Friday, 17 November 2017

House III (1989)


Love me some Lance!




Synopsis

Detective Lucas McCarthy finally apprehends "Meat Cleaver Max" and watches the electric chair execution from the audience. But killing Max Jenke only elevated him to another level of reality. Now Lucas' family is under attack, his sanity in question, and his house haunted. Aided by a disreputable college professor, can Lucas reclaim his mind, house, and family?

Review

Following in the trend, House III has nothing to do with House, or House II, which is fine. That said, House III was never meant to be a House film at all. Following in the footsteps of the Hellraiser series, House III was originally call The Horror Show, and was scripted as a stand alone film. In fact, in some releases it carries The Horror Show as its tag line.

This, in itself, is the only real flaw in the film. It's not really about a House. In fact the climax isn't in the House at all. Well, it is, sort of. Anyway.


Brion James

The film begins with Detective Lucas McCarthy catching serial killer Max Jenke. It's a bloody showdown, McCarthy loses his partner, and after the arrest he suffers with some serious PTSD. It sets up the film well, with  McCarthy wondering if he's losing his mind or not. After Jenke goes to the chair, swearing revenge on McCarthy from beyond the grave, and still not going quietly, it becomes obvious, quickly, that Jenke is now haunting McCarthy.

Lance Henriksen (Aliens) holds the lead well. Made around the time that Henriksen's career was taking off - going from mostly TV bit parts to Aliens and Near Dark - it's a solid addition. Brion James (Blade Runner) is fabulously over the top, playing Jenke as a cartoonish villain, but not one you'd want to laugh at. Not to his face, anyway.

Supporting the leads are Rita Taggart (Mulholland Drive), Dedee Pfeiffer (Falling Down), and Aron Eisenberg (DS9) as the family, and they all do a solid job. A Notable addition is Thom Bray (Prince of Darkness).


Lance!

Directed by James Isaac (Jason X) and with Sean S. Cunningham's production company behind it it has pedigree.

And it is actually good. It's pretty gross in places, and pretty damn terrifying in others. The SFX hold up today, and from a schlocky start through to the emotional end it's a decent ride. You need a beer with it, and don't take it too seriously - but great stuff once again from the 80's.






Tuesday, 14 November 2017

For the Love of Shorts: Two Worlds (2017)



After our break for the Batman v Superman Perspective, this week we have a cute little sci fi short brought to us by Andy Lefton.

  



Sunday, 12 November 2017

A Perspective: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Part VII)



We've had the big fight - and there is still forty minutes left. And this, in my opinion is the best forty minutes of the movie.

Firstly we're treated to a Batman set piece where he rescues Martha. It's an outstanding scene. It's heavy on CGI, and it does stick out a little, but it's not jarring. The scene shows Batman as The Batman. Dude's unstoppable. This is what we signed up for. It's the best fight scene in the film by a long shot. It shows Batman as a powerhouse of violence. He's raw. He kills. (As a side note, the forthcoming The Batman had better be this. Lots and lots of this.)

This cuts to Superman facing off on Lex, who from within Zod's ship unleashes... Doomsday.

And Doomsday tosses Superman around like a rag doll.


Doomsday. Sort of.

So Supes carries him into space, they get hit by a nuke. They're fine, back to Earth - and Batman turns up.

Doomsday about to murder the shit out of him and WONDER WOMAN! That entrance! That theme tune! Goddamn it why wasn't the rest of this film this good?


Gal Gadot

Anyway, the three fight Doomsday, Superman kills it with Batman's spear, Superman takes an arrow to the knee and dies.

Funeral.

Superman's dirt floats. Spoiler. Not dead.

The End.

Well that was a slog, no?

Final thoughts

On first viewing I was left a little cold. The film has many, many issues with plotting and pacing. It's unnecessarily confusing, and the story doesn't hold together. On further viewing, the issues become more obvious. The screen writers are trying to do too much. In a single movie we have a Batman intro (should have been it's own film) and birth of the Justice League (should have been it's own film released before this one) Death of Superman (should have been it's own film). Consequently the film plateaus to a stop in the second act.

Put simply, there is too much jammed in.

And it's obvious the DC have tried to mimic the success of Marvel without doing the ground work. 

So after multiple viewings there is no doubt it is a bad movie.

But it does have significant numbers of fantastic scenes, good films. Good filmmaking. The fight scenes are good - Batman is well realized in them. The choreography is fantastic, the special effects great. Most of the performances are good, but Gal Gadot and Jeremy Irons are absolutely fantastic. 

So after multiple viewings there is no doubt it is a good film.

Go figure.

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Perspective: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Part VI)



FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

At last. Batman v Superman. And no one will be seated in the auditorium while Diana Prince packs her luggage... what? And watches secret videos of Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg. Quick the films nearly finished - jam in cameos. Jesus. Is this thing over yet?

So, reasonably, Superman tries to open with telling Batman the truth - to ask for his help - but when Batman doesn't immediately listen (to a man whom he has hated with his very core for years, now) Superman just sort of gives up on the idea and the two try to bash each other's brains in. Cool. It's what we bought the ticket for.


It's about time.

Lasting around eight minutes (!) the fight is pretty good. There's plenty to keep us happy watching Batman in his "invincible" suit going toe-to-toe with the "invincible" boy scout. There's punching, lots of punching, the direction and special effects are top notch. In fact there's little to dislike - apart from the two hour wait for these two to share more than a few seconds screen time together.

It culminates with Batman winning, using the old kryptonite spear, and the now "meme" MARTHA. Which leads to the two becoming besties instantly, all is forgiven, let's go rescue MARTHA and nab Luthor.

So let's address the Martha Incident.




So, at the climax of the fight, Batman is about to plunge his kryptonite spear into Superman's chest and Superman mumbles something about killing Martha. Which throws Bats off his game, wanting to know why he said it. Flashback! Martha Wayne! the beginning of the movie. AGAIN.

It's a deep and powerful moment. 

Except it's not. They blew it. 

It's a terrible way of allowing Batman to realize the Superman is not an inhuman monster from another world, but infact he's lived as a human, with a human family, and has indeed, humanity. 

But it's all mumbly and shouty and pouty faced and silly. 

And it could have been fixed with better dialogue and less of Cavill's boo-hoo-face. 

Moving on.

During this conversation we're shown that Martha has less than ten minutes before they kill her with a flamethrower. A flamethrower. What is this, a John Carpenter film? Jeez.

Anyway, Batman goes to rescue Martha knowing immediately where she is because Alfred. I'm not adding to that. He's just convenient in this scene. And Superman goes after Luthor. 

Next time we'll finish the film and do a wrap up.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A Perspective: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Part V)




So, while Lex dicks around in Zod's ship a bit with Zod's body, Clark wanders up a hill and has a conversation with his dad. A surprise cameo from Kevin Costner - but hey, the dead dad reappearance scenes in Amazing Spiderman 2 worked so well, didn't they? And Lex's men kidnap Lois Lane. And Martha Kent!

We have, ladies and gentleman stumbled upon the finale.

Firstly we get the "reveal" of Batman's armor. Which is cool and all - but we saw it in the trailer. Another trailer mis-step.

Anyhow, Lex pushes Lois off a building which gets Superman attention, funnily enough. Actually, from the African General scene to this one it seems that Superman may possibly be stalking Lois. Right place, right time? Hm.


Jesse Eisenburg

Anyway - Luther tells Superman that he has one hour to kill Batman or Martha Kent gets it, spilling the beans in the process (what bad guy doesn't love to monologue?) that he knows Superman is Kent and Batman is Wayne. Now this raises some questions. Luthor must assume that Batman is going to win, knowing the he has the kryptonite. But I don't really get his motives. It's never clear why Luthor wants to kill Superman. Apart from his actions in this movie he's not shown to be a villain. Superman doesn't have him on his radar at the beginning of the film. It's all very manufactured. Also, how does he know the identity of the two super heroes? And most importantly how did Cavill get to be Superman - his grumpy face "acting" here is diabolical.

So, next part? The movie's grand finale!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A Perspective: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Part IV)





So after the Flash scene:

Batman goes shopping. At a shipyard. For kryponite. So starting another set piece, Bats turns up at the shipyard where Luthor's goons have picked up the kyptonite, and starts chasing them down in the batmobile. It's a fun, but exceedingly violent scene. I mean a lot of Luthor's men die. And at the end of the scene Batman and Superman face off against each other. Everything we want is about to happen!

Nope. Superman flies off.

Hm. And the whole scene ran for only five minutes.


Henry Cavill


We then run into the extremely long played out introduction of Superman's court case which ties together a number of the scenes from earlier. Running at nearly ten minutes of utterly pointless exposition - paying off a cup of piss - and killing swathes of people.

And here it is. The halfway point.

Here, the film has lost it's way. Don't get me wrong it's all very pretty. But half of the plot threads in nearly forty-five minutes of movie have been tied up by killing everyone. It comes across not only as mean spirited, but utterly unnecessarily.

The crux of the film so far is that Batman doesn't trust Superman, Superman hasn't found his place in the world yet, and Lex Luthor want's to kill Superman. That's all explained in around ten minutes of actual screen time. THIS THREE HOUR MOVIE HAD TIME TO PAY OFF A CUP OF PISS.

Sorry. I'll calm down.

The explosion in the court house was set off by Luthor. I don't really know why. Just to get the judge I think. But Bruce Wayne seems to blame Superman for it, and again, I'm not too up with why, which causes him to go and steal the kryptonite from Luthor's house (why didn't he do that in the first place?) - but he also received an anonymous letter from someone (it's Luthor) tipping that they know he's Batman.

Time for a montage.

Batman is Batmaning himself to the peak of fitness. Superman is having a crisis of conscience, Luthor is fucking around with Zod's ship. Batman fashions a spear out of kryptonite.

So, it appears the end is near. Or is it? 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

A Perspective: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Part III)




So we've met all the major players apart from Lex Luther.

Lex Luther. I'll come to the performance next, but the scene: Lex has the kryponite that was fished out of the ocean god only knows how many scenes ago, and wants a Government licence to bring it into the country. If the Government give him it, he will weaponize it so that "we don't have to rely on the kindness of monsters" - while spouting rubbish about meta-humans being already among us. One of the shadier officials grants Luthor access to Zod's body, and the licence to bring in the kryponite.

It makes sense - it's a scene that allows us to know now that Lex Luthor is the bad guy, and want's Superman dead.

So now the players are all in place, let's look at the portrayals.

Henry Cavill isn't a terrible actor. But he's not Superman. Not yet, at least. He's too stoic. He's looks guilty all the time (sorry Henry). Amy Adams is fine as Lois Lane. I think Ben Affleck is a good, solid, older Batman - and I really enjoy his performance - and Jeremy Irons acts everyone off the screen and is pretty much the best thing in the film (with one other, which I'll get to much later). Jesse Eisenburg as Luthor? I didn't have a problem (largely) and the niggles I have are not his performance, per se, more the writing.

So pretty much all the characters are re-imagined to some extent. Batman is the darkest screen version that we've ever had, Superman too. Luthor is a silicon valley dick who inherited his money, and Alfred oozes cool. Does it work? Well, largely, yes. As I said in part one - they're Snyder's characters to play God with.

Anyway. Back to the film.


A tormented Batman

What follows now is what breaks the movie entirely - forty-five minutes of nothing.

Luthor has access to Zod and starts cutting bits off him. Clark Kent has a moral breakdown over whether he's doing the right thing with Superman. A man who lost his legs in the destruction of Metropolis vandalizes the statue of Superman (why are they having court hearings over him if they already idolize him?).  Perry White sends Clark to report on a football game, but he starts investigating the accusations against Superman instead. Bruce Wayne goes to Fight Club to get information on the delivery of the kryptonite. Clark Kent investigates Batman. Lex Luther has a cup of piss. Bruce Wayne has a nightmare about Man-Bat. Bruce Wayne goes to a society dinner at Lex's place to steal some data. Clark Kent is there. Diana Prince is there - she steals Bruce Wayne's data stealing device. Montage of Superman doing Superman-y things - but sometimes in a creepy way. Clark Kent frowns. Lois Lane finds evidence that Superman was framed. Diana Prince gives Bruce Wayne his stuff back. Bruce Wayne has a nightmare about Superman taking over the world. Flash turns up in a was-it-a-dream-or-wasn't-it scene. Clark Kent realizes that Batman's branding means that those branded get killed in prison.

AND THERE'S STILL NEARLY TWO HOURS LEFT.

Crammed in here are some pretty good scenes. The nightmare about Man-Bat is damn right terrifying stuff - straight out of a horror movie. It cements (bluntly) that Bruce misses his mother - and goddammit we mustn't forget that. But aside - it's a really cool scene. The second nightmare is great. A stock set piece action scene of both Batman and Superman killing fucking everyone. Two fantastic scenes.

The society dinner introduces Diana Prince who absolutely rocks the scene. Sadly the marketing had confirmed that she was Wonder Woman, and it would have been nice to have the is she/isn't she, but for an actor with little experience she holds the screen with seasoned rock star Affleck excellently.

But can we have some action next time? Yes. Yes we can.