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!"
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:
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...
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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".
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.
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
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!
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.
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!