Friday, 29 June 2018

Death Wish (2018)

Did we ever need a remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson classic? (itself an adaptation of a novel). The simple story of outright vigilantism which was actually condemned in the original novel but virtually championed and celebrated in the movie adaptation. Not that there's anything wrong with a good revenge story, heck there are many Hollywood movies featuring various action stars that centre on revenge against a specific villain or group. But a tale of urban vigilantism against common criminals? A job best left for the police. A man declaring himself judge jury and executioner? Clearly it drags up moral questions. Clearly its gonna be controversial, but surely that makes it more

Now this is an Eli Roth directed movie, so its pretty obvious from the start to not expect anything overly deep (not that the original was either). But that's not to say he didn't have a bloody good go at sticking in some relevant political commentary. Yes believe it or not this isn't a love letter to conservative gun nuts across the American south (not too much anyway). I'm still not too sure why he felt the need to cast Bruce Willis in the lead role though. Surely there are plenty of middle aged blokes you could of cast that don't look quite so fed up with life? No not flippin' Liam Neeson again (good grief!), but this was a good chance to maybe go against cast with someone methinks.

The movie itself does hark back to all those adult action thrillers of the 80's and early 90's that would pop up outta nowhere, sometimes good sometimes bad. A basic revenge thriller with plenty of violence, blood, a menacing bunch of villains, and a man of little words anti-hero type. Of course its more grounded urban setting will cause people to reflect more upon our current society; but at the end of the day I really don't see that as anything overly negative. No more so than many other violent action flicks I've seen over the course of my lifetime.

As for the plot, whilst surgeon Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is talking about going out on a specific night, the car valet overhears and gets their home address from the cars navi system. On said night whilst Paul is working late three men break into their house. Unfortunately Paul's wife and daughter come home and are attacked leaving his wife dead and daughter in a coma. Over time Paul becomes frustrated with the police and their slow progress so he decides to take matters into his own hands.

Political Commentary: Paul Kersey buys a gun. Kersey enters a gun store to buy a weapon after getting a minor beating from two street punks/thugs/hoodlums/underrepresented (whatever is politically correct to say these days). The interior is of course like a candy store for anyone interested in guns and killing. The employee behind the counter is a young sexy blonde with big bewbs (to draw in males like moths to a flame). When Kersey starts to talk about permits, licenses, waiting times etc...the young sexy employee merely mocks the idea of it all, casually suggesting special deals for fast access. The entire sequence is literal gun porn both visually and audibly. Deliberately over the top and in your face. Now one could say that Roth is pointing out the real need for gun control here because even though this is a farcical scene, its also dangerously close to reality? On the other hand maybe he's mocking the  perceived anti-gun notion of how pro-gun folk look and behave.

Then there are the scenes where Kersey is shown learning how to clean a gun, look after it, unload, load, and of course fire a gun...all via the internet. This obviously showcases how easy it can be for anyone to get online and learn how to use a deadly weapon, even to the point of using it proficiently. This harks back to all the You-Tube trouble recently with all kinds of videos being taken down or demonitised for showcasing gun content.

Then there is the scene where Kersey is at his wife's funeral with her parents. Driving back to the family home Kersey's father-in-law pulls over and shoots at some poachers on his land. I'm guessing this is an epiphany moment for Kersey when he realises that maybe he should take matters into his own hands. Maybe he should get a gun and start to hunt for his wife's killers himself. Of course this is wrong and he really shouldn't be thinking (or doing) that; but on the other hand you can understand his emotions.

The inevitable montage where different people react to the ever increasing vigilante incidents in the city. The internet is alive with grim reaper (the nickname the public christen him) fever as Kersey's hits go viral. Naturally many people in the city are somewhat pleased someone is standing up for the common people, standing up against the rotten element. On the other hand many are fearful, they don't like a lone man handing out his own brand of justice on the streets. Will this increase violence? Will it encourage racial/targeted attacks? What are the police doing about it?

But then there are the typical Hollywoodisms that even a movie like this just can't help but include. Kersey becomes a successful vigilante known as the grim reaper because of his all black attire and hoodie. But he wears this every time, even when he goes to a nightclub looking for the main villain. Surely a lone male dressed in all black with a hoodie, going into a club at night, might raise some suspicion (all things considered). Then the duo eventually end up having a shoot out in the bogs where the bad guy misses Kersey at near point blank range...ugh!! Then at the end of all this carnage, with all the club patrons screaming and running for their lives, Kersey strolls out still wearing his black hoodie! Because that doesn't look highly suspicious does it...geez!

Alas the gun action and general violence does go somewhat over the top towards the end also. The stories violent encounters start off in a suitably grounded fashion which works well for the most part. But as things progress the gun fights and violence becomes more outlandish with more moments of deus ex machina rendering the realism as defunct. Its also very clear that Roth is unable to keep his gore fetish under control as he injects this into certain scenes which just feels so misplaced (maybe he should of put more effort into Willis' suffering character). Kersey captures one of the main villains at one point and tortures him, but not before he sticks him into this elaborate death trap ala Saw which ends up crushing his head. A sense of rightful vengeance? I guess so, but it just feels way too over the top because no one would go to those lengths, would also be quite time consuming. Most people would simply get the info and then shoot them.

So yeah, is this a controversial movie? No not really. Is this an irresponsible movie? No not really. Was the release bad timing? In America when is good timing?? Is this a bad movie? Actually no it isn't. Is this a good movie? Well its not great but its perfectly acceptable as an action thriller that does exactly what it says on the tin. You know what you're going for here, you know what to expect, and you get it. And in all honesty, apart from the silly gore in places, the silly Hollywoodisms, and the off casting of Willis (who does actually show some decent form here and there), this is generally engaging and OK. Yeah its a tale as old as time but no one complained when Neeson did it about five times on the I right? Course I am.


Friday, 22 June 2018

Ready Player One (2018)

This movie has been on the books for quite some time, quite some time indeed. Hell rights to the novel (by Ernest Cline) had been won via auction before the novel had even been released! (novel released in 2010). Its another novel which I had heard of in part here and there, mainly due to its nostalgic content, but I've never felt inclined to read it or look into it. But this project really started to gather steam when Spielberg got onboard to direct; that's when most people sat up and took notice.

The Plot: Yeah its generic, its you're typical 80's fantasy type plot line, but that is the whole point. Its the future of 2045 and almost everyone spends much of their time in a virtual world known as the Oasis. Its creator, the late James Halliday (Mark Rylance) put a contest inside his virtual world before he died. You must find three keys which will in turn unlock an easter egg. Whoever finds this easter egg will win ownership of the Oasis. With that we follow a teenager called Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his various virtual friends as they try to discover the keys to unlock the easter egg whilst trying to avoid the clutches of the evil Innovative Online Industries (IOI) company with the same objective.

OK so the absolute unadulterated lure or hook with this movie is of course the expansive collection of nostalgic characters, objects, vehicles, songs, toys, comics etc; all from a vast range of movies, books, anime, comics, and videogames. In short this movie uses and pays homage to popular pop culture from various decades spanning the 70's right through to the early 00's. This alone was enough to secure the interest of many people (myself included) who may have not been up to speed on the original novel. The mere thought of seeing so many classic characters crossover in one movie was enough to make any nerdy geek cum in his pants.

But is that all this movie has?? It that the only shiny trinket that Spielberg can muster and dangle before you like some...shiny trinket, slathered in retro sauce. Well kinda...Essentially this movie sorta plays out like a Where's Wally? for decades worth of pop culture. I constantly found myself merely looking out for various characters that I'd heard were in the film, characters that were rumoured to be in the film, or simply scouring each frame for hidden easter eggs. So much so that I pretty much forgot to pay much attention to the actual plot of the fecking movie. Now is this my fault? Well yes it is but alas the plot is so mundane and generic you really shouldn't worry about it. And that's the main problem here.

In between looking for all your fave heroes and heroines from various franchises, in the background there is a rather boring plot revolving Wade Watts trying to find these three keys by decoding and deciphering various clues hidden within the Oasis. Yeah it is kinda dull to be honest, its even worse with the live action scenes that are not in the Oasis. But I do understand that aspect of it. The Oasis is supposed to be this realm people escape to for fun. The real world is obviously depressing, boring, difficult etc...So yeah I get that but it still didn't help me in liking this overall. Also didn't help that the real world in this movie looked weird. Like everyone was living in a giant junkyard or something, eh? Yeah poor I get it, but giant junkyards? What is this a tacky 90's videogame adaptation?

Anyway Watts is assisted by some other players which all have their own avatars just as Watts does. These generally look like your standard videogame type creations. Big muscles, bionic body parts, tight outfits, and huge weapons. Said clues seemed almost impossible to fathom out in my opinion as all were personal to Halliday; and even with dipping into his personal files it still came across as utterly unbelievable that the protagonists managed to work them out. At the same time the entire notion that no one has ever managed to work anything out until Watts comes along is just too convenient for me. I know I just said they seemed hard to work out but surely someone could of done at least one. Its almost feels like Watts and his mates are the only people actually looking properly and even when they do uncover secrets still no one else manages it.

This also leads me to some parts of the movie such as Watts winning the vehicle race after discovering a cheat. A cheat?? That kinda felt...well like cheating. I know its a hidden secret but again it also came across as so flippin' hard to uncover (because the clues seemed so obscure, to me at least) I still can't believe Watts even managed to find it. He got it from watching that archive video of Halliday...which apparently no one else has ever thought of ever doing. Kind of like 'The Shining' sequences (in the book it was 'Blade Runner') where yet again absolutely no one has apparently ventured or tried to uncover anything despite how suspiciously key laden that area might appear.

Now whilst all this is going on there is the rather predictable and cliched evil company that is chasing after Watts and co, after the same prize. These guys generally exist to give the good guys something to eliminate in the videogame world during the movies set pieces. A never ending stream of avatars to take out at various stages. They are led by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) who is (along with IOI) the most stereotypical corporate slimeball villain ever. He looks devious and untrustworthy and by golly he is devious and untrustworthy, in case you don't pick it up in the first five minutes.

I also didn't get how IOI are able to imprison people and use them as virtual slaves in this reality; because it doesn't come across as particularly backwards in that sense outside of their walls. There are police and they do arrest Sorrento at the end come IOI had this massive slavery thing going on? And I did have to giggle at the moment where Watts finally meets Halliday (dead?) and almost accidentally erases the entire Oasis because of a large red uncovered button. Like what the hell was that about? Was that supposed to be a joke because it came across as simply dumb.

The first action sequence we get is the Wacky Racers type event with all sorts of classic motors on display. Its a wickedly cool idea I'm sure many people have played out in their minds before but here is merely came across to me as a mass of indecipherable CGI. Again I was mainly too focused on trying to see what easter eggs lay in the background as the DeLorean DMC-12 thundered around the urban track (why didn't he just use the fly mode?). Twas certainly cool to see all these vehicles charging around (who remembers the Bigfoot monster truck??) but it was also so chaotic it was hard to follow. Naturally things got even more chaotic and CGI laden when we reached the big final showdown between IOI and a legion of Oasis gamers. Holly Spectrum talk about a retro clash of the titans. If you ever wanted to see The Iron Giant take on various other franchise characters such as MechaGodzilla or Gundam, well I guess its your birthday.

But in all honesty, is that all this is??? Just a middle aged retro collectors wet dream of seeing all his shelf 'collectables' (toys) fighting each other in a massive cinematic version of a sprawling videogame beat 'em up (Marvel vs. Capcom). Yes it all looks great and yes it is very cool to see all these different characters and franchises clash and mix but I just can't get past that aspect of it. That is literally all there is to this movie because the rest is boring as hell. And are you telling me that this virtual world would have a power-up/pick-up weapon that could effectively kill every single player in the entire virtual world wiping their records?? Why would that be included?? Why??!! Surely that just screams problems.

Essentially this is a love letter of sorts to various decades gone by, but mainly the 80's. Its probably the closest I will ever come to one movie encompassing everything I have grown up with to this point. A cinematic archive of pop culture I (and many others) have slowly grown old with since my birth back in 1978. I appreciate it, I appreciate everything about this movie and I must thank all involved for bringing it to the big screen. But nevertheless the film was ultimately a bit of an anti-climax for me. It seemed to promise so much but in my eyes failed to deliver overall. What is there left for me to say? Well at least, thanks for the memories.

(The Zemeckis Cube: Essentially a Rubix Cube allowing time travel. When activated a few musical notes from 'Back to the Future' play. A mishap of retro knowledge in 2045, but oh so cool)


Monday, 18 June 2018

Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

Giant robots vs giant monsters, part 2. Giant robots merely punching giant monsters, part 2. Godzilla rip-off/clone/homage (however you wanna look at it) vs giant robots, part 2. 'Rampage 2' without Dwayne Johnson. Yet another giant monster destroying a city, part 2. CGI onslaught, part 2. Transformers vs giant monsters. There are many ways to describe this movie; but the one way you cannot describe this it actually being a good movie.

The Plot: Giant monsters (Kaiju, whatever) from dimension X came from the depths of the ocean to destroy mankind in the original, mankind fought back with giant robots (Jaegers, whatever) and won. This time more giant monsters from dimension X come back from the depths of the ocean to destroy mankind again. Spoiler alert, mankind fights back and wins again. Moving on...oh wait this movie also tees up a possible third sequel because of course it does.

So its illegal for people to build their own Jaegers, something I didn't quite understand really because you'd think in this universe it could be useful. Lets think about this, you have the possibility of giant monsters returning to wipe out mankind. The only way to (reasonably) stop them is with giant robots. So if clever innovative people are able to build Jaegers on their own with random bits and pieces, isn't that maybe a good thing? Use that to your advantage. Sure I can understand the issue of rogue Jaegers or 'unlicensed' Jaegers running around, but if that's your only concern in a world where giant monsters could rise from the depths and take a massive dump on your city, well maybe change your priorities.

Anyway its ten years later and the story now focuses on the son of one of the lead characters in the original movie (note, not actually the lead character). Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) is the stereotypically wild card son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who steals Jaeger parts and sells them on the black market. Naturally Jake used to be a hot young top gun in the Pan-Pacific Defence Corps but quit because of the burden of expectations of his fathers reputation...blah blah blah. But guess what! Now he's back in the PPDC after getting caught stealing some Jaeger shit and given the choice of that or prison. Luckily his old co-pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) is still around to help him out and generally look and act all grizzled and tough. Because that's what all military trainers are like, apparently.

Not only do we have those incredibly bland and predictable cliches, we also have the usual team of good looking young recruits for Jake to mould in his own image. Of course this being 2018 the recruits are a hand picked and completely unrealistic diverse bunch of kids; you know just to appease everyone just in case. Its whilst watching all this cringeworthy macho bullshit in the PPDC that you fully understand the influence China has on Hollywood these days (in case you hadn't noticed before). Of course you can't really blame Hollywood seeing as they owe it to China for saving the first movie; so its really no surprise that this movie is virtually dedicated to the East.

Looking at the battles (the entire main crux of this movie), yeah they're mighty impressive with all that glossy CGI, but what did you expect?? But lets be real for a minute here, take the first battle in Melbourne, Australia. Yeah the whole city is pretty much obliterated with, I can only assume, hundreds of thousands of deaths, but this is not touched upon. Then you have the big finale battle in Tokyo which takes up most of the damn movie. Once again the destruction is on a GRAND scale the likes of which I don't think we've witnessed before. Tokyo like Melbourne is (in parts) utterly decimated. Hell the human controlled Jaegers even use the fecking buildings as weapons at one point! Did they even check there were any humans in those buildings??

The monsters and Jaegers throw each other around smashing into various buildings as if for fun! And when either aren't falling into buildings, they're swinging around on them or simply barging them over for fecks sake. I simply cannot convey the amount of carnage in this movie, its literally colossal. Its so unbelievably epic it just becomes a farce; surely a staggering human death toll but who cares eh. Funnily enough despite the inescapable death toll you never actually see any humans on the ground anywhere during these battles. The CGI cities are totally barren of any human life apparently. Oh and what the flip was all that shit with some Jaegers being taken over by Precursor (the aliens that control the monsters) brains! So not only do the Jaegers get their brain/core taken over, the Jaegers actually morph into robot monster hybrids at the same time?? What??

I think the one moment where I completely switched off was the point in which the Jaegers started performing martial arts moves. I mean I guess you've gone this far with this crap you might as well just go the whole hog right. And then they launch Gipsy Avenger into orbit so they can freefall the thing directly onto the last remaining monster (there were three but they all morphed together like a big organic Transformer), oy vey!

In essence this movie is pretty much a mix of Transformers, Voltron, Godzilla...and amazingly for this sequel Power Rangers. The sight of these Jaegers being piloted by these young annoyingly cocky hotshots, each with different skills and abilities, was cringeworthy.  Not to mention the cringeworthy performances from Boyega and Eastwood both trying to be stoic funny and ice cool in every scene. Just before the final battle Pentecost turns to his young recruits and claims he can't make rousing speeches in the heat of the moment. He then continues to give a (cringeworthy) rousing speech in the heat of the moment.

For me this comes across as yet another movie that falls under the 'if it had been released in the 90's it probably would have been a big hit' category. Obviously self explanatory and I fully believe this. This isn't a terrible movie per say, its solid sci-fi, its just too late in the day. Overall this movie just feels incredibly dated on every level (except for the effects obviously). But the most heinous crime of all is the fact they totally mullered a pretty decent concept from the original movie. Yes the first movie was big and flashy, but they still managed to somehow go stupidly incoherently overboard here.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Tomb Raider (2018)

So Tomb Raider was a game from Core Design that was released back in 1996 primarily for the Sony Playstation. Many sequels followed over the years taking us up to the 2013 release which was a reboot of the games series. This 2013 version gave us a new in depth look into the origins of the games protagonist, Lara Croft. This 2018 movie is an adaptation of the 2013 game reboot whilst also being a reboot of the first two Tomb Raider movies from 2001 and 2003.

A Tsunami of Cliches (the plot): The most generic plot they have come up with? Yep.

Lara (Alicia Vikander) is essentially a mega rich British woman thanks to her fathers business of whatever. But for some reason Lara is not interested in accepting her fathers inheritance because reasons. Her father Richard (Dominic West) disappeared whilst searching for Himiko, a mythical Queen who was said to have power over life and death. Richard is presumed dead (of course). So after much personal angst and discovering the stereotypical hidden chamber stocked with clues, Lara goes off on an intrepid adventure in search of her dad.

Briefly, she meets up with a good looking toned Chinese bloke. She convinces him to help her. They both sail off to find this mysterious island set right in the middle of a treacherous section of the Pacific (where no on ever survives type scenario). They get shipwrecked on the island. Lara gets 'rescued' by what turns out to be the bad guys. The bad guys work for a dodgy company who are also after this mystical supernatural power. The bad guys are all big muscular blokes carrying large automatic weapons. They find the location of the mystical Queens tomb. Its chock full of booby traps. They get past all the booby traps. All the bad guys get killed. Lara makes it out alive as the whole place comes tumbling down. Generic enough for you?

The start of this movie doesn't really help. Lara is in London working for as a bike courier and decides to enter into this rather childish game of chase for money. Basically loads of blokes try to catch her and grab this fox tail off her bike (essentially a flag) before she can reach a certain destination, I think? The entire sequence looks lame and stupid. Its cringeworthy because the whole time there is this rock soundtrack playing in the background as if the entire sequence is supposed to be 'kewl'; like its some kind of extreme sports around west London, pfft! All the guys chasing her have these extreme haircuts, shades, clearly expensive bike gear, inked and pierced up etc...Its so flippin' pathetic.

But at least that sequence was real in real locations. Unfortunately so much of this movie looks fake because its bolstered with tonnes of CGI. The now infamous waterfall sequence which we all saw in the trailers, yeah it looks terrible. The bomber looks terrible, the rapids look terrible, and Vikander copy and pasted against it all looks terrible. Speaking of that bomber, kinda looked like a WWII plane. That in itself would be a huge discovery...but who cares! No time for that. Literally everything Lara does in this movie is against bloody obvious CGI. All the set piece backdrops, every time she leaps across something (in cliched slow motion), hangs from something, stands in front of something.

Not only that but Lara is bloody useless in this movie too. She literally spends the whole time getting beaten to a pulp by various blokes, only occasionally does she manage to actually win...kinda. I mean on one hand that's more realistic for sure but blimey does she take a beating in this. Lara also takes a huge amount of damage ranging from really nasty landings from heights, getting struck by objects, and even getting a puncture wound in the belly! Its like they went for realism in terms of fighting blokes, but went down the videogame invincibility route for surviving really nasty incidents.

The whole bit with Lara finding her dad was incredibly incredibly predictable and cliched. I mean it was so fudging obvious right from the start. The fact it actually happened and director Roar Uthaug tried to make it surprising just made me facepalm. Not only that but naturally her dad just happens to have a bow and arrow with him, something that Lara just happens to be a dab hand at (ugh!! please!). So now Lara's running around with an apparent unlimited supply of arrows. Oh and all the bad guys drop dead straight away after being shot by an arrow, stone dead instantly.

Lets take a quick look at the bad guys who are led by Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) and who all work for the shadowy Hyd...I mean Trinity organisation. Well as I said before they're pretty much you're bog standard merc type in movies these days. All roided up with hipster beards and tattoos. There only appears to be about six of them at first but their numbers become inexplicably bigger during an action sequence. Suddenly there are loads of guys just waiting to get shot with guns or arrows. The only bad guy of any worth is of course Vogel. A solid slimy villain who is quite happy to kill people. The rest are just background fodder for weapons and booby traps.

I find it amusing in movies like this how both the protagonist and antagonist are looking for one specific item and often ignore everything else. Like in this movie they discover this ancient tomb with wall to wall treasures such as ancient text on walls, markings, various artifacts, what looked like precious gems or stones to stop a booby trap etc...Heck even the various skeletons lying around the place could be historically important. But they always totally ignore all that, often allowing the stuff to get destroyed in the process.

Frankly the entire movie is a snooze fest until Lara and co reach the subterranean tomb of Himiko. There we get some nice thrills with the booby traps but even that can't detract from the fact its retreading very familiar ground from a certain Spielberg/Lucas franchise. I mean they virtually copy some aspects beat for beat to a degree. I quite liked the notion that this ancient mystical power turns out to be a deadly potent disease. But then they absolutely ruined it by going down this zombie-esque state route. I mean honesty, hasn't that whole angle been totally milked dry already, come on guys.

I quite liked how they made the movie a bit more adult orientated, a bit dark. Its was also acceptable that Lara wasn't a superhero type character all the time, although I felt she did need to be a bit tougher at times. Its a fine balance I know but Lara did seem a bit sidelined in her own movie at times (maybe that's just me). But overall I'm pretty shocked at how generic this was and the fact they copied other movies.


Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)

The insatiable appetite of the Crites continues in this inevitable sequel.

It seems the bounty hunters missed a small batch of Crite eggs when they were last on Earth. You'd think they would have known to check for something like that considering they are bounty hunters and apparent experts in various alien lifeforms such as the Crites. Alas no, the professional bounty hunters bungled their last job by forgetting to check for eggs. Oh yeah and its Easter time on Earth. Crite it. So after a brief hologram message from some wiry alien creature (must be the new space prison boss. The last hovering alien was probably fired for f*cking up and allowing the Crites to escape, probably), the bounty hunters are off to Earth yet again for another ultra destructive rescue mission.

So lets just address the most obvious change here. This franchise started after the classic 1984 horror comedy 'Gremlins', yet it was apparently written before. This critter sequel came out in 1988, two years before the sequel to 'Gremlins' in 1990. And still, like the original films the similarities between the sequels are easy to spot. Where as the original movies (both 'Critters' and 'Gremlins') were basically horror comedies with a somewhat semi-serious dark thrilling vibe; the sequels go down the comedy route.

Everything in this movie is one step up, more in your face, more lunacy, more cartoonish. But lets be clear, this isn't a goofy spoof which 'Gremlins 2' kinda turned out like. No this is still a semi dark, thriller-esque horror comedy for sure, it just has more laughs at the Crites expense. The Crites themselves have definitely gone down the cartoon route for certain scenes. They are still threatening and make you wanna pull your feet away from the edge of the couch; but at the same time they are now used as the butt of some definite goofy visual gags. Nevertheless this movie doesn't ever go down the meta/self-referential route for its gags, it doesn't satirise the original movie. The basic plot still holds up and plays out.

So lets have a look at the plot. Well its the same as before only more! More Crites, more feeding, more blood, more gore etc...Oh and Charlie is now a bounty hunter. Why is Charlie (Don Opper) a bounty hunter? Beats me, no clue why Ug would allow this clearly weak human to accompany him into space as a trainee. We even see how bad Charlie is at the job at the start. Meanwhile on Earth Brad (Scott Grimes) is all grown up now and visiting Grover's Bend to see his gran (conveniently). For some reason Brad has a bully problem from a guy called Wesley (in a very 'Back to the Future II'-esque scene). Not sure why this guy was in the movie. And Sheriff Harv has now been recast with the younger (at the time, I think) Barry Corbin who was at one time the main man to cast for any authority figure...usually in a small town type scenario. This guy is the most Texan Texan I've ever seen; his name should be Tex Stetson McSixShooter.

One of the big attractions with this sequel (for all us dirty minded underage boys at the time) was of course Ug's partner in crime (now called Lee). In the first movie his gimmick was shape-shifting between various human forms for comedic effect. This time things got a bit more grown-up, a bit more seedy; dare I say a more lowbrow hook or carrot on a stick. Yep this time Lee shape-shifts into a hot sexy blonde with big boobs that adorned a Playboy magazine cover that Charlie finds lying around in a field (as if). I should also point out that not only does Lee's face change, his body changes too. Complete with firm arse, huge boobs (that inflate like balloons complete with whining sound), and even a nice tight thong. Because of course that would be included in his shape-shifting.

The other big draw with this movie was the Crite special effects. Basically the new tricks and gimmicks the puppets could do and the various comedic ways in which they got killed. And with that we see critters getting blown to pieces with the bounty hunter space guns. Getting run over and squashed flat. Boiled in a vat of chip fat until lobster red and bald. Electrocuted in a very cartoonish manner. Biting on a car tyre and inflating like a critter balloon. Splattered against a wall. Seeing Crite facial expressions such as their little eye bulging out of their head when scared. And the coup de grĂ¢ce, where all the Crites join together like an organic Transformer to form the giant critter ball which eats people alive as it snowballs along. Everyone loved that bit, the bit where the critter ball rolls over some guy reducing him to a quivering bloody skeleton in its trail.

Quick note, Ug transforms/morphs into a critter in this movie. That is something new which leads to questions such as, why did he not do this before? Surely that would have helped in the first movie. How can he do this?? It is kinda assumed these shape-shifters can only transform their face, but in this movie it seems they can transform their entire body shape and even size! So clearly the goalposts are being moved to suit the plot here, which is fine I guess (this is a B-movie), but also troublesome for consistency.

So what's the lowdown? Well I'd say this movie is pretty much on par with the first movie. The original is more of a genuine horror thriller with reasonable jump scares and tension; the sequel is more of a horror comedy with more silly Crite hijinks. Both movies are good stand alone flicks, both are easy to follow, and both deliver exactly what you would expect. Some folks will prefer the original and some will prefer the sequel, and that's completely understandable. Myself now, I think I slightly prefer the original as it takes itself a tad more seriously, a bit darker. When I was a youngster I preferred the sequel because bewbs. But overall, weighing up the pros and cons, I'd say they were about equal.