Blindspotting

Wow! I don’t know where the heck Carlos López Estrada‘s Blindspotting came from, but here is one of the best movies of the year. A cinematic firecracker, Blindspotting explodes off the screen, bustling with life and energy. It’s an emotional, raw and wholly unique film, made all the better by the lead performance of Daveed Diggs. Diggs also co-wrote the script with his co-star Rafael Casal, and the two clearly have a palpable chemistry with each other. Diggs is Collin, a convicted felon only days away from ending his probation. All he has to do is stay out of trouble. But that’s easier said than done, because Collin’s best friend Miles (Casal) is a wild card – a violent, volatile hot head who always seems to get Collin in trouble while simultaneously not getting in trouble himself. To make matters worse, Collin witnesses a cop shoot and kill a black man on the streets of Oakland. The murder haunts him, and he finds himself constantly on edge. Blindspotting builds and builds, culminating in a powerful climax that will leave you shaken. Diggs is a revelation here – put him in as many movies as possible, immediately.

Special Features to Note:

A Making Blindspotting featurette kicks-off with a summation of what the film is: two characters realizing the place they thought they knew is changing. At the same time, the movie is tackling important social issues. Producer Jess Calder talks about how she had seen Rafael Casal spoken-word, verse-driven videos, and reached out to him and asked if he wanted to write a movie with verse-driven scenes. Casal and Daveed Diggs were long friends, and the two came together to write the movie. The Oscar Grant shooting – which inspired Fruitvale Station – and Oakland’s reaction to it played a big part in crafting Blindspotting. Carlos López Estrada had directed music videos for Diggs, and was brought on board because he understood the world, and the language, that Casal and Diggs were trying to create. In addition to this featurette, theres also a video diary from director Estrada, giving us a rough, unpolished look at the behind-the-scenes work on the film, including rehearsals.

Special Features Include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • “Straight from the Town: Making Blindspotting” Featurette
  • “Carlos López Estrada: A Director’s Featurette
  • Audio Commentary with Director Carlos López Estrada
  • Audio Commentary with Writers/Actors Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal

The Meg

The Meg is critic-proof, in that this movie was always going to be dumb, and it was always going to attract a crowd. How could it not? It’s about Jason Statham battling a giant prehistoric shark! While there’s plenty of room for smart monster movies – see Jaws or Jurassic Park – Hollywood doesn’t really make those type of films anymore. Instead, they want easily digestible action that will play well both domestically and overseas. And that’s what The Meg is. Is it good? Not really. Is it watchable? Yes. Statham plays a rescue diver who gets called in to help save a team trapped at the bottom of the sea. The team has been trapped by a 75-foot megalodon shark – a shark Statham’s character has had a run-in with once before. From there, the shark goes on the rampage, chomping its way through the seas. The film’s PG-13 rating is unfortunate – some gore would’ve made The Meg a bit more memorable. But that also probably would’ve hurt the box office tally. And we can’t have that, can we?

Special Features to Note:

There are two features here. “Making the Meg” is your standard making-of featurette, in which almost everyone involved with the production talks about how awesome Jason Statham is. Can you blame them?  “I just want to read a script I haven’t read before,” director John Turtletaub says. “It was new for me – it was going to be a challenge.” Turtletaub goes on to add: “You know what’s really fun? Watching Jason Statham!” He’s right. Lorenzo di Bonaventura comments that Statham isn’t an “action hero” in this film, he’s an “adventure hero” – I’ll let you decide what the difference is, because di Bonaventura isn’t really clear. Then there’s “Creating the Beast”, which focuses on the creation of the giant shark. Turtletaub is honest enough to point out that much of imagery in the film wasn’t even invented by him – it was all the art department. For instance, the shot in all the trailers featuring the shark chomping down on the huge glass window while the little girl looks on was created by the art department before the film was even made. He just simply recreated it on screen. As for the shark itself, the effects team wanted to make the fish terrifying, but also graceful. They also didn’t want to make it look like a Great White – the shark so many movie audiences are used to. To differentiate from the Great White, the Meg was given more gills than a shark would normally have, and bumpy, gnarly, brownish skin. In the end, though, you have to admit: it kind of looks like a Great White. 

Special Features Include:

  • Chomp On This: The Making Of The Meg
  • Creating The Beast

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