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3276 reviews in total 
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Lacking in emotion., 29 July 2016

In a near-future ravaged by robots, resistance fighter John Connor (Christian Bale) searches the post-apocalyptic wasteland for teenager Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), the key to mankind's survival. Meanwhile, executed prisoner Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) inexplicably finds himself both free and alive, caught in the battle against the machines.

There is no doubt that Terminator Salvation is sorely missing Arnold Schwarzenegger's presence, lacking the humour and personality that the Austrian action-star brings to the series. An impressive cast has been assembled to take his place, but they are no match for the man who has defined the franchise. Simply put, Arnold IS The Terminator!

Of course, a decent plot wouldn't have hurt either, but the fourth film fails fans in that department too, with a bland story that involves an executed criminal brought back from the dead for a chance at redemption, a narrative that lacks the efficient simplicity of the first film, nor the mind-bending complexity of the second, falling squarely in mediocre territory, with an over reliance on big-budget CGI set-pieces to drive things forward.

Director McG undeniably handles the action with technical prowess pulling off some stunning visual trickery, and if all you're after is an endless tirade of explosive eye-candy then you'll be more than satisfied, but as a whole the film lacks the emotional charge necessary to successfully reboot the franchise. I sat, I watched, but like a robot, I felt nothing.

As is so often the case in real-life, there is no happy ending to The Girl Next Door., 29 July 2016

I'd read that The Girl Next Door was harsh viewing, and was fully expecting a film that delivered a barrage of explicit on-screen violence. What I got wasn't nearly as graphic as I had imagined, but thanks to its 'based on a true story' subject matter and impeccable performances all round, the film proved to be as soul-crushing, demoralising, utterly nasty, and incredibly sad as can be.

Blythe Auffarth plays teenager Meg Loughlin, survivor of a terrible car crash that claimed the lives of her parents and which left her younger sister Susan (Madeline Taylor) seriously disabled. When the sisters are sent to live with their cousins in the country, they are subjected to mental and physical torture at the hands of their bitter and twisted Aunt Ruth (a thoroughly chilling performance from Blanche Baker), who encourages her sons and their friends to join in with the abuse. David (Daniel Manche), the boy next door who has befriended the older sister, is appalled by what he witnesses, but is unable to prevent poor Meg from being beaten, branded, raped and mutilated.

A totally harrowing experience designed to leave you feeling numb inside, this is far from what could be described as an enjoyable film, but as a study of just how corrupt and evil people can be to a fellow human being, there are few that are more effective. Kudos to all involved in making such a powerful ode to the sickness inherent in mankind.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not as great as DOFP, but still a lot of fun for fans of the franchise., 27 July 2016

The Nile Valley, 3600BC: mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is revered as a god by the Egyptians, but his growing power proves to be his downfall, at least for a few millennia, as a group of concerned humans successfully carry out a plan to trap him under a collapsing pyramid. Cut to the 1980s, and Apocalypse is finally released from his tomb, recruiting several misguided mutants (including Storm and Magneto) as his followers in order to achieve world domination.

There's an awful lot going on in this latest X-Men adventure, so much so that it's a little too much to take in at times. As a result, the storytelling suffers a little, but not enough to prevent this from being another fun addition to the franchise (my favourite superhero series by far). Not as mind-blowing as Days of Future Past, but still a very entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.

Evan Peters as Quicksilver once again steals the show with another awesome display of his super speed abilities, rescuing the mutants of Professor Xavier's School for the Gifted from a massive explosion, but there is plenty else to wow the senses, the film packing in lots of slick set-pieces, including the spectacular opening 'pyramid collapse' scene, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) pushing his powers to the limit, and Wolverine on the rampage (an uncredited cameo from Hugh Jackman).

7.5/10, rounded up to 8 for Olivia Munn as very sexy villainess Psylocke, the neat jibe about the third film in a series always being the worst, and for including Metallica's The Four Horsemen on the soundtrack.

Sacrifice (2016/II)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
When visiting a remote Scottish community, don't trust ANYONE., 24 July 2016

Unable to conceive, Dr. Tora Hamilton (Radha Mitchell) moves from the U.S. to the Shetland Isles where she and her husband intend to adopt a child. What Tora doesn't realise is that any character in a horror movie who visits a remote Scottish island where the locals are a bit shifty is destined to fall foul of a pagan cult still practising ancient rituals.

Part The Wicker Man (obvs), part Silent Witness, this mediocre horror/thriller never surprises, from Tora's fraught with danger investigation of the corpse she unearths while burying a horse (it's okay… it's dead!), right down to the cliff-top finale that sees the main bad guy giving our heroine more than one chance to do him in (which she does). Everything plays out exactly as one would expect.

Had writer/director Peter A. Dowling pushed the envelope a bit more—taken a few more risks—this could have been a far more effective flick; as it stands, it feels a bit like a made-for-TV movie-of-the-week.

Curse of the Crimson Altar: is it just me or does that sound like a euphemism for menstruation?, 24 July 2016

Antiques dealer Robert Manning (Mark Eden) travels to the remote village of Greymarsh in search of his missing brother Peter, who was last seen at a country lodge belonging to Mr. Morley (Christopher Lee), descendant of local witch Lavinia (Barbara Steele, looking a bit like the Tretchikoff print my mum used to have hanging in her living room) who was burnt at the stake.

'60s horror titans Lee and Steele are joined by old-school favourite Boris Karloff in this exploitative effort from Tigon Studios that lacks a decent plot but which compensates somewhat with a few exploitative elements, including debauched young revellers, mild torture perpetrated by a muscleman in leather briefs and a stag antler helmet, and a spot of gratuitous nudity (bum and boobs) courtesy of Virginia Wetherell, who plays Morley's vivacious niece Eve.

Storywise, the film feels like it was made up on the go, the plot lurching from one scene to the next with little regard for logic (Michel Gough, as mentally retarded butler Elder, provides several pointless moments before inexplicably turning up dead), but with its incredible triumvirate of genre greats and all of its campy schlock horror ingredients, the film is such a silly slice of Satanic nonsense that it is hard not to enjoy just a bit.

Not as good as the original., 23 July 2016

The arrival of a new patient at a home for the mentally ill stirs up ghosts from the past, causing the staff and residents to exhibit severe personality changes.

S.F. Brownrigg's cult 1972 horror Don't Look In The Basement gets a belated sequel courtesy of Brownrigg's son, Tony. Unlike his father's film, which was a cheap, grainy, lo-fi effort (none of which prevented it from being an effective shocker), Tony's film is surprisingly polished, boasting crisp cinematography and solid performances. What it is lacking, however, is a decent pace and a strong story.

The first forty minutes of Don't Look In The Basement 2 are extremely uneventful and unfold at a snail's pace, introducing the viewer to the characters, none of whom are as memorable as those in the original film. At around the halfway mark, the plot gets a little more interesting as people begin to act strangely, but the leaden pace persists. There's a smattering of gore to help liven up proceedings (including some graphic gut munching), but on the whole I found the whole thing frustratingly lacklustre, and not really worth the 40+ year wait.

Movie 43 (2013)
Even worse than you've probably heard., 22 July 2016

I watched Movie 43 just to see if it was as lousy as I had heard. It wasn't… it was far worse! An incredible cast make absolute tits of themselves in this train wreck of a 'comedy' that generates about as many laughs as a terrorist attack on a children's hospital.

The film comprises of a series of skits, short movies found in the darkest regions of the internet by teenager Baxter (Devin Eash), who has been tricked by his brother into searching for the non-existent Movie 43. With lots of writers and a different director handling each segment, one might reasonably expect the result to be a mixed bag, but this godawful mess is a 100% low-brow turd of monumental proportions.

Amongst the A-listers who embarrass themselves: Hugh Jackman, whose character has a pair of testicles under his chin; Kate Winslet, who allows Jackman's chin-balls to swing in her face; Halle Berry, who sports massive prosthetic breasts; Naomi Watts, one of a pair of parents who home-school their son, making sure to include the more painful moments of a standard education; Chris Pratt, whose girlfriend (Anna Faris) asks him to poop on her; Uma Thurman, who has a blind date with Robin, The Boy Wonder (Justin Long); Richard Gere, inventor of a woman-shaped MP3 player that mutilates teenage boys; Chloë Grace Moretz as a teenage girl suffering from her first period.

Other famous names who somehow ended up in this debacle: Stephen Merchant, Seann William Scott, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Gerard Butler, Greg Kinnear, Liev Schreiber, Emma Stone, Justin Long, Kate Bosworth and Elizabeth Banks. So much talent, so few laughs…

Not scary, but still gripping., 21 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Four months after the accidental death of his wife and child, composer John Russell (George C. Scott) takes a position as a college music lecturer, renting a creepy old house for the duration; there, he experiences a series of supernatural phenomena that leads him to uncover the secret behind a decades old murder.

As haunted house movies go, The Changeling is one of the least scary that I have seen, largely due to the fact that I never never really felt like protagonist John was in any real danger from the spirit that shared his new home. Despite this, the film still stands as a very watchable entry in the ghost story sub-genre thanks to fine performances, oodles of atmosphere, and a mystery that holds one's interest to the end despite the predictability of the spooky shenanigans (did anyone really NOT expect the toy ball to reappear at the house?).

Oscar winner Scott lends the whole thing an air of class, and he is given fine support by Trish Van Devere as realtor Claire Norman, who is shocked to learn that the house she has rented is haunted by the spirit of a murdered child. Director Peter Mendak might not deliver (m)any genuine chills or shocks, but he keeps things trundling along nicely, his film still proving fun for the duration.

6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for IMDb.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The politics of The Purge., 20 July 2016

The first Purge movie was a taut home invasion horror that took place in a single location, on the one night in the U.S. that all crime is legal. The second film took the chaos to the city streets. This third film in the franchise paints a much larger picture, depicting the power struggle between the New Founding Fathers, instigators of The Purge, and those who want the yearly night of violence abolished, believing (quite rightly) that the event was created by the rich and powerful as a means of culling the poor.

Elizabeth Mitchell plays Senator Charlie Roan, leader of the political opposition to the Founding New Fathers, who finds herself running for her life after the current administration decide to use The Purge for a spot of 'spring cleaning', targeting their rivals. Protected by her head of security Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), Roan tries to survive the night, all the while hunted by vicious white power mercenaries. Helping her to make it through to the morning alive are deli owner Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson), his loyal employee Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) and one-time street punk Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel).

Together, the three Purge films work as a neat trilogy, each expanding on the initial intriguing premise, offering up social satire and a liberal anti-violence/anti-gun message (while delivering plenty of shooting and graphic violence in the process, so that even those who don't agree with the film's politics have something to enjoy). I do, however, feel that, like the protagonists of Election Year, it is finally time to call it a day on The Purge: I'd rather leave matters as they are than see the series go rapidly downhill as the makers begin to scrape the barrel for ideas.

Holidays (2016)
We all have our favourite holiday. Mine was New Year's Eve., 18 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Southbound, V/H/S (and its sequels), The ABCs of Death 1 & 2: there have been a lot of horror anthologies as of late that have largely forsaken strong stories in favour of abject weirdness. Holidays is, for much of the time, no different.

The first tale, which takes place on Valentine's Day is utterly predictable, with shades of Carrie and an ending that reminded me of the Valentine's episode in Tales from the Crypt (1972); the next three stories—St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and Mother's Day—are just too bizarre to be satisfying, each failing to wrap up in a coherent manner. The fifth story, Father's Day, is going great guns until the completely underwhelming ending.

Fortunately, this collection of the macabre gets much better towards the end, with three stories that actually make sense…

Halloween, from director Kevin Smith, is entertaining for its sheer nastiness, as three internet porn girls take revenge on their nasty boss using a vibrator, a tube of superglue, a car battery and a sharp knife.

Christmas stars Seth Green as a desperate father who steals a present for his kid— a virtual reality headset—from a man suffering from a heart attack, and is surprised by what he sees when he tries out the gadget for himself.

And the best is saved for last with New Year's Eve, in which a serial killer who finds his victims via dating websites finally meets a 96% match—which means that she is as just as unhinged as he is. This one finally delivers a well written story, decent performances, and some splattery gore, all in one neat little package.

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