Monday, 30 May 2011

Films 41 - 45: Animation Special

I cant help but feel I picked a really stupid point in my life to start doing this challenge. Don't get me wrong, I'm still enjoying it but I've taken it on at a time in my life when things are actually happening for me! I've opened my own shop, I've been published in a Graphic Novel known as '10thology', I have freelance work going on and along with my good friends Kris and Jim, am about to publish my first comic book! So obviously it doesnt leave me with much in the way of free time! I'm not complaining, not even a little bit but I always seem to have sucked with my timing...

If you're ever in the Treforest area and want a tattoo then give us a shout in advance! You can find us on Facebook or on our website!

Anyway, with this set of films I didn't intentionally set out for it to be so specific as all animation. I started off with  the first film by accident as it was on tv and I hadn't seen it. I didn't plan it out. Then the second one I wanted to watch because of childhood nostalgia. I watched the third one and then found out it that there was a sequel to that one so made a point of watching that for number four... Then I intentionally went looking for an animated film I hadn't seen before that was sci-fi to fill the number five slot.

Here are the results!

41.) Monsters vs Aliens (2009) Dir: Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon


Now I don't really remember seeing this promoted that much around the time it came out. Sure I was aware of it but it wasn't constantly rammed in my face like Toy Story 3 was. So I hadn't really ever gotten around to watching it despite occasionally seeing it for a fiver in Tescos. For this challenge I didn't even set out to watch this one, just stumbled across it on Sky one day and figured it would count. It had made that little an impact on me. I'm kinda sick to death of most animated features these days being done in CG too. Coming from a 2D animation background, that's my preference. I find that sometimes when they lipsync CG they don't get the emphasis or emotion that the voice actor is conveying expressed enough in the way they animate.
All that said though, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Certainly nothing groundbreaking about it and not really a particularly original idea but it was still pretty darn good.
White haired chick (pictured) is about to get married but due to some alien... mineral, ends up being turned into a giant chick (Make sure you're out of the country when she's having her period folks! I don't think they make tampons in her size and I don't see Noah with no Arc anywhere around...) and she's therefore classed as a monster (Watch out for her mood swings when she's having her... Oh wait... I can't make that joke twice.) and incarcerated with a handful of other monsters that the U.S government have deemed a danger to society.
Anyone else noticed how these things always seem to happen in America? It's never in Australia or Libya or anything like that. Always the States... Just saying.
Anyway it turns out the thing that made our heroine a giant is also something that the bad guy Alien also wants for himself to make himself all powerful. Which seems a bit redundant as he's already managed to wipe out all of his own planet without it. How much more power could you possibly need? It couldn't be a case of him wanting it to conquer Earth as he didn't even really know of the planet until he knew the source of power had landed there. But hey! It's a kids film so we can let it slide.
Of course then the Aliens come to Earth and the U.S Government tell the monsters that if they fight off the Aliens then they will be allowed to go free. Much hilarity ensues and the good guys win. That's cutting it short quite a bit but you get the idea and films like this are always predictable anyway. That doesn't mean it's not enjoyable though. The gags throughout are enough to keep it interesting and it must have done pretty well to merit having a Halloween special made of it. Which I would actually really like to see.
Rating 4/5


42.) Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie (2010) Dir: Martyn Pick


Y'know, I'm always baffled how you can take an established franchise with a rich story and history to back it, make it into a movie but completely, utterly, totally fuck it up.
I mean when I was growing up, I was a big fan of the Warhammer stuff and generally most Games Workshop games and I liked the ideas behind each reality they created but this film is absolute fucking gash. I wasn't expecting this film to be any good but a little part of me did hope that it would be better than the pile of hot, steaming shit it turned out to be.
This had quite the big cast! People lending their voices to the film include Terence Stamp, John Hurt and Sean Pertwee! So like I said, it had quite the big cast. what it didn't have was any kind of real storyline. Or decent animation.
When the Ultramarines are walking around, some of the walk cycles are pretty bad. They kinda look like they've been done by a student in his first year on an animation degree course. Which would be pretty good for the student, not so good for the industry pro. There was no real sense of weight in any of the movements and lip sync in the film... Just... well lets just say there was no sense of emotion in any of the figures. Everything about the facial expressions and lip movements just seemed rather dead or empty to me.
As for the story, Ultramarines have received a distress call from a squad of Iron Fist Marines that are guarding some sort of ancient chaos text. They get there, find all bar two of the marines dead and that they are under attack from Chaos Space Marines. Then they have to get off planet and the cycle of it all starts again. I think maybe the writers thought they were being clever with ending the film the same way it started.
They weren't.
Cue some actions scenes where, despite there being a lot going on, the uninteresting animation makes it seem devoid of any action and then get some really badly done demons in at the end. Boom! You have a Warhammer 40K movie.
The one thing I WILL say for this film though is that I think it's the first film I have seen in a very long while where a character that Sean Pertwee is playing didn't die. He seems to enjoy being killed off in everything he's in (He dies in: Event Horizon, Love, Honour and Obey, Dog Soldiers, Doomsday and Mutant Chronicles. are there any I'm missing?) so that was a refreshing change.
The only reason I'm not giving this film a zero is for some nostalgic love I have for the concept from my childhood. Seriously though, this is for die hard fans only and I think even THEY would struggle with this pile of wank. Avoid.
Rating 1/5


43.) Dead Space: Downfall (2008) Dir: Chuck Patton


Sooooo I've heard a lot of positive stuff about the Dead Space computer games. One of my friends, Paul, had told me while he was in the shop last Thursday getting tattooed, that it's one of the most terrifying, entertaining games he's played. I knew you could pick the games up for pretty cheap so I considered picking up the first one second hand but then he mentioned they had done a few animated films of it as well.
From what I gather, this film is a prequel to the first computer game. If I hadn't heard the reviews of the first computer game from magazines, internet sources and friends alike and only had this film to go on as what to expect from a Dead Space computer game? I think I would give the game a wide berth.
I know this is trying to set the scene but there's nothing even remotely terrifying about this film. It also tried too hard to pinch stuff from other science fiction films and doesn't pull it off any where near as well. A group or hardened soldier types taking on an alien threat? "Aliens" anyone? Some of the survivors of the alien attack going nuts and turning on crew members? Hell, too many films to name could fit in there. Lets go with "Event Horizon" to stick to the horror sci-fi genre though.
Humans find an alien artifact on a planet and decide to transport it for research but of course everything goes tits up and the crew mutate into freaky ass alien things that are more laughable than they are scary. I'm sure it's worse when you're playing the game because... well, quite frankly, they're probably rendered better for a start. It's one thing I will say for CG over 2D animation though, they can make something tenser or creepier (When the budget allows) within a scene because of the things they can do with lighting effects. But that's just my opinion.
The film ends with what I would assume is the start of the Dead Space computer game. I'd say this one is more for people who have already played the game and are fans for them to get a little bit more backstory but I think from the way it's been written here, they'd be disappointed. That in itself is nothing new really though. People loved the original "Star Wars" trilogy and always wanted to know more, about young Vader and how the Jedi were when they were in their prime... but they were only to be disappointed with the visual eyesore that was Lucas' prequel trilogy.
There was some severely bad storytelling in this too. At one point, the main character and one of her men are running from an alien horde and they get to some security doors. The main character tells her man to come with her and seal the doors behind them. He tells her they'll get through the doors in no time at all so she needs to carry on and he'll hold off the aliens. He seals her in the safe side with him to face the horde but the second the door shuts, you don't hear any gunfire at all, just the guy screaming. Then the main character falls against the door upset. You cant help but feel the dude just went and wasted his life completely unnecessarily! Particularly since they don't seem to get through the door straight after anyways!
Rating 1/5


44.) Dead Space: Aftermath (2011) Dir: Mike Disa


This film is somewhat better than its predecessor. I'm assuming that this one is set after the events of the second Dead Space game. Either that or it's set just before it.
A Government ship rescues four survivors from a spaceship that has been infected with an alien horde. How did it all go down on the ship though? Thats the basis of the film with each of the survivors being interviewed in turn and giving the full back story of events. Each time a different character gives their account of things, a different style of animation is used - in the sense that it's all drawn differently and with different styles. All 2D if memory serves but then when it comes back to the present, it's done with computer animation.
This is my main problem with this film to be honest. The CG models just look absolutely terrible (See above picture) and they almost look like something you would have expected on the Playstation one. Or again, maybe a student film. The woman in the pic above on the far right? She's supposed to be Asian!
There's also no sense of continuity between the styles in the flashbacks either. Designs are just too different. I know it's done to show that it's a different person telling the story but surely they would all still have the same idea of what their spacesuits and robotics would look like?! If my brother and I were separated from each other and put into two separate rooms and asked to describe a police officers uniform (Here in the UK) I've got a feeling that at the very least, the basics would match up. Not in this.
It just seems like a silly thing to do. If you read a comic book and in every panel the heroes comic kept changing, you would find it hard to focus on the story because of how all over the place the continuity is. That's what it felt like with this. Facial hair would change from one flashback to another, which might not sound like a big deal except that its the facial hair of one of the survivors! They've been with him all along! Same goes for the military uniforms. They all serve yet none of them seem to have pinned down an idea of what the military uniforms are supposed to look like. It just bugged me a little.
Over all with this film I kinda preferred it as it wasn't so over the top with the "in-your-face" monsters. But it still wasn't great. Again, this would appeal more to the fans of the games than anyone just wanting to watch an animated sci-fi flick.
Rating 2/5


45.) Planet 51 (2009) Dir: Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad & Marcos Martinez


Don't try watching animated films for the first time when you've gotten home from a night drinking in the pub. You only end up putting it on the next day and having to watch it from the start again anyway... Silly boy.
This was another animated flick that seemed to totally escape the Dan Harris radar. I really have fallen out of the animated loop in recent years it would seem...
I quite liked this film though.
It's set on an alien planet that is in a very similar stage, appearance wise, as America was in the 50's (America again? *sigh*).  A visitor from outer space lands on their planet in a small (North American) town and turns out to be a human. He ends up being hunted by the native military and finds a friend in one of the locals who tried to help him get back off planet.
The human is voiced by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with his abilities as a voice actor. You find some actors who are great on screen but just can't transfer very well to voice acting. The Rock was actually pretty good and may even be better in this than his live action roles. Although having said that, I have to say I do enjoy The Rock as an actor. I just find him a bit hammy when it comes to his role in the WWE is all...
One thing I did love with this film though is the Alien dog. Blatantly a homage (Or rip off if you like) to Gigers Alien design. It has the tongue instead of the jaw and it has the tail, lack of eyes and identical cranium. Brill.
I actually think I loved all of the design work in this film. I love the retro feel to the designs (I've looked at old 50's things in some of my own designs in the past.) and the simple, yet effective designs to the alien creatures. The character animation was nice and each character design matched the voice that went with it perfectly (If you want to see a film where it doesn't, watch "Final Fantasy: Spirits Within" - Gash.).
This film plays heavily on the old B-Movies of the 50's and is a good tribute to them. I was only going to give this film a 3 originally, but compared against some of the other films I've watched in this update, it deserves so much better and I don't honestly think I could say "Monsters vs Aliens" was better than this so...
Rating 4/5


There we go then folks! Another round of films done and the next bunch will take us all the way up to 50. If anyone reading this is currently doing the Animation course at the Atrium in Cardiff, I shall see you on Friday for drinks and much merryment. Come up and say hi.
Otherwise, as always, if you have an idea of a film you would like me to watch and slate... err... I mean review, then you can let me know by e-mailing me at Loki_Dan@Hotmail.com or messaging me on Facebook, deviantART, or follow me on Twitter and receive updates when I've posted a new blog.
Now i'm going to try and avoid L.A Noire and get some sleep... I meant to go to bed ages ago as I haven't been feeling too clever today but I had to watch the absolutely incredible "Game of Thrones" before I wrote this and this has taken a fucking age in itself. 


Word to yo motha!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Films 36 - 40!

So I'm doing this blog after having watched this years BAFTA awards on the television. Now normally I don't watch this as I don't like these award ceremonies where the awards are decided by a bunch of suits. I think it would be a much better idea if the awards were decided by the public. The normal people who have to sit down and wade through shit program after shit program before they find something good. It should be decided by these people!

Or at least, I thought so until tonight.

One award at the BAFTA's, yes only one, is in fact decided by the British public. They had a few options. A couple of them were actually good choices as well. 
BUT OH NO!
The British public, in their infinite fucking wisdom have decided that the peoples choice award should go to a mind numbingly dumb show known as "The only way is Essex".
I guess I shouldn't be TOO surprised as the average IQ of folk in the UK is 100... But still! I like to think that as a people we're above actually voting for such mundane shit about a bunch of airhead wasters!

Clearly we are not.

Yes, it has put me in to a wee bit of a bitchy mood as you might be able to see but fortunately I decided on the scores for the latest set of films before I started watching the Bafta's.
So we'll get on to the latest reviews in a moment! Before we do though, I just want to bring your attention to a very under-rated film. A film which as a stand alone story is actually really good, if you don't compare it to other science fiction, superhero type films.
That film is "Hancock"
I can't include it in the reviews as I saw it a while back, before I started this project of mine at all. It is good though. If only for one particular scene. I've been playing it a lot lately because I think the music and the way the scene is put together is just stunning. Check it out here.

36.) Brazil (1985) Dir: Terry Gilliam


One of the most wonderfully weird films I think I have ever had the good fortune to see. This came at the recommendation of my old friend Thonoir. He asked me if I had ever seen it and if not then why not. This was a good enough prompt for me to give it a look.
The film is set in a dystopian styled future where everything is run by bureaucrats but in a more hard core extreme version of anything we have today. Everything and I mean Everything requires paperwork in some form or other. There are terrorists in the world but they are really just people who want to live free of the strict rules that have been enforced by the state.
The hero of the film is Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce - WALES! WALES!) a man who works for the society running administration as a sort of middle man with no aspirations to gain any sort of promotion. He's happy where he is. That is of course until he falls in love with a woman who by a clerical error, has ended up becoming an enemy of the state. He goes out of his way to do everything he can to stop the authorities catching up with her and by doing so, himself ends up an enemy of the state.
If you do a search for this film you find that one of the first names it will list is that of De Niro. I find this an injustice to the other actors who really make the film as good old Roberts part in the film is relatively small. It's pretty hard to put in to words how totally far out and fucking whacky this film actually is! The story is relatively linear and therefore is not like a David Lynch film simply in the sense that with "Brazil" you can actually follow and know whats going on. But there are some really trippy bits like when Lowry has these dreams that are inserted into certain parts of the films. In the dreams he seems to be an armour clad angel fighting to win his love. A love who turns out to be the woman he is obsessed with in the real world. The thing is, he dreams about her before he ever see's her in real life and this just fuels his obsession...
I think the way the film ends... With a sort of dream sequence... Has been ripped off in many other films since too.
I cant say much more really... I'll finish on the fact that I thought it was a really, really enjoyable film. At no point did I find it boring and I watched it all the way through to the very end without complaint.
But...
It's not a film I would hurry to see again any time soon. I think it's something that every sci-fi fan should see once in their lives...
But once is enough.
Watch the trailer here.
Rating 4/5


37.) Zathura (2005) Dir: Jon Favreau


Holy Shit! This film was directed by Jon Favreau?! I did not know that!
This film can be summed up in one sentence really: "Jumanji" in space
But I know that's really not going to be enough of a review for you. I enjoyed the film (Gods help me...) but it is just an updated version of Jumanji. Instead of being about a jungle though, it's about a Space race. It even has a similar time element to it that Jumanji had (Kids grow up to adults, get trapped in the game etc...). One of two brothers finds the board game "Zathura" and the brothers begin to play. When they do they find that their house is no longer on Earth but has been transported to a distant section of space where they have to avoid meteor showers and hostile aliens if they ever want to get home. The only way they can hope to get home is if one of the brothers reaches the end. Then the game resets and you find yourself safe back at home.
The one thing that "Zathura" has that "Jumanji" didn't have though?
Incest.
That's right folks. I don't know if they got the idea from that scene in "Empire Strikes Back" where Leia snogs Luke (Some would say that at that point she didn't know Luke was her brother but then in "Jedi" when Luke tells her they're related, the first thing she says is "I know... Somehow... I've always known." eeeeewwww.) but they work in the suggestion of incest into the story! It doesn't actually happen as such, but lets just say there's a point where Kristen "Incapable of smiling without looking like she is in pain" Stewart pretty much states that she wanted to fuck her brother. Give it a watch. You'll see what I mean.
The effects in this film are pretty great and I really do like the designs on the aliens, robots and Spaceships:
Pretty retro and cool if you ask me. Maybe i'm a little biased as since I got into tattooing, I've developed a stronger love for the old school, retro robot/spaceship designs.
This film has quite the cast as well with Tim Robbins playing the kids dad and Dax Shepard playing an Astronaut. I really like Shepard as an actor - I think he's very underrated. He's great in this at least anyway.
Although this isn't one of Favreau's best films, it is definitely a great family film and the sort of thing you would sit down and watch with your kids on a Sunday afternoon when it's raining outside.
Rating 3/5


38.) The Island (2005) Dir: Michael Bay


As much as I find the films of Michael Bay waaaay over the top with unnecessary CGI and explosions used on an almost constant basis, I cant help but find myself sucked in when I watch his films. I think with Bay people watch his films, are so dazzled by the spectacle of them, that they don't form a proper opinion of whether or not the film is any good for the most part, until after the film has finished.
This film stars Ewan "Obi-Wan" McGregor as Lincoln 6 Echo and Scarlett Johansson as Jordan 2 Delta.
The film starts in a facility which is supposed to be the last refuge of humanity. We've almost brought ourselves to the point of extinction and outside of the facility, the world is contaminated to the extent of being uninhabitable.
That is of course, with the exception of "The Island". All of the residents of the facility live in hope that one day they will be able to win a lottery and leave the facility to live on the Island which is the last known paradise left to us humans.
We're initially introduced to Sean Bean as the facilities shrink who helps the survivors if they have nightmares etc etc. He makes sure that the survivors stay at peak physical fitness and look after themselves too.
All of the "civilian" survivors wear white suits. They are policed by people who wear black suits. How very old school James Bond in a way to differentiate the "goodies" from the "baddies" no?
Ewan, with a terrible American accent, discovers that all is not as it seems on the Island and that, in fact, when people are supposed to be winning the lottery, they are in fact being harvested for organs. So Ewan and Scarlett escape the facility to find the world is not contaminated after all. In fact they're only between 3-5 years ahead of us as we stand now in time.
It turns out that Sean Bean is in fact running a facility that creates clones of people (White suits) just in case the original person ever develops anything like cancer or hepatitis. That way they can take the organs from their clones and live longer than they would otherwise be able to.
The only problem is, people in the real world don't know that the clones are ever allowed to live. They think that they are basically empty shells just used for organs later on.
So you can see why good old Sean Bean would worry when Ewan and Scarlett get free.
Hence the typical "over the top" Michael Bay action scenes with people surviving the impossible and lots of shit being destroyed... One specific bit sees a lorry carrying loads of giant dumbbells being chased because our heroes have hitched a ride on the back. Ewan starts unloading the dumbbells into the road behind the lorry but the lorry driver doesn't notice anything at all. No change in the handling or weight or anything. Just keeps driving.
Ewan meets the person he was cloned from, finds out he cost $5 million and that in the real world, he's a bit of a prick.
Blah, blah, blah, Ewan gets free, decides to free the other clones, fights with Sean Bean... The entire film was just absolutely predictable. It reminded me a bit of the old film with Emilio Estevez called "Freejack" for some reason. Only not as good as that... Seriously, I had this entire film sussed in less than an hour and with the adverts Film4 kept playing, it was nearly 3 hours long!
Oh and one last thing about this film, it was a blatant commercial for real world products. Honestly, there was so much product placement it was sickening. I mean, I know that with all the effects Bay uses, it probably costs a lot of money but still! I noticed blatant advertisements for: Puma, X-Box and Calvin Klein - and that was without even paying much attention to other adverts that might have been littered in the background!
Sean Bean was my favourite thing about this film. He's so good at playing... Well, Sharpe... In everything, to be honest! But still I love him. I have to ask though, with all the big, successful films he's made, he must be absolutely loaded! So why, oh why did he have to go and make "The Lost Future"? For those of you who haven't seen it or have forgotten about it/blocked it out of your memory, it was the fourth film I reviewed in this challenge.
Rating 3/5


39.) Star Runners (2009) Dir: Mat King


So yeah, this film is gash. Let's start as we mean to go on shall we?
This is what happens if you take a guy who used to be in "Star Trek" and get him to play a guy who is like a poor mans Han Solo getting trapped on a planet that is a rip off of something out of "Starship Troopers" whilst being pursued by government officials who fly around in a ship that is not too dissimilar to the "Battlestar Galactica" so that they can get hold of a girl who is basically a rip off of River from "Firefly".
The main characters name is Tycho. Now I thought this name was made up for the "Star Wars" character who is a member of Rogue Squadron. Since it's used in this film and I have heard nothing of any law suits then I guess it's not.
Tycho gets hired by some government, military guys to transport a cargo, which he opens to find is a gifted girl (Cue "Firefly's" River rip-off). They end up on a transport which crash lands on a planet inhabited by bugs that come out of the ground, fly in the air, sever heads etc etc (Cue "Starship Troopers" rip-off) which leads them to spend the rest of the film trying to get off planet only to be blocked by a big government ship (Cue the "Battlestar Galactica" rip-off)
It's so unoriginal that the River rip-off character is the last of a race of people who were experimented on and then wiped out by their own government in a fashion not too dissimilar to the Reavers from the "Firefly" universe.
It's that bad that i'm surprised that Tycho didn't fly around in a ship called something along the lines of "The Century Eagle". Honestly. Watch this trailer if you don't believe me! This is enough alone to make you think "Wow! Copyright infringement at all?.."
In fact the only reason that I'm not giving this film a big fat ZERO for ripping off a lot of Sci-fi franchises that I absolutely love, is that the effects on the Space sequences are actually not too bad. In a very similar style to the "Battlestar Galactica" remakes space special effects. This is limited to the space sequences though. The CG on the Bugs that attack the cast of the film when they crash land is just appalling. Really it is.
It's so bad I wouldn't watch it again even for a laugh. This is the conversation my dad had with me as I watched it:
"This any good?"
"Nope."
"But it counts so you're watching it anyway?"
"Yup."
Cue a chuckle from my pops as he walked out of the room.
Rating 1/5


40.) The Invasion (2007) Dir: Oliver Hirschbiegel


This film is a modern take on "Invasion of the body snatchers" minus the cool bit where the aliens would point at a human and open their mouths to make the siren noise.
A space shuttle crash lands on Earth but brings something back with it. An alien life form that can only really take effect of you and spread through your system after you have gone to sleep. Once you do sleep, the alien takes over and although you look the same, you're now under alien control and devoid of all emotion.
It's not too badly done if i'm completely honest. There's just nothing ground breaking or new about it. It doesn't even really have any special effects of note.
Nicole Kidman is our heroine who slowly comes to realise (With the help of a google search... *sigh*) that things are not as they seem and that people are changing. She needs help so takes a sample of some alien tissue she finds to her friend/love interest Daniel Craig. They scan an eventually find out that there are aliens among us slowly taking over and that Kidmans son has spent a lot of time with his infected father. Luckily he hasn't turned for some reason and they rationalise that the son must be immune. Cue attempts to rescue him. In the process Kidman herself is infected and so spends the next part of the film doing everything she can not to fall asleep to lose herself to the Alien parasite.
They seem to find a cure easily enough and the film kinda ends with a sort of massive anticlimax in my opinion.
It's not a bad film really. Just again, a case of there being nothing new. Nothing we haven't really seen before. I think they were trying to be clever with it and put a slightly different twist on the old 1956 and 78 versions of the earlier mentioned "Invasion of the body snatchers" but for me it didn't work so well. I think I would have preferred a updated version of the original. Like 78 was just and updated version of 56, I would have liked 07 to just be an updated version of 78... Having said that though, it has been a long time since I saw either of those films so maybe i'm way off on that assessment. Feel free to let me know.
Plus I know that they're all based on a book  that I haven't read. Maybe the Nicole Kidman is the most accurate to that in which case, I should probably shut my mouth. Again, if you have read the book, let me know which version of the films was the most accurate!
As a one off though, I quite enjoyed the film. I just wouldn't hurry to watch it again. I'd rather watch the Donald Sutherland version personally.
Rating 3/5


So another five films down! I've already watched 41 as I write this as well but obviously wont be including that in this update.
Still not getting bored of this! I would like to know how I can increase my audience though. If you know how I can get more followers or if you have a suggestion on a Sci-fi film you would like me to review, then inbox me on my Facebook page or you can email me at Loki_Dan@Hotmail.com! Feel free to message me with any comments you might have on past reviews as well, that is, if you don't like to publicly post on here as i'm sure some people probably don't.
The one good thing I can say about this load of films though is that unlike other films I have watched as part of this challenge, none of this most recent five have made me want to gouge my own eyes out and then use them to block my ears. That's got to be a good thing right?


On a related topic, My mate Andy has decided to nick my idea and do a film challenge of his own. He's decided to do 250 chick flicks that he has never seen before. Kinda a hard one to judge on that scale since the IMDB doesn't have "chick flick" down as a genre so how do you decide what is and what isn't a chick flick? Some would be blatantly obvious but I think others would be up for debate. Discuss or debate the merits of this with him here. He's a bit of a girl in his reviews though and not quite as articulate as me (And that's saying something! Haha ;) Just kidding buddy!) so go easy on him and let him know what you think of his reviews!


Until next time peeps! 
Much love.


Dan.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Films 31 - 35 (OOOOO Not far off Fiddy! FIDDY CENT YO!)

So I know a lot of you are probably thinking from my last lot of reviews, I had to sit through a LOT of shit. You're absolutely, completely and utterly right. Eye bleedingly bad...
The thing I have come to learn though whilst doing this challenge is that having to endure so much shit makes you appreciate the good all the more.
This time I certainly lucked out. I think pretty much all of my reviews this time around are positive. Although that doesn't necessarily mean all the films were good... Just that they amused me enough to merit a positive response...
Take from that what you will...
One thing I can promise you is that I will never refer to this challenge as a "Journey" because every time someone on reality television says that, I just want to ram a rusty spoon into each of their eyes. The pore bleach down their throats so that they cant possibly refer to whats happened to them as a journey again.
Believe it or not, my shrink says i'm getting better.

Right! To the films! At the end of the last blog I mentioned the first film i'll be reviewing so it is with great pride that I bring you:

31.) Megaforce (1982) Dir: Hal Needham


If that picture doesn't sell it for you, nothing will. Right?
This is quite possibly one of the BEST and WORST films I have ever seen all rolled into one. Seriously. This film was so completely, utterly, positively, totally bad that in was INCREDIBLE. Amazing!
It was bad to the point where unlike with the other bad films I've been watching, I wasn't actually wanting to gouge my own eyes out so that I wouldn't have to see anymore of the dross. In fact, this film had me in constant fits of laughter. If you cant laugh at the green screen effects first really seen with the skydiving scene in this... Well... Then you cant appreciate film at all.
So I'll try and trim down the plot as much as I can here... There's a bad guy who leads a merc tank unit and has been blowing up property blowing up to the peoples of the free world. Generally causing trouble in hit and run tactics that have helped him elude capture by the authorities.
So you get a stuffy British General played by the old dude (Is it Denham?) from "Nightrider" - at least... I THINK its him. Feel free to correct me if i'm way off base here... and the General is joined by a Major from... Well... I'm not really sure where the hell she is supposed to be from but I guess its supposed to be a poorer country.  Now the pair of them want to stop the Merc leader but some sort of bureaucratic nonsense is stopping them from doing it all public like... something along those lines. So they're invited to the Megaforce base of operations. Somehow.
Megaforce are a elite, secret fighting force put together from the worlds finest soldiers of the free world to stop tyranny from being triumphant. Kinda like the G.I Joe team were but with less of them being specifically American alone. The Megaforce guys aren't referred to as "Real American Heroes" at any point.
Megaforce are led by the greatest of all the elite soldiers. A man who goes by the name of, and wait for it because this is so bad, Commander Ace Hunter. His appearance is that which we have become accustomed to from our military leaders these days:
Think back to all the times you've seen military leaders being interviewed over recent years since 9/11. You remember all the ones who wore (Rather gay) headbands, had big bouffant hair-do's and really out of control, scruffy facial hair?
No?
What? You were expecting something more like this?:
Don't be so ridiculous.
Within Megaforce, Hunter is the only one with any official sort of rank, as one of the supporting characters Dallas explains: "Rank? Why ain't nobody got a rank in Megaforce. 'Cept the Commander, but we all call him Hunter."
Now i'll be one of the first to hold my hands up and say I don't know ALL the ins and outs of the various different military ranking structures, but considering there are around 60 trooper types IN Megaforce, how would this work on a larger scale? Lets say theoretically during a mission Hunter is with part of the squad and the other part of the squad get ambushed. Who takes command of that part? "Hey, target that sector over there!"
"Fuck you! You don't outrank me fucker!"
It just wouldnt work.
So Megaforce go in at night and fuck up a lot of the Merc commanders shit and then plan to arrest the Merc commander the following day by leading him across the border where General Nightrider will be waiting to arrest him. At this point I should point out that they fuck his shit up by riding MOTORCYCLES with missile launchers attached to them. Oh and dune buggies. I better not forget the dune buggies.
I put that there just because it makes me laugh.
So because the (Mostly American) International freedom squad have performed a military act within the Merc commanders native country, that countries government get understandably pissed. They wont allow for Megaforce to arrest the Merc and will open fire on them if they try to cross the border. They need an evac. So they have to get back to the planes that dropped them off. Unfortunately one of them gets damaged so now there's only one plane to evacuate 60 men (Thats right, not one was even seriously wounded during the nights raid or the following days hostilities despite the team being as subtle as a bull in a china shop) which means they have to leave behind all of their super fancy... erm... Dune Buggies and Motorcycles - The best in front line warfare. If I was going up against a tank I know I would want to be... armed with... a um... Motorbike... Yeah. They set a self destruct on their tech so the bad guys cant... Ride their motorbikes... When they're gone and board the plane.
But ALAS!
Hunter has been knocked from his bike and is somewhat falling behind! It looks like he might not make it to the Plane!
So what does he do?
He rides his motorbike... Faster! AND!!!! AND!!!!! Turns it into a sort of flying motorcycle! Seriously!
Cue some more terrible Green screen aaaand:
I know exactly what you're thinking:
and you would be totally right in thinking that.
Hunter gets on the plane and they fly back into a safe zone where there is much rejoicing. Hunter blows a kiss from his thumb at the female Major chick I mentioned earlier because now that it's all done and dusted, he can take her on a date.
So what was accomplished?:
An ill-disciplined military unit went into a country that up until that point wasn't hostile towards Western Civilisation just in the hope of capturing a fugitive hiding in their country. Without talking to that countries government.
They blow up a supply depot for the Merc bad guys tanks but don't manage to capture the Merc at all himself (Thats right, he survives.) and end up losing what is no doubt billions of dollars worth of equipment in the process.
I think they would be lucky if the cost of the loss of all the vehicles, weighed against the supply depot they destroyed, meant that they were even breaking even with this mission.
I fucking LOVED this film. If you and your friends are the types to sit down and just take the piss out of whatever film you're watching then you couldn't do better than this film!
Oh and if you want to see the whole "flying bike" scene in full, it's on Youtube here.
BEST-BAD-FILM-EVER.
Rating 4/5


32.) Primer (2004) Dir: Shane Carruth


When I first announced on Facebook that I was doing this challenge (I'm www.facebook.com/griftersart if you want to send me a recommendation) there were quite a few people who suggested this film to me and I kinda forgot all about it. Then an old friend of mine, Jordan, sent me a message saying he'd been reading the blog and suggested this film to me again. So with it fresh in mind, I decided to watch this next so I couldn't forget about it again.
I absolutely fucking LOVED this film. It's insanely clever and manages to be so with a practically non-existent budget ($7000, which when you compare it against another sci-fi film of 2004 like "The Day after tomorrow" which had a budget of $125,000,000.00 is pretty impressive when you see what they achieve story wise.).
The film is about a couple of scientists trying to just get that one experiment perfect. I wont lie, when they were speaking all the technical, scientific shizzle at the start of the film, I had absolutely no fucking idea of what they were on about and kinda felt those bits a little hard to follow at one in the morning... but I kinda knew they were going somewhere with it.
All through the film I was waiting for some sort of special effect to occur but it never did and you know what? I'm glad it didn't. It goes to show how solid the story is and doesn't just rely on what can be done with CG like the earlier mentioned "Day After Tomorrow" did.
The two scientist discover a way to travel back in time. Not massively. They do things like go back six hours and things like that. They start to wonder about how they could make their lives better from this. Things like lottery wins or investing in stocks and shares etc etc. Of course though being scientists they then start to worry about what this time travel might be doing to them physically and whether or not they could possibly end up creating a time paradox. So they have to try and avoid anything that could create one when they travel back in time. like seeing themselves for example. They also have to make sure they turn their phones off. They wonder: If they travel back and leave their phones on and they get a call, does it goes to both mobile phones? Just the future ones? Things like that.
Don't get me wrong, this film is really one for those who are specifically sci-fi fans. It's boring yet interesting at the same time but you really have to stick with it.
That said, this film is a little bit of genius that the thinking film-goer will really appreciate I think. Let me know what you think if you do decide to watch it.
Rating 4/5


33.) I Am Number 4 (2011) Dir: D. J. Caruso


I knew this was a Sci-Fi and despite it having my man-crush Timothy Olyphant in it, I was going to put off watching it in this challenge for as long as I could because there was something about it that was really putting me off that I couldn't put my finger on...
Then I got a text off my friend Ned who insisted I watch it. In fact, this is the exact text he sent me in regards to it:
"I got a film you have to review. Just saw "I am Number four". It's an alien "Twilight" rip-off. I thought it was gonna be shit and to be fair the first half is but fuck me, it has the best fight scene I have watched for years. Better than any comic film. I loved the flick by the end. Please watch it and tell me if i'm way off as I feel like an emo teen turd for liking it so much."
After a message like that, how could I NOT watch it?
Ned was spot on with the "Twilight" bit. It starts off with the whole "Oh god i'm such a hard done by teen-in-love" feel to it.
Basically, number four comes from an alien species that are now all but extinct. He is one of the "Chosen" children (One of nine in fact.) who are supposed to be able to save his species. The only problem is, his species are almost extinct before he's even started growing hairs in the most curious of places. So he's never known his home planet. Each chosen child has a protector. Number Fours is Timothy. Numbers one to Three are dead pretty much as the film starts. Murdered by the alien race that all but wiped out Number Fours people. So Four and Timothy know they could be in trouble.
But instead of worrying about the possibility of impending death, Four decides to risk everything over a girl.
Hell we've all been there right?
Seriously, the start is so teen-romance-flick-like. The sort of film that at the age of fifteen you might take your girlfriend to see in the hope of being able to make out and maybe feel some boob at the back of the cinema - if you're male that is - or not, i'm not here to judge!.. Until the action starts, the only person who really makes the film watchable is Timothy Olyphant. The dude is freaking cool in everything he's ever in. He can do know wrong (With the exception of appearing in this film in the first place...) and really does a good job of playing the overbearing protector.
Eventually the action kicks in and Ned wasn't wrong when he made out it's good! It really IS good. It does piss all over a lot of the recent superhero flicks. I'm not sure if I would say it beats all of them though...
Nevertheless, it is really cool when you see Four come into his alien powers and start being able to stop things in mid air, shoot light of his hands and get pretty damn strong.
If this film had had less action or less impressive action scenes, I would have rated it lower. If it had had less of the mushy teen "I love you" bullshit, I would have rated it higher.
Rating 3/5


34.) Southland Tales (2006) Dir: Richard Kelly


As I watched this, I thought it was one of the weirdest, off it films to star such a big cast that I had ever seen. Then I found out it was written and directed by the guy who wrote "Donnie Darko" and was less surprised that so many stars would want to be in a film that at first glance seems rather nonsensical and bizarre.
They were probably hoping it would be as big a film on the mainstream and cult circuit as "Darko" was but this film (Some could could argue unfortunately) seems to lack anything that might appeal to the "Emo" audience. Christ, I used to work in a comic-book shop and the amount of emo-kids who would come in that liked "Donnie Darko" because it was the "cool" thing to do was unbelievable. None of them even understood that the film was about time travel and that it gave subtle clues to it all the way through. All they cared about was the guy in that fucking bunny suit.
Anyways i'm going a bit off topic on my rant there. Back to the main film!
I did spend a big chunk of this film just trying to figure out what the fuck was going on! Like the picture above? That didn't seem to make any sense whatsoever in the film. Stuff going on with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was bizarre and Seann William Scott seems as baffled in the film as I was watching it!
That said I was strangely enthralled and as the film develops (It's other two hours long so you really have to stick with it...) things really started to fall in to place and make some sort of sense.
There are weird twists and a clever use of time travel that really kept me interested, although I can understand why I had never heard of the film before simply on the basis of the films weirdness.
It's definitely not one for a casual film watcher. This is for the real film enthusiast or hard core science fiction fan. Having said that, if you enjoy the films of David Lynch and things like that, this might not be hardcore enough for you! Or maybe you would enjoy it more so than the average film viewer... Try it!
Oh and this film has one of the greatest film lines of all time:
"He IS a pimp. And pimps don't commit suicide."
Rating 4/5


35.) Megamind (2010) Dir: Tom McGrath


Now I know most people either love or hate Will Ferrell. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of in-between the two. No matter what your opinion of him is though, there is no way you can deny he is absolutely brilliant in this.
I would say that this is one of the best if not THE best performance of Ferrells career. And it's animated.
I realised that I hadn't really done a proper animated film with these reviews. I don't count "A Scanner Darkly" really as being animation in the same sort of vein as this.
I hadn't really heard too much about this film in terms of reviews so I went in without any sort of expectations but as some of you reading this will know, my degree is in animation so I already have a passion for it.
Megamind is an alien sent to Earth in very much the same way as Superman was. At the same time though, another Alien was also sent to Earth in the same way only from a different planet of origin than Megamind. Megamind grew up in a American prison whereas the other alien grew up in a very Bruce Wayne-wealthy sort of family. Megamind grew up to be a Supervillain, the other alien a hero called Metro Man. They constantly battle with Megamind always being the loser and ending up back in prison. On one of their many battles though, Megamind actually ends up winning and destroys Metro Man. Shocked, he decides to rule the city he has spent so long trying to conquer but of course eventually boredom sets in. He misses his arch nemesis.
He realises that without Metro Man, he's incomplete. He NEEDS a arch enemy and finds that the one he has killed was in some weird way, a friend. It's really nicely done.
Megamind hatches a genius plan to use Metro Mans DNA to give his powers to an ordinary human being in the hope that they will rise up to be the new Hero that the city deserves. Unfortunately he ends up accidentally giving the powers to someone who without the powers is a borderline psychopathic nut job. With them? He actually becomes a lot worse than Megamind.
So now Megamind realises... HE has to become the hero himself to stop the monster he is responsible for creating.
Really, REALLY loved this film and it's totally family friendly too. I cant recommend it enough.
Incidentally (And maybe this is just the uber-geek in me thinking this) the character that ends up being the main bad guy of the film is called (in his civilian persona) "Hal Stewart" which led me to wonder if this was a nod to the DC superheroes who use the title "Green Lantern". Those of you in the know will know there is a Green Lantern called "Hal Jordan" and another called "John Stewart". It sounds like they amalgamated the names. You may have picked up on the fact that I am a massive Green Lantern fan/geek so every time I see something I think is associated with it, I have a joygasm...
Rating 5/5


There we go friends and fiends! Another five films down! I'm thinking I'll draw up a picture in celebration for every fifty films I watch! 
I think I am still running a bit behind schedule with how many I have watched so far. I need a week off work where I can just focus straight on this challenge but alas that isn't very likely whilst we're still living in a monetary based society. Bugger.
Once again, as always, I'm open to comments and suggestions on films and would love to hear back off anyone in regards to whether the agree or disagree with my summaries! 
I keep getting asked if this challenge is getting to me yet and to be one hundred percent honest, I would have to say a definitive NO. I'm still really enjoying it! I'm a big fan of science fiction already so why would it get to me?


Till next time folks, talk care!


Dan

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Films 26 through 30!

Well... I seem to be slowing down on the film front but i'm putting that down to the fact that its hard to motivate yourself when you're watching so many bad films. I know how Rob from ToplessRobot must feel now with his "Fan Fiction Friday" segments... Great website by the way. Check it out if you're a geek and haven't seen it before at www.toplessrobot.com.
This may surprise you but i've never seen the second and third "Matrix" films. There is a reason for this. For many years in my early 20's I worked for Forbidden Planet International and I was there at the time the sequels were released. We had a constant flow of customers coming in telling us that if we loved the first film then not to watch the follow ups as they were complete gash. We had so many people telling us this that it really put me off watching them and so I never got around to it. This challenge will see me watching them at some point but I AM curious as to what the opinions of you guys reading this are towards the sequels. It's easy enough to comment so take a minute!
Anyway, on to the next lot of films and I'm sorry to say that it really wasn't a good batch this time around. On the other hand though, because of this i'm looking at it being a case of "The only way is up!"
We'll see...

26.) Battle Planet (2008) Dir: Greg Aronowitz


Oh where, oh where do I start with this film? It stars Zack Ward. The biggest thing I have seen this guy in is "Transformers" and he wasn't a major player in that. He basically one of the only people starring in this film who is actually capable of doing any sort of real acting. Seriously, the guy playing his friend in this film is some dude with long hair who really cant act for toffee. It is sort of ridiculous really. Effectively they come across as some sort of police force in Space but the uniforms look so cheap - Overalls with a plastic badge attached to the chest for the most part. Oh and the dude I mentioned earlier who CAN'T act? He has long hair. Like, shoulder length long hair. I just cant see that being allowed. Or at least, not in the sense where he doesnt have to tie it back when he's in uniform.
So Zack Ward gets sent to a planet in search of a high-up military official who has gone missing. They dont know though if the planet he is on has breathable air so they send him in in a experimental sort of mech suit to help him survive the terrain. The suit can communicate with him and despite the fact it's supposed to obey his orders, it pretty much ignores any order it's given by Zack throughout the entire film. The suit itself, considering the budget, was pretty cool. It kind of made me think that if "Starship Troopers" had been made to be more accurate to the book, then the infantry would have been wearing something similar to the suit used in "Battle Planet". Of course, slightly more upmarket as it would have had a much bigger budget...
Eventually he meets the official he's been sent to find and it turns out she didn't go missing, she left because it turns out the people they had both been working for are not particularly nice guys. They sort of team up and again the story got so boring that I sorta phased in and out of paying attention with this film. I'll tell you the ending because I really don't want any of you to watch this:
They both die.
The film then finishes with another chump being tricked into going on a mission where they are quite likely to be betrayed by the people they are working for - wearing the mech-suit.
The thing that I noticed was that early on in the film Zack gets the suit to change from a monotonous, male, robot voice when it talks to him, to a softer, female voice. Now when the films ending and you see the new chump in the suit, its still the female voice and it hasn't gone back to it's default setting. Maybe thats something that would only bug me.
Now the only reason i'm giving this suit a point at all and not a big fat zero for a shit story and shit special effects and a shit cast IS basically, I liked the mech-suit in the film AND the make-up on the aliens in the film is actually pretty fucking good! For example, this is the official he starts the film tracking down:
 and with all that make-up on, she was still capable of facial movements that didnt look stiff and helped to make it look a bit more believable. So for those reasons alone:
Rating 1/5


27.) Clonehunter (2009) Dir: Andrew Bellware


So I can't remember for the life of me how I came across this film. Maybe I was perusing the science fiction listings of "Project Free TV" or something like that I don't know... But this isn't one of those films that has made such an impact on me that I will be talking about it for years to come. Hell, I doubt I will remember it within the months to come...
This film is about a Clonehunter (shock) who, along with his new partner (He had to kill his last one) is called to a cesspit planet by an aging mob boss. In this distopian future, as people age they create clones of themselves and then have their consciousness put into them. The bad news is though, that this mob bosses clone has escaped before he could have his mind put into it. Now the younger version of himself (Who bares not even a slight resemblance to him by the way) has taken over all of his territory. Obviously mob boss isnt happy so sends in our (anti)hero. The guy playing the lead just wishes he could convincingly pull off a decent imitation of ONE of the iconic Harrison Ford characters of the last 30 years. What actually comes across is a main character you cant build any real sort of attachment to. You don't feel like you want him to win. You don't particularly want him to lose either. You just don't care.
What I did like about this film though, is the way it is shot. It is pretty low budget so most of the time it's blue screen and not actual sets (I swear the bit where they're supposed to have gone into a bar is actually someones living room! It's that unconvincing) but I liked this as it reminded me of the Wing Commander games from the mid to late nineties. It worked then and with all the dark settings/lighting used in this film it works here too. I also liked some of the landscape shots as well. Again, pretty low budget but it really helped convey what a desolate planet the film is set on. I don't know if this film was written with a sequel in mind but hopefully if it was, they can come up with a script that is somewhat more exciting than this one. Too much of not a lot really happening to hook you. I confess I found my attention whilst watching this film too...
Rating 1/5


28.) Meteor Apocalypse (2010) Dir: Micho Rutare


The name says it all with this film really doesn't it? Meteors are heading towards Earth and there isn't much hope. The main character in this is called David. A rather boring character if i'm honest. It starts off with showing how he is so obsessed with work that he neglects the rest of his family - his wife and daughter.
Late at night he receives a call from a colleague in distress. So our (boring) hero rushes to work where he has some important job or other (I forget what but I think it has something to do with telescopes) to find his colleague seems to be choking and asking for water. Paramedics arrive not long after our hero and its down to you to figure out yourself that the choking guy must have called them and that they didn't have the amazing ability to see into the future. The guy choking dies and it turns out that he died from the water he's drunk. There's something wrong with the water from the taps!!! Oh actually... I think he works at a place dealing with the water maybe (Seriously, this film is so bad that you forget stuff even as you're watching it. At this point I havent been taking notes while watching films. That changed with number 30) and so he quickly phones home to tell his wife not to drink the water. Too late his daughter has. Despite it being the early hours of the morning, everyone is up in his house and really hankering for some H2O. He rushes home but finds his entire neighbourhood are being put into quarantine by the army and shipped off to a camp.
He has a way to hold off the infection on him but its no way a cure and he cant get it to his daughter. He meets a woman who is on the verge of dying and gives her the temporary cure. She decides to let him take her and her car on a quest to try and find his family while everyone else is panicking about how much bottled water they can loot etc etc.
So far very few meteors.
He ends up heading to Vegas and en route he and his female friend are caught in a meteor storm. They get out of the car and it gets blown up. The meteors only seem to be falling in the area around where he and his chick are moving. The horizon is mysteriously meteor free. It's like they have it in for him. Then in the distance (From a different camera shot) he can see Vegas! Suddenly all the meteors falling around him cease and instead you see them hitting Vegas (And only Vegas - again, nothing seems to be falling around the outside of the main Vegas area). From then on they refer to Vegas as being destroyed and yet whenever they show shots of it, only the odd one or two buildings in the whole of Las Vegas seem to be smoking and everything else if perfectly intact.

Now by this point the film was so fucking dull that rather than focusing on the plot, I was noting how much the main character of David (Played by Joe Lando) looked like a older version of Riley from the "Buffy: The vampire slayer" TV series. I even did a search on the IMDB to see if they were related at all - father and son perhaps.
They're not.
So David and companion head towards another city (I THINK it's LA... I'm a bit sketchy on that bit) where they take shelter in a church. That church ends up being evacuated except there isn't room to evacuate everyone. So David, companion and some large preacher lady stay behind. David asks the preacher lady to go with him and companion on their hunt for his family. She declines saying she has to look after the people in her church (Which i found odd as I thought the last of them were just being evacuated - seriously, there weren't that many people in the church in the first place) and just as David goes to follow her in, a meteor smashes into the top of the church killing all within.
Seriously! They follow this David guy everywhere he goes! I know there's that song that says "Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you" but this is just taking the piss! It's way too far fetched!
And considering the fact that everyone knows these meteors are on their way, everything seems awfully calm.
Suffice to say, the guy finds his family, cures his daughter and of course his female companion has to die of her infection beforehand despite being exposed to the disease after his daughter. After all, how do you explain to your wife that you've been running around with a chick who looks like a supermodel and then expect her to believe you didn't fuck her? So really... She HAD to die.
Y'know, originally I gave this film a 2 but the more I think about it as I write this the angrier I get... So on that note:
Rating 0/5


29.) Dark Star (1974) Dir: John Carpenter


When I started doing this film challenge, an old friend of mine, Jason insisted that I watch this film. Every single time I would post anything on Facebook about this challenge he would ask me if I had seen it yet. He even went to the trouble of hooking me up with a link to buy the film online - which was pretty decent of him. He's a big fan of the film and really thought it was one that should be watched as part of a challenge such as this. So Jase, this one's for you!
I'm a fan of John Carpenter. "They Live" is one of THE greatest films ever made! It's a classic! I also think his film "In the Mouth of Madness" is terribly under-rated! So I was nicely surprised when I saw he directed this! It's quite a break from the normal films I think people have come to expect from Carpenter too.
The film is written by Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon who you might know as one of the writers from the "Alien" Franchise.
The film is about a deep space crew who have the task of going around destroying unstable planets in sectors of space which contain other planets that might be capable of sustaining human life. Now this film is very low budget and pre-Star Wars so dont expect to be blown away visually. In fact, the space suits in the film were made to look like a child's popular toy spaceman of the time to make the outer shots a lot easier.
It seems like cabin fever has somewhat started to set in amongst the crew as you might expect. They seem to be getting agitated with each others company. There's a scene where the crew seem to be having downtime - playing cards etc - and it was at this point I started to notice things that O'Bannon had used again later on in the "Alien" films. The scene from "Aliens" with Bishop, Hudson and the knife makes its original appearance here amongst other things.
There's a lot of this film where there doesn't seem to be anything happening but unlike other films I have mentioned previously, this is actually bearable as it seems to be an intentional part of the story developing. I have found a lot of the science fiction films of the seventies seem to have this sort of "nothing happening" feel to them, maybe to show the boredom of how they have nothing much really to do.
The ship even has it's own alien on board but this is a part of the film I think really lets it down. If you have a film this low budget, why go and add an alien to the mix? More importantly, why go and add an alien that looks like this:
That's right. The alien was a painted (What I can only assume is a) Beachball. It was terrible. You can even see the seams on it. I think that even for the seventies this was pushing it in terms of believability. The alien even dies like a punctured balloon. It was terrible! I didn't even find it funny.
Again though, the scenes filmed with the alien contain elements which O'Bannon later went on to use in the "Alien" saga.
I do think people should watch this film though because I think without it we wouldn't have some of the great science fiction films we have today. In hindsight I actually do think this film is a lot better than I initially thought immediately after I watched it. Originally I was going to give this film a 2 but instead:
Rating 3/5


30.) Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion (2000) Dir: Rob Hedden




That's right folks! This film stars wrestling legend Chyna!
It also stars a dude known as Dale Midkiff, who if you ask me is a poor mans Ben Affleck (And think how poor THAT must be...)
This film is based around, for the most part, the activities that go on within the government agency known as "S.T.R.A.W" which stands for "Strategic Threat Reduction and Weaponry".
Genius.
Straws funding is being cut due to government cutbacks (It's almost like even in 2000 they knew the recession was coming) and of course, they don't want this to happen. Straw is run by Bill Templer (Midkiff) who is fighting to keep his department from being shut down.
At the start of the film though we find that a man, later revealed as Templers assistant, is being hunted down by Chyna who is playing some sort of female Terminator type character. The man is killed. His body is found. This of course leads to a police investigation. Despite this being a homicide, there only seems to be one police officer involved in the entire case of tracking down the mans killer.
Kevin Anjanette (Played by Dondre Whitfield) is the cop with the case!
Templer walks into his office in the SECURE government facility to find that Kev is already sat at his desk playing around with stuff on his desk. A conversation is struck up with Kev asking a few routine questions. Kev then goes on to ask if he can have a look at Templers assistants desk to see if there is anything that might help with tracking down the killer of Templers assistant. Templer informs him that if it was up to him then it would be no problem but as a matter of national security, everything in the building is Top Secret.
Despite the fact that Kev has already spent a undisclosed amount of time waiting, on his own, completely unsupervised in Templer, the head of the facilities office.
Now we're only about 5-10 minutes in at this point and already I can see that the only way this film can go is down.
Down.
Down.
Kev leaves and then we're back to focusing on Templer and what goes on at the facility. There is even one bit where there is a completely pointless scene where it shows Templer having a BBQ at home. Now the only point of this I can find is to introduce Templers wife who comes up later in the film. She confides in a female friend who you don't see again at any point in the film that she thinks Templer is having an affair.
Ok back to the Straw facility.
They discover (From a destroyed space probe) That there is an alien battle fleet waiting on the moon. At least they assume it's a battle fleet. Templer utters these immortal words - with nothing to really back them up I might add:
              "More foreign than we can possibly imagine! These are armed Alien ships."
How could he possibly know?! They're ALIEN! What look like guns to us could be bloody exhausts to them! Or chimneys even!
Oh and at this point I have to add that the images of the alien ships are some of THE least convincing you will see on any film of the naughties. point of fact, the best special effects in this film are from "Independence Day" - theres a point where it shows a kid watching it on TV.
They obviously take the images of the alien ships to the Pentagon and show it to all the top military leaders.
"I see it, but I don't believe it!" Says one of the Generals present. Believe what? That CG that bad can still exist in films this modern?..
Templer tells all present that as he see's it, there are two options
1.) Wait and See
               or
2.) Perform a pre-emptive strike
Now these aliens have travelled across the galaxy and arrived at Earth. They haven't attacked but have instead parked up on the Moon. Surely they must have the ability to attack us. Yet they haven't. Best to nuke them anyway though huh? As Hicks would say "It's the only way to be sure"
By the Gods of Olympus, this film is GASH with a capital "Fuck me this is shit"
Shoot first and ask Questions later. How very stereotypically... American.
The decide to launch a missile known as the "Peacemaker" - Brilliant.
Everyone in Straw is in a panic to save the world! One of Templers staff asks him if she can have a private word in his office and surprise surprise: He IS playing away from home! But seriously, this is the only bit of affection he shows the girl throughout the entire film. It just seems a bit pointless.
Another thing that bugged me though. They're all panicking about an impending alien invasion and Templer is heading up the "Save the Earth" program they have going on... Yet while everyone else is running around like a headless chicken, he can squeeze in time for some extra-marital nookie at the office. It's like the writer dropped out of Uni half way though his course or something.
Now what I should have mentioned earlier is that when Chyna killed Templers assistant, it was in the car park to the Straw facility. The next person she has to kill? Yep, thats right! A chap she has to chase throught the Straw car park. Luckily though this chap escapes.
As a much welcome twist, it turns out the Alien invasion is a hoax created by Straw to stop their funding being cut!

and the man who has escaped Chyna was going to reveal this to the heads of the military. So when Templer is confronted about the hoax, he confirms that yes it is indeed a hoax. They cant stop it now though as because of their revelations, all the other major powers in the world have armed their nukes in readiness and with the mass panic caused around the globe (There's a great scene where a bus driver uses the line on someone trying to get a free ride on his bus "The end of the world may be tomorrow man, but its a buck seventy five today!"), it would be humiliating for the USA if it was revealed there was never a threat in the first place. So they stil decide they have to launch a nuke at the moon even though there's nothing there.
NOW! Here come's the REAL twist!
It turns out there ARE Aliens on the moon after all! but their under the surface of the moon. They're peaceful and have just been studying us. They breathe Nitrogen. When disguised as Humans they use asthma inhalers to get their Nitrogen fix. Thats right Templer has been one of the Aliens all along! In the twenty years he has been amongst us, he has grown to dislike us so much that he WANTS his own species to start a war with us to wipe us out!
None of the characters in the film have been anywhere near likeable so far. The closest you can really come is with Kev who is tolerable. Everyone else in the film though just seems to be a massive prick.
So they find out Templer is a bad guy after all and Chyna is his right hand... erm... Man(?)...
This leads to a showdown between Chyna and Kev. They shoot at each other. They miss. Kev runs out of bullets. Chyna doesnt. Chyna has Kev bang to rights and should just shoot him dead but then he plays his ace in the hole:
"C'mon little girl, school's in session"
"How about a pop quiz?"
and then they get down to it hand to hand. That's right. Wind up a female alien wrestler and instead of shooting you dead she will fight you hand to hand.
I shit you not, the dialogue in this film is this bad!
So they save the day, make friends with the aliens on the moon and everyone is happy because there aren't anymore aliens left on Earth... Or ARE there?!!!! Cue highly predictable ending where someone who you thought of as human all the way through the film turns out to be one of the Aliens.
AB-SO-FUCKING-LUTELY GASH.
Rating 0/5


So there we go. Another load of films are done and dusted. Hopefully the next batch will be really good! I doubt it though to be honest... I'm halfway through film 31 - Megaforce. So far it's so bad it's good. more on that later.
Before I sign off, there is one thing I forgot to mention in my review of "Battle: L.A" and that is that the end is basically a rip off of the end of "Black Hawk Down". Twoface starts reloading his ammo clips at which point the survivors from his unit do the same to go back out and kick some alien arse. This mirrors the scene in BHD where Eric Bana (Or "The Hulk" if you're so inclined) reloads his clips before heading back into a Somalian warzone. That kinda fucked me off a little with Battle: L.A. Mainly for it's lack of originality but then considering there isnt an original thought in any part of the film, I have to wonder why it irritated me so much more than any other part of the film.
That's it for this time! I need to get to bed as it's 1:20 in the morning and I have a bastard of a cold. Until next time peeps!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

21 through 25

Realising I've been somewhat lacking in the film watching department (Or at least the 'watching new films' department) I decided to pull my finger out and over the last weekend managed to get a fair few films in. Thank goodness for Bank Holiday weekends.
I also put it down to the new shop being my main focus at the moment. Had some rather amusing situations happen so far. In fact, before I get into the reviews, I'll tell you about a guy who came into the studio on Friday.
This dude came in looking pretty... spaced out. I dont think he was on anything but I think he normally is and its effected how he is in his normal day to day life... He approached the counter and rolled up his trouser leg
"Aaaah what it is butt, i've got a leg sleeve I want to know if you can finish off like. I got an angel holding a cross and jesus holding a cross and I want something to go in the gap inbetween like."
"No worries, did you have any idea of what you might want to fill in the gap?"
"Not really sure like, whatever you think would look good innit? Maybe a cross on its own like? Maybe another Jesus? I cant have the Virgin Mary though."
"Why cant you have the Virgin Mary out of interest?"
"Cos she's a Catholic like."
"Well... Actually she was Jewish"
"Same thing like"
Found it hard here not to piss myself laughing and then start arguing the differences of the worlds religions...
"Right..."
"I'm a Seven Day Adventist Christian see"
"Right... Well... um... without meaning to sound rude, what CAN you have?"
"Well I was thinking about having a headstone in the space."
"Ok... Did you want anything on the Headstone at all? Any sort of text?"
"Uh... Yeah... I'd want RIP J. J."
At which point I had to bite my cheeks to stop from laughing. Talk about completely unrelated to the religious imagery he had found so important only minutes earlier...
I gave him a break down of our prices at which point his junky head must have thought about all the drugs he could purchase instead, and he left.

So yeah a lot of stuff like that seems to be occupying my time these days.

Anyway, onto the films!

21.) Tron: Legacy (2010) Dir: Joseph Kosinski


I'd wondered if there would ever be a sequel made to "Tron" after the film did so poorly in the early eighties. I remember in the nineties there was an episode of the cartoon "Freakazoid" where they talked about how the original didn't turn out to be the success that Disney had hoped it would be and it was pretty much a financial disaster. That said, it kinda built up a massive cult following over the years with modern day popular culture oftern making reference to it. Things like "Family Guy" for instance.
So I was pretty happy when I heard that this film was being made as with modern effects I figured it could be something pretty special. I've seen the original numerous times but not for many years so only vaguely remember it but I always remember that I liked it. I heard various things about the film as it was in production. Things like Jeff Bridges real world son would have to fight his CG world son who was the spitting image of a young Bridges.
This was almost right with the young Bridges being pretty much a digital clone whose sole purpose is to improve the cyberworld. Of course, to develop the plot, he has to go bad and ends up imprisoning Bridges in the CG world or 20 years. Then Bridges real world son grows up on the outside and finds his dad is still alive and sets off to rescue him. Kinda. Dont want to give too much away.
This film is O.K at best. Visually yes it looks good but I have real problems with the story.
For example, I think they only really called this film "Tron" so that people would know it was a sequel as Tron is NOT a major player in the story. His appearance in it is totally predictable as well and his exit from the film is not one that I thought worthy of someone who is the film titular character. In fact I would go so far as to say it was completely unsatisfying and unmemorable. This pissed me off a bit.
It would kinda be like having a Conan film where Conan only appears in the film as a supporting character who you hardly really see and has little to no dialogue at all. Thats not what you're paying for on the door is it?
Another thing that bugged. If I came up to you and said "Here you go, this is a unsecure, easily accesible wallet that I want you to carry on the centre of your back where it can be easily removed by any third party. In this I want you to keep your: House keys, Car keys, Passport, Money, Credit Cards, Pin numbers, Jewellery and anything of any value to you." you would turn to me and tell me I was off my fucking head. Yet in this film its accepted practice in the CG world. They keep a disk which has their entire identity on their backs. I know it was kinda like this in "Tron" but I would hope that after 20 years of your identity being stolen in this CG world, they would have found a more secure alternative. Nope. Even the old Jeff Bridges is still carrying his on his back and his contains the key for any of the computer world people to leave and enter the real world. He knows his is the most valuable disk but instead of locking it away in a vault or something, he carries it. On his back. It ends up being stolen from him stupidly easily and everyone looks on as if this is a big shock.
I know you might think i'm over thinking it but after waiting over twenty years for a sequel, dont we deserve better than this? The ending is pretty gash too. Really, really disappointing. Have they left it open for another film? If so, will this one actually have Tron in it to justify the film name? We live in hope...
Rating 3/5

22.) 9 (2009) Dir: Shane Acker


I knew this film existed but I didnt really know much about it and for some reason, despite it being animated I wasnt really bothered about ever seeing it. Maybe the designs of the main characters just didnt do it for me or maybe it was the washed out colour scheme that seems to be used all through the film... Whatever it was, I decided that as it was on last weekend, I would give it a look.
The backround to the story is nothing particularly new: Humans versus Machines. I think Cameron had pretty much sown up this area in the Eighties. What I did like about this though, is that its not about the survival of humanity. We're already extinct. It's about the survival or some weird sock-puppet type things who were given life by the same human who created the machines that wiped us out in the first place. All this on top of flashbacks to the humans fighting the machines that sort of made it look more the World War 2 era when the machines attacked as opposed to some futuristic time.
There was also a clever way of handling death in the film that would still make it watchable to children while informing adults that people were being ruthlessly cut down and killed. I liked that. It didnt really directly show humans dying but it was implied. Human corpses always seem to be just slightly out of focus too so you cant really spend too much time studying them and they're really clever in the way that you're not really drawn towards the corpses but more the sock puppets anyway.
Now what did bug me was the character of 9. The only machine left to hurt the sock puppets was a robodog. The SP's track down the dog and see it trying to stick a special stone into a giant robot but they kill him before the robodog can finish inserting it. Most of the SP's celebrate whilst 9 thinks it would still be a good idea to see what would happen if the stone was inserted into the machine. Thus waking a maniacal machine hell bent on wiping out any life on the planet other than machine. Oh and it can create other machines as well and is in fact the main machine that started the whole human/machine war in the first place.
Good job 9. Maybe do some research before you go sticking that fork into the plug socket yeah?
Rating 3/5

23.) Paul (2011) Dir: Greg Mottola



I love Simon Pegg. I think he's done wonders for the whole Geek community. He's contributed, without a doubt, to Geek-chic. Making Geeks seem a lot cooler than perhaps we really are. "Spaced" was a stroke of absolute genius and I couldnt help but feel when I was younger that it was written about me (In "Spaced" the main character Tim was an aspiring comic book artist who worked in a comic book store. At the time I was an aspiring comic book artist working in a -yep you guessed it!- comic book store).
So whenever I hear that he's written a knew film I look forward to it. "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" were both brilliant. "Paul" wasn't quite up to their standards... It was nothing really... new. I think maybe the missing factor in this film was the lack of involvement of Edgar Wright.
The film was basically Pegg and Frost getting all the other geeky shit they had built up off their chests I think. In the last ten minutes of the film alone I think there are a billion quotes from other famous science fiction films.
So basically 2 Brits travel across America and along the way they meet numerous whacky folks from the film "Superbad" and the series "Arrested Development" causing much hilarity to ensue. Seth Rogen was a pretty voice actor, some of the CG seemed a tad shonky but overall I enjoyed the film! It just didnt blow me away.
Rating 3/5

24.) Surrogates (2009) Dir: Jonathan Mostow



I wanted to see this film when I heard it was being made. I liked the concept even as ridiculous as it was. Plus the idea of Bruce with a really ponce like hair style amused me somewhat!
This is one of those Sci-Fi films where if you spend too long thinking about the story, you realise it couldnt work and pick lots of holes in the plot. If you watch it and switch off though, it's pretty enjoyable.
Basically in this film the majority of the population jump at their own shadows so instead of leaving the house themselves, they plug into a computer and let robot versions of themselves who are impervious to pain go out instead. You could be anyone you want though. You dont have to look anything like yourself.
Willis is a cop investigating a murder whose surrogate is destroyed forcing him to walk around as himself. He becomes disillusioned with the whole surrogate robot thing but still has to solve a murder. Since he doesnt have a robot version of himself to investigate with anymore it puts him in danger of actually being killed but thats nothing compared to what could happen.
I wont say more than that. There's lots of things you could tear apart in this film but its alright. Has a pretty decent cast too.
It kinda reminds me of all the internet games where fat, sweaty, middle-aged, unemployed losers pretend to be teenage girls and masterbate profusely as they "cyber" with teenage boys...
I saw a documentary about it once...
Yes...
Rating 4/5

25.) Battle: Los Angeles (2011) Dir: Jonathan Liebesman


Not to be confused with my earlier review for "Battle OF Los Angeles" which of course is an absolute classic.
This is basically the same premise though. Aliens come to Earth and start attacking. You dont see too much of the actual aliens because of that "shaking camera" effect that seems to be so popular these days... Two-Face plays a staff-sgt who has to go up against the aliens with a inexperienced 2nd Lt. as his C.O.
It's not really strong on story if i'm completely honest. You learn a little bit about the backround of each main character but considering all of the main characters are Marines, you know they're really just there to be shot at and/or killed.
The marines go in, get their asses kicked and then spend the majority of the film trying to retreat to a safe zone before the area they're in is carpet bombed or nuked or whatever.
Two-Face is pretty bad ass and yet troubled all at the same time.
Michelle Rodriguez is in this too. She doesnt die in it either for a change. Seriously though, does anybody actually like her? Does anybody think "We need a hottie for this film, get Michelle on the phone" because if so, they clearly havent spent much time checking the wealth of hotties out there. I just find her really irritating with the whole "I'm such a bad girl" vibe she seems to like perpetuating. She's picked because she's so butch I think. The whole "Is she or isnt she a lesbian?" thing must appeal to a lot of guys who like it when towards the end of the film its revealed she is infact straight. I dont know, i'm probably reading too much into it but I dont think any film she has ever been in would have suffered if she HADN'T been in it. Anyone want to share any opinion on this?
Rating 3/5

So another 5 down! Only another 225 films to go! Easy...
I have a few lined up now that I want to watch but I've fallen a little behind so need to pull my thumb out and cram a few more flicks in I think...
Still taking suggestions for films.
Also if anyone knows a good source of old science fiction films online then please let me know! I'd prefer websites that would let me stream them. Films from the 50's and 60's etc etc...

Cheers!