Monday, 16 April 2018

The Final Version sci-fi information page

This pretty neat The Final Version novel page has been brought my attention. It has been going a few years and contains some good observations and facts about the book by readers. I've copied and excerpt below.

• It is difficult to pin point when WWIII occurs, however, whatever destructive device was used left buildings standing. This leaves the remaining survivors (who have converged on a few remaining city's world wide) have whole buildings to live in to themselves. To benefit for this arrangement occupants seemingly have to adhere to the consistent surveillance/monitoring. It echoes Blade Runner and Aeon Flux in chapters, with hints of The Thing and Mad Max in others.
• Denton visits every continent.
• Given it is set post WIII the future appears quite habitable (excluding the wastelands and industrial areas). State Side while the rain beats down there are while plastic pavements/side walks and Neon lights have made a come back.
• It's a 'kitchen sink' book as it has so much in it. However, it's pulls off bringing the sci-fi elements, (not limited to) A.I, cloning, cryogenics and Robotics together with the historic chapters and the events that are touched on subtly which include the discovery of DNA, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Anastasia's disappearance, Spanish Conquistadors encounters, painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's fate to name a few.
• Religion is outlawed and practised by underground sects. Notbaly the MJ and King sect.

Source: FanDom http://the-final-version.wikia.com/wiki/The_Final_Version_Wiki

Order your copy here: Amazon

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Deep Blue Sea (1999) Revisited

Set in an isolated underwater facility, a team of scientists carry our research on genetically engineered Mako sharks to help fight Alzheimer's disease but this go awry when sharks go on rampage and flood the facility.

Director Renny Harlin's delivers a B-movie premise that's good fun. Although the CGI shark effects are a bad as they were back on its 1999 release, the practical shark effects still hold up and are impressive even today.

There's plenty of shark action and the cast boasts both Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson in small pivotal roles. Leads Saffron Burrows and Thomas Jane play it perfectly straight and are solid enough. However, Donna & Wayne Powers and Duncan Kennedy's screenplay add comedy moments mostly in the guise of LL Cool J who is memorable as Sherman the cook 'Preacher', instead of it being totally serious throughout.

There's some good set-ups and surprise deaths, an ominous attack on partying teens, a shark smashing stretchers against windows, sharks casing through flooded shafts, a helicopter crash, think The Poseidon Adventure meets Jaws 3.

Although Deep Blue 2 followed - it's less squeal and more of remake, recycling some of the story setups and script only without the budget and tension. Stick with Harlin's original

Monday, 9 April 2018

Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018) Review

Warning - SPOILERS AHEAD. 

A billionaire experimenting on bull sharks, soon cause havoc for a visiting group of scientists.

One of the oddest deja vú experiences for all the wrong reasons. Deep Blue Sea 2 is less of a sequel and more of a straight to video remake of the 1999 original. Complete with a smaller shed on the water with a state-of-the-art facility below the surface.

Director Darin Scott offers a darker look but it’s not cinematic, it’s hampered by the lack of budget, bottom of the barrel TV look with filtered lighting. The actors do their best with the recycled script and storyline from the original. Bull sharks replace the Makos.

There’s a few tweaks - the sharks tunnel rather than jump fences, they attack an illegal shark finning duo instead of partying teens in the opening, the sleeping shark doesn’t eat the entrepreneur Durant, it eats another cast member instead, there’s no parrot just lots more CGI. It mocks some of the original urinating in the wind dialogue. The story beats are pretty much the same only they destroy the compound themselves. And there’s a tagged on ending where the sharks head to attack some beach goers.

Why Warner Bros. went all 90’s Disney straight to video with this sequel/remake only Samuel L. Jackson character knows. Maybe to cash in on the release up and coming The Meg or off the back of the better 47 Meters Down and The Shallows.

It’s only redeeming features are American Emily Blunt-a-like Danielle Savre and some real great white footage.

If you’re interested in seeing what the flawed but entertaining original would have looked like with a first draft script and Syfy channel budget, this is a must see, for the less curious swim as far away from this as possible. 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Tomb Raider (2018) Review

Image result for tomb raider 2018The daughter of an eccentric adventurer embarks on a perilous journey starting at her fathers last-known location in Japan.

So in 2001 we didn't get actress Rohan Mitra, we got Angelina Jolie instead. After casting directors passed on Marvel's Hayley Atwell and Star War's Daisy Ridley for this reboot Alicia Vikander won the role. Director Roar Uthaug offers Tomb Raider a Lara Croft origin story, she's younger with distracting, gasps, grunts, pants and yelps at every stunt. Here Uthaug presents Lara honing her skills, missing jumps here, getting beaten there. It's Lara the student not the gun-toting archaeologist yet.

Uthaug offers sweeping camera work throughout, London, oceans, waterfalls and jungles, it's an extravagant production, the locations ooze atmosphere and the effects are not too distracting. Writers Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons' dialogue at times is derivative, but thankfully the solid acting glosses over it. Satisfyingly the tone is less comic-like, that said, it lacks any setups to write home about, there's a circumstantial shipwreck and an exciting escape from a dilapidated plane that has long since crashed, both of which are visually impressive but could be in any other film. There's nothing in terms of setups which equal or surpass anything in the previous two Tomb Raider films or the original Eidos Interactive game.

To Vikander's credit she does a credible job and equals actor Dominic West and his deep tones as her dad, Richard Croft. Actor Daniel Wu, Lara's side kick is notable and Predators actor Walton Goggins offers some seriousness and weight, delivering a the perfect 80s thriller intense bad guy in a good way.

There's machine-gun shoot outs, bow and arrow pulling, chases, Indiana Jones-like shenanigans and every tragic father daughter cliche you can think of complete with a post title scene setting up a sequel with more Lara-like trademark weapons.

Overall, it's not bad but not great either, pretty forgettable but at least there's not a nanotechnology McGuffin in sight.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Double Trouble (1992) Review

A brawny suited burglar and his equally muscular twin, an upstanding police officer, are forced to team up to bring down some diamond criminals.

With the fashion, music, hairdos and a Rambo III poster on display you'd swear director John Paragon's Double Trouble was made in the eighties (even though it was 1992). The cast feature plenty of familiar acting faces, surprisingly this B film has some good talent on display. This forgotten film features David Carrdine, James Doohan, Roddy McDowell and those two muscle bound twins from the Conan wannabe film Barbarians (1987), I kid you not. McDowell has lot of fun shooting people and Doohan gets to Scotty rant while the twins get to wink at fine women, fight and shoot a lot. It's all as outlandish and retro un-PC as it sounds.

The plot is too thin to mention, my first paragraph sums it up. To the twins David and Peter Paul's credit they are great fun throughout and thanks to some writing flukes including Jessie Venture impressions, sibling rivalry along with Paragon's clumsy setups and reverse fridge logic it's more enjoyable than it should be.

If you love the 1980s cheese, this 90s film is a great example, think a second rate Twins mixed with Stop or My Mum will Shoot and Skyscraper. Let your mullet and crop top do the thinking, you should enjoy.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Death Wish (2018) Review

Dr. Paul Kersey is an ER surgeon burning for revenge, to deliver justice for his family's assailants. 

Eli Roth's Death Wish is arguably more satisfying than revenge films The Equalizer (2014), Oldboy (2013) and on par with the great stylised John Wick (2014) in term of entertainment. Bruce Willis makes a triumphant return to top form as Paul Kersey in this fitting and timely remake of Death Wish. Willis reminds us he can act and not just turn up, this is a well produced on location feel action, unlike his recent low-par films and cameo-like performances.

Eli Roth offers one of his most conventional Hollywood-like movies to date, but includes his staple gore in a few moments throughout mostly dished out by Willis' slayings and some unconventional use of everyday weapons. The action thriller is fast paced with plenty of shootouts. Likeable Elisabeth Shue is fittingly cast as Kersey's wife, along side Vincent D'Onofrio as his brother. Notable are actors Camila Morrone is as Kersey's daughter and Breaking Bad's Dean Norris is cast as warm Detective Kevin Raines.

From a solid screenplay by Joe Carnahan based on Death Wish (1974) and Brian Garfield's Death Wish novel the film works within its own logic, the doctor come vigilante Willis character has an arc and manhunt aspect where the media debate whether he is a guardian angel or grim reaper gives weight to the intense drama. You could fit on a postage stamp what it has to say about gun crime and it socially sits on the fence, with Roth leaving it for the audience to decide what's right or wrong. 

At the end of the day, it's an well made action revenge flick. Overall, one of Willis memorable roles to date, recommended.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Only God Forgives (2013) Review


In Thailand, a drug trafficker's icy mother sends him on a mission to avenge his older brother death.
Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives feels more like his Valhalla Rising (2009) rather than the more conventional and mainstream Drive (2011). The music is mesmerising, stirring the uneasiness of The Shinning (1980). It's atmospheric, stylish, quiet and yet ultra-violent, with the beats of an opera. It echoes elements of Diva (1981), Collateral (2004), Subway (1985) and David Lynch's dream-like quality to name a few. 

Ryan Gosling plays Julian Thompson, an American criminal who lives in Bangkok. Gosling smolders (with limited dialogue which appears to have become his trademark staple) Julian speaks less than 20 lines throughout the film. Kristin Scott Thomas shines as Crystal Thompson, Julian's mother, a merciless and terrifying mafia godmother, probably her most memorable role. The star though is Vithaya Pansringarm as the imposing Lt. Chang/The Angel of Vengeance.

Refn remains visually stylish thoughout with natural location shoot, he adds enough subtle narrative smarts and horrifying underworld characters to ground its beautifully filmed depravity.

The film's characters are non-people; reminiscent of Revolver (2005) the things they say to each other are non-conversations, the events of neon-drenched nightmare are like some piece of French cinema which purposely plays differently to mainstream good taste. It's slow, edgy and gripping as the extreme violence basic plot plays out.

Only God Forgives has some quirky casting and interesting visuals on the background of the seediest sides of Bangkok. If you like artsy, its dedicated to director Alejandro Jodorowsky which should give you an idea what to expect then this is for you.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Thor Ragnarok (2017) Review

Thor Ragnarok Poster Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop the ruthless God Hela.

Director Taika Waititi offers more fun than the overlong, padded majority of Marvel films than it should, Thor Ragnarok has plenty of humour (maybe a little too much). From the special effects to costume design and colourful characters including actors Chris Hemsworth, whose Thor goes through a few changes certainly looks wise right up until the end. There's a welcomed on form return of Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston's sly Loki, Mark Ruffalo, who gets plenty to do with his dazed Banner and there's more Hulk action, with Anthony Hopkins' nonchalant Odin and Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange who both cameo.

New comers to the series evil Cate Blanchett, who is not just a 'end level baddie', Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster and Karl Urban give more than the stereotype unsavoury characters, there's also a few twists and turns. Tessa Thompson is also noteworthy and excellent Clancy Brown voices Surtur. Waititi also voices the memorable Korg.

There's the obligatory end credit scene, here two of them. Interestingly where as the Led Zeppelin "Immigrant Song" is overused Mark Mothersbaugh's music and the score is fitting to the 80s vibe throughout, sadly Magic Sword's epic tune "In The Face of Evil" appears to be omitted from the feature, only appearing in the trailer. Still Mothersbaugh's music has a similar feel.

Overall, Ragnarok's strength lay in its entertainment value, thanks to some relaxed writing, likeable characters and story beats. Highly recommended.

Villmark 2 (2015) Review

 

Warning: Spoilers

Five contract workers have taken on the task of tracking a huge old sanatorium for hazardous waste before demolishing. However things go bump in the night as the enormous building has much darker secrets and possible paranormal activity.

Like with the recent Spanish horror revival director Pål Øie does the same for Norwegian filmmaking offering a well-made filmactic feel is which sells the plausibility, thanks to the acting and large creepy location, the music adds tension. 

As the characters are picked off one by one the premise is interesting even though the story beats, shadows in the dim corridors, figures on camera, jump scares etc. are what we've seen before Pål Øie's execution and serious tone makes it worth watching the scares play out. There's a few bodies, blood, gore, twists and turns, doctors and WWII elements.

Overall, better than the abundance of bad acted English language slasher and horror films doing the rounds at the moment. Recommend.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Bright (2017) Review

In an alternate present day, humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been coexisting. Two police officers, one a human, the other an orc, embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it.

Director and producer David Ayer offers a part buddy film, reminiscent of the likes of Training Day, Alien Nation with a bit of Tolkien thrown in and you get what adds up to an enjoyable entertaining well paced movie. With wall to wall shoot outs, slick fights and magic wand sorcery Ayer handles the diverse mix of genre themes effortlessly as the unlikely paired partners battle rentlessly throughout an evening in L.A.

Actors Will Smith is on nonchalant form as Serpico-like Daryl Ward, unrecognisable Joel Edgerton with Orc makeup sporting a Nic Nolte-like raspy voice gives a standout performance as Nick Jakoby. Noomi Rapace is notable as a power hunger Elf and gives a physical intense turn as she goes about retrieving her wand to unleash a dark Lord. However, Lucy Fry steals the show as Tikka, a Rogue Elf who assists the unlike Orc and human police channeling Milla Jovovich's Fifth Element Leeloo. 

Writer Max Landis (son of John Landis) and Ayer throw in hints of comedy, a clever alternative Earth premise and interestingly set it during a night and day in L.A. Bright has plenty of 'street' atmosphere, as well as strong production values offering well executed special effects. To Ayers credit the mix of both reality and fantasy hold together seamlessly and you buy into the world and the Midnight Run, Judgement Night, Collateral, After Hours feel to name a few night set films from the get go. 

Overall, a well balanced mix of genres in an alternative present day, with both underlying and on the nose social commentary that is almost too good for an action fantasy cop film. Recommend.