Quick Reviews: 'Knock At The Cabin', 'Plane' | M. Night Shyamalan's Apocalypse, Gerard Butler Lands
KNOCK AT THE CABIN
Don't go in the woods. Wait, is it that? Well, we are in the middle of nowhere after all so it doesn't matter if you call the movie that or Knock At The Cabin, as director M. Night Shyamalan does. Adapted by Shyamalan with co-writers Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman from Paul G. Tremblay's novel 'The Cabin At The End Of The World', the film follows a family of three, Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their daughter Wen (Kristen Cui), who are on a vacation at a cabin. Their plans change soon as four random strangers, Leonard (Dave Bautista), Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), Redmond (Rupert Grint) and Adriane (Abby Quinn), show up on their doorstep and ask the family to prevent an apocalypse by making a cruel choice.
Fans of Shyamalan's more acclaimed work might struggle a little bit as the film avoids the kinds of twists you'd expect, though fortunately that leaves room for the writing to really use oppressiveness as a catalyst. For the first hour especially, ''Cabin'' is purposefully mean and angsty which compliments characters' mental struggles as the two groups' divide is so apparent. The entire cast feeds off that energy really well, Bautista serving as a catalyst of his own as he impressively uses his body as a shield while his eyes communicate Leonard's lost hope, while Aldridge and Groff have good chemistry as their characters' divide also grows as the movie moves along.
Only the ending and what leads up to it feels like Shyamalan taking his foot off the gas. It feels a little too pretty, too polished considering the mean tone earlier and main characters are designed to do really dumb things when the film is trying to be smart all the way through. The terror and uncertainty asked us to lean in so a breath of fresh air then seems false. Let us experience the end of the world.
Smileys: Dave Bautista, atmosphere
Planes, slay, automobiles. I know, I know, we all like to have fun with outrageously bad movie titles since often they indicate trouble but what if sometimes you just need a plane, jungle and some guy who becomes an action star? Plane and simple. Directed by Jean-François Richet and written by Charles Cumming and J.P. Davis, action thriller Plane isn't here for a great time but it for sure is here for fun. Gerard Butler stars as Brodie Torrance, a former army pilot and current commercial pilot with an AI-generated name who is flying a plane from Singapore to Honolulu. Carrying the captured fugitive Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter) as well as plenty of aspiring tourists, Brodie soon has to make an emergency landing in a dangerous territory in Indonesia, controlled by separatists and extremists.
Let's cut to the chase: Plane won't get points for originality, inventiveness or technical expertise but it does enough things right and enough above average for a movie of this size. Occasionally you have to get over some cringeworthy moments intended to provide depth for Brodie as a character—often featuring his family and extremely dumb dialogue—in order to get back to the basics like getting out of this territory.
Excluding boring shootouts, the movie's action scenes are so simple that they end up working well for simple characters involved in them. Some of the hand-to-hand rampage is entertaining, problems with the plane in the beginning and at the end feature surprisingly solid visual effects considering the budget and Brodie and Louis act smart just as often as they're ready to act stupidly. Get rid of some outgoing calls and scenes away from the island and this is 85 minutes of fun and trashy cinema, baby! Up, up and away!
Smileys: Stunt choreography, VFX