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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Review: Oblivion

Bluray Review

Oblivion Bluray 001When this was on at the cinema I chose to wait for Bluray because it seemed it was the type of science fiction film I`d enjoy more free from distractions at home. It`s quite tricky avoiding spoilers when YouTube and Twitter are so full of comedians that use films for their material and especially when you catch the hint that the film has a major twist that is partly spoiled in the trailer because it involves a very famous actor that marketing would insist has to appear in the trailer. I know this that it is difficult to market a film properly without spoiling the plot but the hints from the trailer were quite major.

We get some narration from Tom Cruise’s character Jack to set up this tale of a two person tech team assigned the job of maintaining the security drones that protect the enormous water mining rigs hovering over the oceans. Earth had been invaded by aliens known as scavengers and while humans have driven of the invaders the use of nuclear weapons had left the Earth a blasted wasteland so most of the human race had set up life on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn.

We don’t get to see the humans on Titan as the film focuses on Jack and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) as Jack flies around the planet fixing drones and Victoria stays up their control centre/living quarters monitoring the him and relaying orders from their boss Sally (Melissa Leo) on the huge inverted pyramid space station that controls the drones. The drones are under attack from the scavengers who seem to be strange figures we see hanging around watching Jack as he fixes drones. When he gets fed up with his routine maintaining drones Jack has found a quiet unspoilt valley by a lake where he has built a hut and collects books and other artefacts of the world before the war such as a record turntable and a large collection of vinyl records. They have only a couple more weeks of duty left before they too leave for Titan.

The whole set-up is suspicious and Jack is curious about things he has started remembering despite having his memory wiped before the start of their mission. This why he’s picking things up and taking them back to his shack. This comes to a head when Jack rescues a woman called Julia (Olga Kurylenko) from a cryopod when a spaceship crashes to Earth. Jack recognises her from his memories and when she recovers she reveals that she knows Jack. Julia’s presence dramatically changes the cosy intimate relationship between Jack and Victoria and while Jack focuses on getting answers to questions Julia’s presence raises Victoria sees Julia purely in terms of the threat she presents to her relationship even though she expresses it in terms of the threat to their mission.

The last half of the film is when the truth gets revealed and we meet Beech (Morgan Freeman). I can`t say I was too shocked by the revelations of Julia and Beech since, as I said, the trailer had prepared me for just such a twist. It does signal a change in the film from an intimate film science fiction about two people alone on a blasted planet to an ending with your typical sci-fi action with guns, laser beams and explosions. It’s not a bad ending and is done very well even if it isn’t very original. I liked the look of the blasted Earth with New York buried under silt up to the level of the observation deck of the Empire State Building. The future tech such as the drones, the flying ship and living quarters had a pretty good consistent look about it and was in sharp contrast to the post-apocalyptic landscape. The cast is excellent which is what I expect from with actors with their experience. Tom Cruise can do this type of role easily since he always seems to really get into the characters he plays and Andrea Riseborough was really good. The other actors did their part well enough but since they appear halfway through the film during action scenes there’s isn’t too much time for depth of character. Overall it’s a solid decent science fiction story

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Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Wrong Road

DVD Review

The Wrong Road DVD 001

Strangely it only has a 15 rating on the BBFC website

At least that’s what it says on the DVD box but on IMDb it turns out that it was originally called Munger Road. I won’t be surprised if the new name is an attempt the cash in on the similarity to the Wrong Turn backwoods slasher films but this film really does not share anything in common in with those. It does have a group of stupid college kids getting chased by some unseen killer but the kills, if they happen at all, are off-screen and more time is spent with the police investigating an escaped killer. Overall it felt like the first half of a TV miniseries and this includes a very unsatisfyingly abrupt ending.

A pair of college boys Scott (Hallock Beals) and Corey (Trevor Morgan) take their girlfriends Joe (Brooke Peoples) and Rachael (Lauren Storm) on a late night drive to a quiet railway crossing to show them the truth of the spooky local stories that it is haunted. Joe and Rachael are hoping that it is just a pathetic excuse to go there and make out but the boys are taking it too seriously.

The legend is that if a car is stopped on the tracks and out into neutral the car will be slowly pushed off the track and sometimes a pair of small hand-prints is found on the bumper. Corey has brought talcum powder to spread on the bumper and sure enough when they try for themselves there are hand-prints on the bumper. Rachael and Joe don’t believe it for a second and insist it must be a set-up. Joe demands they drive them back to town but when Corey tries to drive them back home his engine goes dead leaving them stuck miles from town and of course they find out they have no signals on their phones

Back in town Police Chief Kirkhoven (Bruce Davison) is concerned about the escape of a notorious cannibal serial killer who killed several local children before he was caught. He was the local priest and no-one suspected him before his crimes were revealed. Kirkhoven is determined to catch the killer and with Deputy Hendricks (Randall Batinkoff) they investigate the places he lived and worked in case he makes his way back there. He also has to worry about the four college kids whose parents have reported them missing.

The college kids in the car get creeped-out by sounds from outside the car that they can’t identify but sounds like some sort of animal. There’s some banging on the car and they try to stay quiet and wait for whatever it is to go away. Once whatever it is goes away Joe is wanting to walk up the road to get a phone signal but Corey says he will go instead. This the start of the process of isolating the victims so that they can be picked-off one by one and we learn who the main protagonist is going to be and in this film it’s Joe.

The film does manage to create a creepy atmosphere at times during the scenes in the car but there’s a lot of camcorder footage and scenes shot in the dark which gave me eye-strain trying to make out what was happening. The story does not appear to be very original but that is hard to judge since we only get half a story. That is the main problem with this film: it finishes without ending. We don’t learn who has lived or died and don’t see the story resolved, just a promise that it will be finished in the sequel. It is infuriating when it happens in a TV show but  seeing it in a film made my jaw drop at the ‘To be continued’ message. There was of course no warning about this on the DVD box. As a result I’m going to give film a half score.

Rating 3.0/10

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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Conjuring

Cinema Review

I have seen the trailers for this film since they have played them before nearly every film I watched at the cinema for the past few months. This meant I was already pretty familiar with I was going to get when I went to see this and the film delivered exactly what I expected: a haunted house story in the vein of Poltergeist, The Possession and Insidious. It is a film that manages to produce all the usual scares in the usual way without really trying to push the ideas into new territory. It makes a big claim to being based on a true story but that doesn’t mean much going by how often that claim is made for films. It also has one of those generic titles that don’t ave much to do with this film

The main focus of this film is Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren, a couple who have made a name for themselves in the world of paranormal investigations and we get introduced to them finishing off a case involving a doll possessed by what Ed insists is a demon. Another film based one of their case is the Amityville Horror though they don’t appear as characters in that story.

conjuringThe family that is being haunted are Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) Perron and their five daughters who have just moved into a new house out in the country. Of course they have put all their money into this new house which establishes why they don’t just leave when things start getting dangerous. Things start slow with things like the youngest daughter finding an old music box. Later she tells her mother about an imaginary friend that she says that she sees the mirror of the music box while the music is playing. At first it’s just things getting misplaced which are easily passed off as the sisters messing with each other.

Things move up to the next level and the girls are getting affected by ghosts appearing to some of them and attacking them. Carolyn is also waking up every morning to find her body covered in bruises. She goes to a lecture that the Warrens are giving at a local university and Ed is giving a lecture about the three stages of attack by a demonic spirit. After the lecture she asks them for their help and while Ed is reluctant Lorraine agrees to help.

They arrive to have look over the house and have another couple of people along to help: a nerd called Drew (Shannon Kook) to operate the recording equipment and Brad (John Brotherton) a cop  withe a porn ‘tache who is there as a sceptical witness (though I don’t see how bringing along your own regular sceptic witness helps their credibility). Lorraine uses her spooky super-sense to determine that there is a demonic presence haunting the place and now they have to gather enough evidence to convince the Catholic Church to allow an exorcism to be performed.

This film has a nice slow burn and lets us get to know the large number of characters. The girls playing the daughters have a natural feel to their interactions and feel like sisters. The rest of the cast are good enough. When it starts with the creepiness the film uses all the old tricks that fans of horror films will be very familiar with but they still seems to be as effective with the general audience as ever. Some of these have had their impact dampened by appearing in the trailer but they still work pretty well. I thought that the ending was very routine but that fits in with the fairly standard nature of the film and I would have been surprised if they had thrown in sort of gimmicky twist. I’m glad that this film is doing well at the box office but though I liked it I can’t say I found it as scary as other people have.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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