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[REC] 4: Apocalipsis (2014)
No really that apocalyptic
'Rec 4: Apocalypse' is (apparently, as it stands now) the 'finale' to the popular Spanish zombie movie franchise 'Rec.' The first two films were all shot as 'found footage' with constant hand-held camera-work in claustrophobic environments and, although Part II was never going to be met with such adulate as the original, it was still done in the spirit. However, Part III decided to ditch the 'found footage' element after about twenty minutes, leaving some fans to question whether it should even be considered part of the 'Rec' franchise. Now we have Part IV, where the 'found footage' element has completely gone. Just thought I'd point that out so be warned! What we're left with is a zombie movie on a boat (with Spanish subtitles, obviously). And, in case you're a fan of 'The Walking Dead', the zombies in Rec are not the type to 'walk.' They're the new 'infected' type who will happily chase you down while they try and qualify for the 100 metre sprint.
And it's not that bad. It has pretty much everything you'd expect from a (modern) zombie movie. I haven't watched the three previous Rec films for a while, so I couldn't really relate to how much this one continued the story. Although it did seem to mention the original two more than the widely panned third outing set at a wedding.
Expect running from zombies, barricading them out and generally always getting 'headshots' at the right moment. Although, if I was given a pound for every time a character slammed a ship's inner door in a zombie's face, I'd be a very rich man.
So, there's not much new here and you definitely don't need to have watched the originals. You just need to be in the mood for (another) zombie film with good gore, good acting and reasonable thrills. That way you'll get something out of it (even if some die-hard fans of the Rec series don't see it that way).
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014)
Tragically poignant in retrospect
There's no doubt that Robin Williams was one of the great actors of the last twenty to thirty or so years. His films were wide and varied, therefore most casual fans, while accepting his brilliance, probably didn't like them all, but most would have a favourite. Now he's gone we're just left with his back catalogue to remember him by. As I've said, many of them are classics and worth their place in cinema history, sadly 'The Angriest Man in Brooklyn' will probably really only be remembered as one of Williams' last movies.
He plays the titular 'angriest man' who is pretty much fed up with the world around him. One particularly bad day he ends up in hospital where an equally disenfranchised-with-life doctor (played by Mila Kunis) ends up breaking down and informing him that he's only got ninety minutes to live. This hardly improves his mood, but it does give the film its story, i.e. what will the 'angriest man in the city' do with his final moments.
Unfortunately, the answer isn't as much as we'd probably like. It's fair to say that Williams isn't at his best. Perhaps, given light of his emotional state in real life, his heart and soul weren't really into acting this time round, especially as a guy who's not really into life and given only moments to live.
The film's flaw is that it doesn't really know what it is. I guess it's supposed to be a comedy, but it's not really that funny (especially given what then happened to Robin Williams). Maybe it should have tried to stick at being a dark drama, but that's all academic now. It is what it is. And it is a sad story, not because it's that well-written or particularly good, but because you can't help but relate it to what happened in real life.
If you're a fan of Robin Williams, you'll probably enjoy it. Or not. I'm a fan, but I found it rather sad really. I won't watch it again. Not because it's that bad, but because there are countless other Robin Williams films that he should be remembered by.
Sadly only average, despite the A-list cast
First of all, let me inform you that this film holds the (dubious) honour of being the quickest cinema release to go straight to DVD (just over two weeks). The reason, sadly, was that it hardly set the box office ablaze and the filmmakers were desperate to try and recoup some of the money they obviously had to fork out for Cage and Kidman.
Trespass is part of this new genre of thriller/horrors, known as 'home invasion movies.' Basically, a gang of unlikeables enters a lovable family's home and threatens them/robs them etc. Will Mr and Mrs Average survive and dish out some well-deserved retribution along the way? In the case of Trespass, who cares? It's a pretty basic film - basic plot, basic script, basic characters and even basic acting from two stars who should know better. The characters spout clichés - the robbers shout, the hostages scream and any small plot development or motivation you can see coming a mile off (I won't give anything away, just in case you don't).
It's not the worst film of its genre by far. I didn't feel like I'd totally wasted an hour and a half of my life. It's just it should have been better, bearing in mind who was in it. I don't know what Cage and Kidman were thinking, agreeing to star in this.
Bottom line - it'll never be more than 'just okay' (and there was something severely strange about Nicholas Cage's hair - I couldn't put my finger on it).
Alas poor Danny, I knew him well
Danny Dyer is an enigma. A man not particularly... well, anything at all, and yet he still has a loyal fan base and, even more surprisingly than that, a career.
The only thing weirder, is why I keep watching his films. The Business and Severence were excellent (and I will admit to also like Doghouse), plus he did one about football hooliganism which was just about okay, but pretty much everything else he's done is terrible.
If you read the blurb it says, and I quote: "NERVE-SHREDDING TERROR... DANNY DYER AS YOU'VE NEVER SEEN HIM BEFORE Prepare yourself for one of the most terrifying films of the year. An all-action, adrenaline-fueled bloodbath" I have to wonder why no one's reported the film-makers for false advertising. Perhaps because no one has actually bothered to watch the films? Dyer plays an escaped nut-job who kidnaps a middle class mum and drives her around London while he flips from being nice then nasty to her. Everywhere they stop she tries to escape and fails. Will she get away in the end? I defy many people to actually care.
I like horror and thrillers and there are some real low budget gems out there (try 'Mum and Dad'), but this is not one of them. Repetitive, badly-written and not particularly well acted either.
Much better than it has a right to be
There are so many of these sorts of horror films, where a nice young couple go off the beaten path, only to fall foul of some random horrific force. However, although Splinter does succumb to a certain amount of clichés, it does raise itself over many of its contemporaries.
You may think a film with only six cast members, stuck in the pretty uninspired location of an American gas station, doesn't really produce a recipe for great horror. However, Splinter is short and it makes the most of everything it's got. Plus, it's also one of the few films that doesn't reply on CGI to create monstrous effects, preferring to use the old fashioned method of make-up and prosthetics. And soon our hapless heroes are running, panicking away from what turns out to be a reasonably well thought-out kind of monster.
The acting is reasonable for what is effectively a B-movie and, if you look online for negative criticism, you'll mainly see people who feel that the female lead is way too attractive to be dating someone so 'nerdy.' Personally, I think it gives us nerds hope yet! Basically, Splinter is nothing new, but if you like your horror/monster movies short, sweet and violent, then this one is definitely better than most of the rest.
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)
Probably best to give this one a miss
Cabin Fever 3? Where did it come from? Why is it here? Who made it? All these questions you'll probably never really figure out by watching the film. The first in the series was released over a decade ago. It was a nice (or rather horrible!) little film about a flesh-eating virus which didn't need any more done on the subject matter. However, they made a second instalment anyway. This was met with pretty much universal hatred. Therefore, the fact they went as far as to make number three remains a mystery.
Personally, I didn't mind the second one. Yes, it wasn't as good as the first, but it was just about watchable. Number three is about five times worse than number two. It's about four American youngsters (who's good looks just about make up for any social niceties) who go to a remote island for some reason (are you bothered? You're only interested in the gore!) and end up falling foul to that good ol' fashioned killer virus we all know so well.
Cabin Fever 3 is low budget. I have nothing against low budget films. However, if you can't afford A-list actors or special effects, at least try to make up for it by entertaining characters we can root for and relate to. No such luck here. When it comes to the battle between flesh-eating virus verses man, you too will probably root for the virus.
The only famous face you might recognise is Sean Astin. Mordor and fun with Frodo seems a long way off now and he's reduced to some sort of extended sub-plot/cameo in this film. At least he's tried to disguise his appearance with a beard, but you can tell beneath the facial hair he's ashamed to be here and would rather have flung himself into Mount Doom instead of the One Ring. While the annoyingly good-looking teens are being eaten alive by the bug, Sean's been captured by a scientist who is so evil he speaks with a kind of randomly-changing accent which can be anything from British, through Canadian to American. Plus he seems to have employed two Victoria Secrets models for his lab assistants.
However, it's not all bad (well, mostly it is). There is some nice gore and make-up. However, that makes up about ten of the ninety minutes. For the rest you'll probably be asking yourself why these infected people suddenly start behaving like zombies half way through the film (when you're not dwelling on why this film was ever made in the first place). If you like dark and gory horror (with a helping of tongue in cheek) then watch the first Cabin Fever ignore anything that shares its name made after the original.
The Dictator (2012)
Typical Sacha Baron Cohen
Ali G, Borat, Bruno. If you've seen any of them, then you probably know what to expect from Sacha Baron Cohen. Vulgar, crude, politically INcorrect are just some of the terms you could use - depending on your opinion.
Basically, if you're easily offended, you probably won't want to watch the tale of an evil Middle Eastern Dictator who finds himself lost in America amidst a plot to oust him from power.
However, there are still plenty of people who find this sort of humour funny (and I'm one of them). Personally, I didn't think it was as good as Borat or Bruno as the second half seemed a bit forced. The film lasted just under the typical hour and a half mark, but probably could have got away with being an hour long. It would probably have been a pretty funny hour - if you like that sort of thing.
The major criticisms being thrown at The Dictator is claims of racism (just like Borat and Ali G, not to mention claims of homophobia at Bruno) and whether the film mocks Middle Eastern stereotypes, or whether it actually attacks those who impose the stereotypes. The film has also come under fire for being too 'pro-Jew' too anti-American and generally too liberal. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. It's one of those arguments where if you're looking to use this film to support or challenge your own political viewpoint or religious beliefs there are arguments for and against.
The bottom line is that it's quite funny. Quite. Not as good as Borat or Bruno, but still there are plenty of silly and vulgar (and I should emphasis the words 'silly' and 'vulgar' because they're the backbone of this film) moments to make you laugh out loud. Probably not a classic, but entertaining nonetheless.
Solomon Kane (2009)
Not as bad as you might think
I read another review on Solomon Kane and it described it as 'They way Van Helsing should have been, if it wasn't rubbish.' Personally, I think that's a little unfair on Hugh Jackman's portrayal of the legendary vampire hunter, but, in some ways, I can see the reason behind it.
Solomon Kane is a very similar beast. It's set in the middle ages in England and has a very familiar/Van Helsing-ish feel to it, i.e. you have the long haired man in black (complete with hat) fighting monsters (only Solomon has to contend with mainly demons and witches, rather than vamps and werewolves) while on a path to redemption.
However, the one very noticeable difference is the budget. Van Helsing had one, Solomon Kane has less of one. Therefore there's less CGI special effects (some may say that's a bonus, based on the quality of Van Helsing's) and less big action scenes. What you have instead is some 'gritty realism' - or as gritty and real as a film can be about slaying mythical creatures.
Solomon Kane is basically Van Helsing, minus the budget, plus the gore. It's actually quite good, for what it is. It'll never be more than a cult hit, but if you're into sword and sorcery (and want to see the first hero ever who sports a West Country accent) then you can do worse than this.
Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
When will American teenagers ever learn?
America has a rich history of sending its youngsters off into remote locations, only for them to end up getting slaughtered one by one by werewolves/vampires/cannibal rednecks and so on.
If modern horror films have taught us nothing else, it's don't go anywhere that doesn't have mobile phone reception.
Therefore, when a group of overly-attractive American teens go on holiday across Europe and end up in Moscow, they can't resist the offer of being driven round Chernobyl - the site of a nuclear reactor leak a couple of decades ago which left the neighbouring towns deserted - by a one-man Russian tour guide.
Yes, there's no cell phone reception. Yes, their van just so happens to break down once they get inside. And, yes, they ignore the warnings not to go there by the Russian soldiers who tell them there is 'Maintenance' going on inside. So they go in. Guess what? They soon wish they hadn't.
I won't spoil the surprise of what awaits them inside, but they soon end up fighting and fleeing for their lives and screaming along the way.
It's not a bad little horror film. The performances are acceptable, but by the time the credits roll you won't really feel much of a connection to any of the characters as they have never really been properly developed. The real star of the film is the location itself. I don't know where it was filmed, but it's bleak, deserted and creepy, which does lend itself to the film's subject material.
The ending has come in for some criticism. And, yes, it did feel a bit 'tacked on' to the rest of the film. Maybe there's an alternative ending out there that would suit the mood a little better? Overall, okay, but probably not quite as good as it should have been (and I wished it was).
Not bad - for a second sequel
The original Tremors was a classic (not in the sense of The Godfather or Empire Strikes Back). If you like cheeky monster-munching B-movies, you couldn't go far wrong with Tremors. Plus it was successful, therefore sequels were inevitable.
Amazingly, Tremors 2 was reasonably well-received, so many doubted how a third outing would turn out. The two main stars are now gone and the top billing falls to a secondary character in the first two films - gun-totting Burt Gummer. He now returns to his home town to find that the monster worms are now back and spawning (another) new strain of their lifecycle.
Now, Tremors 3 will never be perfect and definitely not a patch on the original, but, for a sequel, it is fun. The worms are now computer-generated (which is a downpoint), but, if you enjoyed the first two and are happy to see the story go on then you should already like the genre and probably won't be two disappointed. On the other hand, if you've never watched a Tremors film before - start with the first one, then the second. If you're still happy, then do the third.