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.
Saturday, 30 September 2017
Thursday, 28 September 2017
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.
Sunday, 24 September 2017
Based on an an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd's 1994 murder mystery novel Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem director Juan Carlos Medina offers an old-school Hammer-style horror anchored by performances by subtle Bill Nighy (who took up the reigns from the late Alan Rickman), Olivia Cooke (of Bates Motel), Eddie Marsan and Daniel Mays. But it's Douglas Booth as Leno who steels the show.
All the familiar Gothic Victorian elements and crime story beats are there reminiscent of A Study in Terror and countless other yarns and clichés set in the period which are more than likely inherited from Ackroyds source material. Set on the unforgiving, squalid streets of Victorian London in 1880, Jane Goldman's script captures the Lizzy Borden and Jack the Ripper talk of the time, but where 2015's comparable Frankenstein Chronicles series had a filmactic feel this is sorely lacking in Limehouse Golem given it's made for TV look despite a theatrical release. That said the costumes, makeup and music are spot on as Nighy's Kildare goes effortlessly about piecing the case together aided by some bloody flashbacks and spectres in his mind. There's a little nihilistic twist which peaks interest showing that the conscious of life isn't black and white especially when it comes to work politics, promotion and fame.
Overall, it has some gruesome elements and while it may not work as a whodunit reaching heights of In the Name of the Rose, Agatha Christie or a Sherlock Holmes mystery it satisfies as an unconventional immersive period piece in the vain of countless Ripper-like outings. Worth checking out even if for Booth's memorable performance.
Monday, 18 September 2017
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Two families are forced to share a home in an uneasy alliance to keep the outside evil at bay only to discover that the true horror comes from within.
Director Trey Edward Shults' It Comes at Night is a taught effective horror drama, its strength lay in the audience using their imagination proving again that what's left unseen can be just as horrifying as anything on the screen. Reminiscent in tone of Into the Forest (2015), The Thing (1982) (echoing its paranoia) it's ambiguity, natural setting and Brian McOmber's subtle score all add up to something quite engaging.
The cast are effective, the child actor is natural, also Kelvin Harrison Jr. playing Travis, a 17 year old suffering from gory nightmares feels believable but it's edgy Joel Edgerton's Paul and convincing Christopher Abbott's Will that are the glue and shine here. Both roles have an intensity and both men ooze tension. Shults offers a well shot horror, drama that's brilliantly paced, with an eerie atmosphere aided by Drew Daniels immaculate cinematography.
Shults never plays his cards and as a viewer you're fed little bits of information, not really knowing the scale of what's going on. With characters with welts, checking teeth, nails and burning bodies, the interesting thing is that you also don't know if what they're afraid of changes you into a monster or rabid zombie or something else. Refreshingly the viewer doesn't see what they fear, and you shouldn't need to either. There are a few shoot outs and stand offs but it works more on a psychological level, less is more here and with rife paranoia this offering excels. Recommended.
Saturday, 9 September 2017
Muschietti and writers Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman even cram in a creepy gnarled tree and a dilapidated haunted looking house. Starsguard moves eerily slow and contorted at times and uneasy fast at others. There's much more gore in this adaptation. As a horror it offers enough creepy moments but where it gives today's horrors a run for their money is the friendship, outcast and bully themes which come directly from Stephen King's source material.
A major departure from King's 1986 novel and 1990 miniseries is the 80s setting for the child part, even with the Airwolf T-shirt, New Kids on the Block songs, Casio watch, Gremlins posters and Nightmare of Elm Street 5, Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 showing in Derry's cinema, some of the period feels a little off but the recreation for the most part works.
Again its strengthen comes from the casting which emotionally affects the story at its core. Frights, whether a cellar, sewer, bathroom or the alley or simple a dark office, the music, sound design thanks to Muschietti's staging amplifies the chills while wearing its heart on its sleeve with the young performers.
It's tight and pacey, with enough time for the characters to breath. Muschietti injects plenty of jump scares and creepy moments, and with a larger budget and omitting the adult segments (saving them for an IT sequel/chapter 2 and possibly flashbacks to 1989) it actually, surprisingly is better than its predecessor adaptation.
Packed with terrifying, hallucinatory and nightmare imagery coupled with a near on perfect cast IT is highly recommend.
Friday, 1 September 2017
Annabelle Creation is a solid entry that offer plenty of scares and the period rural setting sets it apart. Director David F. Sandberg injects a smidgin of Texas Chainsaw atmosphere into the proceedings as a group of girls and nun are terrified by a demon. The acting from Stephanie Sigman's Sister Charlotte and the young girls is impressive. As too are Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto in small but pivotal roles.
It's a demonic possession tale like the chronological follow up, not a killer doll film per-say if you've come in cold. Even though it's an origin story midway through you can't help but feel that thanks to some editing another prequel to an already existing prequel could be made with some misplaced flashbacks of Otto and LaPaglia thrown into what for the most part is a constant story from Gary Dauberman.
With dark creepy visuals, notably a lift, water well and scarecrow scene, eerie music and limited special effects but plenty of jumps scares Annabelle harks back to the simpler days of horror. Daunerman and Sandberg link the ending nicely to its 2014 predecessor Annabelle and there's mid and post credit scene which are intriguing enough to leave you possibly wanting another.
Overall, a well shot, filmatic, rounded chiller with credit to child actors for their good performances.