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Second Nature (2016)

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Second Nature

SumSecond Naturemary

A woman and man compete in an unusual race for mayor when gender roles magically reverse.

Genre : Comedy
Country : USA

Cast :
Collette Wolfe : Amanda
Sam Huntington : Bret
Riley Shanahan : Dex

Director :
Michael Cross

My opinion on “Second Nature”

“Behind every great woman, there is a man …
staring at her ass.”

Remember Mel Gibson in “What women want” where you could see him experimenting with cosmetics and nylons just so he could relate to the female emotional landscape? I admit it. I always watch this movie when I come across it on a tv-channel. I guess it’s one of my guilty pleasure. It’s not entirely identical to the concept of “Second nature“, but the film also tries to show how different women and men think about certain things. Mel Gibson had the privilege in this movie to capture the thoughts of women surrounding him and use it to his advantage. Well, maybe it was the concept that attracted me and the usefulness I saw in it as a man. Or perhaps it was due to the presence of the attractive actress Helen Hunt. In “Second nature“, it’s a complete community where the personalities of women and men are being exchanged. Except the main players. They are being spared and retain their typical characteristics. What makes for hilarious conditions again. At least that should be the intention. However, there’s not much hilarity to be seen in this “Switch“-like pseudo comedy.

Second Nature

Really? A time capsule?.

Amanda (Collette Wolfe) tells her grandmother Estelle (Carolyn Cox) about the sexist behavior of her boss Bret (Sam Huntington) and the way she’s being judged by the male community. Estelle knows a redeeming idea. Before you know it, the two are digging for a time capsule in a meadow (Who came with that idea?). To Amanda’s astonishment the capsule contains, besides a giant dildo (uncontrolable laughter), a magic mirror that apparently could change her life. Don’t expect a detailed explanation about this. No clue how Amanda’s in-earlier-days-sexually-highly-active grandmother got it and what happened to her. Better this way. Otherwise the movie would take even longer.

Second Nature

Women behave like men. Men behave like women.

When the ruling mayor subsequently drives of a rock (fellatio-wise), Bret and Amanda are candidates for the vacant position. Bret has the most chance of getting this privileged position as he, as future mayor, will make sure that Louisburg will have plenty of strip bars and bars where lascivious, big-breasted servants serve the always horny male population. While Amanda is being laughed at because of her safety-suggestions and other less impressive slogans. Until the darned mirror shows its force at a political meeting (apparently Amanda carries this antique trinket with her everywhere) and suddenly the chances of Amanda look quite promising. The magic mirror causes women to behave like men. While men suddenly inherit the characteristics of the women.

Second Nature

Caution : Woman-Hole!

What follows is a string of faint allusions to the exchange of male and female characteristics. Men are insecure, sensitive people who aren’t afraid of using make-up now and then and who are being harassed by men-hungry women. And those women are suddenly individuals who are taking a leak while standing upright, make lewd, sexist remarks and as street workers make a pass at guys who walk by (while standing next to a warning sign that says “Caution: woman-hole!”. How subtle). The used humor isn’t really rude, but after a while you know which message they are trying to convey.

Second Nature

I feel sorry for the opposite sex.

Indeed, it’s true that women are treated unfriendly by society. Their opinion isn’t asked for sometimes. Or even heard to. And sometimes they are simply ignored. On the other hand, I feel a little bit insulted because it’s as if all men are sexist, butt slapping, unhygienic pigs whose brain is in their pants and who treat women disrespectful. Sorry, but I don’t think I match that profile.

Second Nature

It’s my feminine side. I’m doubting.

Is it really such a bad movie? No, I wouldn’t call it bad. Maybe the movie isn’t really funny (maybe I don’t have a sense of humor), but the interaction between Collette Wolfe and Sam Huntington felt natural and was amusing. It’s because of their enthusiasm that I kept watching. And some situations were ludicrous because of the recognisability. Like the toilet scene, for example. And in retrospect, the transformation of Dex Gamble (Riley Shanahan) was also quite funny in a certain way. Well, I’m sure if I keep thinking about it, I’m going to say it’s a fun movie. Is it possible that the small amount of female hormones in my body, cause this indecision? One advice, watch it yourself and decide on your own!

My rating 5/10
Links : IMDB

Comedy

Happiest Season Review

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It’s that time of year again, and even though its only November, Christmas movies are starting to be released as everyone puts up their tree and starts counting down the days. Now I’m not normally a fan of Christmas films nor am I really fan of rom-coms either, so, as you can imagine, I was very pleasantly surprised by how good Happiest Season is and by how much heart this film has.

Happiest Season follows Abby (Kristen Stewart) who plans to propose to her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) on Christmas at her parents’ annual holiday party but things don’t quite go to plan when Abby learns that Harper hasn’t come out yet to her parents. Abby and Harper have to pretend to just be friends to Harper’s family which creates problems for the couple.

The whole film is full of charm and joy but it also contains a lot of substance, which is very refreshing for a Christmas rom-com. At the film’s heart is Abby and Harper’s relationship, perfectly captured by the performances from Stewart and Davis. Stewart shows the frustration she feels about keeping Harper’s secret so well and she manages to shine in both the comedic scenes but also in the dramatic and sensitive scenes as well. Davis is very good too, but it does feel much more like Abby’s film than Harper’s. Whilst the film is anchored by Stewart and Davis, the supporting cast is filled with great actors; Alison Brie is so much fun as Harper’s older sister Sloane and Schitt’s Creek’s Daniel Levy is on great form as Abby’s best friend John. Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber also shine and provide lots more heart and laughter to the film.

As well as the impressive cast, the writing from Clea DuVall (who also directed) is really good too, with the film providing so many great quotable moments and many moments that made me laugh out loud. But the film also feels really tender and human as well and DuVall manages to juggle the comedic and sensitive scenes of the film really well and she handles the lesbian relationship at the film’s centre very well. Happiest Season can definitely join the list of fun, worthy Christmas rom-coms.

It’s just a lovely film and you can’t help but smile and laugh along with which is just what you’d expect from a nice straightforward Christmas film but Happiest Season has much more to offer than that as it grapples with ideas about sexuality and acceptance and family, thus creating a film with a lot of meaning and a lot of heart. For the first half of the film, it did feel a little bit generic and there was nothing too special about it as it shifts between some rather OTT comedy and trying to set up some really emotional and sincere moments but it was in the final act where the film really hit the mark and it really went somewhere and achieved something really strong and powerful.

Overall, Happiest Season is a nice, fun Christmas film with heartfelt performances and a great message that leaves you with that warm, bubbly feeling that you expect from a Christmas film.

3.5/5

Happiest Season is available on Hulu or available to rent or buy in many other countries now.

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Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula Review

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After 2016’s hit Train to Busan wowed audiences around the world, the highly-anticipated sequel has finally arrived, and it doesn’t disappoint. Whilst it’s not quite as sharp as the first film, it still very entertaining and there’s still plenty of great zombie action to keep you engaged.

Peninsula is set 4 years after the zombie outbreak and after the first film. It’s a standalone sequel so you don’t need to have seen Train to Busan– although you really should seek it out because it’s great and it’s probably the best zombie films ever made by someone other than George A. Romero. Peninsula follows soldier Jung-seok played by Gang Dong-Won who receives an enticing offer to return to the quarantined peninsula to retrieve an abandoned truck filled with money. The mission goes wrong and Jung-seok and his friend get ambushed by a mysterious militia called Unit 631. All sorts of zombie chaos arise as Jung-seok must find a way to escape the peninsula once and for all.

Let me get straight out there and answer the question that’s on the minds of all Train to Busan fans, “Is Peninsula as good as the first film?”. No. Peninsula is definitely a step down from Train to Busan but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, far from it. The 2016 film had set the bar so high that it was very unlikely that Peninsula would be better. Train to Busan is one of my favourite zombie films of all time and whilst Peninsula isn’t as good, I still had a great time with it and thought it was very good.

The sequel definitely isn’t as sharp as the first one and it does suffer a bit from sequelitis as it feels like it must be bigger and bolder than its predecessor when, in fact, it doesn’t need to be. Train to Busan had lots of great zombie action scenes as well as scares but it was also very character-driven and had much more to it than zombies and blood. That’s where Peninsula falls down unfortunately. Whilst this isn’t a problem if you just want to watch an entertaining zombie film, the film is slightly disappointing if you were hoping it to be on the same level as Train to Busan. It gets a bit ridiculous in some of the action scenes, particularly in the final act, with it almost turning into a Fast & Furious film; perhaps a more appropriate title for it would have been 2 Train 2 Busan.

Saying that, the film doesn’t need to be compared to its predecessor. If you don’t expect it to be as good as the first film, you’ll have a great time with it. I definitely preferred Peninsula to the 2016 animated prequel Seoul Station and even on its own, I really enjoyed Peninsula and was very entertained by all the great action scenes. The film goes all out on trying to up the spectacle on the first film and if, like me, you love some good zombie mayhem there’s no reason you won’t really enjoy it. There’s action throughout and even though it’s more cartoonish this time around, it’s really good entertainment and great fun.

Overall, Peninsula isn’t as tight a film as Train to Busan but that’s alright, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with the zombies here and I had a thrilling time and it’s probably one of the best zombie films since its predecessor.

4/5

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula will have limited cinema screenings due to cinema closures but it will be available on digital download from November 23rd and on all other formats from November 30th in the U.K.

 

 

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FrightFest 2020 Review: Don’t Look Back

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For the second time in 2020, the Arrow Video FrightFest has gone online after cancelling the physical event that was planned to take place in Leicester Square from October 21-25. Despite not being in person, FrightFest still has plenty of films and scares to be had.

Don’t Look Back is the directorial debut from Jeffrey Reddick who’s best known for creating the Final Destination film franchise. Reddick’s directorial debut has many similarities to Final Destination; in Final Destination, we see a group of people cheat death and so death comes for them. In Don’t Look Back, it’s karma that comes to kill them. Despite the similarities, Reddick manages to show that he’s got a lot to offer in the director’s chair.

Don’t Look Back follows a young woman called Caitlin, played by Kourtney Bell, who is still overcoming her traumatic past when she, and a few others, witness a man being attacked in the park and none of them do anything to stop the attack. The witnesses including Caitlin then start getting targeted by someone, or something out for revenge.

The film begins with phone-footage of witnesses watching people being attacked. Instantly the film starts to make you question what you would do in these situations and if you would just stand and watch or would you be the one to intervene and to help the victims?

Don’t Look Back gets straight into it as very early on we get a scene that gets straight into the action and sets up the trauma that Caitlin then experiences for the rest of the film. Whilst the films does get straight into it at the start, it does go a little quiet for some time. One slightly disappointing thing about the film, particularly when compared to Final Destination, is that there are very few scares in this film. There isn’t much blood or gore or actual horror to it which is a shame, but the film is still entertaining without any of that.

The film plays a lot on the idea of karma ad it’s an interesting concept to play about with although at times it can be a little too on the nose. Sometimes all of this, in particular the film’s opening, and the idea of karma is just waved in the audience’s face far too explicitly and perhaps a slightly more subtle approach would have been better.

Overall, whilst Don’t Look Back isn’t anything too exciting or different and it could do with a few more scares, it’s not bad and fans of Final Destination will definitely enjoy it and have a good time with the film.

2.5/5

Don’t Look Back is in cinemas and available on-demand in the US now

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