Monday, 1 January 2018
Thursday, 14 December 2017
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.
Filmmaker Rian Johnson plays against expectations and bravely tries not rehash what's has been done before. 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 throughout she not as centre piece as she was previously, getting lost in amongst all the other story threads and characters. Both Driver and Daisy, when they are connected during new force power moments and later when they take on Snoke’s guards in an interestingly choreographed fight scenes do get a chance to excel.
Director, writer 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. Jarringly there's misplaced dialogue about God and souls. Moreover, 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, a herd of fathiers (space horses) are freed and ridden across Canto Blight, or when BB-8 steals an AT-ST (Scout Walker) with Finn and Rose, moreover the back drop of AT-M6s, (the next generatiom of Walkers) frame Luke and Kylo.
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. Yoda returns (thankfully a puppet mastered by Frank OZ) appears as a force ghost. 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 DJ is excellent but also has limited screen time. With relief Maz shows up as a hologram in the midst of a firefight.
With already an abundance of species for Johnson’s to chose from there’s many new monsters/alien/animals crammed in and new space ships unnecessary added to the saga. Specifically during the messy Casio messy segment. That said, the cute puffin-like Porgs are surprisingly a good addition. Also 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. With Kenny Baker's passing RD-D2 is performed now by Jimmy Vee. Joonas Suotamo reprises the Chewbacca role in which he doubled for Peter Mayhew respectively in Force Awakens but here takes over completely. 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. In addition, the reveal of Rey’s parents leaves sour taste and Snoke’s origins is left bitter sweet in an abrupt end not seen since Dooku was disposed of in Revenge of the Sith. 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, and where are the Knights of Ren and the handful of Jedi in training that were not killed who left with Kylo? Questionable use in the film's design of Earth numerics being used instead of Star Wars symbols and language on consoles.
It has its fair share of story beats and character high points notably, Fisher and Johnson’s handling of Leia as she evades the First Order in a number of set pieces 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 Johnson’s offering 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
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.
In 1878 a mining community came to terms with the existence of a terrifying horror.
As the moon rises the curse begins!
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
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.
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.
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
Sunday, 1 October 2017
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.
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.