Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

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.

What’s it like when you look back at Earth from further out than anyone has ever been?

Year Released : 2016ApproachingTheUnknown
Director : Mark Elijah Rosenberg
Cast : Mark Strong, Luke Wilson and Sanaa Lathan

There are a few things that are rare in the movie industry, some of those that you’d expect, such as people pretending that it’s impossible to have a poor Marvel film, or that Force Awakens didn’t have a lot of issues, but one of the ones that people don’t really talk about is that Mark Strong rarely plays a protagonist.

Strong plays antagonists expertly in a variety of different films, and the best part about it is that he roles are often a variety of genres and with very different types of characters. This ranges from Pinbacker, an astronaut who found religion after his spaceship was cast adrift in “Sunshine”, or the ambitious Septimus in “Stardust”, mob-moss Frank in “Kick Ass” or the treacherous Sir Godfrey in “Robin Hood”. His adaptability has made him a very likeable actor.

It will be interesting to see him play a protagonist for a change. I’ve just looked through his filmography and I can’t recall many/any of his roles that I have seen in which he hasn’t been the bad guy.

Plot

William Stanaforth (Strong) has successfully managed to invent a process that produces water out of nothing more than dirt, because of this he is authorised to go to Mars and start the first colony. The first few weeks of the mission go without any issues, other than Stanaforth making it clear that he no longer has an interest in talking to anyone other than Skinner (Wilson), his friend and colleague at mission control, and Maddox (Lathan), who is following him three weeks later and will be the second person on Mars.

Stanaforth soon learns that Maddox has drifted off course, but he helps her get back heading towards Mars. However, he soon encounters his own issue as he accidentally short circuits the equipment that transforms dirt into water, and he struggles to get it back working. Any time that he thinks he has fixed it, he makes the situation work. He survives on condensation from the heat from the air con system.

As he approaches Mars, can he give himself and humanity a chance by getting the machine fixed in time?

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As good as it should be?

Honestly? No, not really. I had high hopes going into the film after being impressed by the trailer and the mostly one man show from Mark Strong that was promised, but instead I got a film that started off very promisingly, only to then just never get going. The film can really be divided into two halves, but the problem is whereas most films have a much stronger second half than the first, “Approaching the Unknown” has the complete opposite approach.

During the first half of the film I was engaged with what was happening and was excited about it. Early on it has very similar stylings to “Sunshine”, another film set in space that features Mark Strong, but the problem is that the film never seems to move out of second gear, and the second half of the film feels like a car that is rapidly running out of petrol and you’re trying to make it to your destination on fumes. The film never really seems like it’s going to reach a natural conclusion, or at least a conclusion that will leave the audience convinced that they’d just watched a film that they enjoyed.

This is in no fault down to the cast and as expected, Strong delivers a great performance in a film where he is largely on his own. You truly believe in the character and how driven he is to complete his mission one way or another, but later on in the film the character falls into the picture of loneliness and insanity that you predict from watching the trailer and the general storyline.

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That is the biggest disappointment for me, there’s nothing truly unique or groundbreaking about the film. I was sat there for it’s 90 minute run time (one of the things that the film did get right) and didn’t see anything that I hadn’t already seen in other films of a similar nature. The best films, in my opinion, are the ones that offer you something that you haven’t seen before during your life, or at least offer enough that’s original enough that you can ignore borrowed parts, but “Approaching the Unknown” doesn’t do that, and other than some decent visuals, it is a largely forgettable film.

In many ways that is the worst type of film that you can have, something that isn’t really worth remembering. Despite enjoying the first half of the film, I couldn’t really tell you that much that happens other than him having a few talks with children and him spewing out a lot of monologues.

I don’t really have that much more to say about “Approaching the Unknown”, I’ve really struggled to get this many words out.

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Summary

“Approaching the Unknown” starts off promisingly, but it starts getting less and less engaging as it goes on, and by the end of the film I had lost most of my interest in the film.

Mark Strong gives a very decent performance, but he is one of the few positives about a film that is otherwise largely forgettable. I wrote this review two days after watching the film and that’s because I felt very little urge to write the review.

There are worse ways to spend 90 minutes, but there are a many better ways as well.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Year Released : 2015Untitled
Director : Matt Osterman
Cast : Brandon Routh, Dane Cook, Caity Lotz, Ben Feldman and Tom Cavanagh

Following a two week break after a 31 reviews in as many days for October, I am now back and raring to go…..well I say raring, what I actually mean is that I didn’t intend this to be a two week break and now feel obligated to review a film.

So based on that I have gone with a film that I found during my month long reviews, a science-fiction thriller called “400 Days”. Looking at the cast I am relatively excited as Brandon Routh was one of the best parts about the excellent “Scott Pilgrim vs The World”, Ben Feldman is a highly enjoyable actor in smaller movies, and I’ve personally never had a problem with Dane Cook, seemingly one of the few who will openly admit that on the internet.

400 Days also reminds me a lot of Sam Rockwell’s “Moon” from the trailer, and if it’s anything as good as that then I will surely enjoy it. Then again, even if it’s bad it won’t be as bad as half of the crap I watched during October.

Plot

With plans to make missions to Mars a regular thing and interstellar travel affordable to the average folk, four wannabe astronauts agree to a social experiment to see the affects of 400 days of isolation, completion of which would put them on the next mission. It has been Cole Dvorak’s (Cook) dream since he was a child, whereas Bug Kieslowski (Feldman) is just as excited, however, Theo Cooper (Routh) and Emily McTier (Lotz) aren’t thrilled about spending the next 400 days together after a recent break up.

The experiment starts and all goes fine for the first few hundred days, but then various members of the group start suffering hallucinations, when suddenly they all report seeing a man that has seemingly broken into the complex. The man running the experiment no longer responds to communication requests and the group argue about what to do. Theo believes that they should leave the experiment to investigate what is happening, even though there are less than two weeks to go, Dvorak strongly objects as he knows that doing so will end any hopes that any of them had of ever going into space, but he eventually yields.

After struggling to get out, the group eventually emerges into a pitch black environment with seemingly no buildings or plant life, and a strange dust covering the ground. After walking around for several hours they eventually find a small town with a few people there, including Zell (Cavanagh), a man who won’t give a straight answer to any questions, and the group starts debating whether something genuinely happened whilst they were underground, or whether it is simply part of the experiment.

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Anything like Moon?

In some ways it is very similar to “Moon”, it’s got relatively similar plot points in terms of a character going crazy, but the problem with 400 Days isn’t that it’s like another film in some aspects, it’s that it’s trying to be too many things at once and by doing so ends up being so convoluted that I’m not even entirely sure what genre to put it in.

Throughout a runtime of 90 minutes, 400 Days regularly changes the type of film it’s trying to be, starting off as a sci-fi movie, then turning into a thriller, then a horror and finally a post-apocalytic style movie, but the problem is that none of them are done particularly well and once the group leaves the pod for the first time, something is lost and the film becomes far, far, far less interesting.

So based on this I’m going to do something that I have never done before, and that’s a section that I like to call (and is shamelessly stolen from a popular Youtube channel)…..

How it should have ended!

Please note that I will go back to the main review after this section, and all of the below is simply how I would have written the ending to make the film not only better (in my opinion), but also stick to the theme of paranoia that the film wanted you to believe from the trailer.

So to do this I really should start with how the film actually ends. (spoiler alert). At around the half way point all of the characters escape the hatch after a man breaks in, they don’t recognise the area that they emerge from and walk for hours before finding a small town. In the town are a small group of very strange people, led by Zell (Cavanagh). The group notes that the town wasn’t there before they went in the pod and it appears that some cataclysmic event has taken place, but no-one will give them a straight answer. the film ends with Dvorak and Bug disappearing in the small town that the group discovers, with Theo and Emily the only confirmed survivors and the clock for the 400 days finally ends and an automated message played over the tannoy to congratulate them, and they look up to the previously sealed hatch and hear it opening. The film ends there.

For me personally I wouldn’t have had them leave the structure at all. I’d have had them growing increasingly restless as they approach the 400 day mark. The group survives several paranoia-driven attacks on each other before finally making it to the end and they’re all sat there as the countdown reaches 0…..and then nothing. Hours and then days pass as nothing happens, they try to force open the hatch but it won’t open.

Dvorak, who was already in a questionable mental state at this point, starts growing crazier and crazier before, a month after they were supposed to be released, he finally snaps and attempts to kill the other three members of the crew. He succeeds in killing Theo and Emily, coming down to just him and Bug. Bug runs and hides and the remainder of the film is spent like a cat-and-mouse hunt as Dvorak searches for him. Ben eventually gets the better of Dvorak and just seconds after he delivers the fatal blow, the hatch door opens. The recruiter descends into the hatch and reveals that the extra time in there was a symbol that even the best laid plans can sometimes go wrong, and they wished to see how the group would react, and whilst everyone else being dead wasn’t ideal, it shows that Bug had what was needed to survive in extreme situations. The film ends with him going into space on a real mission.

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Back to the review….

So yeah, that’s how I would have had the film go, but the problem, as I mentioned much earlier in the review, is that the film regularly changes pace and genre, almost to the point where it no longer has any genre. It’s not particularly scary so can’t be a horror film, it’s no longer particularly science fiction, it’s not a thriller as nothing’s really happening that justifies calling it that, and the only genre I can even slightly put it into by the end would be mystery….but the problem with that is there isn’t even that much mystery. I’m only putting it in the “science fiction” category for this site as it is the closest match that I can get to from the entire film.

The characters are enjoyable watch, especially Cook’s Dvorak, easily the most developed character in the film. Dvorak’s ambition and drive to be a real astronaut clouds his judgement over what should be done. Cook’s performance is a far cry from anything that he has done in the past, so those that are expecting him to be the comic relief in a tense film, think otherwise.

Routh does a decent job, as does Feldman, but Lotz doesn’t really do anything for me on any level. She is just bland, never truly looks concerned and you don’t really care about her as a character, and that’s never a good thing. I didn’t become emotionally invested with her and Routh’s characters getting over a breakup as the two don’t really share a chemistry and only level.

There isn’t really that much of a soundtrack, it’s seemingly more just a collection of noises just randomly put together, and that’s probably one of the reasons that there seems to never really be an true tension, and that doesn’t help with the struggles of find it’s genre.

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Summary

For the first 45 or so minutes I felt really engaged with 400 Days, but then it all starts taking a downward turn and becomes overly complicated, almost to the point where you’re no longer interested in what’s going on.

This is also another case of a trailer not giving you the full idea of what a film is truly like, something that is becoming an increasing trend in movies these days.

Whilst not an awful film, 400 Days never really falls into being anything more than average.

I am the captain of my fate!

Year Released : 2015Icarus_Attacked_Poster_Logo_350w
Director : Tim Russ
Cast : Adrienne Wilkinson, Bruce Young, Walter Koenig, Manu Intiraymi, Edward Furlong, Sean Young, Robert Picardo, Tim Russ and Corin Nemec

I was not one of the popular kids in school, I was, and am, a self confessed nerd and am proud of that fact. Being a nerd isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it just means that you’re passionate about a particular subject, or indeed a group of subjects. Being a nerd isn’t a bad thing and I would rather be an unpopular nerd than fit in with the so called popular kids that are sheep and follow everyone else in doing the same tedious activities.

That’s what I told myself when I was 15.

I’m now 30 years old and whilst I still enjoy things that would be defined as nerdy, my tastes have moved on somewhat and I am now of an age where quality means more to me than it did when I was literally half a lifetime ago. Whilst poor quality CGI, scripts and acting were more acceptable to me at that age, my standards have certainly increased since then.

It’s safe to say that I don’t have high hopes for this….

Plot

Ten years after the events of “Star Trek : Voyager” Starfleet has noticed that planets have started disappearing, all after the appearance of Syphon, a planet that had seemingly never existed until three years prior. To investigate what is going on, Tuvok (Russ) frees Lexxa (Wilkinson) from prison and encourages her to rejoin her former crew. She reluctantly agrees under the promise of information from Tuvok regarding her previously thought dead mother.

Lexxa catches up to her old crew and they all begin to hunt down the Syphon species, only to be taken hostage when they eventually find them. They are lead by Borrada (Young), a man who is determined to make Starfleet pay for their role in the destruction of his home planet 300 years prior, but it is only when Lexxa kills his son that he decides it’s time to destroy Earth. He initiates his weapon and forms a time-based shield around Earth that prevents any sunlight getting to any part of the planet, giving it just weeks to survive until it falls to the same temperatures of space.

Can the crew successfully stop Borrada and remove the shield around Earth?

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Worth the watch?

I’m going to start this by putting it in the simplest form possible, if you are not a Star Trek fan then you have precisely zero chance of liking this because people who are fans of the franchise have described it as awful. That is not a good sign when even the most basic need of a movie based on a TV show is to impress those that are already fans.

It’s difficult to know where to go from there as there are numerous problems with the movie and I suppose I should start with the script and storyline, and to describe both as very shoddy would be an understatement.

The problem with introducing so many new characters to a loved franchise, especially in a made-for-TV movie, is that you have to get the characters and storyline spot on, and this fails. This starts right from the simple premise of the antagonist being pissed off at Starfleet for not preventing their planet from being destroyed, whereas in reality Starfleet couldn’t do anything about it. That is also pretty much the absolute basic plot of the reboot of Star Trek in 2009. The only difference is that in 2009 it was because a sun went supernova, and in this the alien race blames Starfleet for a disaster that happened 300 years ago….even though Starfleet didn’t exist at the time. Obviously that last bit could be thrown away with the space-time theme of the movie, but that’d be extremely lazy writing.

Even the basics, such as the make-up, are completely wrong. The Syphon species have been designed in such a way that the actors struggle to talk due to the lack of movement of the prosthetic jaw that’s been attached to them. The actors are barely understandable because of this and they are unable to convey emotion through their eyes due to the restrictions of what has been applied to their face. It’s like watching someone who has had so much botox in their face that they’re only able to move their tongue.

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This is in no way a criticism of the acting skills of the actors playing the members of the species, but unfortunately they are the only ones who get a reprieve in that sense because the acting from the rest of the cast is laughable, and that’s putting it nicely. Edward Furlong’s performance as Fixer was an example of why his career has seriously floundered since films such as “Terminator 2” and “American History X”, but even then he somehow manages to escape being tagged with the worst performance award.

That goes to Crystal Conway as Chekov’s great-granddaughter. Whilst I am not entirely convinced that her voice hasn’t been dubbed over, her lack of charisma is only overwhelmed by the stench of being someone who wandered onto the set one day and being given a part. She is just a terrible and in a movie full of lackluster and laughably bad performances, she somehow manages to surpass everyone at warp speed and get to the wooden spoon first.

Much like several other films I have reviewed in the past, films that are part of a franchise will automatically be compared to the previous entries in that franchise and when you do this, Renegades fails miserably, but I’d be saying that even if it was a standalone film. There are some films which could be part of franchises and be poor by comparison, but still be classed as a decent film if you look at them as if they were standing alone, that doesn’t apply to Renegades.

Visually the film is ridiculous and there are numerous times where you could tell just how low budget this was. There is a scene right at the start of the film with fire effects that looked like they came straight out of the early 1990s, characters are teleported to locations off screen (you hear the teleportation noise and then see them walking around the corner, saving money on not actually showing it) and many other things that show just how low budget that the film is. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with low budget films in general, hence why I review them, but it has to be made with at least some attempt to look believable.

Renegades feels like a movie made for the SyFy channel rather than a serious addition to the franchise and the inclusion of characters from previous additions to the Star Trek universe doesn’t change that. Characters such as Echeb were barely interesting during the television show, so why would I care about them in a movie? There were initially a lot of the cast from Star Trek Voyager attached at one point, so surely that they only ended up with three (and one of them made the film) should tell it’s own story.

There are a few similar films coming out for the Star Trek universe later on this year that are also fan-funded and I don’t have high hopes for them based on this.

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Summary

When people who are already fans of the franchise aren’t a fan of this, you’ve got no chance if you’re not a fan. Even as a Star Trek fan, I couldn’t find a single positive after watching the film and that’s never a good thing. I’ve watched plenty of crap when it comes to Star Trek, including some horrendously bad episodes (usually the ones revolving around the characters of Troi in the Next Generation and several characters in Voyager….and the whole of Deep Space Nine), but this is probably the worst of the worst.

The characters aren’t compelling, the acting is laughably bad and there’s not even a decent storyline to make up for all of the inadequacies, and don’t let that it’s funded by fans fool you, this is a bad movie.

Avoid.

Year Released : 2014the-abcs-of-death-2
Director : Various – 26 Different Directors
Cast : Numerous – Each segment contains at least two actors/actresses

I don’t think I have ever gone into a film with such low expectations in my life. A few months ago I reviewed “The ABCs of Death” (click here for the review)  one of the few films in my life that I have had to turn off midway through because I hated it that much. Even to the point where I said I wouldn’t watch the sequel (although with not a lot else to review at the minute, I decided to take the chance).

For those unfamiliar with the ABCS of Death concept, basically it’s a film made up of 26 different short films, all revolving around the topic of death. 26 random directors were each given a letter of the alphabet and have to come up with a short film to first that letter. Just incase you can’t be bothered to read the earlier review, here are a few examples of the short films contained within the original and pretty much exactly what they are about. If you don’t know why I found this film vile and pointless then you might as well leave now.

  • F – Fart – A girl has fallen in love with her teacher and upon realising they are going to die, she requests that the teacher farts in her face. Yes, again, you’ve just read that correctly.
  • K – Klutz – A woman goes to toilet but is soon followed around the bathroom by her faeces. Yet again, you’ve just read that correctly.
  • L – Libido – A man awakes to find himself involved in a battle against another man, with the objective being to ejaculate before the other, otherwise you’re killed.

And that’s about as far as I got with the first one, so to say that I went into this one with low expectations is one of the understatements of the century. I write all this before I watch the film and quite frankly I would consider it a better sequel if I get past L, that’s my only criteria for considering it better than the first.

But anyway…..

Plot (if indeed you can call it that)

Please note that this will tell you exactly what happens in each short film, including how they end.

A – Amateur, by E.L Katz –  An assassination attempt is seen through two scenarios, one in which the assassin is exceptionally efficient, and an alternative reality where the same man is shown to be useless and ends up dying in the ventilation shaft.

B – Badger, by Julian Barratt –  In Nottinghamshire a TV crew filming a documentary about badgers. The star starts ranting and raving when the cameraman proves incompetent. He is soon dragged into the badger set and thrown out in two halves.

C – Capital Punishment, by Julian Gilbey –  A man is found guilty of the murder of a teenage girl. Despite his pleas of innocence, the locals refuse to call the police and take the law into their own hands. However, it is soon revealed that the girl is still alive via a news broadcast, but it’s  too late to save the man’s life as he is decapitated with an axe.

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D – Deloused, by Robert Morgan – A man awakens to find himself strapped to a table by three hideously deformed men that are covered in insects. They inject him with an unknown substance that kills him and he is subsequently eaten by the insect. Meanwhile, a copy of him comes out of his ear and that copy kills the three deformed men. It’s hard to explain. This is done in the stop motion method with plasticine figures.

E – Equilibrium, by Alejandro Brugues –  Two men are marooned on a desert island when they notice a woman has washed ashore. Despite initially being terrified of the men, she soon finds herself at home with them and they all create a help message. One of the two men becomes jealous when the other develops a relationship with the woman and two eventually fight over her. Just when the ending seems obvious, the man who fell in love with the woman throws a coconut at her head, killing her.

F – Falling, by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado – An Israeli soldier has become trapped in a tree when her parachute veers off course and she is left dangling. She is soon approached by a man riding a donkey. The man is a soldier for the other side and threatens to kill her but she tries sweet talking him out of it. She appears to succeed as he cuts her down, but upon landed her leg breaks. She tries to hobble away before turning and seeing the man collapse dead out of the tree. Knowing that the fall couldn’t kill him as it’s only a few feet off of the ground, she notices a killing squad.

G – Grandad, by Jim Hosking – A man is sharing a glass of cognac with his grandfather and soon mocks his way of life, such as having no TV. When he goes to bed, he realistcs that his grandfather has been sharing his bed for a long time. His grandfather is dressed exactly like him and threatens him with something for opening insects. He stabs the man in the neck and launches into a tirade about how his grandson has been calling him a wanker, that despite his lack of a penis.

H –  Head Games, by Bill Plympton -Hand-drawn animation that starts with a couple kissing in a rather exaggerated fashion. The man bites the lip of the woman and then the two take it in turns to attack each other with otherworldly abilities. Both end up with massive holes in their faces.

I – Invincible, by Erik Matti – A woman’s grown children try desperately to kill her, but no matter what they try she won’t die. She soon reveals that the main item in their inheritance in her mouth and tries to goad them into taking it. One of her sons douses her in petrol and she is soon set alight. After she finally appears to be dead, the children discuss how to divide her estate, but despite being burnt to a crisp, the woman is still very much alive before being decapitated. The head remains alive and shoots something into the mouth of one of her children before finally passing.

J – Jesus, by Dennison Ramalho –  A photographer is stalking a homosexual couple and takes photos of them. He takes these to the father of one of the two men. He hires priests to exercise what he believes is a demon that is causing his son’s homosexuality. The man sees the men as what they really are, two demons and he is then subjected to a stigmata and is then electrocuted, and just as the men are about to brand him, they get killed by the other man in the relationship, who himself turns out to be a demon.

K – Knell, by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper – Whilst in the middle of painting her nails, a woman notices a large black ball shapeshifting in the sky before completely disappearing. In a nearby apartment building everyone is killing each other before all of the survivors stand at their windows, glaring at the woman. She hides away from the window before hearing knocking at the door. She goes to investigate and a black ooze seeps through the keyhole and towards her. Blood soon starts dripping down her legs and towards the ooze.

L – Legacy, by Lancelot Imasuen –  In what appears to be an African country, a man is chosen for scarified before he is saved at the last second by the leader of the execution squad. The leader quickly kills a raccoon and spreads the blood on the weapon that was going to be used to killed the man. Suddenly, a monster attacks the woman who ordered the sacrifice and calcifies her within seconds. The monster goes on a killing rampage.

M – Masticate, by Robert Boocheck –   A man runs down the street in just his underwear whilst urinating at the same time. He knocks over a woman before slamming a woman’s head into the pavement. He tackles another man to the ground and bites his necks as a stunned cop looks on. The cop, despite being bewildered, shoots the man in the head, killing him. It is then revealed that 30 minutes earlier, the man had taken an unknown drug.

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N – Nexus, by Larry Fessenden – A soon to be married couple record sexual movies for each other before the male gets dressed for a Halloween party. Another woman is seen in a taxi, a taxi driven by a man that is doing a crossword at the same time. The first man decides to ride his bike with a Frankenstein’s monster mask on. Just as his fiancee is giving candy to a kid in a skeleton costume, the man is run over by the taxi, who is driving through a red light and the bike subsequently flies into the head of the child. Both are killed.

O – Ochlocacy, by Hajime Ohata –  In a Japanese court run by zombies, a woman is accused of murdering thousands of zombies, something which is outlawed as the zombies classify themselves as having a disease that means they’re alive, but with the appearance of being dead. The key witness is a zombified head, but they managed to bring it back to life with a serum and it accused the woman of killing him before finally dying once and for all. In an attempt to escape, she is easily caught and is sentenced to death after her zombified daughter testifies against her. She is electrocuted to the point of death.

P –  P-P-P-P Scary, by Todd Rohal – Three burglers with mental disabilities and speech impediments find themselves terrified about something or other (it’s hard to understand with the way they are speaking) befor ethey encounters an Irishman. He dances gleefully before one of the men sneezes. He then keeps blowing out their matches and killing them off one by one until only the one that sneezes is left completely on his own, with only puddles of goo that used to be his friends remaining. The dancing man soon returns and finishes the job.

Q – Questionnaire, by Rodney Ascher – A man is taking an IQ test and is doing very well.  He masters every single question but it turns out to be his doom as doctors soon remove his brain and it is implanted into the head of a killer gorilla.

R – Roulette, by Marvin Kren – A game of Russian roulette between a woman and two men starts with the woman firing a blank. It goes to the turn of a man with a bow tie. His shot proves not to have the bullet contained within that chamber. The other man also draws a blank and the woman realises that there is not a 1 in 3 chance that she will be killed. The man without the bow tie kisses her passionately but she again has an empty chamber, guaranteeing that she will survive the game. Bow tie man blanks, meaning that only non-bow tie man has the last remaining shot and has a 100% chance of dying. He resignedly picks up the gun, stands up but shoots the woman instead. Someone soon starts breaking in.

S – Split, by Juan Martinez Moreno – A man calls a woman and apologises about being stuck in work meetings. The woman’s doorbell rings and with it only being 6:36am, she is puzzled. Even when she goes down to the door and asks who it is, the ringing continues.  The person soon smashes the window in the door with a hammer. She runs in panic and the husband calls the police. The woman is soon discovered in her hiding place and the man is helpless as he hears his wife being stalked and beating throughout the house and eventually killed. Soon a baby can be heard crying and the killer’s attention moves to it. The husband begs for mercy, even though the killer can’t hear him. The killer picks up the phone and it turns out that the husband was actually in a homosexual relationship with the killer’s husband.

T – Torture Porn, by Jen and Sylvia Soska – A woman is auditioning for a film when the casting director sticks his fingers down her throat. Upon engaging the gag reflex, the woman’s eyes change to a pale blue. When stripping for the casting director, he grabs her breasts before one of the crew notices something crawling up her leg. She suddenly turns demonic sends out several cords that strange and maim the crew to death,

U – Utopia, by Vincenzo Natali – In a futuristic business centre, a somewhat below average man catches everyone’s attention. When he trips over a pole, a man uses an app to determine that the man is indeed not normal and a pod suddenly appears. After the man refuses to get in, it sends out a harpoon and forces him to enter the pod, all before setting him on fire. Upon his death, the crowd claps in approval of what just happened before going back to their everyday lives.

V – Vacation, by Jerome Sable – Whilst on holiday, Kirk is having a video call chat with his girlfriend, Amber (you can’t see her on the screen). His friend Dylan soon interupts and soon locks the original man outside, whilst showing Amber around the flat and revealing them both to be drug addicts and that they were both sleeping with the locals prostitutes. Kirk eventually gets back into the apartment after he desperately begs Amber for forgiveness, Dylan is killed by one of the two prostitutes. Kirk is then stabbed and falls off of the balcony, all with Amber still on the call.

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W – Wish, by Steven Kostanski –  An advert for a toy becomes too real as it sends two children into the world of Prince Casio, their hero. He quickly runs off as his army is easily killed by an alien race. The children are soon captured and taken to the castle. One of them is taken to the ledaer of the alien race and he is quickly killed. with his burnt corpse then thrown at the other boy. The other boy is saved by an elderly man that keeps calling him Princess. The depart for an unknown destination.

X – Xylophone, by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo – A woman is annoyed by her daughter’s non-stop and uncoordinated playing on a xylophone. The girl’s parents soon return to find that the woman has killed the girl and turned her ribs into a human xylophone. The girl’s parents look on stunned as the woman weeps.

Y – Youth, by Soichi Umezawa – A girl reflects onthe poor relationship with her brother. in a fantasy her mother turns into a dog and attacks him. The man who killed the job is slowly tortured  by a variety of different things, including having accident shot into his face, having his guitar forced from his stomach and out of his mouth. Soon after, she soon imagines her mother being slowly killed when a giant penis implants her face with sperm and eggs grow on her body, eventually exploding. A giant hand then grows out of the girl’s vagina, sticking up it’s middle finger.

Z – Zygote, by Chris Nash – A man leaves his heavily pregnant wife with enough food to last them. Thirteen years later the woman has never actually given birth to the child. The child exists as a fully grown child in the belly of the woman, fully conscious of what’s happening to it and the situation. The child then refuses to stay in the mother anymore  and tries to force it’s way out, breaking it’s mother’s neck in the process. The child then empties the mother’s body of every organ and wears it’s mother like a costume. The husband returns and forces sex to again try and have a baby.

 

So how far did you get?

Firstly, I hope you enjoyed that epic plot summary. I think this is already the longest review I’ve ever written before I even start this section. Normally I would try and make this the biggest section of the review, but I don’t think that this is particularly feasible in this situation.

Anyway, I got all of the way through and the main reason for that is that this film is far, far, far, far better than the original, although that’s not really saying a lot. There are many reasons why it works on so many more levels and I think that the main one for me is that none of them are immature and purile. There’s no girl getting killed by another woman’s fart and being sucked up, there’s no ridiculous competitions between men having to masturbate faster than the other in order to survive.

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You get the more realistic feel of things pretty quickly, with Badger and Capital Punishment proving to be, in my opinion, the two stand out sections of the film. Badger is one of the simplest stories in the film and it uses it’s liimited time, with the actor playing Peter Bolland, the TV host, excelling in the scene and the ending it

Whilst B and C are by far the best two, that proves to be a bit of a problem as the film seriously starts to lose a lot of momentum.  By the time we got to Granddad (which is one of the worst stories in the film), I was actually kind of bored. Soon after the novelty of watching people down wears off and it out of the remaining 19, I probably only liked two, maybe there.

One that I certainly wasn’t keen on was “P-P-P-P Scary”, which was just diabolically bad. It’s not well acted, it’s not scary, the deaths are kind of crap, the lisping of all three characters really grates on you and if anything, it seems to be under the impression that being random is the same as being funny. For me this is comfortably the worst and least interesting, quickly followed by  (in no particular order other than alphabetically) Deloused, Granddad, Legacy, Ochlocacy, Wish and Zygote.

Whilst I was bored by the time it got to Granddad, I think the whole film started taking a downturn as early Deloused, which made pretty much no sense whatsoever and just seemed to be being random for being random’s sake.

I suppose that one of the main pluses of the film is that with no story lasting more than five or so minutes, you’re not stuck with a story that you don’t like for long, but in many ways this also proves to be a problem. With such a small amount of time it is hard to really develop characters and make you care about them. In horror films you rarely remember the first character that dies and the reason for throat is that they aren’t focuses on.

Whilst the list of stories that I didn’t like, or at least disliked enough to mention them above, is relatively short, the main issue for me is that the list of ones that I did actually like is exceptionally short and for at least 3/4s of the stories, I wasn’t enjoying what I was watching and whilst it’s a better sequel, I think that is more down to the inadequacies of the first film.

Summary

A much better attempt that the first ABCs of Death, but that’s not hard to achieve given the exceptionally poor quality of the original. ABCs 2 is more grounded and realistic than the first and is more enjoyable.

However, after a promising start with two excellent stories in the first three letters, ABCs 2 struggles then struggles with too many stories that are just dull, pointless, or in the case of “P-P-P-P-P Scary”, just so bad that it’s hard to put into words.

If you’re going to watch it, you’re probably best just watching up until the end of C and then going to do something more productive with your time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plot

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

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

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

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It sounds like a very strange film…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Summary

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

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

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