Monthly Archives: June 2011

Film Review: Sucker Punch

Synopsis:  Baby Doll’s (Emily Browning) mother dies leaving her and her little sister in the hands of her abusive stepfather (Gerard Plunkett). The stepfather finds out that the girls are to inherit his late wife’s fortune. Determined to get his hands on the money he kills the younger sister and blames Baby Doll. He incarcerates her in the Lennox House for the Mentally Insane run by Dr Gorski (Carla Gugino) and bribes an orderly Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) to take care of her and make sure she can’t tell anyone what he did. She retreats into a fantasy where she and the other patients are hookers trapped in a brothel by Blue Jones who makes them dance for the customers. When Baby Doll dances she goes into a deeper fantasy realm where she finds a Wise Man (Scott Glenn) who helps her to formulate a plan to escape the institution/brothel with the other patients/hookers.

I did not really like this film. Just like Zack Snyder‘s other films it has a lot of style and is often stunning to look at but the most stunning elements that take place during Baby Doll’s dance routines are like watching someone else playing a computer game. There are all sorts of armies of mooks for the women to slaughter including orcs, robots and, best of all, steam-powered German soldier zombies. then there’s the boss of the level for Baby Doll to kill. The problem is that the characters themselves did not seem any more real than game characters.

The imaginative style of the film did not make up for the really corny, cliché dialogue. There’s a lot of music in the film, mostly cover versions of familiar evergreens. I didn’t hate the music but the film was relying on it a lot to create moods where the performances didn’t. I’m sure this film will have fans but it just didn’t make one out of me.

Rating 5/10


Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Film Review: Hybrid

 A killer car film  or maybe it’s a creature feature

Synopsis  a car prowls the streets of Chicago hunting humans when it gets smashed up in a collision with another car. It is towed to the 29th district garage where the staff quickly realise the car is alive and it is hunting them all down.

This film is really not very good. The basic idea may work on paper but it is still basically stupid. Anyone with any training in biology may have to be restrained from attacking the screen when they hear the rubbish theories by the characters when they are trying to figure out what the car is. Maybe that was actually a subtle joke about poor educational standards.

The film is fairly tedious with lots of running around and driving cars about in the garage. The killings are fairly tame and bloodless and most came about from script induced acts of stupidity.The padding is quite obvious when the car, which can change to look like any car, keeps doing this even when no-one comes near it to see it

I didn’t really care about the characters. Oded Fehr‘s character Ray is so incredibly stupid and he’s written that way to ensure that a weak idea for 30 minute short is padded out into a full length feature film. The main protagonist Tilda, played by Shannon Beckner, annoyed me lot. The actors are okay but they are playing poorly written characters.

CGI plays a big part in this film but it really lacks credibility or imagination and instead looks like just another bland spectacle more suited to a derivative first-person-shooter game.

I don’t really now who this would appeal to because it really didn’t appeal to me.

rating 3/10

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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Film review: Re-Animator

This is one of my favourite films, a classic H.P. Lovecraft adaptation from director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna.

Synopsis: Herbert West  (Jeffrey Combs) is an obsessed medical researcher who enrolls in Miskatonic University to continue his research into bringing the dead back to life. He blackmails his room-mate Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) into assisting him in his research by threatening to reveal Dan’s relations with Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton), daughter of the university’s Dean. When Dan naïvely tells Dean Halsey Robert Sampson) about their research he threatens to expel them. West is determined to keep going so they sneak into the hospital morgue to continue their research but are disturbed by the Dean who is killed by an out of control reanimated corpse. To cover up his death West reanimates the Dean. The Dean’s condition as violent mindless zombie raises the suspicions of Megan and university professor Dr Hill (David Gale). Hill tries to force West to turn over his research to him but instead West cuts off his head. West then reanimates Hill’s head and body but Hill is far from helpless and he escapes to plan his revenge.

There is so much about this film that I love. Combs is just marvellous as Herbert West, playing him as an amoral monster.Most of  the humour in the film comes from the vicious contempt West shows to everyone else, especially towards Megan and Dr Hill. David Gale gives great performance as Hill, a man desperate to stay top dog. Bruce Abbott is very pleasant to look at and I’m sure others will say the same about Barbara Crampton

The effects are probably a little dated but I don’t think that detracts from this film at all. Modern CGI effects rarely disgust me like these older effects still manage to. I think fluids like pus and vomit gore are still better as real fake fluids than any CGI equivalent I have seen to date especially when they are dripping from an actor.

Another thing I like is the wonderful score by Richard Band, a theme that builds in tension then decays into madness perfectly matching this film

I read the original Lovecraft story “Herbert West – Re-Animator” after watching this film and I was surprised to find that the film was toned down quite a lot from the book. I suppose I should warn those concerned that this film is violent, gory and has some nudity in it.

Rating   10/10


Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Film Review: Slices of Life

 Or 3 Slices of Life as the film seems be called in the credits is a low-budget anthology film featuring amateur actors and lots of gore. There is also nudity too.

Synopsis: there are four stories here including the wraparound story
Sketchers – A young woman wakes up on the lawn of motel with no memory of who she is. She is told  that she works at the motel and is put back to work by the constantly inebriated owner. While there she here’s voices telling to open one of three flesh-bound books of sketches. As she reads each the film fades into to tell the story. As each story ends she find that they are describing real events
W.O.R.M – a lonely nerd working in the basement of a large marketing company thinks he has found a solution to getting people to like him but his plan goes very wrong.
Amber Alert – A pregnant woman finds herself haunted by visions young girls who have gone missing in her neighbourhood.
Pink Snapper – A brother and sister go on the run to escape a sexually abusive uncle. They find an unconscious man on the road by a large house. After taking him to the hospital they return to house and find his daughter locked up in the basement.

The amateur acting film is definitely going to be a major turn-off for most people especially in the wraparound story but I kept watching and I have to say that the stories and the special effects really made it worth the effort. This film reminds of the type of films Frank Henenlotter makes, cheap and cheesy exploitation films with gore by the bucket. If you like films like Frankenhooker or Bad Biology then you may also like this.

Rating  6/10

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Posted by on June 26, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Film Review: Insidious


Synopsis: A family moving into a new house are disturbed by strange things happening. When their son falls into a coma they need to look for help from paranormal investigation team.

That short synopsis makes this film sound like Poltergeist and it’s hard to avoid the comparison. But Poltergeist was big flashy special effects extravaganza and this film is much more subtle. The scares come the from mysterious noises and the sudden appearance of things such as a face at a window and bloody hand-prints on sheets. My biggest jump scare came from the appearance of a red-faced demon just behind Patrick Wilson‘s head

I thought the film was very good at building up the tension through the first two-thirds of the film. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson really were very convincing as the desperate parents trying to get help for their son. Lin Shaye was lot less bizarre as the medium brought into to help than the unearthly Zelda Rubenstein in Poltergeist, at least she was until she put a strange gas mask to talk to spirits. Perhaps the rush of events just left no room for the quiet tension that was so effective earlier and the last third of the film was a bit of let-down. Despite that is still a very good film and I think it is better than Poltergeist, especially as horror film.

Rating     7/10

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Posted by on June 25, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Film Review: Source Code

Source Code

Synopsis: Jake Gyllenhaal is a helicopter pilot who finds himself on a train in the body of man who will die along with all the other passengers when a bomb on the train goes off. He has to find the bomb and the bomber and each time he fails he gets sent back in to try again. As he gets to know his fellow passengers he finds himself falling for Michelle Warren.

I really enjoyed this film. The story is a take on the familiar science fiction plot where characters are experiencing a closed time loop, repeating the same time over and over (as seen in several Star Trek episodes and in Groundhog Day) but this film gives it a couple of nice little twists. It is probably a good idea that there is not a lot of detail given of the Source Code process itself. Attempts to explain such impossible things using current science would just not work and you only have to remember The Core to see what that could lead to. I am happy with science being substitute for magic in this type of film. I still wonder why a science technician has to wear in a lab coat in lab with very few chemicals or fluids. I know this just nit-picking but lab coats are utility wear and not a badge of office or a lazy shorthand for scientist.

Nitpicking aside this film is worth watching. There is a bit of tension built up in the hunt for the bomber even if the climax did fall a bit flat. It does raise questions that it didn’t really stop to answer about what the Source Code actually did but the twist at the end seemed more of a twist to characters in the film than it was to me because I saw as it as more a narrative inevitability.

Spoiler text

Rating  7/10


Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Film Review: Ferocious Planet

 This is a film made for the cable television channel SyFy which is probably as much information as you need to judge how good this film is.

Synopsis: A group of people are gathered in an underground laboratory in a Federal building, including scientists, military and politicians, to see a presentation of an experiment into viewing other dimensions. Just as you’d expect from such predictable piece of hokum there is an accident and instead of just viewing another dimension it rips the whole lab out of our dimension and dumps it into a parallel dimension populated only by plants and giant carnivorous CGI monsters. The survivors must find a way to repair the machine that brought them here and escape the ferocious creatures.

As always seems to be the case with SyFy channel films, the problem lies in the writing. An accident during an experiment is one of the laziest and most ham-fisted plot devices in cheap science fiction. The closest we get to an attempt to justify what has happened is a few lines of mathematical looking rubbish scribbled by the scientist and her geek into a notebook. The CGI monsters are good enough for the price but there’s no attempt to set them in a believable ecosystem. What do the creatures eat when there are no humans?  Another sign of this sloppy writing is that the deaths of various characters requires them to be flawed idiots in various ways such as fear, greed, arrogance or just being a dumbass

Overall this was very a mediocre and lazy film. I can’t fault any of the actors too much since they were competent enough with what they had to work with. Joe Flanigan plays his standard wise-cracking soldier hero part. John Rhys-Davies is the cynical arrogant Senator. Dagmar Döring plays the scientist in charge of the project.

Rating 5/10

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Film Review: Justice League – the New Frontier

 Synopsis: This animated feature is set in the 50s during the era of cold-war paranoia with a population that doesn’t trust superheroes and a government that doesn’t trust anyone. There is a malevolent force which has watched humanity grow in strength and violence and it has decided it has to eliminate it. Also included in the plot are shortened versions of Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern‘s origin stories.

This film’s setting is really used to great effect and the heroes have a classic Golden Age look about them (though their attitudes remain anachronistically modern, especially Wonder Woman). I’m sure there references to many of the other DC characters that I’m just not very familiar with.

Overall the main story was fairly routine. There may have been just too many characters and the story tried to do too much. Aquaman got one line and I don’t think Green Arrow even got that. Even though I liked it I think it’s going to mainly be one for the comic book fans

Rating 7/10

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Film Review: Sea of Dust

 I just about made it through this and I want a fucking medal.

Synopsis:Some weed in a costume (Troy Holland) is whining to some older bloke about some thing and Prester John (Tom Savini) gets mentioned. Prester John lives on the other side. I’m not sure what other side they mean but I might have drifted off at that point.

The weed then goes to a big house full of costumed loonies where he tries to propose to some bird he loves and then gets thrown out by daddy loony. After leaving the house he finds an unconscious woman on the road and takes her to a doctor to be tied up, a service rarely offered in modern socialized medicine. Then he takes her home where her dad tries to kill him for tying up his daughter but he kills the dad and then some truly pathetic special effects take him to beach where he gets hooked and taken to a castle full of loonies presided over by Prester John who recruits the weed into his army as his general – amazingly rapid promotion especially since from then on all he bangs on about is stopping Prester John.

This film is very badly written and the story is incoherent and making anyone watch should be considered a form of abuse. The acting is so awful that there are scenes littered with corpses and they can’t even act dead convincingly.

Tom Savini really is very hammy in this with a big purple cloak that he swishes around a lot. There is also Ingrid Pitt who seems very lost and confused and that wasn’t much to do with her acting. I really cannot think of a single redeeming feature of this film and I cannot recommend it at all

Rating 0/10

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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Film Review: Trollhunter

Synopsis: a trio of student documentary film-makers (Glenn Erlan Tosterund, Johanna Mørck and Tomas Alf Larsen) follow a troll-hunter Otto Jespersen around the Norwegian countryside as he goes his job of eliminating any trolls that wander out of their territory, endangering human lives.

Being a documentary there is not much in the way of a plot except that the hunter is a bit disgruntled and wants to help the documentary to get made to stick it to his bosses

The trolls are spectacular creatures it is a pity that their reaction to sunlight has prevented any filming of them in the daylight. The footage of the crew being chased through the forest by the three-headed troll was really tense.

It is a pity some reviewers are comparing this film to fiction like Blair Witch Project since the reality filmed here is much more disturbing than some snottery girl blubbing into a camera. I’ll certainly be very wary of going to Norway in the company of a Christian from now on.

Rating 7/10

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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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