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Yeah of course I know it’s just one alien I meant to say the different phases of the Xenomorph, plus the face-hugger, those alien remains also seen in Prometheus, the egg, not to mention the background designs in that donut ship.
TV super producer Glen A. Larson rips off TRON and flips the concept by bringing the ditigal hero into the Real World. A very likeable young cast (Chuck Wagner was born to play a superhero!) supported by many legendary tv veteran character actors, makes for entertaining televsion. A great looking series, amazing "digital" effects done analog-style, an amazing accomplishment considering the time it was made on a tv schedule. Automan was the most expensive series to date on the air that 1983-84 season. The dvd quality is decent, but again like MANIMAL, the interlacing is very evident at times. This a goofy lost gem that you can not help smile while watching. A worthy addition to any superhero fan's dvd collection.
The Zero Theorem (2013)
Since the current Terry Gilliam film is stuck in limbo, I thought I'd catch up with his last one which I unaccountably still hadn't finished watching years after buying the blu-ray. Seeing this in 2018 was the right choice, as it was perhaps 5-years ahead of it's time. The themes of sensory overload in a near-future world, online and offline truth and reality being blurred, corporations harvesting our data in order to generate algorithms to manipulate us, A.I. becoming hard to distinguish from humanity and a general sense of existential angst, all seem perfect for a post Facebook/Cambridge Analytical world. It raises many questions, answers almost none of them and leaves you wondering what it was all about but I'm still enjoying pondering the puzzle.
Blade of the Immortal (2017)
If like me you loved Takashi Miike's '13 Assassins' then you will not be disappointed by his latest Samurai film. Based on a Manga I haven't read about an immortal warrior called Manji ("The hundred man killer") who is kept alive by witchcraft and disgusting looking worms that crawl in his blood like Japanese feudal nano-bots. A young girl hires him to avenge the murder of her family, much like in 'True Grit', or 'Léon: The Professional'. The plot is episodic (in a good way) in the middle as the two of them encounter the various assassins sent to stop them. "You're not the only hero of a sad story" is a line that sums these encounters up, each villain having their own backstory. I'd begun to root for the badies as much as the heroes by the end. The film opens with Manji facing down 100 assassins and ends with him fighting 300 more, those two encounters and the 2-hours in between must make the body counter at least 500 or more, although the posters claim it's 1000. Kinda like playing the 'House of Leaves' level from 'Kill Bill' on god-mode .
It's even more badass than this trailer makes it looks:
Hard to be a God (2013) 'Hard to be a God' is a bewildering 3-hour Russian epic, notionally described as a "Science Fiction" film that has no visible technology, no non-humans, no science, or any obvious FX-shots. I had to read the synopsis before viewing to get a sense of the story as it's baffling to comprehend from the outset. Set on an alien planet that has descended into a medieval dark-age where "smartarses" who show any evidence of intelligence are drowned in sh*t, pierced by arrows, or disemboweled and any writing is burned. We follow Don Rumata, a "Scientist" (apparently?) from Earth sent to help these primitives progress but he has assumed the role of a quasi-god like feudal lord ruling the people of the Kingdom of Arkanar from his castle. He does what he can to smuggle intellectuals out to live in a swamp but is generally forbidden from interfering too heavily in the madness around him. At least I think that was what the film was about? I only found out that the crystal erect c*ck & balls that Rumata wears on his forehead, was supposed to be a camera live-streaming his experiences back to earth, when I watched the bonus features afterwards.
It's so in your face in terms of shoving objects towards the camera, with smoke, steam and mud swamping your vision, people actually banging into the camera, people shouting nonsensical things all around and random extras walking between you and the main actors and staring out at you in puzzlement, that the film goes out the other side of alienating the viewer and becomes totally immersive. The effect is claustrophobic and like you are actually occupying a space with the characters as they sniff foul smelling objects, wretch up rotten food and smear themselves with blood, sh*t and urine.
Shot across 6-years in crisp high-contrast black & white 35mm and with a further 6-years to make the intensely detailed surround soundmix, the film is totally unique on all levels. The "Catch 22" is that I'm sure it needs multiple viewings to fully appreciate but nobody is going to want to endure it more than once. The world is so beautifully shot, lit, designed and realised, contrasting with the hideous things the camera is actually showing. Like Terry Gilliam doing a Medieval black & white remake of 'Apocalypse Now', that spent the whole 3-hours in Colonel Kurtz's death camp. Or like an extended workprint of Ken Russell's 'The Devils' that was composed entirely of the scenes that the censors banned. Or like spending an evening locked inside a Hieronymus Bosch painting. You get the idea.
This was a regular VHS rental when was a young squire, in part because I was into the Arthurian legends and partly because of all the sex and violence I shouldn't have been watching . It still holds up (unlike many other Arthur adaptaions) thanks to John Boorman not trying to make things realistic, believable, or too cosy. Lots of future stars looking young and fresh faced, like Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne and Ciarán Hinds. The Knights all riding around, eating, sleeping, hiking and even shagging in full shining battle armour looks gloriously daft and cramming the whole saga into 140 minutes is a bit of a mad rush. It needed the kind of canvas that Peter Jackson had for LOTR to have done it full justice. Still, the magical atmosphere, mud-splattered action and oodles of crazy sword and sorcery stuff, drenched in glowing coloured lights and mysterious mist is a winner. For me, 'Excalibur' comes closest to capturing that ineffable thing about the Arthurian myth.
It has one of the all-time great movie sword designs. So simple, yet elegant. Adam Savage made himself one:
Absolutely. Lancelot and Guinevere waking up to sword in the woods. Percival shedding off his armor underwater. No other adaptation got that bizarre meeting of dark age surrealism and, I don't know, mythical ennui I guess. I love the comment that Boorman gives on the commentary, "This is a very easy movie to make fun of." It is pretty weird if you don't know the style of the source material.
I'm a big fan of Le Morte D'Arthur and was introduced to Arthur as a young child through Mary Mcleod's version which is pretty faithful in tone and content. This movie just clicked for me as a teenager. It's very different in details but the atmosphere just felt lifted from those stories. Never have felt that in another adaptation.
This was a nostalgia buy. I have fond childhood memories of watching this 3 part tv event, and while I used to have it on VHS, I have not re-watched this movie in over 20 years.
This is of course an adaption of the wonderful Martian anthology by the legendary Ray Bradbury. This movie mini-series was written for the small screen by the equally legendary Richard Matheson. So with such rich source material and an amazing writer like Matheson doing the teleplay, how does it hold up?
Bradbury, when he viewed it, called it "boring". I think that is a bit cruel, as there is lots to enjoy, but it does deviate from the source material, many of the stories are overly long and poorly paced, and overall, the film has not aged well.
To best enjoy this series, you have to have the right mind set, and treat this as alternate reality as the science is bad. Really bad. This is a reality where Mars has a thin but completely liveable atmosphere with classic water canals and vegetation. Radio/tv communication to Earth is instantaneous, the rockets that can land and take off from a planet's surface look like they were built by George Pal and the astronauts don't need space suits only Steve Austin style leisure suits. Though made in 1980, the story, style and production design feels very 1950s. Which is appropriate since that is when the original short stories were written and it is probably the only way you could adapt them. I kept thinking throughout my rewatch this would play so much better in Black and White.
The fx model work is very bad/cheap even by 1980 tv standards. Compared to the earlier tv model work of Battlestar Galactica or Space:1999, this is just plain awful. 1970s Doctor Who had better model work LOL. But the Martian design/make up and costuming looks pretty cool. And I really enjoyed the Martian architecture and technology. Clearly this looks like a small budget affair, but the production design team came up with some interesting visuals.
The soundtrack is.... well... cool and weird. It has a synth, not quite disco. flare to it. The main martian theme still holds up, as it an optimistic wonder to it. The rest.... what can I say, it is a product of it's time. Though I believe the movie would have worked better with a more traditional big sweeping orchestra soundtrack, but that's just me lol.
The stories are a mixed bag. Part one depicting the first three expeditions to Mars is easily the strongest and best segment of the mini-series. Part two about the first settlers is uneven. It is filled with great concepts and ideas, but they get a bit lost as the stories are too slow and drawn out. Part three is a mixed bag, as I strongly dislike the Bernadette Peters storyline but the Barry Morse arc is very touching. The connecting character for all the stories is played by Rock Hudson, and even though this was in his waning tv career days, his quiet strength commands the screen and you are reminded why he was a major movie star. They don't make stars like him anymore.
The blu-ray work by Kino Lorber is satisfactory. It is nothing special. The colours do not pop. There is no increased depth to picture or detail. There is a lot of grain is some scenes. There was even a scene that had a moment of film debris/damage. So while KL claims this is remastered, it looks like Standard Definition to me. Put it this way, I own many SD tv shows from this era or earlier, and they all have better transfers than this blu-ray.
So would I recommend this lost dusty gem? If you have a nostalgia connection to it, I think it is worth revisiting. If you are a Ray Bradbury enthusiest, and have never seen this adaptation, I think you will find it interesting to see how the short story material was interpreted and connected together. If you are a fan of the classic Twilight Zone, I think you would get a real kick out of this movie, as it really feels and plays like a series of Serling style stories about the human condition. Otherwise, I am not sure if this old school tv movie would connect with young modern viewers?
Though it is a rich mine for fan editing potential.
Hudson Hawk (1991)
I knew a lot about this notorious boxoffice bomb (losing the studio about $50m) going in from various reviews and commentaries picking it apart. This is what happens when you give a (then) hot star (Bruce Willis) a blank cheque to make his passion project. A jumbled mixture of Hitchcock-style caper (there is a character called 'George Kaplan'), typical Willis action, wacky comedy, cartoonish silliness, extreme violence and bad language. The plot makes no sense, in fact nothing anybody says or does makes any sense. If you just agree to accept that before pressing play, you'll probably have a good time. Willis plays a super cat-burglar who times his jobs by singing pop songs for some reason. He gets mixed up in a criminal plot involving a Leonardo da Vinci' alchemy machine, CIA goons named after candy-bars, two psychotic billionaires and a secret-agent-nun sent by the Vatican.
It's got many laugh out loud jokes and some that are funny because of how misjudged they are. e.g. a fairly graphic throat slitting and somebody shouting "Shall I rape them?" are played for laughs (I did laugh but out of embaressment for the movie ). I loved the fun friendship between Willis and Danny Aiello but Andie MacDowell is a flatline as the love interest (even if she does do Dolphin noises while drugged by a Curare tipped dart). Sandra Bernhard and Richard E. Grant appear to be in a competition to be the most over acting actor that ever over acted. 'Hudson Hawk' might be a train wreck but it's my kind of wreck.
Quick, what's the best Middle Eastern terrorism movie featuring Kyle Chandler? Well, besides Argo. No, it's not Zero Dark Thirty. It's this one.
... Hey, remember when Collateral hit, and Jamie Foxx suddenly seemed like the next major action star? Aside from Django Unchained, his filmography since has been underwhelming relative to said promise. Anyhow, I'm just now catching up with Peter Berg's The Kingdom, a 2007 action thriller that imagines what the so-called War on Terror might have been like had smart people been calling the shots for a changet. In '07, that was a fantasy; in '18, it's a nostalgic memory. The movie itself is a lean, effective actioner that showcases Foxx at his best, and does an admirable job portraying the nuances of US-Saudi Arabian relations, which, eleven years on, are as relevant as ever. The Kingdom may be fiction, but, unlike Zero Dark Thirty, it tells a coherent story. Nor does it transcend the action genre as Sicario does, but it gets the job done, and deserves at least one watch.
Speed Racer (2008)
Just over 10-years after this Wachowski mega-bomb was released (the first of a decade long run of commercial and critical failures) and I'm watching it for the first time, thanks to picking up the 3-disc US blu-ray for nowt on ebay. Visually it looks like no other movie before or since but a mixture of 'Mario Kart 64', 'Days of Thunder, 'Total Wipeout', Pixar's 'Cars' and 'The Hunger Games' is the only way I could describe it. I notice this came out the exact same time as Marvel's 'Iron Man' (which of course started a decade long run of commercial and critical successes). Unlike the visually grounded 'Iron Man', 'Speed Racer' belongs to that dated filmmaking notion that to make a comicbook movie, you have to make it look like a comic book (e.g. Ang Lee's 'Hulk'). I was unsure how much was supposed to look artificial and fake and how much was just poor handling of early greenscreen CGI.
Luckily, even if the hyper-saturated, frenetic, kaleidoscope visuals are a turn off, the characters are likeable and relatable, the plot is straight forward (maybe too many race-movie cliches) and it has real heart. Who doesn't love a David vs Goliath story. Some of those VisFX didn't work for me but some looked spectacular and you have to at least admire the Wachowski's commitment to creating something unique.
Some odd editing drags the movie down: Inter-cutting a scene of Roger Allman delivering a venomous spittle-spraying badguy rant, with a scene of a kid and chimpanzee stealing sweets?!? Again in the finale with the crowd-pleasing score in full-flow and the post-victory euphoria actually working 100% on the viewer, the goodbuy leans in to kiss the girl... and they freeze frame so the same kid and chimp can walk on screen and interrupt?!? Such bizarre editing choices, I could barely believe my eyes. Why are you sabotaging your own movie?
This could so easily be fanedited into a better movie just by taking away the ill-advised focus on the kid and the chimp, to the expense of everything else in the film. I notice @"wayne.workman2012" did once attempt it (https://forums.fanedit.org/showthread.php?tid=10325) but he's gone AWOL. The brother could be minimised because the actor is bland as f**k. The weirdly violent gangster subplot was a miss-step and doesn't go anywhere (tweaks to violence and swearing generally would be a good move for a kids movie). Somebody should give this a go, if nobody does, maybe I will one day.
I'm sure me developing a headache while watching was purely coincidental .
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (2017)
This movie has some serious haters. Not me.
It is a wonderful, throw-back, old fashioned musical.
What it is not, is a historical accurate biography.
This is not the true story of P.T. Barnum. It is the Myth. The Fairy Tale.
Or as he might put it, the Humbug.
This is a musical. And the music is INCREDIBLE. The song and dance numbers are spectacular! Enhanced by some truly brilliant editing, these scenes linger with you long after the movie has ended. My wife and I found ourselves rewinding many of them multiple times just so we could admire the amazing jaw dropping choreography. The Jackman has moves!!! lol
I was surprised by how much extensive CGI was in this movie and for the most part is it used very well to create an American Fairy Tale look to the world with its richer, heavily saturated colours. But the world purposely never looks fully real, it has a lovely heighten look to it that allows you to escape into its musical magical realm. But with that said, there are some dodgy CGI moments, particularly with the character Tom Thumb.
The story itself is very fast paced (it is only 1hr45mins), and follows a very formulaic structure. Act One is one big feel good smile. The underdog hero gets his true love and gathers his merry band of misfits to follow to their dream. Act Two goes into slightly darker territory as our hero loses his way and all he has built comes into jeopardy. And Act Three, which is very short, the hero learns his lesson and redeems himself to his friends and family.
The story touches on many socially relevant hot topics, such as issues of race, diversity and acceptance, without feeling like a social justice lesson. Some critics felt the story should have gone further in addressing these issues. And others argue that the real life Barnum was not a proponent of any of these issues (he was an opportunist, a racist, a con man, etc) and thus the movie is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.
I will not debate politics or historical truth, but only say again, this movie plays and feels like a fairy tale. I never once thought or believed this was a True Story. But the story is imperfect. The second act could have delved deeper into some of the questionable choices Barnum made and the third act wraps up way too fast, too easily and too neatly.
Despite these shortcomings, the movie is an over all delicious delight of sight and sound. The music sweeps you up and tugs at your heart.
As a piece of history, it is a complete failure.
As a love story and a tale of underdogs, it is magnificent musical achievement! I was truly surprised how much I enjoyed this movie despite its faults. Well worth checking out.
^ I do want to see what all the fuss is about when I get the chance. The horrifically bad CGI in the trailer put me off.
Night of the Demon (1957)
A superb black & white British Horror, akin to Hammer's 'The Devil Rides Out' (1968), Robin Hardy's 'The Wicker Man' (1973), or Richard Donner's 'The Omen' (1976). It's got that same primeval power and creeping dread and seems to be popping up on a few best-of lists. An English Aleister Crowley-alike Devil worshiper claims to have placed a demonic death curse on a devoutly skeptical American Doctor who intends to debunk his beliefs. The master of "not showing the monster", Director Jacques Tourneur cleverly provides a plausible explanation for every supernatural event in the story... except the Producer inserted two bookend sequences of an admittedly startling looking giant demon puppet, against Tourneur's wishes. The viewer knowing from the outset that the threat is real, probably does add to the scariness, even if it compromises the purity and cleverness of Tourneur's handling of the material.
Cutting this to approximate the way the Director intended is a good potential fanedit idea.
Predator 2 (1990)
Since it sounds like the new entry is a total mess, I decided to re-watch this first sequel instead. The original Arnie classic is a perfect movie, so of course this isn't as good but it's far from bad. The creature FX and new additions to the Predator arsenal are excellent. It looks fantastic generally and Silverstri's score is once again tip top. The final act feels a bit directionless, even if it is fun. The surround mix on the DVD is noticeably immersive.
It's been said that it's like the characters in P1 think they are in a standard guns & muscles Rambo style movie, when they are actually in a Sci-Fi Horror... this time the people think they are cops in a near-future dystopian Robocop-alike genre film. Predator sequels would do well to stick with this formula IMO. They could take any familiar film genre and stick a Predator in it and we would enjoy seeing how the characters cope. A feudal Japanese Samurai movie, a "Predators & Indians" Western, a Predator hunting in the bomb craters of WW2, a Prohibition Gangster film, Crusader Knights... the possibilities are endless. P2 sets this kind of franchise expansion up by showing us a dueling pistol trophy from 1715 at the end but so far nothing has been done with it in any of the spinoffs.
I KILL GIANTS (2018) currently on Netflix
Based on the graphic novel by Joe Kelly, the movie is about Barbara, an outcast, bullied young girl, who claims she battles giants. Are her claims real? Is it all in her imagination? The truth is purposely kept vague/interpretive throughout most of the movie, while the graphic novel was clear right from the beginning. And I think it is this vagueness that prevents this movie from being really great. If the movie had been more clear from the outset, it would have made Barbara's journey even more sympathetic and powerful. The story is also hampered by a score that is too subdued, too functional and too safe. Luckily, the performances and visuals rise above this, creating a strong enough movie that made me tear up in the last act and closes on a somber but positive message.
A good movie that could have been better but still well worth watching.
I saw I Kill Giants in the theater and I went in knowing nothing about it. It was not at all what I expected, and I loved it.
I didn't think the movie was vague, and it was clear to me by the ending that:
it was all in her head
I don't know anything about the graphic novel, so I can't comment on whether that is the same interpretation the book takes. Perhaps it was my unfamiliarity with the source material, but I really liked the film. I was crying like a baby when it all came together at the end.
Though don't you think the film makers were purposely trying to keep it interpretive right to the end?
My examples that sort made me question what the true reality was are all based on Sophia's perspective....
--did she find a giant footprint or was it just a large puddle?
--Sophia sees the destroyed lifeguard tower
--Sophia sees the destroyed trains and fire
By having Sophia being present at all these moments, and having her seeing the aftermath each time, made me feel the filmmakers were trying to have it both ways.... leaving the door open to the possibility what we are seeing is real?
Regardless, I still enjoyed the movie. It sort of reminded me of Bridge to Terabithia -- and I cried during that movie too!
Starts like a serious drama à la "The Babadook" and ends like a silly B movie. In my opinion it should have been one of the other.
The Babadook was one hell of a depressive movie but it had a purpose, you understood why you suffered during 1h35.
In Hereditary you suffer during 2h without any reward (and when I say "you suffer" I don't mean that the movie is scary, I mean it's just depressive).
It's not badly directed, the entire cast are doing a great job, but the movie has no real meat to throw at you. You're left with a felling of "Oh... okay then."
(I could give one more point for Tony Collette who is amazing, but nope, I think this movie is not worth 6/10)
When I heard Bayona was directing this movie I had high hopes, then I heard the movie was meh, and since I liked but not loved the first one and had no friends who wanted to bring me by force in the theatre to watch it, Fallen Kingdom became the first of the Jurassic movies that I did not see on the big screen.
I saw it now. It's visualy cool but that's it.
Each individual scenes are for the most part better than the first one but the overall impression is boredom anyway. In the first one you meet new interesting characters wrapped in a soft reboot that kind of worked despite the "déja-vu" feeling. In Fallen Kingdom they try to convince you that what you see in an original and fresh movie with new ideas, but you can't help seeing references at every corner of the screen even more so than in part one.
I honestly could predict everything before it happens, even that dumb kid pushing that button in the end. What a way to ruin a perfect ending. She deserves a slap in the face by every grown ups characters, lol! To bad because I sort of like her character up to that point.
Anyway, little rant aside, when I rate a movie 5/10 it means I can watch it. Less and it's a movie that starts to piss me off. Fallen Kingdom didn't piss me off, so 5 is a good start. I liked the directing and the visuals, so I can go to 6. The actors are likeable, he action is well done and everything is fine, so 6 would be a bit harsh , I can go to 7 if I'm in a good mood (and I'm sure plenty of kids love that movie). But from 7 to 8 is often when the real balance is for me. That extra point is for movies that are good to me, JP:FG is just okay and "serviceable" even if boring and close of being nonesensical at times (would armies around the world really would be interested in dinos used as weapons?... Sounds easier and safer to "play" with drones.)