A brawny suited burglar and his equally muscular twin, an upstanding police officer, are forced to team up to bring down some diamond criminals.

With the fashion, music, hairdos and a Rambo III poster on display you’d swear director John Paragon’s Double Trouble was made in the eighties (even though it was 1992). The cast feature plenty of familiar acting faces, surprisingly this B film has some good talent on display. This forgotten film features David Carrdine, James Doohan, Roddy McDowell and those two muscle bound twins from the Conan wannabe film Barbarians (1987), I kid you not. McDowell has lot of fun shooting people and Doohan gets to Scotty rant while the twins get to wink at fine women, fight and shoot a lot. It’s all as outlandish and retro un-PC as it sounds.

The plot is too thin to mention, my first paragraph sums it up. To the twins David and Peter Paul’s credit they are great fun throughout and thanks to some writing flukes including Jessie Venture impressions, sibling rivalry along with Paragon’s clumsy setups and reverse fridge logic it’s more enjoyable than it should be.

If you love the 1980s cheese, this 90s film is a great example, think a second rate Twins mixed with Stop or My Mum will Shoot and Skyscraper. Let your mullet and crop top do the thinking, you should enjoy.

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Dr. Paul Kersey is an ER surgeon burning for revenge, to deliver justice for his family’s assailants.

Eli Roth’s Death Wish is arguably more satisfying than revenge films The Equalizer (2014), Oldboy (2013) and on par with the great stylised John Wick (2014) in term of entertainment. Bruce Willis makes a triumphant return to top form as Paul Kersey in this fitting and timely remake of Death Wish. Willis reminds us he can act and not just turn up, this is a well produced on location feel action, unlike his recent low-par films and cameo-like performances.

Eli Roth offers one of his most conventional Hollywood-like movies to date, but includes his staple gore in a few moments throughout mostly dished out by Willis’ slayings and some unconventional use of everyday weapons. The action thriller is fast paced with plenty of shootouts. Likeable Elisabeth Shue is fittingly cast as Kersey’s wife, along side Vincent D’Onofrio as his brother. Notable are actors Camila Morrone is as Kersey’s daughter and Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris is cast as warm Detective Kevin Raines.

From a solid screenplay by Joe Carnahan based on Death Wish (1974) and Brian Garfield’s Death Wish novel the film works within its own logic, the doctor come vigilante Willis character has an arc and manhunt aspect where the media debate whether he is a guardian angel or grim reaper gives weight to the intense drama. You could fit on a postage stamp what it has to say about gun crime and it socially sits on the fence, with Roth leaving it for the audience to decide what’s right or wrong.

At the end of the day, it’s an well made action revenge flick. Overall, one of Willis memorable roles to date, recommended.

In Thailand, a drug trafficker’s icy mother sends him on a mission to avenge his older brother death.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives feels more like his Valhalla Rising (2009) rather than the more conventional and mainstream Drive (2011). The music is mesmerising, stirring the uneasiness of The Shinning (1980). It’s atmospheric, stylish, quiet and yet ultra-violent, with the beats of an opera. It echoes elements of Diva (1981), Collateral (2004), Subway (1985) and David Lynch’s dream-like quality to name a few.

Ryan Gosling plays Julian Thompson, an American criminal who lives in Bangkok. Gosling smolders (with limited dialogue which appears to have become his trademark staple) Julian speaks less than 20 lines throughout the film. Kristin Scott Thomas shines as Crystal Thompson, Julian’s mother, a merciless and terrifying mafia godmother, probably her most memorable role. The star though is Vithaya Pansringarm as the imposing Lt. Chang/The Angel of Vengeance.

Refn remains visually stylish thoughout with natural location shoot, he adds enough subtle narrative smarts and horrifying underworld characters to ground its beautifully filmed depravity.

The film’s characters are non-people; reminiscent of Revolver (2005) the things they say to each other are non-conversations, the events of neon-drenched nightmare are like some piece of French cinema which purposely plays differently to mainstream good taste. It’s slow, edgy and gripping as the extreme violence basic plot plays out.

Only God Forgives has some quirky casting and interesting visuals on the background of the seediest sides of Bangkok. If you like artsy, its dedicated to director Alejandro Jodorowsky which should give you an idea what to expect then this is for you.

Thor Ragnarok PosterThor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop the ruthless God Hela.

Director Taika Waititi offers more fun than the overlong, padded majority of Marvel films than it should, Thor Ragnarok has plenty of humour (maybe a little too much). From the special effects to costume design and colourful characters including actors Chris Hemsworth, whose Thor goes through a few changes certainly looks wise right up until the end. There’s a welcomed on form return of Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston’s sly Loki, Mark Ruffalo, who gets plenty to do with his dazed Banner and there’s more Hulk action, with Anthony Hopkins’ nonchalant Odin and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange who both cameo.

New comers to the series evil Cate Blanchett, who is not just a ‘end level baddie’, Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster and Karl Urban give more than the stereotype unsavoury characters, there’s also a few twists and turns. Tessa Thompson is also noteworthy and excellent Clancy Brown voices Surtur. Waititi also voices the memorable Korg.

There’s the obligatory end credit scene, here two of them. Interestingly where as the Led Zeppelin “Immigrant Song” is overused Mark Mothersbaugh’s music and the score is fitting to the 80s vibe throughout, sadly Magic Sword’s epic tune “In The Face of Evil” appears to be omitted from the feature, only appearing in the trailer. Still Mothersbaugh’s music has a similar feel.

Overall, Ragnarok’s strength lay in its entertainment value, thanks to some relaxed writing, likeable characters and story beats. Highly recommended.

Warning: Spoilers

Five contract workers have taken on the task of tracking a huge old sanatorium for hazardous waste before demolishing. However things go bump in the night as the enormous building has much darker secrets and possible paranormal activity.

Like with the recent Spanish horror revival director Pål Øie does the same for Norwegian filmmaking offering a well-made filmactic feel is which sells the plausibility, thanks to the acting and large creepy location, the music adds tension.

The premise is interesting even though the story beats, shadows in the dim corridors, figures on camera, jump scares etc are what we’ve seen before Pål Øie’s execution and serious tone makes it worth watching the scares play out. There’s a few bodies, blood, gore, twists and turns, doctors and WWII elements.

Overall, better than the abundance of bad acted English language slasher and horror films doing the rounds at the moment. Recommend.

In an alternate present day, humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been coexisting. Two police officers, one a human, the other an orc, embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it.

Director and producer David Ayer offers a part buddy film, reminiscent of the likes of Training Day, Alien Nation with a bit of Tolkien thrown in and you get what adds up to an enjoyable entertaining well paced movie. With wall to wall shoot outs, slick fights and magic wand sorcery Ayer handles the diverse mix of genre themes effortlessly as the unlikely paired partners battle rentlessly throughout an evening in L.A.

Actors Will Smith is on nonchalant form as Serpico-like Daryl Ward, unrecognisable Joel Edgerton with Orc makeup sporting a Nic Nolte-like raspy voice gives a standout performance as Nick Jakoby. Noomi Rapace is notable as a power hunger Elf and gives a physical intense turn as she goes about retrieving her wand to unleash a dark Lord. However, Lucy Fry steals the show as Tikka, a Rogue Elf who assists the unlike Orc and human police channeling Milla Jovovich’s Fifth Element Leeloo.

Writer Max Landis (son of John Landis) and Ayer throw in hints of comedy, a clever alternative Earth premise and interestingly set it during a night and day in L.A. Bright has plenty of ‘street’ atmosphere, as well as strong production values offering well executed special effects. To Ayers credit the mix of both reality and fantasy hold together seamlessly and you buy into the world and the Midnight Run, Judgement Night, Collateral, After Hours feel to name a few night set films from the get go.

Overall, a well balanced mix of genres in an alternative present day, with both underlying and on the nose social commentary that is almost too good for an action fantasy cop film. Recommend.

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*Major Jedi spoilers ahead*

The Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker is unsettled by the strength of Rey’s powers and connection to Kylo Ren.

Filmmaker Rian Johnson plays against expectations and bravely tries not rehash what’s has been done before. Star Wars: Episode VIII Last Jedi has heaps of dramatic moments, heightened by John Williams’ score, the emotional impact most of which oozes from the late Carrie Fisher as Leia is poignant. Oscar Isaac’s Poe and Mark Hamill’s Luke steal the show but both Adam Driver (Kylo) and the perfectly cast Daisy Ridley (Rey) give the original trilogy actors a good run for their money. Less of a comedy side kick here John Boyega’s Finn is more focused and has a new love interest in Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico.

Although Rey is present throughout she not as centre piece as she was previously, getting lost in amongst all the other story threads and characters. Both Driver and Daisy, when they are connected during new force power moments and later when they take on Snoke’s guards in an interestingly choreographed fight scenes do get a chance to excel.  

The attention to detail is outstanding along with the immense production design effort. Yet, director, writer Johnson offers a good, but not brilliant Star Wars episode, unfortunately there’s a lot of jokes thrown in which feel off with the usual galactic humour of its predecessors. Jarringly there’s misplaced dialogue about God and souls. Moreover, many of the effects are arguably not as good as Episode VII or Rogue One, surprising for a Star Wars film, many CGI shots (feel less model lifelike), rendering and movements stick out for example, a herd of fathiers (space horses) are freed and ridden across Canto Blight, or when BB-8 steals an AT-ST (Scout Walker) with Finn and Rose, moreover the back drop of AT-M6s, (the next generatiom of Walkers) frame Luke and Kylo. 

To Johnson’s credit, there’s a stand out scene with Luke and R2-D2 where they view 1977’s Star Wars Leia hologram message, moreover is a huge spoiler moment that includes Luke’s impressive moving story closure (with a Obi-Wan, Yoda cloak twist) this is a high point not only of this episode but of all the episodes. Yoda returns (thankfully a puppet mastered by Frank OZ) appearing as a force ghost. However, some of the characters feel a little fleeting and wasted including Andy Serkis Snoke’s brief and anticlimactic demise and Benicio del Toro’s DJ is excellent but also has limited screen time. With relief Maz shows up as a hologram in the midst of a firefight.

With already an abundance of species for Johnson’s to chose from there’s many new monsters/alien/animals crammed in and new space ships unnecessary added to the saga. Specifically during the messy Casio messy segment. That said, the cute puffin-like Porgs are surprisingly a good addition. Also favourites return including Chewie, R2-D2, C3-PO and there’s plenty newcomer BB-8 moments as the action moves from one planet, hopping from spaceship to another. With Kenny Baker’s passing RD-D2 is performed now by Jimmy Vee. Joonas Suotamo reprises the Chewbacca role in which he doubled for Peter Mayhew respectively in Force Awakens but here takes over completely. Actress Billie Lourd (Fisher’s realife daughter) welcomingly gets more lines and to do as Lieutenant Connix. But even with more Phasma to enjoy her moments feel rushed like some of the special effects. In addition, the reveal of Rey’s parents leaves sour taste and Snoke’s origins is left bitter sweet in an abrupt end not seen since Dooku was disposed of in Revenge of the Sith. Also we’re still left with the unanswered question of how did Kylo get the blue lightsaber, and how did it get to Maz’s castle in Force Awakens, even if it is one and the same, and where are the Knights of Ren and the handful of Jedi in training that were not killed who left with Kylo? Questionable use in the film’s design of Earth numerics being used instead of Star Wars symbols and language on consoles.

It has its fair share of story beats and character high points notably, Fisher and Johnson’s handling of Leia as she evades the First Order in a number of set pieces which offers genuine story surprises. Memorable is Leia’s resurrection ‘Force’ moment, Laura Dern’s character sacrifice and Yoda’s return to name a few. But there are niggling wasted opportunities and shoehorned on the nose social commentary.

Overall, debatably Johnson’s offering doesn’t feel as Star Warzy as it should, nevertheless, it’s Star Wars nonetheless, but don’t expect Empire Strikes Back or the Star Wars je ne sais quoi magic.

My Readers and following friends,

It’s been a hard year with personal loss and sadness, so I’ve been off the social media merry-go-round. Whatever you are going through, you will get through it. Keep the dream alive, have trust. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

The Christmas season is upon us and we’ve got a few signed editions of Darkest Moons (contact via the website), also if you order any paperbacks you get the Kindle Free, for those who want to start reading immediately and have a keepsake paperback winging its way to you.

Darkest Moons

Darkest Moons

In 1878 a mining community came to terms with the existence of a terrifying horror.

As the moon rises the curse begins!

The Final Version

The Final VersionJourney through the history of genetics and be catapulted to a post-apocalyptic future, a conflicted dystopian utopia of cyberpunk, cryogenics and government-conspiracy.

Blood Hunger

Blood Hunger

From the fall of the vampire and the Dracul brothers in medieval Europe to their return in the present day. Prepare yourself, their first bite will be your last!

Dead Pulse

Dead PulseDeath does not discriminate…

The dead have returned to life… The world’s focus is on the city of Ravenswood and the once idyllic town of Farmore as platoons and scattered survivors fight the hordes of the dead, unbeknownst one of them holds the key to end the undead’s reign of mayhem.

The Babysitter Movie Poster*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A funny, popular babysitter is actually a cold-blooded killer who’s in league with the Devil and a teenage boy who finds out the truth must stop her and her friends or end up dead himself.

With a surprise twist reveal (if you’ve not seen the trailer) when a spin the bottle game turns into murder McG’s fast paced offering, works as fun horror comedy in the vein of Tucker and Versus Evil. Judah Lewis’ is excellent as Cole, the 12 year old madly in love with his babysitter Bee played feistily alluring by Samara Weaving. As Cole picks off in a MacGyver, A-Team, Kevin Macalister fashion Bee’s murderous 80s-like stereotype friends, a cheerleader, a jock and so on.

McG’s slick direction is chock-full with comic book gore. The action setups in the everyday American suburban neighbourhood setting reminiscent of the Burbs, E.T, Poltergeist and the like gives this a nostalgic atmosphere. Brian Duffield’s script is packed full of horror homages and Scream self-aware dialogue, that said Duffield refreshingly doesn’t explain every detail about Bee’s motivations, how’s and whys about her magic text and sacrifice secrets saving it for a possible sequel.

Great for teenage boys and girls who love gore and Home Alone style kills and old school film goers who enjoy slasher horrors.

Knock Knock Movie Poster***This review may contain spoilers ***

Two stranded women reveal a sinister agenda after they spend the night with a married architect and turn his life upside down.

Refreshingly it’s not an on the nose torture horror or full on home invasion film, but it’s a punchy enough moral yarn with a wicked ominous tone. Director/writer Eli Roth uses the remote suburban single location to full effect and Knock Knock never feels repetitive. It also has a warning about fidelity, sheltering strangers and social media usage.

Ana de Armas, and Lorenza Izzo on fine form switching between sexy, innocent and menacing effortlessly as they torment Keanu Reeves’s Evan. While Reeve may not give his best performance throughout he more than makes up for it in the closing act. Roth manages to keep the stakes high without full on exploitation using some slick direction and both Izzo’s Genesis and Armas’ Bel reveal snippets of their character motivations while leaving plenty to the viewers imagination.

Intense and unnerving with a Roth staple downbeat ending. Based on Death Game (1977) if you enjoy the likes of Bad Influence, Fatal Attraction, Pacific Heights, Unlawful Entry to name a few with the modern edge of Hostel this is a must see.