Cinematic Spillover: Short Reviews of Hobbs & Shaw, Maiden, A Score to Settle and More 

click to enlarge KIKO MARTINEZ
  • Kiko Martinez

Here are a few short reviews of movies that will be released in San Antonio theaters or on VOD platforms August 2.

Hobbs & Shaw

click to enlarge UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Universal Pictures
As much as Dwayne Johnson epitomizes what a testosterone-infused action hero starring in a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster is, the former WWE wrestler has yet to find that one movie that might launch his career into the stratosphere. While someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger had The Terminator series and Sylvester Stallone had the Rambo and Rocky franchises, Johnson hasn’t come across his defining moment yet. And while his character Luke Hobbs breathed much needed life into a dying Fast and Furious franchise for its fifth installment (2011’s Fast Five), the new spin-off movie Hobbs & Shaw won't make a good argument that the revved-up role will get him closer to action-hero godliness. Instead, Hobbs & Shaw is dense and excessively ridiculous. Written by Chris Morgan (he’s penned six of the nine Fast and Furious films and is writing the next one for 2020) and Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3), Hobbs & Shaw follows the title characters (Johnson and Jason Statham) as they track down a highly-infectious virus that can destroy the world. Out to get his hands on the viral weapon, too, is Brixton (Idris Elba), a cyborg villain controlled by a mysterious computer system. At a hefty 135-minutes, time ticks away slowly in a movie that features nothing more than the two main characters busting each other's balls while stuff blows up around them. At least Fast Five had a competent script. As with the other Fast and Furious movies, some of the stunt work is impressive, but it's ultimately a dime-store addition to an already erratic movie franchise. Johnson deserves better, especially after a nearly 20-year movie career. Hobbs & Shaw opens in theaters nationwide August 2.
2 out of 5 stars

Maiden

click to enlarge SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
  • Sony Pictures Classics
As exhilarating as the sports documentary Maiden is, Hollywood needs to step up and adapt this into a feature film starring someone like Maisie Williams (TV’s Game of Thrones) or Florence Pugh (Midsommar) as main character Tracy Edwards. In 1989, Edwards skippered the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. She was also the first woman to be named Yachtsman of the Year. Maiden follows her and her 12-woman crew’s journey as they take on the power of the ocean and the elements and defy everyone who viewed them as irrelevant in the sport. “The ocean’s always trying to kill you,” Edwards says at the start of the film. “It doesn’t take a break.” Through amazing footage from the yacht during the race, first-time feature documentary director Alex Holmes (TV’s House of Saddam) does a fantastic job piecing together Edwards’ personal story of tragedy at a young age and how that translated to her risking her livelihood to prove to everyone she could complete the life-or-death race. Along with the interviews Holmes conducts with many of the women who participated in the race, he also sits down with some of the yachtsmen and male members of the media who ridiculed them during that time. This gives viewers a sense of the kind of difficulty the women were facing. When someone describes their team as a “a tin full of tarts," it only fuels them to push themselves to the limit. Maiden is an inspirational voyage everyone should experience. Maiden opens exclusively at the Santikos Bijou and Cinema Bistro August 2.
3.5 out of 5 stars

A Score to Settle

click to enlarge RLJE FILMS
  • RLJE Films
It’s been an ongoing joke for the last few years that Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) will say yes to just about any movie role that is offered to him. It’s difficult to argue with that assessment when looking as some of the straight-to-VOD trash he’s starred in recently, including titles like Between Worlds, 211 and Looking Glass. Cage, unfortunately, continues his losing streak with A Score to Settle, a third-rate revenge flick that makes revenge flicks like last month’s VOD dud Into the Ashes look like Kill Bill. Cage has done revenge well before with his acid-trippy Mandy last year. In A Score to Settle, he plays Frankie Carver, an ex-con with a sleeping disorder who spends 19 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Now a free man, Frankie goes on a search for the men responsible for his incarceration, but also hopes to mend his relationship with his estranged son Joey (Noah Le Gros). He also has time to fall in love with a prostitute (Karolina Wydra), one of the many relationships that director Shawn Ku (Beautiful Boy) and screenwriter John Newman (Proud Mary) have no idea what to do with. The dialogue is atrocious. We might learn halfway through the movie that Frankie is the one diagnosed with Fatal Sporadic Insomnia, but don’t be surprised if one of the side effects of watching A Score to Settle is increased cognitive impairment. A Score to Settle hits VOD platforms August 2.
1 out of 5 stars

Sword of Trust

click to enlarge IFC FILMS
  • IFC Films
Sword of Trust is a heavily improvised and sharply written dark dramedy that comes up short in the homestretch, but not before delivering a handful of funny and memorable moments. Actor, writer, stand-up comedian and podcast host Marc Maron stars as Mel, a pawn shop owner in Birmingham, Alabama, who locates a conspiracy theorist interested in purchasing an old sword that is said to be proof that the South won the Civil War. On its surface, Sword of Trust is a whip-smart comedy that pokes fun of people who believe the Earth is flat and the existence of a shadow U.S. government. While much of the snarky script is ad-libbed, independent filmmaker Lynn Shelton (Your Sister’s Sister) and co-writer Michael O’Brien (TV’s A.P. Bio) create a structure for the narrative that is deeper and more meaningful than an average satire. The emotional load is lifted by Maron, who expresses some of the most heartfelt and natural dialogue in a movie this year. Shelton’s film might cover revisionist history, but it’s also about the struggle to believe in something — or someone — when conflicting evidence is too convincing to ignore. Still, in Sword of Trust, Maron shows audiences how a little faith can go a long way. Sword of Trust opens exclusively at the Santikos Bijou and Cinema Bistro August 2.
3 out of 5 stars

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