Thursday, 14 December 2017

Star Wars: Episode VIII Last Jedi (2017) Review (Spoilers)

*Major Jedi spoilers ahead*

The Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker is unsettled by the strength of Rey’s powers and connection to Kylo Ren.

Star Wars: Episode VIII Last Jedi has heaps of dramatic moments, heightened by John Williams’ score, the emotional impact most of which oozes from the late Carrie Fisher as Leia is poignant. Oscar Isaac’s Poe and Mark Hamill’s Luke steal the show but both Adam Driver (Kylo) and the perfectly cast Daisy Ridley (Rey) give the original trilogy actors a good run for their money. Less of a comedy side kick here John Boyega’s Finn is more focused and has a new love interest
in Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico.

Although Rey is present thoughout she not as centre piece as she was previously, getting lost in amoungst all the other story threads and characters. Both Driver and Daisy, when they are connected durning new force power moments and later when they take on Snoke’s gaurds in an interestingly choreographed fight scenes do get a chance to excel.

Director, writer Rian Johnson offers a good, but not brilliant Star Wars episode, unfortunately there’s a lot of jokes thrown in which feel off with the usual galactic humour of its predecessors. Many of the effects are arguably not as good as Episode VII or Rogue One, surprising for a Star Wars film, many CGI shots (feel less model lifelike), rendering and movements stick out for example when BB-8 steals an AT-ST with Finn and Rose.

To Johnson’s credit, there’s a stand out scene with Luke and R2-D2 where they view 1977’s Star Wars Leia hologram message, moreover is a huge spoiler moment that includes Luke’s impressive moving story closure (with a Obi-Wan, Yoda cloak twist) this is a high point not only of this episode but of all the episodes. However, some of the characters feel a little fleeting and wasted including Andy Serkis Snoke’s brief and anticlimactic demise and Benicio del Toro’s excellent but also limited screen time. With relief Maz shows up as a hologram. There’s many new monsters/alien/animals background species and space ships unessary added to the saga. That said, favourites return including Chewie, R2-D2, C3-PO and there’s plenty newcomer BB-8 moments as the action moves from one planet, hopping from spaceship to another. Actress Billie Lourd (Fisher’s realife daughter) welcomingly gets more lines and to do as Lieutenant Connix. But even with more Phasma to enjoy her moments feel rushed like some of the special effects. Also we’re still left with the unanswered question of how did Kylo get the blue lightsaber, and how did it get to Maz’s castle in Force Awakens, even if it is one and the same?

It has its fair share of story beats and character high points notably, Fisher and Johnson’s handling of Leia which offers genuine story surprises. Memorable is Leia’s resurrection “Force” moment, Laura Dern’s character sacrifice and Yoda’s return to name a few. But there are niggling wasted opportunities and shoehorned on the nose social commentary.

Overall, debatably it doesn’t feel as Star Warzy as it should, nevertheless, it’s Star Wars nonetheless, but don’t expect Empire Strikes Back or the Star Wars je ne sais quoi magic.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Happy Holiday updates thrillers, horror and sci-fi...

My Readers and following friends,



It's been a hard year with personal loss and sadness, so I've been off the social media merry-go-round. Whatever you are going through, you will get through it. Keep the dream alive, have trust. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!




With the Christmas season is upon us we've got a few signed editions of Darkest Moons (contact via the website), also if you order any paperbacks you get the Kindle Free, for those who want to start reading immediately and have a keepsake paperback winging its way to you.


Darkest Moons

Darkest Moons

In 1878 a mining community came to terms with the existence of a terrifying horror.

As the moon rises the curse begins!

 

 

 

 


The Final Version

The Final VersionJourney through the history of genetics and be catapulted to a post-apocalyptic future, a conflicted dystopian utopia of cyberpunk, cryogenics and government-conspiracy.

 

 

 

 

 


Blood Hunger

Blood Hunger

From the fall of the vampire and the Dracul brothers in medieval Europe to their return in the present day. Prepare yourself, their first bite will be your last!

Dead Pulse

Dead PulseDeath does not discriminate...

The dead have returned to life... The world's focus is on the city of Ravenswood and the once idyllic town of Farmore as platoons and scattered survivors fight the hordes of the dead, unbeknownst one of them holds the key to end the undead's reign of mayhem.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Revolt (2017) Review

Revolt Movie PosterTwo survivors of an alien onslaught join together to survive.

If you enjoyed The Dead (2010) for its setting and location and Skyline (2010) for its aliens, Revolt director Joe Miale presents a similar feel but a on a bigger budget and with slicker camera work as the foreigner aid worker Nadia and American solider Bo journey though alien invaded Africa.

As Bo and Nadia become allies they encounter ruthless military, poachers and robot aliens. With plenty of shootouts and action sequences, notably a segment in a classic car where are chased down by alien hordes. Moon Bloodgood-alike Bérénice Marlohe is impressive as Nadia and grounds the film. Lee Pace does a good job as amnesia suffering soldier Bo. Excellent Jason Flemyng shows up in a brief but plot pivotal role. Played straight the acting is good along with the music on the gritty location settings. The effects are impressive and the robot alien design is quite good.

While there's very few original elements it's the way it's put together is impressive,this is no Syfy channel looking TV offering. While not as hard hitting as Monsters 2, Miale gives us a war-torn road trip story about the human spirit, internal change, sacrifice in the vein of War of the World and District 9.

Overall, worth checking out if you enjoyed the previous mentioned films and serious toned invasion films.

The Babysitter (2017) Review

The Babysitter Movie Poster*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A funny, popular babysitter is actually a cold-blooded killer who's in league with the Devil and a teenage boy who finds out the truth must stop her and her friends or end up dead himself.

With a surprise twist reveal (if you've not seen the trailer) when a spin the bottle game turns into murder McG's fast paced offering, works as fun horror comedy in the vein of Tucker and Versus Evil. Judah Lewis' is excellent as Cole, the 12 year old madly in love with his babysitter Bee played feistily alluring by Samara Weaving. As Cole picks off in a MacGyver, A-Team, Kevin Macalister fashion Bee's murderous 80s-like stereotype friends, a cheerleader, a jock and so on.

McG's slick direction is chock-full with comic book gore. The action setups in the everyday American suburban neighbourhood setting reminiscent of the Burbs, E.T, Poltergeist and the like gives this a nostalgic atmosphere. Brian Duffield's script is packed full of horror homages and Scream self-aware dialogue, that said Duffield refreshingly doesn't explain every detail about Bee's motivations, how's and whys about her magic text and sacrifice secrets saving it for a possible sequel.

Great for teenage boys and girls who love gore and Home Alone style kills and old school film goers who enjoy slasher horrors.

Knock Knock (2015) Review

Knock Knock Movie Poster***This review may contain spoilers ***

Two stranded women reveal a sinister agenda after they spend the night with a married architect and turn his life upside down.

Refreshingly it's not an on the nose torture horror or full on home invasion film, but it's a punchy enough moral yarn with a wicked ominous tone. Director/writer Eli Roth uses the remote suburban single location to full effect and Knock Knock never feels repetitive. It also has a warning about fidelity, sheltering strangers and social media usage.

Ana de Armas, and Lorenza Izzo on fine form switching between sexy, innocent and menacing effortlessly as they torment Keanu Reeves's Evan. While Reeve may not give his best performance throughout he more than makes up for it in the closing act. Roth manages to keep the stakes high without full on exploitation using some slick direction and both Izzo's Genesis and Armas' Bel reveal snippets of their character motivations while leaving plenty to the viewers imagination.

Intense and unnerving with a Roth staple downbeat ending. Based on Death Game (1977) if you enjoy the likes of Bad Influence, Fatal Attraction, Pacific Heights, Unlawful Entry to name a few with the modern edge of Hostel this is a must see.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Review

*** Warning this review contains major skin job spoilers ***

2049, a blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a secret that has the potential to plunge a company and department into chaos.

Without drawing too many comparisons to Ridley Scott's 1982 classic, director Denis Villeneuve's neo-noir science fiction film is powerful, atmospheric and like its predecessor mostly likely not an instant classic but a slow burning grower. All the lights are out at the Tyrell building and the weather is more unpredictable than ever before with snow, dust storms on top of the usual expected rain. Even though Hampton Fancher and Michael Green screenplay follows the excellent Ryan Gosling's character officer K later Joe it's very much a film about Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard and Nexus 6 Rachael. Both the advancement in A.I. relationship element is focused upon here as well the expected replicants memories, relationships, life spans and more importantly reproductive system.

Packed with excellent performances, notably limited screen-time from Jared Leto, Robin Wright and Dave Bautista in brief but impressive subtle and violent appearance. Edward James Olmos also reprises his role as Gaff and with ease gives Gosling a run for his his money in the few minutes he appears on screen. Sean Young's Rachel is also prevalent throughout, whether it be in dialogue, photos, voice recordings, skull and bones or a better than Rogue One's Tarkin appearance with some jaw dropping, impressive computer generated wizardry film magic.

While Harrison's screen presence sizzles Golsing carries the film well in amongst the mesmerising effects and earthly sets that are captured by veteran Roger Deakins' cinematography. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch's music is fitting and has all the Vangelis staples and expected moving horns and beats. To Villeneuve's credit he achieves the almost impossible and that is to conjure up a sequel that doesn't simply rehash, but builds on the first film as Golsing's Joe goes about finding out what or who he really is and his purpose. As well as subtly answering questions about its predecessor, namely the fate of various characters, life spans and so forth it also leaves many fittingly unanswered. Up for speculation, interestingly not a plot point, without specifically saying so it hints that rule-abiding “Skinner”, “Skinjob” K, KD3:6-7, is possibly a younger version of retired Deckard B-263-54.

A must see, but expect a futuristic breadcrumb detective story with slight of hand memory tricks and a few twists rather the Gosling's Joe hunting down and simply disposing/retiring Replicants.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Spider-Man Homecoming (2017) Review

*** This review may contain Spidey spoilers ***

Peter Parker tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens but is put under threat when he tries to stop a criminal on his own.

Under Jon Watts' direction Tom Holland capture's the Peter Parker/Spiderman character nicely, the handfuls of writers inject Homecoming with the humour of source material. Here Parker is not a reporter yet, he's still really a Spider-boy. Thankfully it's not another direct origin story but Spidey is coming used to his new skills. 

In this Marvel film universe Parker has an intelligent computer Iron Man-like suit, Karen, voice by Jennifer Connelly. The computer and Parker's relationship makes for some genuine laughs. But it's never clearly defined what Spidey's powers actually are without Karen the A.I. suit, aside from strength and practical web-shooters. It's great that his mask has visors, providing more expressiveness to his appearance like in the comics/cartoons, but we need more Spidey sense.

Watts has a lot of practical and causal suited up Spiderman but there's still too much obvious CGI as appose to just wire replacement. The on location feel helps sell the environment and you buy into Parker's world. Holland has the 70's live action TV show likability of Nicholas Hammond and captures the spirit of Spiderman in the dialogue and action set ups but also the teen angst. 

Without drawing too many comparisons, yes, it's another actor, another Spiderman, while Tobey Maguire was a good actor, arguably Sam Raimi's offerings struggled to capture the comic or cartoon feel. Although Andrew Garfield was perfectly cast and Marc Webb's films were closer to the Parker we love, it wasn't fresh enough coming in the shadow of the previous three. All suffered from a reliance on a CGI Spiderman and overlong paint by numbers story. What Watts and writers do get right is the bad guy, Michael Keaton does a great job as grounded villain Vulture that offers a curve ball revelation in the last quarter. His character isn't black and white, with bags of motivation and purpose. 

As a nod to fans they also subtly introduce MJ and Flash is updated fittingly. There's some Avengers jokes and the comedy in general hits the mark. Especially with Holland's Michael .J .Fox toned quips and Parker's Teenwolf-like high school insecurities and Superman identity crisis work. His sidekick friend Jacob Batalon's Ned who offers some good comic relief. Uncle Ben is omitted. Stan Lee has an obligatory cameo.

Jon Favreau's Hogan and Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man do turn up a little too much and feel forced fan service in there extended cameos. Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts briefly appears along with Tyne Daly. Bokeem Woodbine has notable screen presence as Tom Holland's Shockers replacement. Also stick around for Keaton's telling mid-end credits segment. 

Overall, as a superhero film it's good, as a Spiderman film it's probably the best to date but not without it's faults.

Zombies (2017) Review

A survivor of a virus outbreak goes about finding more uninfected people to come to his sanctuary. 

Director/writer Hamid Torabpour offers a competent low budget offering, with plenty of kills, CGI blood, hacking and shooting as survivors take down the zombie-like virus infected hordes. It's played straight, the music, lighting, make up and locations add up to a solid enough production. While it bogs itself down and runs out of steam in the latter half Torabpour still puts in a nice little nihilistic twist in the closing. 

It's not a found footage type film like Zombie Diaries or Diary of the Dead. Zombies is an average low budget flick but sadly lost in the sea of substandard DTV zombie film hell. Produced by Cameron Romero (son of the late George A. Romero) it doesn't reach the heights of his father's work or the likes of The Dead or The Battery but thankfully this digital presentation has an almost film like feel appose to the abundance of bland camera work on VOD and SyFy that lack atmosphere.

Veteran horror actor Tony Todd bookends with a welcomed extended cameo as Detective Sommers. Lead Steven Luke's Luke plays the subtler scenes well rather than the action segments. Notable is Amanda Day as Tala but most memorable is Raina Hein's Bena. Despite sporting a zombie cliché killing weapon of choice bow Hein makes the most with what's she's given and offers much of the emotional clout. 

Overall, looks good for the budget, don't expect a classic and you may enjoy.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Horror scifi character poll

Hi, 

I'm running a quick poll to find out which novel has your favourite characters, it may shape some future returns or resurrections depending on your feedback.

A. 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Cult of Chucky (2017) Review

*** This review contains major doll spoilers ***

Nica Pierce has spent the past four years in a mental institution after being framed by Chucky for the murder of her family but Chucky isn't finished with her yet or Andy. 

Director/writer Don Mancini does the impossible and injects life into Part 7 of a series. Mancini and company simply out do themselves here with Cult of Chucky, where as Curse had a striped back Hitchcock feel this has Brian de Palma on a budget visuals with a Cronenberg icky edge and Mancini's trademark frank humour. I usually recommend films in my final paragraph, but this is must see from the outset, don't even read this, just rent or buy it.

Summer H. Howell cameos, Fiona Dourif returns and is excellent as the asylum trapped wheelchair bound Nica that no one believes oozing a Sigourney Weaver vibe and echoing Linda Hamilton's Terminator 2 locked up in danger craziness. In a surprising twist as the plot unfolds and the body count rises Fiona also channels her father's serial killing character Charles impressively. Actors Adam Hurtig as split personality suffer Malcolm, Zak Santiago's Carlos and particularly Ali Tataryn as nurse Ashley are notable. But Michael Therriault leaves an impression as Richard Gere-like warped Dr. Foley.

Alex Vincent Returns as Andy Barclay from the original Child's Play (1988, yes it's been that long) building on his previous brief cameo in its predecessor Curse of Chucky. There's an intriguing element of Andy keeping Chucky's dismembered head in a safe, only to bring it out to torment it for relief. It could only more get more wacky if someone made Child's Play Human Centipede style and put Chucky's talking head between a Garbage Pail Kid and Teddy Ruxpin!  The icing on the cake is it's implied that Tiffany has possessed the real Jennifer Tilly, allowing her and her doll likeness to shows up which connects and brings into cannon the other outings namely Bride and Seed of Chucky not made by Mancini with some outlandish writing which makes perfect sense in the context of the series.

It's not perfect due to some blown out colour correction and unnecessary CGI skyline backdrops but given the budget using a variety of smoke and mirror movie magic 
Chucky is brought to life with perfect execution aided by modern technology and Brad Dourif's voice, complete with quips and inventive nasty murders. 

There's a limited amount of locations, a cabin, an asylum reminiscent of TV's Hannibal and the snowy setting gives this some Kubrick Shining atmospherics. The stark white corridors hark back to the Exorcist III, One Flew Over Cuckoo's nest, Mancini throws in enough plot points and flashbacks to peak interest. Thankfully it's played straight for the most part and doesn't stray into all out comedy territory a-la Bride and Seed. 

Fans are treated to multiple Chucky dolls, graphic killings and dark humour but not only that there's a surprise treat after the credits where another character returns - Andy's foster sister Kyle from 1990's Child's Play 2! Played by the same talented actor Christine Elise giving thrills that Andy's cameo did in Curse. 

All in all leaves you wanting more and too much Good Guy Doll is never a bad thing.