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A Cold Night's Death (1973)
Entertaining thriller set in a remote Arctic scientific base where strange goings on cause the crew (Culp & Wallach) to suspect they're not alone, though Wallach is initially unwilling to accept the ravings of the more pragmatic Culp causing tension to compete with their survival.
Apart from Michael C.Gwynne who appears briefly in the first five minutes, the film is virtually exclusively a two-man act - that is if you exclude the monkeys/chimps on whom the scientists experiment and who may know the identity of the mysterious intruder.
Taut and suspenseful, Culp & Wallach depict their isolation and emotional disintegration convincingly albeit at different trajectories. Creepy, claustrophobic and mature time-filler demonstrates what you can achieve with solid storytelling on a network TV movie budget; well worth a look.
Murder by Natural Causes (1979)
Secrets and sleight of hand
Very crafty thriller has adulterous wife Ross plotting celebrity clairvoyant husband's murder to ostensibly inherit his fortune and live happily ever after with her obeying younger suitor Bostwick. But there's more to the plot than meets the eye.
Holbrook gives an energetic performance to match the wit and wile of his scheming vixen wife, a rare quality role for Ross as her career began to decline in the late 70's. Dependable second lead Richard Anderson is very good in the important supporting role as Holbrook's loyal friend and attorney, whilst former Hollywood almost-a-star Jeff Donnell has a curious role for someone of her status, as Anderson's faithful housekeeper. The ensemble cast are all terrific and their appreciation of the timing and delivery needed to keep the plot tight and the audience guessing is pitch perfect.
This is one of those TV movies they used to make in the halcyon era of the 70's/80's that you'd want to seek out and find on DVD to keep for posterity; not only a great whodunnit- style mystery, but a reminder of the quality of TV movies before networks apparently abandoned the concept for sitcoms and never-ending procedural dramas. Vale TV movies, especially when they're made like this one, an absolute pearler.
The Strangler (1964)
Terrific Buono madman matinée
Very watchable thriller featuring the rotund funny-man Buono in a decidedly unfunny portrayal of an unhinged mummy's boy and daytime lab scientist whose over-bearing mother leads him to commit a series of murders of young women placing the city in the grip of fear. Buono essentially reprised the role several years later in the Italian black comedy "The Mad Butcher", his MO virtually identical albeit in a more farcical manner.
Rugged Marlboro Man David MacLean is the tired, dairy devouring (was the milk drinking scene a product placement ad?) detective under pressure to make the city safe again, whilst a plethora of female victims include Jeanne Bates, Mimi Dillard, Davey Davison and the defiant Diane Sayer set up as bait to lure the killer as his crimes escalate to more brazen opportunism and flagrant audacity. James B.Sikking (Hill Street Blues) has a bit part as a police sketch artist.
The film is nicely photographed in B&W whilst the set decor is detailed and the pace and plot neatly executed. All round, it's a coherent little thriller (loosely inspired by events of the time), taut, economical and well worth watching more than once.
The Shallows (2016)
Soul surfer meets 127 hours
A true shark movie that threatens to be better than the rest, and whilst to some degree it out performs most of its peers, it just can't overcome the CGI scourge that ultimately spoils its authenticity. Blake is lively though not expansive enough in her acting range to carry a thriller on her own. The behemoth that pursues her looks good in close ups and stock footage, but yet again just when you've suspended disbelief and in the grip of fear, the juxtaposition in the animation effects lets you off the hook and back to the safety of your seat.
A superior shark movie imo (e.g. 12 Days of Terror, The Reef, Dark Tide) doesn't lose your trust the way The Shallows relaxes its grip when it's antagonist fails to seamlessly synchronise with the environment. Unfortunately as a result, the attack scenes mostly miss the mark and don't appear natural (when does one shark attack and devour multiple people in quick succession?), though the suspense is certainly present in the pacing and timing.
The idea of the rogue shark stalking prey in the isolated cove is explained (or perhaps contrived) and so the survival match at least has a plot basis on which to unfold. From this survivalist perspective, the film works and keeps you engaged as Lively employs her limited resources to countenance the great white terror whose scale is by the way, not unrealistic (though still of school bus proportions) . Overall, pleasant scenery, decent sound & visual effects (notwithstanding the CGI) but it doesn't rise beyond B-grade to beckon a second viewing.
They're a Weird Mob (1966)
You'll be bloody right
Delightfully light-hearted look into Sydney pre-Vietnam attitudes, still brimming with confidence straddling 50's conservatism and the beginning of the counter culture movement that emerged in the latter part of the decade. It was a very good time to be a ten pound Pom, or indeed any number of European immigrants who accepted the invitation, as Walter Chiari's character (Giovanni 'Nino' Carlotta) experiences, though not without comic incident as he tries to right his cousin's business debts. As other reviewers have remarked, a sort of humorous propaganda promo for Australian immigration.
The beer flows like rivers of amber nectar in a Gold Top commercial, the formal bars and building site where Nino comes to learn the Aussie vernacular; Ed Devereaux (pre- "Skippy"), John Meillon (who almost steals the show), Chips Rafferty, Anne Haddy was there much younger obviously than her later soapy salad days. Obviously the movie needs to exaggerate reality to create humour and I reckon you'd need to be *bloody* churlish to be offended, it's pretty harmless (self-deprecating in fact) when viewed in context.
A wonderful time capsule and source of nostalgia from Rank, perhaps a little bittersweet too when you consider how much of that beloved character we've since abandoned.... worth watching, should bring a smile to your face.
Rogue One (2016)
Expanded Universe becomes official spin off
The Star Wars canon has been revived (following earlier tangents for the Ewoks), with miscreant Felicity Jones recruited by the rebellion to help locate the Death Star's famous weakness which is the spine to the climax of the original episode A New Hope (ANH). In the Star Wars lineage, Rogue One occurs between Revenge of the Sith and ANH.
Reckon Flick Jones is going to be crowned most feisty/sexy Star Wars female character in the galaxy once this goes viral, such are her cherub-like facial features tempered by the grit and attitude of a space cowboy. She's no princess, but a package of galactic goodness all the same. Aussie Ben Mendelsohn is also inspired casting, a menacing Director Krennic whose tactical positioning in the Empire hierarchy adds another layer to a character that could easily have just become another cliché. The remaining cast has depth and there's a couple of surprises in supporting roles which might evoke some fond memories of the original trilogy, though I'm not too sure the CGI character was such a good idea, despite perhaps being well intentioned.
Overall I was pleased with this retrospective; it wasn't as derivative as TFA, Flick Jones really stands-out from the new breed acting crowd, and was a good balance of homage and originality. Whether the franchise has enough original material to crank these out in annual procession til 2020 is seriously debatable, but Rogue One is a pretty decent benchmark on which to start a new generation of spin-offs.
Love and imminent parenthood across the ditch
Unorthodox romance tells the story of an estranged couple, who briefly reconnect following an overseas fling that results in pregnancy, with the door left open for a more enduring reconciliation after a weekend spent rediscovering their mutual affection. The two leads really carry the entire story which is surprisingly effective despite having really very little actual plot. It's somewhat unconventional in that the story begins several months post an intense holiday romance, with the characters now at their lowest ebb in the relationship, re-building trust and forging bonds as prospective parents sober following their torrid affair.
NZ location work showcases the multi-textured city of Christchurch, it's picturesque beaches, parks and gardens contrasting the demolition of modern ruins, a reminder of the earthquake devastation inflicted only a few short years ago. There's an occasional misfire in the situations (i.e. the dial-a-rap song and Gondala strip both seem a little unnatural even allowing for their context) but otherwise, the story seems very sincere.
Probably could've developed a couple more characters and scenarios to pad out the 70 minute run time (e.g. perhaps some more meat in the flashbacks which are relayed like silent memories), but overall if you can appreciate a well acted independent movie in which character is gradually revealed at a deliberate pace, then this sensitive, atypical romance should keep you engaged.
Kommando Leopard (1985)
Box set please
Kommando Leopard is chapter 2 in the Dawson-Collins jungle war trilogy, and whilst baring no real relation to the others, is essentially the same film with a few plot variations. This instalment finds the intrepid mercenaries being pursued by contract killer Klaus Kinski whilst holed up in a Church hospital run by mysterious priest Manfred Lehmann.
Quality scale miniature sets are used in abundance but generally to good effect, whilst the personnel is also much the same as the predecessor with Lehmann, Kinski and Collins re- joining Thomas Danneberg and veteran Alan Collins (aka Luciano Pigozzi) whilst American ex-pat Mike Monty and British ex-pat John Steiner join the franchise for their first appearances. Kinski does arrogant bad-ar$e better than anyone and this is a masterclass of his less-is-more approach though it's debatable whether his bored exterior is acting or genuine contempt.
As with the others there's a fair amount of pathos on display, mourning those lost and lamenting the sacrifices and collateral damage made in the name of cheque-book war - all of which is unnecessary and pure guff. But if you like it when stuff explodes, catches fire or just enjoy massive machine gun recoil and spent cartridges flying in all directions whilst the hero nonchalantly mows down his incompetent opponents, then Kommando Leopard will be very adequate - though brainless- escapism.
Der Commander (1988)
Flirting with cult status
Average Euro-styled jungle action flick is the third of the trio that was borne of the Anthony Dawson- Lewis Collins mid-80's partnership, Der Kommander is essentially the same as its predecessors with a few plot tweaks.
Good use of miniatures again, lots (emphasis) of things blowing up, people of SE Asian appearance dressed in military fatigues being catapulted in the air doing somersaults, that sort of a spectacle which you either tolerate or fall asleep watching.
Collins is again wasted in a one dimensional role as the suave kick-ar$e mercenary with the eternal 5 o'clock shadow, whilst the supporting cast though lacking a principal female lead, does have some surprising depth with Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasance, Brett Halsey, Paul Muller, Romano Puppo, Bobby Rhodes, Mike Monty and John Steiner (as well as series regulars Manfred Lehmann & Thomas Danneberg). That's an impressive cast assembled for a very average jungle war pic, even by Euro-trash standards; had Klaus Kinski returned for this final instalment, the acting chops would've been in the cult movie stratosphere. Van Cleef sadly does not look well and so it's perhaps regrettably no surprise that he died shortly after this film's theatrical release.
If you've seen Codename Wildgeese or Kommando Leopard, then you've essentially seen Der Kommander (sans Klaus Kinski of course). Lots of old and borrowed, but nothing new. Would be nice to have these three movies as a box set for an evening of cheesy goodness, especially now that most of the cast have left the mortal coil, all much too soon.
All Is Lost (2013)
Ocean, wind & fire
Whether it's loosely based on Steven Callahan's harrowing 76-day journey or otherwise, this one-man survivalist movie is possibly the very best of its breed. Robert Redford plays the ageing yachtsman with pragmatism, stamina and an undertone of bitterness as he contends with a seemingly endless array of catastrophes that lead to eventually becoming stranded at sea.
Virtually no dialogue or soundtrack, just the howls of the ocean and creaking of ropes and wood, this is a masterclass of the less is more concept. Always engaging, at times suspenseful, it's without peer of its ilk, the closest you'd come to this standard is the always riveting "I Shouldn't Be Alive" docu-dramas which are consistently high calibre.
Unlikely to engage all audiences, it should appeal to the fans of shipwreck adventures, something akin to Robinson Crusoe on the water. The plot slowly constricts its hapless victim, gradually wearing down his mind, body and resources with every cruel blow. It's like death is destined and he's forced to endure it slowly compounding with each setback. A real man vs nature ordeal perfectly cast and great viewing. This is the best thing Redford has done in thirty years.
The Mad Bomber (1973)
Uptight ultra conservative (Connors) decides to get even with the world after it fails him, using his bomb making skills to put the city in the grip of fear. Only tired-looking detective Vince Edwards and suspected rapist Neville Brand can stop his murderous reign of terror in this reasonably taut time filler.
It's unusual to have dual plots/villains and the presence of Brand in such an understated yet critical characterisation cannot be diminished. His scenes are amongst the best and most gripping as he leverages a chance encounter with the mad bomber to his advantage (and much to Edward's chagrin).
Solid cast includes Hank Brandt, Royce Applegate and Jeff Burton in minor roles, whilst Ilona Wilson has a quirky cameo as Brand's defensive wife. Good momentum, special effects and committed acting elevate this minor movie to something more substantial - and check out the graphic ending for a shocking conclusion!
Grand Prix (1966)
Going the distance
Epic soap opera combines the elements of tragedy, courage and competition to document the trials and tribulations of the elite motor racing fraternity. James Garner stars as the subdued track star, his rivalry with former team mate Brian Bedford not only confined to the cockpit with Jessica Walter's sultry influence pitting the pair against one another following an acrimonious split. Yves Montand and Antonio Sabato provide solid, watchable supporting performances as Garner & Bedford's nearest rivals, the ageing Montand beginning to question his place in the sport, whilst the brash, youthful Sabato seeks to shine in its luminosity.
Diverse cast and some compelling race sequences just manage to go the distance (3 hrs) as our heroes make sacrifices for the obligations of their sport, becoming increasingly disdainful of its commercialisation at the expense of their safety in what has become a familiar rhetoric for these types of movies since.
You won't need to be a fan of formula one to enjoy Grand Prix, though it's epic duration and moments of melodrama and romantic interludes sometimes stifle momentum. Though dated, Grand Prix is colourful, picturesque and tells a rather straightforward if bittersweet tale of professional racing that is long overdue for a decent remake.
Friday the 13th in a row boat
The oversized antagonist of this run of the mill creature feature isn't a bad specimen and definitely looks like something out of the River Monsters alumni, not too far beyond realistic proportions. But that's about all I can praise in this otherwise irritating labour as six high school seniors try to stay afloat a sinking row boat as they're stalked by the voracious lake monster whilst tensions amongst the group threaten their survival.
Most of the characters are clichés (the nerd, the jock, the outsider) and some are plainly irritating, not to mention uneven as the plot meanders from one fatality to the next. It doesn't take long for this lemon to lose its zest, the brittle relationships deteriorating into ridiculous scenarios that accelerate the attrition rate beyond I'm sure even the appetite of the assailant. Aside from the abysmal acting and puerile dialogue, the key weakness in the plot is the fact that the riverbank is clearly visible in almost every shot, yet despite their obvious proximity to shore, these directionless debutantes never seem to get any closer to it. Had they been depicted further from land in a vast lake, the situation would've been more believable.
Unlike the typical monster movie, there's a rather morbid conclusion to this aimless outing, though it doesn't necessarily redeem the previous 80-minutes which even by B-movie standards is pretty mediocre.
John Q (2002)
ER meets PR
I really wanted to be sympathetic to the plight of these characters, their son denied a life-saving transplant due to complexities of insurance and the avarice of private healthcare providers, but I just couldn't tell where the political advertisement ended and the film actually started. Director Cassavetes seems to be flirting with an expensive commercial for a means-tested healthcare model which is fine (Hollywood jingoism is nothing new), though it's usually more subtle.
Washington seems to have the right amount of despair and Woods plays the schmoozing cardiologist with aplomb; his characterisation brought more depth to what could've been a very one-dimensional part. Heche on the other hand as the cold, heartless 'system' personified, epitomised the hollow cliché that Woods somehow managed to avoid (by acting). The Liotta vs Duvall contest is also pretty shallow and unimaginative.
Overall, despite the capable cast, it's difficult to distinguish ad from movie which I'd attribute mostly to the banal dialogue and overly clichéd approach taken. Could've had more tension, action and entertainment if they'd gone with Mel Gibson (a la Ransom, Payback) alas, the makers opted for a dramatic pose and the result is consequently extremely superficial and underwhelming.
Dark Tide (2012)
This one's for you, Bruce
Really surprised this film scores so poorly as I thought it was actually quite entertaining. Despite Berry's overly-dramatic portrayal of a so-called "shark whisperer" whose able to swim in open water with massive white sharks, general acting aside, the photography, exterior sets and choreography of attacks are excellent. If there was any CGI, it wasn't apparent (which should be the idea) instead the makers have used footage of real white sharks in the wild, and integrated these seamlessly with the actors.
The Capetown (Fish Hoek) setting adds realism, and whilst the plot is heavily contrived, the shark footage more than compensates. It's not in the league of "Jaws" though imo it does narrowly outperform "The Reef" which was a pretty decent exponent of the genre itself. Berry and Martinez are merely scenery but director Stockwell's (Cougar from Top Gun) timing builds suspense nicely despite the clichés.
Multiple maulings will keep traditional shark audiences engaged whilst the discerning viewer might be sustained by a more ethical depiction of White sharks. Humans are the antagonists here; the men in grey suits simply behaving as any reluctant host would tolerate such an irritating cast of prima donnas. Sharks = 6, humans = 0.
InAPPropriate Comedy (2013)
Whilst the majority of jokes misfire and the overall experience is potentially distasteful to many viewers, there was still a few laughs to be found in this offbeat, economical sketch comedy. Shaffir's tongue in cheek racist vignettes are the rare highlights, though clearly some aspects are in poor taste. Of Shaffir's segments, his bigoted driving instructor giving SE Asian drivers a hard time is possibly the comic zenith.
By contrast, Adrien Brody's Dirty Harry inspired sketches are the embarrassing nadir; ditto Rob Schneider's bombs. Cringe-worthy, and not in a good way. Lindsay Lohan, though top-billed really only occupies a small, inconsequential cameo parodying Marilyn Monroe.
If there was a sophisticated, satirical undertone intended, it didn't surface at any stage during my viewing though it's possible I may have missed the point entirely and in fact, this is a work of genius. It's also possible this is just an abject failure. Reckon your moral compass might determine whether you like or loathe.
The Heart of Justice (1992)
Murder he wrote
Meandering tale of a wealthy family embroiled in a murder scandal with hot shot reporter Stoltz becoming enamoured by the sultry, enigmatic daughter (Connelly) in his obsessive pursuit of landing the big scoop to feed his ambitions of fame and fortune.
Tries for a film noir feel, but doesn't make the grade wasting a whole lot of talent in the process. Most of star-billed Hopper's role is seen in flashbacks, whilst fellow veterans Price and Dillman have only relatively small contributions to a rather muddled mystery. I preferred the Stoltz-Connelly mind games that were maturing, alas they were overtaken midway by Mulroney's bizarre social handicap whose delusional behaviour becomes progressively more paranoid as the climax approaches.
But despite the potential, the movie is really no more than a feature-length episode of a Murder She Wrote or similar whodunit, with too much telegraphed and consequently, very few surprises to entertain any armchair sleuth who might be hoping for something more mysterious.
Don't Answer the Phone! (1980)
Don't expect too much
Okay-at-best psycho on the loose pic is pretty standard fare with few if any surprises. James Westmoreland does a serviceable job in the lead as a composed detective hunting a certified nut-job who's strangling (and then some) vulnerable women and phoning in his conquests to a local psychiatrist's (Gerrish) radio programme.
Worth is hyper-maniacal in the antagonist role, his hulking appearance fulfilling the intimidation quotient well, whilst a few familiar faces (Haze, Frank et al) round out a capable cast. Contrary to other reviewer's remarks, I personally didn't have a problem with Westmoreland's performance nor did I think Worth was especially remarkable in his characterisation; they and the rest of the cast manage with some fairly drab dialogue padding out what is essentially, a paper thin plot (if you excised the pointless scene fillers, DATP would barely make theatrical length).
DATP just seems like a run of the mill slasher pic with all the typical elements, including nudity, sadism, nurse stalking, PTSD, some occasional light humour (check out the brothel scene which was a laugh) and every other cliché you've ever seen in films of the ilk. A pretty good example of where the title attracts attention that the film itself can't sustain. Very average.
Sergio's slasher is Giallo lite
I enjoy Sergio Martino movies, but Torso disappointed. It's not a strong contender in the Giallo sub genre, a painfully slow pace and generally weak plot failing to match the promise of the inspired title.
Suzy Kendall returns the the sub genre, here playing an o/s student whose GFs begin turning up horribly mutilated prompting the surviving quartet to seek sanctuary in a sprawling castle atop a hill overlooking the besieged town. Predictably, they're not safe for long.
John Richardson has a largely frivolous supporting role as the college professor, and whilst the majority of the female cast are attractive (and frequently disrobed), the acting in this film is lamentable. Kendall is a cut above (no pun intended) the performance standard of her peers and it shows when she's off-screen; second lead Aumont - though possessing a profile - doesn't have the chops to carry the film.
Some mild chills at the climax, but overall it's a tame, clichéd resolution in which Kendall is virtually a bystander. The components are superficially present, but Martino's picture feels too derivative of a one-note slasher film lacking the depth, style and sophistication of quality Giallo.
Macchie solari (1975)
Waking the dead
Better than I expected and not as gruesome as the rather ungainly title might suggest, "Autopsy" is a rugged Giallo showcasing lots and lots of Mimsy Farmer sans wardrobe, plus some typical genre plot twists and red herrings.
Whilst the initial scenes imply something almost supernatural (corpse copulation?), this well paced little shocker quickly finds its familiar Giallo groove as morgue physician Farmer begins to emotionally unravel under the pressures of documenting a burgeoning spate of apparent suicides. Anglo-Italian Lovelock is Farmer's care-free (and somewhat perverted) BF, whilst fellow Americano Barry Primus plays a priest with a tumultuous past. Special mention too for Ernesto Colli as a creepy morgue attendant and Angela Goodwin and her wicked sense of dark humour.
Like most of its ilk, the real story doesn't emerge for some time and the characters flirt with danger as they get closer to the culprit; there's also enough nudity to make a peeping Tom blush, and some occasional gore (which you'd expect in a movie entitled "Autopsy" though as aforesaid, it's not a butcher's shop nor meat market for gore).
The title is likely to offend most punters, which is a shame because it's not a bad movie, probably attracting an unwarranted notoriety it doesn't deserve. But that's their loss - if you enjoy Giallo, you should be quite satisfied with this offering (which despite various published release dates, appears to have been made in 1973 according to the opening titles).
Beach Red (1967)
Wilde war pic is a blood beach diamond
Obscure, gritty independent war pic that I saw 20+ years ago on TV has remained vivid for good reason. Wilde dispensed with his Hollywood profile some years before this directorial effort, but nothing he did matches this for sheer intensity, and, graphic content.
I was most impressed with (at the time) newcomer Burr DeBenning who went on to become a TV staple over the next decade, his youthful Southern simpleton perfectly characterises the faux bravado of a naive debutante. Torn reminded me of an Aldo Ray type in this film, rough edges down and dirty - a very workmanlike performance - whilst Wilde was more or less the typical clichéd leader, and a good neutral base for the other characters to expand.
The opening scene is shocking (especially considering its vintage) and whilst it does sometimes lose momentum in parts, there's always the promise of something unpredictable, such is Wilde's unorthodox approach to filmmaking. It's unconventional, rejects any jingoistic notions or romantic interludes, and really stays true to its central theme sans the Hollywood gloss which is a welcome diversion from the norm. Expect the unexpected.
Just call it The Playlist...
It's shamelessly clichéd, and yet the headline couple make such an awkward and adorable pair that they compel you to watch til the end. Both Cena and Dennings are very likable in their own inimitable styles, Cena his usual gawky yet awkwardly smug self, Dennings also typical in her independent, sharp-witted disguise that conceals a softer centre.
Their midnight antics as they try to locate a missing mutual friend, and the oddballs they encounter is a great night out, something perhaps to which a lot of viewers could relate.
Maybe a little uneven at times, there's a very awkward scene towards the end that seems superfluous and it surprises me that it made the final cut as it really had no bearing on the outcome. Not to labour the point, I just felt it was insignificant in the context of the plot and seemed disjointed and out of place.
One of those films where the chase makes the movie entertaining, but the destination is not as gratifying. Solid effort despite the rather cryptic and clumsy title.
The Astronaut (1972)
The replacement astronaut
Before "Capricorn One" appeared this taut little time filler starring Monte Markham in dual roles, ably supported by the under-rated Susan Clark as the wife of the first astronaut to land on Mars. Complications arise however and NASA (led principally by Jackie Cooper and Bob Lansing) create an elaborate ruse to ensure funding for future projects isn't jeopardised.
Walter Brooke has a key supporting role as a reporter and friend to the shuttle commander, whilst there are small roles for James B.Sikking as the co-pilot and Richard Anderson as the NASA doctor and reluctant co-conspirator.
It's remarkably tame considering the risks associated with the premise, and neither Cooper nor Lansing appear to have any sinister intentions, their plight driven by misguided loyalty and patriotism more than any villainous ambition. Economical movie of the week.
Chair lift to hell
Reckon you'd need to be pretty imaginative to suspend disbelief enough to accept this story of three young adults who become stranded when they're accidentally left on a cable chairlift suspended 50-foot above snow-hills as night, freezing temperatures, local wildlife and a week-long resort shutdown threaten their survival.
For the first half I thought this film might've been tongue-in-cheek, particularly when one of the trio attempts the unthinkable and lives to inspect the damage in comical style - I wasn't sure if the actor was playing to a script or just acting so badly that it was unintentionally hilarious. What happens next confirms it was the latter and furthermore cements this film's place among the list of the most absurd movies ever conceived.
There's a couple of gory moments that show someone attached to this project has talent, but I struggled to digest what director-writer Green was trying to sell. To me, "Frozen" comes off like "Sharknado" is to "Jaws", a hyper-distant relative several generations removed conceived to cash-in exclusively on the success of a legitimate forerunner (in this case, "Open Water" or "Cast Away" might have rebooted the trend in stranded-survivalist movies). Akin to the procession of shark movies that are churned out every other year, each outdoing the predecessor with evermore ridiculous concepts. Mercifully "Frozen" manages to take itself more seriously than those abominations as its own saga matures, but the damage is, in my opinion, already done.
It's definitely worth a look if only to see the gory moments, and whilst the premise is difficult to accept, I wasn't prepared for just how puerile the subsequent plot execution was to be - so corny it's genuinely funny, so bad it's almost good.
Open Water 2: Adrift (2006)
All at sea
Watchable if at times frustrating tale of a six-pack of friends/acquaintances who find themselves stranded in the ocean unable to reach the deck of their luxury yacht after a moment of patent idiocy. Compounding the situation, one of the couples has an infant daughter still aboard the vessel, alas too young to fend for herself nor come to their rescue.
The idiocy of the characters' response to their predicament is overwhelming - I appreciate a regular Joe/Jill's judgement would be impaired in such a situation, but the sheer scale and repetitiveness of this brainless behaviour is staggering. A cynical viewer might suggest the filmmakers conceived the most inept reactions you could make in the circumstances, and then made a movie showcasing that stupidity. Mistake after mistake leaves few survivors and whilst the methods are all unique, there's a conspicuously absent MO that disappointed me the most (though I won't spoil the surprise).
Bares zero relation to its predecessor other than the tenuous concept of being stranded at sea, and whilst the panic and mood patterns displayed seem realistic, the situations are all clichés compounded by an ambiguous ending that disappoints. Not terrible, but falls short of expectations.