Quentin Tarantino's eighth movie, it just happens to have eight in the… MoreQuentin Tarantino's eighth movie, it just happens to have eight in the title and its another western, clearly smitten with the genre after 'Django Unchained'. Indeed this movie was originally going to be a sequel to said movie, which could of worked out well, possibly better than this methinks, but during the writing process fate took its course. Instead we have this slow burning murder mystery, of sorts, that brings together new and old cast members from Tarantino's past, whilst being a love letter to old school 70 mm film...because he can presumably, no other reason.
The plot goes something like this. Whilst on his way to the town of Red Rock with his prisoner Daisy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), John Ruth (Kurt Russell) picks up a Union bounty hunter named Major Marquis (Samuel L. Jackson). Ruth is suspicious but allows the Major to ride with him and his prisoner. Along the way Ruth then picks up another stranger who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). They are all forced to spend more time together than bargained for as a powerful blizzard pretty much halts their progress, so they hole up at Minnie's Haberdashery, a large stagecoach stopover/lodge in the wilderness. Within the lodge are yet more odd characters, an old Confederate General (Bruce Dern), cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), an English gentleman or toff (Tim Roth) and a Mexican (Demian Bichir). Ruth is suspicious of everyone, convinced they are all after his prize (Daisy), whilst Marquis clearly recognises some and begins plotting further action. Eventually the heat gets turned up on the situation as Marquis begins his course of action against the man he recognises and then someone poisons the coffee, with deadly results. Its then left to the remaining lodge dwellers to try and weed out the culprit, work out what exactly happened before they all arrived at the lodge and more importantly, how certain people connect with the occurring events. So bottom line, what we have here is basically an old fashioned whodunit set in the wild west, in a log cabin type situation...with lots of profanity and gore (ugh!).
So the film is over 3 hours long, and after sitting through this spiel I fully understand why. Like many other Tarantino movies the runtime is chocked full of needless dialog, absolutely pointless, aimless nattering that doesn't really do anything other than give Tarantino fanboys a hard-on, and clearly quench the man's thirst for apparent witty, slick humour (or so he thinks). Now of course this all stems from his earlier (better) movies which I don't have to name here, but sure enough that ship has long since sailed and the moment has well and truly past...Quentin. A good example of the utterly infuriating padding that could of easily been cut out was the 'nailing the door shut' sequences. This wooden lodge where everyone is holed up, is rickety, its a bit shabby at best, and the main door is broken for some reason. So the only way to keep the door shut and keep out the battering ice cold winds is to nail it shut. Now every bloody time someone enters or leaves the bloody cabin, the others have to nail the fucking door shut. The thing is, we have to watch this little ceremony every bloody time! one guy holds the door shut while the other nails it down, two pieces of wood and a nail at either end of each piece, wash rinse and repeat...about four bloody times. Was this supposed to be funny?
Along with this you have the usual typical Tarantino traits in dialog where two people are talking to each other about something, usually plot related, yet they keep going off on completely different tangents about God knows what that has nothing to do with the plot, its just aimless chat. Then when they do actually get on with the plot, the dialog is so detailed in wording, every little microscopic detail, every question or explanation so painstakingly drawn out with repetitive dialog, back and forth, that it just drives you nuts. I find myself screaming at the screen, just get on with it!!! Did we really need the precise details of how Major Marquis supposedly made General Smithers son walk naked for miles in the freezing snow, to the brink of death, only to then have him crawl over and suck his black cock? I mean Jesus Christ! was this necessary in the plot? or was it simply another secret fetish of Tarantino played out on the big screen, I start to wonder judging by his recent political views.
As for the characters, well its a very mixed bag in my opinion. Kurt Russell sure as hell looks the part there's no doubt about that, his facial hair deserves an Oscar. Alas his acting is by far the worst of the ensemble, right from the start he seemed completely out of place, as if Jack Burton had reached the old west. Walton Goggins was just annoying as hell with his accent, not sure what region or dialect its suppose to be (not being American), but my God it got on my nerves, and again he seemed completely miscast to me. As was Madsen who simply doesn't look the part for a cowboy, not in the slightest sorry. Stick him in a slick suit or black biker leathers sure, but he doesn't pull off the cowboy look in any way at all, complete fail in casting and performance. Dern does little but what he does is fine, he certainly looks the part of an old war General, again Roth merely does what he does best...a cockney, only this time in a dapper suit. Channing Tatum as the surprise cowboy casting is another epic miscast, another actor who simply (at this time) cannot pull off the cowboy look, and Bichir as Bob the Mexican, well...I could hardly understand half the things he said. Finally Jackson does what Jackson always does, look menacing and crazy whilst shouting and saying profane words in a cool manner, nothing new here folks. The only person who really seemed to stand out with an edgy performance was Jennifer Jason Leigh as the batty prisoner Daisy. Nothing Oscar worthy I might add, and nothing you wouldn't really expect from the actress because she's always been loopy, but she's easily the best going here.
The movie looks sumptuous in places I'll give it that, the icy, snow laden landscapes, the fact it was actually snowing at times made it look even better (and colder). The authentic costumes and props really sprung to life when drenched in snow, alas interiors weren't really anything special, and what's more they looked like sets...which was genuinely surprising. The old 70 mm format certainly adds to that grandiose, classic, western vibe of old, the panavision anamorphic camera/lenses really give some of those vistas a damn good sweeping panoramic view. So yeah I can see why Tarantino would wanna go down this route with his pet project, it does help the visuals hark back to an earlier era of silver screen westerns, but the fact most of the movie is confined within a wooden lodge renders it almost useless. Sure it all looks classy but you want more than just interiors, facial close-ups and the odd snowy lodge exterior.
For the most part the movie is relatively atmospheric and engaging despite the average acting and rather predictable aggressive hijinks. Admittedly I wasn't overly sure who would die when and where, but I was pretty sure it wouldn't be pretty and not many would come out on the other side. Needless to say the movie completely falls apart (for me) as the finale grows closer and the violence gets cranked up to the maximum. You want pointless, excessive Tarantino violence for no real reason? voila! Innocent people get blown away mercilessly and blood splatters across the cabin floor as heads and nutsacks get both barrels in full anamorphic glory (Cueing the obligatory character stand-off/mown down sequence).
So yet again the hype train pulled out of the station and hit full steam as it powered towards release city, was this worth the wait? no, no it wasn't. This is of course merely my personal opinion but I have found the latest Tarantino flicks to be disappointing and overhyped, and this continues that trend. The whole thing just felt like a young boys childish wet dream, not even a decent western even, why Morricone agreed to score this I'll never know, he is way better than this. The movie is a simple whodunit with little to no originality and peppered with Tarantino trademarks which, apparently, make everything all better. Well they don't, I've seen these trademarks before and its all old hat I'm afraid. Are you [b]still[/b] doing the whole chapter thing Quentin?? really??! bloody hell, that's so 90's! I realise the blood, gore and profanity is your trademark Quentin, but seriously? I challenge you to make a movie without any of these things, just try it, you never know, you might be surprised. Oh and how come not one person saw that trapdoor in the middle of the cabin floor??
Coming off the back of the massive [b]massive[/b] [i]Star Wars[/i]… MoreComing off the back of the massive [b]massive[/b] [i]Star Wars[/i] hype train was this transatlantic cult, a blend of classic fairytale fantasy and good old fashioned science fiction (kinda unique at the time). I remember seeing this on the telly back in the day (must have been late 80's I guess) and being quite scared by it, I never really saw all of it, just the dark imagery of the Beast and his eerie Ringwraith-esque minions. I even remember seeing the VHS in the old videoshops back in the early days, up on the top shelve with other grown-up looking covers (for the time obviously). Yes even the cover gave me the willies too, but can you blame me, its pretty grotesque and vivid really (and a spoiler).
Anyway the plot is pretty much your standard, Prince saves the Princess from an evil monster type situation, along with wizards, jesters, warriors and young apprentices, completely cliched hokum. The planet Krull is attacked by an evil force know as the Beast, a huge hideous creature that dwells within a giant fortress made of rock that apparently can fly through space. In time the Beast manages to gain control of the planet forcing its inhabitants to live in fear, everyone knows of the creature and its legion of faceless Slayers. Eventually the Beast's Slayers attack one of the main kingdoms of Krull, kill pretty much everyone and kidnaps the Princess in true fairytale style (might as well call him Bowser/King Koopa). Unfortunately for the Beast, the lone Prince Colwyn survives this attack and sets off to save the Princess (his future bride) with the help of a plucky band of warriors.
Now lets get one thing straight here, suspension of disbelief is required throughout this adventure, yes we all know its a hokey 80's fantasy so...duh! But seriously, this ain't no classic George Lucas or Ridley Scott flick here, this is pure cheesy cheese with extra lashings of cheese on top...with cheese. The whole idea of this movie is from the outset, kinda daft, but interesting nonetheless. The planet of Krull is a typical sword n sandals type place where everyone goes around on horseback, uses swords, armour and all manner of ancient weaponry, and there is magic and mythical creatures abound. The alien race that comes down to Krull are your typical armour suited creatures with laser guns and...errr, they also ride on horseback? Actually it makes you wonder really, apparently these aliens have swept across the galaxy conquering worlds easily (apparently), but how? They use horses, they don't seem to have any futuristic vehicles to travel around in, no heavy weaponry, they all walk really really slowly making themselves easy targets, their fortress is a flying lump of rock and their only weapons seems to be sticks that fire one laser bolt. Once that shot has been fired they reverse the stick and it becomes a sword or spear of sorts. How the fuck did this guys manage to conquer anything??! Surely they might have come across an alien race that could match their powers at some point. Luckily for the Beast and his Slayers they've stumbled across another planet full of lifeforms that only use swords to defend themselves.
As the adventure starts the hilarious plot holes do start emerge, and they are hilarious...but still cool. Colwyn (Ken Marshall) meets up with Ynyr the old one, an old Obi-Wan Kenobi type clearly. Now this guys knows everything, absolutely everything about anything, handy at the best of times. He knows exactly what can defeat the Beast (the Glaive) and where to find it which makes you wonder why he hasn't gone and got it for someone to use. Nonetheless they both trot off to get this legendary weapon which happens to be inside a massive mountain. So Ynyr points Colwyn in the right direction and waits patiently for his return. This whole sequence is really amusing, simply because the journey that Colwyn undertakes to retrieve the Glaive is arduous and long, really long! The guy must rock climb up sheer cliffs for flips sake! numerous times it seems, then he must stick his hand into molten lava (so it seems) to get the Glaive (which he finds quite easily and very quickly once inside a huge cavern). Now all this would surely take most of the day, if not days! yet he manages it within the afternoon and without getting even remotely tired apparently, because the minute he gets back they journey onwards to their next destination! I understand they need to get the plot going but Holy smouldering balls of fire! that's ridiculous!
The bulk of the story sees Colwyn firstly recruiting his band of warriors across various places. He picks up a small band of criminals that look like ugly rejects from the [i]Mad Max[/i] universe, with even more stupid names. Its like watching Robin Hood and his unwashed band of merry men, each having their own set of skills naturally, knives, nets, battle axe etc...These cannon fodder characters are mostly faceless accept for the noticeable inclusion of a young Robbie Coltrane sporting an unusually modern haircut for a fantasy film. A young Liam '60+ action man' Neeson who should have easily played the character of Little John looking as he does, very young [i]Grange Hill[/i] and [i]Eastenders[/i] star Todd Carty, and sort of young epic British character actor Alun Armstrong (with hair and dodgy dog collar). Other team members include the [i]Carry-On[/i] legend Bernard Bresslaw sporting some quite brilliant makeup and prosthetics as Rell the Cyclops, David Battley as the clownish Ergo the (not quite so) magnificent, John Welsh as The Emerald Seer...another powerful wizard type, and Graham McGrath as the young apprentice Titch who does nothing accept get in trouble.
As the band of heroes travel to various places to gather various bits of information from various people so they can catch the Black Fortress (it moves at sunrise), we go through a series of set pieces and plot exposition scenarios in different hostile/pleasant landscapes. The main one is a nice, visually pleasing, battle within a barren swampland where it amazes me how these Slayers manage to overcome any adversary frankly. There is the typical campfire setting, an icy snow setting (fortress only), rocky mountainous terrain, lush green valleys and the really cool widow of the web sequence (the full gamut of stereotypical alien terrains). Again this entire spider web premise makes no sense at all and to this day I still don't really get what's going on. Ynyr used to be in love with this woman who, for some reason, killed their only child and as punishment has been placed within this giant spiders web...by someone. The giant spider is somehow controlled by her with an hourglass of sand? or it protects her? or keeps her prisoner? no idea how she survives, what does she eat or drink etc...She seems to be popular because many try to reach her but none ever manage it, either eaten by the spider or falling to their death (the web is over a huge chasm), I'm just not sure what she has or knows that is so important.
Anyway somehow she knows where the Black Fortress will go next, so she gives her lifeforce to Ynyr (the sand from the hourglass) so he can escape the spider, but when the sand runs out he will die? why exactly? This means the spider can now happily attack, destroy and kill the widow and her delicate web abode...but I'm not really sure why, or what would happen next with the spider. Does it wait for someone else to get trapped by persons unknown in its lair? beats the shit outta me. Despite the bizarre story behind this weird-ass sequence, the effects here are some of the best in the movie. The whole spider web set is really well designed and created, it actually looks quite real, where as the spider is truly fantastic in stop motion form. If you think along the lines of classic Ray Harryhausen, only better, then you have your vision. Sure it looks a tiny bit plastic but that's probably down to the deliberate transparent look of the creature (which I love!). But its the arachnids movements, sound effects and the top notch blending of live action, matte painting and stop motion model work, that overall create this truly spine-tingling atmosphere. It just makes me wonder why some of the other movie effects couldn't look as good.
The finale is a huge bluescreen affair that really does show its age I'm afraid, some quite hideous effects. First a rather embarrassing bluescreen ridden sequence where the remaining heroes travel on fire mares (think horses like Pegasus, but really fast and no wings) to the Black Fortress. The interior of the Black Fortress is very imaginative and surreal with a nice blend of models, sets, matte paintings and bluescreen, of course the sets are easy to spot. Then we have the main monster (Beast), simply a bloke in a big rubber suit which we don't really see too much of, hidden by smoke and shadow. It is well made and has quite scary facial features but you can't help but feel it just looks like something out of [i]Dr Who[/i]. Pretty much the same with the Slayers, men in rubber suits that also look a bit Dr Who-ish. To add to that, the Beast doesn't really do anything, he shoots out large white balls of power from his mouth with truly awful effects but that's it. Colwyn counters that against another dreadful bluescreen effect with the Glaive which, lets be honest, is merely a ninja throwing star that acts like some kind of boomerang. So in the end Colwyn merely stabs the Beast to death, oh and then he burns it alive with his fire shooting powers that he gains with Princess Lyssa, for some reason.
I've taken the piss here a lot, [b]a lot[/b], but that doesn't necessarily mean I don't like this movie. As I already explained, you know exactly what to expect with this movie, you knew back in the day, and to that degree it does its job well as a light-hearted, dark, space fable of sorts. Yes there are lots of plot holes and ludicrous moments that make no sense, like what exactly are the Slayers? when they die a big slimy bug thing comes out of their heads, why does that bug thing then burrow straight into the ground? Where do these Slayers and the Beast come from? why are they trying to take over the galaxy? what did the Beast want or need with this particular Princess? was she more special than other lifeforms from other planets or did he just fancy her? What's with the big rock fortress? etc...The movie is a product of its time and shouldn't be taken apart, even though that's exactly what I've done...but! I still enjoy the movie for what it is. For me the film falls into the same type of category as some of the lesser Harryhausen movies like the Sinbad trilogy, although not quite as good. Its very much a guilty pleasure with some great moments and some awful moments, but on the plus side, an epic never again cast line up, a rousing rip-roaring score and overall a good calibre of imagination.
I'm not sure but this could of been the acorn that sprouted the idea… MoreI'm not sure but this could of been the acorn that sprouted the idea for the titles in the Conan flicks, bare with me. There was a sequel intended for this film that would have been called 'Hawk The Destroyer' (1981), so you can see the obvious similarities with film titles going on here. Probably a coincidence admittedly but I also think this could of been the first swords/sorcery/barbarian type of film that jump started all the rest during the 80's.
This is a hard film to review truth be told, its extremely dated and by the looks of things they didn't have a huge budget to play with. The whole thing is a mixed bag as you would expect being a very old fully British, possibly cheap, production. There's a bit of a Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons influence about the film if you ask me, the plot is your average sword n sorcery affair with a hero trying to avenge the death of his father and love at the hands of an evil warrior (his brother). The evil bad guy wants the power of the mindstone which his brother (the hero) has power of, so he kidnaps an Abbess to lure him. The hero forms a small band of warrior friends...a giant, a dwarf, an elf and a human peasant, the hero himself being a human of course. Each of these men have unique skills in combat with a big hammer mace thing, a whip, a bow, a crossbow and a sword.
When I say a Tolkien influence I only mean as far as the characters and fantasy locations, dare I say a certain Mr Jackson may have pinched some visual ideas for Legolas using his bow at lighting speed from this film?. When you see Crow the elf battling there is definitely a similarity in concept that's for sure, although the visual method used to achieve this in this film is pretty crude naturally. Mind you this elf is so damn fast with his bow and arrow there is virtually no need for any other heroes. Other characters aren't made up with special makeup or prosthetics, the giant is played by Bernard Bresslaw who was a tall man, the dwarf is played by a short actor (not a little person), the elf has a small amount of prosthetics for his ears and that's it. But as far as monsters and dragons etc...this film has none of that, its actually a very grounded fantasy which I think leans more towards old English folklore and possibly a touch of wicca and paganism.
The musical score kinda typifies this if you ask me with a very odd mix of styles. At times we get this typical 80's pop fused with electronic synth (I think) that to me sounded like melodies from an Abba album! needless to say I don't think this score fit the film. Other times there is a much better softer score using more traditional instruments to create this olde worlde fairy-esque sound that would suit an old English fable to a tee.
I hate to say it but I couldn't help but snigger at some of the things on display in this film. Like I said the visuals are weak, it looks like they've filmed everything in some local woods and shrublands just behind Pinewood studios. The sets are very obvious, very small and tight and sparse on detail, hair styles are still very much 1970's, some costumes are OK where as others look like they've cobbled anything together and I'm pretty sure they retrace their steps with locations a few times. The only expenditure appears to be the use of that swirly double ring thing that was used in 'Superman' as a force field to trap General Zod and co.
The other thing that is highly amusing is the fact the big bad evil tyrannical baddie is played by Jack Palance...and even in this film he's old!. This guy has no special powers or weapons, he's just a badass apparently but you don't really buy it frankly. He has a nasty burn on his face so he wears a nifty helmet but that's it, he doesn't look intimidating at all. Mind you the hero is pretty bland himself, he barely talks, looks boring, but he has the mind power to wield his magical sword combined with the mindstone...not that it makes much difference really, just means the sword can float to his hand.
I don't want to give this film a low score because despite the dated visuals, cheesy ass fights and effects it does look like people have really tried to make an effort here. It does come across to me that the crew have done their best with the little resources they had which deserves kudos. It is very easy to just churn out any old loin cloth fantasy crap by just tossing in a few blondes with big boobs to attract an easy male audience and slapping in some blood and gore. But I think effort was made here and it does show. A cult film long forgotten, thou should seek it out.
Set in the wilds of Ireland and with a pretty full cast of Irish… MoreSet in the wilds of Ireland and with a pretty full cast of Irish actors which set in motion the careers of both Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne whilst also utilizing some classic/cult British names for spice.
Like Robin Hood there are many stories of the legendary King Arthur and his Knights of the round table but this film is probably the most accurate in terms of an adaptation from original writings. This film is based around the tales from 'Le Morte d'Arthur' and seems to follow each 'segment' quite closely (haven't read it so I'm not sure).
The overall essence of this film is like a fairytale of sorts, a kind of slightly cheesy shiny armoured fantasy with glittery sets, soft colours, strong religious/iconic imagery and a 'Clannad' vibe running through it. The film reminded me of the classic British TV series 'Robin of Sherwood' which also starred the dastardly Robert Addie and the classic British fantasy film 'Krull', I think the latter took inspiration from the look of 'Excalibur'.
The design and look of this film is really very good, its clearly rather dated but it still has a high polish to it and looks quite epic. The locations are really well used and do give an impression of old medieval England and the costumes all make the sale. Of course this being the 80's the armour does look a bit fake, plastic and too shiny in places, there is a kind of music video feel to the proceedings in places, some sets look a bit too sparkly, some characters have some dubious haircuts and to be utterly honest the acting/dialog is pretty hilarious in places but you can't deny the effort and scope of this historical fantasy.
This being in the days before CGI and when historical epics were all the rage the battle sequences here are small with some blood and minimal gore. You can easily tell they didn't have allot of people to make grand battles so clever editing is used with lots of darkness and fog, luckily Old England was a foggy place...or so I've been led to believe. The other slightly amusing thing was the soundtrack, there was original work here but the use of classical pieces slapped on top of key moments didn't really work. The combination of certain scenes and certain pieces of music felt very rickety and really did seem crowbarred in badly, you can see what the director was going for but it comes off more like something out of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'.
The plot is straight forward and it doesn't get dull despite the heavy romance of the tales, the film is rich and vivid in design and imagery giving the whole production much flare and class which works brilliantly because you know these were the days when everything was hand crafted. The film is a cult classic with a powerful poster that demands your attention, oh and Nicol Williamson as Merlin is also another good reason to view with his unique quirky take on the character spouting some glorious moments, 'oh that's grand'.
Vin Diesel comes along with a new character for a new franchise, the… MoreVin Diesel comes along with a new character for a new franchise, the fact that it simply feels just the same as all his other characters is somewhat unfortunate, Yep that's correct, this might as well be a prequel to his Riddick character, Riddick in medieval times and Riddick in the our present. Or the mumbling Toretto, or the mumbling Xander Cage...you see where I'm going with this. My point is, Vin Diesel can't really act and all his performances are virtually the same, the same mumbling hairless lump of meat.
So, what have we here then, an immortal (oh Christ!) who must save the world from a plague, fabulous, originality torpedoes away! The film starts in the dark/Middle ages where Riddick leads a band of witch hunters into a witch lair to kill the Queen (the Queen apparently having unleashed the black plague to kill off humanity). They succeed in doing so but Toretto is killed in the process, or is he? actually the witch Queen curses him with immortality (some curse). Jump to our present and Xander Cage remains a witch hunter in cahoots with a secret organisation (the church), protecting humans from witches with the aid of a priest. As you can guess one male witch is trying to bring the Queen back to life so witches can gain control again and its up to Vin Diesel to stop this along with his plucky, young, sexy female witch accomplice (a must in these types of movies).
Oh for fucks sake where to start, this is basically the [i]Underworld[/] franchise with witches, to a degree. The old use of immortals and protecting humans from classic mythological creatures that date back through the ages. the thing of fantasy and fable etc...Everything in this movie is a total cliche, and what's more they are cliches we've all seen a shitzillion times. Kaulder (Vin Diesel) in our present is clearly a super rich bloke, a kind of Bruce Wayne type chap with lots of neat gadgets and his own Batmobile. What's even more stupid is the fact they actually cast Michael Caine as his religious assistant, yeah you knew the Alfred reference was coming the minute I mentioned that, but for a good bloody reason right! I mean seriously, you make the lead character a supernatural Bruce Wayne type with his own big black super car, and then you actually cast Michael Caine as his butler, for fucks sake! And why make this guy rich anyway, just because you're immortal does that automatically mean you will acquire lots of wealth over the centuries? plus wouldn't that make you more of an easy target being super rich and driving around in super cars.
Yeah so anyway, apparently there has been this war going on between humans and witches, presumably since the dawn of man? dunno. Why is there this war? dunno, presumably because it just sounds cool, and witches are obviously evil where as humans are obviously good? guess so. Naturally in our present most witches have become utterly liberal and completely good, in true [i]Harry Potter[/i] form. We see most them are now merely tattooed sexy young people that hang around in neon lit bars performing light-hearted magic tricks for each other. Amazed there wasn't any stripper witches performing at the same time actually, same sex lesbian witch sex etc...Yep so most female witches are young with tats, flowing long hair, black fingernails...they're all basically sexy goths and emos. Whilst the blokes also have long hair, natty facial hair, quirky Victorian attire and often some funny visual gimmick be it on the body or in their style. The really outlandish ones are on some kind of ancient witch council that are the judge and jury of all witches, and then you get the odd ones that are high within human society, such as the fashion world where every witch is a super sexy fema...zzzzz. I'm still not sure why that old blind witch bloke seemed to have powers over hundreds of butterflies, what the flip was all that supposed to be about??
The main problem with this movie is the convoluted and over saturated supernatural plot. They have set up this universe where witches exist with all this magical hocus pocus, but none of it is really explained and what is explained just sounds like nonsense. There are so many stupidly surreal names and words, potions, magical items etc...flying about in this film you have no clue what they're talking about, and there isn't an original novel to refer to (unlike certain kiddie flicks). You're simply suppose to take all this in, just accept the crapola that makes no sense. For example, the witch council (or whatever) judge bad witches, when found guilty they are put away in some kind of witch prison. Now for some reason a huge monster is required to do this? the council awaken 'the sentinel' which is a big insect-like thing made out of rock, or is it wood? beats me. This things drags off the bad witch to the prison...which turns out to be within rock? a rock wall within some huge cavern? what?? So what's this huge expansive cavern for? are all the rock walls full of bad witches? why rock? oh Lord! There is also a mass of repetitive and dull flashback/dream sequences which follow Kaulder's earlier life with his family along with visions of the future, plus some mind games etc...Its all highly boring, time consuming and annoying.
The film also can't really decide what way to go in terms of its content and gritty nature. Is this an action thriller for adults or teens? is it a more light-hearted horror? are we supposed to be scared? is it a more grown-up version of [i]Harry Potter[/i]? I really wasn't sure because I found myself basically in limbo throughout, limbo and bored to death. At times the film was definitely more light-hearted with the witch antics, then all of a sudden its swings into a full blown horror scenario and truly dark, and then (of course) we simply get CGI action schlock chock full of deus ex machina moments which was all quite simply pants. There was some nice use of makeup on the witch Queen, although she appeared to have a human spinal column coming off the back of her head? was that part of her hair? But easily the most interesting part of the whole bloody thing was the medieval set up at the start, this looked way more fun than all the present day tomfoolery. I really think a movie set during that time period was the better way to go, then you could of made the inevitable sequel in our present day. As it stands this was a myriad of by the numbers, wholeheartedly generic, utterly forgettable, throwaway garbage that failed to impress me at any stage of the game.
Another zombie flick, oh...great, but wait! this one is different, its… MoreAnother zombie flick, oh...great, but wait! this one is different, its about a zombie falling in love with a female who's still alive...wait what? Yes that's right the zombie in this flick is the undead hero and goes after a young girl saving her life. He then goes about looking after her and trying to woo her for her affections, yeah it does sound kinda sick doesn't it.
OK so the plot is pretty unique I give it that, its original to see a zombie flick from the zombies point of view. This still doesn't alter the fact its an incredibly silly idea and amazes me it actually got the green light. The start of the film is actually quite good as we see zombie life, the kinda things we all know from zombie horror flicks of the past here presented in a mundane way, daily undead routines. Its got a nice quirky light feel to it, a horror comedy that really got me hooked I must admit.
Things do get a bit daft as the zombies try to communicate, as narrated by our hero zombie, we hear his thoughts throughout. Its at this point you're thinking this is why no one has done this before, its ridiculous. The film goes up a gear of course once our zombie meets his girl and sweeps her off her feet. Its also the start of many many plot and idea issues. Not that I'm surprised seeing the content of the film, you know not to expect a completely coherent storyline.
Why do the zombies seem to shuffle along yet in flashbacks they run? why do bonies run so well? why do bonies all look exactly the same? why do bullet hits anywhere kill bonies yet zombies need one in the head? how do the zombie masses manage to recover/come back to life? we know it was some kind of biological/viral outbreak that has killed everyone and turned them into zombies. But how would the body recover from this when its been clinically dead for a long period of time? decaying, no heartbeat.
Its funny how the zombies are suppose to be completely brain dead (including our hero) yet still manage to speak, think, act etc...At the start when the girl is taken by our hero zombie she can escape at anytime quite easily. All she has to do is run off because the zombies only shuffle around, plus she accepts so easily that she's been captured. Anyone else would have smashed his brains out at the first chance they got, and she gets many. Also why did the other zombies believe she was dead? just because he smeared a tiny bit of zombie blood on her face?? really?
I could go on but I won't simply because its a very easy film to pick apart, but its not suppose to be a thinker. Its a silly zombie flick with a twist and leaning towards comedy, I won't say romance because its just too stupid. Yes the inevitable comparison to 'Twilight' lingers in the air but its not really like that, yes our hero zombie is an Edward type of character with lots of pretty blue eye close ups but he doesn't sparkle. The female 'love' interest is not like Bella either, its not that sappy thank god, although she does kiss him whilst he's still undead (seconds before he is revived), so is that soft core necrophilia?
Nicely original apart from the whole zombie apocalypse/last remaining humans in barricaded city stuff, and I liked the undead bonie zombies. Its not overly funny nor is it overly slushy and wet, its not scary but its not for kids either, it hangs somewhere in between. Had this been a tad more adult, had a bit more dark gallows humour, it could of been in the same league as 'An American Werewolf', but it holds its own.
I presume this film must be made up of various bits n bobs from Baum's… MoreI presume this film must be made up of various bits n bobs from Baum's sequel books as I don't believe there was a prequel story/book written. All his stories were set after the original [i]Wizard of Oz[/i] so I'm guessing this must be a lot of artistic license?
Back to Oz we go, for the third time, question is, is this adventure as good as the previous two? The first is a silver screen classic, the second was a dark but highly imaginative twist with superb characters. This time we re-enter Oz guided by horror maestro Sam Raimi...and boy can you see it.
First impressions were simply, they're copying the original, starting off in black n white then bursting into colour once we reach Oz, cute, but its been done. The main thing you notice is obviously the visuals, upon touchdown in Oz we are greeted with (as expected) huge splashes of colour and shiny things, a glistening Emerald City, colourful animals, clear blue skies and perfect fairytale costumes.
I must admit they have recreated the look of the classic original nicely. The yellow brick road looks great, the familiar scenery of fields and wooden fences hark back nicely to when we saw Dorothy walk past them and we have all the chirpy quirkiness of the Munchkins. I won't deny there are some lovely landscape's on display, rainbow skylines and the weird and wonderful flowers n fauna of Oz dazzling your optical senses. It just a damn shame the CGI is so utterly average throughout with awful bluescreen/artificially superimposed actors against it.
What's so stupid is the fact Oz lands in the land of Oz and within five minutes he's been brought to the Emerald City, hailed as the new King and sent off on this mission. Everyone thinks he's this wizard sent to save Oz and without a doubt the King. So The wizard (played poorly by Franco) goes off on his mission to destroy the evil witch and picks up a few odd friends along the way to help him. An annoying, flying, bad CGI monkey and a sweet yet gradually annoying little girl doll made of china...nice idea, nicely envisioned, but her lippy personality isn't funny.
Kinda sounds familiar no? regular dude dumped in a strange fantasy world, now he's gotta save that world. Army of Dar...naah couldn't be.
The other thing that got me was the fact Kunis' character falls for Oz the minute she sees him. Then when he goes off to find the evil witch she gets all upset, so much so that when she finds out he's flirting with the other witch he's suppose to destroy, she turns to evil! So she's a bit delicate then! falls in love, gets heart broken and turns to the dark side all within a few hours of meeting some guy!
To be honest I really don't think Raimi was the right choice to direct this film. It swings from being quite sweet in places as it should be, to some outright soft horror moments! Raimi clearly not being able to resist his [i]Evil Dead[/i] days. The flying baboons are pretty darn scary for kids if you ask me, since when did the evil witches flying hordes get some monstrous?!! Then there's Weisz's ending...whoa! oh and graveyards? really?
The acting is also dreadful, yes I realise its a sweet fable but come on, Franco is terrible and totally miscast (still at least its a change from seeing Depp who I'm sure was gonna pop up at any moment). The guy has no charm no wonder and he's not funny, he plays it too snively for this character, he's unlikeable.
Kunis is made up waaay too much for the green skinned evil witch, she's sexy for Pete's sake! the evil witch ain't suppose to give the adult male audience a bonner. Plus I gotta say she seems really really violence obsessed here, wanting to tear her enemies apart and make the yellow brick road run red with the blood of the goodies...Jesus! kids film here. The only people who actually look the part and put in a good show are all the extras playing Munchkins Quadlings, Tinkers and Winkie Guards, miles better than the main cast, I guess.
I think the problem here is the film can't quite decide what direction to go in. Its not entirely an innocent sweet musical like the original and its not as character driven or imaginative as 'Return to Oz'. Being a typical modern film they just can't help themselves with over the top effects, silly action, the odd explosion, lots of talk of death and killing and way too much hokey sterile CGI. The film even turns into 'Star Wars' at the end with a dark side force lighting battle.
On top of this the film seems to border on being almost a parody of the material source, too much of a comedy, too much mockery of the material eg. when the Munchkins try break out in song Oz shouts at them to stop as if to say...lets not go down the soppy wet musical route.
Its not as bad as the Burton 'Alice in Wonderland' fiasco but it sure as hell comes close CGI wise. On the whole Oz does look nice when using real sets and real objects but that's it. Like other sequels/prequels of old franchises they manage to recreate the look of the old films brilliantly, but the rest of the content is just very average and merely shows how good the older films are. There are now talks of a sequel! how can there be a sequel?!
Based around a graphic novel I've never heard of and that's because it… MoreBased around a graphic novel I've never heard of and that's because it doesn't actually exist, seemed to be a clever smokescreen to gather interest in the new film. So its just an independent sci-fi film then, but that's good no? well kinda, but then again the main star is Tom Cruise so...
The film kicks off with narration by Cruise's character as to the fate of the Earth. Immediately I noticed the film looks amazing, I loved how they have created the desolate left overs of human civilisation with the odd landmark or tall building remaining but basically half buried and surrounded by a fresh new landscape. What we know of our world is virtually gone, through earthquakes and tsunamis everything has been buried deep creating a new face to Earth's surface...and it looks awesome!
The visuals in this film are nothing short of spectacular, I haven't seen such crisp sharp images for some time and that includes the CGI. But the film isn't drowned in CGI, that's the key, its used for landscapes, skylines, ruins, buildings etc...things that tend to work well rendered in CGI. There are no big alien monsters or stupid sidekick creatures etc...this is a semi serious sci-fi.
I do get the impression they have tried for a '2001' approach here, a very realistic depiction of what could be. Designs are logical and functional, outfits and weapons aren't too silly or gung-ho, building interiors are pretty minimal in a slick 70's sci-fi kind of way (maybe a bit too clean) and the day to day activities of the main characters are mundane. Of course there are sequences within the film which pander to the regular lowest basic common sci-fi denominator which is a true shame, but you gotta have gunfights and death in everything these days huh.
Now the plot...oh lord! the plot. Where to begin? I'll be honest, I liked the film to a degree but the plot had me guessing all the way...in a bad way. There is a lot of confusion in this film which in my opinion isn't entirely explained. Its hard to review without spoilers, basically we don't find out what is really going on until near the end, up to that point its a frustrating game of guess what's going on.
The main plot point is the twist of course, revolving around the main characters, that much is clear. But for most of the time you can't really say if there are any actual aliens in this, was the Earth actually destroyed by aliens or is it a huge cover up for something else? With the ragtag humans hiding out on Earth (the story leads you to think they are aliens at first) you kinda assume its a big government cover up. Of course it seems Earth was destroyed by an alien force, but we never see them, the machines in control via the 'Tet' are automated A.I., presumably controlled by an alien race on another planet or ship?? And why is it called the 'Tet'? is that a human moniker?
And on the subject of this alien invader race, why send machines to invade? did they know to destroy our Moon or was that a mistake? and why capture and use cloned humans for the invasion? They have those high powered drones which are armed to the teeth and extremely versatile, why didn't they just use the drones to invade Earth? surely they would be far more lethal, precise, with faster results and cause less problems than cloning would inevitably cause. I would imagine cloning would also take much more time no? The drones really did make the whole cloning concept in this film quite redundant if you ask me.
Plus in what way would our planets resources benefit them? I'm guessing they must have a planet similar to Earth? they must do, and the alien race must be similar to us in build and requirements...presumably.
But as the story progresses the story begs more and more questions. Why were a team of astronauts flying to Titan and why did they need such a big crew? When that crew were ejected back to Earth why did they simply orbit for sixty odd years? why did the humans on the surface wait so long to bring them down? It seems Morgan Freeman and his cronies only decided to bring them down once they discovered the weakness in Cruise's character. So until then they just left them in orbit?
I still don't quite follow how or why the drones are unable to kill the Earth bound humans when they are camouflaged in their 'scav' outfits. Those hi-tech alien drones can't get through some human jetfighter tech and voice scramblers? What are those outfits suppose to be exactly with all those feathers stuck on their helmets? and how did they make them?? Why does the alien controller Sally have a Southern drawl and where that kid came from at the very end, was Julia pregnant the whole time? Oh and why does Freeman wear a black cape and those goggle-like shades?? didn't notice much intense sunshine.
I guess what I'm saying is I really loved the way this film looked, a real leap forward in visual sci-fi. Some of the designs like the bubble ship/helicopter craft Cruise's character flies are really original and striking, the drones were a bit generic and the 'Tet' was kinda drab looking but on the whole its a visual feast for the eyes.
I was hoping for a sensible serious sci-fi, on one hand I got it, no doubt about that, but I can't help but feel there was a classic sci-fi here. So close, but like the soundtrack/musical score and by the numbers superstar casting of Cruise, poor decisions have been made.
Well this came outta nowhere, in fact it hasn't even been that long… MoreWell this came outta nowhere, in fact it hasn't even been that long since I discovered its existence. Love the films title, easily the main thing that lures you in, it intrigues and you want to know more. It totally has that cheesy, tacky, low rent, B-movie vibe in the title alone, on one hand that does help the movie because you instantly know what to expect, on the other it can also hinder the movie because its yet another low rent, B-movie zombie flick, and there's a shit-tonne of those around.
The story sees a small group of teenage boys who are on the cusp of actually growing up, yet they are also still in the Scouts. Two of the lads are thinking of quitting Scouts for obvious reasons I don't need to go into here, whilst the third chubby lad loves the Scouts and wants to carry on. So that's the basis for their little story arc struggles. At the same time in typically glorious 80's fashion, in some kind of local bio-chemical testing company or whatever, a cleaner accidentally lets loose (or wakes up) a zombie who in turn starts the aforementioned apocalypse. Before you can say, help my intestines are being ripped out and eaten by some rotting, ravenous, cannibalistic, decaying human zombie from hell! there are rotting, ravenous, cannibalistic, decaying human zombies everywhere...but not necessarily from hell.
Now I may have said this before in other top quality reviews, but I'm not a huge zombie fan, in fact I find these movies generally terrible and all the same. That being said I do like the odd classic such as [i]Return of the Living Dead[/i] franchise, and I appreciate the effectiveness in films like '28 Days Later'. I will say right here right now, I have never liked the Romero zombie films, there I said it, OK well maybe 'Dawn of the Dead'. Anyway me being an 80's child and loving the comedy horror genre, this really did appeal to me despite the zombie factor. You can tell from the films poster that they have clearly gone down that 80's route, personally I think you can see clear homages to movies like 'Monster Squad', 'Fright Night', hell even 'The Goonies' to a degree. Its the perfect storm if you ask me, tried and tested, young teenage boys against monsters, add lots of cheeky, rude, infantile gags and voila! instant smutty horror porn.
The action all kicks off very quickly too, the opening intro sequence within this sterile, white walled testing company doesn't hold back. The cleaner is yet another young stoner type with ridiculous hair, in fact I thought he was one of the main protagonists. Anyway this sequence doesn't really do anything original but what it does is really effective and quite funny to boot. Of course its all stupid, this dumb cleaner starts poking around in the lab and fiddling with things...because of course you'd do that in a lab where its clearly obvious you shouldn't touch anything. He accidentally reanimates this zombie after thinking it was merely a sick person on life support, but the little gross-out sequence where he does this was a highlight. Nice visual gag utilising Tic-Tacs and a brilliant shock moment that seems to homage John Carpenter 1982 version of 'The Thing'. All the while a whitecoat lab technician is trying to get some crisps out of a vending machine, whilst the horror plays out behind him through an internal window.
Of course you should know how this film is gonna play out but if you didn't the intro will certainly et you straight. As I said there isn't anything particularly original here, but that's not a bad thing in this instance. The young lads are you're typical array of stereotypical young boys, one being smart, sensible and thoughtful, the leader. Another being more of a loose cannon, prone to getting into trouble, lax when it comes to things like having a conscience and obsessed with porn (well they all are). Lastly the third being an overweight, ginger who is also smart but in more of a nerdy way, he's also very sensitive and wears his heart on his sleeve. I've never heard of these three guys that play the characters but I enjoyed their camaraderie and hijinks. They all worked pretty well together and were relatively amusing at times, amusing not hilariously funny. They also, naturally, have a sexy female on their side, again never heard of her but she's undoubtedly super hot and blonde. This did feel totally generic in the sense that of course you need a sexy chick in tight jean cut-off's going round blowing zombie heads off, its just a male requirement.
What we see throughout the movie is nothing you haven't seen before lets be honest, again originality isn't the top priority here. So expect lots and lots of blood and gore as the small team go around shooting zombies in the head, cutting heads off blah blah blah...you all know. The main hook for the movie is essentially the fact that the boys are all Scouts sooo...that's just different isn't it, they use their Scout skills to survive and kill zombies. Its a neat little concept for sure but really all you're seeing is three guys equipping themselves with various regular household/DIY/garden items and modifying them to kill, or not as the case may be. So you get a little 'Commando' tooling up montage homage which damn near every horror comedy tends to have at some point. I quite liked the brief moment where the camera zooms in on each Scout badge skill as they construct their weapons, nice usage of gimmicky idea there. Its also pretty dumb in places which is no surprise, the guys manage to get a hold of a flippin' Humvee at one point, probably the ultimate vehicle to have during this type of apocalypse, yet they don't really utilise it. Plus they could of driven off to safety at any point in the film really, to hell with all the teens at the rave pfft! Plenty of cliches throughout too of course, like the grumpy old lady that hassles the boys at the start, well they naturally get to behead her as a zombie later on because...little old lady revenge cliche.
I think the problem here is everyone knows exactly what to expect, everyone knows exactly what their gonna see, and while that's not all bad, its just old hat I'm afraid. The humour is there but its not really in your face good, it tickles you but that's it. Perfect example, whilst trying to escape from a window ledge high up, one of the boys grabs onto an elderly zombies cock to stop himself from falling. Said cock gets stretched out like a piece of elastic (exposing its fakeness) before splitting and breaking off. Now clearly this was supposed to be a funny sight gag...but it wasn't, it was kinda lame and fake looking. This is how the comedy tends to be in general really, little things, like the boys getting all super excited over seeing a pair of big zombie tits, or going through a girls underwear draw (really?) or simply seeing a strip joint etc...I get that its supposed to be juvenile humour, that's the aim, but maybe I'm too old for this now because it just seemed very lame to me.
I have moaned quite a bit about the obvious cliches and unoriginal content strewn throughout this movie, this is true. That being said I did still find myself enjoying this chaotic romp for what its worth. The film knows what it wants to be and nails that aspect of it, it doesn't ever pretend to be anything more that what it is, although it does get dangerously close to being too serious in places. I think it is very 80's which I love, I do like the Scout angle, the main protagonists are likeable and the girls are uber hot no doubt. The continuous joke of seeing zombified Scout master David Koechner stumbling about desperately trying to eat someone was reasonably funny, it sums up the whole comedy aspect really, close but ultimately just missing the mark. Now waiting for the inevitable Girl Guides version with tonnes of risque, underage type humour and sexual innuendos aplenty.
What tickles me about this is the fact that Dolph apparently read… MoreWhat tickles me about this is the fact that Dolph apparently read about the horrors of human trafficking, mainly one case where some girls were left for dead inside a vehicle on the US/Mexican border, and decided to bring it to the worlds attention. A noble thing to do for sure, only he did this via this utter pile of dribble of an action flick. The fact that the human trafficking part of the plot is only window dressing for a simple revenge thriller says it all really. It doesn't bring the horror of human slavery to the forefront of cinema, it uses it simply for a good plot device, something new to have fights about. What also made me laugh was reading about a possible sequel to this shit, the movie has an open ending so indeed you could make another, but who the fuck is gonna watch a sequel to this?? (yes I realise the irony of me saying that after I just watched this movie, move along).
So the plot...its all about revenge, done. OK to be more specific, the film tries to be clever by setting up multiple plots at different times by switching back and forth between them at different times until they all eventually blend into one. Nice idea yes, badly done? oh hell yes, its confusing and erratic with bad editing. Out of nowhere you get quick cuts to someone doing something, before it then just as quickly cuts back to someone else. You're left thinking, what the hell was that?! Anyway Cassidy (Dolph) is after uber bad guy Dragovic (Ron Perlman) in the US, in a raid along with Reed (Jai White) and Costello (Peter Weller) they capture him successfully. Dragovic's son is killed during this take down so he has Cassidy's family killed. Dragovic is eventually released on bail and flees the US to Thailand, Cassidy follows now out for revenge. US police want Cassidy stopped believing him to be dangerous after he kills Dragovic's attorney, so in Thailand Tony (Tony Jaa) is put on the case to arrest him. There is more but I can't be bothered to explain it.
So essentially what we have here is a pretty convoluted plot which spans from the US to Thailand in an obvious lazy way to merely include Tony Jaa. Although you have to give kudos to the casting, its pretty damn impressive for such a throw away B-movie. But again its all very shallow, they've clearly only managed to grab Peter Weller for a couple days or less to shoot a few scenes, hell it didn't even need to be him because his character does nothing of importance. They obviously had to chance to nab a big name and took it. Same could almost be said for Michael Jai White, his character isn't really any big deal, he's barely involved for the most part, again obviously just there for a fight against Jaa. They even got Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in there...but again! its a throw away part that could of been played by anyone, of no importance at all.
Of course most of these movies are all the same, and when it comes to the old action stars and more modern martial artists (Jai White, Adkins etc...), the films are usually excuses to have match-ups between the famous stars (plot worked in around them). On that note the film delivers just about, there are two main fights, between Dolph and Jaa and Jaa and White. The best fight is easily between White and Jaa, two different styles and two polar opposite physiques make for a real cracker. Its almost on par with Bruce Lee taking on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in terms of physiques, Jaa being a slim, shorter, almost scrawny fellow, whilst White is quite tall and very very thick in build. The other fight between Jaa and Dolph is a much slower affair mainly because Dolph is getting on, but its still a solid battle. Again Dolph is much bigger and thicker (not as thick as White) but his speed lets him down (and age). The location for this fight (in a rice/grain mill at night) makes it a bit more visually exciting though, much slicker and more moody.
Apart from those two good fights the rest is pretty much the usual nonsense you'd see in any low grade action movie. The bad guys are all dressed in black and lounge around in very lavish establishments, there is always a tonne of henchmen just waiting to get shot or beat up, lots of semi-nude females in strip clubs, lots of aimless gunfights, the good guys never receive any major injuries in high risk parts of the body, and plenty of chases through busy streets.
The entire production is one big cliche really, its all just such pants I really don't know why anyone bothers making it. Some of it is just so stupid too, but its filmed in a serious manner! Dolph's character is in a hospital bed at one point, really beat up badly, but that's not gonna stop him. He just tears everything off himself, all the monitors and bandages etc...just gets up and walks out with no one noticing. He then proceeds to his home, which had been blown up prior, and is able to just walk into the heavily damaged building with ease, no police, nothing, just a single strip of police tape to keep the public out. He also gets stabbed in his abdomen at one point but that doesn't really go anywhere, he just walks that off. I also noticed that these cops have a tendency to get away with anything they like in this universe, both Jaa and Dolph's character kill plenty of people without any repercussions. Sure they were bad guys but still, actually Cassidy killed Dragovic's attorney didn't he, and other innocents by the look of things, when he blew up the restaurant he found him in, sooo...huh?
End of the day I really shouldn't moan about this because I knew what it was, what it was gonna be, a shoddy B-movie that goes straight to DVD (if its lucky). The main question I find myself asking is why in the hell is Dolph still making these types of movies? The man is clearly too old for this shit, he clearly cannot run at all, you can plainly see this from his movements and the fact they always cut away from him running. It really is becoming pretty embarrassing to watch this kind of stuff now because its really becoming very obvious. Look Dolph, you're past it, just accept it and retire from action flicks, its ridiculous. I only recommend this for the usage of Jaa and White, fights only that is, the rest is like a pair of unwashed pants, it stinks.