Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (UK, 1977)

The third and finale Sinbad film from Schneer and Harryhausen and with a title that always reminds me of the Rocky franchise. To this day I'm not sure why its called this, what has 'the eye of the tiger' got to do with anything?

So its same old Sinbad, same old plot I'm afraid, and that means he's yet again off to find a mythical object/location again. This time its because he must change a Prince back to human form after an evil sorcerer turned him into a baboon. This means he must sail to Hyperborea (sounds almost Conan-like) with his trusty crew consisting of the usual attractive females, wise old men and monster fodder ship mates to save the Prince.

The last Sinbad adventure was pretty average and this film fares no better really. Straight away Sinbad must fight off a trio of demons that have been summoned by the evil sorcerer and it looks hokey as hell. Not only are the demon creations visually poor looking, surprisingly for Harryhausen, but the entire fight sequence is badly done and looks dodgy. Patrick Wayne is doing all manner of lame martial arts moves (yes that's right!!) involving spin kicks and it just looks hilariously bad.

From there on much like the previous film nothing much happens really, Prince Kassim is an animated baboon which is very nicely done by Harryhausen. Not exactly thrilling to watch and not his best work for me but it looks good none the less, sounds effects for the animal are less enjoyable and do grate in time. The only other creature we have alongside that for a while is the Minaton which again is terribly disappointing and pointless really because it does nothing. It merely becomes a rowing machine for the evil sorcerer and then gets crushed towards the end.

So after much travelling as expected the team finally get somewhere, not before fighting a giant walrus which again is pretty average really. The whole sequence doesn't look too good and neither does Harryhausen's creation, it also seems a rather ineffective unimportant sequence and would have made no difference if it was in the film or not.

The whole film perks up as we reach the finale, Sinbad and co meet a Troglodyte which puts your faith back in Ray's work again. A simple character creation but highly effective and conveying some nice simple emotion, you do care for the big trog as he seems such a gentle big friendly giant (you can also clearly see how the same model is used again for Calibos in 'Clash of the Titans'). Once we reach the magical source to return the Prince back to normal things finally get more exciting as classic Harryhausen comes into force with the trog having to fight a saber-tooth cat.

This is really the only one fun decent sequence in the entire film and is pure Harryhausen gold. Its not the best monster mash we've seen Ray do but its brilliantly done and quite bloody too. The poor old trog gets a real good ripping from the big cat and you do feel sorry for the big guy. At the same time the saber-tooth looks really excellent with realistic fur, eyes and movement. Alas trog gets killed in the end but kudos to Ray for making such a simple yet likeable, muted creature (grunts aside).

That's pretty much it really I'm afraid to say. Its all very generic and mundane in all honesty and considering 'Star Wars' had hit the silver screen in the same year it shows how childish it was really. These last two Sinbad films really do come across as films purely to showcase Harryhausen's skills, that's not a bad thing of course as its a joy to see Ray's animations but at the same time the films offered very little else.

There is still the charm of it all, the acting is hokey yet everybody looks good and you do expect these hammy qualities. This time Sinbad has two lovely ladies at his side in Seymour and Power, both there obviously to look dazzling but little else. Wayne is probably the weakest Sinbad of the three but he does have those dashing rugged good looks that are necessary plus he can make the stereotypical Arabian facial hair work. Only Patrick Troughton puts in the most memorable performance as the old Greek alchemist Melanthius, but that really is no surprise. The villain or the wise old man are usually the best performed characters in these dated films.

If you put down the rose tinted glasses you really do see how poor this film is, its even worse than the previous Sinbad film because there isn't really any awesome Harryhausen moments. On the whole the film is under average and just feels stretched, you can see the franchise has gone stale and is struggling for inspiration. That said its still worthy of a watch, just about, but compared to previous Harryhausen flicks its very lackluster and disappointing.


Monday, 29 June 2015

King Ralph (1991)

Back in the early 90's we got many family movies that offered lots of cheesy irritating laughs and child actors, the odd thing was many actually did really well. The original movie would somehow manage to become a reasonable hit (a different time), and those movies, in some cases, actually turned into franchises! Those same franchises then managed to knock out a semi-decent sequel or two before eventually disintegrating into utter trash with numerous straight to DVD sequels being churned out. The films I refer to would be 'Beethoven', 'Problem Child', 'Home Alone' and 'Free Willy'...mainly.

'King Ralph' was a slightly different animal though, a stand alone family film that was totally stupid in concept but offered a really solid cast and, by the looks of things, some high production values. Amazingly its yet another novel adaptation albeit a loose one, the story simply revolves around the British Royal Family getting wiped out in a freak accident. Its then down to the upper echelons to dig out a new King by rooting through the vast Royal Family tree, trying to discover a long lost distant relation with true royal blood to take the throne. Once they do it of course turns out to be the most unsuitable person imaginable (well for the early 90's anyway), a fat, loud, uncouth, brash American.

Right so who would be the best fat loud American of the time? why John Goodman of course. The fat, beer-swilling, checkered-shirt wearing slob from the hit TV US show Roseanne. Basically take Goodman's popular character from that show, the stereotypical, overweight, middle aged, lacking of general knowledge, US sports obsessed male Yank, and make him a lounge singer with a knowledge of female club stripping and a penchant for Elvis style shades (not much of a stretch). To counter this you need a stereotypical British gent to guide and teach this gaudy foreigner, enter the stellar Peter O'Toole as the Royal secretary. You can't really get any better than O'Toole for the epitome of a British aristocrat (despite being possibly Irish), and you can't really get anymore of a polar opposite to Goodman.
The duo play off each other superbly well considering how daft the film is and the fact its pretty much aimed at children. O'Toole puts in a sterling performance coming across perfectly as someone who would look after royalty, sure we've seen this type of performance from him before but his loyal butler-esque manner is so pleasing to watch and listen to. Indeed his speech to Goodman's character about what it is to be a King of England is quite stirring I must say, as a Brit it did bring a lump to my throat, such a shame these days patriotic talk like that is non-existent and almost frowned upon.

To add even more British star power to the proceedings we have John Hurt in an even more outrageously, hideously over the top, aristocratic, Conservative cad who will stop at nothing to dirty the new Kings image. Hurt's slimy, arrogant, pompous voice and attitude is just as good as his weaselly yet smartly dressed appearance complete with a dastardly thin pencil tash. I love how he's also completely cold, emotionless and kinda racist, calling Goodman's character 'a song and dance man from the colonies', a real Alan B'Stard. What's more his sidekick is played by Leslie Phillips! all the old chivalrous warhorses here.

So the brilliant character acting aside, what's also very impressive about this apparent silly kids flick is the fact it all looks fantastic. The outfits, suits and general attire of dignitaries and royals is spruce, debonair and dapper all round, everyone looks tip-top and pristine. The locations are a mix or real stately homes, clever use of small sections of real posh establishments and more obviously stock footage. Interior sequences are the most impressive with some sets looking exquisite, highly detailed and extremely lavish, it really looks like no expense was spared in creating these elegant royal interiors. I guess its all a bit surprising really, you'd never expect such extravagant detail with a silly little comedy like this, you'd think it would be all about the slapstick and raking in as much moolah as possible, different times.

Being an old movie I did also enjoy the retro blast I got from time to time, anyone of my age will no doubt feel the same way. Its always amusing to see old fashioned British punks in these movies. You the know the types, brightly coloured mohawks, black leather jackets covered in badges, chains and safety pins, lots of makeup etc...Twas also funny to see them all watching old fashioned TV's in the windows of a Rumbelows store, remember that??

Yeah the whole thing is very predictable as a kind of rags to riches, Prince Charming type of affair, you can guess what's gonna go down in scenes and overall its all very sweet and adorable. It might sound cliched and dumb but watching the hapless Ralph trying to learn the ways of the super rich, whilst attempting to chat with senior dignitaries and royalty, is perfect light entertainment. That said there is a pleasant and fresh tale to be discovered here, being based on a novel it kinda reminded me of 'Brewster's Millions' actually. Goodman (in an early-ish, pre-superstardom movie role) is amazingly likable as the American lounge lizard with a golden heart who is turned into a rich nobleman...with a golden heart. Supporting cast are all brilliant as said adding real quality and a hint of solid drama to the story, the film is fun for kids with plenty of cutesy charm, but it also has the odd snippet of fun for adults too.


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Nuns on the Run (UK, 1990)

Now this is a blast from the past, a real shoulder-mounted retro cannon slug to the crotch. Back in 1990 Coltrane and Idle were probably two of the funniest and most popular guys in the UK alongside other greats of the BBC. One was an ex-Python, say no more, the other a British TV favourite and with some small notable movie roles under his belt. I don't really recall how well it did at the box office but I remember watching it often as a kid, and enjoying the heck out of it. It was one of those movies that was shown on TV pretty often, usually cut but a regular early evening flick none the less.

The story centres on two petty crooks who work for this London gangster, the duo are fed up with robbing banks and basically being bad guys so they decide to leave their criminal employer. Unfortunately the mobster boss doesn't allow his employees to leave so he arranges to have them whacked after a heist for some cash (pinching it from Triads). The duo realise what will probably happen so they come up with a plan to double cross their employer and run off with the money to Brazil. The plan goes well getting the money but the pair end up hiding out in a nunnery whilst the heat dies down, biding their time for the perfect chance to make a dash for it. During all this, Eric Idle's character Brian (must be his favourite comedy name) becomes infatuated with a blonde which complicates matters (of course).

Now maybe its me but I do think this British romp inspired the American hit 'Sister Act'. The entire rolling gag for this movie is basically seeing Idle and Coltrane in drag as nuns, a Laurel & Hardy pairing, one fat and one thin. Of course that is not the route the Whoopi Goldberg comedy went, but the premise of a person involved with criminals having to hide out with nuns and pretty much become one, is the same. The difference being this movie followed two blokes and its not as religious, if I can say that.

Now I will say that both Idle and Coltrane do work well together in this movie. They both fit their roles of seedy London gangsters perfectly, they are both quite amusing and they both look good as nuns too. Idle of course has much experience of dressing in ladies attire and acting silly with a silly effeminate high pitched voice. Indeed he does this very well even though it does feel like we've seen this whole act by him before. Coltrane has that great bold, loud, cutting edge to his humour that comes across brilliantly with his Scottish accent, he always sounds like he's taking the piss which is funny. Here he is better than Idle in my view, he is funnier, sharper with dialog, he naturally looks more amusing in certain situations because of his size and he actually looks like a real woman dressed as a nun.

The problem is the movie has highs and lows, but more boring lows. Much of the time we are watching people have conversations about the situation they are in, in between that we get some reasonably fast paced action but not a lot. What action we do see is, by today's standards, incredibly dated and cheesy looking, it doesn't help that the UK looked so damn quaint and charming back then too (look at the cars!!). The movie obviously didn't have a mega budget (it is an early Brit flick after all) and its pretty clear to see generally. That's not a bad thing, the low-key visuals do help the film feel more gritty and genuine but at the same time very cheap and tacky. Acting from the various other gangsters, Triads (merely filler in the story to be honest) and support cast are also somewhat primitive, at times at does feel like a homemade B-movie. The two cockney villains are definitely Richie/Vaughn type characters, again you can see influences there. Whilst the main boss is a real wet squib, God knows where they dug this guy up from with that horrific 90's hairdo, he looks like an annoying, pompous uni student you just wanna slap.

The highlights come within the nunnery which isn't surprising really. The cast for the nuns are really very good and dish out some solid laughs. When watching these old dears its very clear to see how this movie influenced the Whoopi Goldberg flick, the characters are very similar. The sister Superior (Janet Suzman) is a typically calm, kind talking, no-nonsense leader, but with a delicious dry wit about her. Then you have the old warhorse of a nun that can't hear too well, is kinda grumpy and forgets things, the fat nun that likes a drink, and the priest that likes the ladies a bit too much. The main difference here is this movie is for adults only, yes you do see lots of young female nuns nude, perky breasts, tight buttocks, skimpy lingerie and some naughty swearing I believe. It is highly amusing when we see Idle and Coltrane conversing with the nuns about various things, in various situations, as they try to avoid duties, keep hold of their loot and generally live like women, with lots of women...in a nunnery. Yes it is all cliched and predictable these days but it still raises a smile.

One other notable thing about this movie was the soundtrack that was provided by Swiss musicians Yello. The track was created years earlier but was prominently used in this movie throughout. It is a catchy oddball tune that does admittedly blend well with the madcap chase sequences.

The film is a good laugh but it doesn't really deliver on all fronts. Considering the title suggests its all about nuns on the run, there actually isn't a whole lot of that. Plenty of running, slapstick, pratfalls and all-round tomfoolery sure, but not too much of that involves the nun side of it. You could of called it 'On the Run' and it still would have worked, although obviously not as catchy. Its more of a crime heist comedy which is fine but its a shame they didn't nail in more religious jabs, it really yearned for it. Maybe they were just playing it safe, I just feel this could of been much more riskier and funnier, especially with Idle and Coltrane on board. It is typically British with typically British gags, a (now) routinely rascally affair that's infantile and cheeky. Close to being a classic but misses the chance.


Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (US, NZ 2014)

Here we are, the final chapter in this blatantly over-milked adaptation of the Tolkien Hobbit book. If you've been following this franchise up to this point (stupid thing to say really) then you'll know this movie completes the story arc for Smaug the dragon, Bard and Thorin. Sauron himself pops up along with Saruman to hint at what is to come in the follow up trilogy, after freeing Gandalf, but as the title suggests the main crux of this movie centres around the battle at Lonely Mountain for the treasures deep within.

The most impressive part of this entire movie is right at the start, the destruction of Laketown by Smaug. Whether or not you agree that this sequence should have been at the end of the second movie is no longer of importance really, we all know it should have been. Nevertheless this sequence is mightily impressive with full-on dragon kickassery as Smaug swoops down, back n forth, carpet-bombing the town with a tsunami of fiery death. Even though we have witnessed much death and destruction in these movies up to this point, there is something quite brutal and genuinely terrifying about this slaughter.
Alas its all brought to a stupid conclusion with the way Smaug is brought down, one black arrow hitting one small chink in the dragons armour. I believe this is in the original book but the way it plays out on the big screen just feels totally unachievable, even for a fantasy film. What's more, this entire sequence is the climax of the original book, yet here its all done and dusted before the opening credits.

From this point onwards its merely a case of Jackson moving the various chess pieces into position for the long drawn out CGI battle at Lonely Mountain. Unfortunately that is exactly what makes up the rest of this movie, an elf army turns up to help the people of Laketown and retrieve a precious elven item from the mountain. There is already an army of men led by Bard, there are a couple of orc armies marching to the mountain, and a dwarf army arrives on the scene too. There is virtually no plot here, its quite simply...everybody wants the gold...fight!! What little else you see is basically padding and invented for the purpose of the movie.

Lets get gritty, the battles, that's what its all about, how good are these battle sequences. Well first off we've all seen the LoTR's trilogy and the previous two Hobbit movies, so basically we've all seen this before. No I'm not being harsh, this movie actually feels like a rehash with the same CGI battles over and over, nothing new, its been done to death by Jackson and co now, battle fatigue much! The CGI in question looks pretty bad too, I kid you not, its like the quality is basically about on par with the original trilogy or worse! (LoTR's trilogy finished in 2003). Seriously there was very little here that actually jumped out at me, accept for the Smaug devastation at the start, everything else just felt like watching solid videogame sequences (again). To make matters worse the greenscreen was horribly obvious throughout, obvious and everywhere.

In general, I think watching masses and masses of CGI men, elves, orcs and a variety of beasties, clash in a clinically sterile CGI arena or environment, has just become tiresome. Yes I know everything does have an aged, weather-beaten appearance but it still doesn't detract from the shiny plastic looking visuals and rag doll effects we get with CGI. What really amazes me though is how this movie franchise never seems to grow up, the amount of deus ex-machina bullshit that still goes on is mind numbing. Time and time again various characters could and should be killed outright but the enemy pauses, or uses a non-lethal blow, or falls over, or gets shot with an arrow by someone else at the last second etc...It really becomes a joke, the entire climax for the this movie is one big deus ex-machina, everything that Legolas does is a continuous deus ex-machina moment...with gravity defining skills.

During the main overly long battle sequence Azog and some of his orcs appear to be watching the battle from the peak of a mountain or cliff, what mountain/cliff is this?? The battle ground is quite flat and expansive, so where on earth is Azog standing because from his viewpoint its right over the top of the battlefield. Oh and how do orcs control Were-worms?? During the battle the elves and dwarfs suddenly appear with these battle rams? like...where the fuck did they come from??! Oh and the way they run up the steep mountain pass with riders on their backs is inane. One other thing that made me laugh, the orcs are winning at one point, the dwarfs were staring defeat in their hairy faces. Luckily Thorin and his tiny band of fellow dwarfs decide to join the fight and run headlong into the battle, and this somehow rallies all the dwarfs to fight? eh?
I also love how predictable Jackson is with his battles. I think in every one of these movies he's had a moment where one army, or group of people, is saved at the last minute when another army, or group of people, decide to attack and save the day in a stirring heroic manner. Then at the end of all that, after all that fighting and bloodshed, the battle just ends. Bilbo and Thorin have done what they needed to do elsewhere and that's all we need to know, so apparently the hundreds of thousands of elves, men, orcs, goblins, dwarfs etc...all just finished the battle and went home.

Bilbo is a secondary character in his own story (its more about Thorin), we don't actually see what happens to most of the characters at the very end after the battle (Dain?), the battle itself was an anti-climax. Billy Connolly was dreadful as Dain the dwarf, I hated how Legolas is told to go find Aragorn at the end (this makes no sense if you do your homework), I hated how Legolas is at the forefront of this movie, and the Grima Wormtongue rip-off character Alfrid, was a cringeworthy rehash. What's so utterly ridiculous (and kinda insulting) about including Legolas so much is the fact there is zero tension in whatever he does. He keeps getting into these tight situations of certain death, but its all for nothing because we know damn well he isn't gonna die (facepalm!!).

I'm not really an expert on the Hobbit book and its content but I do get the impression Jackson and co really really wanted to make these movies identical to the previous LoTR's trilogy. I think we all know now how much was stuffed into these films which wasn't suppose to be there, and I think its obvious that it was done to ride on the coattails of the previous trilogy. Its funny that Jackson is actually trying to leech off the success of his own movies...and can't manage it. The fact he clearly tried to cash in on the franchise by making this adaptation into a trilogy was probably his downfall. This final chapter really feels very anti-climatic, the main criticism being its badly over stretched and padded out (obviously so). I mean come on, virtually the whole movie is that one battle between the five armies, and its not even that good! (thank God for those eagles huh).


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Get Hard (2015)

Another throwaway comedy from Ferrell? yeah pretty much. Despite the fact this guy is mega famous and has made some solid movies, his filmography is top heavy with throwaway garbage, literately littered with trashy flicks. I find it weird that three of his worst movies happen to be about various sporting events, ice skating, tennis and NASCAR racing.

So lets be honest here this movie is simply one big stereotype, one big cliche, every angle is nailed well and truly...almost to an offensive level. Put simply, Ferrell plays a rich successful businessman who works for a large company. He has it all including a mansion, flashy automobile, slick suits and a hot fiancee, he is on top of the world. Then as quickly as his lavish lifestyle is presented to us, its all torn down as he is accused of corruption. He now has 30 days until he goes to jail for the next ten years. In desperation he turns to humble car washer Kevin Hart for help, his request? to train him for prison life, to get him hard, tough, butch. At the same time Ferrell's character must also try to figure out how he was busted when he is innocent.

I don't wanna sound overly politically correct mainly because I can't stand the modern extremist PC trend, but damn is this entire story just one big insult. I mean lets look at the actual premise, Ferrell's character is a stereotypical rich, smart, white character, Kevin Hart is actually a hard working honest black character. Yet King (Ferrell) goes to Lewis (Hart) for help simply because he is a black man and he automatically assumes he will know about being in prison, criminal life, or automatically assumes he has been to prison. Right there you have a bit of a no no technically, not a great start.

From there on Lewis helps King train for prison, this naturally entails every single stereotypical prison cliche in the book. All prison inmates are automatically assumed to be either black or hispanic/latino with all the regular well known cliches that accompany that outlook. You know exactly what I mean, virtually all the characters are big, tattooed, gold teeth, bling, baggy pants around the hips, shades, silly headgear and loads of profanity and street lingo. Of course revolving around prison there will also be lots of homosexual references, gags, innuendos and slapstick. One sequence actually shows King trying his hand at oral sex on a man! he doesn't actually do it of course but we do actually see a penis! full screen! was it fake? looked real to me. But its not just people of colour that are hit, to counter the black and latino gangs there are of course the stereotypical redneck, black leather clad, white biker gangs just so no one feels left out.

What's funny is even the presentation of Ferrell's character is a slightly offensive or annoying stereotype. A weedy, wussy, straight-laced, well spoken, college grad type that is unable to interact with lower income people and treats them like slave labour. All the people that clean his huge mansion appear to be Mexicans and all the workers in Ferrell's company are white, not a single person of colour to be seen. The black street gang the duo visit for help later in the movie are the epitome of movie stereotypes (the women with the gang are all dressed and act like sluts etc...). This entire movie is enough to give all the social justice warriors out there a heart attack. The fact that we all know deep down most of this is kinda accurate to reality anyway isn't the point (it really isn't), everything we see is so tired, old, formulaic and unoriginal its just not really funny.

The story isn't even particularly relatable or realistic anyway which affects the comedy. The first scenes we see of King revolve around his luxurious lifestyle, so basically its just like watching Will Ferrell in his own real life because we all know these movie stars live in massive abodes, driving supercars with hot partners. Later on in the movie as King's training becomes more intense they actually convert his home into a makeshift prison? Putting bars on windows, electrified barbwire fencing and spotlights around the grounds, creating a cell, using his cleaners as prison wardens etc...I realise its just a dumb comedy going for laughs but would anyone really go to those lengths? it just seems like stretching for a visual gag. Indeed most of the jokes here solely rely on really grasping for laughs with forced visual tomfoolery, or they just bank on the old racist, homophobic, sexist angle to win the day.

Admittedly there were a few moments that made me smile, a few bits of dialog that made me chuckle, I can't recall them now but it happened. The second half the film gets a bit better as we discover how and why King got set up, although this doesn't enhance Craig T.Nelson's role in the movie, nor does it explain his decision for being here in the first place. The one thing I did like about the film was the fact its an adult movie with adult things...like some nice moments of tits n ass (sexist remark is recognised, hypocrisy noted). In this day and age I'm actually stunned this type of movie is allowed to go ahead and the fact it actually did well! Yes its good to laugh at ourselves and each other, no harm in that, but these days is risky lets not beat around the bush. Bottom line everyone knows what they're getting into with this, its all quite intentional and they do hit their marks, but that doesn't mean its good.


Saturday, 13 June 2015

Run All Night (2015)

Despite being over the age of 60 Liam Neeson is still, somehow, being pushed as a cinematic badass, a modern day Clint Eastwood. Its something that bemuses me frankly, I can understand him making the odd kickass flick (like Costner did), but Neeson has become this aged, one man army, action man franchise. The thing is, all his movies have been virtually the same! it started with him killing everyone in 'Taken' and now he kills everyone in everything, the invincible Irishman.

Here Neeson (Jimmy) is an aging Irish ex-hitman who is estranged from his son and family, due to his violent past. Jimmy's best friend and old boss Shawn (Ed Harris) is the mobster head honcho with a rebellious wildcard of a son (Danny). This young whippersnapper arranges a drug deal with some Albanians but Shawn refuses to deal with them saying he doesn't do drugs anymore. This causes a problem for Danny as the Albanians threaten to kill him unless he gets their cash back, so Danny kills them. Unfortunately Jimmy's son Mike (Kinnaman) sees this murder and is chased by Danny which eventually leads to Jimmy having to kill Danny. This sets up the entire premise for the movie as Shawn must now have his long time friend and associate killed for whacking his son.

This tale is slightly different to the rest of Neeson's tough guy flicks, to a degree. Yes it has Neeson once again killing everyone whilst being pretty unstoppable, but the story has a nice throwback vibe to it. The film feels a bit like an old fashioned gangster flick from the 70's or 80's, especially with the two main criminals played by Neeson and Harris. To me it looks as though Neeson has also been given a slightly dated, late 70's, early 80's appearance here, costume wise that is (face and hair is exactly the same as usual). His character is Irish in the movie, so dare I say that his look has a kind of IRA feel to it? that green hunting/military style coat he wears gave me that impression. Harris comes across as a character from a Scorsese movie with his bulbous head and craggy features, his whole performance has a really nice old school feel to it. On the other hand this might all be just me, just my personal thoughts and impressions here.

As for Kinnaman well, this guy can't act basically, he virtually spends the entire runtime grimacing and scowling, generally acting angry. He literately pulls the same facial expression in every shot and comes across as a bit of a shit to be honest, I found it hard to get behind his character. The other main characters are simply the honest gruff cop on Jimmy's tail played by Vincent D'Onofrio, a standard cliched character. Plus a hitman hired by Shawn who runs around kinda looking and acting like a black Terminator. Seriously the dude just goes with this blank emotionless stare and nothing else, hardly any dialog or anything, he's really trying for his best 1984 Arnie impersonation. What made me laugh is he actually starts killing cops and innocent people randomly when the action kicks in, if he's always done that then I'm pretty sure he would be top of the FBI hit list by now. Oh and he also wears a hi-tec night vision eye piece at one point too, which glows neon green, to make it easier for everyone to see he's up to something.

The movie is chock full of silly plot holes and moments that just seem daft. At the start when Danny is after Mike, there are gunshots going off all over the place, the pair are crashing through gardens, over fences, breaking things and generally causing a huge raucous. Yet no one seems to notice this, the cops aren't called, nothing, its as though they were doing all this in a deserted part of town. This leads me to the point where Jimmy shoots Danny, now Jimmy is a hitman, a crack shot, a professional killer, yet he couldn't shoot the kid in the shoulder or leg just to incapacitate him? I realise the kid was outta control and dangerous but Jimmy knew full well who he was and the retribution that would follow his actions, yet he kills him.

Then following on from this, Shawn knows that his kid was out of control, reckless and didn't listen to his specific instructions, he knows it wasn't Jimmy's fault. Yet he still turns on his best friend and puts a contract on his head. Yeah sure Jimmy killed his son, but he knew why, he knew Danny was a loose cannon in general and didn't follow his instructions on the night, surely in his line of work he would understand Jimmy's reactions and (understandably hesitantly) let it go. If it was just some random guy off the street then I'd understand it but Shawn knew Jimmy, they had been friends many many years, he surely would have known Jimmy did what he did as a last resort. When you're a mob boss you'd think the guy would be used to things like this happening and that he'd know sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, even if it means doing something you don't wanna do.

The final really stupid thing (I thought) was the finale. Jimmy has finally had enough with the feud so he goes to Shawn's very olde worlde stereotypically Irish looking pub and kills everyone. He literately strolls into the pub and guns down every one of Shawn's men quickly and efficiently without a second thought. Now surely if it was that easy, why didn't he just do this in the first place. Again I realise he would wait to see if he could fix things with Shawn but blimey if he was that good...why wait? Then the actual final sequence right at the end where Jimmy finally puts down the Terminator hitman (yeah spoiler, as if you didn't already guess he would kill the baddie hitman), is laughable. Such an epically, overdone and ludicrous moment of macho bullshit, and just to make sure, its done in slow motion baby.

Now while this is a very slick shiny action movie with a solid premise, its also very predictable and run of the mill. Yes I know I said it has a cool throwback vibe but that doesn't completely exonerate it. Its a glossy affair much like previous Neeson action thrillers and it offers virtually the same spiel, so if you like his new line of arse kicking then you'll like this. The only thing that really stood out here was the splendidly intimidating performance by Harris...and his Skeletor-like features. You basically get exactly what you pay for which is a self contained story about Liam Neeson being yet another 60+ year old Chuck Norris-type juggernaut.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

WolfCop (CA, 2014)

I had the silly idea that this movie could be a follow up to the 'Teen Wolf' movies, I mean if you think about it, it could be. We follow Scott Howard as a grown-up now with a career in the police force of some small local town. He's a bit of a wash-up, has kinda fallen by the wayside a bit, things didn't go the way he intended, and now he patrols his beat...whilst tearing up the odd criminal. Hey it could happen, never say never these days folks. But anyway this is actually a low budget, cheesy, grimy, horror thriller that parodies and homages those old cheesy, grimy horror flicks of the 80's (God bless em').

The movie follows the current modern trend of recreating those glorious old hammy 80's flicks, such as the Machete franchise,'The Guest', the Sin City franchise, the Hot Tub Time Machine franchise and the recent 'Kung Fury'. Indeed just by looking at the movies wonderful hand-drawn poster you can clearly see what they are going for, it's very old school and kinda looks similar to poster art for 'Vamp' (1986). You know what you're gonna get here, no excuses, no playing dumb, you know, the movie knows.

OK so the plot kinda disappointed me, I was kinda expecting some kind of rip-roaring wolf cop vs a gang of ruthless thugs scenario, 'Robocop' style. But what actually happens is this regular, alcoholic, useless cop gets called out to investigate some odd goings-on in the woods. He is set upon by occultists who proceed to turn him into a werewolf (lame, he should have been bitten or born a lycan), unbeknownst to him. By that I mean they apparently curse him with their powers and some bloodletting ceremony which we see in flashbacks. From this point on our slobby cop slowly discovers his powers and eventually turns into a big bad wolf, now the actions kicks in right? Errr not really.

You see the plot has this strong supernatural element to it whereby a group of shape-shifting lizard creatures (some townsfolk in disguise), want to sacrifice the werewolf so they can use the blood to strengthen their powers and continue doing what they're doing...which appears to be simply running a dead-end town. Here lies my problem with this movie, it doesn't feel like a badass werewolf flick, it feels like a silly TV movie or feature-length episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course a supernatural element is a given down to the werewolf inclusion, but the whole lizard shape-shifting idea is so utterly crap, it spoilt it...for me anyway. I really wanted to see a werewolf cop wiping out a nasty gang of hoodlums, the kind of hoodlums you really wanna see get killed off. Sure it would have been cliched and unoriginal but I think this type of idea needs that simple plot direction. I know werewolves are unrealistic but you could kinda believe, lizard people that shape-shift on the other hand, forget it.

Anyway we're all here for the werewolf so let's do this thing, the transformation and appearance. Well for the transformation the team behind this film have chosen the 'Van Helsing' route, and by that I mean the male in question appears to rip off his human skin to show the werewolf bursting from within him. He basically sheds his human skin to reveal his werewolf form. Personally I don't like this idea (didn't in 'Van Helsing' either), it begs the question...for the creature to transform back into a human, does the human form grow and burst from within the werewolf? Ripping/shedding the werewolf skin off as when transforming from human into werewolf. How does the bodies skin grow back so flawlessly? Wouldn't his face/body show signs of such an extreme form of transformation? I just don't see how it would work over and over, constantly transforming in that way. I don't understand why they didn't use the old fashioned method of simply having the human form painfully transform via extremely rapid bone/body mutation and growth. I guess this way is a good excuse for lots of gore huh, but I can't deny its all handled very well in that glorious 80's throwback style (think 'The Howling' meets 'An American Werewolf in London').

I should really add that the movies money shot, or claim to fame, must be the fact that its the penis that starts to transform first. Yes that's right, the first body part to sprout hair and enlarge rapidly is the cops cock, whilst he's having a pee. Yes you do see his cock, or at least a fake stunt cock, and yes you do see it transform. It's...original I'll give it that, most definitely a first for me.

The actual final appearance for the werewolf is a mixed bag also. Don't get me wrong I fully understand this isn't a mega-budget movie and they have done well no doubt. I just think maybe a little more work on the face was required, it lacked a true wolf-like punch as you could still see the actors human face beneath in parts. The eyes were great, the hair looked great too, nice ears and claws etc...but the mouth, teeth and around the nose, cheeks and forehead just lacked something if you ask me. The creature had good bulk to it though, it looked tough and strong.

The blood and gore effects throughout the movie are of course its highlight with plenty of face-slashing, head ripping, general dismemberment and gushing blood. When Wolf Cop attacks not one wall is left clean, hell I don't even need to talk about it much as I'm sure you can guess what happens. I will say there is one moment when Wolf Cop actually does rip a bad guys face off just leaving his skull. The unfortunate baddie is still alive and proceeds to run around screaming through his skull face, it makes you wince but the director turns it into a macabre moment of humour. Yes the movie is in fact a dark black comedy of sorts, it's not meant to be an out n out horror or taken seriously (lizard people a dead give away there). There are many funny little touches of gallows humour throughout which at times do work. Such as the freshly ripped-off face of the bad guy landing on the car windscreen of Wolf Cop's partner, with him freaking out about inside and trying to get it off with the wipers.

There are admittedly lots of amusing moments with clever use of visuals and dialog. For example a gang of store robbers are all wearing pig masks, The Three Little Pigs children's tale, the big bad wolf. Plus we hear the odd idiom or pun spoken such as 'crying wolf', 'the fuzz' etc...and it was strangely cool to see an alcoholic deadbeat werewolf that downs bottles of anything along with junk food. In fact we learn that alcohol has somehow made Wolf Cop stronger than previous werewolves, not sure how or why, don't question it eh. Alas along with the cool there was some other fluff I didn't like such as the wolfmobile. Wolf Cop actually has time in between killing bad guys to mod his cop car into some hideous Mad Max-esque grunge machine. Thing is it doesn't sound as cool as you're thinking, it looked awful! I also don't get why, at first, when Wolf Cop encounters bad guys with guns he hides from them, yet later on he is taking bullets all over the place, I guess he was unsure about being hit in the beginning. Plus, the less said about the werewolf sex scene the better, did that woman actually give a werewolf a blowjob?!

The cast is good with unknown newbie Leo Fafard really nailing the hairy werewolf image (just one of those guys with plenty of solid facial hair), he is also limited on dialog but it sorta works. Johnathan Cherry is the local cliched goofball type that catches on very quickly to what's going on. Amy Matysio plays another fellow cop and puts in a decent performance whilst also being cute as a button (looks a bit like Carrie-Anne Moss). Jesse Moss is the baddie gang leader who doesn't really do very much at all accept punish his own men severely, and Sarah Lind is the obligatory sexy bartender.

So it's not hard to work out this was never meant to be anything but a good time, a parody, virtually a fanboy/fan made flick. It has its up and downs, some things I liked, some things I didn't. On the whole it does come across as jumbled and unexplained, there is a lot of creativity and ideas jammed into this story but with too many loose ends. I think they may have gotten carried away and gone too far with the whole thing, they should have made it longer than 1 hour and 20 minutes!! It's pretty much a gimmick really, but clearly its had much time, love and attention lavished upon it with some excellent results. Personally I think it's great to see some good old fashioned practical skills on a limited budget, utilised to great effect (some lovely sleazy lighting effects to I might add). Still...I wanted to love this, but I have to admit it's not as good as I had hoped for. I get it, I get what the movie is aiming for, I just wish it hadn't gone down that specific route so much.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

Ah the term 'loosely based', it crops up so often these days, and here we are again, another movie loosely based on a comicbook of the same name (almost, the comic is not called Kingsman, so I wonder where they got that). The films title explains it all really, yes its another action spy thriller and yes that means all the same spiel we've seen over and over and over again, oh and its a British concoction, so zero originality then.

The story follows a young unemployed London chav by the name of Eggsy. I later learned the the actors real name is Egerton so has Vaughn merely allowed him to use his real life nickname? This young man's father was a Kingsman super spy killed in service saving his colleagues lives, so along comes Harry Hart (Colin Firth) to take Eggsy under his wing. What follows is the training process Eggsy goes under to try and achieve this super spy status, whilst at the same time a crazy billionaire is trying to eradicate or cull the human race. Its amazing how many billionaires are crazy people wanting to take over the world, never see any poor crazy people wanting to take over the world. I might also add this movie is a complete U-turn on its comicbook origins, hence that famous term 'loosely based'.

So the first half of the movie centres on Eggsy going through a rigorous training program to ascertain whether he has the right stuff. He is up against a small group of other youths who are all upper class types (for predictable comic relief of course) in an overly cliched load of sequences we've seen before in movies like 'Ender's Game'. Now I won't deny these sequences are by far the most interesting and enjoyable of the movie, I guess its morbid curiosity to watch these youths fight amongst themselves in deadly situations, even though we all know Eggsy will never die and will of course end up a Kingsman. Much like the entire film these sequences are completely outrageous. Example, they are all asleep in their dorm when the entire room quickly fills with water and they have to work out how not to drown. I'm pretty sure most people would have died here and it is quite laughable how long Eggsy seems to be able to hold his breath.

The same can be said for the weaponry and gadget sequences, we see a whole room full of various super spy gizmos that appear normal but are of course lethal. Its all of course a complete rip-off from the Bond universe yet it doesn't shy away from that, Vaughn knows what he's doing as do we, so you don't take it seriously. At the same time it was hard to fully engage myself in said scenes because everything I was seeing was so unoriginal and cliched its painful. Deadly pens, knife-tipped shoes, cigarette lighter grenades, electric shock inducing rings, bulletproof umbrellas with X-ray-esque vision etc...its fun but kinda boring too. On the other hand I did like the special glasses that enabled the user to see special holograms/information that couldn't be seen with the naked eye. The Kingsman board meeting was a clever little trick, apparently no one at the table, put on the special specs and there is actually a full table of holographic Kingsman elite.

Even though the movie is all about spy stuff its more about the quirky characters, more importantly, can it produce good quirky characters. Well yes and no, Colin Firth is easily the best character here simply because you can't picture Colin Firth in this kind of role as a super ass-kicking spy. So straight away he's a breath of fresh air to this genre, but naturally his traditional British public schoolboy looks, manner and speech all fit the bill perfectly. I'm still not overly sure how much of the fighting was actually Firth. As for new boy Egerton, well I'm not sure. I've seen and heard him in interviews and the guy is well spoken, so why on earth Vaughn had him speak and act like a chav with that dreadfully common street dialect and accent that certain youths in London use is beyond me. Straight away I didn't like the character, I hate listening to that speech pattern and the type of chavy people that force it when they don't actually speak that way (I had the same issue with UK film 'Attack the Block'). Oh and he's really buffed up too...because, like, everyone is always buffed up.

On the flip side it was nice to actually see Mark Strong not speak with a cockney accent for once, also nice to see him play a good guy too. His Scottish character was the Kingsman trainer or quartermaster if you will, his role builds in the background and ends up being in the forefront of the action. Twas surprising actually because you'd have put money on Strong's character being a twist in the plot. Personally I just wish Vaughn would break away from his cockney obsession (ditto Guy Ritchie), that whole thing has been done now, move on. I could say the same thing about using Michael Caine here.

As for the villain...*sigh!* its Samuel L. Jackson again folks, I'm sure you know. I'm sorry but I will not sugarcoat this, this man is a bland actor, he does the same shit in virtually everything he does, but because he has this 'cult cool' aura about him (thank you Tarantino), he keeps getting work. It was plainly clear to me Jackson was miscast here by a good country mile, he just didn't fit at all. Not only was he not threatening, he wasn't interesting, funny or diabolical in any real way. All they could come up with for this guy was giving him silly coloured baseball caps and a lisp...really? Way to earn that paycheck dude, this man is laughing all the way to the bank, for doing nothing.

I realise the film is suppose to be a parody of sorts, its playing on the old Bond themes with reckless brutality (they even poke fun at a few spy franchises and movies in general in the dialog), extreme amounts of blood and gore and insanely over the top sequences of action, but we've seen this all before!! What's even worse with this movie is the fact the CGI and greenscreen is clearly evident throughout, which in turn makes these action sequences look awfully hokey. Add to that copious amounts of slow motion and spinning camera angles all bathed in a slick shiny gloss that makes everything look, for lack of a better word, plastic.

I mean, yeah, I get it, a henchwoman with blades for legs, got it...errr...brilliant. She kills everyone with ease yet can't kill Eggsy at the end without having some ridiculously overlong needless 'Revenge of the Sith'-like battle. The vast amount of colour coordinated gun totting henchmen that literately miss at point blank range, and I mean point blank! its like how the fuck are you not killing Eggsy right now!! The film eventually seems to morph into this cheesyass, corny Austin Powers clone, but with violence instead of cheeky smut. Again, I get its suppose to be like this, I get its not to be taken seriously as an action movie, I hear that, but all I see is yet another simple rehash of ideas from various classic spy franchises. Simply being self aware, or a self aware movie, doesn't automatically grant it a pass for baloney, doesn't matter how old school.

I enjoyed the start of the movie, I liked the atmosphere, the Kingsman storefront and interior, the posh olde worlde wood paneled offices with dated antiquities within. I liked the training sequences, the other characters Eggsy was up against and I liked Firth's character. Once away from the training sections, the latter half of the movie I thought was just trashy and stupid with a poor villain, it didn't engage me at all. I am still wondering how this movie managed to become so popular, I think other countries go all gooey over British accents.


Friday, 5 June 2015

Everly (2014)

This is one of those movies you'd swear blind was directed by Luc Besson, you only have to look at the movies poster. The plot is not so much about a femme fatale but, as I'm sure you can guess, its about a female that does indeed manage to kill lots of ass. So, sexy female...check, sexy female brandishing huge guns...check, female character name is movie title...check...yeah that's about it really.

Its amazing how many times we've seen this idea these days, just off the top of my head there has been 'Colombiana', 'Lucy', 'Hanna' and of course going further back many more (you notice two of the movies I mention are Besson movies). Yeah so the plot (if you haven't already guessed) basically revolves around a mother who has been kidnapped by Japanese gangsters and used as a prostitute for the last 4 years. She has been held prisoner within a lavish block of flats the whole time. The film picks up at a point where she has managed to get a gun and kill off some of the mob. She is still trapped within the building, on the same floor, in the same apartment, but the gangster boss has put out a contract on her head, hence everyone after her. From this point onwards she must take down every gangster, hitman and crazy prostitute that comes at her.

We all know what to expect with this, its so blatantly obvious from the start, throw in a dash of Robert Rodriguez and a hint of Tarantino and voila. The action is fast and brutal in a true graphic novel style (think 'Kick-Ass'), there is a shittonne of gore and blood flying about and the movie makes no excuses for any of it. The movie actually plays out like a videogame of sorts, the heroine must take out each wave of bad guys as they increase in difficulty, until she manages to reach the final end of game boss. Naturally each opponent is different from the last to spice things up, you have standard suit wearing thugs bearing guns, crazy skimpily clad hookers bearing knives, freaks in traditional Japanese dress with demonic Hannya masks, tooled up gangster S.W.A.T. teams, and finally the smartly dressed, smooth talking boss.

Our heroine, played by Salma Hayek, is sexy as you would expect, she looks good holding these big guns and knives, and she a bigass Japanese tattoo on her back which is lovely. Her weakness is the fact she's not an out and out powerhouse of a person, she's not a killer, she's a mother with child. To escape her predicament she must learn to kill and look the other way, which she does pretty quickly.  Its also handy that she appears to be invincible, she gets shot right at the start, admittedly just a flesh wound but still...wouldn't she slowly bleed out? Although she does pick up one wound after another up until the finale, but she manages to do very well against trained killers and assassins.

Other than the fact the film is obviously not to be taken seriously and picked apart (I'll do that anyway), you can't help but roll your eyes and wonder why. At the very start Everly could quite easily have left the building as far as I'm concerned, but she messes around talking to an injured gangster. During the whole movie there are ample amounts of weaponry lying around from killed bad guys, surely she could tool up herself and shoot her way out, why stay in the apartment? I also find it amazingly hard to imagine no one else in this block, or the surrounding area, thought to call the police. All the gunfire, screams, blood, explosions etc...and nothing! yeah sure the bad guys clear the block and probably have influence in the area but Jesus someone surely would have, even a passer by. Nope the cops all conveniently turn up at the end when everything has finished. At the start Everly is escorted back into the apartment when she does try to leave (eventually), I'm guessing they were bend cops or security guards?

The cardinal sin which I really can't get my head around in this movie is the point when Everly gets her mother and daughter to come to the apartment. OK both of them are under threat from the gangsters and she wants to protect them...but telling them to come into the gangster nest?? into the shitstorm!! What does she expect to do?? she brings them directly into the line of fire where anything can happen, surely it would have been better to get them to go to the nearest police station or flee the city.

Yes the movie is very slick, highly stylised and it does boast some quirky bad guys and hardcore action sequences. The problem is we've seen this literately a fuckzillion times before, Besson himself has done the same shit over and over again and no matter how gloriously bloody and over the top it is, that doesn't change. Going back to the movies poster, you can see what its about, you don't even have to look anything up (its just the same as the 'Colombiana' poster!). Yes there are gonna be people who love this kind of thing, I do like a good action flick myself, but this whole premise has been ridiculously milked to the point of no return. The film also suffers from nasty CGI tampered action and blood shots which always look obvious and hokey.

If you like a rampaging action fest with bucket loads of blood and fighting then this is for you. The movie offers nothing more than that, there is no real story or backstory, nothing is really meant to be serious or make much sense, the action is deliberately outrageous, the dialog and acting is generally below par...and the director knows it. That was clearly the aim, no excuses, bang for your buck. On that front it succeeds, but overall its an all too common thing which offers absolutely nothing new, as such for me I found it completely boring.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Monsters: Dark Continent (UK, 2014)

The original small budget British sci-fi was pretty much made entirely by Gareth Edwards, unfortunately he went on to much bigger things with 'Godzilla' (and now a Star Wars spin-off), so he couldn't direct this sequel. This was probably the main cause of this movies downfall, the next would be everything else the new director and writer decided to do, or not do. I mean look at the films poster, looks fantastic right, troops on the ground in the desert, explosions behind them, monsters towering in the air, and above all that lots of chopper appear to be facing off against the monsters. It looks like a cheesy B-movie but it looks fun, false advertising much? I'd also like to ask why everyone calls these creatures monsters when they're clearly space aliens or extraterrestrial life. It sounds ridiculous because everyone knows monsters live under your bed.

K so the story follows a group of US soldiers from their rough neighbourhood in Detroit to their new post somewhere in the Middle East, think Iraq, just don't say it. These guys are a typical bunch of foul-mouthed, trigger happy, egotistical macho-men wannabes that are completely unlikable from the off. Their hometown area in Detroit is basically a ghetto which the lead youngster claims to hate (through much solemn narration), but he seems to love being a ghetto boy to me, with his homies. An early scene showing the guys at an underground illegal dog fight between a dog and baby monster (alien) is pretty grim, right there I no longer gave a f**k about these guys.  To top that the guys then embark on a final night out with prostitutes, booze and cocaine! despite one of them recently having a baby with his wife!!

Once in the mystery Middle Eastern country of Iraq the young new recruits are introduced to their stereotypical, ultra masculine squad leaders. This is the part in the movie where they rip-off every other military movie (but mainly 'Aliens' yet again) with much uber macho posturing, more profanity and general displays of all-male, red-blooded manliness. Its also around now when every time these guys do anything, some rock music kicks in, every time. Eventually I realised the director is kinda trying to make his own modern day Nam flick with modern day tunes. It is also quite clear that the director is trying way way too hard, I get what you're wanting to do here but dude seriously, back off, all you have achieved is making me not like any of your characters.

So this team of butch, hot-headed, jingoistic soldiers get sent on a mission to rescue some other soldiers from deep within this desert filled country. Oh you might have thought I forgot about the monsters, you remember them? they're suppose to be the main focal point of the plot. Well it just so happens that the monsters from the first movie have evolved and...caught a plane to the Middle East I guess (they were in Mexico in the first movie) because now they're breeding there. Apparently the US has been bombing the living snot outta these space monsters trying to keep them under control, unfortunately, and rather amusingly (and typical of humans), they have also been accidentally bombing the living snot outta the locals too. This in turn has caused an insurgence against American forces, so now the troops have to deal with aliens AND angry Middle Eastern countrymen that all look remarkably like terrorists.

The aliens (or monsters) in the movie are rendered faithfully in CGI and do look terrific I must say. The huge leggy creatures slowly stomp across the desert terrain with grace and actually look beautiful in the process, like a herd of slow moving elephants. At the same time there are new breeds that are more like horses or buffalo, they gallop across the desert in packs, almost in a 'Jurassic Park'-like stampede. These creatures also look really good, great design and of course in full CGI, but not obviously. The problem is the monsters don't actually feature in this movie!! they are literately a background element, window dressing. They do appear more than in the first movie but they don't actually do anything, a bit of sniffing around, knocking down the odd building or structure, the odd lurch at a human. They never attack anyone, eat anyone or cause any kind of threat ever! this leads me to wonder why the Yanks are so intent on wiping them out (stupid question).

This fact also leads into the traumatic human element of the movie. Bottom line, this movie is all about this team of soldiers and their harrowing fight for survival against the insurgents after they get ambushed (not the monsters/aliens...whatever). This has nothing to do with the monsters at all, the monsters aren't a threat, so to that degree you can understand why the native folk are so angry with the US soldiers, the aliens aren't doing anything, the Americans are causing mass destruction. Thing is I don't think the director/writer actually intended that, its just how the story came out. They clearly wanted to make a gritty, contemporary war film chock full with the horrors of war, morals, human values...and then bolted on the space monsters as an after thought (in the background).

The whole theme is very obviously an analogy for the war in Iraq. Innocents getting killed, children starving and living in bombed out shacks, towns destroyed, infrastructure gone etc...Its all here filmed in the most predictable cliched way possible, shaky cam, moments of deafening loudness, moments of shell shocking induced silence, slow motion, overexposed shots, lots of shouting, grimacing and a bucket load of man tears. Think 'Black Hawk Down' thrown into a blender with 'Cloverfield', but the aliens don't do anything.

The film does actually look really slick, the whole thing has been well shot with plenty of care and attention to detail. The filming location of Jordan helps ten fold offering some exquisite natural beauty which in turn gave the director the opportunity to capture some truly spiritual scenes. The long distant shots of these herds of huge aliens set against the desert dawn, dusk or brilliant daylight, are stunning, some shots reminded me of Halo honesty. So yes the film does look excellent at times, it is highly realistic, at times punishing and brutal and its well made. Had this been the directors own stand alone war flick (and nothing to do with 'Monsters'), I'd be giving a different write up. On that front its very good, its not very original now but like I said, its well made. Alas its suppose to be a sequel to 'Monsters' and clearly this isn't. The director has clearly gotten lost and carried away with his own pet project.