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Plenty of closure
As the residents of Deadwood commemorate Dakota's statehood in 1889, saloon owner Al Swearengen and Sheriff Seth Bullock must face a corrupt senator head on when the conflict of a past event resurfaces.
Directed by Daniel Minahan the TV film is a solid continuation, even if condensed, shoehorned into an hour and fifty minute run time. Deadwood's creator and awarding winning writer David Milch gives some much needed closure to a series which was cut short.
The cast including the likes of Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, the excellent Dayton Callie (as Charlie Utter), Kim Dickens, Brad Dourif and Paula Malcomson to name a few are on form with excellent performances all round.
As the residents of a now mature Deadwood, complete with railway station gather, the cast past and present do great work on the backdrop of some immersive sets and Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek's music. Sadly without a few of the cast members who have since passed away in real life (notably Powers Boothe) during the hiatus.
Dan Dority (W. Earl Brown) is slightly under utilised, but given there so much to include in the short running time this is understandable. There's big hit emotional story beats and after many years, the characters have fittingly slightly altered, notably McShane's Al Swearengen, now far softer (echoing Al Pacino in Godfather part 3).
In keeping with the series it moves along at the same pace, only it feels bigger production wise. In contrast, Milch's offering is subtle in some story/character aspects and square on the nose in others. There's plenty of closure, also refreshingly some ambiguity also remains.
Overall, it's a mighty fine TV Western movie which ties up story threads nicely. Recommend especially for Deadwood fans.
Rim of the World (2019)
Potentially Goonies with aliens but actually is more Porky's and Poison Ivy
Four teenagers attending a summer camp lives are changed when aliens attack.
From director of Terminator Salvation and the BabySitter, McG offers a tonally awkward affair. I like much of McG's work, I'm a fan but Rim is colour corrected to space and back, the cast are fine but the script doesn't fit there ages making it slightly lewd and off putting.
Maybe if Zack Stentz's dialogue had come from the camp leaders and they had led the adventure or the kids dialogue fit their ages the invasion sci-fi may have faired better as a family film.
There's CGI aplenty as the kids journey from their camp with an important key to Pasadena, California. With with a regenerating alien, an alien dog reminiscent of Predators and spaceship attacks - it echoes Independence Day from the off. The best scenes borrow from better science fictions and oddly the kitchen attack is straight out of Jurassic Park.
Overall, it could have been a family alien adventure with a Goonies/Stranger Things vibe but sadly it comes off as a crude and weird invasion flick with a touch of Porky's (1981) and Poison Ivy (1985).
The Dead Don't Die (2019)
Sadly flawed, could have have become a classic
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 Scottish 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 in 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.
Surprisingly excellent fun
Aladdin, a street urchin, uses a magic oil lamp to unleash a powerful larger than life genie to makes his dreams come true and fall I love with the beautiful daughter of the sultan of Agrabah.
A surprisingly colourful fantastic adaptation by John August and director Guy Ritchie. Excellent effects, staging and songs etc the whole production is magical, exceeding expectations.
All the cast are on form, the casting is exceptional. Will Smith gives an enjoyable energetic and restrained performance as the Genie. The trailer didn't do him justice. With a great singing voice and screen presence Mena Massoud takes all the best cues from his cartoon feature counterpart and offers a likeable and memorable Aladdin. Tweaked for the better by August and Ritchie actor Naomi Scott lifts the Princess Jasmine character even more, while also giving her a social and political subtext.
Although a good performance, Marwan Kenzari's Jafar has been reworked. August gives him and Aladdin a commonality but unfortunately it doesn't work as well as the cartoon stereotype villain did and sadly Alan Tudyk Iago suffers too. There's not much chemistry. This aside, Abu the monkey and the Magic Carpet are finely brought to life and are just as much fun as their animated incarnations. The dance numbers are fun and wonderful choreographed.
Children and adults of all ages can enjoy. Thankfully, Disney have chosen the live action route and not horrid a CGI animated feature affair.
While nothing can compare to the animated version this is one of the best, if not thee best live adaptation of Disney's own outings to date.
Endgame - Bronx lotta finale (1983)
Not to shabby Italian post apocalyptic B-Film
In the year 2025, a nuclear holocaust has left New York City ruined, inhabited by persecuted telepathic mutants. Keeping the people pacified is the reality television program Endgame, where a new hero must save a group of people and fight to the death.
Directed by Joe D'Amato (under the pseudonym Steven Benson) Endgame (Bronx lotta finale) is one of the better executed Italian post apocalyptic B-films. The action seems endless especially in the closing act as scavenger packs and telepathic mutants fight it out with hunters, gladiators and military elite. There's an unnecessary rape scene, this aside the majority of D'Amato's Max Road Warrior meets Beneath the Planet of the Apes is very watchable especially if you enjoy the likes of Rats: Night of Terror, Warriors of the Wasteland and Bronx Warriors.
The locations and costumes deserve a mention. Carlo Maria Cordio's music working best when it's borrowing cues from Vangelis' Blade Runner score.
Interestingly, the TV game concept (even though not fully explored) predates The Running Man a good four years before Arnold Schwarzenegger's scifi romp and was made around the same time Stephen King's pseudonym book was published.
Overall, not too shabby at all.
Savage Streets (1984)
Of its time, retaining some shock value
After nearly being rundown by a gang of drug dealing thugs a group of women take a joyride but the two wrongs escalate to rape, murder and revenge.
80s exploitation nostalgia hounds will eat up. Director Danny Steinmann's Savage Streets echoes The Last House on the Left, Avenging Angel with a Death Wish vibe which retains it shock value.
Stephen L. Posey cinematography frames 1984 wonderfully. John D'Andrea and Michael Lloyds music is notable. It's a trashy exploitation affair with boobs, murder and blood as a teenage Brenda (typically 80s casting, all look over 20 something) vigilante seeks revenge on a group of violent idiots who raped her sister, killed her best friend and unborn child.
John Vernon is on usual top form and gives an extended cameo. Linnea Quigley offers a small restrained inning. Exorcist's Linda Blair looks menacingly comfortable in the lead role especially in the opening and showdown ending. Street thug Robert Dryer is consistent and edgy. Lastly Suzee Slater leaves a staple Chopping Mall impression.
The script is as uneven, jovial, vulgar and crude as the tone (even for the time, as well as today), but the faults are out weighed by some good performances, Steinmann's fine direction and sharp editing.
Overall, its of time and remains just that. If nudity, violence and obscenity with a dash Porky's and The Road Warrior is your thing, then you no doubt already rate it or you're going to watch it.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Great but deeply flawed
The remaining Avengers must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies to destroy Thanos.
A finely produced Marvel film, directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo deliver on the mammoth task of concluding this phase of the MCU. End Game is packed with emotion, thrills and a number great action scenes. There's some interesting ideas - a washed up Thor, a vengeful Hawkeye, Gamora's 'return', Hulk's Bannerisms, fighting duplicates, revisiting past films, forgotten characters and much more.
Russo's instalment is no doubt entertaining but after the credits roll and tears are shed for two of your favourite characters (many more, if you like root for the bad guys) 'fridge logic' creeps in.
Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and other writers grapple with time travel concept and shrug it off, wiping their hands of their responsibilities seemingly walking away by throwing in some one-liners and diagrams. Maybe they threw the time kitchen sink in by design so that fans will debate for many years. And that's the major issue with End Game, it doesn't work within its own logic with the writers moving their own goal posts. Sadly, even Doctors Strange's 1 in 14 million outcome is flawed. It's difficult enough to do films based solely on time travel, like Back to the Future, Timecrimes, Predestination to name a few and End Game just doesn't wrap it up neatly. You really do have to leave you brain at the door to buy into it.
Overall, a great film, with hard hitting emotional closure moments but unfortunately they've left it to 14 million fan theories to tie up the lose ends and as just you make sense of it - annoyingly it throws up another paradox issue or question.
Captain Marvel (2019)
One of the better instalments to marvel at
Captain Marvel, finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle which takes her to Earth in 1995 and opens her mind to her past.
As fan of classic Marvel comics, I must be honest and say (Thor Ragnarok aside) I haven't been a great admirer of the arguably padded out borderline pretentious film outings. Thankfully, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's Captain Marvel is one of the better more enjoyable instalments introducing shapeshifting aliens Skrulls and the Kree, powerful humanoid warriors.
With great acting, smouldering likeable blonde Brie Larson is fantastic as Captain Marvel which expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ties into a past story thread, namely the Tesseract cube and future threads, including Fury's pager. There's a great performance with plenty of screen time from Samuel L Jackson as de-aged Nick Fury, oozing screen presence Jude Law and mostly prosthetic makeup Ben Mendelsohn are particularly note worthy with their characters offering some story twists. There's fantastic action, effects and music throughout - it's one of the better stories of any MCU with an interesting 90s setting and top pacing as Fury and Marvel team up.
As expected there's some end credit scenes The first will connects to Avengers: Endgame and the humorous second bookends the film.
Overall, a solid superhero actioner, you can't go wrong.
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
Inseresting well-made taken on the worn sub-genre
Humankind's only hope against mindless flesh-eaters, referred to as 'hungries' is a child and a group must survive to develop a vaccine.
Colm McCarthy The Girl with All the Gifts offering echoes particularly the likes of 28 Days Later and World War Z. There's a fitting eerie vocal injected score by Cristobal Tapia de Veer. The CGI is effective and thankfully used sparingly. The make up and gore effects are solid as the group escape a base and journey through post apocalyptic London. Young Sennia Nanua as Hannibal Lector-like masked Melanie is believable as the infected girl, there's an excellent dry wit performance from the underused Glenn Close. Gemma Arterton gives 110% and to her credit acts her chops off. Notable is reliable actor Paddy Considine as Sgt. Eddie Parks who provides much of the back bone of the bleak film.
McCarthy's direction is on point and even though the plot and visuals are familiar there's enough new ground and good acting on display to keep interest. That said, the deviating latter half possible sacrifices hardened zombie fans.
Excellent animated zombie film
After a homeless person a zombie virus spreads rapidly and a woman must reunite with her boyfriend while her father also searches for her.
From director Yeon Sang-ho, packed with social realism especially around gender, this is an animated prequel to Train to Busan. Seoul Station is refreshingly different from its predecessor. It's avoids stereotypes, has plenty of tension, atmosphere, has all the blood, guts violence you'd expect but also has a solid twist at the end.
Still holds up.
Orin, an escaped slave must free his people from an underground mine but first journey across the galaxy to fulfil his destiny.
Directed and produced by Steven Hahn, and written by Jeffrey Scott Starchaser borrows from Flash Gordon, Star Wars, the King Arthur Legend, even a bit of Blade Runner and many more. It's more young adult orientated, almost in the ballpark of Ralph Bakshi, there's disturbing 2000 A.D-like half-human, half-machine Man-Droids, Fembots. with some above PG choice language and surprise deaths, it offers an emotional clout and punch.
While the pace is at times is a little clunky like the Battle Star Galactica carbon robots, the animation (with no use of rotoscoping) is outstanding for the time. The music Andrew Belling is fitting. The characters, especially the robot leads are quite likeable, the evil overlord Zygon is notable. The voice acting is great and there's even a nice little twist to close of the proceedings.
Overall, refreshingly made before CGI it borrows from the best and worst of sci-fi and comes out on top. Recommend.
Future World (2018)
Slick throw back to the post apocalyptic films of the 80s
A young man sets out on search of medicine for his mother aided by a hi tech android.
Don't expect the grandeur of Mad Max: Fury Road, Future World is more in the vein of 1980's Italian produced B-films which borrowed from Mad Max Road Warrior. Mix James Franco and Bruce Thierry Chung's offering with a bit of Automata and Cherry 2000 and you get a decent direct-to-video science fiction action Western film.
The editing is pretty slick, Franco covers plenty of ground and refreshingly there's little CGI. Peter Zeitlinger cinematography does what it can with the minimal locations. The screenplay by Chung and Jay Davis screenplay recycles many sci-fi tidbits right down the The Running Man Wedlock-like controlled slaves.
Both Snoop Dogg and Milla Jovovich are entertaining enough in their small roles. Franco hams it up as the Warlord and Suki Waterhouse as the android girl, (while not good as Caity Lotz in The Machine) carries the film well enough picking up the slack from Prince (Jeffrey Wahlberg). Toydrum's score is also notable.
Overall if you enjoy Warriors of the Wasteland 1990; The Bronx Warriors (1982) and the like, this is a forgettable updated slicker version which doesn't pretend to be anything more.
Closer to what Transformers should be.
On the run in 1987 Bumblebee seeks refuge in a small California beach town aided by 18 year old.
At last a Transformer film we've been waiting for, granted it's smaller with more personal and self contained battles. It probably the best autobot outing since the original animated Transformers the Movie. Thankfully The Transformers look more like the Generation 1 we fell in love with, reaffirmed with an opening of an excellent Cybertron war which we also see more of in a flashback midway in the running time.
It's funny and heart warming with some great action littered throughout. Along with the setting, props and the like it's packed with 80s music giving it a great retro vibe. Even though the Military are a bit hammy it echoes the cartoon series' tone.
Overall, a great Transformer movie with plenty of heart with a story that makes the Transformers fun and exciting all over again.
The Kiss of the Vampire (1963)
Meaty dialogue but flat
When car trouble strands a honeymooning couple , an odd aristocratic family helps them but with sinister consequences.
Director Don Sharp offers a wordy vampire film complete with masquerade ball. The lead never manages to be scary enough when especially when the fangs com out.
Written by Anthony Hinds with a wonderful strong opening where a shovel is shoved through a coffin, there's an interesting conspiracy and cult aspect to it but that's as far as it's goes despite the plot thickening when everyone denies ever meeting Gerald's wife Marianne as though she never existed. Hind's dialogue is stilted at times by the actors delivery. Not even the dramatic score can shake things up.
Notable is Clifford Evans in a Van Helsing type role as Professor Zimmerman in this standard vampire reworking.
With large sets and great locations it's wonderfully filmed and executed by Sharp but it is also sadly very flat. That said it's worth watching for Evan's small role alone.
I'm a doctor. Lock your doors.
40 years since Laurie Strode survived an attack from killer Michael Myers, he manages to escape while being transferred. When the masked man returns to Haddonfield Laurie must protect her daughter and granddaughter and execute a plan decades in the making.
Oozing with atmosphere and suspense director David Gordon Green brings Halloween (2018) back to its roots giving us a well-deserved horror follow up to the 1978 original. There's plenty of graphic creative kills, not limited to the multiple impalements, stabbings, neck snapping and foot stomping head breaking. While all this plays out Green even manages to tidy up the mythology. The humour (thankfully limited) is done just right, notable the scene with Julian (natural Jibrail Nantambu) being babysat by (the excellent Virginia Gardner) Vicky and stoned boyfriend Dave (memorable Miles Robbins).
If your new to Halloween and enjoy a good slasher film this will no doubt entertain. I personally enjoyed the many of sequels, especially Donald Pleasence's performance in the 2nd, 4th, 5th. Writers Green, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley's Halloween largely wipes the slate clean and echoes some of the story beats and setups in previous outings, the gas station, the escape, a ghost bed sheet etc. Thankfully at face value it disregards but doesn't totally rule out the elaborate supernatural mythology.
While the pacing and editing is a little bumpy at times it's respectful to the original while standing on its own two feet and shot off fingers. There are jump scares in places, but it isn't necessarily scary, it's more frightening due to Michael's strength, non-discriminatorily violence that he inflicts and its damaging results. It's a R/18-rated faithful sequel with an icing on the cake score by Carpenter (almost a stamp of approval of this follow up).
Pleasence's Loomis is sorely missed but actor Haluk Bilginer's Dr. Sartain Loomis protege fills the gap with a twist. Will Patton as Officer Hawkins is notable and offers weight to the film in his meaty small role. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a haunted powerhouse performance. Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney, and Tony Moran as Michael Myers / The Shape make Myers terrifying. Judy Greer as Laurie's daughter Karen Nelson is rounded. Andi Matichak's granddaughter Allyson Nelson is solid but her character build-up slightly fades. It's not on the nose explored, but there's a lot simmering underneath the traumatized Laurie, troubled Karen and damaged Michael throughout.
Surprisingly good family Halloween fun
Two friends unknowingly bring Slappy the Dummy to life and the evil dummy goes about giving life to all Halloween creatures.
Based on the original promos, with a slashed production budget at first I was convinced this was to be a TV straight to DVD affair, how wrong I was. Director Ari Sandel delivers Impressive ghost and ghoul effects which are as impressive as the acting.
GooseBumps 2 may not have the scale or execution of the first but Sandel along with writers Rob Lieber and Darren Lemke offer just as much fun and it has just the same if not more PG eerie scares.
Whether it's was a marketing ploy or Jack Black wasn't going to return it was a pleasant surprise to see him return in the final film with an extended cameo. Also the real R. L. Stein also briefly appears.
The leads are likeable, Jeremy Ray Taylor as Sonny and Madison Iseman as Sarah Quinn carry the film well. Notable is Caleel Harris as Sam Carter, Sonny's best friend. Ken Jeong is humorous as the Halloween obsessed neighbor. However, Slappy is wonderfully realised and steals the show. Thankfully, with what look like for the most part as practical effects.
Overall, surprisingly good solid instalment, welcomingly setting up another outing.
The Equalizer: A Place to Stay (1987)
Hard hitting and relevant
A 14 year old girl runs away from an abusive father environment to live on the streets of New York and hires McCall is hired to find her. He is thrust into the seedy underworld of child pornography in order to save her.
One of the most hard hitting episodes of Equalizer. Frustratingly the abusive father with a trouble past is treated annoyingly lightly. It disturbingly touches on prostitution, grooming and child pornography. It also covers the working and hierarchy of the seedy industry as best as a TV show can do.
Here Edward Woodward gets to show a full acting range of emotions as McCall's principles of right and wrong are tested to their limits. The acting from the supporting cast is impressive. The dark filming creates atmosphere and adds to the tension.
Overall, a relevant, uncompromisingly direct and honest episode.
Hands of the Ripper (1971)
A lot of underlying taboos
The daughter of Jack the Ripper who is seemingly possessed by the spirit of her late father while in a trance continues his murderous killing spree.
Director by Peter Sasdy offers a handful of taboos, an eerie atmosphere, a series of surprisingly bloody murders, touching on mental health, abuse, grooming and prostitution. Subjectively it's knowingly or unknowingly one of Hammers most thought provoking controversial films.
Writer L. W. Davidson from a story by Edward Spencer Shew perfectly skirt around the Jack the Ripper element. Thankfully its not on the nose, alternatively focusing on the sympathetic psychiatrist Dr. John Pritchard excellently played by Eric Porter and his relationship with the tragic murderer Anna (Angharad Rees). It's a mature piece especially notable are the graphic stabbing of Long Liz and the housemaid. The sets, costumes and effects are successful creating that desire Gothic horror atmosphere.
Overall, even though frustrating at times it's one of classic Hammers most daring tales, worth watching for Porters performance alone.
The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
Graphic and nostalgic
Count Dracula takes up residence in 1973 London to develop a new strain of bubonic plague, with the evil intention of annihilating all life on Earth.
Part horror, science fiction and spy thriller Alan Gibson directs The Satanic Rites of Dracula. Produced by Hammer Films, notably it is the third to unite Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as Dracula.
Gibson's effort is a vast improvement on the weaker Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) with an interesting new world order plot, double cross, plenty of action scenes and meaty word play from Cushing, courteous of writer Don Houghton.
Editing faulters slightly within the closing act, where in the midst of a fire, with Dracula tossing tables and plague infectious minions, VanHelsing escapes through a window. Faults aside, all is forgiven when Helsing excellently and aptly takes care of Dracula, in what is Lee and Cushion's last vampire and slayer showdown on screen.
In the wake of the spy craze the non gothic 'modern' London period setting and serious tone elevates this outing, the casting of older gentlemen and ladies give it a 70's je ne sais quoi. Notably, there's a claustrophobic eerie scene where Helsing's granddaughter (Joanna Lumley) is cornered in a cellar by group of female vampires including Pauline Peart.
Rites befits from a more censor free affair with blood, boobs and violence on display. But the main draw is that 1970s vibe that is difficult to recreate today, with sheepskin body warmers, goons on motor bikes who incendently kidnap women for Dracula in turn to feast on.
Overall, interesting and more graphic Dracula Hammer Horror and great for 70s nostalgia if nothing else.
Solid Entertainment Eli makes a surprisingly great family film
An eccentric uncle reveals himself to be a warlock and with the witch next door, Florence Zimmerman and Lewis must find the clock in the walls of their mysterious old house before its ominous countdown ends.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a family-friendly supernatural adventure based on the 1979 children's book of the same name written by John Bellairs. From horror realistic gore master Eli Roth, the director moves away from his usual adult fare for a impressive 1955 period set piece and well created magical adventure based mostly in Jonathan Barnavelts' large house that formally belonged to Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLahlan).
Jack Black is his usual likeable kooky type role self as Barnavelt, young Lewis played by Owen Vaccaro is impressive. Cate Blanchett's fleeting Florence Zimmerman is good fun along with killer pumpkins, a room full of spooky clockwork dolls, a dog-like chair and lion hedge to name a few. MacLahlan's troubled war vet Izard is fanstatic even if sorely underused. The his eerie makeup gives chills. Knock Knock's Lorenza Izzo (Roth's real life wife) is underliningly menacing as the Mother. It's thematically heavy, with death, loss and youth fitting in at its core, it's not a simple cash-in. The sets an special effects are well executed with an enjoyable score to match.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls echoes C. S. Lewis Narnia, with a Goosebumps feel and Disney Haunted Mansion vibe. Creepy at times with impressive sets, its one of the most enjoyable well made family films in a longtime.
Iron Warrior (1987)
Ambitious but hopelessly flawed
Ator must battle with Phaedra, an evil sorceress and her unstoppable warrior, who has a secret connection to our heroes past.
Director Alfonso Brescia ambitious Iron Warrior is a low budget mix of Excalibur, Clash of the Titans, with a touch of Alejandro Jodorowsky wackiness and Duran Duran music video prowess to name a few. Opening with Carlo Maria Cordio's endless credit title music (oddly reminiscent of Star Trek The Next Generation), we're then sold the aesthetically pleasing locations of the Mediterranean's Malta and Gozo. However, the sunny visuals take away from Iron Warrior some much needed atmosphere. Nevertheless, Brescia's Italian production doesn't shy away from brief nudity, some Lucio Fulci inspired make up and shock moments.
Brescia at best offers stylised 80's bold geometric shape makeup, and fan blown hair with vibrant costumes, reds, greens and flowing material passing the camera. There's a handful of beautiful women thrown including Iris Peynado, notable is the stunning Princess Jana, actress Sabina Gersak. Offering a poor mans Conan swordplay, projection There's Superman (1978) Krypton-like prison rings trapping a witch, with Ator played by Miles OKeeffe, a chiseled lean He-Man, along with nemesis Trogar (Franco Daddi) a Skeletor meets with Action Force's Destro type sword wielding nemesis. . He employs slow-motion, sped up film, wide shots and old Bewitched/Randall and Hopkirk vanishing editing tricks. The avant-garde mix of student-like experimental film elements is endless.
If theatrical, over the top, choppy Italian sorcery fantasy salami is your thing, Iron Warrior is a must see.
The Predator (2018)
Energetic, entertaining and gory
A bus filled with colourful mentally stressed military try to stop an intergalactic sport hunter to save sniper's son who is in possession of alien tech that his dad unintentionally sent him after his P.O. box was closed.
Following the events of Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990) notably including Peter Keyes' son (as confirmed in the prequel tie-in novel and set presumably after 2010's Predators, although not directly referenced), director Shane Black along with co-writer Fred Dekker echo the modest fun of past Predator movies. They offer a mix of gore and humour, while adding new elements and leave narrative breadcrumbs setting up future sequels.
Alan Silvestri's Predator theme music is expertly reworked but is arguably heavily used by Henry Jackman. The on location night-time shoot adds atmosphere along with the dawn space ship crashing last act. The weaponry that the Predator wields is as fanboy neat as the original character design and effects on display. Even if the Predator dogs are not a menacing as in Predators.
Plot wise the writers give the classic Predator, here more agility, personality and motivation for helping the humans (as he is part human) without spelling it out in your face. They subtly explain why the "Tracker" Predator can see in heat POV without his mask due to his inbuilt biotech/biometric enhancements.
Boyd Holbrook (Narcos) is on usual form and is excellent as army sniper Quinn McKenna who encounters the Predator during a mission in Mexico. Know-how, gun-toting biologist Olivia Munn is impressive alongside the soldiers including actors Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane and Alfie Allen. Also in the castings favour is child actor Jacob Tremblay who doesn't come across as annoying as Rory, Quinn's autistic son. At times you care about the characters and morn when they meet their demise, Rhodes' Williams in particular. Actor Sterling K. Brown is notable as the unscrupulous Govenment Agent.
The Predator is non-stop entertainment, mixing expected lowbrow dialogue and macho talk with no holds barred action sequences and special effects. Yes it's exciting but the action does grow more outlandish in closing followed by off the wall human Predator robotic weaponisation.
This entry ups the ante, Uber style with larger action sequences bigger thrills but doesn't reinvent or progress franchise (especially the Yautja species history or social structure as well as in previous films) as much as touted or deserved.
Best action film for a long time.
Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions as group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attacks.
The excellently staged, outlandish, sweaty palm stunts feel even more real in this instalment as the IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time to stop two nuclear bombs being triggered. While far removed from the original '60 TV series, the film offerings go from strength to strength and Fallout doesn't merely rehash Rogue Nation's approach.
Writer, director Christopher McQuarrie offers more high-octane action in this sixth instalment, the narrative is more complex, the stakes are high, the emotion well placed. McQuarrie goes out of his way to explain why Hunt's marriage to Michelle Monaghan's Julia Meade character from the third movie couldn't last.
Here the cast are on top form Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill's Agent Walker bounce perfectly off each other as they attempt to corner a despicable arms dealer named John Lark. Both Hunt's IMF boss played excellent by Alec Baldwin and Simon Pegg get physical and Ving Rhames add some unexpectedly emotion clout. Sean Harris returns as Solomon Lane who is as intense and nonchalant as ever. Vanessa Kirby leaves an impression, possibly for a comeback in a sequel, Milla Jovovich-ish Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust s impressive especially during the action sequences. Notably Wes Bentley an actor who fell off the radar is given second life, briefly appearing as Patrick, Julia's second husband.
The big action set ups in Paris and London are memorable, injected with exciting score by Lorne Balfe. Unexpectedly Fall Out feels fresh and moves the series forward. Even though you can see some story twists coming a mile off there are genuine surprise moments along with proper thematic substance in amongst the white-knuckle moments.
Undeniably the best entry in the franchise, re-establishing Cruise's status as an action superstar. Highly recommended.
Summer of 84 (2018)
Excellent 80's style teenage thriller which plays on expectations
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 for 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.
A USA military vessel find survivors on a Russian submersible and finds themselves face to face with a giant shark.
Megalodon is another low budget made for TV affair following in the fin tails of Shark Attack 3 and Megalodon (2002). When a giant shark is released after some illegal drilling most of the run time is spent with characters talking trivial lines, broken up by brief appearances of Michael Madsen chewing up sea air as Admiral King on an impressive the real Naval ship location.
Director James Thomas offers clips of a computer generated Meg shark swimming (recycled throughout) which occasionally bashes into the vessel. The effects are not much better than that of the superior Megalodon film Shark Hunter (2001).
That said, with zero budget Thomas offers a few Michael Bay-like sweeping camera shots. There's a handful of good performance and impressive Russian dialogue from the actors. Notably is Caroline Harris as Lynch, even if she is hankered by Thunder Levin's paper thin story and Koichi Petetsky's limited script.
With a surprisingly good score produced by three composers to compliment the shark eating a boat in one, Russians haphazardly trying to escape the US navel ship, complete with CGI gun flash and people falling about like on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise as the shark terrorise the crew.
A patriotic speech finishes the third act off, and we are also treated to two fights. One involving Lynch, with Cold War tension not seen since Rocky IV. And later Madsen's King heroically shows up one last time to help his seaman buddy Captain Streeper (Dominic Pace) in Die Hard/Under Siege style and literally face off with the shark.
Overall, it's not The Meg but it's all you'd expect from an Asylum production on the SYFY channel.