Archive for February, 2015

Year Released : 2013gaten_ragnarok_ver2_xlg
Director : Mikkel Brænne Sandemose
Cast : Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Bjørn Sundquist, Sofia Helin, Maria Berglyd and Julian Podolski

I’ve had a fascination with Norse mythology for some time, certainly long before the Thor movies came out in the Marvel film franchise and much like Greek mythology, I like to take in as much as I can. This started in primary school, was back in the late 80s and early 90s, where we briefly learnt about the folk from Asgard.

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is a great battle that ends in the death of all of the major Gods, including Odin, Thor, Feryr, Heindall and Loki, followed by the beginning of the new world. Don’t be fooled though, despite the name this film has nothing at all to do with the aforementioned Norse Gods, instead it’s effectively a monster film.

I must admit to being a bit sceptical about this because any Norwegian film that I have seen hasn’t exactly been as good as I had hoped, including Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter), however, it would be harsh to judge every movie coming from one country simply because you didn’t like another.

The one thing I would highly, HIGHLY recommend is that if you are going to watch this, watch it with the subtitles as the English dubbing is diabolically terrible.

Plot

Following on from an unsuccessful demonstration to his museum’s funders, Sigurd (Hagen) receives a visit from fellow archaeologist Allan (Broch) after he has found a rune from northern Norway that could prove that Vikings did indeed visit that part of Scandinavia.

The pair, accompanied by Sigurd’s kids, tour guide Leif (Sundquist) and fellow archaeologist Elisabeth (Helin) travel to Finnmark, one of the most north-eastern parts of Norway, and explore an island in a restricted area of the forest. The group soon finds a plethora of Viking artifacts and plan on taking them back to the museum.

As they prepare to leave, they are betrayed by Leif as he steals all of the artefacts. He is soon killed by an unseen create when trying to re-cross the lack. The rest of the group soon realise that something is trying to keep them from escaping and it becomes a battle to survive against an ancient creature.

ragnarok_2__large

So, is it any good?

Ragnarok is one of those nothing films really. It’s there. In some aspects I did like the film but in others I found it a below par, but I’m going to start with the positive aspects.

The story itself isn’t that bad to be honest, it’s one of the more original monster movies that I have ever seen and to be honest, right up until when the monster, which resembles a mix of a dragon and a snake, kills Leif, you don’t get any clues that there is anything unusual going on. Up until that point I was actually enjoying it for the most part and if I’m honest, as soon as it turned into a monster movie I lost a lot of interest in the film. That’s not to say that the monster isn’t good, it’s one of the most vicious that I can recall seeing in a movie in recent times, but at that point it just lost something.

Aside from that the only positive I can think of is the casting of Hagen and Broch as Sigurd and Allan respectively. Both actors approach their role in a calm way and this laid back approach comes across really well, with a particular highlight being their excitement when they find the Viking artefacts actually feeling very genuine. Hagen in particular impressed me as what I can best describe as a mellow-Indiana Jones approach.

That’s where the positive part of this review ends.

From being impressed with Broch and Hagen, I go right to the other end of the scale with not only the character of Ragnhild, but Berglyd’s portrayal as her. Child actors have a habit of near enough single-handedly ruining the movies that they are in, Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds springs straight to mind, and whilst Berglyd doesn’t reach that same level of annoyance, she runs it pretty close. The only reason I don’t class it AS annoying as Dakota Fanning was because Fanning always has a smug “I’m better than you” look on her face in any film she is in, she’s under the impression that she’s an amazing actress. She isn’t.

Gaaten-Ragnarok-bilde-10

There are a lot of aspects that this film steals from the Jurassic Park franchise  (more on that in a minute) but the most relevant to this point is that no female character dies (seriously, none of the female characters in any of the three Jurassic Park films has died) and nor do any of the children, regardless of how irritating they are. I really wish the character of Ragnhild would have died….early. She almost single handedly takes this film from being a 6/10 to a 2/10 due to her constant nagging, pessimism and being a selfish, little twat.

She irritates throughout and it’s summed up with an incident right at the beginning of the film when she ironically calls her father selfish for the simple fact he wants to discover something incredible for his country rather that taking her to Spain on a holiday. Throughout she is entirely negative, adds nothing but a nagging voice and I would go as far as saying that I have now reviewed more than 50 films for this site and I’ve not hated a character as much, not even in Frank.

But anyway, I mentioned two paragraphs ago that this film steals a lot from the Jurassic Park franchise, but there are two major plot points from Jurassic Park 3 that Ragnarok outright steals. The first of which is that Allan decides to steal an unhatched egg of the monster and not tell everyone, and (SPOILER ALERT) at the end the monster has no interest in eating the protagonists, but instead leaves them unharmed when they return the now hatched offspring (END SPOILER)

The film is full of clichés and you can call things happening before they have actually happened, such as when the characters are traversing a wire to cross the lake and one slips half-way through. I knew as soon as they started going across that that would happen, but the one thing that I would see in the scene’s favour is that when the monster is coming up to snap at the dangling person, the water pressure and swirl changes as it speeds up, whereas in most Hollywood films they just appear without it affecting the water.

My final point is the pacing of the film and that it’s all wrong. There are some moments where nothing happens for a long time and then there is non-stop action for long time. Whilst the film isn’t supposed to be an outright thrill ride throughout, and it doesn’t claim to be, it’s lack of correct pacing means that when something does happen, you don’t feel the sense of urgency that the situation warrants, and just as you start getting that adrenaline rush, it’s right back to the slowness.

Gaten-Ragnarok-Behind-the-Scenes-by-Ghost-VFX-5

Summary

I can see why this film has been rated as average by so many. I, like many others according to the reviews and posts on IMDB, were completely mislead by the title and the film has precisely nothing to do with Greek mythology. The only thing about lying about what your film is actually about is going to do is piss people off. I first saw this in a local Asda store a few weeks ago and they were charging £10 for it. Imagine buying this for £10 and then find out that even the description on the back was incorect.

Infact, it’s like a ying-yang, every positive is countered with a negative. The good acting of some actors is outweighed by the terrible acting of others, and scenes where something genuinely interesting happens is countered by long, drawn out sections of the film that don’t move the film along at all. It’s 85 minutes of nothing in many ways.

I’m not even entirely sure what to rank it as because it’s not a horror film and it’s not really science fiction.

Those are not your whales. Ya know, you love them, and you think, I’m the one that touches them, feeds them, keeps them alive, gives them the care that they need. They’re NOT your whales. They own them!

Year Released : 2013blackfish poster
Director : Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Cast : Numerous former trainers at Seaworld

I like a good documentary. I own numerous documentaries about a variety of subjects, including astronomy, football (or soccer for my American readers), nature (David Attenborough in particular) and various other subjects, but I never thought I’d watch a documentary about killer whales because, for lack of words, it’s not a subject that particularly interests me.

On Saturday evening I was seeing an old friend for the first time in nearly two years and after a while talking, she asked if I wanted to watch a documentary film called “Blackfish”. I’m not going to lie, I’d never heard of it before and because of my lack of interested in the subject matter, the idea of watching it didn’t exactly thrill me. The reason I was a bit sceptical at first as I tend to only watch documentaries that I’m interested in and the run time of around 85 minutes made it seem like it was going to drag. I was not excited at all.

Despite that, I thought I’d humour my friend and watch it anyway, afterall, it’s time with someone that I don’t see often, so why not? 85 minutes later I had found myself wanting more from it. It was an exceptionally clever documentary and considering I knew nothing of SeaWorld, Tilikum or many other aspects relating to this, I was genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed it.

Plot

The documentary focuses on the killer whale known as Tilikum at the SeaWorld resort in Orlando. It follows his journey from being captured in the early 1980s right up until he killed his trainer, Dawn Brancheau, in 2010.

A group of former SeaWorld employees and experts give their thoughts on why Tilikum, a normally happy and timid killer whale, would suddenly attack Brancheau, such as the tight enclosure that he is kept in overnight, the attacks he suffers at the hands of some of the female killer whales, or simply whether it is just part of his nature.

In between switching to and from other examples of trainers being attacked and/or killed at various other parks across America,  as well as various lies told by staff at similar parks with regards to the lifespan of whales and why their dorsal fins have collapsed.

orca-zimmerman-blackfish_fe

So why are you reviewing this?

Firstly, I’m going to be open about this, it’s going to be a short review for the simple and rather obvious fact that there is no character development possible, there are no plot twists or anything else I would normally be focused on.

I feel that if you give this documentary film a chance, you will enjoy it. As I mentioned earlier I was not at all optimistic about this being enjoyable or good, and yet I found myself engrossed by it. Although I love documentaries, once you’ve seen them about a specific subject then you’ve seen the majority of them, but this feels different and has a natural progression throughout.

It doesn’t feel forced, there are no definitive answers given, it’s all speculation about why a seemingly happy whale would suddenly attack when unprovoked, but because no-one knows the answer there is still that sense of mystery left with the animals. That works incredibly well because there are so many things in life that we will never truly understand, and wild animals are one of them.

Something I also touched on earlier was that I felt educated after watching Blackfish, which again isn’t something I usually take away from documentaries. I knew very little, if anything, of killer whales before this and the workings of SeaWorld. It doesn’t even cast SeaWorld in a ridiculously bad light. Granted, it doesn’t cast them in a positive light either, but it didn’t present a true “SeaWorld are bastards” style either.

My only two concerns or criticisms with the documentary are that there are so many people being interviewed that you are left wondering struggling to remember their names and what their former role was. They knew their subject matter exceptionally well and gave a well informed and relatively unbiased opinion on things, but by the end of the documentary that I had loved, I couldn’t tell you the name of a single one of the people being interviewed.

This, combined with constantly jumping from past to present and back again, as well as jumping to stories from other parks, makes it a little confusing to keep up if you’re not paying attention. If you’re not paying attention during this documentary then it would be easy to get lost in it.

black-fish-orca

Summary

Again, I know this is a considerably shorter review than normal but there aren’t that many places that you can go with a review of a approveddocumentary, but I had to say that I loved Blackfish. It is an exceptionally well thought out and informative documentary that leaves you feeling exactly what a documentary should leave you feeling, educated.

Whilst it has some flaws, Blackfish is an engaging film and one that I never imagined that I would watch. So if you’re into documentaries then I would seriously recommend that you give it fit into your time somewhere.

 

How beautiful they really are. And that there’s no need to hide, or lie. And that it’s possible to talk to someone without any lies, with no sarcasms, no deceptions, no exaggerations or any of the things that people use to confuse the truth.

Year Released : 1995large_1uRKsxOCtgz0xVqs9l4hYtp4dFm
Director : Victor Salva
Cast : Sean Patrick Flanery, Mary Steenburgen, Lance Henrikson, Jeff Goldblum and Bradford Tatum

On this website I regularly write about films that didn’t get a cinema release and the few that don’t fit into that rule have not been financially noteworthy, barely breaking the five figure mark, and yet here I am about to review a movie that made more than £30 million worldwide in the 1990s, which was quite large at the time.

Now, I can already see the raised eyebrows asking what this is doing anywhere near this site and I’m not going to lie, I was watching this film for the first time in seven years recently and thought it would be good to review it as I didn’t think it was well known. I wrote out two pages of notes, only then to come online and see it was actually relatively well known at the time, but I’m not going to waste my effort and I don’t think that the film is well known today, so here we go.

I read an article about Jeff Goldblum today that stated that he is one of the most bankable actors in history, and it’s hard to prove that wrong given his consistency at the box office during the 1980s and 1990s. I’ve mentioned previously (in the review for Rehearsal for Murder) that Goldblum is one of my favourite actors and during the 90s he was one of the biggest. Big releases included science fiction films, Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park : The Lost World and Independence Day, as well as romantic comedy Nine Months, sports drama The Great White Hype and horror Hideaway.

His career on the screen has slowed down since the late 1990s, most appearances coming in small budget films and only a few high profile ventures, including The Grand Budapest Hotel. Powder came in the middle of his run as a major Hollywood star, and even though he has a small role in this film, he fills he stereotype delightfully. More on that later.

Plot

Investigating the death of an elderly man, Sheriff Barnum (Henrikson) discovers a young albino living in the basement named Jeremy (Flanery) in the man’s basement. Jeremy’s mother had died during child birth and his father has abandoned him. His grandparents took him in but it became apparent that Jeremy had the ability to manipulate and be affected by electrical signals.

Following on from successfully convincing Jeremy to leave the home, he is placed into a boarding home where he is soon bullied due to his pale complexion. During a science lesson with the charismatic Donald (Goldblum), a Jacob’s Ladder is activated and soon shoots a constant stream of electricity into Jeremy, causing panic amongst all involved. As well as that event, Jeremy records the highest ever record IQ score, causes a hunter to feel the pain being experienced by a deer that he has shot and help Sheriff Barnum communicate with his comatose wife.

His impact on the community is met with a mixed reaction and as time goes on he starts getting threats on his life, all the time wanting to simply return to his home.

5f4464b2853dec65cb90fdeeaeaacf5f

 

It sounds like a very strange film…

The reason it sounds strange is because it is in a way, but in a good way. Powder is a great, mysterious science fiction film that is done with respect to both the subject matter and the audience. I’ve mentioned previously that films that want to scare you whilst you’re most tense will give a sharp sound and you’re more scared by the sound rather than what you will see, and Powder respect it’s audience by not doing that sharp sound. Now, I would stress that Powder isn’t a horror film, but there are moments where they could have easily done a horror cliché and I love that.

Salva did an excellent job setting up the right atmosphere. You’re never entirely sure what is going on and it’s not spoon fed to you. That is what makes a great science fiction/mystery film. This is greatly helped by the character of Jeremy as he remains silent for large sections of the film, and the few things he does say don’t really take away from his sense of mystery. Even after watching the film again there are still so many aspects to the Jeremy of character that are shrouded in mystery that it is actually enjoyable. Early on the film it becomes obvious that a classmate is interested in his but he never acts on this, possibly due to his lack of experience with social skills.

Jeremy’s inexperience of dealing with people makes it understandable why people get frustrated and scared of him, and even when he is getting bullied it is done in a way where his refusal to answer pretty innocent questions actually encourages them to escalate their treatment of him. This continues throughout the film as his refusal to adapt to the outside world causes the concerns of many to increase, and this only continues after an incredibly emotion filled scene when Jeremy helps the sheriff communicate with his seemingly-comatose wife.

Powder_film

The scene is probably my favourite in the movie as the acting on display is incredible. The scene isn’t too dissimilar to when John Coffee cures the prison warden’s wife in The Green Mile, but the acting in the scene in Powder beats that for me due to the fact that the seemingly comatose wife’s interactions with the other two. Now, I say seemingly comatose because she can’t open her eyes or communicate in any way, but Jeremy’s interactions with her and his ability to read her mind allow her to communicate with the sheriff and you see her facial expressions change as the conversation changes tone on a regular basis and in the near ten minute scene you feel connected to a character who doesn’t actually say a single word during the entire film.

For me the stand out character has to be Donald, played excellently by Goldblum. Jeff Goldblum is one of the most typecasted actors in Hollywood, often playing a character who charismatic scientist of some variety, but it works. Jeff Goldblum is one of the few typecasted actors that you never get tired of watching in that role and he carries every single role as it is it his last. Jeff is an actor like no other and that’s why I have a lot of time for him, and this role is perfect for him.

He plays a science teacher and it’s one of the few times in a film with a school setting that you see the kids paying full attention, although this is obviously written into the script, Goldblum plays the role in a way that makes you understand why he has the class’ undivided attention. His unusual delivery of lines means you are transfixed by what he was saying and he makes you understand a Jacob’s Ladder, which is all down to his way of structuring sentences.

tumblr_m9joymWm3t1qbao74

 

So are there any negatives about the film? Well there are some films that do well despite a lack of pacing but in some ways Powder is all over the place. There are times during the film that there are long, drawn out scenes that don’t really add a lot to the story, and yet some films that could have been longer are just skipped by very quickly, with a good example being when Jeremy is threatened with a gun by John. This scene doesn’t last very long at all but it was an interesting dynamic between a man who wants someone out of his life but isn’t entirely sure if murder is the way to go, his friend that is trying to convince him not to do it and Jeremy. This scene could really have gone on a lot longer.

Several subplots just disappear and are never referenced again and other than Jeremy, characters have long gaps between appearances and by the time they do show up again, you’ve pretty much forgotten their previous appearance if there wasn’t a major event involved.

Other than those small issues, I quite enjoyed Powder and for a mysterious science fiction film, you could do a lot worse.

1331904890_2

Summary

A nice science fiction film that had problems with it’s release due to the stigma surrounding it’s director. Infact, the film came approvedextremely close to not being made at all when the cast found out about the director’s past, but I’m glad that it did.

I’m not going to lie, Powder does have some problems but thankfully the way the film is made does make these problems seem relatively insignificant. Don’t go in expecting a fast paced film, it’s pretty much the exact opposite.

It’s definitely worth while though and for what it is, it is a decent enough attempt at what is a unique film.

 

 

 

star-wars-the-force-awakens-wallpaper

38 years ago a film was released that surpassed all expectations and sparked off one of the largest franchises to ever exist. Since 1977 the Star Wars franchise has inspired millions of people around the world with it’s story (in the original trilogy) of an ambitious farm-boy who rises unexpectedly to bring down an evil empire and save the galaxy and eventually his father, who turned out to be one of the key figures in that empire.

An entire generation grew up with Star Wars and it became a phenomenon. There is no doubt that Star Wars has had an impact on society that no-one could have predicted, even creator George Lucas. With a franchise that includes six live action films, several spin-off films, countless items of literature (official, unofficial and fan-faction), 178 games across various platforms (including DLC and Expansion Packs – Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Star_Wars_video_games) and even people that list “Jedi” as their religion on electoral registers. Anyone who thinks that Star Wars hasn’t had an impact on society is kidding themselves.

It wasn’t until the prequel trilogy started in 1999 that questions started to surface about the future of the franchise. The prequel trilogy was not well received for many reasons;

  • Darth Vader is widely considered to be one of the greatest villains in the history of cinema. In the original trilogy he has a presence and commands every scene that he is in. Because of the mask, you never get an inkling what he is feeling. They made you afraid of him, then the prequels came along. In Phantom Menace he was a kid so you can cut them some slack on that one, but in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith he is portrayed a whiny, obnoxious brat. Even taking out the aspect of the poor acting of Hayden Christensen, they near enough wiped out Vader’s reputation. The very fact you find his grief when he finds out that Padme has died funny says it all about what it has done for the fear factor.

  • A forced love story between two very wooden characters. Portman and Christensen had no chemistry whatsoever.
  • Poor CGI
  • The tragically under-developed Darth Maul. This guy looked the part and although he wasn’t on the levels of Darth Vader, you felt this guy could be a genuine threat. He barely speaks in the Phantom Menace and despite killing Qui-Gon, is relatively easily defeated by Obi-Wan within a matter of seconds. One of the best/only people that the Sith could throw at the Jedi at the time gets killed within seconds of a start of a fight against a relatively rookie Jedi.
  • The main antagonist of Attack of the Clones isn’t introduced until well into the second half of the film. He doesn’t really do a lot before he is then killed off within minutes of Revenge of the Sith beginning.
  • Worse special effects that the original trilogy.
  • Long drawn out scenes, especially in Attack of the Clones, where nothing happens.
  • Turning Yoda into a bouncing green-ball with a light sabre.
  • Jar Jar Binks. I don’t even need to expand on that.
  • An exceptionally poor script….here is an exact extract from one of the scripts and you will see exactly what I mean.
    • Anakin : “You Look Beautiful.”
    • Padme : “I only look beautiful because I’m so in love…”
    • Anakin : “No, you look beautiful because I’m so in love with you!”
    • Padme : “So love has blinded you?”

dumb-questions_star-wars

It’s safe to say that I could continue with that list for quite some time, but there are only so many hours in the day. The question that I think perfectly sums up how bad the prequel trilogy is that if they had released in episode order, rather than 4-6 and then 1-3, would they have even reached the sixth film?

Had Phantom Menace come out first then it’s very unlikely that Attack of the Clones would have made as much as it did, and after that snorefest, they might not have even gotten the greenlight for Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Many of the iconic moments from later on in the saga would have become meaningless. Darth Vader telling Luke Skywalker that he is his father is one of the most recognisable scenes in movie history because of the jaw-dropping shock of it. Had the films been released in order then the audience wouldn’t care and no jaws would drop for the simple reason that we would have already known by that point.

I feel that is the reason that George Lucas released 4-6 before 1-3. 4-6 is a stronger trilogy in near enough every single way, but had they released 1-3 first then I seriously doubt that there would have been a 4-6.

So based on the prequel trilogy sucking and an entire generation of film fans growing up with their first experience of the Star Wars franchise being those three below average movies, will the seventh instalment, The Force Awakens, return Star Wars to it’s former glories or will it fail to be the success that it was in the past?

Well to look at that I’m going to start right off by saying something that I think will shock many people. I am a self-confessed nerd but I am not actually a fan of the Star Wars franchise and never have been. Without trying to sound controversial, it is one of the most over-rated franchises that I have ever seen and whilst it’s not awful by any stretch, I personally don’t think it was good enough to warrant what has happened in the 38 years since the original film’s release.

Now I know that some, especially those that put Jedi as their religion will be asking “well if you’re not a fan how can you give a balanced view?” Whilst I appreciate that that is a very valid question, it’s because I’m not a fan that I think that I can be balanced, certainly more than someone who puts Jedi as their religion as it’s obvious what their standpoint would be.

I think the reason for this is that I somehow managed to go through my entire childhood without seeing any of the films. The first time I saw A New Hope was in 1997 as they were re-releasing the films with new footage and added bits, basically a cash-grab on the 20th anniversary. In 1997 I turned 13 and unlike most kids my age, I didn’t grow up with the films and therefore never grew that affinity with the franchise. Most people of my age didn’t connect with Star Wars during their youth and I believe that that is one of the reasons why this film will ultimately not prove to be a resurgence of the Star Wars film franchise.

Star-Wars-Mark-Hamill

Once you get into the heart of a child with a film, you’ve got them for life. They love that film for their lives and that’s why people from my generation tend to love Star Wars, but we’ve now got one generation of kids (10-20 year olds) that grew up with only a poor Star Wars trilogy coming out at the cinema at the same time as the far more memorable Lord of the Rings trilogy, and another generation (anyone under 10) that has yet to experience Star Wars at the cinema and their limited cinema experience has been with low quality films such as Frozen (the Disney one, not the decent thriller film)

With any movie that is likely to be made available for all ages (I’m still amazed that the Star Wars films have a rating of universal), the real money is securing the hearts of those children, but the children of today are far different to what they were even ten years ago. Children today don’t have the patience for films such as the original Star Wars trilogy because they’re a slow build. A New Hope is a very slow film when you think about it, and children aren’t likely to stay interested in a film where there’s not something happening all the time.  As poor as films such as Frozen are, there is at least something that is happening all of the time.

Through the last 38 years the style of entertainment that children require has vastly changed. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time where although I could easily go and play on the Amiga, Atari or Megadrive, I was more interested in going down to the local park and playing football with my friends and we would have to fight (not literally of course) for space and we would stay out until long after the sun had set, or our parent’s called us in for dinner. We would stay and play in the baking sun or the pouring rain, that was our entertainment in the late 1980s and most of the 1990s. If anything staying indoors felt more like a punishment. Today it’s very different.

I’m going to use my nephew as an example. My nephew is eleven years old and he stays around at my parents house on a regular basis. He barely takes his eyes off of his iPad or whatever game system my brother has bought him. He actively tries to avoid going outside and whenever he does, again he rarely takes his eyes off of his eye-pad. The kids of today have grown up in a time when technology was already there, they don’t truly appreciate it like people on my generation do because we grew up in a time where these things were getting introduced gradually and weren’t just there waiting for us.

My point is that children of today are less likely to have the patience for something that looks inferior in terms of look, technology and other aesthetic factors compared to franchises of the modern day, such as the aforementioned Lord of the Rings franchise and the Marvel Universe. The Marvel Universe is very much the Star Wars of the modern day, appealing to people of all ages through a mixed variety of characters, settings and even transcending genres. The Marvel Universe gets it right on so many levels, even more so in my opinion that Star Wars, because even though the villains, other than Loki, are generally poor and you’re never convinced that they are going to win, they are fun.

The Marvel Universe knows how to draw in the public because it is everything that you could want in a film and the best example of that is the Guardians of the Galaxy, a group of anti-heroes that team together for a great cause, and the only real anti-hero that Star Wars has is Han Solo. As I mentioned earlier I am not a fan of Star Wars, I don’t mind it but I wouldn’t class myself as a fan, but the one character that people can relate to in the original trilogy is Han Solo. Solo is very enjoyable, not because he is a clean-cut good guy, but because he is someone you can genuinely relate to. He develops more than any other character in the original trilogy and he is arguably my favourite.

Original Trilogy - Han Solo 03

That being said, are we really ready for an aged Han Solo? It is unclear how large the role of Han Solo will be in the film but when you take into account Harrison Ford’s age of 72, you know it’s not likely to be an action packed role. Whilst he no doubt still has the acting ability, it was clear in 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that he isn’t really suited to doing action anymore, and I really don’t mean that in a negative way. Whether we’re ready for an aged Han Solo is one question, but arguably a more important question is is he just being put in so that the fans of the original trilogy have a bit of nostalgia and feel the film is better than it might be.

However, the biggest worry for me comes from one of the main reactions to the trailer. Now, before I start this section, I apologise in advance if anyone is offended by the terminology I use in this, it’s not intended whatsoever. Anyway, the reaction that worried me about the film was the outage from various quarters to a black man wearing a stormtrooper uniform. The original trilogy came out at a very different time when racism was a big problem in major parts of the world and the only character of a black origin in the original trilogy was Lando Calrissian, a character who in essence doesn’t actually do a lot in either The Empire Strikers Back or Return of the Jedi. Whilst racism is seemingly less of an issue these days, the lack of open-mindedness from people about a person of black origin being a stormtrooper is very worrying.

We’re not even entirely sure at this point if the character in question, Finn, is a good guy or a bad guy, but the outright rejection of him before we know anything about him is very worrying. Some people are arguing that there were never any members of the stormtroopers of black origins. Firstly, they’re wearing helmets so how do you know if you’re looking at one of the original clones or simply someone who joined the Empire and wanted to fight for them? I can hear the outrage of the Star Wars fans reading this, almost as if it’s impossible for anyone other than the original clones to be stormtroopers, even though the timeframe along suggests that it would be almost impossible for new people not to join due to deaths of the original troopers.

It was clearly established in Attack of the Clones that the origin of the stormtroopers is that they are all clones of the father of Boba Fett. Now, given that film is set about 30 years after the events of the Return of the Jedi, which itself is set 26 years after the events of Attack of the Clones (source : http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Timeline_of_canon_media), it means that there is a gap of 56 years there in which the chances are that races other than the original source of the stormtroopers could join the Empire.

For me these people who have objected to the character of Finn in a stormtrooper before they even know anything about him shows me that the mindset of some of the people from the generation that saw it at the cinema hasn’t changed.

So after all the relative negativity, is there anything that I feel can mean the Star Wars has a good chance of being a success on all levels? For me there is only one reason to get excited ahead of the new Star Wars film and that is a set of four syllables, JJ Abrams. Abrams is one of my favourite directors after the immense TV show Lost, and more importantly, the re-imagining of the Star Trek Universe. Whilst I may not be much of a Star Wars fan, I am definitely into Star Trek and I would class the 2009 film by Abrams to be one of the best reboots in history. He got it right on so many levels that it meant that I was hooked from the first minute.

I never watched the original series of Star Trek but fell in love with the characters in the 2009, and even in the trailers it looked incredibly. Star Trek is the only film I have seen at the cinema three times (although to be fair two of those were at the cinema I worked at so got them for free) and it is a film I watch on a semi-regular basis. Into Darkness, whilst not quite as enjoyable as the first film, was still a very enjoyable adventure.

Abrams knows how to make something worth watching. His visual style is unique in Hollywood and whilst you can point out his heavy use of lens flares in the aforementioned Star Trek reboot, that is one of the few things that you can actually criticise.

d7ac075a19db39eb67231b9dc2519f52e9b317cb

Summary

Will the new Star Wars trilogy be a success? If it returns to what made the original trilogy exceptionally watchable and tweek it a bit to reflect modern day attitudes then I think it will be a success, but that’s a big if. The biggest challenge it has is the stigma that was put on the franchise through the prequel trilogy as now people know that it is highly possible to release new Star Wars films that aren’t good. The majority of people under 31 will have never seen a good Star Wars film at the cinema for the first time, and that is the first barrier that they need to get over.

To stand a chance it needs to appeal to not only the long term fans, the ones who saw the films at the cinema in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but also find a way to bring in those that haven’t grown up with the Star Wars franchise. This however also presents it’s own difficulties because already confirming that the major characters from the original trilogy will be in the new films is more than likely just a nostalgia thing rather than adding sufficiently to the title. If there’s one thing that we learnt from the Hobbit trilogy, you can’t simply throw in as many references to anything it is prequeling and expect people to bite, it needs more than that.

Either way I will go and watch it at some point and have an open mind.

You’re not the only one who gets to save people around here

Year Released : 2011asmd-poster01
Director : Jason Trost
Cast : Jason Trost, Lucas Till, James Remar, Sophie Merkley, Lee Valmassy, Sean Whalen and Nick Principle

There are those times when you’re looking at films in a store and you see the same bland titles. Nothing jumps out as having a truly unique title, but then one pops up in the corner of your eye and you’re instantly attracted towards it. I had never even remotely heard of “All Superheroes Must Die” but it’s certainly a title that just jumps out at you.

Initially called simply “Vs”, All Superheroes Must Die had a budget of a measly $20,000. That’s not a lot of money to make a film with and they made it stretch to an insane level, bringing in a recognised and established actor in James Remar, and Lucas Till, a young actor who’s previous film before this was X-Men First Class.

After researching the film it struck me as being very similar to a film called Watchmen from a few years ago, set in a world where masked vigilantes are a thing of the past and when they re-appear, they’re generally resented.

I must admit that I’m not one for superhero movies, there’s nothing particularly interesting about someone who has a super-power because they can easily overcome whatever enemy throws in front of them. I prefer the heroes that don’t have superpowers, such as Batman or to a lesser extent, Kick-Ass. This way they can’t rely on whatever stupid superpower they have and they have to use their brains.

Plot

Charge (Trost), Cutthroat (Till), Shadow (Merkley) and The Wall (Valmassy) are four superheroes that awaken in a strange town to find that they have been kidnapped by Rickshaw (Remar). Rickshaw has stripped the superheroes of their powers and set up a series of tests around the town that they must pass in order to save innocent civilians.

The group splits in two and whilst Charge and Cutthroat fail their first test, strange events happen at the test that Shadow and the Wall are engaged in as despite going over their time limit, the civilians aren’t killed. The Wall is stabbed to death by Manpower (Whalen), and the civilians are only killed when Charge and Cutthroat approach in an attempt to free them, long after the time limit has expired.

Soon realising that despite what they do, Rickshaw is going to kill the civilians anyway and with the aid of tests that are designed to pit each of the superheroes against each other, the group does indeed start falling about. Can Charge figure out whether Rickshaw is hiding before it’s too late?

Lucas-Till-Lee-Valmassy-Sophie-Merkley-and-Jason-Trost-in-All-Superheroes-Must-Die-2011-Movie-Image-600x257

Is it full of wham, kaboom, kapoow, boff and more wham?

This superhero movie very unlike any other superhero movie in the sense that none of them ever show that they have superpowers, even in the flashbacks. I’m not entirely convinced that the characters ever really had powers and you wouldn’t have the slightest clue other than the characters claiming they did. For me this made it a bit flat in some senses as if they weren’t going to have powers in the film, it probably would have made them more enjoyable to watch if they were Kick-Ass style heroes and knew that they didn’t have any actual powers. This would have given the characters a bit more depth.

Having said that, in some ways taking away their powers also lead to an interesting character development as it quickly becomes obvious that without their powers, these characters are pretty much useless. They don’t save a single civilian during a test during the entirety of the film, infact, Charge literally runs away and leaves the civilians to their fate when he realises that their lives aren’t worth risking his own, and later also ends up shooting innocent civilians to avoid playing Rickshaw’s game. He’s a bit of a dick really.

So away from something that I’m not sure whether I like or not, to something that I love and that is the character of Rickshaw, portrayed brilliantly by James Remar. Remar excels as Rickshaw, he is very enjoyable to watch. Throughout his career he has been very hit and miss with his performances, but for me he does very well as the antagonist. He is very menacing in an appealing kind of way, although like a low-budget version of Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds.

More accurately, he is a mix of Jigsaw from the Saw franchise and Heath Ledger’s joker. He sets up traps that start with video monologues and the characters are forced to make a difficult choice to get out. I love that whenever a video is played you can hear Moonlight Sonata in the background, one of the few bits of the soundtrack that works wells. The reason I saw he also includes bits of the Joker is that some of his traps are pure chaos theory and he takes delight in the consequences of the unpredictable actions of the superheroes.

113742

Whereas Remar is very entertaining, the four “heroes” start talking it starts going downhill and the script is very wooden, especially from Sophie Merkley as Shadow and Lee Valmassy as The Wall. To give you a good indication how wooden the acting is from both of these people, neither have appeared in a single film since All Superheroes Must Die was made in 2011. Whilst we don’t see much of Valmassy before his character dies, Merkley is in it all the way through her performance is wooden, bland and she sports a very strange mohawk/mullet hybrid throughout.

I am also not that enthusiastic about the character of Charge. At first I thought he was bland as hell and then I realised he’s just a bit thick. In one test towards the end Shadow is going to shoot him and he not only accepts it, he gives her tips. This includes when she is aiming at his heart and then he tell her to aim to the other side of his body to make sure she hits the heart. Now, it’s not been mentioned at any point during the film that the character has that condition where all of the internal organs are the opposite way around, so if he’s telling her to move the gun to his right to aim at his heart, when she is already aiming at his heart, makes the character a bit thick.

Infact, all of the heroes are a bit thick really. They are given 90 seconds to get weapons at the beginning of the film and they just casually wander around a hardware store, Shadow just stands there as the Wall is threatened with a knife by Manpower. I would go as far as saying that the only two characters worth watching are Cutthroat due to his cynical nature and inferiority complex, and Rickshaw.

And before I move onto the summary, I have a message for everyone in Hollywood……STOP USING SHAKY CAM!!!! IT LOOKS RIDICULOUS.

113759

 

Summary

With a budget of just $20,000, I suspect this is the lowest budget film I’ve reviewed so far but in fairness to it, it’s not an overly bad film. At just 76 minutes long you’re not going to be stuck there for long and whilst there are probably better uses of your time, you could do worse than watching All Superheroes Must Die.

At the time of writing it has an average rating of 3.9/10 on IMDB and whilst I think that is far too low, I don’t think it would deserve to be higher than someone in the mid fives somewhere. It’s not a great film, it’s not very memorable and I probably won’t ever watch it again, but did it interest me enough to watch the planned sequel, A World Without Superheroes? In a way yes, it did, and in that sense it did what it needed to go.

Don’t go in expecting brilliance, because you’re not going to get it, but for 76 minutes worth of it your time, it might be worth a go.

 My language? Do you hear that, he’s worried about my language. We’re hanging here squeezed like fucking sardines 50 floors up and my language is the problem?

Year Released : 2011elevator00 (1)
Director : Stig Svendsen
Cast : Christopher Bakus, Anita Briem, John Getz, Shirley Knight, Tehmina Sunny, Joey Slotnick, Devin Ratray, Waleed Zuaiter, Rachel Pace and Amanda Pace

You know, in this section before I go into the plot I like to talk about my previous experiences in films, whether positive or negative, and until about five minutes before I wrote this sentence I was struggling with what to write, but then I saw the movie poster that appears on the right hand side of your screen.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen a movie poster which is false or lying. There was a film called “Hardwired” several years ago with Val Kilmer where the character appears considerably different on the cover to what they do in the film. On the cover he looks like he did in the height of his popularity, but in the film he looks like an overweight alcoholic, but even then that doesn’t compare with the shambles going on in this poster.

I don’t even know where to begin with this poster so let’s go with the most obvious, that woman who takes up probably 1/3 of the poster isn’t actually in the movie. The film has precisely eleven characters in it, two of which are only in it for a few minutes, and she isn’t one of them. I don’t know who she is, but she isn’t a character from this film.

Secondly, there is a hand reaching out of the elevator to symbolise that someone is trying to keep her in there by dragging her back in, this doesn’t happen in the film. Out of those 11 characters, 9 are trapped in the elevator and there is nothing keeping them in there other than the simple fact that they’re in between floors. Infact, even the antagonist, if you can call her that, wants to get out of there and admits that she doesn’t want the others to be in there either.

And then we finish with the subtitle at the bottom, this and the picture above indicate that this is a horror film that will scare you. It’s not a horror, it doesn’t try to be a horror film and I don’t know what film whoever wrote the subtitle was watching, but it certainly wasn’t this film.

Anyway, after that mini-rant, onto the plot.

Plot

Henry Barton (Getz) is throwing a party in which he intends to announce he is retiring. He and his grand-daughter Madeline (Rachel and Amanda Pace) enter an elevator filled with his party guests. Madeline soon becomes annoyed by racist comments made by George (Slotnick) and she decides to antagonise his claustrophobia by hitting the emergency stop button.

All efforts to get the elevator moving again fail and they are forced to wait for maintenance to arrive. As time passes the group discusses various things before Jane Redding (Knight), the wife of an investor into Barton’s company reveals her husband shot himself when the investment failed. Barton insincerely apologises and Jane launches into a rant that causes her to have a heart-attack and subsequently die, but not before she manages to utter that she has a bomb.

The group starts panicking and after investigating they find that it wasn’t an empty threat and she has an explosive device attached to her waist. The group must hurry to try and escape as there is no timer on the bomb and it could go off at any minute, but it turns out to be hard to work as a team when issues such as racism and infidelity arise.

Filast

Worth it?

I did actually enjoy Elevator. For this review I watched it for the first time in at least two years and I still enjoyed it as much as the first (and only) time I watched it. I love that it doesn’t pretend to be more than it is. It is a low budget thriller and despite having just one set for the majority of the film and a confined space to work in, I think they pulled off a great job.

The strength of any film is the characters, it’s one of the reasons that the Hobbit trilogy was received in such a luke-warm manner. As I mentioned in my breakdown of 2014, there were thirteen dwarves that are central to the storyline of the trilogy and you learn precisely nothing about most of them, and the worst part is that they killed off the ones that they did actually take time to develop. I couldn’t care less about the dwarves in the trilogy because over the space of around 8 hours in total, they don’t develop at all.

In Elevator there are nine central characters and the focus shifts between them throughout, but each develops really well. None of the characters start off as what they started as, which is very rare. For example, Henry Barton starts off as a generally nice and friendly man but he soon turns into an unpleasant person as he defends selling an investment that everyone knew would fail. Martin (played by the guy who was Buzz in the Home Alone films) starts as someone who kisses everyone’s arse but soon drops that and plays the blame game. Even George (Slotnick) starts off as incredibly racist, especially towards Mohammed, but by the end he is surprisingly playing the peace-maker between everyone.

Each character transformation isn’t forced and the best part is that if you look out for it at the beginning one you’ve seen the film once, it’s obvious that some of the characters have an agenda or a antagonistic history with each other, which probably helps the transition from one personality type to another.

Elevator1

The one thing that you always need to be careful of in a film of this nature is not over developing a single character to the point where they stand out above the rest, almost to the point where you almost don’t want them to survive. Elevator did a great job of developing a character slightly each time before moving on, you can digest it easily and appreciate it more. Only one of the characters, Mohammed, isn’t developed as much as the others, mainly because he’s stood at the back for most of the film, but other than that the characters seemed to be given a relatively equal share of the development time.

For me one of the best aspects for the character of Madeline. It’s extremely rare to have a child in a film and not have them single handedly ruin it for you, for example, War of the Worlds would have been a thoroughly enjoyable film had it not been for Dakota Fanning. Whenever I see a child on screen and know they’re going to be a major part in the film, it fills me with dread because they’re usually just awful, but not this time. The Pace sisters did an excellent job of portraying Madeline and for me the best part was that the character wasn’t at all what I had predicted.

She is the cause of the elevator getting stuck and as she sees the mayhem around her, especially after one character’s arm becomes severed, she enters a state of shock as she admits to herself that she caused all of what is happening and she reacts in a refreshing way. She doesn’t scream her head off Dakota Fanning style, she doesn’t cry (well, not much anyway) and isn’t actually an irritant. She effectively has a mental breakdown and sits there rocking back and forth, repeating herself. It was a genuine reaction. It was so refreshing to not hate a character that’s a child, so refreshing.

elevator201106

*SPOILER ALERT*

Another refreshing part for me was that this wasn’t a blood bath and the body count is extremely low. Out of the 11 characters that are on screen in the film, only two actually die and one of them is only because he couldn’t fit through the Elevator door at the end and gets caught in the explosion.

In most films of a similar nature you are just bombarded with a high body count and you stop generally caring, but this wasn’t like that and I had to use this word again, but it was refreshing.

*SPOILER ENDS*

Summary

It’s not often I get to post a positive review on here but this is one that falls into that category. It’s never going to win any wards but it approvedis one of those where you can sit back and enjoy it.

In many ways it’s a shame that they have chosen to use that poster (it’s different on the DVD cover in the UK) because it would give anyone who saw it in a store the wrong impression of what the film was about, because it is far better than the film gives it credit for.

If you get a spare 90 minutes or so, sit back and enjoy Elevator.

There are a lot of families out there that would just rest easier if you were dead!

Year Released : 2014Jurassic_City_Poster-724x1024
Director : Sean Cain
Cast : Ray Wise, Kevin Gage, Dana Melanie, Kayla Carlyle, Robert LaSardo and Vernon Willis

I’m sure like most people that were born in the 1980s, one of the earliest and most impressive memories you will have from going to the cinema was the outrageously fantastic Jurassic Park. It was a achievement that was pretty much unparalleled in cinema in the 1990s, it did everything right and it was critical acclaimed.

Along came The Lost World to a mixed reaction, and then there was Jurassic Park 3, which was largely panned by pretty much anyone who watched it, but it’s safe to say that compared to Jurassic City, Jurassic Park 3 deserves to be as critically lauded as the first film.

Sometimes films borrow the title of another franchise to make themselves more noticeable, when in reality they are nothing to do with the original, yes, I’m looking at you, Night of the Living Dead : Resurrection. Like many other instances of this, Jurassic City, which is a very strange title given that the vast, vast, vast majority of the film is set in a prison and there is maybe five minutes in the entire run-time not spent in that prison, is an extremely poor attempt at a cash-grab and if you see this, please don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is part of the Jurassic Park franchise because it isn’t.

Plot

Following on from getting arrested at a party, several girls find themselves locked in a prison for the night whilst the police decide how to charge them. Meanwhile, several miles away a secret lab has been growing dinosaurs and the boss has three more coming in before he unleashes them on the city in an experiment.

The van has to stop in the basement of the prison and the three dinosaurs therein manage to escape and devour everyone in sight. Soon the girls have to join forces with guards and inmates alike to try and survive, although that is made more difficult due to Doyle (Gage), a convicted murder and rapist, being antagonistic towards everyone.

As the group slowly makes their way through the prison, being taken out one by one, they need to start trusting each other and the survivors of the group that brought the dinosaurs in the first place.

JCity1-1024x575

It’s like Sharknado, but worse…..

Now, you may have noticed that in the poster there is a T-Rex, let’s just start off by saying that there isn’t a T-Rex anywhere to be seen in this movie and it’s blatantly trying to pull in people by lying to them before you even see the word Jurassic in the title. Don’t be fooled by this as the only two types of dinosaur that appear in the movie are again what I am assuming is velociraptor and pterosaurs. You may be wondering why I used the word assuming in there, it’s because the CGI is so incredibly terrible for the the raptors that is makes it impossible to really tell what they are.

You see, I can appreciate films being low budget and therefore not necessarily having the money to make it look convincing, but it is quite possibly the least convincing CGI I’ve ever seen. Poor CGI isn’t a deal breaker for me but I do find it hard to ignore it when it’s done to such a poor level. There are scenes where the raptors are jumping on someone from behind it looks as un-natural as the way the ring falls onto the fingers of Bilbo and Frodo in the Lord of the Rings franchise. It’s just almost like they’ve given the CGI created dinosaurs the flexibility of an animatronic equivalent and not made sure that the conditions are ideal.

1835923-5

So ignoring the CGI, which again is pretty hard when you’re watching it, there are virtually no redeeming qualities to this film as it is just awful. Let’s start with the script and the incredibly unnatural way that every line is delivered. The film features quotes such as “And you girl, you’re full of vinegar!”, I mean do I even need to go into that to tell you how little it actually makes sense? Even in the context of the situation and the previous lines, it’s still an atrocious and nonsensical line. I even get the sense that the actors themselves didn’t believe in the script as several of them struggle to not laugh whilst delivering their lines that are supposed to be serious.

Robert LaSardo plays a Corporal who regularly starts laughing in mid-sentence in a serious situation and I seriously doubt that this was how the character was supposed to be. I honestly believe that he found the script so absurd that he struggled to keep his composure whilst delivering it. LaSardo is one of the few actors I’ve seen before and he is a very serious actor that can be menacing, such as his roles in films such as Leon and TV shows such as Nip/Tuck. When your actors don’t believe in the script, how can the audience be expected to take it seriously?

My ultimate problem with the script is that it is predictable and the characters are a walking set of clichés, not one of them feels natural or believable. None are more forced than the character of Stephanie, a leader of a sorority at an American college. Through the entire film she lives and breathes that she is a leader of a sorority and thinks that it actually matters in the real world. Whilst in the prison, despite people being eaten around her, she still thinks the hierarchy within the sorority matters and not only that, but she feels a sense of entitlement compared to the characters who aren’t in the sorority.

It’s not just the characters that represent clichés as there are numerous scenes throughout the film where you know exactly what is going to happen before it does and this starts right in the first few minutes. We start with a guard walking down a corridor and noticing that a door is open, he wanders inside and nothing is there. Relaxing, he drops something and bends down to pick it up, only for it then to be revealed that there is a dinosaur stood behind him. It’s basically borrowed from Chapter 1 of “Horror Clichés 101”. If it was a one-off then I wouldn’t mind, and there are many strange moments that also fell out of that book, despite not making any sense, such as;

  • A character running around a corner away from the dinosaurs and telling everyone to run, everyone looks and sees nothing before getting a look of fear of their faces as they see something off camera, but the camera pans around and the dinosaurs aren’t even in view yet.
  • A raptor biting a girl’s head clean off and the other characters can then hear her screaming, even though she wasn’t screaming at any point before her head was bitten off, and it may just be me but decapitated people can’t scream.
  • A man on foot somehow managing to outrun raptors, even though raptors are shown quite clearly later in the film being able to catch up with a moving vehicle.
  • The main bad guy being so obvious that he might as well walk around with a t-shirt on saying “I am this movie’s bad guy!”
  • Every conversation about the dangerous prisoner is about how he is dangerous, but then that prisoner doesn’t really do a lot throughout the film.
  • A prison guard thinking he’s safe simply because he’s closed a wooden door, only to be proven wrong seconds later.
  • A scene at the beginning in the sorority where they are doing an induction and the candidates are made to fight each other in bikinis, in a small pool whilst covered in baby oil. Yeah, I’ve never been part of a sorority, and am pretty certain I never will be, but I’m pretty certain that doesn’t happen in a sorority and is quite clearly only done for the interest of any teenage boy watching.
  • Mugshots featuring young women being like modelling photoshoots rather than actual mugshots.
  • A character from that sorority being so stupid to ask “where is my car?” when it’s right in front of her.

Just to round it all off, the director also tries to blatantly rip of Jurassic Park by replicating some of the more infamous scenes and failing miserably. Remember the iconic scene in Jurassic Park where Lex and Tim are being stalked around a kitchen by the raptors? Well in Jurassic City they have a guard hiding is a control room as a raptor searches around corners for anyone that’s alive, but there is a considerable difference in lack of quality or tension.

B8yThwMCUAAPT-z

Summary

There are films that are so bad that they’re enjoyable, such as the aforementioned Sharknado, The Room and many others, but then there are just films like this which are bad. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a film that I hate by any stretch, it’s hard to truly hate a film like this because you can tell it’s not trying to be something more than what it actually is, and you have to admire that in a way.

Make no mistake though, it is truly awful. I can’t think of a redeeming feature for it and if this doesn’t appear on the SyFy channel in the near future then I would be amazed.

It’s obvious that they have tried to use the word “Jurassic” to fool people into thinking that this is something that is not, so I hope no-one sees this advertised and think it is somehow related to the Jurassic Park franchise, although if they do get fooled then they deserved everything they get.

If there is one thing most of us can agree on, most sequel are crap. The main reason for the majority of them being awful is because they are poorly made, have a considerably lower budget than the first, key cast members not returning (for characters that weren’t killed off) and many other reasons

Firstly, let me list some shockingly sequels that are nowhere near as good as the first film. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the film itself is actually bad, but ultimately ANY sequel will be compared to it’s original and none of the below are better than the film that they followed, and believe me, this list could be a LOT bigger

American Psycho 2

Aliens vs Predator : Requiem

Cube 2 : Hypercubecube-21

The Fly 2

Kick Ass 2

Anchorman 2

The Wolverine

Pirates of the Caribbean (all three sequels)

Saw

Batman and Robin

The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Reloaded

The Hangover 3

Honey I Blew Up The Kid

Resident Evil

Piranha 3DD (and even the first one wasn’t that good)

Ginger Snaps : Unleashed

…..let’s put it this way, I could be sat here all night writing a list of shockingly bad sequels.

As I briefly touched on earlier, there are numerous reasons why sequels are rarely at least as good as the first film in the series, in some it’s because the stars of the first one haven’t turned for whatever reason, there has been a change in directors, writing, tone, it could be anything, and it’s a shame really because most of the films listed above didn’t need to be made. Most of them followed a film that could have stood on it’s own and that’s the truly sad thing.

The problem these days is that Hollywood is all about money, it’s all about cash-grabbing. Many excellent films would have made brilliant stand alone films before they were given sequels that they didn’t need. Franchises such as The Matrix, Pirates of the Carribean and several others started off with very enjoyable films before their reputations were somewhat ruined by the sequels that followed. The reason that they were given sequels that they didn’t really need is money. The Matrix made $463 million and at the time of it’s release, which although not massive by today’s standards, was a huge amount in the 1990s.

Of course, you don’t just get cash-grabs in franchises that started off well, with Transformers being a good example. The fourth installment, Age of Extinction, received box office receipts of over $1 billion, the only film of 2014 that grossed over the billion mark. What makes this even remarkable was widely considered to be one of the worst films with a wide release in 2014. The four releases have seen total box office receipts of a mammoth £3,757,097,628, that despite two of the four films achieving ratings of less than 20% on Rotten Tomatoes and one of the others only getting 36%. The fifth and sixth installments have already been announced as well.

The last example I will give you on the subject of cash grabs is from a franchise that I have only truly liked one entry for, even so much as hating a few entries, and yet I still keep going back to watch them when they come out, the Resident Evil film franchise. I actually really liked the first film. It’s largely unrelated to the games but it is still one of my favourite zombie films and to this day, it is the ONLY film I have ever sat and watched with the commentary on. Now, the way it ended made it seem like a sequel was inevitable, and that’s fine, but the problem is that they just keep on pumping them out and they just keep getting worse and worse and worse. Fortunately the sixth one is planned to be the last one and in a way I am relieved.

Every sequel has been exceedingly poorly received by pretty much everyone and it’s not simply because they’re largely unrelated to the games, it’s because they are poorly made. Here is a run down of the four sequels so far and why they were so poor, yet still kept getting made.

Resident Evil Apocalypse

Budget : $45millionResident-evil-apocalypse-poster

Return : £129,394,837

Rotten Tomatoes Score : 21% (124 reviews)

The failed for many, many, many reasons, such as that it isn’t really that scary, is very much an action film, has an annoying child character and probably worst of all, turns Nemesis, one of the franchises’ most infamous and loved antagonists, into a fucking good guy.

At the end of the film, Nemesis, who was mutated from a guy called Matt from the first film, starts fighting the bad guys. This is the same character that would chase you relentless in the game and destroyed anything in it’s path to kill your character. He is a constant menace in the film and takes literally several battles to eventually defeat, and even in his final form, a large, ambling blob, his sole mission is to kill you.

So once you’ve turned your film’s main fearsome antagonist into a good guy, where can you possibly go from there?

It is the lowest rated out of all five films so far on Rotten Tomatoes but does surprisingly have an average rating of 6.2 on IMDB.

 

 

Resident Evil Extinction

Budget : $45millionresident_evil_extinction

Return : $147,717,837

Rotten Tomatoes Score : 22% (95 reviews)

The third installment in the franchise is one of the least interesting for me as nothing really happens. I also lost a lot of faith in the series with this entry because they effectively did whatever the film equivalent of an in-game cheat by turning Alice pretty much invincible.

The virus she was given has suddenly turned her super human and you no longer feel that she’s any real sense of danger.

Then we get onto a massive nonsense with a massive cloning operation, meaning by the end that Alice is now not only practically invincible, there are hundreds of her. Hundreds of invincible Alices and I’m supposed to still feel that there is a genuine sense of threat?

It just made a mockery of the thing and the film was filled with remarkably poor development problems. For example, when you get bit in the Resident Evil film universe, you have an hour or two before the virus kills and then reanimates you, yet the LJ character gets bitten and is still human several days later. What the hell?

Out of all five films, it’s between this and Retribution for my least favourite.

 

Resident Evil Afterlife

Budget : $60millionResident_Evil-_Afterlife

Return : $296,221,667

Rotten Tomatoes Score : 25% (95 reviews)

LOOK AT THAT FINANCIAL RETURN! Making almost five times what it cost is remarkable for any film, let alone a film that cost that much to make. It is the most profitable out of the five films so far, but that might be in part because it was the first to be released in 3D.

I’m not going to lie, out of the four sequels this is easily my favourite and the reason is that it’s the first time in the series that they actually do a few things that are similar to the computer game series. For example, the character of Chris is introduced whilst in a cage, coming from a shadowy part to come and meet Alice in a menacing a cryptic way. This is very similar to how several characters in the games are introduced, especially in some of the earlier additions of the game series.

I do also like that it finished off a lot of the nonsense that the third film introduced, such as killing all of the clones within the first scene, turning Alice human again so that she had a realistic chance of dying.

My one MAIN problem with this entry is that I felt like I was slow-motioned to death. This starts in the credits sequence when you go to Tokyo and a girl who has just been zombified is stood in the middle of a crossing when she suddenly lunges on a nearby pedestrian and bites him. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the scene because it’s shot in a very stylish way, but that whole action of her stood there, people walking by and her then going for this guy is probably only about 10 seconds worth of actual footage, but is slowed to the point where it actually takes nearly 3 minutes to show.

Resident Evil Retribution

Budget : $65millionresident-evil-retribution

Return : $240,159,257

Rotten Tomatoes Score : 31% (65 reviews)

Despite being the best rated sequel on Rotten Tomatoes, this is, in my opinion, the worst by a country mile.

It is so pointless, pathetic and lazy that it just kept on getting itself in a tangle. As I said in the mini-review of Afterlife, one of the best things that they did in that was get rid of all of the nonsense with the clones, and yet this film re-introduces the concept to an incredibly ridiculous level.

It brings back several characters from the first film, namely Rain and One, but as clones that don’t know Alice and they try and kill her, and worst of all for me, another annoying child that becomes attached to Alice and follows her around….oh, and she’s fucking deaf.

Retribution is an abomination of a sequel because it all takes place inside of a hologram environment, and introduces several characters from the games but treats them like a parody. For example, Ada Wong (the woman in the red dress in the picture) in the game is a very dangerous woman, but also has a very human element that makes her very likeable, whereas the character in the film is as exciting as an ironing board. Leon Kennedy, one of the main protagonists from the games, is relegated in this to effectively being a bland pervert, and Barry Burton is just there for no apparent reason.

 

So, along with the first film, which I haven’t reviewed, you may be wondering why films that only have an average rating of 26.4% (33% for RE and 21%, 22%, 25% and 31% respectively) keep getting made, it’s because of the finances. I mentioned in the Afterlife section about it making almost five times what it cost to actually make, and the trend of large profits was throughout the entirity of the five films.

The five films have a budget of $248 million, and made a return worldwide of £915,934,667, a return of 369%. It’s obvious from that why they keep getting made. They don’t give a shit if they made an awful film because people keep going back, myself included annoyingly.

Now, you may be wondering why I writing an article about sequels, it’s because this week the third installment in the Ghostbusters trilogy moved a step closer as the all-female cast was announced. Ghostbusters is one of my favourite franchises after growing up watching four guys running around shooting ghosts, it’s just a fun movie and the fact it has a rating of 7.8/10 on IMDB at the time of writing shows that I am not on my own with this.

What made the original two films so successful is that you could actually believe that Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis could be scientists, especially the latter, and the comedy is subtle. It’s not in your face, it’s not stupid or farcial, it’s smart comedy. Even the very dark elements of the film, such as Louis and Dana turning into demons, were highly enjoyable for people of all ages. It’s one of the few films with a PG rating that can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s got everything, comedy, horror, (mild) violence, drama, romance and a giant man made of marshmallows, what’s not to like?

I am dreading the new Ghostbusters film because I don’t think it will have the same artistic style of comedy that the original had. Now, I’ve never heard of Kate McKinnon or Leslie Jones before so I can’t fairly assess either. I have seen Kristen Wiig in a few films, namely “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “Anchorman 2” (funnily enough, another awful sequel) and her performance wasn’t memorable in either to be honest. In TSLOWM she was a bit bland and in Anchorman 2 her role was a bit stupid, but at least she has flexibility.

The reason I am dreading it can be summed in two words, Melissa McCarthy. Now, I am fairly open minded with regards to actors and actresses that are seemingly one-dimensional, afterall, later on I will be talking about a film starring an actor who has been famed for his one-dimensional acting, but for me Melissa McCarthy offers precisely fuck all in terms of genuine quality, heart or warmth in her acting “ability”. Every single joke she does revolves around her weight, and most of the trailer for “Tammy” was her trying to climb over a counter but struggling because she is fact.

She is single handedly capable of ruining the new Ghostbusters film. Don’t get me wrong, I will more than likely still go and watch it, but there is virtually no way that it is going to be better than the original films, and for those saying that it should be considered on it’s own merits, it’s impossible. For people of my generation, Ghostbusters will always have a special place in my heart and whilst I won’t claim to watch it on a regular basis, it is genuinely one of my favourite films from my youth.

So, based on that, I’m going to move on talking three other films where sequels and/or remakes are not needed, but unfortunately are probably going to have at some point for various reasons. This is not necessarily to say that the sequels/remakes will be bad, but these three films/franchises do not need another installment, but one has either been confirmed or by the sounds of it, is exceptionally likely.

American Psycho

Director : Mary Harron

Starring : Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, Chloe Sevigney, Reese Witherspoon and Jared Leto.

Yes, that’s right, there has been serious talk about remaking this incredible film based off of the novel by Brett Easton Ellis. As the film that arguably launched Christian Bale into the A-List category, this 1999 flick follows businessman Patrick Bateman in the 1980s. By day he is a seemingly normal businessman, although you never see what he actually does for work, but by night he succumbs to his bloodlust and kills people in a variety of gruesome ways, including slicing someone’s head open with a swing of an axe, dropping a chainsaw onto a prostitute from the top of a stairwell and many others.

Patrick begins to descend into madness as he struggles to keep his two lives separate, especially after killing one of his co-workers, but the ending is very ambiguous as to whether Patrick just imagined everything, meaning he is either psychotic because he did all of these acts, or because he imagined doing them.

American Psycho is a triumph of cinema and is a true masterpiece of film. Christian Bale gives an Oscar worthy performance as Bateman, especially as he dances to Huey Lewis and the News whilst putting on a raincoat to murder his next victim.

The film already had a less than successful sequel starring Mila Kunis but now there has been talk in recent years or remaking this. Yes, they’re talking about remaking a film that was only made 16 years ago. If it had been a largely unknown film then I would understand (plus it give me the opportunity to review it properly and I would love to do that but can’t due to the nature of the site) why someone would want to remake it, but it’s not.

It has 299,467 votes and 1,022 reviews on IMDB (at the time of writing), and made $34.3 million at the American box office and numerous awards. Calling it an unknown film would be ridiculous, and the ONLY justification I can think of for a remake is that the film doesn’t show a few of the more controversial moments of the book (such as Patrick forcing a life rat into a woman’s vagina) and someone might want that.

Either way, a remake wouldn’t be better than the original and would therefore be pointless.

 

-bfa1c8f2-be89-4580-95d2-469a90845dc9

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bill and Ted franchiseBill_&_Ted

Director : Stephen Herek (EA) or Peter Hewitt (BJ)

Starring : Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, George Carlin, Amy Stock-Poynton and William Sadler

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was followed by a Bogus Journey and that was it for the Wyld Stallions. Unlike a lot of successful franchises, they knew when to stop. Winter and Reeves were both still young go on and do other things and not be typecast, and although it was still enjoyable, Bogus Journey wasn’t quite as fun as Excellent Adventure.

The franchise follows slackers Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) as they are destined to change the world into a better place, bringing peace to the universe through rock and roll, but they don’t know this and are set to fail their high school history class. Rufus (Carlin) is sent back in time to help them pass by giving them a phone booth to learn about history first hand.

Instead of simply learning from the historical figures, Bill and Ted decide to actually bring several historical figures back to the modern day to help them. Amongst those historical figures are Billy the Kid, Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Socrates and several others. They eventually pass their history class.

Several years after the Excellent Adventure, the duo haven’t really learned from it and are struggling to reach their potential. They soon encounter robot versions of themselves sent from the future and are quickly killed by their counterparts. They wander around in the afterlife, including trips to both heaven and hell, but with the help of the Grim Reaper (Sadler) they eventually overcome their robot counterparts and the man who sent them. After spending some time with Eddie Van Halen, Bill and Ted finally reach their potential and bring about peace.

That was a nice little ending for me, they reach their potential and effectively closed the door on anymore sequels….or so we thought.

Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey are two of my favourite films from that era of the late 80s and early 90s. It is one of the few genuinely fun movies out there that you can just sit back, relax and enjoy what you’re about to watch, especially Excellent Adventure. It is like most films from that era and celebrates it, rather than mocking it in some sense.

It is also a very rare film where Keanu Reeves doesn’t actually look like he’s not enjoying himself. Whereas Winter hasn’t really had a big on screen career at all, Reeves has been in the main stream attention on various occasions since Excellent Adventure came out, with big roles in 1991’s Point Break, 1994’s Speed, 1999’s The Matrix and several others, but he has never truly been a mega-star and therefore his returning to a franchise from early in his career wouldn’t be out of the question.

However, how likely is it that there will be a Bill and Ted 3? Well there have been numerous occasions over the last five years where Winter and Reeves have both gone on record saying that it is close, including confirmations of scripts being completed, directors being attached  and various other things. There hasn’t been any major news since late 2013 but it still seems likely that it will be going ahead at some point.

Out of the three films I am mentioning, this would probably be the one that I would most like a sequel for, but there are still a few things that make me nervous about it.

Reeves has said that the film won’t be a reboot and will be a continuation of the story of these two characters and I love that. It has also been set that it would feature a lot of the cast of both films, and probably most importantly, Reeves and Winter themselves. Reeves has said that they’re not going to mess about if it goes ahead and it will feature the characters in their 40s, but even though they’re grown up, they aren’t mentally grown up, and that’s what worries me.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind seeing 40something Bill and Ted, but the thing that really worries me is that the way the second film ended showed them both as young fathers, married to their girlfriends and considerably more mature after an 18 month spell with Eddie Van Halen and their experiences travelling through time and battling robot versions of themselves, having them as immature 40 year olds would ruin that ending in many ways because it would lose a lot of the meaning of the end to Bogus Journey.

At least it wouldn’t be a reboot.

a502ded76fa0630e0c4d79b7e4a3fb26f3aec35a

 

Fight Club

fightclub1

Director : David Fincher

Starring : Brad Pitt, Ed Norton, Helena Botham-Carter, Jared Leto and Meatloaf

David Fincher’s 1999 masterpiece based on the 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk followed an unnamed narrator (Norton) as he struggles through life. One day he meets a nihilist called Tyler Durden (Pitt). Soon the two start an underground boxing club in which there of few rules (although I am breaking two currently).

The narrator soon quits his job in remarkable fashion before Fight Club turns into a movement called Project Mayhem. The goal of Project Mayhem is to destroy anything that glorifies commercialism, such as destroying a Starbucks and a piece of corporate art at the same time.

As things spiral out of control, Durden and the narrator soon come confront their issues with each other, wherein the latter realises that he and Durden are actually the same person.

Fight Club is one of my favourite films, infact it’s definitely in the top two and the only film that challenges is the aforementioned “Willow”. I often debate which of the two of them is actually my favourite film and it takes a lot for anything to even come close.

Now, I know a few of you will be saying that this film would never have a chance of having a sequel for numerous reasons, one of which is the big twist where Norton’s character has multiple personality disorder. The film, rather uniquely, closed off all storylines and seemingly left no room for a sequel, so where have I got the idea that there would be a potential sequel from?

I’m not going to lie, when I saw the headline “Fight Club 2 to arrive in 2015” in 2013, I was both really excited and dreading it at the same time. Now, the headline is in reference to Chuck Palahniuk writing a sequel to his novel, but in a generation full of films that are based on books, it seems almost inevitable that the film sequel will inevitably happen.

Pahalniuk has revealed details of the sequel and to be far, it doesn’t sound overly bad, but it doesn’t sound a lot like the first film at all and has been described as having several absurdly comical moments.

Speaking to Hustler magazine, Pahalniuk stated “”The sequel will be told from the– at first– submerged perspective of Tyler Durden as he observes the day-to-day tedium of the narrator’s life.  Because 20th Century-Fox created the convention of calling the protagonist Jack, I’m calling him Cornelius.  He’s living a compromised life with a failing marriage, unsure about his passion for his wife.  The typical midlife bullshit.  Likewise, Marla is unsatisfied and dreams of accessing the wild man she’d once fallen in love with.  She tampers with the small pharmacy of drugs that her husband needs to suppress Tyler, and– go figure– Tyler reemerges to terrorize their lives.”

I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest, I will reserve judgement until I had read the 10-part graphic novel sequel about whether it would make a good film, but realistically “Fight Club” shouldn’t have a sequel in film form.

At least it won’t be another shit computer game based on the film.

film-fight_club-1999-tyler_durden-brad_pitt-jackets-red_leather_jacket

 

 

So after looking at three sequels or reboots that I’m not entirely sure would be a good thing, I’m going to end this article with a number, but first of all, let’s see what you think that the number is based on this question….how many films that are currently scheduled for release in 2015 (including those that have already been released) at the cinema are sequels or remakes?

The answer…..30.

Taken 3, The Woman in Black : Angel of Death, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Divergent : Insurgent, Furious 7, Paul Blarts 2, Avengers : Age of Ultron, Mad Max : Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2, Insidious 3, Jurassic World, Ted 2, Magic Mike XXL, Terminator Genisys, Minions, Mission Impossible 5, Poltergeist, Point Break, Fantastic Four, Sinister 2, Hitman : Agent 47, The Maze Runner : Scorch Trials, Hotel Transylvania 2, Paranormal Activity : The Ghost Dimension, Spectre, Hunger Games : Monkingjay – Part 2, Star Wars : The Force Awakens and Alvin and the Chipmunks 4.