Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Bumblebee (2018) Review

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's 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. In the closing act a moment on the Goldengate Bridge offers nostglia overload followed by another scene in a forest.
Overall, a great Transformer movie with plenty of heart with a story which makes the Transformers fun and exciting all over again.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Odd Predator endings with Alien 5 vibes

While the ending to The Predator (2018) was outlandish enough special effects wizard Yuri Everson provided some behind the scenes images that hinted at a crossover time-travel ending to The Predator – with Aliens’ Ripley and Newt!

Stunt actress Breanna Watkins portrays both characters for the filmed but unused wacky endings.

Take a look:


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

After a year we’re back and with news

Attachment.pngHey you readers! Here's to 2019 being full of health and happiness for you.
So I'm back after a full year break. As you know, I like to be interactive in my work and value your input. There are three amazing stories I have in mind and I am leaving it up to you to choose which novel/work you'd want to read in 2019/20. The three choices are as follows, so please comment or drop a note on my website or email me:
1. THE LONGEST NIGHT.
Scripts in book format appear to be on the rise. I suppose they're more digestible and put you closer to the voice of the characters. It'll be my full screenplay of my thriller film that had a fantastic talented cast. It's about an American detective who travels to the Britain to help find a missing woman but in the process embarks on a journey of self discovery and redemption.
2. Untitled BLOOD HUNGER sequel.
Blood Hunger is my most successful novel to date but I left it on a cliffhanger reveal of sorts, even though there are clues in my other novels of what became of the players it's void of what happened to the main characters only the underpinning sub-characters and their world. It'll be the continuing vampire thriller about a country haunted by vampire violence and murder.
3. RIVERSIDE HOTEL. Amongst my many projects in development over the years this was one of my first and favourite. It put me in touch with legendary author James Herbert, and was touted around the film industry. (Imitated and borrowed, I never saw a penny). I'll rework to remove some of the elements of this ghost story that have been 'borrowed' in the past to give it a fresh overhaul.
So over the next few weeks let me know which one or maybe there's something else I've missed. I will complete/the novel with the most interest over the next year.
FAQ's:
Q: Why not The Final Version 2 or a Darkest Moons follow up, even another Dead Pulse novel?
A: After the year that was 2018 I'm not ready to pen what would be back to back Darkest Moons books. Darkest Moons took a lot out of me and Final Version was research intensive along with the film and video work I've made. I am excited about writing follow ups to either one of these books but just not ready at this time. With Dead Pulse, after speaking to George Romero's widow, for me- creatively zombies died when the genre's legend passed away.
Q: Why are A. M. Esmonde novels no longer being sold in stores?
A: All of my novels ARE available in stores but would need to be ordered in via the store for you to collect. I don't mention this as Amazon e-books are available and they usually do free shipping on paperbacks. Also I'd rather sell them directly to you, signed and on request via my website than fight for shelf and stock space and have you visit the store more than once.
The publishing industry has changed. Publishers are no longer offering the kind of advances necessary for authors to make a lively hood to support their families. Agents don't have power they once did. The market is saturated. Games now rule. There are authors who pump out a new book every three months, sometimes hire ghostwriters, which is not my thing, (I was one of those ghostwriters). As you know, my novels are incredibly imaginative and can take years to complete.
Q: How are these books published?
A: There's no easy answer. I've been under contract, which three of the novels were tied to. However, AM to PM is a publisher with editors, artists located in Wales and Europe. Even known publishers have moved to print on demand similar to Warner Bros. DVD production. Quality of the finished product is a given. Many pay for ISBN numbers to appear published. Many publishers do this themselves offering authors a raw deal. I found this out the hard way. Once my contract commitments were fulfilled and rights reverted back I didn't want to be in a position to beg 'Publishers' and/or rely 'Agents'. It can be detrimental and a struggle but many authors and artists in many mediums have been successful without selling out, or compromising their story/vision. Mine did well in their chart rankings more so when going solo.
Please let me know what you fancy reading. There is more coming, you got me this far and its up to you to decide what's next.
Aaron
A. M. Esmonde

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Halloween (2018) Review

Image result for halloween 2018 posterWarning 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.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Hands of the Ripper (1971) Review

Hands of the Ripper (1971)The daughter of Jack the Ripper who is seemingly possessed by the spirit of her late father while in a trance continues his murderous killing spree.

Director by Peter Sasdy offers a handful of taboos, an eerie atmosphere, a series of surprisingly bloody murders, touching on mental health, abuse, grooming and prostitution. Subjectively it's knowingly or unknowingly one of Hammers most thought provoking controversial films.

Writer L. W. Davidson from a story by Edward Spencer Shew perfectly skirt around the Jack the Ripper element. Thankfully its not on the nose, alternatively focusing on the sympathetic psychiatrist Dr. John Pritchard excellently played by Eric Porter and his relationship with the tragic murderer Anna (Angharad Rees). It's a mature piece especially notable are the graphic stabbing of Long Liz and the housemaid. The sets, costumes and effects are successful creating that desire Gothic horror atmosphere.

Overall, even though frustrating at times it's one of classic Hammers most daring tales, worth watching for Porters performance alone.

Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) Review

Image result for satanic rite of draculaCount Dracula takes up residence in 1973 London to develop a new strain of bubonic plague, with the evil intention of annihilating all life on Earth.

Part horror, science fiction and spy thriller Alan Gibson directs The Satanic Rites of Dracula. Produced by Hammer Films, notably it is the third to unite Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as Dracula.

Gibson's effort is a vast improvement on the weaker Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) with an interesting new world order plot, double cross, plenty of action scenes and meaty word play from Cushing, courteous of writer Don Houghton.

Editing falters slightly within the closing act, where in the midst of a fire, with Dracula tossing tables and plague infectious minions, VanHelsing escapes through a window. Faults aside, all is forgiven when Helsing excellently and aptly takes care of Dracula, in what is Lee and Cushion's last vampire and slayer showdown on screen.

In the wake of the spy craze the non gothic 'modern' London period setting and serious tone elevates this outing, the casting of older gentlemen and ladies give it a 70's je ne sais quoi. Notably, there's a claustrophobic eerie scene where Helsing's granddaughter (Joanna Lumley) is cornered in a cellar by group of female vampires including Pauline Peart.

Rites befits from a more censor free affair with blood, boobs and violence on display. But the main draw is that 1970s vibe that is difficult to recreate today, with sheepskin body warmers, goons on motor bikes who incidentally kidnap women for Dracula in turn to feast on.

Overall, interesting, a more graphic Dracula Hammer Horror and great for 70s nostalgia if nothing else.

Monday, 8 October 2018

The Predator (2018) Review


Contains Spoilers!

A bus filled with colourful mentally stressed military try to stop an intergalactic sport hunter to save sniper’s son who is in possession of alien tech that his dad unintentionally sent him after his P.O. box was closed.

Following the events of Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990) notably including Peter Keyes' son (as confirmed in the prequel tie-in novel and set presumably after 2010's Predators, although not directly referenced), director Shane Black along with co-writer Fred Dekker echo the modest fun of past Predator movies. They offer a mix of gore and humour, while adding new elements and leave narrative breadcrumbs setting up future sequels.

Alan Silvestri's Predator theme music is expertly reworked but is arguably heavily used by Henry Jackman. The on location night-time shoot adds atmosphere along with the dawn space ship crashing last act. The weaponry that the Predator wields is as fanboy neat as the original character design and effects on display. Even if the Predator dogs are not a menacing as in Predators.

Plot wise the writers give the classic Predator, here more agility, personality and motivation for helping the humans (as he is part human) without spelling it out in your face. They subtly explain why the "Tracker" Predator can see in heat POV without his mask due to his inbuilt biotech/biometric enhancements.

Boyd Holbrook (Narcos) is on usual form and is excellent as army sniper Quinn McKenna who encounters the Predator during a mission in Mexico. Know-how, gun-toting biologist Olivia Munn is impressive alongside the soldiers including actors Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane and Alfie Allen. Also in the castings favour is child actor Jacob Tremblay who doesn't come across as annoying as Rory, Quinn's autistic son. At times you care about the characters and morn when they meet their demise, Rhodes' Williams in particular. Actor Sterling K. Brown is notable as the unscrupulous Govenment Agent.

The Predator is non-stop entertainment, mixing expected lowbrow dialogue and macho talk with no holds barred action sequences and special effects. Yes it's exciting but the action does grow more outlandish in closing followed by off the wall human Predator robotic weaponisation.

This entry ups the ante, Uber style with larger action sequences bigger thrills but doesn't reinvent or progress franchise (especially the Yautja species history or social structure as well as in previous films) as much as touted or deserved. 

Saturday, 22 September 2018

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018) Review

An eccentric uncle reveals himself to be a warlock and with the witch next door, Florence Zimmerman and Lewis must find the clock in the walls of their mysterious old house before its ominous countdown ends.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a family-friendly supernatural adventure based on the 1979 children's book of the same name written by John Bellairs. From horror realistic gore master Eli Roth, the director moves away from his usual adult fare for a impressive 1955 period set piece and well created magical adventure based mostly in Jonathan Barnavelts' large house that formally belonged to Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLahlan).

Jack Black sporting a Orson Welles-look is his usual likeable kooky type role self as Barnavelt, young Lewis played by Owen Vaccaro is impressive. Cate Blanchett's fleeting Florence Zimmerman is good fun along with killer pumpkins, a room full of spooky clockwork dolls, a dog-like chair and lion hedge to name a few. MacLahlan's troubled war vet Izard is fanstatic even if sorely underused. The his eerie makeup gives chills. Knock Knock's Lorenza Izzo (Roth's real life wife) is underliningly menacing as the Mother. It's thematically heavy, with death, loss and youth fitting in at its core, it's not a simple cash-in. The sets an special effects are well executed with an enjoyable score to match.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls echoes C. S. Lewis Narnia, with a Goosebumps feel and a Disney Haunted Mansion vibe. Creepy at times with impressive sets, its one of the most enjoyable well made family films in a longtime.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Iron Warrior (1987) Review

Ator must battle with Phaedra, an evil sorceress and her unstoppable warrior, who has a secret connection to our heroes past.

Director Alfonso Brescia ambitious Iron Warrior is a low budget mix of Excalibur, Clash of the Titans, with a touch of Alejandro Jodorowsky wackiness and Duran Duran music video prowess to name a few. Opening with Carlo Maria Cordio's endless credit title music (oddly reminiscent of Star Trek The Next Generation), we're then sold the aesthetically pleasing locations of the Mediterranean's Malta and Gozo. However, the sunny visuals take away from Iron Warrior some much needed atmosphere. Nevertheless, Brescia's Italian production doesn't shy away from brief nudity, some Lucio Fulci inspired make up and shock moments.

Brescia at best offers stylised 80's bold geometric shape makeup, and fan blown hair with vibrant costumes, reds, greens and flowing material passing the camera. There's a handful of beautiful women thrown including Iris Peynado, notable is the stunning Princess Jana, actress Sabina Gersak. Offering a poor mans Conan swordplay, projection There's Superman (1978) Krypton-like prison rings trapping a witch, with Ator played by Miles O'Keeffe, a chiseled lean He-Man, along with nemesis Trogar (Franco Daddi) a Skeletor meets with Action Force's Destro type sword wielding nemesis. . He employs slow-motion, sped up film, wide shots and old Bewitched/Randall and Hopkirk vanishing editing tricks. The avant-garde mix of student-like experimental film elements is endless.

If theatrical, over the top, choppy Italian sorcery fantasy salami is your thing, Iron Warrior is a must see.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018) Review

Mission spoilers ahead...

Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions as group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for nuclear attacks.

The excellently staged, outlandish, sweaty palm stunts feel even more real in this instalment as the IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time to stop two nuclear bombs being triggered. While far removed from the original '60 TV series, the film offerings go from strength to strength and Fallout doesn't merely rehash Rogue Nation's approach.

Writer, director Christopher McQuarrie offers more high-octane action in this sixth instalment, the narrative is more complex, the stakes are high, the emotion well placed. McQuarrie goes out of his way to explain why Hunt's marriage to Michelle Monaghan's Julia Meade character from the third movie couldn't last.

Here the cast are on top form Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill's Agent Walker bounce perfectly off each other as they attempt to corner a despicable arms dealer named John Lark. Both Hunt's IMF boss played excellent by Alec Baldwin and Simon Pegg get physical and Ving Rhames add some unexpectedly emotion clout. Sean Harris returns as Solomon Lane who is as intense and nonchalant as ever. Vanessa Kirby leaves an impression, possibly for a comeback in a sequel, Milla Jovovich-ish Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust is impressive especially during the action sequences. Notably Wes Bentley an actor who fell off the radar is given second life, briefly appearing as Patrick, Julia's second husband.

The big action set ups in Paris and London are memorable, injected with exciting score by Lorne Balfe. Unexpectedly Fall Out feels fresh and moves the series forward. Even though you can see some story twists coming a mile off there are genuine surprise moments along with proper thematic substance in amongst the white-knuckle action.

Undeniably the best entry in the franchise, re-establishing Cruise’s status as an action superstar. Highly recommended.