Archive for April, 2017

Year Released : 2010

Director : Mark McQueen

Cast : Craig Fairbrass, Myanna Buring, Danny Dyer, Jaime Murray, Shane Taylor, Shane Taylor, Bart Ruspoli, Craig Conway, Lisa McAllister and Colin Salmon

Being English I have a strong affection for many British horror films, including 28 Days Later, The Cottage, Tormented, Severance and Creep, but alternatively there are some awful ones as well, Night of the Living Dead : Resurrection, so whenever I find a horror from my home land then I do get somewhat excited.

After finding “Devil’s Playground” on Netflix I got the feeling that this was trying to achieve the same success that the aforementioned “28 Days Later” did given it’s raw appearing nature, but the cast doesn’t fill me with excitement or optimism.

This will turn out to either be great, or a pile of crap. I get the feeling I know which.

Plot

Cole (Fairbrass) is a problem solver for Peter (Salmon), the CEO of a major medical corporation. The company has tested a new drug on 30,000 volunteers, but it caused major medical issues for the vast majority of them and now Peter is determined to get to the bottom of it so he can avoid being sued, but whilst examining one of the infected he is bitten, as is Cole. Cole manages to obtain the last three vials of anti-virus that will hold off the infection 18 hours at a time.

To find a permanent cure, he knows that he will have to find the only volunteer who reported no side effects, Angela (McAllister). She herself is still trying to get over her husband Joe’s (Dyer) imprisonment for killing a teenager, although he is adamant that he did it in self defence.

Cole does eventually find her, as does Joe after he gets bail, and the trio end up working together with some other survivors in order to escape on a helicopter with limited space in east London, but the other survivors start to team up against them as they get paranoid thoughts about being left behind.

As good as “28 Days Later”, or even remotely unique?

There is not a chance in hell that anyone will watch this and think that it is on a level even close to that brilliant zombie-like (28 Days Later is not a zombie film) movie, or even the slightly less engaging and interesting sequel. The one thing that I will say is that I have never seen a zombie film that features so many of the infected knowing parkour.

Throughout the near 100 minute run tie is zombies running over and jumping over objects that they have purposefully gone towards to jump over, even though it would be considerably easier to simply go around, especially when they’re chasing food.

That isn’t the only oddity about this movie as there is a big plot hole at the beginning of the film. The company that produces the medication that eventually zombifies the population is getting sued by those who took it, but the problem with that is that they are volunteers and would almost certainly have signed paperwork that doesn’t make the company liable in the event of side-effects. I’ll grant you, it’s not a major plot hole, but right from the off it is starting to have a lack of sense.

Unfortunately the problems don’t stop there as most of the characters are horrendously one dimensional and aren’t built even slightly well. It becomes a bit tedious as you don’t feel any semblance of sadness when certain characters start dying. Their lack of intelligence doesn’t help with this either as they know that people who have been bitten will turn, but they keep them around anyway. These people are basically fodder for the zombies, and it is effectively natural selection in all of its glory.

I like to try to come up with at least one favourable comment per review, but unfortunately there isn’t really a lot that is going on here that is that exciting, or even remotely interesting. I was sat there late at night, bored by one dimensional characters and action that is so stop-start that you could easily turn it off and not feel remotely sorry about it.

There are some great British films out there. This isn’t one of them.

Summary

Full of characters that aren’t interesting, several relationships between actors played by people with no chemistry, and an overall boring story, “Devil’s Playground” is one of the least imaginative zombie films I’ve seen. It offers little new to the genre, and it is something that I’ll have completely forgotten about by the time I watch the next zombie film that I’ll review.

I am really struggling to come up with a single positive about it, and based on that I have to say that it is probably best if you miss this.

Year Released : 1983

Director : Peter Yates

Cast : Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, David Battley, Bernard Bresslaw, Alun Armstrong, Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane

So, after a near unexpected three week break from reviewing films (I got really busy at work), I am now back and will start with a look at another film that was with me during my youth, the relatively ok known “Krull”. It is probably best known for early on-screen appearances for some members of the cast, more specifically Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane, as well as it’s unusual set design.

“Krull” is unusual in the sense that it’s one of the few films that I’ve reviewed for this site that is actually older than I am, something I will only be able to say about two or three of the more than two hundred films I’ve reviewed for this site. I really should start looking into some older films on a more regular basis.

But oh well, here’s the review.

Plot

Colwyn (Marshall) and Lyssa (Anthony) are getting married to unite their rival kingdoms when their ceremony is interupted by servants of a creature simply known as “The Beast”, a being who goes to various planets with his army and dominates until everyone is dead. The fathers of both are killed, and Lyssa is also kidnapped, leaving an unconcious Colwyn alone. He is nursed to health by several people, including Ynyr (Jones). Ynyr is familiar with the beast and claims it can be defeated with an ancient weapon known as the Glaive, a starfish-shaped blade.

He successfully retrieves it from the mountain, but encounters a large group of bandits that are lead by Torquil (Armstrong). They pledge the allegiance to Colwyn as he is now king following his father’s death, and they are later joined by a cyclops known as Rell (Bresslaw). However, the quest soon starts appearing more difficult as the beast starts to take control of the planet, as well as sending his troops out in disguise to try and kill Colwyn, claiming Lyssa as his own.

The main problem for Colwyn is that the fortress in which the beast is located changes its location each day.

Still decent after 34 years?

“Krull” has certainly not aged well, but it is still visually quite unique, which you’d expect for a film that had a budget of $47million, which was huge for the day. Infact I’d go as far as saying that this film couldn’t be more early-80s if it tried given how cheesy some of the acting it.

The acting throughout is a bit suspect, putting it nicely, but that doesn’t stop it being an enjoyable romp throughout and whilst it doesn’t have the same appeal as similar films, such as “Willow” or “Lord of the Rings”, this is definitely a fun watch.

One element that I really like is that the slayers that the beast controls are actually quite deadly, far more so than other armies from other movies. They kill a fairly large number of characters throughout the movie, and the body count of the protagonists is very high indeed. What makes the body count even more effective is that you actually have time to get to know these characters, meaning that they’re not meaningless deaths.

There is a constant threat throughout the film from not only the slayers, but also the creatures that the beast controls, and at times it does resemble a horror film in terms of its presentation. These days it would probably render a 12A rating at the cinemas due to what happens, it’s similar to how there is no chance that the original Star Wars films would get a Universal rating again if released these days.

 

Arguably the most interesting part of “Krull” is not the main plot however, it’s the character of Rell, the cyclops. The mythology in the film says that his race sacrificed one of their eyes on exchange for seeing the future, but they were cursed with only seeing their deaths. The character of Rell sees how he will die throughout the film, and it becomes a sub-plot about whether you should just accept your fate, or risk a more painful one for the greater good. I personally found the character otherwise tediously dull, but that subplot is through provoking.

Summary

Cheesy as hell and about as eighties as you can get, “Krull” is a fun romp of around two hours. Don’t go into it expecting brilliance because it is definitely one of those that will test the patience of some, but if you like fantasy and/or adventure films then I think this is for you.

It has its flaws, and it has aged horribly in the 34 years since its release, but it still has more heart and character than most similar films released these days. It takes time to develop the characters, as well as giving you something to think about.

Give it a watch.