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.