero fatigue” discourse, the truth is that this so-called tiredness is only mentioned when movies don’t succeed. Therefore, as this is a genre I quite appreciate, I’ll always be invested in what directors and writers have to offer. That said, Samaritan holds a premise filled with potential, but it mediocrely fails to develop its fascinating ideas in any satisfying way.

This is writer Bragi F. Schut’s first-ever feature screenplay, which may or may not be the major reason why Samaritan ignores a much more interesting, emotionally compelling narrative, replacing it with a generic, predictable story about a kid, Sam (Javon Walton), fanboying about meeting a famed superhero, Joe Smith (Sylvester Stallone). He had been missing for decades after a battle against his own brother, Nemesis. In fact, just in case someone goes in with unreliable expectations for this superhero movie, Walton plays the actual protagonist. Obviously, Stallone still has a good chunk of screentime, but the main focus of the story surrounds Sam, the bullying he frequently suffers, and criminal path he follows in order to help his single mom pay the bills.

Nothing new or inventive here. Samaritan superficially touches the “good vs. bad” theme – done time and time again – so there are no surprises in store. Avery tries to make his film look layered and shocking with some well-handled, theoretically twisty revelations, but it all feels so familiar that not even inexperienced viewers will be caught off guard by something that can be easily deciphered after the first few minutes. There’s nothing wrong with using well-known formulas and cliches in movies, as long as these are executed in an entertaining manner for the audience. Unfortunately, two problems surround this important point…

Samaritan Review

Even though Samaritan is, indeed, different from all the conventional flicks within this genre, it is still a superhero movie. Obviously, this doesn’t inherently mean a film *must* have action sequences – Joker is a prime example of a superhero movie that doesn’t focus on actual fighting – but it must have something that offers that entertainment value. The issue is that not only is the action underwhelming, but there’s nothing that replaces it or adds to it. The fight scenes are decent at best, but overall, they’re just the usual, repetitive throw-and-punch type of action. The stunt work is really impressive, though. Stuntmen are thrown left and right through every possible obstacle one can imagine.

Advertisement

Nevertheless, the main problem is that a better story is shrunk to fit in a visually stylized, narrated prologue that raises many thought-provoking questions, but they’re left unexplored or answered in a very simplistic, cheap way. Samaritan truly boasts an exciting premise, but it refuses to dive deep into the history of its own world, ultimately undermining the Samaritan-Nemesis symbolic relationship – Stallone spends the whole film basically replying “I don’t want to talk about it” every time someone asks about his past. In addition, the action-heavy third act features pretty noticeable green screen and poor VFX in other elements.

I do want to end this review with a positive note. Composers Jed Kurzel and Kevin Kiner’s score and the lead performances are the saving graces. Stallone does his best with what he gets, bringing a lot of humor to quite a bland-looking movie. Keeping in mind Walton was 14 to 15 years old when he filmed Samaritan, the young actor delivers a fine portrayal, even though I believe his character should have never been the lead of this film had the premise followed the most intriguing route. Pilou Asbæk interprets the antagonist in a convincingly evil fashion, adding some well-needed craziness. With a more refined script, Avery definitely would have been able to make a much better movie.

Final Thoughts

Julius Avery’s Samaritan holds quite an interesting premise, but sadly, it’s yet another addition to the list of films with wasted potential. What could have been a truly dark, fascinating story about two superpowered brothers with distinct views on life is, instead, a bland, predictable, formulaic narrative with less Sylvester Stallone than expected. The cast offers good performances, but choosing to focus on Javon Walton’s generic character when the prologue leaves room for such an engrossing exploration of the past proves to be a terrible decision. Action-wise, it lacks the energy and creativity necessary to entertain most viewers, despite the dedicated stunt work. A tad frustrating experience overall.

Manuel’s Rating: C-
Follow Manuel on Twitter – @msbreviews / Or Letterboxd – @msbreviews

Find more posts: Review, Streaming

Advertisement

Movies News

Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Published

on

By

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).

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

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

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Movies News

Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

Published

on

By

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.

Advertisement

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

Continue Reading

Movies News

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

Published

on

By

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.

Advertisement

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.

Continue Reading

Trending