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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.

You’ll understand when you get divorced someday!

Year Released : 2015

Director : Stephen Dunn

Cast : Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Joanne Kelly, Aliocha Schneider, Jack Fulton, Sofia Banzhaf and Mary Walsh

Diverting away from films I found in a pile of VHS tapes whilst at the house of my parents, I’m going to look into a film that has been on my Youtube playlist for some time now. I really should get through that list properly as there are some films that have been on there for a few years.

Those of you who are long term readers of this site know that reviewing smaller, independent films meant that I was able to discover up and coming directors such as Xavier Dolan, so to have a film that describes itself as part him, and part David Cronenberg (another great director), is a treat, and one that I couldn’t resist.

If it can be even remotely similar to Dolan’s efforts then I will be very happy as he is arguably the most accomplished director when it comes to LGBT films, but whether it turns out to the the case is another matter as for all I know it could be nothing like either of them, let alone the two combined, but we’ll see.

Plot

Oscar’s (Fulton – Child, Older – Jessup) parents split up when he was a child and his only companion was his pet hamster, who he imagines talks to him. His friends also suspect that he will grow up to be gay, but after being called on it he follows a bunch of teens visually beating another young man, ending with them shoving a pipe up his rear. He is traumatised by what he sees and his father Peter (Abrams) says that it happened because he was homosexual, further worrying Oscar.

Several years later Oscar is involved in a photography project with Gemma (Banzhaf) in the hopes of moving to New York when he meets a new co-worker named Wilder (Schneider). Oscar finds himself being sexually attracted to Wilder, but is still haunted by the incident with the brutalised teen from several years prior. This new connection with his feelings coincides with a breakdown in the relationship with Peter.

Oscar and Wilder begin to bond, but a brief conversation between the latter and Peter leads to more trouble as he believed that Oscar and Gemma were in a relationship. Peter slowly starts putting the pieces together and realises that his son might be homosexual.

So is it a genuine mix between Dolan and Cronenberg

For the first time in a long time after seeing a description like that, I feel that I can genuinely see why it was made, and for once I fully agree. There are definitely similarities in the techniques of film making, and I would argue that there is also a touch of Nicolas Winding Refn in there as well. It takes the best aspects of the three whilst feeling completely unique, and this is only a good thing.

The characterisation in the film is remarkable, with the relationship between Oscar and Peter being exceptionally well developed. Their interactions with each other get more and more tense as the film goes on, especially as the latter starts to realise his son’s sexuality. It is an interesting dynamic and the best part is that whilst Peter is as close as the film comes to having an antagonist, he is certainly not an awful human being.

Peter is clearly going through issues throughout the whole film as he struggles through his separation to the point where he keeps his ex-wife’s belongings around, and how he gets hurt when he finds that Oscar described him as a deadbeat in an art project. There are glimpses of him being a good dad, such as the scene right at the beginning of the film where he pretends to inflate a balloon with a dream and place it into Oscar’s head, but he lets the issues get on top of him and each good deed is countered by the opposite.

 

He is just one of the several captivating characters in the film and visuals definitely aid you falling into Oscar’s world as he struggles to come to terms with what he saw as a youth. This includes a scene in which he is having sex with a man at a party, visualises the brutal attack from his youth, and then imagines himself vomiting screws and a variety of other similar objects.

Make no mistake, this is a visually brutal film, but it is also a captivating experience and it is one of the best LGBT films I’ve seen in recent years, and comfortably one of the most unique films from any genre that I have reviewed for this site. This is helped by the excellent electronic soundtrack, bringing you into this world.

Stephen Dunn is a director that I will be keeping a keen eye on in the near future and if he can produce something as engaging as this on a large scale, he could achieve the same heights of the aforementioned three directors.

Summary

“Closet Monster” is captivating, engaging and most importantly, driven. The great characterisation is simple, yet effective, and that is a sign of great film-making.

Stephen Dunn has fell well and truly onto my radar with his mix of Xavier Dolan, Nicolas Winding Refn and David Cronenberg, and this is about as fresh as I have seen in a long time, certainly for a film in the LGBT genre.

I would thoroughly recommend “Closet Monster” and the films of Stephen Dunn will hopefully appear on this site again.

 

Don’t let me catch you giving any muffins to those little beggars outside!

Year Released : 1985

Director : Jim and Ken Wheat

Cast : Warwick Davis, Wilford Brimley, Aubree Miller, Paul Gleason, Carel Struykcen and Sian Phillips

Another VHS that I found at my parents house whilst I was clearing out some old belongings, “Ewoks : Battle for Endor” was the first film from the Star Wars universe that I ever actually saw. Obviously this isn’t part of the main film franchise, but it can still be considered canon for the universe given that it was written by George Lucas, so was part of the intended set up.

Unlike my last review for “Mac and Me“, I have actually seen this in the relatively recent past before I rewatch for reviewing purposes, and I seem to remember enjoying it when I watched it in my late twenties. However, as I mentioned during the aforementioned review, I now don’t view films in the same way that I did before due to reviewing them as a hobby just under three years ago. That’s the one thing that they never tell you about film reviewing, it soon becomes very difficult to watch a film without being able to notice all of the little errors. I can’t remember the last time I was able to sit back and just enjoy a film.

But away, time will tell if this film is what I remember it to be.

Plot

Some time after crashing on the moon of Endor, Cindel (Miller) has befriended the Ewok community that helped in the Battle of Endor several years before, especially Wicket (Davis). Just when their ship is close to being repaired they are attacked by a group or marauders and all of Cindel’s remaining family are killed because of a power source, as well as her and a large group of Ewoks being captured by Terak (Struycken) and his witch Charal (Philips).

Cindel and Wicket escape and are greeted by a fast creature named Teek that helps them find a cabin the woods, helping themselves to the food inside. Noa (Brimley), the owner of the cabin, soon returns and is far from happy but eventually agrees to house them for the night. Noa reveals that he has a ship that could get them off the planet, and when Cindel is tricked into being kidnapped by Charal, it’s decided to double the efforts and get the power source that Terak stole.

It soon turns into a much later battle between the Ewoks and the race of marauders.

As good as I remembered?

It’s hard to really say whether it was as good as I remembered because I recall it being fairly decent, and whilst I didn’t dislike it on this viewing, it felt somewhat humble to the point that you couldn’t ever really get into it.

The problem is that you are literally following a child, several puppets or people in costumes, and only two adult characters, one of which isn’t given any development whatsoever. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot to really get invested in because let’s face it, when was the last time you saw a film in which a small child went on a mission and didn’t achieve it? It makes it a bit uncompelling in that sense…..but it’s not a bad film.

I think the best word to describe it would be “quaint”. It’s a nice little science fiction film, with a bit of fantasy thrown in, but one thing that it definitely doesn’t feel like is a Star Wars universe film, that despite being set in the same universe. It’s hard to really call this a Star Wars film because there is very little that it has in common with the rest of the franchise, other than the Ewoks and the odd sign of technology from the series. In many ways this is more of a fantasy film given that Tarek’s army looks more like a bunch of half decomposed dead bodies, and the addition of a witch that can turn herself into a bird at any point.

That’s not to say that it’s not a bad thing that it’s not like a lot of the Star Wars films as I’m not a big fan of that franchise. I like them, but not to the point where I think they deserve the praise that they get so easily in the media.

This is a much darker film than you would expect for most other kids films. Granted, this was the 1980s and standards back then for children were less strict, afterall, the original Star Wars franchise were Universals and yet had people stabbing each other, cutting arms off, etc, but “Battle for Endor” could in some ways be considered a horror-fantasy for kids. The design of the marauders is off putting, you have very dark and unsettling environments, and the character of Noa, who I would remind everyone is a protagonist, is quite a scary (well, by the standards of films aimed at kids) old man at various points. Granted, at times Noa is also a very friendly man in his grandfather style role and relationship with Cindel, but even so.

Visually the film is reasonably quaint considering the low budget and time in which it was made. It has a pleasant enough soundtrack and as I say, certainly isn’t a bad film in how it’s been made.

Summary

Just because this is part of the “Star Wars” franchise, don’t go in expecting it to be anything like that main series as it is anything but. It’s certainly not a bad film and is a quaint science fiction film that borders on being close to a horror movie for children.

As this was apparently made for TV, don’t go in expecting a top of the range film, it isn’t. Whilst not awful, there are a few minor issues that whilst I can overlook, certainly mean that I can’t give it the approved stamp.

Not sure what else to say really.

Year Released : 1988

Director : Stewart Raffill

Cast : Jade Calegory, Christine Ebersole, Jonathan Ward, Katrina Caspary and Lauren Stanley

I’ve mentioned a few times during this site that I do find it odd when I watch films that I saw when I was young, mainly because they’re often not even close to being as good as I remembered. This has happened with numerous films that I’ve reviewed on this site, but I get the feeling none will come as close as this.

My parents are currently downsizing and therefore I’m currently on holiday so I can go through a lot of my old stuff to help them save space, and I found a VHS of “Mac and Me” (as well as a lot of older films, expect quite a few reviews of older films coming up), a film that I enjoyed a lot in my youth, but I haven’t watched it in what I estimate to be around 25 years. Since then I’ve regularly seen this film on many countdowns of the worst films ever made, including many saying that it’s a glorified McDonalds advert, so when I found the VHS I decided that it was time to relive this and see if it didn’t hold up anymore.

Hopefully this will prove to be as enjoyable as it was during my youth, but I very much doubt it as I’m now in my thirties and I’d like to think my tastes were better than back then.

Plot

A family of aliens are going about their everyday lives on their home planet when a NASA rock sampling machine accidentally sucks them up. When the machine returns to Earth the family is able to escape, but they get separated from their infant son, who finds his way into the back of a family car.

Eric (Calegory) is the youngest of the family and they’re moving from Chicago to California to make it easier for his spina bifida, but as soon as they arrive at their new home the alien starts causing trouble. The first morning sees Eric accidentally going down a hill in his wheelchair and crashing into the lake at the bottom of the cliff. He is rescued by the alien, although his family refuses to believe that this happened and gets him professional help as his mother thinks it might have been a suicide attempt.

Eventually he and neighbour Debbie (Stanley) catch the alien, which he dubs MAC (mysterious alien creature), and this proves it to Michael (Ward), but as more people find out about MAC’s existence, the more his life is in danger.

Is it as bad as people have said it is, or is it actually reasonable?

Well I’ll say one thing, it definitely wasn’t as good as I remembered it being.

Let’s start with the main point of contention that the majority have for this film, the product placements. During all of the ridicule for it I thought that the comments on product placement were exaggerated, but they really aren’t. During my viewing I noticed skittles, Gatorade, McDonalds and Coke on such a regular basis that it did start feeling like a feature length advert. I would love to know what amount of the budget was dedicated to Coke cans because they are in nearly every scene. One of the common jokes with “Fight Club” was that there was a Starbucks cup in every single scene, and I think “Mac and Me” does the exact same thing with Coke.

Having said that, it’s not as sinful as the constant references to McDonalds get in the second half of the film, including a full on dance scene in a McDonalds restaurant that just appears out of nowhere. I’ve worked in McDonalds twice during my life and can assure you that there are no dance contests, not even at kids parties. The McDonalds references aren’t even subtle, including below conversation;

Michael : ‘So, McDonalds huh?’ (Referring to Katrina’s uniform)

Debbie (Katrina’s little sister) : ‘Yeah, why don’t you stop for a Big Mac?’

And the next minute, literally the very next minute;

Michael : Know what I feel like?’

Eric : A Big Mac?

Michael : You’re a genius!

If you must insist on forcing product placement down our throats then please don’t make it so unsubtle. I’ve never seen anything like it and I can definitely see why this has caused a lot of people to criticise the film. I realise that these films have to get their money in some how, but to do it to this extent is just beyond defensible. I can’t think of a single reason to stick up for the film in this respect.

Had this not had the product placement then I think it would have certainly had more of a chance with critics and the general viewing public but I found myself unable to stop laughing at how poorly it was made in that sense. I notice product placement a lot more than I did before I started reviewing films, but at least other films try and integrate it subtlety, something which doesn’t happen here.

So ignoring the product placement, to be fair it’s not actually an awful film, it’s passable in a small way. It does contain a LOT of cliches, but this was released in the eighties so it would be unfair to criticise it for cliches by the standards of today given that a lot of them did actually start in the eighties, and wouldn’t have been regarded as cliches at the time of release.

The acting is fine (considering what they had to work with) and the characters are likeable, if a little one dimensional, but it doesn’t surprise me that not a single member of the principle cast had a lasting career in Hollywood.

To put this in some sort of context, the film currently has a rating of 3.4/10 on IMDB. Had it not been for the product placement then I’d say it was a solid 5/10, albeit slightly generously.

I’m really struggling to come up with a true positive from the film, other than the exceptionally laudable decision to actually give a role of a kid with spina bifida to a young actor that actually had that condition himself. It would have been far too easy to give it to just anyone, so to give an opportunity to a disabled actor is commendable.

 

Summary

If you can get past the multiple product placements then you might enjoy this as it’s a nice enough little sci-fi film, albeit without being spectacular. I really wanted to say something nice about a film that I loved when I was a child, but unfortunately I couldn’t think of something that was noteworthy in a positive sense.

I really can’t think of anything majorly positive about “Mac and Me” and in many ways I wish I had left it in the past. If you’re going to put this on for your young children then yes, they might enjoy it, but anyone over the age of about seven or eight might start to notice the things that would stop this being a fun film.

It’s not something I would urge you to avoid, but it certainly isn’t one that I can recommend that you watch.

You killed my wife and left my baby outside?

Year Released : 2014

Director : Scott Foley

Cast : Donald Faison, Patrick Wilson, Scott Foley, James Carpinello, Dagmara Domińczyk and Greg Grunberg

So whilst browsing Netflix I found a film that looks different to what I normally review, in other words a comedy. Many of you that read this site on a regular basis will know that I don’t really like comedies, often finding them anything but funny. I have a very specific sense of humour and find it hard to really enjoy a film aimed to make me laugh. I enjoy a more subtle or intelligent form of comedy.

That’s one of the reasons that I didn’t really enjoy films such as “Deadpool”, it tried far, far too hard to be funny and this caused it not to be for me.

If you went through my collection of roughly 70 Blu Rays and several thousand DVDs you would find very few comedies at all, and the ones that are there are several decades old. It is arguably my least favourite genre.

Then again, this might turn out to be an hidden gem.

Plot 

Ward (Faison) is a very likeable man who is married to Stacy (Domińczyk), a woman that everyone hates due to being abusive, rude and abrasive, including Ward himself. After he is denied the opportunity to play golf, Ward’s friends Ronnie (Carpinello), David (Wilson) and Tom (Foley) start speculating what it would be like to kill Stacey and the positive impact it would have on everyone concerned. David won’t let the idea go though, but it is actually Tom that succeeds after he strangles her following a slip.

The group and their wives then have a lengthy discussion about how to get rid of the body. After making their decision, they start breaking down the body, but Ward’s neighbour Bruce (Grunberg) is a police officer and is becoming suspicious of the unusual behaviour.

So is it a hidden gem?

No, it is definitely not.

The film currently has a rating of 5.4/10 on IMDB and I find that to be very, very generous indeed. This film is a mercifully shortly 82 minutes, but not once does it get anywhere near anything that’s worth laughing at. It’s stale and largely lifeless, and there is no intention of irony in that statement given that it’s a film about killing someone.

Let’s start with one of the key problems with the film, none of the characters are worthy of your time. They’re all completely one dimensional and even after the death of Stacy, none of them really act like any differently than what they did before, other than obviously being slightly more panicked than they were previously.

Stacy is not a believable character. Whilst I firmly believe that there are some women somewhat like her out there, there isn’t a single secondary characteristic and I find it hard to believe that she would ever convince someone to fall in love with her, or be friends with her for an extended amount of time. I sort of get that Ward would want to stay with her after they have a kid together, but there is precisely nothing forcing anyone else to interact with her when she is not here. The very fact that no-one really gives a shit after she has died says it all. Even Ward ends up urinating on her at some point.

You actually want her to be killed, but the actual scene in which she does actually die is so underwhelming that it doesn’t feel like a satisfying outcome. More to the point it is a bit ridiculous as she basically slips on a piece of cake and smashes her head open on the floor. However, rather than slipping in a natural way, she sort of casually falls over.

I can’t think of a single redeeming feature from this film other than the aforementioned runtime.

Summary

A painfully unfunny comedy, “Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife” is an attempt at the genre that I can’t imagine anyone actually enjoying. I can see why it’s only got a 5.4/10 on IMDB at the time of writing, and even then I think that rating is being exceptionally generous.

There characters are one dimensional and it’s hard to really care about any of them. It makes the whole film a bit pointless when they eventually killed Stacy and their lives are barely affected.

Just don’t waste your time.

The Resident Evil film franchise is finally over and I for one couldn’t be happier. I really like the first one and it was one of the first films that I ever went to see twice at the cinema. I remember specifically going into the cinema in Lincoln and asking for a ticket months in advance, and even though they couldn’t sell tickets, I was there on the opening showing on the first day, and I loved it. Even now I think that this stands separate from the rest of the series, and can be viewed as a semi-decent zombie film on its own merits.

However, whilst the first was generally very good, in my opinion of course, the sequels were not so lucky. Gradually getting worse as the series went on, fans kept going in the hope that they would get better, and whilst I’m not going to share my opinions on the sixth film until the end of the year (I can’t criticise it whilst it’s still showing at the chain that I work for legal reasons), it isn’t going to stop me posting this list.

So this is what I hope will become a new feature on this site, the “Reasons” section. In this I will look at reasons as to why something worked, or didn’t work, so to open it up I’m going to start with 85 reasons that the “Resident Evil” franchise sucked overall. This ranges from general observations to plot holes.

Please note that these are not sorted into any form of order.

1) Despite being constantly in danger of death, Alice somehow always found time in between films to change her hair style and colour. Obviously over the space of ten years in-film time I appreciate she’d need to cut her hair every now and then, but is style and colour realistically something that the character would be concerned by?

2) Making the character of Alice have what are effectively super-powers for a significant portion of the franchise made her completely uncompelling. If you know that it’s exceptionally unlikely that she’s going to die, it takes any real tension out of any scene.

3) In their defence, the first two films do try to stick to the horror genre somewhat, but come the third film they’re basically action films. The Resident Evil franchise isn’t supposed to be action it’s supposed to be horror.

4) The first film faced a lot of criticism for the very few references to the games, so the next few films over-compensated by bringing characters from the games into the film. Whilst noble, none of the characters were really anything like their computer game counterparts, especially arguably the two lead characters of the games series, Chris and Leon. Whilst the latter character has an interesting relationship with Ada in the games, it just isn’t reflected at all in the movie.

5) Speaking of Ada, she is one of the most intriguing characters in the games due to her less than willing way to reveal the complete truth in various situations, but in the fifth film (the only one she features in) she isn’t the anti-hero from the games, she is just a generic secret agent that could be taken out and there would be no impact to the story at all.

6) Speaking of characters from the games, Jill Valentine is the primary protagonist of the first and third games, and also the secondary one in the second film. To be fair to the filmmakers they do make her look exactly how she looked in the games, but how does a suspended police officer (even if all off duty police officers are called in) get away with entering the station and just opening fire on people that she views as hostile, and not only that, shooting them fatally?


7) Anyway, time to try and establish some order in this process and now look at the films in some form of relative order. In the first movie there is an excellent scene with a corridor of lasers, arguably the most famous scene in the franchise. They tried to replicate that by bringing that corridor of lasers back for several of the sequels, but the issue is that unlike the first, there was no suspense or genuine intention to be anything more than a feeling of “going back to the well”. This reappears in the third and sixth films, and an alternate version in the fifth.

8) Shortly after that scene is an odd one in which the AI system knows that they’re about to unleash an EMP to shut her down and she warns them not to do it, all before taunting them with “you’re all going to die down here”. The system has one point at this stage, to stop the spread of the infection, so wouldn’t it make sense for it to warn the soldiers what turning the system off would actually do (release all of the undead)? By not telling them the system is risking the infection getting out.

9) One of the reasons that I like the first film is that in amongst the gore, it takes its time to develop some of the other characters, and especially the sisters-style relationship with Alice and Rain, but there’s none of that as the series goes on. For example, in the final film Alice asks a character how they learned to change a mechanical device, and ten seconds later you’d heard the only development that character is given, and yet when that character dies towards the end of the film, it acts like you’re supposed to have an emotional attachment to that character.

10) The less than subtle nature of the Alice in Wonderland references in the first film. The lead is called Alice, the virus is tested on a white rabbit the villain is called the Red Queen, they have to walk through a mirror (aka a looking glass) to get into the hive.

11) At the beginning of the first film Alice is shown to have a large scar on her shoulder that stretches several inches. She stands in front of a mirror (whilst her memory is still absent) and is curious about it herself. We never discover where the scar came from.

12) Not only do we not discover where the scar came from, it has completely disappeared in later films, with the exception of one scene in the sixth film.

13) In the first film, the very opening scene infact, a woman decides that because the gap in-between two elevator doors is just big enough for her head and one arm to fit through, her entire body will be able to squeeze through. She subsequently gets her head stuck and I’m sure you can all guess what happens next.

14) A major plot point is the memory loss of Alice and Spence. Whilst Alice gradually gains her memory back over time, Spence is completely oblivious up until the perfect moment for the plot.

15) One of the memories that Alice does get back rather quickly is that she entered into a plot with someone who wants to bring the company down from the inside. She then reveals this to the character of Matt at the first opportunity because it turns out that the woman was his sister.

16) She decides to do this without having any other memories, and is surprised that Matt would want to have his questions answered.

17) In the first film the licker mutates shortly after feeding on flesh, but the same doesn’t happen in the second film.

18) The speed of the undead changes throughout the films. In the first film they are quite slow, and yet in the sixth film, set ten years after the first and therefore a lot of decomposition time later, they are full on sprinting. The undead won’t get faster as their body parts decompose.

19) Speaking of decomposed bodies, the second film shows that several people that have been long dead somehow gain the strength to burst through their coffin and six feet of dirt with ease.

20) Not only that, but the second film also sees the first of many contradictions around the virus throughout the franchise. The one in this film is that not only are the dead coming out of the ground, but it would take a long time for the virus to seep down six feet to get to them, but this would be completely irrelevant as it is stated in the first film that the body has to be relatively fresh and have even the slightest amount of neural activity, which usually dissipates after several weeks. Most of the bodies that come out of the ground have clearly been buried for much longer than that.

21) Umbrella managed to set up the wall surrounding the city in the space of a few hours after the events of the first film, yet no-one seems worried that an agency has come out of nowhere and is starting to barricade them all in.

22) This is made even odder by the fact that the zombie apocalypse is clearly going on whilst they’re doing it because there is a newspaper report shown. There has been enough time for Umbrella to build a wall and a newspaper report on the dead coming back to life and eating people, get it approved, published and distributed, before people seem to try and escape the city.

23) Umbrella also sent several operatives in to help control the situation, which isn’t unusual, but what is that the character of Yuri got bitten on the right arm, but limping heavily on his left leg.

24) When Nemesis is given his first thing to do on screen, it’s to kill twelve members of the S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Squad). The person who unleashes the Nemesis literally says “they’re the best” and a minute later every single S.T.A.R.S member in the building is dead. What was the point?

25) Also, is it really a “Special Tactic” to all stand in a perfect straight line aiming at the big creature walking towards you? They can’t be that special if the make this glaring error.


26) A reasonable fraction of the film is spent in a church, a building that Alice enters by crashing a motorbike through a window. How did she get the bike through that window when exteriors of the church clearly show no ramps?

27) The third film is set in a desolate desert environment in which water seems a rarity, yet no-one seems dehydrated and everyone can afford regular showers (you can tell because everyone is clean).

28) In relation to the desert environment, the film clearly establishes most vegetation around the planet has died as a result of the virus, with many areas being reclaimed by the desert, but this issue doesn’t seem to carry over to the later films as pretty much each area has returned to “normal”.

29) One of the characters reveals that she never liked her original name and so instead chose her new name after where the rest of the crew found her, a K-Mart store. Ok, you don’t like your old name, you can change it to anything you want, but you just change it to a nickname of a store. Why go through that effort?

30) The only sniper will climb to a decent position above the battlefield, but also happens to choose arguably the only place that he wouldn’t be able to escape from if someone started climbing up. Guess what happened.

31) It turns out that Umbrella have created several clones of Alice and they are to be discarded once they are killed in several environments. There are around fifty Alices that are shown on screen in the ditch of dead-clones, not only has every one of them seemingly died on the exact same way (bullets from the flying turret), but not a single one has started to decompose.

32) In the final battle of humans vs zombies in the third movie, Alice gets “turned off” (for lack of better words) by Umbrella because they want to use her for data analysis, but stopping her dead in the middle of a battle with zombies means that they risk getting her body back after it’s been bitten several times by zombies, which could contaminate their results.

33) Magically disappearing characters. A character is a prominent part of one film, but is then never seen again. One such example is Chris in the fourth film. He plays a pretty big role, but is then not heard of again. Even at the end of the sixth film I have no idea whether he was alive because he is barely even mentioned in the final two film.

34) The third film ends with Alice having an army of clones, but those clones are killed off within minutes of the opening of the fourth film.

35) Then again, that’s not the strangest thing about the ending to the third film. The survivors are able to escape on a helicopter that can handle six people without an issue, yet there are significantly more than that who are escape on it at once.

36) Arguably the biggest “fuck you” to fans however was the Nemesis character in the second film. Nemesis in the game “Resident Evil 3 : Nemesis” is a seemingly unstoppable machine that will stop at nothing to get to you, but the film shows that with just a few memories of his former self, he will turn into a good guy and help the protagonists.

37) That’s not to say that the fourth film isn’t innocent in that regard. The enemy known as “The Executioner” is your first mini-boss in the fifth Resident Evil game and is a genuine challenge. He’s a towering bulk that moves quickly and menacingly. He is randomly implanted as a nameless antagonist in the fourth film but is nowhere near as intimidating as his computer game counterpart. He spends a portion of his screen time trying to break down the game, but instead of hitting it with any real force, he gently taps it….and yet it somehow causes the gate to come off of its hinges after a few hits.

38) He then battles Alice and Claire in the shower room in the prison and is taken out relatively simply after causing significant damage the environment, but none to either of the aforementioned characters.

39) The main characters then escape through tunnels that were dug by the undead. Yep, not only should they be long decomposed after however many years have gone by, but now they’re able to dig through the ground and up through a solid floor.

40) What makes that even more ridiculous is that the hole isn’t even subtle, and yet none of the characters notice it in the relatively small room that they’re all in at some point.

41) Their destination once they escape is a ship just off of the coast, but when they look at it through their binoculars there is no sign of life on a ship that is offering sanctuary from the infection. Strangely this doesn’t ring any alarm bells in their heads.

42) The opening scene involving Alice in the fourth film is all of her clones invading an Umbrella facility. Whilst on the face of it she has a lot of enemies to beat, the soldiers that she faces are awful and show no tactical awareness whatsoever. They can’t shoot in a straight line (only Wesker actually hits a clone with any bullets) and not once do they try and take cover.

43) The clones also have piercing holes in their ears. If they’re DNA replicas, they wouldn’t have piercing holes as they weren’t part of the original DNA. A quick brush up in post production would have sorted that out.

 

44) Alice starts the fourth film off with having her mutated cells returned to normal, and yet she is able to walk away from a helicopter crash without a scratch.

45) Having that said, her survival is no more miraculous than the characters that free fall about twenty storeys down an elevator shaft before hitting water, and yet they aren’t even slightly hurt.

46) Going back to the Executioner boss that I mentioned earlier, the battle with him takes place in the shower room that seems to have a layout that confuses the characters because they are surprise attacked several times whilst in that room, but all of the things attacking them have come from areas where they have just been standing.

47) The fourth film ends with Alice and the rest of the gang taking over a ship and declaring over the radio that there is enough food for everyone. She only arrived 20 minutes previously, spending most of the time looking around the test areas and beating Wesker, there is no way that she knew that there was enough food for everyone.

48) The fourth film also claims that a plane going at a speed that is flying fast enough to maintain itself in the air can go from whatever speed that is to nothing (with the help of a few ropes) in something that’s less than the length a football pitch.

49) Not to forget that one of the things that helps the plane stop falling over the edge is Luther jumping nearly double his height and grabbing the back of the plane, weighing it down. No human that can jump that high would weigh more than an engine and therefore the weight would still feasibly force the plane over.

50) Then again, it’s not as unfeasible as the plane re-taking off sometime later with pretty much zero momentum. I’m not a pilot, nor really know anything about what it takes to fly a plane, but what I do know is that a plane going no more than 20 miles an hour will not take off at all, even if it suddenly goes off of the edge of a building.

51) What is just as strange about the plane taking off again is the character that is in it subsequently mows through several zombies with the propellers and their blood spurts in his mouth….but the window and hatch is completely shut. How did the blood get through?

52) The acting throughout is laughable, with Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker acting as though his jaw had been wired so that it couldn’t go beyond a certain point.

53) SSSSSSSLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW MMMMMOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNN. I didn’t notice until the fourth film just how much slow motion was in this franchise. It’s not too bad in the first film, infact I believe it’s rarely used, but it is considerably more noticeable in the latter half of the franchise, and I would love to know how long the fourth film would be if it was played at normal speed. I would go as far as saying it would be less than an hour.

54) This over-use of slow motion carries over into the fifth and sixth films. Infact, the first three or so minutes of the fifth film are completely in slow motion, then it shows you what happened at normal speed and it couldn’t have lasted longer than fifteen seconds.

55) Whilst slow motion isn’t ideal, it’s certainly better than constant jump cuts. The sixth film in particular is awful for this and at one point I counted eleven jump cuts in just five seconds. How can you possibly keep up with that? I wish I could even say it was a one off but it keeps happening throughout the entirety of the movie.

56) The fifth film in its general entirety. It’s basically just a “Greatest Hits” edition of the previous four films.

57) My biggest gripe with the fifth film is that is completely inconsequential. You could take this movie out and the rest of the series would, for the most part, stay exactly the same.

58) It is visually repulsive and I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire film was filmed on green screen as so much of it looks fake.

59) One of the early scenes sees Alice imprisoned in what is basically a giant cylinder, and for some reason Umbrella have decided to keep all of her stuff in a drawer that she has relatively easy access to. I highly doubt that they would ever release her, and even if they do I highly doubt that they would give her her stuff back, so what’s the point in keeping it?

60) It is established in the fifth film that the facility that they are in is controlled by Umbrella and that they can change each environment to make it as difficult as possible for the characters to escape, but none are truly made that difficult. If they wanted to then could make it a monsoon style weather system in each environment and force the characters into drowning, or change the temperature to either freeze or cook the characters alive.

61) One other zone consists of two “executioners”, but if Umbrella were truly intent on capturing or killing them then surely they could have had more than just two?

62) The problem with each of these scenes, as well as the others in the film, is that you never feel like Alice is in any danger of not killing her opponent eventually.

63) This isn’t helped by the fact that with the help of Ada, the movie feels like nothing more than a film equivalent of co-op in computer games. Co-op doesn’t work effectively in the games and certainly doesn’t help in the films.

64) Ada also doesn’t feel like a fully realised character, not helped by that Bingbing Li’s entire dialogue was dubbed. It is unfortunately very obvious that she’s not the one talking.

65) There isn’t even a satisfying conclusion to the film as there isn’t a primary antagonist throughout the movie, just several sub-bosses.

66) The inclusion of clones of “One” and “Rain” from the first film makes you genuinely question whether each was real in that film, making their plight somewhat less compelling.

67) The sixth film in its general entirety.

68) For some reason they decided to film almost the entire movie on a handheld camera rather than the normal set up. This doesn’t add anything so I’m not sure what they were trying to achieve.

69) One of thing that they certainly don’t achieve is revealing what happened after the end of the fifth film. All you find out is that Wesker betrayed them and then Alice emerges from a hatch, surrounded by the remains of White House.

70) Wesker, after being built as a very hard to kill antagonist, is taken out very easily in the final film.

71) Infact, Wesker doesn’t really do anything at all in the final film, and in reality he is largely irrelevant to the plot of the overall franchise. He barely makes a worthwhile contribution throughout.


72) One of the key plot points of the final entry to the franchise is that the Red Queen is constantly stating that in a certain amount of hours the last human settlements will fall unless the anti-virus is released, leaving just Wesker and co alive. How can she possibly know when they will fall, or indeed where every single settlement is? Yes, they have the satellite system, but if someone was in a underground settlement on their own, it’s highly unlikely that that system would know.

73) It even seems strange that the Red Queen knows about this anti-virus and has done since the first film, but didn’t think to mention it once, even though she clearly stated that it was her responsibility to make sure that the T-virus wasn’t spread.

74) Even if it were the case where it was definitely 48 hours, it would be too late to release the airborne anti-virus and have it reach those settlements in time for the humans in them to survive.

75) This entry contains yet another contradiction in the franchise as it claims that the Red Queen was modelled after the daughter of Dr. Marcus, but this contradicts the first few films in which they explain that it was modelled after the daughter of Dr. Ashford from the second film.

76) Alice also seems to go through something of a contradiction as she willingly puts all of the survivors at risk when she wants the gates open for one person that’s being chased by thousands of zombies, but this follows her blowing up a tank knowing that it’s full of survivors that are being held captive.

77) Soon after she also proceeds to cause an explosion in the other tank, thus killing all of the survivors in there, but all Umbrella operatives emerge within seconds with nothing more than a cough, even though they were right next to the explosions.

78) Then again, her even getting to the tanks is odd enough given that it is clearly shown that there are too many zombies for them to walk without banging into each other, but she somehow manages to land in the middle of a patch where there are no zombies.

79) The final film reveals that Alice and the Dr Isaacs we see in the third film were infact clones. Revealing that Alice has been a clone all along killed the connection that anyone realistically had with the character because you realise that you’re not following the original, you’re following a copy, and it takes a lot of the emotional connection out of the situation.

80) There are also two Dr. Isaacs’ in the sixth film, one of whom is a clone, but you again don’t find this out until much later in the movie. There are no real need for this.

81) When the characters in the sixth film reach the facility, Wesker decides that one way to kill them would be to reverse the polarity on turbines, therefore sucking all of the air in and meaning that they will be sucked in. One character is killed and Wesker decides that will be enough for then, but then gets confused and frustrated when all the characters end up in closer than he wanted.

82) There are numerous instances in the series of the characters being in a completely empty environment, only to then be completely surrounded on all sides by zombies. Either the zombies are super quiet, or we’re to believe that they just happened to come across them with such convenient timing.

83) Several characters in the series turn into zombies after only a handful of hours, whereas a few take several days.

84) The numerous product placements that aren’t even remotely subtle through the entire franchise, such as Sony products in the second and third films.

85) Arguably the least subtle however comes in the fourth when Alice is trying to figure out where she knows Luther from. After he unsuccessfully guesses that she is a basketball fan, he says “well maybe you’re a fan of fine time pieces” and the film then cuts to a poster with a massive Tag Heuer logo in the middle of it.

So that’s it, 85 reasons that I could find for the series generally sucking.

 

Whilst coming to the end of writing my first extensive look at why a certain “horror” franchise failed to produce quality films, I was made aware of a mini-craze amongst film reviewers on social media in which they reveal their favourite film from each year that they’ve been alive.

At first I had no interest in taking part, but then I thought that it might be fun to see what came out each year I was alive. One thing that I quickly realised that there are some years in which there were few standout films for me, 1990 and 2005 being particularly sparse, whereas I really struggled just to pick one from 1994 as as well as what I chose, there were so many entries that were not only great, but would top many top tens around the world.

So I was born in 1984 and will therefore start there. In the interest of fairness I am only going to consider films that were released at the cinema.

1984 – Ghostbusters
1985 – The Goonies
1986 – The Fly
1987 – Spaceballs
1988 – Willow
1989 – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
1990 – Night of the Living Dead
1991 – Terminator 2 : Judgement Day
1992 – A League of Their Own

1993 – Jurassic Park
1994 – The Shawshank Redemption
1995 – Mortal Kombat
1996 – Star Trek : First Contact
1997 – The Fifth Element
1998 – The Truman Show
1999 – Fight Club


2000 – American Psycho
2001 – The Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring
2002 – 28 Days Later
2003 – Pirates of the Caribbean : The Curse of the Black Pearl
2004 – Troy
2005 – Land of the Dead
2006 – Lucky Number Slevin


2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – The Dark Knight
2009 – Star Trek
2010 – Scott Pilgrim vs the World
2011 – Moneyball
2012 – Avengers : Assemble
2013 – Rush

Then we come onto those that I’ve seen since I started reviewing films for this site. Click on the below links for the full run downs of the top tens from these years.
2014 – Nightcrawler
2015 – No Escape
2016 – Captain Fantastic
2017 – TBD

We should be in a hostel someplace with dreadlocked, Austrian girls!

Year Released : 2014

Director : Mark Raso

Cast : Gethan Anthony, Frederikke Dahl Hansen and Sebastian Armesto

So I’ve gone from pretty much never reviewing films with a romantic theme to two in the space of a few days as I prepare to look into “Copenhagen”, which appeared on Netflix a few weeks back and has been on my list since.

The trailer isn’t very good, but the rating on IMDB is an excellent 7.2/10, a rarity for films that I review on this site as most fall below six. Infact I think that I’ve only ever reviewed five or six films that were above six on IMDB. That’s not to say that that is a guarantee that it will be good as a lot I tend to like some of the films with poor ratings, whilst finding those with good ratings somewhat dull.

But anyway, we’ll see.

Plot

William (Anthony) goes on a European backpacking holiday with two friends, but they soon become tired of his immature antics and leave him in Copenhagen. This is exactly where he wants to be however as he is searching for his grandfather, whom he believes lives in the city. William is struggling to find the address but soon meets Effy (Hansen), a young girl working in a cafe.

She helps him to the address on the letter, where he discovers from his great uncle that his grandfather was infact a Nazi.

Whilst trying to process the information, William finds himself falling in love with Effy, but he is horrified when it turns out that she is only 14 years old. He initially wants nothing to do with her but then finds himself being drawn back into her. Even the return of his friend Jeremy (Armesto) from London and calling him a paedophile doesn’t stop him from falling for Effy to a dangerous level.

 

So is it good?

I’ve never been someone who finds romance films that entertaining, so I sat there expecting to be bored for nearly 100 minutes, and the quite frankly awful trailer really didn’t really help that, but come the end of the film I was pleasantly surprised that I genuinely enjoyed a film from this genre.

What helps the level of surprise was that William and Effy actually seem to have a genuine connection, even if it isn’t obvious at first. The performances of Anthony and Hansen aid this as you can picture them being a couple off screen. Their dialogue flowed without being ridiculously obviously scripted, and it didn’t overwhelm you with cliches either. Everything about them felt natural and realistic, and that’s something that you can’t really teach. It was quite refreshing.

Once such example of the relationship building in a natural way is quite a funny scene where William asks Effy to teach him how to ask what someone’s name is in Danish, and she instead teaches him how to ask if they want to be his “sex buddy”. It actually made me laugh out loud and then again when he actually uses the line towards the end of the film.

There isn’t really a lot to say about “Copenhagen” to be honest. It’s a nice story about an immature man that falls in love with a girl who helps him grow up, only to discover that she is not grown up herself and dealing with his emotions afterwards. It’s quite an interesting dynamic in the sense that ultimately William is a paedophile as later on the film he and Effy do have a romantic encounter, but the film builds it so it doesn’t feel like that.

Long time readers will know that I often have trouble talking about films that I liked, so I hope that explains why this review is shorter than normal, but “Copenhagen” is the first film I’ve reviewed in a while where I never doubted whether I’d still like it by the end.

Summary

“Copenhagen” is a smooth and charismatic look at falling in love in another country. It isn’t stated, the length is about right at just shy of 100 minutes and it doesn’t feel into the usual cliches of two people falling in love.

The moral confliction that you feel when you realise that William has fallen in love with a 14 year old is quite unique. You don’t really feel like there is a good reason that they shouldn’t be together other than her age and that is because the build of their relationship is very natural and feels very genuine.

I’d definitely recommend “Copenhagen”, one of the easier approved stamps I’ve been able to give for a while.