Tag Archives: Chris McKay

Bloody Good


by Hope Madden and George Wolf

So, two Robot Chicken writers and the guy who directed The Lego Batman Movie got together and said, I bet they’d let us make a movie if we could get Nic Cage to play Dracula.

I mean, maybe it didn’t go down like that, but it could have and if it did, it worked. They totally made a movie with a very saucy Nic Cage as Dracula. And a saucy Nic Cage is the best Nic Cage.

Through inspired cinematic homages, we’re whooshed through a little backstory. Robert Montague Renfield (Nicholas Hoult – who played Cage’s son in Gore Verbinski’s 2005 dramedy The Weather Man) is an ambitious real estate agent who sells his soul to Dracula. Fast forward 150 years or so and he’s grown weary of the co-dependent relationship.

The blood sucker’s insatiable appetite means that his reluctant manservant is forever finding a new place for them to lay low. Right now, it’s New Orleans, where an angry cop (Awkwafina) is fighting a losing battle with a corrupt city.

But enough about the story. Honestly, if you’re here for the story, you’ve come to the wrong place. Not that co-writers Ryan Ridley and Robert Kirkman do a poor job. They do a fine job of serving Cage opportunities to ham it up, while director Chris McKay wows with Story of Ricky levels of carnage, except here it’s intentionally funny.

And the blood-splatter here is much more accomplished then Ricky, as it’s woven through a spicy gumbo of action set pieces that mix Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead with a dash of Matrix. But as fun as this all often is, the film never fully commits to any of its multiple directions.

There’s at least one bloody toe in waters that send up rom-coms, satirize narcissistic relationships and homage a classic horror character while it’s also modernizing the themes that built him.

But experiencing Count Nicula alone is worth it. Plus, Hoult is perfect as the put-upon sad boy with access to anti-hero superpowers and Awkwafina can wring plenty of humor from simply telling a guy named Kyle to F-off.

Renfield might be bloodier than you expect, but it’s just as much fun as you’re hoping for. Call it bloody good fun.

Fighting for the Future

The Tomorrow War

by Hope Madden

With a prelude this reminiscent of Edge of Tomorrow and a catalyst that recalls Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, The Tomorrow War makes itself clear early. This is not going to be a terribly original movie.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is a high school science teacher who believes he was destined for more important things. His opportunity arrives when future earthlings show up to recruit present-day earthlings to fight a battle against the end of the human race.

Some important questions to answer. What is going to be the end of us?


Do we get to see them?

Yes! Early and often.

How do they look?

Nasty as hell! Dude, the teeth and these tentacle things—nice!

And finally, why is this movie so long?

While there is no clear answer to that, it appears that director Chris McKay is a big fan of Roland Emmerich, Michael Bay, maybe Stephen Sommers. The film emits a throwback vibe, conjuring popcorn munchers of the late 90s—which is about the era when self-indulgent directors started making 2 ½ hour mindless Sci-Fi.

That’s not all bad, right? The film’s logic may be a bit sketchy, but its professed love of science makes up for a lot of that. Naturally, there are also syrupy family dramatics to drive the narrative, because we all remember Emmerich’s 1996 epic Independence Day.

Also, while many of the internal action sequences feel theme-park stagey, the outdoor set pieces are a blast.

Films like this don’t call for master thespians. Good thing, because Pratt, who also executive produces, doesn’t bring any real depth of emotion to the role. Luckily, J.K. Simmons cannot give a weak performance, so the bruised masculinity and daddy issues have somewhere to take root.   

Lose an hour and The Tomorrow War is a pretty fun time-waster, but nothing more. Writer Zach Dean doesn’t say anything new and McKay certainly doesn’t find any fresh ways to say it. But if you miss the bloated, 2+hour action/adventure flicks of the late 1990s, The Tomorrow War is your movie.