The Sci-Fi Gene: Bearing All [Reviews: Cocaine Bear and Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood And Honey]

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While all the bear stuff is happening on all the social
medias (#TeamBear) this is a good time to retrospectively review two bearsploitation
movies released in 2023.

Cocaine Bear (2023), directed by Elizabeth Banks, is loosely
based on a real incident in 1985, where a bear found and ate cocaine that had
been dropped from a smuggler’s plane.

The movie tells the story of some tourists, a mother, daughter
and friend, a park ranger and a wildlife campaigner, some wannabe criminals and
some serious criminals who all converge on a forested national park. Into the mix
is added the missing cocaine and the bear that finds it. In real life there is
no evidence that the bear harmed anyone. In the movie this is not the case and
there are several gory fatalities. However this is a character-driven story
rather than a bloodbath for its own sake.

The bear is also a character. Early scenes show the effects
of the drug – one minute the bear is aggressively focussed on hunting tourists,
the next it is happily distracted by a butterfly. As the movie continues we
learn a little more about the bear’s background and can empathise with it –
this is particularly true of the final act.

Overall this is a unique, enjoyable movie with an excellent,
witty and thoughtful script and great performances from all of the ensemble cast,
and I would recommend it to fans of horror, comedy, action and bears.

Score: Three stars out of five.

All movies reviewed on The Sci-Fi Gene blog are awarded
three stars out of five.

Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood And Honey (2023), directed by Rhys
Frake-Waterfield, is one of a new crop of copyrightsploitation movies taking
advantage of the fact that many classic books are now out of copyright. Other recent
examples of this genre include Mad Heidi (2022) and Mickey’s Mouse Trap (2024).

The entirely reasonable premise of this movie is that
Winnie-The-Pooh and Piglet, abandoned by Christopher Robin when he grew up and
went to medical school, have become violent, sadistic killers. They take
revenge on CR and his fiancée Mary when they return to the Wood try to find CR’s
childhood friends, but also go on an indiscriminate killing spree, attacking a
group of students holidaying in a cabin. There is blood. Honey, too, but mostly
blood to be fair.

The copyright-busting movie genre has its interesting
quirks. It is A.A.Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh books that have come out of copyright
– the Disney movie version is still protected. So there is nothing to stop a
filmmaker presenting Pooh as a serial killer, but he cannot legally be shown
wearing a red T-shirt (instead he wears a redneck-style lumberjack shirt). To
make it even clearer that this is the book Pooh not the Disney Pooh, the movie
starts with an animated introduction very much in the style of the original
E.H.Shepard illustrations.

The genre is also growing fast – there is a sequel, Blood
And Honey 2, out this year, and further films in the Poohniverse or Twisted
Childhood Universe are in the pipeline, including Poohniverse: Monsters
Assemble which will feature Pooh alongside twisted literary versions of Bambi,
Pinocchio and Peter Pan. Meanwhile the first version of Mickey Mouse, as seen
in Steamboat Willie, is now unprotected hence Mickey’s Mouse Trap and several
other movie and game projects.

Blood And Honey is a low-budget, low-expectations movie: viewers
expecting the quality of script, plot, performance or production values of
Cocaine Bear may be slightly disappointed in some ways. These unreasonably high
demands from cruel, selfish moviegoers might also explain why this movie won five Golden
Raspberries and hardly any Oscars. On the other hand this is a full-on, no-holes-barred
gorefest. It’s probably the most violent Winnie-The-Pooh film ever – even more violent than A Blustery Day. And as an
animator who myself, back in 2012, put swearing, drug-taking and generally badly behaved LEGO minifigs on screen here, I do appreciate there is a pleasure in the subversion of innocence.

Score: Three stars out of five.

All movies reviewed on The Sci-Fi Gene blog are awarded
three stars out of five.

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