Archive for March, 2016

No, it makes no sense to anyone. That’s why you have to believe it. That’s why you have to have faith. If it made sense, it wouldn’t have to be a religion, would it?

Year Released : 1990Nuns_on_the_run_poster
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Cast : Eric Idle, Robbie Coltrane, Camille Coduri, Janet Suzman and Robert Patterson

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out my room at my parents house. I figured that I moved out of there several years ago so I really should take some of my stuff so they can have more space. So after ploughing through the boxes, I stumbled across a few of my old VHS tapes and amongst them was one of my favourite films from my youth, “Nuns on the Run”.

I can’t recall when I first saw this film, but I was probably seven or so at the time. For those who haven’t read this site before, I am transgender and I think that this was the first example I saw in film of cross-dressing, so for me it is an important film in many ways. That being said, what I’ve learnt a lot in recent years is that stuff I liked when I was a kid isn’t necessarily as good as I remember it.

Now that I am 31 it’s very rare that I watch something from my youth and still enjoy it as much as I did then, and that extends to music as well. For example, also in the box was the album “Hooray for Boobies” by the Bloodhound Gang…….yeah…..I turned that off again after about 3 songs. It’s also disappointing with regards to films as well because just under a year ago I did a few reviews of films from the mid-90s, but virtually none of them got a positive review.

But the point is that because of the low amount of IMDB ratings, I saw this as a good opportunity to not only re-watch a film I used to love, but also review a film that isn’t from the last few years. Most reviews I post are for films only a few years old at most and I want to try to expand to a bit beyond the last few years, especially going into what I consider the golden age of films, the 1980s.

But anyway, here’s my review for “Nuns on the Run”

Plot

Brian (Idle) and Charlie (Coltrane) work for a mob boss called Case (Patterson). One day they start to become disillusioned by life in the mob and plan to leave, however, their plans are called into question when another gang member attempts to leave and ends up dead, but not before having told Case that Brian and Charlie want to leave too. Despite denying it when asked by Case, the boss decides to have Brian and Charlie killed in a job to steal money from a local Triad gang.

Whilst on the mission, Brian is warned by his love interest Faith (Coduri) that it’s a trap, so he and Charlie decide that it’s time to make a run for it with the money from the theft. Whilst running away they get desperate and run into a random door in order to hide. They are confused by their new surroundings until Charlie, a lapsed catholic, realises it’s a convent and that it’s the perfect place to hide.

The pair steal some traditional nuns garments and trick the head of the convent, Sister Superior (Suzman), into believing that they were due to transfer in. She believes them but doesn’t understand why they’re wearing old robes as opposed to the more modern and considerably more feminine clothing. Brian is mortified at having to dress like a nun until it is safe for them to go to the airport with their money, but Charlie talks him into continuing, but with the accident prone Faith entering the hospital and Case’s gang closing in, how long can they hide in the convent before they’re discovered?

4574248_l4

Is it as good as it seemed in my youth?

I’m not going to lie, I sat and watched “Nuns on the Run” with a very different mentality to films that I normally review on this site. Normally I go in hoping that the film will be good but have a generally open mind, however, that wasn’t the case with “Nuns on the Run” due to having previously seen it numerous times. I really wanted to give this a very positive review, but having not seen it for what is at least 15 years, I won’t be in a hurry to watch it again.

It’s definitely not as good as I remember it being and falls very much into that category of things that were highly enjoyable when you’re younger, but not so much anymore.

Let’s start with the positives in the 92 minute run time, and despite feeling a bit rushed, the opening sections of the film do a great job of establishing the various characters. This ranges from Charlie and Brian’s desire to escape Case, whilst quickly showing you just how psychotic he is. You get to meet Faith early on and you get to know that whilst she is a likeable character and very genuine at heart, that to use an English phrase, she is as thick as pig shit. She is remarkably dumb and yes, I understand that she has a problem with her vision, but that doesn’t her to answer questions like an idiot.

For example…..

Faith : “They work for Mr Casey.”

Triad Member : “Mr Who?”

Faith : “No, Mr Casey!”

It’s frustrating in many ways but in many ways is a brilliant way of building the character.

Untitled

That could have simply been an attempt to be funny, but when weighed up against other lines in the movie, it doesn’t compare. Coltrane and Idle both do an excellent job with the humour that their respective characters present, and there are genuine laughs throughout. For example;

Sister Superior : “We run a teacher training college for 18-22 year old girls. Do you have experience?”

Charlie : “Of 18 year old girls? Yes, plenty.”

However, even with the excellent parts of the script, the rest comedy does feel forced at times. For example, early on in the film Brian finds out that Faith gets paid to sleep and tell a university about her dreams, but when Charlie walks onto the scene and Brian is purposefully misleading about what she does (he hints that she is a prostitute), it is a chance that Charlie quickly jumps on to suggest that she’s worth five times more an hour than what he thinks she gets paid. However, I’m going to cut it a tiny bit of slack as this film was made 26 years ago, and film-making has changed a lot in that time.

I don’t think anyone outside of the British Isles would actually enjoy a lot of this film because it is very different from many mainstream films, and even for the time it was nothing like Hollywood films. For example, something that I’ve touched on a few times is that when an American film says “we’ve only got xxxxx seconds left”, times that by about three and that’s how long they actually have. “Nuns on the Run” doesn’t do that and it’s doesn’t mess the audience around. There is a bit where Charlie says that a bomb is going to explode in six seconds, and sure enough a bomb explodes.

Like a lot of British films, I think if you’re not British this won’t translate well at all, and films such as The Cottage are generally ignored because the brilliant jokes go over the heads of those that don’t get British humour.

And finally, I have to comment on this as there are unfortunately a LOT of errors that I noticed during the filming. For example, at one point Sister Superior is trying to convince Brian to teach a class about the Holy Trinity (a subject that Brian knows nothing about). He objects for around 20 seconds before a very elderly nun approaches and he questions “Why can’t she do it?” The elderly nun responds like she knows exactly what they’ve just been talking about, even though they’ve shown her to be a character that quite clearly can’t hear properly and she wasn’t even on screen when the conversation starts.

There aren’t any major mistakes in the film, but certainly enough to be noticeable and this, combined with the forced humour, does unfortunately bring you out of it a bit.

nunsontherun

 

Summary

At the time it was made “Nuns on the Run” was probably a great example of the best that the British had to offer at the time, but the days of it being considered a good comedy are well and truly over. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not a bad film and there are parts that I love, but as I was watching this to view it I found myself wanting to skip out certain sections.

If you’ve not seen it before then it might be worth a watch as there are some genuinely funny moments in there, and it’s also a chance to get to see one of the performances of Robbie Coltrane from before he became a worldwide name. However, if you’re not into British humour then I don’t think there’s much of a chance of you enjoying it as even though I’m British, I found some of it a bit tedious.

The average rating (at the time of writing) is 5.7 out of 10 on IMDB and I can’t really disagree with that.

The fugitive returns with me or dies on your ship. I don’t really care which!

Year Released : 2016Untitled2
Director: Tommy Kraft
Cast : Paul Lang, Marc Bowers, Ryan Webber, Callie Bussell, Jeannine Thompson, Ashley Croft, Tom McClure, Tom Kaiser and Ryan Husk

There are few better moments as a film fan than when a film that you’ve been looking forward to for a long time gets released. To sum up how long it is since I saw the trailer for “Star Trek : Horizon”, if you had gone to the Youtube playlist that I created of the films I wanted to see (it be be gone by the time you read this), you would see this as the second entry on the list. Given how much I chop and change the list (I’ve had about 70 movies on there over the last year or so) on a regular basis, it says it all that this was number two (please note that it is based on when I added the video to the list, not the films actually in order of when I’d like to see them).

Untitled

 

 

 

 

Now there’s one thing that you may have learnt about me from my “Star Trek : Renegade” (which isn’t linked to this film) review, I grew up as a Star Trek fan. It was one of the few things me and my dad actually did together when growing up, it was our thing (by the way, before anyone thinks it, he was, and still is married to my mother, we just didn’t do a lot together), and I grew to love the franchise. In recent days I have also been watching the two JJ Abrams reboot films again, as well as the trailer for “Star Trek : Beyond”, and it has gotten me excited to see this, even though I didn’t even know it was out at the time.

The reason I mention this is that because I am a fan of the franchise, I will be a lot harsher on this film than normal. I go into most films open minded, however, much like comic books films and their fans, there is a certain standard to be met. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that this is a low budget film and required crowd funding to get going, but that counts for nothing in this review.

Plot

Set early on in Earth’s early adventures into space, long before the days of Captain Kirk and the Enterprise, Captain Hawke (Lang) and his crew barely survive an attack by three Romulan warbirds, all lead by Admiral Verak (Husk). They are saved at the last minute by another Federation ship. The crew spend several days mourning their dead, but they are quickly sent back out to investigate a weapon that the Romulans are alledgely building two light years from Earth.

They are also assigned a new crew member, T’mar (Bussell), a woman who has spent the last 17 years helping the Romulan Empire before betraying them. Tensions are high as many of the crew blame T’mar for the death of their friends, but they begrudgingly admit that they need her knowledge of the empire. When they arrive at the station, they use new torpedoes to destroy it, but in doing so they disrupt a temporal rift and they are flung to a galaxy several million light years from Earth.

Stopping near a planet, the crew decide to investigate it as there is a huge power source emanating from the planet, however, it turns out that it is an ancient weapon that can be used to destroy anything and anyone, and at the controls is a 28th century Romulan with a grudge against Earth.

asasdasd

So, did it make me into an angry Trekkie?

No, not particularly, whilst I wasn’t massively impressed by “Horizon” (I’m simply going to call it that), it’s certainly not a bad effort by everyone involved.

I’m going to start with the negatives and my main gripe with “Horizon” is that it feels lazy in places and recycles plot points from the previous movies and the TV shows. For example, being flung to a far away place in the universe is a key plot point in the “Next Generation” episodes “Where No One Has Gone Before” and the excellent “Q Who” (most notable because is was the first appearance of the primary antagonists of the Star Trek franchise, the Borg), and it was also the main plot point of the whole run of the “Voyager” series. Many aspects of the film feel recycled, right down to the part of the film which lens flares are also heavily feature.

You’ve also got a Romulan from the future determined to destroy Earth because he feels that the Federation did nothing to protect Romulus (the Romulan home world for you non-Trekkies) after the local star went supernova (what could they do), and the captain must do what he can to protect Earth, which is near enough the EXACT plot of the JJ Abrams reboot in 2009.

I’ve always personally felt that the Romulans were always generally poor antagonists. They’ve never felt like a genuine threat in any element of any part of Star Trek, with the exception of the JJ Abram’s 2009 reboot film. The main antagonist (arguably) is Admiral Verak and he never feels like a genuine threat. Even when delivering the line at of dialogue that I have posted at the top of this post, I still never got the feeling that he was a genuine threat. I know that given the time setting, the list of potential enemies would be limited, but surely it would have been more interesting to come up with a brand new species to serve as the main antagonists.

maxresdefault

In more ways that one, this feels like nothing more than a tribute to the other aspects of the franchise, although to be fair that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’d just be nice if there were more original ideas.

The performance by Callie Bussell is also questionable as she often delivers her lines with what could best be described as the manner of a disinterested bystander. She just doesn’t look invested in her character or the story at any point. There is a scene at the 1:07:45 (I’m re-watching the Youtube video of the film as I type this) in which she is asked if she can do something to help the trapped crew on the planet, and her response is “I can try,” and it’s delivered in such an unenthusiastic/couldn’t care less manner that you wonder how bad the actresses that didn’t get the role must have been.

Her’s is by far the least convincing performance in the film, which is a shame as to be fair to the rest of the cast, they do a reasonable job considering the obvious low budget. Don’t get me wrong, they certainly aren’t a mainstream quality in terms of performance, but other than Bussell I can’t overly criticise any of them. Whether any of them will ever progress into mainstream films is exceptionally unlikely, although Marc Bowers certainly had a likable quality to him.

Untitled

In all fairness to the filmmakers though, this is a commendable effort and one of the most convincing (visually) low budget films that I’ve ever seen. The look feels very genuine to the nature of Star Trek and the production values used throughout are surprisingly high. Granted, it does feel more like it should be a pilot for a new TV show rather than a feature-film. The shots in space are exceptional and beautiful, and to be fair they wouldn’t look out of place in one of the main franchise films.

 

It’s hard to really summarise why it’s not that bad when I have written more about the negatives as opposed to the positives, but this film is certainly not a bad movie. It isn’t great by any shout, but it’s certainly not as bad as you would expect from a low budget science film.

Considering how little they had to work with, you have to commend them on the job that they have done and whilst I don’t give it the approved stamp, I would actually recommend watching it, which might sound a bit strange. I think this is mainly because the truly successful sci-fi films transcend genre and have a universal appeal, for example, the mainstream Star Trek films, Star Wars, Marvel films, etc, but “Horizon” doesn’t. It is definitely a fan-made film for fans, I don’t think those who aren’t fans of the Star Trek franchise would enjoy this.

Untitled

 

Summary

It’s certainly a bit better than “Renegades” and isn’t bad at all for a low budget science film. It feels like it is missing something that takes it above the slightly-above-average mark, which is why I haven’t given it the approval stamp.

There are more positives than negatives, which is something that I don’t often say on this site, but

I would definitely recommend watching it if you’re a Star Trek fan, however, if you’re not I don’t think this has the universal appeal that non-Trekkies look for.

It’s so weird that you won’t admit that happened!

Year Released : 2014film-force-majeure
Director: Ruben Östlund
Cast : Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren, Vincent Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju and Fanni Metelius

It’s been a while since I reviewed a foreign language film, and I’ve barely covered them at all in this site, with the exception being the films of Xavier Dolan. So after hitting a bit of a slump and not finding that many films that I’m interested in in English, I decided to give “Force Majeure” a try.

I’d first heard of this film some time ago and the concept seemed exceedingly interesting, but I go into it with a sense of trepidation in that most of the reviews state that whilst it’s funny, it’s dreadfully slow, and I struggle to motivate myself these days for films with poor pacing, but I’m not going to write a film off before I watch it.

That being said, learning new languages is somewhat of a passion of mine and there are four in this near two hours film. English, Swedish, French and Norwegian are all listed in the official languages used in the film.

I am also looking forward to seeing Kristofer Hivju again following on from his enjoyable performance in 2011’s “The Thing”. He was one of the few high spots in an otherwise luke-warm movie, so hopefully he will be just as enjoyable in this.

Plot

The overworked Tomas (Kuhnke) takes his family on holiday, including wife Ebba (Kongsli) and their children, Vera (C Wettergren) and Harry (V Wettergren). One the first day they encounter all that you would normally expect from a skiing holiday, in other words a fun day on the slopes and people trying to sell them anything and everything. The holiday seems almost ideal.

When the family go out to eat on their second day in the region, they suddenly hear some explosions in the background and an avalanche hurtles towards them. Although calm at first, Tomas soon abandons the family when it becomes evident that the avalanche is going to hit them, leaving his family. As soon as the snow settles he returns and acts like nothing has happened, but the rest of the family are secretly annoyed that he abandoned them so quickly.

Despite still being angry at him, Ebba decides to put it behind her, that is until they meet another couple and go for dinner. Tomas tells the story but neglects to mention that he abandoned his family to protect himself, and Ebba calls him on it. They spend the rest of their holiday arguing and unable to move off of the subject. Can they recover before they go home?

Force_Majeure1_small_%c2%a9Fredrik%20Wenzel-0-800-0-450-crop

Was the trepidation merited?

Unfortunately yes. Whilst well made and visually interesting, the film does drag on without a lot happening in a lot of it’s scenes. Whilst the change in the family dynamic is very interesting and the characters are well fleshed out, there just isn’t a lot going on that keeps you interested in what’s going on and ultimately you start questioning whether you actually care.

Now, I know that someone will probably say that I just didn’t enjoy it because it’s in a foreign language. That is far from the case and I did quite clearly state that I enjoyed the films of Xavier Dolan, in particular Tom à la ferme and J’ai tué ma mère, and not to forget the highly enjoyable horror films [REC] and [REC]2. So before anyone comments about me not liking it simply because most of it’s not in English, consider that.

Aside from the poor pacing and lack of anything overly interesting going on, it’s actually a relatively well made film.

The cinematography is very odd as the camera often doesn’t move at all, for minutes at a time. For example, the avalanche scene lasts for around four minutes and it doesn’t cut away once, not even after the snow has hit. The camera remains perfectly still from the moment that the family sit down, right until when Tomas returns and commences his breakfast, almost as it nothing had happened.

5MvW6mB

The long, completely stationary scenes are very unusual in cinema, infact I can only recall seeing it once and that was the American remake of a film called “Funny Games”, in which some scenes pass for up to five minutes without the camera angle changing once, even when everything is happening off camera. The camera work is easily my favourite part of the movie and if you are going to watch it afterwards, prepare yourselves for one of the most unusual visual experiences you’ll ever seen whilst watching a film that isn’t intended to look odd.

It’s one of many unusual, but effective choices that the filmmakers have used in the production of this film, with another being that the brother and sister and so in real life (either that or it’s a huge coincidence that they’ve got the same, relatively uncommon, surname). But like most of their other decisions, it is effective and clever, something which I don’t say that often about films.

The use of the four languages in the film becomes quite interesting and is used very well to develop the characters. For example, when Tomas and Ebba are on the double date and start arguing, their conversation turns from English into Swedish in an attempt to hide that what they’re saying to each other. It’s an interesting, if subtle technique.

I just wish that it didn’t drag so much. There was a time when it felt like I had been watching for what must have been close on 90 minutes, but when I looked it was only about 40 minutes in. That’s never good thing unless you’re enjoying the film, and I wasn’t unfortunately. If it hadn’t been for that then I would have almost certainly given that the approved stamp below.

1200

Summary

Whilst executed well, I can’t give this an approval stamp because it’s just not that interesting, certainly not enough to fill two hours at least. If this film was about 90 minutes long then it would feel like a much less forced. It is almost like it’s given a run time that it then struggled to fill it effectively, forcing almost anything in there.

Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of “Force Majeure” that I did really like, but that can’t make up for being bored.

I wouldn’t necessarily say don’t watch this, but go in knowing that there is a good chance that your interesting will start to lessen as the run time goes on and on without a lot really happening.

Why did you get into journalism?

Year Released : 2016Truth_2015_poster
Director: James Vanderblt
Cast : Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss, Stacy Keach, David Lyons and Bruce Greenwood

There are several good and bad aspects of working at a cinema, so much so that I am currently writing an article about it, but for me the main benefit, other than being paid of course, is the chance to watch as many films as I want for free.

I’ve worked at three cinemas for a total of close to two years now, and in those time periods I have seen roughly 80 films, at least 60 of which I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. This can work both ways, it can reveal some hidden gems that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, but I also run the risk of seeing films that steal time away from my life.

But anyway, I digress. Last week the cinema I was working at started showing a film called “Truth”. I’d never heard of it, which is something very strange for me as I keep relatively up to date with all releases, and no-one I spoke to knew a single thing about it. Tickets had been exceptionally few and far between, but then I watched the trailer and I got excited by it, especially as it seemed to be a somewhat similar film to the excellent “Spotlight”, and therefore I went along on Monday evening, with my salted popcorn and Pepsi Max (not sponsored) in hand, and watched “Truth” in a screen all on my own.

I know some will question why I am reviewing a film that has been released at the cinema, and is still going. Well in the past I have done it on occasions where the film isn’t seemingly that well known, I’ve been in a screen with only a few people in it, it doesn’t have a high level of ratings on IMDB, etc.

I would also state that before I review this, due to the subject matter I have to make it clear that I have no political agenda with regards to this, I simply wanted to watch a decent film, and more to the point, not being American I couldn’t give the slightest care in the world to if what Bush is accused of actually happened.

Plot

In 2004 and Mary Mapes (Blanchett) becomes aware of a series of documents that call into doubt George W. Bush’s tenure in the US Army, a key part of the upcoming election campaign. The documents alledge that despite claims to the contrary, Bush’s was regularly AWOL from training and when he did eventually show up, he was quickly transferred to the Texas National Guard, a favourable move. Mary hires Mike (Grace), Roger (Quaid) and Lucy (Moss) to help her investigations.

The investigations lead to Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett (Keach), who has documents from various members of the military from Bush’s time of service that prove this. The team uses these and numerous other sources that back up the cover up and they get numerous witnesses stating on camera that everything is accurate. The team eventually put out a CBS 60 Minutes news piece, hosted by legendary news anchor Dan Mather (Redford). The documentary is initially deemed a success.

Soon afterwards however, many online bloggers start questioning the documents, stating that they could have easily been forged in Microsoft Word due to the exact same spacing, fonts and various other aspects of the package’s default settings. Every piece of new evidence that the team find is quickly dismissed, and this isn’t helped by Burkett admitting that he lied as he felt Mary was being overbearing.

As time goes on, CBS look to start covering their backs, all whilst the members of the team are being hounded and vilified, especially Mary.

lead_960

A hidden gem or a waste of a section of my life?

This falls very much into the hidden gem category and I would urge you to watch it if it’s still showing at a cinema near you when you read this.

I’m going to start right off of the bat by saying that this isn’t quite on the same level as “Spotlight”, although to be fair I think it would have struggled to reach those heights. In many ways “Truth” is indeed very similar to that film, although there are obvious differences with the subject matter, but in terms of the most basic level of the plot (a news team trying to uncover the truth when all doubt them), it’s very similar.

Let’s start with the acting and to use an American vernacular, Cate Blanchett knocks it out of the park. She is brilliant as Mapes and you genuinely start feeling for the character, especially in the latter section of the film in which she gets attacked on a personal level and has to deal with her rapist father becoming involved. You see a great character development as she starts off as a cock-sure woman full of self-confidence and transforms into a vulnerable and fragile person, and it’s a great way of looking at the way people handle things online as people say things, often forgetting that there is a person on the other end of the abuse.

1280x720-WTj

People forget that back in 2004, the internet wasn’t anything like it is today and was still relatively new. Internet pages, such as forums, didn’t have as much scrutiny as they do today and some of the comments that people post on a blog post that shows Mary’s picture is a sign of the times back then, and more importantly, it started her breakdown that continues throughout the film. It’s an important and realistic part of the plot, and Blanchett’s portrayal of a woman hurtling into depression is exceptional.

It would be unfair to single her out though as all of the cast do a fantastic job, especially Topher Grace, who offers up a very different type of character to what I’ve seen him play in the past. Granted, Grace may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s very rare you’ll see him in a role that is similar to what he’s played in the past. Quaid was almost also born to play this role and you couldn’t imagine anyone else playing that character.

One thing that I also love is that the filmmakers have taken care with regards to making the film have the relevant versions of software for the time. For example, they use a correct version of Windows Media Player and the Google homepage shows 2004 right at the bottom. It’s such a small detail that is so important, and yet a lot of filmmakers get it wrong. Infact, at the time of writing, there is only one anachronism on the IMDB “Goofs” page (a tram system seen at an airport that wasn’t installed until six months after the events of the film), and for any movie set in the past that is quite an accomplishment.

Whilst there are tiny moments here and there when the film drags, I was never bored and not once did I look at my phone (I was in the screen on my own so I wasn’t disturbing anyone). It could have been so easy to make this film uninteresting (not intentionally of course), but they avoided that and made an excellent film.

Truth-Film3

Summary

“Truth” is a very clever and poignant look at how people forgot the initial point of something to suit their own agenda.approved

The cast do a great job portraying these characters and none of them put a foot wrong. This helps with the level of care that has been put into to making the film as realistic as possible. Whilst there is the odd minor error here and there, it doesn’t distract from an excellent story.

Don’t go in expecting the same level of emotional impact as “Spotlight”, but it’s still pretty darn good.

Definitely watch “Truth”

We’re going to get killed if we sit here!

Year Released : 2016profile_logo
Director: Michael Shumway
Cast : Blake Webb, Tatum Langton, Jaclyn Hales and Jack Diamond

I’m going to start this in a very different way than normal by stating that the IMDB rating of 2.8/10 for this film is undeserved. I normally write this section before the film, but I have waited this time and whilst I wasn’t planning on writing about the IMDB rating, I was genuinely surprised when getting the cast data that the 118 people that have rated the film on that website have ranked it as 2.8/10.

That is comfortably the lowest ranked film that I have reviewed for this site, but I do feel it is somewhat unjustified. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to get the approval stamp at the end of this review, and my rating wouldn’t be much higher, but I do feel that ranking it so low has been a little unfair, and don’t worry, I will go into why.

However, did you notice how I only said it was a little unfair? Yeah, don’t be fooled by the trailers, this isn’t a typical alien invasion movie and in this specific example, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Plot

Please note that whilst the film isn’t presented in chronological order, the below is written in when they would have happened as it would get too confusing to describe the constant back and forth nature.

David (Madison) and Amy (Langton) are in a loveless marriage and both have been unfaithful. Amy becomes frustrated when David agrees to go to a meeting in Denver with Ryan (Diamond), backing out of a wedding he’d agreed to go to. Whilst there David and Ryan see news stories of planes going down all over the world, and their phones soon lose signals. David decides to go back to Amy and leaves Ryan behind.

As he struggles to find a way home, he encounters a very strange man who seems like he’s stoned, but David soon abandons him after seeing a strange light surrounding a petrol station that they stopped at. After almost hitting another person with a similar condition, David is taken in briefly by a man as his home is about to get invaded and he barely escapes with his life.

David continues his journey home and finds another group of survivors, including a woman called Sam (Hales), and the two survive an alien attack by hiding in a tree. At this point, David realises how unlikely it is that he’ll get back to Amy, but he is determined to do so.

alienate

So why is it worth more than 2.8/10?

Well let’s start this by saying that I really struggled to make the plot sound interesting whilst writing the above part, and this is mainly because of  how the film is presented. It’s constantly flipping backwards and forwards between the past and present, and this causes a lot of confusion and kills the pacing of the film right off. There are moments when David is on the verge of being found by the aliens, only for it to then flip to a conversation between he and Amy that is irrelevant to the scene.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this technique, but in other examples, such as the TV show “Lost” it is used to effect in each episode and isn’t rushed like it is in “Alienate”.

The pacing is off throughout the entire film and whilst I wasn’t bored for the most part, it was hard to really get invested in the characters because of the pacing, and the lack of development, that in the end I didn’t really care if David makes it back to Amy. It’s a bit strange that in a completely loveless marriage, in which he openly admits that he has had an affair and has confessed to Ryan that there are big problems, the first thought when his flight is cancelled due to planes going down is to rush home to be with her again. And the weird thing is that Amy, who again has been having an affair and has shown very little affection to David throughout the past scenes in the film, suddenly only wants to see him.

Untitled

David and Amy certainly isn’t the only storyline that doesn’t make a lot of sense when you think about it. Ryan’s mini-storyline, in which he says to Amy that he’s alone and has no-one, ends up with him literally picking up a small child and saying he’ll help her find her family….and that’s it. You never see him again and it’s just like “oh, well what was the point in that?”

Aside from the characters and the odd storylines surrounding them, there are just such basic errors, for example, towards the end Samantha is begging David to join her in the helicopter….whilst she is strapping herself into the seat where you enter the helicopter. If he is to join her, he would have to climb over her to get to the empty seat, which is a very strange way of showing someone that you definitely want them in the helicopter with you.

Then there is also the time when they run over an alien and despite it being pitch black, with no lighting whatsoever in the area, David is driving without his lights on.

Untitled

I suppose I should list some positives and the main one for me is that it would have been too easy to copy all of the other alien invasion style movies and just shown constant death and destruction. Reading some of the IMDB reviews that appears to be the main reason that most didn’t like it, the fact it’s presented like a traditional alien invasion movie, whereas the aliens aren’t really featured that much and you never really get a good look at them.

Despite the characters not being very well written, and being contradiction filled, the writers have at least tried to add some depth to them and not just have them as part of massive body count. There is at least some attempt to have them be deep characters, even if it isn’t executed brilliantly.

The acting isn’t awful, it’s passable, even though it’s not brilliant, then again, what do you expect from someone who looks like a discount Jesse Eisenberg as your main character?

And finally, probably my biggest positive about “Alienate” is that despite it’s flaws, I wasn’t bored during it. Even though you don’t really care about the characters, can’t believe how stupid they are and the oddities surrounding Ryan disappearing with a small child, never to be seen again, you’re not really bored.

Untitled

Summary

It’s not as bad as 2.8/10 suggests, but it’s certainly not a good film. The characters are moronic in many ways and despite the best intentions of everyone involved, it’s hard to really care about them. You don’t really care if Amy and David are back with each other at the end of the film because it is presented as a completely loveless marriage that wouldn’t realistically be saved by an alien invasion. There was no emotional impact when *SPOILER ALERT* David does eventually find Amy and she is shot dead by an alien before they’re even near each other.

If it just wasn’t careless with certain plot points then it wouldn’t have been too bad, and whilst 2.8/10 is harsh, I certainly wouldn’t give it more than 4/10, and even then I’m being somewhat generous.

In short, I wouldn’t waste your time.