Monday, May 29, 2017

Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming (2007)

The star of this film is Rob Lowe, who I have to admit is not one of my favourite actors, however he doesn't do a bad job in this film. He just has to look surprised a lot!
The film is the second in the franchise, the original starred Kevin Bacon I believe, which was released straight to DVD unlike the first film. I can see why really. It's a story about a returning captain from some war in the Middle East I think (I wasn't paying too much attention). He was guarding a checkpoint with a group of soldiers and a van approaches at speed and they panic. It turns out that the van wasn't full of the enemy but they opened fire because it didn't slow down. A young girl steps out of the bullet ridden vehicle and then it blows up and she catches fire. Quite a horrible scene. The van it turns out was an ambush opportunity and the checkpoint is attacked by a rocket grenade. So skip forward several weeks and the captain is back home in the states and seems to be suffering with PTSD as he gets flashbacks. The flashbacks become more and more real and he doesn't understand what they are and why they are so horrific. The story builds from there and doesn't do a bad job. It's watchable but there are few real surprises until the end is revealed. As I say, not a terrible film but one that is not going to impress you with its originality either.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

John Wick (2014)

If you like guns and headshots and fighting then this film will be right up your street. John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves is an anti-hero. He is a professional killer forced out of retirement due to the death of his wife and a chance encounter at a garage where his car is admired by the son of a gang lord. The film follows John Wick as he takes revenge on the gang for what happens next.
There are plenty of inconsequential deaths. Just a horrendous number of killings. It was entertaining and quite a decent film but it is a very simple formula being worked here. If you fancy Keanu then you'll probably love this film. I like the character of the gangster's son, I think that the revenge could have been stretched out a bit longer than it was though. I did like Willam Dafoe's character Marcus in it and would have been happy for more of that to be in the film.
John Wick 2 has recently been released, I wonder what that is like?

The Unfolding (2016)

This was an intriguing little film. Set in England, Dartmoor I think. It follows a guy and his girlfriend for a few days against the backdrop of a world crisis where a nuclear war seems a very real threat.
The guy turns out to be a student of the paranormal, they are staying at an old mansion house but its not a holiday it is a place the guy wants to investigate. We see the story unfold through a multitude of cameras he has set up. the cameras never seem set up in the right place though. During the film the sense of something unfolding is very cleverly built up. It is perhaps a little slow paced but nevertheless the growing sense of fear is well captured. It's a quirky film and won't be to everyone's taste. I don't think it is perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it's not rubbish and deserves a watch at some point. Just don't put it too high on the list!

Alien Covenant (2017)

I saw this film last week.  My expectations were quite high considering it is one of my favourite film franchises and it was directed by the original director of Alien, Ridley Scott. It is set after the events of Prometheus and before Alien.
There are plenty of scenes similar to the other Alien movies and if this is what you like then you will not be disappointed. However, if you want something a bit deeper, like a coherent story with threat and menace involving mankind, corporate corruption, cryogenics and genetic engineering then you can pretty much forget it other than at anything but a superficial level.
My experience of the film was very mixed, I enjoyed the thrill ride while I was watching it. Some of the photography was amazing. But afterwards I just felt that it didn't make any sense at all. I liked Katherine Waterston's character Daniels. She made a good replacement for Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 (2017)

(D'Oh! After posting this I saw I had already blogged about this film directly after seeing it, I should have realised!)

I took my son to see this film and was very entertained the whole time. I enjoyed the first film a lot. This wasn't up to the same standard but it was a lot closer than I was expecting it to be. Certainly I'd say fans of the first film will not be disappointed. If you are new to the franchise then I think you will still find this a great film. Plenty of action and excitement. If you know the backstory of the characters you will get more from the film.

Urban Legend (1998)

This slasher film is almost 20 years old now. That's quite astonishing. I don't remember the film coming out at all. It is an American slasher set on campus of a college. The students affected are murdered according to a series of different urban legends about gruesome killers. I don't know if they are genuine urban legends or fictional ones made up for the film. Urban legends are not something I know much about and I'm certainly not that interested either. The film is completely forgettable, I am witness to that because not more than a week after seeing the film I read the title in my list of films I've watched but I had no recollection of it and had to look it up to remind myself of it. If you want to indulge a desire to watch a campus set slasher then it does the job. Otherwise, there are much better films to watch.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Eurovision 2017

Here is a heads-up that next Saturday will be the date of the finals for the Eurovision Song Context 2017 being held in the Ukraine in the city of Kiev. I enjoy watching the Eurovision every year, as anyone who has read this blog for some time will know.
I can't say I know who the UK entry will be this year but I guarantee that the votes cast will be very low indeed. It will be amusing to see how the UK does actually. "United Kingdom, nil points" might be the chorus ringing out next week!

Robocop 3 (1993)

I had to see the third film in the series after seeing number 2. Unfortunately, number 3 is a much bigger fail than number 2. There isn't much of anything positive to say about this film. Peter Weller is no longer playing Robocop, probably a wise decision. Officer Lewis is still in it though, but (spoiler alert) in this film she gets shot and killed. I was kind of expecting Officer Lewis to be turned into a cyborg police officer as well but that never materialised more to the pity.
The film again uses a child to play a significant role. The violence is toned down a lot compared to the first two films. There is less of a sense of threat about this one. OCP are still the big corporate bad guys and they want to develop a new city in Detroit but they first have to demolish the old and turf out the current residents. The regular police eventually side with the resident activists, as does Robocop after Officer Lewis is gunned down.
No real sense of menace and a strange and confused sub-plot about a warrior from the Japanese company taking over OCP spoil this. The Japanese connection could have been an interesting direction. The new CEO of OCP was disastrously awful as a bad guy.
It just wasn't good and has little to recommend. I'd say this was for die hard Robocop fans only.

Robocop 2 (1990)

A friend recently leant me the Robocop trilogy on Blu Ray and I caught up with films 2 and 3, finally, after many years of seeing the first film. I really enjoyed the first film and would rate it very highly in my all time favourite movies. So I found it interesting where they took the story in Robocop 2.
Some of the themes were the same: big corrupt corporations only looking out for themselves and their profits, no compassion for human feelings, using Alex Murphy like a tool and the regular police being the only ones looking out for each other like family. Murphy's police partner Lewis is still in this one and Peter Weller the original actor who played Robocop in the first film.
This film was better than I was expecting but my expectations were not high, I have to admit. I have seen some pretty bad sequels. This wasn't one of them. On the other hand I thought it could have been a lot better. I didn't like the child actor in it, I thought he played it too much like a Bugsy Malone character. I liked the part played by Belinda Bauer (Dr Juliette Faxx) but I felt that more could have been made of that character's part.
The technology is definitely showing its age now. The movement of Robocop and the swishing noise when he turn his head jerkily just seem a bit silly now. There are some TV commercials and news reports like there are in the original but they are just not as entertaining as in the original.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The Loved Ones (2009)

I loved this film. It has a great soundtrack and very cool characters. It is a horror film but also has elements of black humour in it too. It has some strong young female characters in it.
It starts with a couple of guys in a car. Turns out they are father and son. I think the son is a relatively new driver. They are driving along chatting away when the driver is distracted a moment. When he looks again at the road someone is standing in the way and he swerves the car and runs off the road and hits a tree. Months later we see the son again with his girlfriend, she drives him home and we learn that the boy's father was killed in the accident. The boy feels his mother blames him.
Later at school, the boy is asked out to the prom by a girl called Lola Stone. He declines the offer politely, saying his girlfriend is taking him. The actress playing the Lola character is awesome, she does a great job of being unhinged. On the afternoon before the prom the boy goes climbing and after a near death experience on a rock face, he lies on the floor exhausted. Suddenly he is grabbed by a stranger (Lola's father as it turns out) and knocked out with a facecloth soaked in some kind of drug. The day gets worse for him as he is later tortured by Lola and her father at their remote home.
Meanwhile there is another story. A friend of the boy is trying to get hitched with a girl who looks like a beautiful vamp, uninterested in everything. He asks her to the prom and she said yes. She is not going to get excited about the prom though, at least not until she gets some alcohol and weed.
I don't quite know why the sub-story was in the film but it was entertaining.
This was written and directed by Sean Byrne and I thought it was an excellent film. Very entertaining and humorous at the same time.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (2017)

I went to the cinema to see this film with my son on Saturday and we enjoyed it. I enjoyed the first film and the introduction to the characters of that. This time the characters start out together but instead of large old Groot there is Baby Groot, a young sapling. The start credits are cool with E.L.O.'s Mr Blue Sky playing on a stereo as Baby Groot dances and the remaining Guardians are fighting an alien space monster. The pacing was good and it never felt too long for me. There were comedic moments through it all as well as some sad moments but they didn't get too sad or depressing. There was a surprise to see Sylvester Stallone in a small role and even David Hasselhoff. Stan Lee also made an obligatory appearance as a spaceman marooned by three robe wearing strangers. There were some funny moments with Drax and his inability to be anything other than directly literal. Some of the best moments were interplays between Drax and the other characters. Easy to recommend this film to Marvel fans and comedy fans. It's a film that will have replay value on Blu-Ray or DVD.

Estranged (2015)

I watched this film this week. I was very pleasantly surprised to find it was a well made film with a great story to tell. The story concerned a young woman, called January, who is loving life traveling with her boyfriend. However, it all goes wrong when they have a road accident on his scooter.
Injured seriously enough to be confined to a wheelchair with brain damage, January can't remember much of anything before the accident.
She and her boyfriend return to her family home for her recuperation, which turns out to be a stately home that still maintains a servant butler. The family however are not so happy to see her boyfriend. He wants to stay with her but eventually leaves, or is he got rid off? January starts to question why she left the family home to go traveling in the first place. She was gone 6 years, which is an awfully long time. Things are not as they first seem and indeed they get very dark very soon.
The suspense build excellently and the actors do a great job. I thought this was a very intelligent and well made horror and could be something of a classic in the future. Very easy to recommend this to fans of thrillers and horror.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex

I've been slowly building a collection of DVDs for this series, so far I have found volumes 1, 2 and 5. At the weekend I watched volumes 1 and 2 and have to say I was impressed. It is about a crack anti-crime unit called Section 9 who seem to have some kind of government funding. It is set in Japan and the unit is led by a guy with white hair that sticks out around by his ears, sort of like a mad professor. He seems to be the strategic lead but the action based leader seems to be a female they call the Major. She has had most of her body replaced with cybernetic enhancements. She is the character on the box cover with the impressive breasts. I don't know why she wears the costume she does but she runs around half naked when she isn't inside a spider/tank thing. The series has episodes that link a larger story together and these are interspersed with standalone episodes, hence the stand alone complex. I enjoyed watching them and hope to find the other volumes sometime. All the volumes I've picked up so far have been from charity shops. I don't know what relation this anime series has with the Scarlett Johansson film just recently released, I think the female lead is supposed to be the same Major. I hope to go and see the film this week, so will find out.

Savaged (2013)

My hopes were not high as I put this film on however my low expectations proved to be somewhat misplaced as I did actually enjoy this movie. It starts out reasonably tame as a pretty, deaf lady inherits a lovely old GTO touring car and says goodbye to her sister (I think) before setting off on a road trip. She has a fiancée and is travelling to the West of America to start a new life out there.
On the way she takes several stops and sends the boyfriend selfies from various locations. All is going well until she nearly runs over a native American Indian who staggers out into the road in the middle of the New Mexico desert and collapses.
She pulls over sharply and sees that coming a dirt road off the highway is a pickup and its heading for another native American Indian running. Surprisingly it carries on and runs the guy over, killing him. She screams and backs her car up to try and rescue the guy who made it to the road. Well, she doesn't manage to get away before the pickup pulls up and the guys get out. They are a pretty nasty bunch and kill the other native American Indian and then capture her. She is taken back to their farm and raped as she lies on a filthy bed with barbed wire around her wrists and legs. Very unpleasant.
The remaining part of the film is sort of a revenge slasher. But the twist is that she gets away but is murdered before escaping. However, her body is found and another native American Indian performs a ritual on her and her body becomes possessed by the spirit of an old native Indian chief. This imbues her with the killing skills he had and she sets about getting her revenge on the rapists and murderers.
It was much more of a brutal film than I was expecting. I thought the pacing was excellent and the story was pretty interesting, it kept me interested all the way through as I didn't know what was going to happen next. I can recommend this to horror fans but not to people who don't like to watch violence against women. It's not too graphically visual in that sense but some scenes are not so easy to watch.

Monday, April 17, 2017

13 Eerie

I saw this last night, it is about a group of 6 forensic science students who are attending an island facility with mortuary cadavers in staged situations around the facility to do a practical exam. The examiner and a pot smoking chef are also on site with them.
Things start to go bad when the chef loses two of his chickens from the barbecue. It's all a bit laughable as a zombie film, the island turns out to have once been a bio-research facility housing death-sentence murderers. The zombies mill about wearing the remains of orange boiler suits. They look a bit charred for some reason, possibly due to the chemicals? The students are attacked and some turn into zombies themselves. They are killed in various ways but usually only die with attacks to the head. The examiner strangely enough had a pistol on him and that is used to kill a few off until the magazine runs out.
The ending is left open for a sequel should one ever be funded. I think the film is Canadian and it's the director Lowell Dean's first film. As a film it is all competently directed, the cinematography is decent. It is let down by not being very original and playing safe with the genre. I could recommend it to zombie fans and fans who want a tame midweek horror.