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Surprisingly self aware and funny
21 August 2019
Dora embarks on a quest to save her parents while trying to find solve a lost Incan civilization.

Dora is surprisingly self aware and funny Tom Wheeler and Nicholas Stoller story offer an interesting teenage 'fish out of water' twist when Dora leaves the jungle to experience High-school.

Director James Bobin (The Muppets) delivers the first three quarters of the film with a highly amusing tone, however, the closing Indiana Jones-type act is more action rather than wit after a few reveals. That said, Dora is a great film adaptation of an educational children's cartoon. Isabela Moner as Dora is outstanding. All the cast a great fun and include the likes of Michael Peña as Cole, Dora's father. Eva Longoria as Elena, Dora's mother. Jeff Wahlberg as Diego, Dora's cousin. Eugenio Derbez is notable as Alejandro.

Even if we never find out if Sammy wiped (or even had that number 2), Or if anyone else can actually here Danny Trejo's Boots or Benicio del Toro's Swiper, Dora is highly recommend.
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Child's Play (2019)
Not even Hamill or the FX can get Chucky out of the box
13 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
When a faulty Kaslan Buddi doll is returned to a store due to its red eyes, a mother gives it to her 13-year-old son as an early birthday present unaware of its potentially evil nature.

Directed by Lars Klevberg the Child Play remake is a crowd pleaser with a handful of over the top Saw, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Puppet Master-like gory graphic kills.

Tyler Burton Smith's writing is only novel if you've not seen advanced the tech toys in Small Soldiers or integrated App controlling in Terminator Genisys to name a few. Here the A.I. Buddi doll from Kaslan Cooperation has been reprogrammed and it's safety restrictions removed by a disgruntled Vietnamese worker who shortly after commits suicide. Later after bonding with Andy the 'learning' Chucky goes on an over protective rampage.

Smith borrows heavily from Joe Dante's aforementioned Soldiers and Don Mancini's Cult of Chucky especially in the closing where Chucky takes control of a variety of toys and the latest line of Buddi Dolls.

As Chucky slashes and stabs his (preferred way of killing) way through the paper thin plot (gone is the supernatural voodoo aspect of the original) Smith also throws in an E.T., Goonies group of kids which also echoes the popular Stranger Things to cover all bases. The cat versus Chucky feels a little too nasty. In addition, the Texas Chainsaw gag and skin mask nod is so outlandish and early on in the film, it steals any real credence to the derivative proceedings. The pervert in the basement is a mashup straight out of Hardware and The Resident.

Mark Hamill is fine as the voice of Chucky, complete with a well delivered catchy Buddi song. Hamill offers a serial killer calm and sinister edge to Chucky but arguably he's less menacing than his predecessor Brad Dourif. Gabriel Bateman's Andy Barclay is solid enough even if reminiscent of the child in The Predator but never is truly fearful of Chucky even after finding his mom's boyfriend's face. Through no fault of actor Aubrey Plaza as Karen Barclay, the slutty mom thing stops you really caring for the character. Likeable Brian Tyree Henry's Detective Mike Norris feels wasted. The death of his mother is too circumstantial for you to buy into his brief investigations.

While this 2019 unoriginal version is well put together, briskly paced with great effects, Klevberg vision doesn't have the weight, wit or tension of the original Child's Play. It's feels like a studio property money making exercise (that it does successfully) for the common denominator and demographics. Nevertheless, it's worth watching once if only for the Hamill and the FX.
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Probably the best Spider Man film to date
9 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must come to terms with loss, first love and team up with a new superhero to take on new elemental threats while on vacation.

Director Jon Watts delivers one of the best Marvel sequels, more impressively, one of the best Marvel films in my subjective book. This is cemented by Michael Giacchino's music. Oddly, the characters are so endearing due to Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers' character writing and one liners that at times it almost doesn't need the big action setups.

Watts and crew capture much of comics tone and thanks to Tom Holland's performance that hones Peter Parker's teenage years it makes it a joy to watch. Again, not since Nicholas Hammond's 1970's stint has an actor echoed Parker in a likeable fashion. For fans (and those of a certain age) Far from Home also goes back not just to the original comics by including Mysterio but brings back memories of the 1960s cartoon.

Although elements of plot feel a little recycled from Iron Man 3 there is enough comic rapport, teen romance and superhero action for it to have its own legs. This MCU addition hit's home especially thanks to the stellar returning cast that offers character development and expanding relationships. Although lacking the vocal gravitas for Quentin Beck aka Mysterio the master of trickery and illusion, Jake Gyllenhaal is a great addition to the cast offering plenty of weight.

It goes out of it way to address the five year ageing issue that Endgame caused. It's a pity it wasn't more of a stand-alone film. Hopefully with Fox now under Disney/Marvel Spider-Man can be reunited with the X-Men for the first time.

There's a mid and post credit scene, the first which reveals Spider Man's true identity and (while not bringing into cannon) is a nod of sorts to Sam Raimi's outings by including J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. The second puts a twist on Far from Homes events and connects the outing to Captain Marvel with a Ben Mendelsohn cameo.

Overall, as with many of the Marvel outings it may not have rewatch longevity, but it certainly is fun, has heart and is more enjoyable than many of its predecessors. A must see for Spidey fans.
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Ghostkeeper (1981)
Worth watching at least twice.
4 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Snowmobilers find themselves stranded in the Canadian Rockies and find shelter in a seemingly abandoned hotel where an old woman is hiding something in the basement.

Directed by Jim Makichuk Ghostkeeper touches on the Bigfoot myth and haunted house genre but it turns out to be a Friday the 13th type slasher. Ghostkeeper is uneven, but the cast are good including striking Riva Spier, Georgie Collins and Sheri McFadden but it's Makichuk's snowy, secluded, eerie atmosphere is the real star.

Even though an independent film the first act of the movie when they are establishing the characters is strong, there's a few interesting kills but as the mystery unfolds dropping its mythical creature for a something more earthly it looses its finesse.

This obscure 1981 gem is crying out for what would be in my book a welcomed remake set in the year it was originally made.
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Haunted State (2019– )
Ticks all the paranormal boxes
2 July 2019
This documentary series follows a likeable American team of filmmakers as they investigate the paranormal.

In this outing Michael Brown and friends including, Anne Benson, Todd Dehring give a detailed background of the places they are investigating. If you enjoyed the Ghost Hunting of Haunted State: Theatre Of Shadows you'll love this.

There's times when they capture EVPs, video evidence, changes in temperatures and magnetic fields etc. It's surprising how open they are when approaching their interactions with loved ones who have died. It's heartfelt and brings home what they are trying to prove especially in the moments where producer Angela Olson tries to contact her parents which is emotionally stirring.

If committed paranormal investigators with heart and no fakery is your thing, this series ticks all the boxes.
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Creature (1985)
Better than most bottom shelf Alien wannabes
1 July 2019
An expedition to Saturn's moon Titan uncovers an alien being that stalks corporate rivals from the U.S.A and Germany.

In the vein of producer Roger Corman's Galaxy of Terror (1981) and Forbidden World (1982) director William Malone's Creature arguably is better put together than the latter thanks to Bette Jane Cohen's editing, lighting and set design. Essentially Malone's American science fiction horror film is another rip-off of Ridley Scott's classic Alien (1979) and is also reminiscent of Life Force which was released the same year.

As expected Klaus Kinski b-movie master walks his pompous Hans Rudy Hofner role. Nevertheless, the female actors out shine their male counterparts in terms of performances. Lead Wendy Schaal is on her game along with Twin Peaks classic styled blonde Annette McCarthy, Diane Salinger does a V-like Jane Badler's Diana, however, striking Marie Laurin steals the show with screen presence, even if unnecessary naked at times.

Malone offers some smokey space atmosphere assisted by Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker's music. The director does his best with the confines of the budget plus his and Alan Reed's own script limitations, even borrowing some Star Wars' sound effects.

There's a handful of decent gore and make up effects special effects work by Robert and Dennis Skotak (who incidentally went on to work on Aliens the following year) and the above average space costume design predates Total Recall (1990).

Overall, better than most bottom shelf Alien wannabes, it's worth watching once even if out of FX interest.
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Overlooked 1989 horror
25 June 2019
A detective apprehends a serial killer who after his electric chair execution returns to haunt the police man from the grave.

As a stand alone story, House III: The Horror Show ticks all the 80s horror boxes, practical and optical effects, stunts, rock music and a fitting score by Harry Manfredini.

Just like House II: The Second Story its tame predecessor, producer Sean. S. Cunningham and director James Isaac's only failing with this instalment is that it's not really in the spirit of the original House. That's said, thankfully it's for the most part a serious offering with A Nightmare on Elm St (1984) tone, Freddy-like quips and a furnace to match. It's also reminiscent of the Prison (1987) and echoes Wes Craven's Shocker (1989).

Trying to keep his sanity Lance Henriksen gives one of his best straight performances as Detective Lucas McCarthy. Brion James gives his staple larger than life delivery but with genuine menace and weight as Meat Cleaver Max. Interestingly Day of the Dead's Terry Alexander briefly appears as Henriksen's partner Casey and Dedee Pfeiffer encapsulates that 80s brat pack persona as Bonnie McCarthy.

Overall, overlooked House III: The Horror Show has suspense, gore with surreal dreams and splatter effects. Everything a fan of 1980's horror could want.
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Excellent fresh take on an infamous story
24 June 2019
Two former Texas Rangers are tasked with tracking and killing infamous criminals Bonnie and Clyde.

While it arguably doesn't capture the period feel like the likes of Once Upon a Time in America, the mystery aspect of the notorious outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow is done wonderfully as director John Lee Hancock follows former Texas Rangers Frank Hamer and Maney Gault who to try and capture the couple.

Hancock lingers every frame, letting the actors do their thing. Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson are on outstanding form as the haunted ageing lawmen.

There's many character memorable cinematic moments throughout, Costner purchasing weapons echoing reminiscent of The Terminator, the aged gun slingers echoing Young Guns II old William H. Bonney. Revisiting shooting skills like spaghetti Westerns and more recently Robocop to name a few. Harrelson a functioning alcoholic has some humorous dialogue as well as moments of role play, pretending to be something else to extract information.

The stars of the show is the rapport between the leads Costner and Harrelson (Bonnie and Clyde are the backdrop here) with great costume and set design they light up the screen.

Great entertainment, an excellent fresh take on an infamous story.
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Choppy but some redeeming qualities
24 June 2019
On the research station lab on the planet of Xarbia a flesh-eating mutant is loose that feeds on the dwindling scientific group who created it.

With the same vibe as Galaxy of Terror (1981), Roger Corman's Forbidden World a.k.a Mutant is an excuse for director Allan Holzman to put some cheap icky specimen effects, jumpsuits and scantily clad actresses on screen. It also comes complete with some disco/electronica music from Susan Justin and a little robot called SAM104 who looks as if he should be in sci-fi films Silent Running or Saturn 3.

June Chadwick's blonde Barb bloody life form encounter scene is short but impressive. Jim Wynorski fingerprints are all over this, Brunette Dawn Dunlap lights up the screen screaming with unnecessary skimpy outfits throughout taking off her clothes whenever the script calls for it. Hammy Fox Harris doctor is entertaining enough, reminiscent of, but predating Brad Dourif's Alien Resurrection performance. There's also an interesting desert scene which echoes an episode of Star Trek in terms of style and execution.

Forbidden World is as clunky as some of 'Subject 20' effects, editing and dialogue. To its credit and inconsistency aside many scenes are well lighted and a handful of the practical special effects including the cocoon and kills are not too shabby. It's common knowledge that some sets and footage is recycled from other Corman productions, including Battle Beyond the Stars and Galaxy of Terror but it's all seamless unless your already privileged to the knowledge as it fittingly looks as if it belongs to this low budget production.

Overall, it's energetic and amusingly gruesome even if at times for all the wrong reasons.
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Don't expect a sequel to House
18 June 2019
A man exhumes an ancestor in the house where his parents were killed to stop an evil cowboy who wants to possess a crystal skull.

Friday the 13th's Sean S. Cunningham in a producer role takes a leaf out of John Carpenter's Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) as director Ethan Wiley's offering is not connected in anyway to its predecessor. Wiley delivers a new set up in a Aztec inspired home with a tone closer to that of Weird Science (1985) than House (1985).

Actor Arye Gross as straight laced Jesse and his friend Charlie played by Jonathan Stark have that goof-ball buddies thing going on synonymous with films of that decade. Royal Dano as Gramps, the cowboy zombie and great grandpa of Jesse is memorable.

House the Second Story has a few 80s trappings, it can be a bit disjointed and the acting a little awry at times. But behind every door there is an adventure, a Western town, prehistoric land and an ancient temple. Chris Walas delivers some notable makeup and creature effects designs, namely the caterpuppy, a dead cowboy and stop motion dinosaurs to name a few.

Overall, it's a bit of fun, don't expect a sequel to House and House II will be easier to digest.
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Deadwood: The Movie (2019 TV Movie)
Plenty of closure
17 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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Potentially Goonies with aliens but actually is more Porky's and Poison Ivy
30 May 2019
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).
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Sadly flawed, could have have become a classic
30 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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Aladdin (2019)
Surprisingly excellent fun
27 May 2019
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.
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Not to shabby Italian post apocalyptic B-Film
12 May 2019
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.
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Of its time, retaining some shock value
30 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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Great but deeply flawed
29 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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One of the better instalments to marvel at
25 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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Inseresting well-made taken on the worn sub-genre
13 February 2019
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.
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Seoul Station (2016)
Excellent animated zombie film
13 February 2019
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.

Highly recommend.
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Still holds up.
9 February 2019
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.
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Future World (2018)
Slick throw back to the post apocalyptic films of the 80s
7 February 2019
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.
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Bumblebee (2018)
Closer to what Transformers should be.
22 January 2019
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.
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Meaty dialogue but flat
29 November 2018
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.
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Halloween (I) (2018)
I'm a doctor. Lock your doors.
25 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
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.

Highly recommended.
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