Posts Tagged ‘movie’

Two former Texas Rangers are tasked with tracking and killing infamous criminals Bonnie and Clyde.

While it arguably doesn’t capture the period feel like the likes of Once Upon a Time in America, the mystery aspect of the notorious outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow is done wonderfully as director John Lee Hancock follows former Texas Rangers Frank Hamer and Maney Gault who to try and capture the couple.

On the backdrop of disbanding the Rangers and replacing them with a more up-to-date police force as J. Edgar Hoover is doing at a federal level it’s told through the eye’s of the outlaws executioners. Hancock lingers every frame, letting the actors do their thing. Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson are on outstanding form as the haunted ageing lawmen.

There’s many character memorable cinematic moments throughout, Costner purchasing weapons echoing reminiscent of The Terminator, the aged gun slingers echoing Young Guns II old William H. Bonney. Revisiting rusty shooting skills like spaghetti Westerns and more recently ‪Robocop‬ to name a few. Harrelson a functioning alcoholic has some humorous dialogue as well as moments of role play, pretending to be something else to extract information.

The stars of the show is the rapport between the leads Costner and Harrelson (Bonnie and Clyde are the backdrop here) with great costume and set design they light up the screen.

Great entertainment, an excellent fresh perspective on an infamous story.

SPOILERS!

In the sleepy small town of Centerville, the dead return to life when the earth shifts on its axis.

The Dead Don’t Die has an unprecedented atmosphere of doom and gloom in a small town which captures an odd eerie feel
echoing The Night the Living Dead. However, it’s marred by hanking issues that prevent it becoming what could have been a cult classic.

Jim Jarmusch’s writing decision to break the fourth wall and have the characters talk about the script within the film steals all the novelty from the zany characters and their convincing emotional sentiments. Especially from Cloe Sevigny who gives her deputy believable touching grief. It simply sucks the life out from his solid directing offering.

Adam Driver’s Ronnie and Bill Murray’s Chief Robinson are wonderful as the smalltown law men along with the rest of the cast. Steve Buscemi as a small minded farmer, samurai swinging Tilda Swinton and Danny Glover’s Hank are notable, even if a little wasted. Iggy Pop’s coffee yearning zombie extended cameo is memorable.

As a side note, it’s reminiscent on places of the 2003 Australian film the Undead, including borrowing a wacky alien contact moment. Along with three teens who escape there’s another subplot involving Selena Gomez’s Zoe and her two friends. Neither story threads really pay off, aside from fleshing our Driver’s officer character with Zoe’s demise. This leaves the two separate groups fates slightly wasted and if not moot. That said, the knowing observational hobo in the woods played by Tom Waits strings the film all together.

The make-up effects, Frederick Elmes’ cinematography and location setting is great, even if some CGI is a little iffy. It’s rare for a film to seemingly go out of its way to spoil itself especially when it was so wonderfully setup. It takes away the multiple reward of rewatching value. The abruptness of the ending doesn’t help either.

When it’s being played straight the comedy wit presents itself like the joy of Lake Placid’s satire. But when it’s breaking the fourth wall and trying to be too clever, it stumbles, sadly pulling the carpet from under Driver and Murray’s stellar performances.

Overall, the haphazard script decisions rip the heart of what could have been a contemporary zom-com Return of the Living Dead type classic.

Contains Spoilers

Davey Armstrong suspects his local police officer is a serial killer, along with a group of his friends they spend their summer gathering evidence but with dangerous consequences.

With the popularity of the 1980’s at an all-time high, TV series Stranger Things, the IT film remake to name a few, imagine if the Goonies and Stand by Me teens went on the hunt for a serial killer instead of looking for a dead body or treasure! Directors Anouk Whissell, François Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell’s Summer of 84 offers a modest dark adventure which delivers just that.

The cast are impressive, the teens have family struggles which ring true. Lead Graham Verchere is impressive as conspiracy fan Davey Armstrong. Judah Lewis, reminiscent of a young Rob Lowe and Michael J. Fox is notable along with likable Tiera Skovbye as Nikki Kaszuba providing the typical yet timeless (before Xbox ans PS4) crush interest.

There’s a great score with John Carpenter vibes, contrary to what the critics say there isn’t an over reliance on nostalgia of the titular decade, the soundtrack is 1980s minimal, the pop culture dialogue references are only littered throughout, with the E.T, Poltergeist-like neighborhood location sprinkled with just enough 80s for you to buy the period setting as they spy on their neighbor Rear View Window and Burbs style. It not just in your face nostalgia but also has that teenage discovery, angst and your first love element which crosses generations.

Technically the pacing of the three directors falters in the dark themed closing as the last act, jarringly it goes off the predicable beaten track, but thankfully everything isn’t wrapped up satisfying like an episode of Scooby Doo, hats off to the writers Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith avoiding a paint by numbers ending we all wanted.

With a surprise death, this offering goes out of its way to avoid expectations. This goes both for and against Summer of 84. But there again as the story tells, life isn’t always roses and doesn’t go the way you’d expect.Excellent 80’s style teenage thriller which plays on expectations

Warning Spoilers

Based on The Winchester Mystery House mansion in San Jose, California, where Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Winchester is visited by a doctor to test her sanity.

Directors Michael and Peter Spierig offer an old school paint by numbers ghost story with a fistful of effective jump scares and solid camera work. The recreated period, costumes and setting add to the atmosphere, with the eerie unorthodox Winchester house (and star of the film) is wonderfully created, any paranormal sleuths or those who watch ghost investigation programmes will no doubt be familiar with the mansion.

The real-life story aspect adds additional interest with high-class horror performances from the excellent Helen Mirren and reliable Jason Clarke as Dr. Eric Price. Sarah Snook is notable ‎Jason Clarke. Spierigs and writer Tom Vaughan deliver high collars, possession, visions, poltergeist activity, there’s tiresome tropes of redemption and spooky The Haunted and Hill House-like ghost forgiveness.

Horror fans will no doubt spot the butler twist a mile off and raise an eyebrow at Clarke’s Price subplot but that isn’t a bad thing if you like good old fashion well produced big budget ghost stories.

Warning: Spoilers

The evil powerful Thanos is on a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, which will destroy 50 percent of the whole galaxys population, only a group of superheroes stand in his way.

With its ensemble cast (too many to mention) Avengers: Infinity War is almost wall to wall nonstop action with comic book quips throughout. Thanos is surprisingly likeable in parts and adds some emotional weight making the story more dynamic. Viewers to make sense of chaos on the backdrop of outstanding effects, fantastic sets and outlandish costumes may want to watch Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor Ragnarok to name a few essentials to make sense of the sacrifice and devastation on display.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo offer an enjoyable film with surprise deaths of beloved characters (Loki in the first few minutes) scattered over its well paced lengthy running time, which whizzes by. While older comic book readers may not be able to work out why these on screen character don’t have that secret je ne sais quoi of their paper counterparts, ultra geeks and readers of more recent comic series will no doubt find it a movie Marvel blast. Unlikely characters are paired together, creating some enjoyable comedy, tension and action moments as the story gets bleaker and bleaker for our heroes.

With some sharp editing and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely leave Infinity War on a cliffhanger not seen since The Empire Strikes Back*. Or for those who will never watch another Marvel instalment, behold the most nihilistic ending to a comic book film ever.

*There’s the obligatory after credit scene where Nick Fury calls on Captain Marvel to help Marvel film fans sleep at night until the next installment.

IT (2017) Review

Posted: September 9, 2017 in FILM REVIEWS/COMMENTS
Tags: , , , , , ,

IMG_7758.JPGSeven young outcasts face their worst nightmare when an ancient, shape-shifting evil emerges from the sewer to prey on the town’s children.

Director Andy Muschietti’s story beats are perfect the casting is top notch. Bill Skarsgård is fitting as IT/Pennywise the Dancing Clown, a trans-dimensional evil that awakens every twenty-seven years. Skarsgård’s and Tim Curry’s IT is like Jack Nicholson to Cesar Romero’s Joker, both equally great but a different take on the same character, so there’s no need for comparisons. Incidentally there’s a fitting nod to Curry’s TV Pennywise in a room of clowns. For the main cast there’s the one reminiscent of a young Kevin Bacon, the Rob Lowe looking one, the Molly Ringwald (amusingly self referenced within the film) the River Phoenix one and so on. Echoing The Breakfast Club, Goonies and Stand By Me to name a few.

Muschietti and writers Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman even cram in a creepy gnarled tree and a dilapidated haunted looking house. Starsguard moves eerily slow and contorted at times and uneasy fast at others. There’s much more gore in this adaptation. As a horror it offers enough creepy moments but where it gives today’s horrors a run for their money is the friendship, outcast and bully themes which come directly from Stephen King’s source material.

A major departure from King’s 1986 novel and 1990 miniseries is the 80s setting for the child part, even with the Airwolf T-shirt, New Kids on the Block songs, Casio watch, Gremlins posters and Nightmare of Elm Street 5, Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 showing in Derry’s cinema, some of the period feels a little off but the recreation for the most part works.

Again its strengthen comes from the casting which emotionally affects the story at its core. Frights, whether a cellar, sewer, bathroom or the alley or simple a dark office, the music, sound design thanks to Muschietti’s staging amplifies the chills while wearing its heart on its sleeve with the young performers.

It’s tight and pacey, with enough time for the characters to breath. Muschietti injects plenty of jump scares and creepy moments, and with a larger budget and omitting the adult segments (saving them for an IT sequel/chapter 2 and possibly flashbacks to 1989) it actually, surprisingly is better than its predecessor adaptation.

Packed with terrifying, hallucinatory and nightmare imagery coupled with a near on perfect cast IT is highly recommend.

  When a government vaccine fails to stop another zombie infection a man teams up with an infected woman to escape the quarantined area before a crazy man wanting to be king of the zombies expands the territory.

Sony’s Crackle, all streaming online, on-demand in conjunction with Legendary pictures offer an adaptation of Dead Rising Capcom’s best selling video game. What’s clear from director Zach Lipovsky’s offering is that it’s no cheap cash-in. Opening with a cute cartoon explanation of the zombie anti virus Zombrex, we’re the introduced to hordes of the dead, a creepy clown and policeman zombie within the first few minutes flashback. 

With sweeping city scales and tight close ups there’s a sense of scale, urgency and panic especially with the impending military action. Jesse Metcalfe’s Chase Carter is reminiscent of a mix of D.J, Cotrona and George Clooney’s Seth Gecko nonchalant delivery. It’s good to see one of the biggest 80’s stars Virginia Madsen on the screen in the role of a troubled mother. With plenty of screen presence Meghan Ory is notable as Crystal O’Rourke and Bate’s Motel’s Keegan Connor Tracy is weighty in a small role as Joran.

Sadly Dead Rising is broken up by satirical Robocop-like news reports and interviews featuring Rob Riggle and TV-like fade outs don’t help the pacing. It has a C.S.I crisp look, while not filmatic it doesn’t feel like DTV and has some great special effects. With slicing spinning blades, bats used as weapons and gun-play there’s plenty of zombie blood and guts on display. The second half during the night time scenes gets a little darker, no pun intended, with eerie dead girl characters, chainsaws, rough raping nomads, shotguns, nose biting, motorbikes and more explosions. 

Even though I’ve never played Dead Rising its surprising how it captures the feel of at least the posters, clips and game adverts I’d seen and subconsciously locked away with Metcalfe striking poses of Carter in framed angles synonymous with the game series (think Prince of Persia).

Dead Rising a.k.a. Dead Rising: Watchtower is a solid addition to the saturated zombie film market with well executed effects and action stunt set ups. It’s main issue by default and through no fault of it’s own nor Lipovsky’s or writer/producer Tim Carter is that it’s all been done before. The game also apparently had a liable suit brought against it in 2008 for its similarities to Dawn of the Dead ’78 and 2004. Nevertheless, if Dead Rising the film had been released in 2006 the same year of the game release it may have faired a little better as while it is a good production it feels like it’s covering old ground, zombies in general are not as fresh as they used to be, say in 1985. 

Hopefully it fulfils Dead Rising fans dreams but for the average viewer with nostalgic inducing cult films like Wrymwood and Bloodbath Bombshell injecting new life into the tired genre and big budget outings like The Dawn of the Dead remake and WWZ, Dead Rising feels a little too Resident Evil Apocalypse or TV pilot-like with its expensive C.S.I feel and odd set up for sequel ending. If a TV spin off is to come, Rising’s well executed focus on violence would put it above Z Nation and debatably below The Walking Dead.

A former government agent Snow is unjustly sentenced to 30 years for crimes against the U.S. However, when the President’s daughter Emily visits the Maximum Security (MS) One space prison things go awry and Snow is offered a pardon if he can rescue her against all the odds. This gives him an opportunity to conclude some unfinished business if he can survive the the inmates released from their cryogenic chambers.

Lockout is not meant to be taken seriously and has unjustly met with criticism. In the spirit old school action films directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger deliver a fast paced, slick, sci-fi set in 2079 which lets loose an astonishingly pumped up Guy Pearce against 500 convicts. Although the twist is very predictable for anyone paying attention, there’s enough futuristic shenanigans, action setups, excitement and shocks to entertain.
Pearce goes against his usual dry intelligent typecasting as a wisecracking, chain-smoking, hard man which he pulls off with ease. For our viewing pleasure he’s clearly having a good time with Snow’s tounge and cheek dialogue and throwing himself into the action. Maggie Grace is more than adequate as Emilie Warnock and is physically put though mill and like Pearce has a strong albeit uncomplicated arc. The casting of Vincent Regan as Alex the leader of the prison revolt gives the usual stereo type bad guy some weight and intellect. While psycho Hydell played by Joseph Gilgun is intensely menacing as well as amusing.

The early stylistic bike chase sequence aside the effects including the MS One and space sequences are successfully realised. There is a notable cringe-worthy eye piercing scene and plenty of crunching fistfights as well a energetic interesting story. It’s edgy and hard hitting at times, the fight scenes and shootouts are spectacular and Alexandre Azaria score complements the on screen action. Luc Besson, Stephen St. Leger and James Mather’s writing harks back to the days of old when action heroes were just that. Even though derivate of the many sci-fi thrillers it borrows from it’s a finely executed and complied package. With visual and story elements reminiscent of Escape from New York (1981) and Outland (1981) the script delivers an abundance of one liners that even Schwarzenegger would be proud of.

Lockout is a straightforward, entertaining, sci-fi actioner that proves Guy Pearce can turn his hand to just about anything.

The near future 2089 Earths historical artifact’s and ancient paintings prompt an expedition into space to find our makers but puts the crew of the Prometheus in grave danger when they land on LV-223 in 2093.Veteran director Ridley Scott gives Prometheus its own unique look and rightly so as the action, suspense takes place on LV-223 not LV- 426 as in Alien(s). Without getting bogged down with Alien (2122A.D) comparisons, this is a science expedition not a mining vessel. This change in location allows Prometheus to sit as a stand alone film.

Questioning our origins in a reasonable intelligent way the story written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof is intriguing and makes this film stand above your average sci-fi. That said, Prometheus does raise more questions than it answers yet it’s ambiguity is what makes this film special and allows set-ups for future instalments.

It’s excellently cast and includes international actors Guy Pearce (who is sorely underused) Idris Elba as everyday man Janek and Logan Marshall-Green to name a few. Charlize Theron is astounding as Meredith Vickers, a hard nosed corporate mission director. Notably is Michael Fassbender as David who is every bit as interesting as Bishop and Ash with added a quirky ‘fondness’ for Peter O’Tool. Main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw played by Noomi Rapace is not your typical Ripley clone and carries much of the emotion for the film.

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The effects are first rate, with the Space Jockeys, scenery, ships and Aliens wonderfully realised and rendered. Some of the effects are practical and look organic for the most part. The location and environment feels real and makes everything more palatable. A nod should go to Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography and Pietro Scalia’s editing.

Scott delivers a few standout creepy scenes some particularly gut turning, notably the arm breaking, infection and decontamination scenes- it captures some xenomorph magic.

Marc Streitenfeld’s music score is an effective mixed bag although is a little over used. Both writers and Scott ensure to include a few character twists and wisely incorporate some elements from the Aliens series (in keeping with that world) whether it be a vehicle, a line or setup to possibly appease die-hard fans but for the most part it feels fresh. That said, some character motivations need to be teased out by the viewer for clarification, not all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted.

The film took the Alien series in a direction I was not expecting. As a long-time fan of the Alien series, and with this new Prometheus course I can say I’m satisfied, it’s edge of your seat, gory-suspense – director Ridley Scott is on pretty good form.

Prometheus tackles themes of origin, mortality and biological warfare to name a few and although it feels a little rushed it’s a grower just like the spores themselves.

If you have any burning Prometheus questions head here for answers.

Tape 407 (2012)
Survivors of an aeroplane crash find themselves close to government testing area, pursued by predators they get picked off one by one.
Another Blare Witch, Paranormal Activity, REC, Zombie Diaries to name a few camera style POV film. Despite an impressive created crash site set, CGI ‘dinosaur’ effects and young Abigail Schrader’s acting, Tape 407 is average at best. It’s packed with annoying screaming, shaky camera, bad make-up, sub- par performances and a painfully predicable ending.
Where as the likes of the mediocre Grave Encounter’s made sense to have a camera at all times this falls short in logic and execution. I’m sure the production and crew worked extremely hard and it may have worked better if conventionally filmed. That said, it still would have had the short falls previously mentioned.