Posts Tagged ‘movie review’

An expert hitman is pitted against his own clone run by a government sanctioned security service Gemini.

Director Ang Lee offers a solid fun actioner with an injection of science fiction that echoes the likes of Assassins (1995) and the 6th Day (2000) with a feel of John Woo’s Face Off (1997).

With a notable supporting cast that includes the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Douglas Hodge, Benedict Wong and (somewhat wasted) Ralph Brown you’d think it would be a entertaining dramatic hit however everyone feels so relaxed that there’s no real sense of danger. With paper thin motive the Jason Bourne-like government conspiracy scenes never quite hit the mark lacking some much needed weight.

Even though the whole film seems an excuse for Will Smith to face off against the parallel universe Fresh Prince of Bel-air assassin, Smith is great in the duel young/old roles along side a menacing Clive Owen. Smith, however, like the reset of the cast feels flat, even during the emotional highs, possibly due to the colourful locations, cinematography and Ang Lee’s general directing style.

The CGI de-aged effects are a mixed bag at times as excellent as the wacky fight setups but at others not as effective as the young Sarah Conner in Sky Dance’s other release Terminator Dark Fate.

With global-trotting fights, chases and shoot outs throughout there plenty to like right up-to a little clone twist in the closing act along with a surprise death.

Overall, Gemini Man is a lot better then the trailer makes it out to be but it’s odd tonally flawed entertaining action film.

Actual found footage that documents the horrifying experience of a family that moved into the infamous Amityville haunted house.
Opening with words in “1974” blah, blah “Defoe murdered his family”, blah,”Lutz” blah, “32 years later”, blah blah “what you’re about to see is real”. Then an aeroplane blonde graces the screen under torch light. After quick bloody death, your taken to the POV of a budding mini Steven Spielberg as he films his family.

It’s indicative of Paranormal Activity, the recent Grave Encounters and countless found footage films. With security camera’s installed it’s all be done and at one point it becomes a found footage within a found footage film.
Both female leads are effective enough, it’s not an awful film, the acting is at times naturalistic but the issue is that this style of horror has already been done and done better with more imagination. Every line is a cliché , opening doors, accidental deaths, the wife that doesn’t want to live in the house, no one believes the children, spook- less dark images, moving objects and so on.

At the midway mark as the ‘boyfriend’ vanishes and the police turn up you can help role your eyes as the acting and script take a turn for the worse. The son becomes annoying due to the unnecessary explanatory dialogue and the father goes laughable loopy as he goes head to head with the entity. There are a few moments in the closing scenes where director Geoff Meed slightly redeems the film but it’s too little too late.

The problem with The Amityville Haunting is that it perpetrates to be real and pushes the fact right to the end but nothing feels credible. The sound design is pretty effective if somewhat miss-placed missing the mark at times.
Overall, less effective than the Paranormal Activity series, clearly not much has improved since The Blair Witch Project.
After a fight gets out of hand a group of friends run for cover but find themselves fighting for their lives against ravenous creatures lurking beneath their rave party.
Over dramatic, low budget horror flick that has some fantastic makeup and special effects in amongst the unnecessary fights,hammy dialogue and slow motion scenes.

Underground starts off very promising with the opening of an army squad fending off some nasty looking super genetic humanoids, then director Rafael Eisenman introduces us to an underground rave in an air hanger on a military base that goes on far too long. Underground’s weakest link is that it’s not very tight and scenes are drawn out. It’s well lit and shot with some good pumping tracks.
The score is a mixed bag there’s some great music cues but then it borrows from familiar scores and overcooks them. Writer Charles Morris Jr. borrows heavily from Marshall’s Descent (2005) and Smith’s Creep (2004). The young cast of actors including Eric Abercrombie and Mira Antonova do there best with the script. The Eli Wallach with a German accent lookalike aside – there’s some nice touches, a creature bursting out of an urinal, torn off ears, lobbed off arms, spooky tunnels and creepy corridors.
A lot of effort has clearly gone into Underground, it has a ‘film’ look and with some tighter editing it may have helped the viewing experience. Rafael Eisenman uses every film trick in the book and clearly has ability but it just isn’t a polished enough production, nevertheless it’s a lot bloodier, effective and atmospheric than the abundance of cheap looking horror DTV films.
Despite it’s unevenness there’s worst ways to burn a hour and a half.

Love them or hate them they make loads of money – part Blair Witch Project, part REC, part Ghost Hunters and Most Haunted. It has spawned two sequels already – not it’s not Maniac Cop or Evil Dead its… Paranormal Activity. Whhooooaaa Spooky!
As it’s Halloween weekend I thought I’d put together my findings on the films that caused a 1000 manics and wannabe film makers to run-around their houses with the lights off, their night vision cameras in hand and pull objects supernaturally on piano wire or fishing gut. Unlike Blair Witch copies the amateurs can emulate PA in doors without having to leave the comfort of their own home – no cold, no damp and no snot running from their nose… Here are my thoughts on the films that launched a thousand screams and  possibly made youreconsider home security cameras.

Paranormal Activity (2007) 

A couple becomes increasingly disturbed by Paranormal Activity in their home, wow sounds great? The films strong points is that it contains some quality direction by Oren Pel, fantastic plausible natural acting, some skilfully thought out camera work and effective sound effects.
However, it’s simply another story told through the eyes of a character, in this case Micah’s camera lens. In a nutshell builds up to a big scare at the end (depending on which version you see of the film).
It’s over ten years since the ‘The Blair Witch Project’ used the camera point of view and while Paranormal Activity looks good, is well executed and constructed, it goes over the same old formula. If you enjoyed and were scared by Blair Witch you’ll love Paranormal Activity.

That said, if you thought Blair Witch was hyped and shock-less on it’s release and you have a preference for REC or Cloverfield, you’ll be disappointed.
If you’re a big fan of these point of view camera films, and you have to see another this probably isn’t it but if you like TV’s Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures and the like this may do the trick.

A couple become increasingly disturbed by Paranormal Activity in their home that maybe linked to their an infant son. His teenage half-sister against their father wish tries to uncover the truth.
This sequel /prequel contains some quality direction by Tod Williams who takes over the reigns for this instalment. With the usage of static security camera’s and some thought out camera work it gives P2 a slight edged and a grander film quality over it’s predecessor. However, the jump out sound moments aside the sound effects and design appear less creepy this time around.
The whole cast are fantastic. The acting is plausible and natural by the leads, notably Molly Ephraim who plays the inquisitive everyday daughter and Vivis Cortez as the ‘help’. Those with young children and pets will be left a little more disturbed by this follow up and fans of the first will be pleased by Katie and Micah’s return.
Sadly, for the most part its purpose is to build up to a big scare at the end. Again it’s simply another story told through the eyes of a camera lenses and the writers inject some unnecessary connections and exposition to the goings on which takes away some of the mysteries random edge.
It’s nearly 15 years since the ‘The Blair Witch Project’ used the camera point of view and while Paranormal Activity 2 looks better than the first it goes over the same old formula.
If you enjoyed and were scared by 1st you’ll be blown away by Paranormal Activity 2. Yet, old school haunted house fans maybe left less chilled and thrilled.

Two girls befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home and their mothers partner sets out to film the strange goings on.
The two leads from one and two Sprague Grayden and Katie Featherston reprise their roles briefly. Part 3 opens with a brief insight of the events of Paranormal Activity 1 and 2. It quickly moves to 1988 (you view the contents of some missing tapes) to a time when the sisters Katie (Chloe Csengery) and (Jessica Tyler Brown) Kristi Rey are young.
This prequel directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman Paranormal 3 is technically well filmed, exceeding the likes of Blare Witch in both look and sound. Because of the 88 setting, there’s lots of nice touches, the sets, the VHS imperfections, date/time stamps and noise of the camera zooming.
Like its predecessor, there are good naturalistic performances. Sceptic Mom Julie played by Lauren Bittner and boyfriend Dennis – Christopher Nicholas Smith are more than adequate. Dennis’ character is as likable as Micah from the first. Video obsessed he makes a swivelling camera from a fan to the annoyance of his wife.

Old ground is trod, characters filming themselves, waking up late at night, creepy images, bangs, shaking rooms, noises and so. There is nothing more creepy than children talking to unseen entities or babysitters getting scared.
You follow the characters on their journey as they investigate and interrogate the video footage and strange goings on in their new house. There’s a few stand out moments, the hair pulling and balloon bedroom part complete with blanket flying at the camera. The scene where Dennis’ friend Randy experiences the ghostly goings on is a highlight.
Paranormal Activity 3 is not a horror in the traditional sense- if you enjoy these camera point of view chillers and was scared by first two this will possibly exceed expectations. That said, it’s not as clever as part 2 in its narrative intertwining.
Ultimately once again it builds up to a big snapping scare, its more of the same. Nevertheless, it still manages to suck you in an be intriguing – why I’ll never know.
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For anyone else outside the UK here’s the 1985 Scotch video tapes famous for the slogan “Re-record, not fade away, re-record, not fade away…” Happy Halloween!
I’m a sucker for zombie films (see post – Zombies they Creep me out), from Junk: Shiryô-gari (2000) to Dawn of the Dead and a few effective low budgeters in between including Severed (2005), Devil’s Playground (2010) and Autumn (2009). But there’s a tonne of DTV tripe that I wont even name. In any case I’ve been following The Dead’s production for a long-time and with the film maker ethos reminiscent of  the makers of Monsters (2010) i.e on location low budget, with a big budget look- here’s my thoughts on The Dead…
The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. After surviving a plane crash American Air Force Engineer Lieutenant Brian Murphy teams up with a local army Sgt. Daniel Dembele and they try to stay alive in dead infested war-torn Africa.
The zombie market has been saturated with countless sub-par films. There have been a few welcomed additions- the Dawn of the Dead remake, cross genre Australian film Undead, 28 Days virus flicks, comedies including Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and actioner Le Horde. I personally I like sober zombie films and The Dead is probably the most grounded undead film since Romero’s original trilogy. Director and writer team Howard and Jonathan Ford manage to give their zombie offering scope, emotion and anxiety that arguably lacked in Land and Survival of the Dead respectively.
With the competent naturalistic visual style reminiscent of Monsters, less is also more in The Dead’s case. Imran Ahmad’s music score complements the on screen deeds and while not particularly memorable it is subtle and effective enough.
The African setting is a welcomed change, the on location shoot gives it an eerie real feel. The costume design appears authentic. Dan Rickard’s special effects and Max Van De Banks’ makeup are first rate, bones sticking out of legs, wounds, bites and the dead getting hit and shot at are executed perfectly. The traditional shambling sluggish dead are creepy enough and retain an air of menace.
Due to the constraints of the story there’s little dialogue. That said, what there is rings true and the characters are given time to develop. The acting all round is of a high standard, with fitting performances from both leads Rob Freeman and Prince David Oseia.
My only grumble is that there’s been so many zombie films lately it mars the freshness that The Dead delivers. Intentional or unintentional as with Romero’s films there is indeed a social commentary running though The Dead and the African setting is debatably no accident. The Dead may lack comradely wordplay but it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel.
Overall, The Dead gives the viewer a much needed solid piece of realistic zombie entertainment. Recommend.

The Vindicator (1986)

A scientist working on a top secret experiment is killed in an explosion but the corporation that funds his experiments transforms him into a robot.

A resurrection science fiction film that despite being a B-low budget affair has a grander 80’s film quality feel thanks to some gritty, raw and rough round the edges special effects.

Richard Cox and cult favourite Pam Grier are watchable and some performances are above average. However, they are counter balanced by some very shoddy supporting actors. Edith Rey and David Preston’s dialogue is flawed, yet their story fairs better exploring some moral dilemmas.

Although it predates Robocop (1987) I remember the main draw to watch it was because of The Terminator (1984). That said, the Vindicator shares more with Frankenstein and The Wraith (1986).

Jean-Claude Lord’s Vindicator was more appealing watch in the 1980’s. It has some nice visual moments but little more. The certain charm it held in my mind since 1986 was really just warm nostalgia – as on revisiting The Vindicator it’s not as entertaining or fast paced as I remembered it.

While fun at the time, in retrospect – for comparable curiosity only.

With the film already released in the UK last year I though I’d share my thoughts on Devil’s Playground prior to it’s American State-Side release 11th October.
The world succumbs to a viral/zombie apocalypse as group of Londoners try their best to survive and are torn to protect one person that holds the cure. (Sounds suspiciously like the plot to Dead Pulse)

Mark McQueen’s direction is more than sufficient and effective coupled with ominous lighting, realistic settings and great special effects. While the ‘zombie’ supporting cast are worthy of note and the make up well designed, the free running style infected is unnecessary and distracting.
Brit actor Craig Fairbrass (Cliff Hanger) gives a typical performance as hard-man Cole. The rest of the cast are adequate, notably MyAnna Buring, but there’s not enough meat on Bart Ruspoli’s script or character development keep them busy to show any talent. The flawless Jaime Murray is sadly wasted with a little amount of screen time and even cockney favourite Danny Dyer the diamond geezer doesn’t get enough to say.
If you must draw comparisons, it’s pale against the likes of 28 days later or Dawn of Dead (2004). But to its credit Devil has a crisp atmosphere and eerie London setting.
Overall, generic, yet, a lot more watchable and entertaining than many of the DTV zombie/virus flicks that are being churned out.

With Halloween closing fast there’s no better time to revisit some Halloween films, in this case the Donald Pleasence (O.B.E) ones, the Sam Loomis narrative.

Halloween Part III: Season of the Witch departs from the Michael ‘Mask’ Myers storyline and is a standalone film. Halloween H20 (Twenty Years later) saw the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode but ignores part 4, 5 and 6. Needless Scream-alike Halloween Resurrection ironically killed the franchise, annihilating what was set up in H20. Then came Rob Zombie’s remakes. All of which I’ll share my thoughts on over some pumpkin pie in the future.

For now here’s a few ponderings on the films that cemented amoungst other great roles Donald Pleasence’s place horror history, introducing him to a new generation while in the process making William Shatner masks famous, turning them into the stuff of nightmares.

Halloween (1978)

A psychotic child institutionalised after committing several murders now as an adult escapes and goes on a mindless killing rampage. Can his doctor stop him?
John Carpenter’s 1978 [retrospectively] textbook horror slasher film is perhaps the most a perfect horror film, arguably Jaws (1975) will always have a plastic shark. What makes this different to many other babysitter stalker films is the production value, Carpenters direction and score that reeks of dread. Perfect leads include, heavy weight Donald Pleasence as Doctor Loomis and ever reliable Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie Strode) as they try to out wit an escaped psychotic murderer.

Halloween is a well produced basic, yet essential horror that contains very little nudity or blood for this type of genre. What maybe a little tame for gore hungry audiences of today still remains a defining archetype horror film, as without the masked Michael Myers there wouldn’t be many of the horror’s there are out now.

A must see for any horror fan.

Halloween II (1981)

Laurie Strode is rushed to the hospital after the killing spree of Michael Myers. While Dr. Loomis hunts the streets for Myers the killer has already begin another murderous rampage at Haddonfield Hospital.

To the writer/producer team John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s credit it picks up where the first left off giving it a nice air of continuity. Halloween 2 is a basic killing spree sequel that builds on the suspenseful original with a revelation of who Strode really is but more so adds a lot of bloody deaths. That said, there’s little story and literally goes from one death to the next.

Jamie Lee Curtis plays the shell shocked ex-babysitter in distress perfectly although there is little room for her character to develop due to the scripts time scale. Donald Pleasence is as loopy and obsessed with Michael as ever and is the weight in this limited event. Dick Warlock plays Michael Myers and does a good job especially when taking a bullet or two. Although all the extras are Michael fodder they do enough to keep you interested.

Veteran Dean Cundey’s cinematography is the star of the show. Despite some choppy editing, possibly caused by Carpenters re-shoots and drawn out closing, Rick Rosenthal direction is more than satisfactory encompassing some suspense in the dark and ominous lit hospital.

Overall it builds on the unstoppable killing machine film concept and while not perfect it’s a good sequel to a series that arguably should have finished there.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

10 years after the events of the first & second Halloween Michael Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to hunt down his niece.

There’s a lot going on in this instalment that goes back to the roots of Halloween ignoring part three. Part 4 is grander, a police station is wiped out and locals turn vigilante. Teenage shenanigan’s go on that are more synonymous with slasher films that weren’t really present in part 2.

Despite being the fourth in a series and putting aside what the critics say Halloween Return of Michael Myers is a very strong entry.

It’s strength is not only Donald Pleasence’s great performance, take a look at the early gas station scene but it’s the likability of both Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris’ characters. Thanks to Alan B. McElroy’s writing every character is fleshed out more than usual for the time and genre.

Harris is a good child actress and gives Jamie an air of realism. Whereas Cornell gives depth to Rachel’s moral issues and concerns. The supporting cast are all more than adequate including Beau Starr as Sheriff Ben Meeker. George P. Wilbur’s take on the Shape/Michael is debatably the best portrayal of killer in the series.

Credit should go to director Dwight H. Little and legendary producer Akkad for capturing the feel and the look of the first two instalments. Little makes good use of the lighting and music building some great tension, notably the rocking chair, rooftop scene and truck escape. The surprise ending fittingly echoes the first and 4 has the right mix of horror, action and suspense without the cringe worthy cheese that come with most copycat slasher pictures of the time. An underrated guilty pleasure.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Michael survives the shootings of Sheriff Meeker and his men and returns on October 31st with a vengeance.

In the tradition of Halloween II, Halloween 5 picks up where 4 left off then quickly moves forward a year. Danielle Harris plays Jamie niece of Michael once again and this time she is traumatised by previous events. Again Harris puts on a good acting show especially for a child actor as she seems genuinely haunted and harassed by Michael and her visions.

Due to the writers Bitterman, Jacobs and Othenin-Girard’s prerogative Ellie Cornell returns briefly as Rachel and is sadly missed for the majority of the film, which is a shame given that she set out good foundations for her character in 4. Donald Pleasence once again is Loomis and gives the film some credibility and weight. He’s obsessed to a point of madness putting pressure on the young child which is disturbing in itself. Don Shanks this time is Michael/The Shape and has an imposing presence, the car scene when he wears a different mask is particularly unnerving. He’s both subtle and brutal.

Five departs from the slasher flick formula adding a cult, supernatural and telekinetic physic connection that includes a mysterious man in black. Obligatory shower scene, teenage girls, cars and boyfriends cheapens it towards Friday the 13th territory. Although the story is uneven director Dominique Othenin-Girard and cinematographer Robert Draper give the film its own unique look with much of it shot in the daylight. It adds an air of uneasiness but lacks the ominous atmosphere of the 1; 2 and 4 until very late in the latter half.

The pacing of Revenge is off as the film is very muddled with a weak narrative linked by a series of false scares, misidentification and a few bloody killings. There’s an issue with the character of Tina (Wendy Kaplan) who for a short time inherits the role of Jamie’s protector. Kaplan lacks the credibility of Curtis or Cornell and the script doesn’t help her performance either as she aimlessly if forced to go from one scene to the next.

Even Alan Howarth’s score or the interesting spring a trap closing can’t make up for the padded middle segment. Sadly all the tension and suspense is crammed into the finale and retreads ideas from the forth, notably a Police Station assault. If Tina, the psychic link and the Man in Black had not been included the film may have perhaps turned out better leaving Loomis, Myers and Jamie being the focal point. This may have treaded old ground but it may have made Revenge more palatable.

It has some appealing moments mainly between Pleasence and Shanks or Harris and Pleasence but the scenes are few and far between.

Halloween (6): The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

After Jamie Lloyd daughter of Laurie Strode gives birth, Michael Myers sets out to find his niece’s baby.

From the elaborate opening of an older Jamie giving birth and her frantic escape, Curse’s focus shifts from the menacing unstoppable killer slightly in place of a wider underground cult theme, hinted at in the previous instalment.

Myers obsessed Tommy Doyle (child survivor from the first film) played by Paul Rudd is fine in a main role. Minus scar makeup aged Pleasence does his best with the material he’s been given and plays the retired doctor Loomis superbly despite his age and weakened voice he still steals every scene. Actress Marianne Hagan’s Kara Strode is slightly wasted, fleeting in and out like her son Danny and many of the other characters. George P. Wilbur (who played Michael in Revenge) returns once again as The Shape with good screen presence and movement.

Anyone unfamiliar with the series may have a difficult time following the unnecessary convoluted story. The screenplay hints at a town moving on but doesn’t build on the theme, nor expand on Michael coming home. It has some interesting character dynamics but its cluttered like its predecessor with many new elements that the audience has to buy into including more characters to accept and warm to.

Alan Howarth and Paul Rabjohns’ music is edgy enough especially when coupled with the original theme. Director Joe Chappelle delivers elaborate deaths and Curse is well filmed with sharp editing, flashing images and slick dialogue but it is far removed from the simplistic, primal original concept.

Apparently it was a troubled shoot and many alternative scenes were shot, this may explain its unevenness. These issues spawned the notorious Producers Cut. Nevertheless, it’s just as inconsistent as this version. Curse suffers like the fifth entry injecting the needless cultist sect sub-plot, mysterious symbols and a physic kid. That said, even taken with a pinch of salt it’s still unsatisfying and you really feel the series has lost its way.

Worth seeing if only for Donald Pleasence’s last performance.

I watched alien comedy Paul (2011) recently which got me thinking about E.T (1982), where my dad would make me wear his Parker, hold a torch and say “phone home” – those warm a fuzzy days eh. It got me thinking about alien films in general. There’s been some turkeys recently The Fourth Kind, The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) to name just two. I’m a sucker for alien invasion films, call me a geek (but it’s hardly surprising coming from the guy who still recall the lyrics to the 60’s Iron-Man and Captain America cartoon theme tunes,the re-runs). I must say I wasn’t a fan of Independence Day (1996) or Men In Black (1997) maybe it’s that watered down/appease the masses/play it safe middle of the road stuff that entertains but doesn’t excite or entice. Whereas Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks (1996) was all out dark comedy and Invasion of the Body Snatchers tackles the subject ominously sober for me it’s those films that are just more appealing.
Check out the Cellulord’s blog where he wonderfully breaks those Invaders down into five sub-genres.
Here’ a few thoughts on those mass invasion stories that you may have missed or simply avoided from various reasons.
Battle: Los AngelesBattle: Los Angeles (2011)
A platoon of U.S. Marines during a global alien invasion try to stay alive and take hold of Los Angeles while extracting a group of innocent civilians.
Battle: Los Angeles shares of much of the look and relentless extraterrestrial attack of Skyline (2010). However, where Skyline portrayed it from civilian point to view this is very much a story from the perspective of the Armed Forces.
Chris Bertolini’s screen-play pushes heroism and all its clichés to the limit, at times the film plays as a training or recruitment U.S. Marines video with each character needing to plug the name of every type of weapon used. Although there is a consistent overuse of a shaky handy-cam effect a credit should to go to director Jonathan Liebesman as the set ups are well covered with a feeling of geography so you never feel lost in the quick pans or sharp movements. It’s a serious stab at the subject matter and the effects are outstanding, mirroring the realism of Monsters (2010) and District 9 (2009) to name a few.
Both Ramón Rodríguez and Michelle Rodriguez are notable but it is Aaron Eckhart as a veteran SSgt. Michael Nantz who carries the most credence.
Reminiscent of Cloverfield (2008), Black Hawk Down (2001) and Saving Private Ryan (1998) – if there’s room for another alien invasion with a war element flick this will appease but if you feel you’ve seen it all before it’s probably because you have.
Overall, formulaic but still mildly entertaining.
V: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray]“V” (2009-2011)
Before Alien Nation, before Independence Day, there was V. A race of human looking extraterrestrials arrive on earth. These ‘vistors’ led by alien Anna come in peace, however, behind her smile is a sinister plan to take over the world.
The latest ‘reimagining’ of V is a competent rework of the original 80’s TV show. Despite some ropey CGI effects, the story, characters and script carry some weight, there are shades of grey, not everything is black and white… Unorthodox alliances, double crossings, morale choices and sacrifice are just some of the themes amongst a cloak and dagger alien invasion. There is action, drama and of course it’s played possibly as realistic as you can get considering it a show about lizard aliens.
Jane Badler the original female protagonist appears in season 2 as ‘Diana’ which is a nice nod for fans of the predecessor albeit as a different character with the same name. And also Marc Singer gives a cameo. Notable are actors Scott Wolf and Laura Vandervoort. Worth mentioning is Anna’s right hand man played by Morena Baccarin and tough guy Kyle Hobbes played by Charles Mesure.
Evil executives at ABC have cancelled the series after season/series 2 which is a crying shame as there were plenty of places V could have been taken with the right story writers and good characters already established such as FBI agent Erica Evans, played by Elizabeth Mitchell and Joel Gretsch as Father Jack Landry.
It’s said that it ends on a cliff hanger but that depends on who’s side your on, there is one winner, if no more are made… Worth seeing, I’ll now finish this sentence as abruptly as ABC’s cancellation.
MonstersMonsters (2010)
For six years large aliens have been on earth and inhabit the ‘infected zone’ between the US and Mexico border. After a monster destroys a hotel the daughter of an executive is injured and under instruction from his boss a photographer must ensure she gets back to the US. However, after a series of events it becomes more difficult than expected and they both must journey through the infected zone.
Début leads Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy are impeccably first-rate and would put any A-lister to shame. Any lesser casting could have ruined the film but the realistic portrayal they deliver, packed with emotion is easy to relate to, it’s surprising how they command the screen and keep you enthralled. The rest of the uncredited cast are exceptional and everything is played for realism. Note worthy is the ticket selling desk clerk.
The dreamlike score is fantastic, Jon Hopkins’ beats and hums capture and heighten the moments – it’s very memorable, reminiscent of John Murphy’s 28 weeks later subtler moments.
Credit must go to director/writer Gareth Edwards for the fantastic subtle script, great locations and fantastically executed effects. Whether intentional or not there’s plenty of social commentary, political values and society reflective parallels going on but those aside Monsters is a journey of two people finding themselves.
At first I was expecting another War of the Worlds rehash, District 9, a grounded version of ID4, or even a better version of Skyline but what I got was a journey story with aliens as the back drop. If only Jurassic Park could have been filmed in this style. Monsters took me by surprise, I didn’t expect it to be such a wonderful film.
Gareth Edwards is certainly a multi-talented individual and not one to watch – as he’s already there. Immersible cinema.
SkylineSkyline (2010)
Stop me if you heard this before. Aliens invade earth and a handful of survivors try to escape their impending deaths. It’s another War of the Worlds-esque invasion flick and what’s nice about this is that it’s played straight with no comedic one-liners and there’s not a teenager in sight.
Directors Colin Strause and Greg Strause are no strangers to special effects after bringing to life the Predators and Aliens in AVPR (2007) and the rest of the team behind Skyline’s extraterrestrials are clearly talented making the best out of a budget. It’s visually wonderful, the special effects are fantastic. Nevertheless, Aliens (1986) designers and suit wearers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. creature designs appear to be an unoriginal mix of The Fly, Independence Day, Cloverfield and The Matrix.
The acting is above average and the leads including Eric Balour and Brittany Daniel carry the emotion well. David Zayas is notable but his screen time is limited. That said, the script lacks enough meaty dialogue to keep you enthralled and you find yourself waiting for more glimpses and shenanigans of the alien invaders.
Overall, it looks great but it fails to connect and grip you. The Brothers Strause will hit gold but Skyline just isn’t it.
They Live Poster Movie 11x17 Roddy Piper Keith David Meg Foster George "Buck" FlowerThey Live (1988)
Humanlike, skeleton looking, extraterrestrial’s have taken over the Earth and walk among us, but are cloaked by a transmitter that makes ‘them’ appear like us. A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allows him to see what is being hidden.
Halloween’s (1978) horror legend writer/director John Carpenter does his best with a limited budget. The film for the most part has an urban realistic look, due to the on location shots, however, at times it appears very cheap and lacks the production values of The Thing (1982) or The Fog (1980). In true Carpenter tradition there’s a heart pumping and relentless score.
Amongst all the 80’s cheese there is a fantastic story based on Ray Nelson’s short story. They Live themes reflects consumerism, class and corruption to name a few. Underneath, Carpenter’s bland screenplay lay a fear that we are not in control and our society is led by ‘them’, echoing Invasion of the Body Snatchers and ‘V’. To join them would be to give I and we would benefit but we’ll pay a greater price. They Live is high concept sci-fi with great ideas, the sunglasses touch is genius, that’s original and allows some great visuals and interesting moments. There’s also the intriguing secret society aspect and space travel.
Suffering from the 80’s macho testerone Roddy Piper is entertaining as the lead but he’s no great actor, lucky there’s the likes of Meg Foster and Keith David to gives the film some weight and there are some good performances from the supporting cast.
Carpenter though a simple story immerses the viewer in the conspiracy and connects us with the heroes search for the truth which has a fantastic, un-Hollywood brave and downbeat ending. In addition, the effects are of the time but are still effective, there are some stand out set-ups, the supermarket, the underground segment and the discovery of the sunglasses. I’m hesitant to use the word, but They Live is cool.
With so many remakes in recent years They Live would benefit from a serious and heavier version. That said, taken at face value it’s a great fun ride, with one-liners, action and aliens.
The InvasionThe Invasion (2007)
An alien lifeform crashes to Earth, spreading tainted debris this in turn infects people bringing them under the invaders control.
Remake of remakes and based on Jack Finney novel, thankfully The Invasion borrows more from Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and as a plus doesn’t try to recreate its daring chilling ending, coming up with its own penultimate finish.
The supporting cast are great and include ’78’s Veronica Cartwright. It is a fine cast ensemble that reunites Jeffrey Wright and Daniel Craig in two effective roles as they help Carol Bennell played by Nicole Kidman find her son and stop a virus that is turning humans into ‘perfect’ emotionless shells of themselves.
Already off to a head start, based on such excellent source material director Oliver Hirschbiegel brings David Kajganich interesting screenplay to life. It’s subtle at times but injects plenty of foot and car chases. The on location shooting sells the tension as you see the city’s people change. Make up effect are fantastic and not too overboard. The good use of lighting, camera angels backed up with a nail biting score helps to heightening the paranoia as everyone Bennell knows becomes one of ‘them.’
Kidman’s endless supply of unnecessary fitted clothing and botox aside, she gives a good performance and despite some surprisingly already dated effects shots of microscopic virus the film is well crafted.
Overall, if not compared to its predecessors, The Invasion ticks all the boxes as a retelling of a character driven, sharp, thrilling sci-fi.
John Carpenter's The Thing - Movie Poster (Size: 24" x 36")The Thing (1982)
After being freed from its ancient crash site an extraterrestrial life form infiltrates an Antarctic research station, imitating taking the appearance of the researchers that it kills.
An atmospheric understated sci-fi at it best. I’ll never understand how Carpenter lost the lustre in some of the other film he made, nevertheless, his Thing is one of his best movies and also once of the best sci-fi movies ever. Despite being based on the same source material (before remakes were popular) the thing has a look and feel of it’s own and is very different from its 50’s counterpart.
The isolated setting, the astounding cinematography and scenery creates intrigue; drawing you in from the very beginning. It’s a perfect horror/sci-fi cocktail of Ennio Morricone’s haunting foreboding score, Rob Bottin and Stan Winston’s benchmark practical effects (which are to-date arguably unsurpassed) Carpenters claustrophobic set ups and Bill Lancaster screenplay.
It’s rare that every single actor is exceptional and supplied with effective dialogue. All the cast from Kurt Russell to Wilford Brimley as Blair are all captivating, great casting by Anita Dann. The characters have their own issues and as the paranoia sets in relationships are forged and other broken, building to a bold and satisfying conclusion.
This is more than just a cult film with a ‘monster’ hiding in warm places surrounded by snow, it’s a finely tuned science fiction horror masterpiece.

 ;In 1982 Tron bombed at the Box office so much so Disney didn’t make a llive action film for another 10 years. I must admit I was never a huge fan of Tron,I don’t think I’ve ever revisited it since its release on VHS. It left your eye’s feeling they’d been assaulted by your Atari. It was a product of it’s time, but still was influential and left unfounded imagrey embedded in you mind. Still, it was hardly suprising the game ourgrossed the film as it was far more enjoyable. So three decades later comes part 2, and there was Gene Hackman sceptical of a French Connection II within a few years. Thankfully Jeff Bridges returned but how does the sequel fair? Remember opinions are like… Any how here’s my thoughts…

Tron: The Original Classic (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) ;The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed called The Grid. ;Credit to Tron: Legacy’s writers including the ;Edward Kitsis and ;Adam Horowitz, it incorporates and builds the original idea which compliments the feeling of 1st nicely. ; Director Joseph Kosinski delivers a stylish looking film, heavy toned and rich in atmosphere. It fits the story and the films design, in addition, the neon look is not used as a gimmick. The music, effects and action scenes are well executed and stay with you after the film ends.

The story still remains basic like it’s predecessor. On the other hand, Disney again allows an edginess to shine through that gives it a little depth, it’s not all gloss with the themes quiet dark. ;This time visually everything is cooler, sleeker, less clunky and awkward than in Tron.

Tron: Legacy - Sam & Quorra - in The Grid 11x17 Poster

Garrett Hedlund is an effective enough lead as Sam Flynn Kevin’s  ;son. Jeff Bridges returns to the Kevin Flynn role and also plays his nemesis Clu. The veteran actor is on top form. ;Olivia Wilde is simply stunning as Quorra, oddly her demeanour is reminiscent of Sean Young in the original Bladerunner especially as the film closes. Notable, is memorable Beau Garrett as Gem. There’s a few cameo appearances and Michael Sheen shows up part ‘Ziggy stardust’ and ‘the Riddler’ as Castor.
This time it feels story driven as appose to effects driven. Nevertheless, like Tron the special effects were a product of it’s time, in Legacy’s case the 1989 ‘young’ Bridges is not perfected just yet, and the film may have befitted from having the young Kevin in the ‘blurred’ grid flashbacks with him not really being seen with young Sam in the opening. That said, the Clu character another version of a young Bridges works in the confines of the grid as it’s digitalised look debatable fits the story.

Tron Movie (Reaching for Light) Poster Print - 22x34 Poster Print, 22x34

Overall, ;Kosinski ;builds on the 1982 Tron concept and coupled with some appeasing writing Legacy arguably excels original as a piece of wider-appealing digestible family entertainment.