Serenity (2019) Recap

Jamie

Baker Dill is a simple charter boat captain on Plymouth Island trying to make a living. When his ex-wife shows up wanting him to kill her new, abusive husband for the sake of their child he has a choice to make… but that’s not the craziest thing about this film. Oh no. Can he stop the abusive husband (and reunite with his son… sorta), before it’s too late? Find out in… Serenity.

How?! Baker Dill, a charter boat captain on Plymouth Island, just wants to make a buck and catch Justice, the giant Tuna that has evaded capture for as long as he can remember. This obsession with the fish is turning business bad, but things only get worse when his ex-wife, Karen, shows up begging him to save her and their son Patrick from her abusive husband Frank. You see, she has convinced Frank to go on a fishing trip with Baker and she wants him to get him drunk and toss him overboard. But Baker is hesitant and tries his darndest to get out of it, even while Frank proves over and over to be worthy of killing. At the same time Baker is getting the weird feeling that he is somehow communicating with his son which is confirmed when a strange man reveals that in fact everything we are watching is occuring in an AI built video game that his genius son has created (what a twist!). As long as the game sticks to the rules of catching fish then Frank can’t die. Overcome by this earth-shattering totally logical revelation, Baker goes on a drinking binge all while the game continually throws roadblock after roadblock in front of him trying to prevent him from killing Frank. Unfortunately for the game Baker isn’t one to be daunted and realizing his role in the plan takes Frank out on the fateful fishing trip and when Justice takes a nibble on the line lets a totally wasted Frank take the reel and gets pulled to the bottom of the ocean. Here, faithful viewers, we are informed that Patrick has killed Frank in real life. He then uses his beautiful mind to rework the game so that he and his dad can spend time together. Hooray! THE END. Big Question: Is Patrick coding the game or is the AI just kinda making it up as it goes along… or is this all nonsense?

Why?! There is a little play on the classic MacGuffin here, as Baker Dill’s whole purpose in life is seemingly to catch an impossibly huge Tuna named Justice. They kinda turn it on its head, though, as they acknowledge that this is simply an arbitrary goal of the game and has no real meaning. In the end the motivation is for Patrick to kill his abusive stepfather, which is played out by the AI McConaughey character letting Justice drag him into the sea. Ya dig?

Who?! Actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim promoted the film a bit and clearly had a role in it, but ended up with a “special thanks” credit. Interesting, as we’ve even seen in other films where actors are cut they usually just go uncredited on IMDb. At least they acknowledged him, I guess, despite that fact that he did not ultimately appear in it.

What?! Now this is what I live for. There are several scenes in the film where people are drinking beer from Phoenix Brewery, as well as some coasters bearing its logo. This is a brewery on Mauritius… so like… how does the film not take place on the real island of Mauritius? Or did the AI machine in Patrick’s computer decide that that beer would also be brewed on Plymouth Island. Riddle me that, Patrick?

Where?! Clearly takes place on the imaginary island of Plymouth. Likely the island is a fake former French colony in the Caribbean (given some connections to Miami) and is perhaps modelled after Montserrat, whose capital, Plymouth, became a ghost town due to a volcanic eruption. In reality this is all made up and the entire film takes place in Miami where Patrick lives and codes on his sweet ‘puter. Uh… I don’t know. I guess it’s an A despite being fake.

When?! Time and space are not really a thing in the film as explained above. It can be whatever time the little boy genius wants it to be. Perhaps even the entire film takes place in the moments before he kills his stepfather. Perchance it all occurs in the beat of a butterfly’s wings. Deep, man. Deep. F.

I can’t believe they actually got huge movie stars to sign onto Serenity. It thinks it’s way smarter than it actually is and does the “nothing in this film is real or matters” so hard that you just kinda have to laugh at it. It’s real weird though, which is a plus I guess. It really went for it and was interesting. Particularly Anne Hathaway… I feel like she must be in on the joke, but she is acting so hard that it’s difficult to tell. For the Bring a Friend, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is astonishing. It’s the lowest budget, lowest quality major horror franchise film I’ve ever seen. The beginning is so horrible that I would have probably turned it off if I wasn’t obligated to watch the entire thing. Strangely it’s revealed near the end that the (new) motivation of the family is their part in a large illuminati type conspiracy cult where the fear the family instills in its victims is part of what gives the group its power… It’s like a mini Cabin in the Woods and if you just read the concept you might even say it’s interesting. But it’s just a cheap, terrible rip-off of the original so you can’t really say that. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I remember watching Serenity in theaters, it was in New York City with my bro- … huh? This is a different Serenity? Like they just reused the same name? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t know much about the film going it beyond that it was a huge bomb with big stars. If you watch the trailer before watching the film you should be able to figure out the twist … which maybe suggests it isn’t really a twist? Something to chew on when analyzing things. What are my expectations? I was just hoping it wasn’t boring. I don’t really like noir films to be honest. They kind of stress me out because I end up getting frustrated when I can’t untangle the plot.

The Good – Honestly, I liked this film more than I should have. I think it is because the twist is so very obvious that I no longer got stressed about figuring things out … I had already figured out the important bit. Everything else, indeed, turned out to be rather straightforward. I do wonder whether the director thought the twist was good and so he hid it from critics, and once they realized it was bad they put it into trailers hoping people would just enjoy the ride. Well guess what? I enjoyed the ride. The film’s twist is trash, but the acting and visuals are good. Which at least made it not boring to me.

The Bad – The twist is awful, and it ends up really being the entire film. There is no other point to the film beyond the twist. Sadly I actually find the plot pretty interesting, but then if you didn’t have the twist it would be the worst noir ever made (like … a guy’s ex-wife hires her ex-husband to kill he husband and he does … the end). So you end up being stuck between a bad twist and a bad noir … and they chose the bad twist. I think they made the right choice though, the film would have been unwatchable if the ending was just him getting $10 million and seeing his son again.

The BMT – As a tropical noir I think it’ll be remembered if that niche genre ever crops up again. Otherwise, again it will only be notable for its we-all-live-in-a-game twist which I can definitely see being reused in the future. Those are the only two reasons I can think for ever revisiting the film, I have no intention of recommending it to anyone. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, but because I kind of ignored the twist and enjoyed the very straightforward noir plot for what it was. I doubt very many people would get much out of this film if they even remotely like noir though.

Roast-radamus – I think this has a really really interesting Setting as a Character (Where?) in that the setting is the fictional Plymouth Island and is almost literally a character in the film. I’ll throw in Worst Twist (How?) as well since it is much maligned. I agree that it is dumb … but I still didn’t mind it all that much. It has an ubbelivable MacGuffin (What?) … almost a MacGuffin as a Character in the shape of a large tuna that McConaughey can’t seem to catch. I think it’ll sneak into BMT Live! as well, although I don’t think it’ll win when we vote.

StreetCreditReport.com – This is probably the most well known of the big bombs that came out this year, mainly because it has a bunch of those Big Targets that people like to take aim at (not to say the film doesn’t deserve it, but this is the type of film that if you didn’t want to watch bad movies you could write a hell of a lot about without having seen it given how notable the cast is). But it also has some of that real cred, is it is 12th on the AV Club list. It manages to appear on the Variety list as well. And the Hollywood Reporter! See? People can’t help but hate this film, it is just too tempting!

You Just Got Schooled – I needed a place to put my review of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, so you’re going to get that and the Bring a Friend analysis below. Now, fans of the franchise seem to either hail this as a hilarious send up of the first, or a travesty which besmirches the franchise’s good name. Surprisingly, I lean more towards the former. I am no one to promote horror-comedy, far too many end up being not very good comedies or horror films in the end. This is no different really, it is a terrible horror film. But there is just enough fun over-the-top nonsense to entertain me. I actually think this is one of the best horror film follow-ups to a classic I’ve seen. Rehashing the films never work, this at least gave you a bigger, badder version of what you liked in the first place (which necessitated a level of comedy). A solid B from me, I kind of wish the series had gone a bit more in this direction, at least it had interesting bad guys.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Ah, you might have been wondering why I’ve been reviewing four Texas Chainsaw Massacre films during the recap of Serenity. And here it is, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. You know … that horror classic starring Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger (wait … wow, yeah it does). So we get to see the original McConaughey, and now the risen-from-the-ashes hot-off-the-presses McConaughey … they’re kind of the same, it is amazing how this man ages. The film itself is awful. A remake of the original, but somehow people forgot how to make horror films using no money? Hint: it isn’t just by filling an old house with garbage and having a guy moan with a mask on. There is actually more to it. Like having interesting bad guys, or interesting good guys, or people without robot legs. The film is straight up dog poo in my face, I can’t believe they released it to theaters! F, how dare you make this and besmirch the good name of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. How daaaaaare you.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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