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Tongue in cheek horror experience
A bunch of tourists are in Chile to party, but when an earthquake hits the city, they need to fight for survival, not only against the natural disaster, but also against criminals who seized the opportunity to escape from prison.
I would have rated 'Aftershock' higher than 6 of 10 if it wasn't for the boring first 30 minutes. We get introduced to characters who are so dumb that we really wouldn't care if they all get buried by the earthquake. This lengthy introduction turns out to be a waste of time, anyway, because some of them are killed off early, while other characters who are more important for the movie get 3 seconds of back story ('Trust me, I'm a firefighter').
However, after the quake it gets thrilling, violent, suspenseful with a lot of action, which made the movie worth watching after all. I was not surprised to learn in the making of (watched on DVD) that several of the makers of 'Aftershock' have previous experience in comedy rather than horror, it's the timing of some scenes that tells it. For example the lady who shows the tunnel and then makes the mistake to stick her head first - that's the 'oops' timing of a comedy, not a horror movie. But it works and makes the movie more original. Also the background with a catastrophe that destroys the usual human behaviour so quickly is believable. Not too bad after all, but I recommend to press fast forward at the beginning.
What Happened to Monday (2017)
Welcome to the Future
'What Happened To Monday' is a remarkable movie. I would almost love it, if it wasn't for a couple of stupid things that damaged it for me. Sorry I can't explain that without SPOILERS.
First, the unnecessary finger cut-off scene. Why unnecessary? Because they are living in a future where medical science has progressed so that for example Tuesday's missing eye can be replaced. But they can't repair a finger with a small artificial limb and prefer to cut off 6 more fingers instead? Second, the logistics behind the freezing operation. We are told siblings all over the world are frozen, so hundred of thousands of them must be stored somewhere. This requires huge facilities with thousands of staff members, doesn't anyone notice they don't exist anywhere? Third, the company in charge wants to pretend everything they do is legal and perfectly okay. And then they shoot passers-by who happen to stand in the way when they are chasing Wednesday? Warfare on their own citizens, does it go unnoticed or what?
Regrettably this movie is far from perfect with quite a lot of holes in it, but still it is very interesting and worth watching for the amazing performance of Noomi Rapace who talks to herself in various roles, from the shy computer nerd to the lazy party girl or the sporty chick. She even has a death scene with herself, how unique is this? I can hardly imagine the workload when you are constantly on the set in one of your 7 roles, shooting and reshooting the same scene from a different perspective. Give it a try - one more reason to watch is that the subject of overpopulation is so serious that you can't think enough about it.
Black Water (2018)
Shoot to thrill
'Black Water' really surprised me. It's easily one of the best entries in the filmography of its two stars in this decade. Comparisons to the old days are quite useless, because I wouldn' expect someone who is almost 60 to put his foot in other people's faces a lot - apparently some fans do, and that's the bunch with the low ratings. The movie does not feature any kicks, look elsewhere for that. Instead, 'Black Water' is an intense thriller with psychological tension (okay, and a lot of ammo used as well). Agents from different sides are locked in a submarine with their enemies, some may be double agents, most of them don't tell the truth, so the captain and many others have a hard time guessing who is on who's side - and then, in the extremely narrow space, chases and deadly shoot-outs take place.
Jean-Claude Van Damme as Wheeler is the hero here, while Dolph Lundgren as Marco is a prisoner whom Wheeler releases although he doesn't know anything about him, believing "my enemies' enemy is my friend - probably" which is a good example of how the movie never lets his characters walk on safe ground. Small grudges like the embarassing love scene aside, a good movie that did not need a big budget due to its confined location (almost completely taking place inside the submarine) and a clever script.
The Barbarians (1987)
The quest of the very slow rescue team
Queen Canary (Virginia Bryant) is captured by Kadar (Richard Lynch), who wears black so everybody can see he's the vilain. Two little boys from her people become slaves and later grow to become very strong men. Kutchek (Peter Paul) and Gore (David Paul) decide they'll rescue the queen better late than never, so about 20 years after her capture, the rescue team is on the way! Canary instructs the twins to get a certain magic stone first, and the quest for the ruby involves the usual challenges, from a tavern brawl to fighting a dragon in the swamp. Fortunately, they also meet a girl who does the brain work for them (Eve LaRue)...
I watched most Italian barbarian movies of the 1980s, from "Ator" to "Conquest", but this one I missed somehow which is a shame because with a bigger budget than those, it looks fairly good, and since it fortunately doesn't take itself seriously, it is an entertaining entry in the genre. Realising the limited acting skills of the muscular twins in the lead roles, director Deodato changed the direction of the movie from violent action flick to comedy which was a wise move. Except for a few small gory bits (e.g. cutting off a finger to get a ring), you wouldn't think this is from the same director who shot 'Cannibal Holocaust'.
Noir comme le souvenir (1995)
Black like a 'giallo'
17 years ago, a little girl was murdered. The killer was never found. But now he returns, kills again, leaves the girl's doll or flowers with a card saying "black for the memory" to mark his next victims, and he even decapitates the stone angel on the girl's tombstone. The girl's mother, played by Jane Birkin, is understandably terrified. But what is the murderer trying to tell her?
Interesting, suspenseful thriller much in the vein of Italian giallo with its subject of a serial killer with bizarre and macabre habits, sneaking around in the dark. Much in line with that genre is the musical leitmotif, too: a girl innocently singing "la, la, la, la..." which brings back memories of the unsolved first murder case. The comparatively small production is enhanced by the strong performance of Jane Birkin ("Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye", "Evil Under the Sun").
Jurassic Shark (2012)
No mud, no fun
Illegal drilling releases a prehistoric shark into a lake. Three girls make it to an island in that lake, realising they can't get back into the water and they're stuck on that island. A couple of criminals led by an evil lady in black are also on that island, facing the same problem. While the people on the island are fighting each other rather than working together against the common threat, the shark gets hungry...
The story isn't all bad, and some camera work with the underwater shots, or hovering just above the water surface, shows some basic skills. The four main problems of this amateur movie are: 1) sound. Repetitive dramatic music tries to hide that many noises of the action and the surrounding nature are simply missing. 2) acting. The guys and girls are sympathetic, but inexperienced. 3) location. This "island" is obviously the coast of a rather small lake, it destroys the credibility of the story. 4) sloppy continuity. People fall into the water, swim to the island and arrive with clean, dry clothes. I mean, it is pointless to accuse a low budget production of cheap effects, because they can't afford the million dollar computer tricks and that's life. But if you don't bother to pour some water and mud over the actors to make it look more real, which doesn't cost you a penny, then you just don't care about the movie you are making, and this is annoying.
2307: Winter's Dream (2016)
300 years in the future, after the whole planet is frozen over, Bishop (Paul Sidhu) is asked to hunt the renegade android ASH 393 (Branden Coles). The high intelligence and supeerhuman strength of his opponent makes that an extremely hard task in a hostile environment. Besides, Bishop's general hasn't told him the whole story before he sent him on that mission...
Produced for less than a million dollars, the movie is quite ambitious for its low budget. Its frozen future world reminds me a little bit of Robert Altman's 'Quintet', but unfortunately '2307' enjoys its gun battles in trash movie style too much and has only actors with limited capabilities while suffering a bit from pretentiousness. The best supporting actors are Timothy Lee DePriest as Ishmael, whose harmonica playing is another reference to western movies, and Arielle Holmes as Kix, the most fanatical member of Bishop's team. What we finally get is a movie that fits into the 'Cyborg' subgenre of the 80s/90s Terminator rip-offs, but with a modern design and a better story that most of them.
Horror Safari (1982)
In 1945, Japanese soldiers hid 2 heavy cases of gold in a cave before they had to leave the Philippines. 36 years later, Jefferson (David De Martyn) finances an expedition to find the gold. Tobachi (Harold Sakata, 'Goldfinger') is the only survivor from 1945 and is needed to show the hiding-place. Forrest (Stuart Whitman) and Larson (Edmund Purdom) shall lead the expedition together although they are deadly enemies – they simply can't resist the wages. Cal (Woody Strode), Forrest's girlfriend Maria (Laura Gemser) and Jefferson's daughter Janice (Glynis Barber) join the crew. The expedition seems to run as scheduled, but when they get deeper into the jungle, members of the expedition begin to disappear one by one when mysterious accidents happen...
'Invaders of the Lost Gold' aka 'Horror Safari', in my country 'Söldner Des Todes' ('Mercenaries of Death'), is a low budget adventure flick that has no outstanding qualities despite the good cast. Mostly filmed in a 'jungle' where the natives apparently use a lawnmower and plant palm trees neatly in rows to make it look like a park, poor action scenes, long dialogues in tents and clumsy editing do not result in a thrilling picture. The DVD distributor obviously didn't even bother to watch it before they created a tag line saying something about 'the green hell of Malaysia (!)'. Can we really blame them?
Dead Again in Tombstone (2017)
Actually, undead again
Colonel Boomer (Jake Busey) suspects that Guerrero (Danny Trejo) knows where a book about black magic rituals is hidden. He threatens to kill his family, consisting of daughter Alicia (Elysia Rotaru) and grandma (Michelle Rios, much too young for the role and therefore covered with ridiculous make-up) if Guerrero doesn't tell him the hiding place. Now Guerrero is undead since his pact with the devil in part 1 and comes back several times from the dead. How can Boomer deal with a man he cannot kill, how can Guerrero save his family, and what does the magic book really do?
The first movie was a horror movie in the disguise of a western, but the sequel - apart from the MacGuffin, the magic book - is a much more traditional western about protecting your family against gunfighters (even if some of them are zombies). The technical qualities are good. For example the scene when Boomer blows up a stagecoach and at the same time, Guerrero is caught in an explosive trap in the town, the two explosions are cut parallel to each other, really elegant editing you hardly ever see in cheap movies. If I voted one notch below for the sequel (6 of 10 after 7 of 10 for the first movie) it's because 'Dead Again' lacks a villain of Mickey Rourke's caliber. Otherwise it is a satisfactory variation of the 'Undead Gunman' theme.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
This movie has actually little in common in style with the predecessor. There is much more Tarkovsky ('Stalker', 'Solaris') in it than Ridley Scott. Many people wrote about the picture's deliberate slowness, but hardly anyone about the unusual soundtrack which I thought was truly remarkable. At the beginning of the movie, there are some synthetic space sounds obviously quoting Vangelis, but that's about it regarding similarities to the first movie. Most of the sound consists of noises with extensive echoes, thus the sound very often evokes a feeling of huge empty spaces. This underlines very well how the Replicants have an emptiness in their lives, not owning actual memories. The whole psychology of the movie works very well. Still I'm surprised they got 150 mega bucks for an art movie that denies action scenes to the blockbuster audience almost entirely.
Now for the actors. Apart from Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, I liked Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis and the killer chick Sylvia Hoeks best. From Denis Villeneuve's excellent, but more traditional looking sci-fi film 'Arrival' I had not expected that the style of this movie would be so extreme. I wonder why they made me wear 3D glasses at the cinema. There is so much dust, fog and darkness that you hardly notice any 3D effects. When 'Blade Runner 2049' is released on Blu-ray, I'll be satisfied with the 2D standard version. Yes, I'd like to watch it again, and the only thing I'd like to skip is the horribly clichéd scene when the good old times are celebrated by unearthing Elvis and Frank Sinatra. At that point, I was worried Harrison would start teaching Ryan how to play saxophone next, but they spared us the embarrassment.
Here we go again, part 5 of the most successful pirate series ever. The best moment was the confrontation of the old captains, when Geoffrey Rush (Barbossa) is trying to make a deal with Javier Bardem (Salazar). Every look they give each other is a statement, here are two captains of the same caliber, don't ever turn your back on either of us... Johnny Depp, well, has he been better than in the first part in any of the sequels? He does his usual routine. Brenton Thwaites as Henry and Kaya Scodelario as the astronomer (!) Carina really keep the action going, frankly I didn't miss Bloom and Knightley that much. The movie has a few weaknesses, from the fight at the bottom of the ocean (just to show off where the money for the effects went, but the audience never believes it is real) to silly jokes (I just say 'horologist', ouch!).
But all in all, 'Salazar's Revenge' aka 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' is a good movie to finish the series. They brought some fresh blood in front of the camera (the two young main actors) as well as behind it (two new directors), so you never get a feeling of watching someone flogging a dead horse. I voted 9-8-6-7-7 for the 5 movies of the series.
Back to start
This movie must have managed to annoy almost everyone. I'm surprised that it got any good reviews at all, because don't you all belong to at least one of the groups I'll try and describe in the following lines? First, the SF fans will be annoyed that the makers obviously don't take SF seriously. Whether you have a broken leg or suffer from leukemia - one touch with a ray of light and you're healed by the magical medical device on Elysium. There is not even a weak attempt to convince us a machine like that may exist. Even several centuries later on star ship Enterprise, a cure needed some time. Need more examples? How about the Exo-skeleton, some pieces of plastic glued on a guy's T shirt? This looked terribly cheap for a 100+ million dollar production. And it sometimes provides him with additional power, but sometimes not, depending on how long the fight scene should last. Or the ships that can fly to Elysium in a straight line with continuous speed, no matter whether they fly through the atmosphere at high gravity or empty space with no gravity. They have a year or two to prepare such a movie and don't research some basic physics?
Second, the right wing audience is obviously annoyed (see some other reviews below) that a social message is shoved down their throats. Evil rich Americans in space versus nice poor Mexicans on Earth - the social painting in black and white is such a shame that the makers tried to hush it up at least a bit, letting Jodie Foster speak French in one scene for no reason, a PC kind of apology meaning: we didn't say they are all Americans. Still the message is so clumsy and plain that no-one missed it.
Third, the left wing audience will be upset that the economic idea how everything will improve is ridiculous. Why should the supplies for a couple of thousand people on Elysium - every resource is hard to keep or produce in space - be sent to Earth for distribution among billions of people? That's one blade of grass for each person at best. And to heal every sickness with the magical device will take a million years, imagine the queue. Practically, you'd have to select again and pick some privileged people to get treatment and food... Back to start.
Fourth, movie fans will remember many better movies on similar subjects, from 'Terminator' to 'Silent Running', and dismiss 'Elysium' as a mediocre attempt. In Hollywood blockbuster style, action won over the contents. The leading mercenary wears a samurai sword on his back although he normally doesn't need it; he prefers to shoot with rockets from long distance. He must have thought a sword looks cool. And that's what the movie achieved, it certainly looks cool with that huge space station and the many fights with explosive ammunition. But if you look for intelligent SF with some food for thought, better look elsewhere.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)
Vin and the motley crew
The third installment of Triple xXx. Xander Cage assembled a big team this time. Some characters are great: the nerd girl as a comedy sidekick works well, and I loved the sniper woman who hunts the hunters, not the lions, what a unique introduction. But others are completely useless, like the music kid or the weird bearded bloke. They were invited to the team because they look and behave different from the soldiers - and that's about the only reason, it appears.
The action also has its ups and downs. The opening scene with the skiing and skateboarding is brilliantly filmed and edited. But towards the end, there is an explosion every 5 seconds instead of interesting fights, up to the point that you just wish the noise was over and you could go to sleep. Ice Cube is not needed for the story, but seems to have been written in to apologize they preferred Vin Diesel this time and to link all parts of the trilogy at least shoddily, with a faked death. The movie is altogether disappointing, but for some good moments was worth seeing once.
Pop Redemption (2013)
Metal is forever
'Pop Redemption' aka 'Happy Metal' tells the story of a fictional band, four guys who stick together out of habit, although they feel like splitting up. Three of them have a life, a job, a girlfriend etc., but the singer just totally lives the dream of becoming a star with the loudest, nastiest black metal band he can imagine. When they get a gig offer at the famous Hellfest festival, they travel in a van across France with disastrous consequences: they kill a man in a traffic accident, lose their van, and when they are wanted by the police, their only possible disguise is as a flower power band. For who would expect evil black metal maniacs to pose as hippies? When a young fan recognizes the band nonetheless, she tries to help them escape the police and get to the festival in time - even if it's the last thing they'll ever do...
This is a comedy which playfully bridges the gap between two generations. On one hand, many Beatles quotes and the 70s design of the titles makes the 50+ generation remember their youth inside the yellow submarine; on the other hand, the next generation who plays music to destroy speakers and praise Satan is actually not so different, even if they dress in black. It's a comedy with a lot of music, but many contents beyond that, such as the universal theme of friendship. Why do the 4 guys stay together despite the catastrophic situation they get into? Because being in a band is more than just making music. Any kind of music, for that matter. Very funny movie, but also with some substance below the surface.
The Perfect Weapon (2016)
The year is 2029. After a war, The Director (Steven Seagal) rules The State by permanent observation of everyone. The killer Condor (Johnny Messner) fulfils his latest mission to eliminate a politician opposing the Director. However, he lets one female witness get away, ignoring his usual instruction to leave no witnesses alive. Since the death of his wife Nina (Sasha Jackson), the killer struggles with his emotions and becomes unpredictable. The Controller (Richard Tyson) thinks that Condor needs re-programming to become an effective killing machine again. Condor escapes before his brain-washing and finds his wife alive and well. Together, they begin a fight against the rule of the Director.
This could have been an interesting movie with a better lead actor (Messner is a poor man's Vin Diesel here), three times the budget and a reworked script (it holds some real surprises, but some dialogues made me cringe). The colourful scenery of a future America with Asian influence reminded me of 'Blade Runner'. Although 'Perfect Weapon' has a couple of good moments, there are too many lows along the way. For probably the first time in a decade, Seagal gets a different role than the usual retired CIA agent - but that's not enough to save an ambitious, yet unconvincing sci-fi flick.
Dio perdoni la mia pistola (1969)
Investigator in ridiculous disguise
Johnny 'Texas' Brennan (Wayde Preston) comes to town in order to investigate a gold robbery. A certain Prescott was accused of it, but is supposed to be innocent. The town's ruler Clanton (Joe De Santis) has objections against such an investigation - but his pretty daughter Gladys (Loredana Nusciak, 'Django') trusts the stranger and helps him. Clanton sends the 3 Ramirez brothers to kill Brennan who then disappears and returns in a strange disguise...
Director Mario Gariazzo began this movie in 1966, but the production company went bust, and another director, Leopoldo Savona, completed the movie three years later (source: the book 'Willkommen In Der Hölle' by C. Kessler). This problematic history explains why this is such a poor picture. Even the photography with its day-for-night shots is disappointing. Wayde Preston uses ridiculous false beards, I wonder why anyone takes his various disguises seriously. However, De Santis is an impressive, hateful villain and the movie manages at least a few nice tricks along the way which you haven't seen in other westerns.
Acquasanta Joe (1971)
Meet the bank's best customer
Colonel Donovan (Ty Hardin) and his right hand man Charlie Bennett (Richard Harrison) are planning a bank robbery, disguised as soldiers. The successful bounty hunter Acquasanta Joe (Lincoln Tate) was the bank's best customer and loses all his well earned money. Of course, Joe chases the bandits. He finds that Bennett cheated Donovan and ran with the money. Now Joe doesn't hunt Bennett to bring him into a prison - he wants to bring him to his former boss instead, because that's even worse. However when he catches Bennett, the money has disappeared...
Another cheap western, but not all bad. Richard Harrison has the best role, because he can put some comedy into his portrayal of Bennett as a shameless crook, coward and traitor. Ty Hardin plays a sympathetic rogue who really has to struggle between Bennett on one side and Acquasanta Joe on the other - and decides to use creative weaponry. Lincoln Tate, however, is not memorable in the title role.
Death Ship (1980)
In search of victims
'Death Ship' tells the story of a handful of survivors from a cruise ship who enter an abandoned old vessel, the same that sunk their cruise ship with a purposeful collision. Possessed by evil spirits (formerly run by a crew of 1940s Nazis), the ship tries to kill them one by one.
'Death Ship' was made with little money - for example the big crash scene is obviously borrowed from another movie with no regard to continuity, as the officers suddenly wear black uniforms instead of white ones. But for the modest budget, it is very effective. The editing helps a lot, because the passengers can run through the vessel again and again, each time discovering new rooms like they are caught in a maze without end, this is all set up very skilfully.
The story is simple - it has not much in common with other ghost ship movies, but rather plays with the fear of technology out of control like 'Christine' (1983) about an evil car or 'Colossus' (1970) about an evil computer. 'Death Ship' is about a ship which became evil itself, menacing machinery driving it on and on over the ocean in search of victims. The scary atmosphere works well and so did the actors. Recommended if you like 70s/80s horror movies.
Contract to Kill (2016)
Not so secret observation
John Harmon (Steven Seagal) is a former CIA agent reactivated now by a talkative guy with a funny beard who explains way too much before the start. There is going to be a cooperation between a Mexican cartel and a terrorist from Lebanon which Harmon can hopefully stop before it really began. He takes a small team consisting of Matthew Sharp (Russell Wong) who likes flying drones and kicking butts and Zara Hayek (Jemma Dallender) who likes wearing leather jackets and kicking butts. Together they arrive at Istanbul to observe the Mexicans and the terrorist, and they observe in such an obvious way (fancy yellow car, observation camera carried by a drone) that both parties get suspicious. First about each other, then about an unknown third party, so they start looking for their enemy...
Another one from Keoni Waxman's factory line of Seagal productions where the occasional fight scenes consist of waving hands so closely before the camera that you can't really see what Seagal is doing, but it seems to hurt extras a lot. The story isn't all bad, because instead of fighting one gang, the heroes get in the middle between two, but still rather simple for 90 minutes. Jemma Dallender, whose performance was awesome in 'I Spit On Your Grave 2', gets a simple role (observe, distract, use a knife of some bad guys), but makes the best out of it. Russell Wong, on the other hand, looks a bit bored. Well, he has reasons for it. An average action production that isn't particularly memorable. Again.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Killed by the shadow of death
If you watched 'Gladiator', 'Robin Hood' and 'Kingdom of Heaven' from the same director, you have a rough idea what to expect here, except that a religious story is more difficult to handle. You get the battle scenes, the dirty faces, the lead character who solves problems with his sword plus 100,000 digitally animated extras. In the huge spectacle, some actors are wasted, especially Sigourney Weaver just stands around until she finally gets a few short lines to speak. Despite the epic length of two and a half hours, there is not much character development. Except for Ben Kingsley's character, the other leaders of the tribes remain some bearded blokes whose names don't matter. It is kind of strange that neither the fight scenes are as extensive as in the above mentioned movies, nor the dialogues have increased, you wonder in the end what actually filled all the running time, especially since Moses' childhood and the second half of the story with the 10 commandments are condensed to a minimum.
Anyhow, the biggest problem of the movie is God, not unexpectedly. Ridley Scott attempts to keep anything as natural as possible for a modern audience. Moses doesn't wave his staff here to command the waves, but we see a meteorite falling down in a distance which probably causes the tsunami. Scientific explanations for the frogs and insects are provided. But the method fails when it comes to the killing of the first-born, leaving everyone else unharmed. We have to accept an ominous 'shadow of death' for that. Moses also has to speak to God directly in some scenes, at least if you want to follow the story of the book closely, and it was a courageous idea to have God played by a child in these scenes, similar to the devil portrayed by a child in 'The Omen'. Again, they tried to provide a natural explanation for this vision, therefore Moses sees that child only after a hit on the head and a fever. Oh well... Not everything works, but I'd vote 6 of 10 at least.
Ice Sharks (2016)
Locked in with sharks
Hunters disappear in the Canadian Arctic area near the open water. A bunch of pretty mean sharks is to blame for that. A research station sinks 80 ft below the surface when the ice breaks, and while their oxygen is running low, David (Edward DeRuiter), Tracy (Jenna Parker), Michael (Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau who looks like a surfer from Hawaii because he is a surfer from Hawaii) and Alex (Clarissa Thibeaux) are looking for a way to escape. Many sharks, no weapons, and then the extreme cold...
If you are willing to ignore the abysmal special effects, you get a decent thriller about a rescue mission. What is the last place where you'd want to be when sharks are in the water? Yes, locked in under water with them, and this movie manages to keep up the tension, the script is better than others of the genre (although I still wonder why the scientists tell the rescue experts how to do their job), and the acting isn't too awful, either. It obviously is a C movie version of 'Deep Blue Sea', but it is watchable.
Una bara per lo sceriffo (1965)
Sheriff Joe Logan (Anthony Steffen) goes on an undercover mission to find the murderer of his wife. Under the guise of 'Texas Joe', he becomes a member of the bandits who held up her stagecoach. Lupe (Armando Calvo) is the leader and accepts Logan after a special contest. Murdock (Eduardo Fajardo) doesn't trust the new guy and keeps an eye on him. Wilson (George Rigaud, misspelled as 'Rigaut' in the movie credits) is the only one who knows the real identity of Texas Joe, but Lupe is planning an attack on his ranch...
Simple, straight-forward revenge movie, nothing extraordinary, but it delivers perfectly what a genre fan expects. Director Mario Caiano, passed away in 2015, and composer Francesco De Masi were always reliable contributors. Shot in 1965, re-using some locations from "A Fistful of Dollars", this is a rather early Italian western following the big success of that movie. It doesn't feel tired yet, but has some relentless energy and good pace.
The Hatching (2017)
British killer crocodile movie
'The Hatching' tells the story of Tim (Andrew Lee Potts, known for the TV series 'Primeval' which had plenty of dinosaur fights to prepare him for this). 15 years ago as a kid, he released 2 crocodiles into an English swamp by mistake, after they stole eggs from the zoo nearby. Now he returns as a grown man because he inherited the company of his father. In between checking the books and partying with old friends, he goes fishing in the swamp - and finds two crocodiles grown to enormous size. And they're hungry. Many people disappear in that area or only parts of their bodies are found. Not all of the deaths are to blame on the crocodiles, though. Some members of the community have more terrible secrets to hide...
I really enjoyed it and was surprised to see so few reviews here. This British movie is a nice variation from the typical American monster movie formula. Instead of screaming bikini chicks, you get a sick sense of humour here, and the story manages an unusual combination of monster movie and serial killer movie. I think it works, except for the unnecessary sequence attached after the actual ending: a narrator telling you what became of each character, as if it wasn't enough to know who died and who survived. They should have skipped that bit.
Too simple to become interesting
'Camelot' was not bad, at least I managed to sit through all 10 episodes. However, I wouldn't say it was a series with potential. The cliffhanger ending indicates clearly that a season 2 was planned, but never made. 'Camelot' obviously did not succeed, arguably due to a lack of understanding why 'Game of Thrones' was successful at the same time. The comparison seems inevitable because the outline of both reads similar: a struggle for power after the old king was murdered, bastard children, different religions and magic at work in a barbarian age with new wars breaking out every Wednesday. 'Camelot' even clumsily attempted to add a few sex scenes to be more like HBO productions, I guess. But the recipe for success is not about the sex and violence.
'Camelot' has a very simple structure of good king vs his evil sister and their respective allies. Merlin (Joseph Fiennes) is the most interesting character because he has at least a dark side when he steals the sword for his king from a girl's cold dead hands. But Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower) remains imbecile throughout the series, often doing something stupid to appear reckless, but mostly appearing... well, blond. Guinevere (Tamsin Egerton) is so sweet your teeth hurt. Morgan (Eva Green) and Igraine (Claire Forlani) are played by very good actresses, but they are limited with these characters. 'Game of Thrones' didn't have the dividing line between good and evil characters. A murderer could become a good guy, a dwarf a hero or a good king a fanatic butcher, you never knew which directions they would take, and all characters were capable to do good AND evil things. 'Camelot' holds little surprise though, follows a predictable path and remains a cartoon image without depth. Voted 5/10.
Gods of Egypt (2016)
When gods walked the earth
Ten minutes into the movie, I was certain I was going to hate it. 12 ft gods walking next to 6 ft humans like Snow White and the 7 dwarfs, and all the shiny golden decoration - it was so ridiculous for a first impression. Half an hour later, I had somehow slipped into a mode of enjoying it. It's a tough start, because everything is so far fetched. Dare to open your mind, then it gets more interesting.
In the making-of on my Blu-ray disc, someone says it's rather Planet Egypt than Ancient Egypt, this pretty much nails it. Once you accept that you are in a fantasy world, and also accept its miracles and that gods are weird dudes with golden blood, it's possible to get into it. The world of 'Gods of Egypt' requires some kind of innocent child-like imagination, totally unlike historical dramas such as 'Gladiator'. But isn't that somehow suitable for a mythology from a more innocent age? Some scenes were showing an amazing creative vision, for example Ra's barge floating on water - in space! Pulling the sun over the horizon with a chain of steel! Making the audience believe something like this is a damn hard task. This movie is asking the audience for a lot of imagination, because it is so far from reality, but I'd like to watch it again. Last not least, Coaster-Waldau and Gerard Butler were great opponents in the lead roles. PS: Auto correction insists on the "a" in Coaster, not my typing error.