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Review: Outpost II – Black Sun

This is a straight to DVD sequel to the fairly forgettable Nazi zombie film Outpost. This film expands on the original and increases the threat but it really comes across as a low-budget SyFy channel special with its vague sense of geography, shallow characters and comic book plot.

The first film had a squad of mercenaries discovering zombie Nazis in a bunker re-animated with top secret Nazi technology. These zombies are not mindless hungry beasts like the zombies in Romero’s films but every bit as smart and devoted to the cause of world conquest as when they were alive only now they are unstoppable animated corpses.

This film focuses on a young Nazi hunter Lena (Catherine Steadman) who is carrying on her parents’ mission and has tracked down a Nazi officer Neurath (Michael Byrne) to a hospital in Paraguay. She breaks his fingers to try to force him to tell where Nazi scientist Klausener is but despite his age and frail state Neurath doesn’t tell her anything. Lena reckons that he must have kept a few mementos and finds a map indicating a location in Europe and of course it turns out to be where the bunker is. She also finds a ring that opens up into a key and I wonder if that will come in handy later.

Klausener (David Gant) is not at the bunker but is watching what’s going there on a live link. He has sent a scientist Hunt (Julian Wadham) in with an armed escort to reactivate the secret Nazi machine that everyone seems to know about because the UN have sent troops in to the area but the Nazi zombies powered by the machine kill them all off. This is seen in poor light with confusing cuts so it was difficult to really see what went on. At the UN camp outside of the zombie zone they are examining a map that shows a field around the bunker that is expanding. Inside it zombies can’t be killed and electronics don’t work.

Lena gets to Europe not far from the bunker and stops at a small settlement. Armed men stop her and search her belongings but she gets rescued by a café owner Marius (Clive Russell) who stops the thugs with a shout and a dirty look. Inside the café Lena meets Wallace (Richard Coyle) who she already knows. Wallace is a scientist (with a poor American accent) and knows about Klausener’s device and says he wants to shut it down permanently. Lena just wants Klausener and thinks he’s at the bunker.

Lena drives Wallace towards the bunker. Wallace know a militia group who can provide an armed escort to the bunker but the car cuts out before they get there and Wallace realises that the field has expanded further than he thought. They make their way on foot to the camp but when they get there it’s under attack from zombie Nazis and their contact is dead.

They carry until they reach a town that is empty because all the locals have either fled or been killed. They take shelter in house but have to move on when the Nazi zombies turn up and are about to be killed too when they get rescued by a squad of British soldiers. The zombies keep attacking and there are several soldiers killed in struggle to rescue these two. This squad are on a mission to get an EMP device as close to the bunker as they can so they can blow the secret Nazi device destroy the field and kill all the zombies and they have a physicist with them to operate the EMP. Unfortunately they are forced to blow their wad prematurely when they come under an overwhelming force of zombies and they lose not just the EMP device but their physicist. Fortunately they discover Wallace is a physicist and so take him along but Lena gets left behind with a gun and has to make her own way to the bunker for the big showdown with the Nazi zombies.

Since I wasn’t a fan of the first I wasn’t expecting much from this sequel. If anyone could take the idea of Nazi zombies and make them a bit meh then it is the producers of this franchise. The acting wasn’t bad but it was a bit flat. The characters were pretty shallow creatures of the plot with little sense of any them being real people. The plot itself was like something from a comic book and that sense got even stronger during an entirely silly climax in the bunker. The zombies seemed almost unstoppable except with explosives but then I never saw anyone try a head shot or failing that blasting off their knees. There’s no contagion element to these zombies so no real sense that the threat is anything but limited. This isn’t a bad film but it’s also not a very interesting film.

Rating 5.5/10

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Posted by on September 1, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Attack of the Herbals

I only heard about this micro-budget comedy film recently on Amazon. I realise that the acting is very amateurish and the story is a bit silly but despite that I had a fun time watching it. I realise many other people will not be able to tolerate such low-budget film but if you can this one is pretty amusing.

The film opens during the Second World War and some Nazis are conducting experiments on human subjects with some sort of experimental tea but they quickly abandon the experiment and destroy the substance they were working on, all except one crate which gets lost in the sea.

Cut to the present day and Jackson McGregor (Calum Booth) is getting lift back to his hometown of Lobster Bay by the local minister Adolf (Alan Fraser). Jackson has been left by his wife and lost his job and his home so he’s returned to his grandparent’s house in disgrace. His ex-girlfriend Jenny Robertson (Claire McCulloch) is now with the former town hero Steve ‘Roadrunner’ Robertson (Richard Currie) who used to be a champion runner until he was injured in a hit and run accident and is now a bitter drunk. Jackson can’t go back to his old job at the lobster factory because his boss Danny the Pincer (Lee Hutcheon) blames him for losing them lucrative business before he left.

Jackson agrees to work in his grandparents’ post office but the place is not doing very much business and a local greedy businessman Bennett Campbell (Liam Matheson) wants to buy the place as part of a large property development. If the post office doesn’t start making more money it will get closed and Bennett will be free buy it.

Jackson’s childhood friend Russell Wallace (Steve Worsley) still works For Danny the Pincer and he sees an old beachcomber finding a crate washed up on the shore. The man opens the crate and makes off with some of the contents and leaves the rest. Russell’s first thought is that it’s drugs but that turns not to be the case but whatever it is it seems to make some great tasting tea. He shows it to Jackson who has the idea to sell it from the post office to the locals.

Soon everyone is eagerly drinking the tea but it gives them a desperate craving for more and it doesn’t take long until Jackson and Russell have sold almost all of it. Soon those who have drunk large quantities of the tea turn into crazed psychopaths and Jackson and Russell and a handful of others fight off their friends and neighbours to get away.

This film is clearly made by people with a real enthusiasm for making a film and they were working with very little professional technical help. It’s all shot on location in Johnshaven in the North-east coast of Scotland and since none of them are professionals had to be done almost completely at weekends. I think they got a late injection of money that allowed them to use some pretty decent special effects. I did enjoy the film but I can’t guarantee that anyone else will

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Iron Sky

I was really  intrigued by this film when I first heard its premise (thanks to Mark Kermode a film reviewer with an excellent show on BBC Radio Five Live) but it seemed to experience some difficulty get distribution in the UK and I feared it was going to end up going straight to DVD. Then the distributors announced a one day screening at a limited number cinemas across the UK. This has been expanded and it looks like it will get a wider release than just one day. It is also out on Bluray / DVD Monday 28 May.

Two American astronauts land on the dark side of the Moon with two missions: a publicity stunt to help get the President re-elected and to hunt for Helium-3, an isotope of Helium that is rare on Earth but could used to fuel fusion reactors. They discover a large Helium-3 mine and soldiers in Nazi uniform appear out of nowhere, shoot one dead and capture the second one. It turns out that in 1945 a group of Nazis made their way to the moon where they have been mining it for the resources to build an invasion fleet to enable them to return to Earth and conquer it. This is all very impressive stuff.  The only problem seems to be that they don’t have the computing power

The astronaut they captured James Washington (Christopher Kirby) is just a famous supermodel and does not know anything about any planned invasion. They are astonished to see that he is black since most of them are too young to have been to Earth so have never seen a black man before and think he has some sort of skin disease. When their top scientist Dr Richter examines Washington’s mobile phone and finds it has a more powerful processor by many orders of magnitude than their entire base the MondFührer Kurtzfleisch (Udo Kier) sends his second in command Klaus Adler (Götz Otto) back to Earth with Washington to get more phones so they can all finally return to Earth as conquering heroes. This task will be far from simple since they are up against cynical power hungry leaders of modern nations and especially the Sarah Palin lookalike (but definitely not her) US President (Stephanie Paul) and her sociopathic campaign manager Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant).

I really enjoyed this film. It is not only pretty funny it also looks really good. There is a lot of CGI used but it is never out-of-place and it’s all very well designed with it clear that a lot of time and thought has clearly gone into it. I cannot think of any point where this film showed that it had a very low-budget. The film looks like it been based on films such as Mars Attacks! or even Earth Vs The Flying Saucers and elements of steam punk where archaic technology has been designed to carry out advanced functions normally done by modern electronics

There’s a lot of broad satire on modern politics especially from the scenes at the World Council with petty bickering between the representatives of different nations but there’s also the culture clash humour which was sometimes nice and subtle with really good use of the Chaplin film The Great Dictator that assumes a familiarity with the film to work. The cast are all great but I really fell hard for the big evil Nazi bastard Klaus Adler played with some gusto by Götz Otto. I should also mention Adler’s girlfriend Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) who plays an idealistic Nazi schoolteacher who really believes the Nazis are a peaceful party. I know humour is very subjective but I really enjoyed this a lot more than other many films with bigger budgets and better known casts.

Rating 8/10

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Notable Occurrences Related to Audiovisual Recordings of Fantastical Narratives

Remakes or re-imagining have featured in a couple of films that got my attention this week. The first was the release of a teaser trailer for Total Recall which is due out this Summer. Paul Verhoeven‘s original with Arnold Schwarzenegger was a big hit because it was a big science fiction action blockbuster but it still had at the core the question of identity: are we purely the sum of memories or is there a something more fundamental to an individual’s identity. I know in that the economics of film mean if you have a big star like Arnie to play the lead then your investment is safe but Arnie is a very imposing personalty and so I welcome the decision to cast Colin Farrell in the lead because he is actor who can be more convincingly normal and I hope the remake is a bit closer the Philip K. Dick story that it is based on.

The other remake that made the news was the casting Chloe Moretz to play the lead in of a remake/re-imagining of the Stephen King story Carrie. I’m not very enthusiastic about this one because I don’t see there being any more to the story than what we got in Brain de Palma’s original version. Maybe it will be closer to the book but even if that’s so it would not mean that the film will be any better so I will just wait and see the film when its finished

One film I am excited about is Iron Sky which is coming out in April (see the sidebar for the UK release date). The story has Nazi’s hiding on the dark side of the Moon invading the Earth with flying saucers and from the trailer the whole thing looks a bit like Mars Attacks, a film that I really enjoyed. It has Udo Kier as the Nazi commander and also has a female American President who looks and sounds a lot like Sarah Palin, a future just as terrifying as Nazis invading from the Moon (only joking so chill out conservatives).

Speaking of American Presidents I have seen the trailer for the Summer release of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter  and it looks interesting. I like stories which take a mixture of historical figures and literary characters and blend them into something new and if this film is successful maybe they’ll have try at other novels like Anno Dracula or The Difference Engine.

Other interesting trailers doing the rounds include The Host where everyone has blue eyes because they’ve been invaded by aliens. It is based on a book by Twilight author Stephanie Meyer and is not out until next year so we’re in for long campaign of attrition on this one.

How many clichés can be squeezed into one trailer? A man convicted of a crime he didn’t commit is offered his freedom by the authorities if he goes in to a maximum security prison to rescue the President’s daughter who is trapped inside after the prisoners start a riot. Put the prison in orbit around the Earth and you’ve got Lockout starring Guy Pearce and I have a feeling the trailer will be the most exciting thing about this film.

Other films

  • The Revenant – I know nothing about this other than it has been around  for a coupleof years and it is a zombie comedy.
  • Metal Shifters – (or Iron Invaders on IMDb) sounds like a rip-off of Maximum Overdrive or Killdozer
 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Film

 

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