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I love 1970's cinema, intense drama, classic action, foreign cinema and I hate Tarantino for the bloated, lazy, thieving, egotistical sociopath that he is. He cannot make his own movies anymore. They're just half-arsed amalgams of all the *beep* he collects from the bargain bins!
Suicide Squad (2016)
Still better than Fant4stic lol
In five or ten years the next generation will no doubt appreciate this much more than we did, although I'm not dismissing it. Suicide Squad has plenty enjoyable qualities and enough to keep your attention. It's not a terrible film as long as you're not a film connoisseur or a comic book fan. For the most part it enjoys a superb production, albeit inconsistent at times. Saying that, I've never met a fan of the source material; not even over the great expanse of the Internet!
A rarity these days is that I managed to watch the movie from beginning to end, whilst paying attention. Saying that, I've done the same with Punisher War Zone and Freddy Got Fingered. I have a high threshold for good trash. I have a low threshold for vapid, soulless trash.
They made some pretty uninteresting characters work for the screen, but desperately diminished others, such as Harley Quinn in regard to her notorious qualities and back story; no doubt to handle the audience with kid gloves.
Will Smith's character is possibly the strongest in the whole film, even though his Deadshot is also light on authenticity. But he works at it while the likes of Killer Croc just snarls and skulks and Katana just serves as a token Asian with a fancy sword.
Jay Hernandez's El Diablo is the underdog for me in terms of redemption and likability and Cara Delavigne does a great job switching character, but is given little else to do other than look impressive. Joel Kinnaman is wooden at times, as always, but has come a long way.
But Jared Leto's Joker? I went in without expectation. I came out with "Feminist Trans 4Chan Toad doing a Scarface impression whilst sounding very much like Rob Schneider's Deuce Bigalow after dental surgery..." He is horrendous but girls will like him anyway, because, "Jared Leto!"
Scott Eastwood and Adam Beach are also massively wasted, and I'd feel sorry for Jai Courtenay, but he chose to audition for a character called Captain Boomerang so exactly what was he expecting to have to work with? Dumb dialogue? Poor humour and action? Check!
Otherwise it's full of spectacle that looks good for the most part and it creates a tone I'd expect of a movie based around comic villains, minus the romanticised Joker/Harley thread which I feel was the weakest link. But if this was the version the studio wanted me to see, I want to see Ayer's Director's Cut.
Damn it, DC, have some faith in your audience. I'm a Marvel fan and I'm still rooting for you!
Outpost: Black Sun (2012)
Most inferior to its originator.
I was a fan of the surprising Outpost of 2008. It was one of the few offerings of the last decade that rose above its cheapness. Steve Barker showed great potential, something that was made clear with the help of veteran character actors such as Ray Stevenson and Richard Brake; not to forget a tightly wound atmospheric soundtrack! Surprisingly, Steve Barker returned to write and direct this sequel and yet it plays like a franchise that has been continued by an amateur replacement.
Whereas the film has strength in a few authentic battle-scenes and the use of functioning weapons and blanks instead of CGI muzzle fire (very important to me), this review isn't about trying to save what remains of a bad film. Its lack of good actors coupled with everything else that fails makes it fall flat beyond its promising opening scenes.
Barker makes the mistake of reinventing what worked to such great effect the first time around. I understand that he was trying to broaden the scope for a greater sense of danger regarding the plot but he fails to deliver on a larger scale. And yet by the time we return to the bunker, it's almost as if the movie ran out of funding.
Outpost was claustrophobic and played on informational - and sometimes sensory - deprivation. In Black Sun, the cinematography is loose, the characters are paper thin and rather than a sense of urgency, the film is paced with the impatience of a rushed production.
Furthermore I was let down by the sudden differences in the undead Nazi threat. In Outpost they couldn't die, not even after the EMP blast in the final scenes. Now all of a sudden they're being defeated with knives and they're dumber. They don't attack with the same savagery and they do a lot of screaming, which kills the mystery that actually made them frightening.
Finally, and I'm breaking my own rule of not spoiling movies in my reviews, what the hell made Steve Barker think it'd be good or scary in any way to throw a witch hag into the mix? The ending doesn't even deserve the result of your insulted intelligence!
Astounding exercise in the psychology of fear.
This is what I'm talking about. Just when you think you're so jaded that nothing can affect you, along comes a film that straddles the line between horror and harrowing drama with the effectiveness of the movies that caused the worst nightmares of your childhood! Citadel flew under the radar back in 2012 and I can see why. It's too grim for the average viewer; the kind of people who seek to escape reality with the absurdity of popcorn movies. Citadel does not want you to escape. It wants to drag you deeper into the cold, black depths of its own private hell. That it does with perfect writing, directing, acting and location.
Too often the torch of "best horror film since..." is passed onto the rip-offs that have no intention of producing originality. They seek recognition for their ability to mimic their betters. Citadel is all alone in its personal nightmare, but if you see it, it will drag you in.
It's amazing how, with the right tools at your disposal, simplicity can lead to such profound filmmaking. Citadel's strengths may seem few at first glance, but through amazing acting on behalf of its lead character, the psychology of fear - the victim mentality, the onset of panic and anxiety, and a visceral insight into post-traumatic stress syndrome - can leap to the viewer like a virus.
With elements of Harry Brown and Tyrannosaur, Citadel is one hyper-real Aphex Twin urban nightmare, shameless in its teasing of the nerves and building atmosphere and suspense like the steam inside a pressure cooker.
The Purge: Election Year (2016)
The best and most suspenseful in the series
The Purge movies have never been perfect, though how often can you call a movie perfect? What was important to me was that Purge: Anarchy sidestepped the curse of the sequel to better the original, and whereas my intuition had me worrying that Election Year would be its downfall, it's now in my opinion the best of the three! I believe that decent movies with potential deserve sequels over all else, with that in mind, and to see The Purge going from strength to strength has been a pleasure. Election Year's strength is that we get one particular surviving character that we can be emotionally invested in before the film has established itself.
Frank Grillo returns as Leo Barnes, once a cop and now personal security for a senator pushing to end the Purge if she becomes president. With that, the clock is already ticking as the powers that be want her dead.
Establishing new characters surviving purge night in Los Angeles, the addition of Mykelti Williamson is more than welcome, but I especially loved some of the new villains brought in, such as the psychotic schoolgirls and the battle hardened mercenary leader. It further reminded me of the Playstation 2 Manhunt games which I once lived for and gave Barnes way too much to contend with, upping the stakes, the suspense and the thrilling edge-of-your-seat battles.
One one hand, the film doesn't leap as far as it could, but not in the premise or where some actors seem to go overkill with their characters. Some others don't act like they're fighting for their lives or have any sense of conviction at all and some opportunities for jumps and scares aren't utilised. There were underwhelming moments just as I was warming up for a good fright.
But on the other hand, whereas critics miss the point in explaining why this would never happen in reality, Purge continues on the path not taken to bring something of a modern day Orwellian nightmare crossed with Manhunt and The Running Man.
It's sheer action and suspense, fantastical and unashamed, and you will root for these characters like never before if you loved the last one!
Garth Ennis's Vision turned up to 11.
Not only does the Preacher adaptation hit the nail on the head, it stylistically and intelligently does Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon's work justice and then superbly extends on their fictional universe and rounds off each character just right! And not only does Preacher bring everything to life faithfully, it gives us more without spoiling what was already as good as perfect, such as Cassidy's high-jinx drug-fuelled adventures and angels DeBlanc and Fiore's funny and yet subtly endearing "woe is me" existence.
And I don't know if it's a compliment or an insult but Jesse, Cassidy and Arseface are the living embodiments of Dillon's sometimes silly and childlike artwork. But just like that artwork, it serves a very important purpose, because the comedic violence wouldn't work any other way.
Otherwise they nail the performances as does the rest of the cast. There's not a hint of grey in the whole show. It's wacky and wonderful, grisly and bewildering and yet sometimes very dark and reminiscent of David Lynch.
Extra props go to Ruth Negga's authentic and sometimes poetic Deep South take on Tulip O'Hare. She could easily be the strongest actor on the show. So could Jackie Earl Haley as Odin Quincannon, best described as a bald and hilariously psychotic Ronnie Corbett. Graham McTavish's Cowboy often steals the show without saying a word.
The gags are perfectly befitting of Ennis's Northern Irish humour and otherwise reminds me of Martin McDonagh's writing (Seven Psychopaths) and the direction and editing style are also spot on.
I cannot find a fault in this show except that I started watching it so early that I can't binge-watch it like I want to!
The Strain (2014)
One of the Best Horror Shows EVER!!!
I've always loved Guillermo Del Toro's work but that doesn't stop me from being fussy, so you know I'm not biased. I'm amazed that he can leave a feature film like Pacific Rim with so many flaws and yet produce a stellar show such as this - now heading onto the third and possibly final season - which pulls out all the stops and competes with some of the best dramas out there as a horror show! The Strain is a slightly new take on the vampire legend in the way that only Del Toro could bring and cleverly connects the present day with legend, lore and historic drama.
The premise allows for darkness and evil to grip New York from the troubled projects on up to the highest echelons of the wealthy and influential while the humble and the lost conflict over their own personal adversities. This is one of my favourite elements of the show. There are so many characters from different backgrounds that if you never read the novels or comics, you don't know who is truly for good but you'll feel for them, even some of the villains.
Portraying the most flawed protagonists that you could ever expect, the likes of Corey Stoll, David Bradley and Kevin Durand slam out perfect performances every time, as do the rest of the cast. And with support from the likes of Doug Jones, Stephen McHattie, Rupert Penry-Jones, Leslie Hope, Samantha Mathis, Sean Astin and Andrew Divoff, it's like a modern day X-Files on a deadline.
Fantastic special effects every time, no expenses spared, strong episodes every time and oodles of intrigue will leave every horror fan binge-watching just to see what happens every next episode.
For television this is a solid 10/10!
The Last Ship (2014)
Well Worth Investing In!
Some shows audiences are magnetised and some they're polarised against. The Last Ship is a popular show from TNT but doesn't seem to get a mention above efforts from the likes of HBO and AMC. This is one of few shows that I gave a chance and ended up binge-watching in the space of two weeks and I've never looked back since!
For a show that sometimes plays off like Star Trek (redshirts traded for Navy blue camouflage), I haven't been this emotionally invested in so many characters since the likes of Band of Brothers. And it shouldn't be hard to understand why.
With so much veteran talent and fresh promising talent in the same boat, and with a non-stop sense of danger that rises from episode to episode, it's been well-established that not even our leads are safely plot-armoured.
With Michael Bay's name on the crate and with the premise of the US military out to save the world once more, this could have been a predictable and overly patriotic sick bag.
Instead, thanks to brilliant performances (especially from Eric Dane, Adam Baldwin, John Pyper-Ferguson and Mark Moses) here is a series that will earn its stripes for seasons to come!
Drive Hard (2014)
Not great, not terrible.
I question the ambition of this middle of the road action movie which has little in the way of actual action or surprise. Again, two often bankable but fading movie stars paired up in an effort that would even have gone unnoticed on terrestrial TV in the mid-'90s - I guess they need to work like the rest of us, but they're better than this! Thomas Jane is an ex-racer living in Australia, doing a 9-5 job that he hates and living in marriage limbo, when a client who may be a stalker turns out to be a bank robber with a higher purpose.
Jane is dragged into the crime, which quickly turns into a game of cops and robbers but then suggestively goes deeper as the corrupt bank pulls out all the stops to catch them. It's a shame that anybody other than Jane and Cusack don't appear to have acted in any capacity other than for soap operas, which is as good as pantomime; and that's what it often feels like.
It's a simple plot that works in the hands of a capable production company, and Drive Hard does feature some nice stunt driving, but it's rather tepid and doesn't dare to do much more than turn a few sharp corners.
It's just nice to have featured a Ford Falcon and a Mustang Fastback. There are some highlights. Jane's character suffers many a humorous mishap including a brawl with an old woman, but overall I could have been thrilled once or twice. That's not too much to ask.
John Cusack's appearance in the movie prompted me to forget what I was watching and to search the internet for the state of his health. He not only appears ill and barely invested, he looks like death, or more specifically George Stark in Stephen King and George Romero's The Dark Half, including the weird crud happening under the surface of his face.
Overall not a great film, and a lot will pass you by as a result of boredom, but it isn't awful if you must watch it for yourself!
Give 'em Hell Malone (2009)
Give 'Em A Budget, Hollywood!
I was recommended this movie some years ago. I never did have the heart to get around to it until now. Thomas Jane has been treated badly by the film industry, though he's quite the eccentric and not much of a scenester, so I'm always apprehensive as to the movies he does, especially after The Mutant Chronicles.
And then there's Russell Mulcahy, who despite some valiant efforts never did better than Highlander. In fact he's often gone the direction of career suicide.
Give 'Em Hell, Malone! is a modern day LA film noir and also very comic-book by nature. It features a few good actors and then those who should not be encouraged (Doug Hutchison).
Bringing up director Russell Mulcahy, someone whose movies became increasingly cheaper with the arrival of digital, the film often suffers the look of a crowd-funded Internet series, only the likes of Mortal Kombat Legacy had better stunt co-ordination considering many of its actors had considerably less experience than Tom Jane and Ving Rhames.
Despite this, the writing is its strong point and our leads do deliver (though I hate Hutchison with a passion and doubt he could act his way out of a sandwich board). Malone's relationship with his mother is a definite highlight and the stunning Elsa Pataky deserved more to work with than looking pretty.
Thomas Jane's Malone is reminiscent of classic Charles Bronson at times but uncannily feels and looks like Humphrey Bogart aside from the comic violence and trademark Jane chuckle fodder.
Not a bad film at all. It just deserved to look more professional and to be less rushed!
Surprising and Suspenseful
Just beyond the opening scenes, Standoff quickly rises above its cheapness as an enjoyable and gripping suspense thriller. Then we're treated to an old breed of filmmaking that hasn't been this well-done since the likes of Misery! I love both headlining actors dearly but they've unfairly fallen off the radar in recent years. I still buy into their efforts on occasion despite bitter reviews, though, because budget does not always make for a great movie. In this case, it hits the spot.
So an ex-military man turned mafia hit-man hunts the sole witness of a multiple murder - a young girl with a camera - to a lonely farmhouse inhabited by a grieving alcoholic. Literally this is the premise and the scene is set for a siege and an edgy war of wits as one tries to convince the other to let him have the girl and walk away.
Sometimes that's all you need; no winding plot twists to keep people guessing. Sometimes it's just about the suspense and the viscera, but Standoff benefits from a great script and the skills of the director who also wrote it.
It has an old-school feel to it, and when we get down to it, even the look of the film harks back to a day of shamelessly simple effectiveness.
Fishburne is on top form as the villain, bringing the ghetto mentality of former villainous roles from the likes of King of New York and Assault on Precinct 13. He's sharper than ever, bursting with character and both smouldering and cold-blooded.
Thomas Jane also throws in his strongest performance in a long time and his man on the edge versus the man on a deadline is both genius acting and writing at once. They don't make characters like this anymore. Back in the '70s or '80s the role could have belonged to Lee Marvin, James Coburn or Roy Scheider.
I'm surprised and saddened that Standoff isn't getting recognition. It deserves a round of applause!