Dog’s Movie House: “Upgrade” and Other Movies This Week!
Howdy Folks! It’s The Kendog with reviews of “Ugrade” and “Action Point”
Looks like Hollywood is taking a week off from the summer tent pole blockbuster fare that permeated May. This week we have a couple of new releases including Johnny Knoxville’s latest and an interesting film called “Upgrade.”
Let’s start with the disappointment that is “Action Point.” A few years back Johnny Knoxville successfully combined his signature “Jackass” stunt work into a cohesive narrative and came up with the massively funny yet absurdly touching “Bad Grandpa.” It featured the usual violent gags but bolstered the work with a emotional story about a man trying to get in touch with his grandson. It made mad money and, sure enough, Knoxville and his crew give it another go with “Action Point” a tale about a man, his daughter, and the most appallingly dangerous theme park on the planet. The film starts with Knoxville in “Grandpa” mode as he recalls to his granddaughter about the time he ran a theme park known as Action Point. Loosely modeled after a similar park called Action Park, this place is run down, filled with underage drinkers and rides that make the attractions at the State Fair look like Disney miracles. J.C. (Knoxville) the proprietor of the park, is under siege from a land developer named Knoblach (Dan Bakkedahl) who is trying to buy Action Point for his own purposes. Also compounding matters is the fact a new, more advanced park is taking away customers and the arrival of J.C.’s daughter Boogie (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) just stirs the pot even more. J.C. tries to compete by removing all the safety restrictions from the rides (not that there were many to begin with) to compete and pay his loan.
This movie is a friggin’ mess! The main problem is that it’s boring, with too few sight gags and too many bad jokes masquerading as character development. The side plot with J.C. getting to know his daughter provides some good drama, but those scenes belong in a different film. All of the damn funny stuff is in the trailer, so if you’ve seen the preview, you’ve seen the best parts of the movie! Your welcome! 2 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer!
On the plus side we have “Upgrade” a gritty little sci-fi thriller from writer-director Leigh Whannel (Saw). In the near future, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is something of a Luddite, rejecting technological advances in favor of regular manual labor. His wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) works for a tech company, so the two balance each other out. One night their auto-driving car malfunctions and they end up not only crashing, but being assaulted by a team of cybernetically enhanced criminals. Asha is killed and Grey is paralyzed, living in a funk for months until a former customer and computer genius offers him a chance to walk again with special implant technology called STEM. Grey accepts and soon finds himself searching for the killers of his wife. You see, STEM has a voice and modified battle programming that Grey can access at his command. Grey can not only move, but can also fight like Jackie Chan. As he hunts down the killers of his wife, Grey discovers that things aren’t at all what they seem.
“Upgrade” barrows from several classic movies, but manages to combine them into something that feels fresh and new. The fight scenes are great as Marshall-Green does a terrific job of fighting like he’s no longer completely in control of his body. It makes the fight scenes cool and funny at the same time. The acting is uniformly good, with Marshall-Green and Simon Maiden as the voice of STEM being the standouts. Despite being a low budget production, “Upgrade” manages to look like a high gloss affair, with the tech being displayed being both incredible and understated at the same time. It earns its “R” Rating but if you don’t mind a little shocking violence in your science fiction, “Upgrade” is going to be perfect for you. 4 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!