Tag Archives: C

SPY INTERVENTION

Producers: Sunil Perkash, Ryan R. Johnson, Martin Sprock, Anil Yadav and Akaash Yadav         Director: Drew Mylrea   Screenplay: Mark Famiglietti and Lane Garrison   Cast: Drew Van Acker, Poppy Delevingne, Natasha Bassett, Max Silvestri, Brittany Furlan, Blake Anderson, Winslow Bright, Dave Sheridan, Lane Garrison, Brian Sacca, Migs Govea and Akaash Yadav   Distributor: Cinedigm

Grade:  C-

There’s the germ of an amusing idea in “Spy Intervention,” but the makers have managed to squelch whatever potential it had.   

A romantic comedy set in the world of espionage, it centers on Corey (Drew Van Acker), a handsome agent working with a partner called Smuts (Blake Anderson).  They’ve been a highly successful pair, but in a new mission Corey meets, and falls for Pam (Poppy Delevingne), a pretty store clerk.  So taken is he that he chucks the spy game altogether and settles into a normal suburban life, taking a humdrum job as a box salesman and trying to fit in with his lower-middle-class office colleagues. 

Naturally he becomes disenchanted with his new life, and Smuts, who thinks he’d made a mistake anyway, arranges for an intervention—Corey’s given an offer: come in for one mission and if, after he’s handled it, he still wants to return to suburbia, that will be it.

The catch is that in order to trap Egan (Max Silvestri), the villain who’s purloined some unspecified WMD, Corey will have to pretend to be married to luscious seductress Alexandria (Natasha Bassett).  Naturally Pam, prompted by her voluble, snarky store colleague Brianna (Britanny Furlan), will become suspicious of where her husband is spending all his extra time, and everything comes together at a party Pam’s hosting for their friends.    

“Spy Intervention” is obviously a modestly-budgeted picture—a fact exhibited in Rob Ebeltoft’s production design—but cinematographer Danny Grunes takes advantage of some New York locations and generally gives the images a glossy look.  There’s a lot of dancing in the movie, too, and Jules Bakshi’s choreography deserves notice, although the moves are sometimes more creepy than attractive.

As to the cast, Van Acker gets to show off his physique to good advantage, but overall his performance consists largely of smug smiles and preening.  Delevingne is a little pallid, but Bassett and Furlan make up for that with over-the-top turns.  Anderson’s supposed to be hilarious, but falls far short of that.  Drew Mylrea’s direction seems rather permissive and lackadaisical, and his editing is little better, while Roger Suen’s score is overly insistent.

In the end, “Spy Intervention” is undermined by the fact that the espionage component never generates the slightest hint of genuine danger, and the romantic element is contrived and obvious.  It’s the sort of mediocre effort that would fit snugly into the playlist of a streaming service, but it’s woefully out of place in theatres. 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

Producers: Neal H. Moritz, Toby Ascher, Toru Nakahara and Takeshi Ito   Director: Jeff Fowler   Screenplay: Pat Casey and Josh Miller   Cast: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub, Adam Pally, Natasha Rothwell, Neal McDonough and Frank C. Turner   Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Grade:  C

If you’ve been longing for Jim Carrey to go back to his supremely goody roots—the days of “In Living Color” and “Ace Ventura”—you might check out this long-gestating live-action feature based on the video-game phenomenon that began in 1991 and has since run through animated TV series and comic books.  As the villain of the piece, a super-arrogant scientist called Robotnik, he hearkens  back to the weird, wild, manic moves of his breakout period, and the nostalgia factor works to his benefit.

He’s certainly the best thing in the movie, which is otherwise pretty standard “family” fare in the low-rent “E.T.” mode.  Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) is a speedy blue hedgehog from another world who’s been spirited to earth by his protector, a wise owl, to escape his enemies.  Carrying a bag of magic rings that can take him to other realms if necessary, he’s settled outside the small Utah town of Green Hills where he’s become a keen observer of the locals, most notably police chief Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), a nice fellow who’s applied for a job with the force in San Francisco, and his supportive wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter), a veterinarian. 

All is well—except for one cranky old coot, Crazy Carl (Frank C. Turner), who swears Sonic exists—until Sonic causes a massive power outage that brings in the feds to investigate, chief among them the intense Robotnik, a scientific genius, and his put-upon assistant (Lee Majdoub).  By the time Robotnik uses his tracking devices to isolate Sonic’s location, the blue alien has made friends with Tom, who agrees to drive him to the San Francisco skyscraper atop which—for reasons that won’t be explained here—the creature’s bag of rings has wound up.  Naturally Robotnik is in close pursuit.

The adventures the duo have along the way are pretty much of the pro-forma variety, the most notable being a protracted stay at a western-themed bar which, to no one’s surprise, turns into a big brawl.  Much of the rest of the picture consists of sequences in which they evade Robotnik, who along the way becomes obsessed with siphoning off Sonic’s power so that he can use it to conquer the world, or something,  Naturally it all winds up with a major battle in the streets of San Francisco and a happy ending back in Green Hills, where the population is happy to welcome back both Tom and Sonic. 

Schwartz’s energy can get a mite excessive at times, and Marsden seems a little tired, which is understandable since he went through much the same sort of stuff with “Hop” back in 2011, playing against a CGI character (perhaps he should have a talk with his agent).  But Carrey turns up periodically to enliven things with his over-the-top shtick.  Sumpter is fine, though a curious subplot involving her sister (Natasha Rothwell), who has an obsessive dislike of Tom and insists that Maddie should divorce him (occasioned, perhaps, by the fact that she seems to be a single mom herself) comes out of left field.  Majdoub gets a few decent moments as Robotnik’s put-upon right hand man, and Adam Pally does his best with the stock  part of Tom’s befuddled deputy.

The animation in “Sonic” is adequate if hardly cutting-edge, and the same can be said of the effects in general.   Otherwise the technical aspects of the picture are okay, though Stephen F. Windon’s camerawork can be glaring at times.

Nonetheless except for Carrey’s nutty exuberance, “Sonic” offers little even the smallest kids won’t have seen before, and certainly nothing their parents will find particularly amusing—though one can note with approval that at least it doesn’t include any songs.