Friday, 30 December 2016

Lo (2009)

And every once in a while something new comes along.

Lo-Budget Awesomeness

The plot is quite simple. A young man, Justin, summons the demon, Lo, to find his girlfriend, April, who herself has been kidnapped and taken to Hell. To say more is to spoil it.


Brainchild of Travis Betz (writer, director, and editor), this single location, small cast production looks like a horror. No. Quite the opposite. The movie is an exploration in humanity. It is about love, and the lengths that some people will go to. It is about sacrifice. 

And it is stunning in many ways.

Running in at a paltry 80 minutes, the story is simple, but perfect. The stars (Jeremiah Birkett (Lo) and Ward Roberts (Justin)) emote perfectly. Roberts is struck with fear. Trapped for the running time in a circle of salt. Birkett puts in a tormented performance as Lo, a Demon who may or may not help. It is little more than a play, and a play I would put hard cash on the table to see in a theater. 

Director Betz does a solid job. It is a simple film to edit, but he has done so without placing flourishes in that other, less confident Directors, would. 

Nothing detracts from the story. Which is as phenomenal as the story is.

Ward Roberts / Jeremiah Birkett

This film will not scare you, much as it may look like it will. It will leave you wondering. And holding on tighter to the one you love.

In places, it's also funny as fuck.

You need to see this.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Captain America (1979)

Yeah. This happened.

Fighting terror on a motorcycle!!

Look. I'm a fan of these movies. The Spiderman movies are great. This one? Hm.

The plot is...interesting? Steve Rodgers (in this incarnation appearing to be a homeless traveler, having left the army. Think Rambo with a sweet van, and without the angst) is driving to his friends to pick up his mail. Yes. That's the first ten minutes of this movie.

Then people try to kill him. For reasons. It seems to happen because his late father was a serumed-up super soldier, nick-named Captain America. The Government asks Steve to help with continuing his father's work. He refuses.

Then Steve's father's bestie get murdered by the people looking to get hold of "something to do with a neutron bomb". And push him and his bike down a small hill! And he nearly dies! So they turn him into Captain America anyway! Super soldier!

Then he stops "something to do with a neutron bomb".

This is low-budget schlock, but that's what it's supposed to be. So what's the problem, if anything?

The world's most pointless tracking shot

There's only one thing wrong with this movie. It's not the story. Captain America: Origin Story. It's not the acting. Reb Brown (Steve Rodgers) was born for this sort of B-Movie trash. It's got Lance LeGault as the "heavy" bad guy. Colonel Decker from The A-Team TV show.

The problem is pacing.

Running in at 120 minutes (the same length as Captain America The First Avenger), it's well over an hour before you get any "Cap". He's only in two fight scenes.

The movie consists of protracted helicopter shots of cars driving, and motorcycles traversing terrain. The beach shots. Jeez. The beach scenes.

We need less of Reb's chest...

...and more poop spraying.

The film is actually jolly fun when something is happening. Which sadly isn't very often. He trashed his bike like three times. He punches bad guys. Deflects bullets with his shield. He saves the world from a neutron bomb!

But it only lasts about fifteen minutes.

And the rest is Reb's chest.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Primer (2004)

So you understood it first time, did you? Liar.

So...what happened?

Primer is a simple story of time travel. And by simple, I mean...huh? The premise of the movie is actually simple. Man creates time machine, then pretty much fucks everything up. 

Boasting it's own Wikipedia page that attempts to explain the movie (which I'm not going to do here), Primer is undoubtedly a film about whether you should, veiled heavily in hard science fiction.

It's a damn fine movie too. 

The problem the movie has, is that it is mindbogglingly complicated. 

Written, directed, and starring Shane Carruth (also Composer, Producer, Editor, and Cinematographer), Primer starts as it means to go on. The first minutes of the film are a drawn out discussion of advanced physics. It sounds very complicated, and I understood nothing. In fact it could, and has been suggested that it is, mumbo jumbo. Once the film finds flesh it becomes intriguing. 

Two inventors, Aaron and Abe, seemingly stumble across proof of concept of time travel. Abe then refines the concept alone, and builds a box allowing him to travel six hours in time. Of course he uses it to jimmy with stocks and make money. Then he introduces Aaron to the machine. Then the two of them travel in time, there are multiple copies of them, they time travel with time machines to create new time machines...and welp.

The film concludes with Aaron attempting to build another machine, in France, and Abe attempting to wipe out the whole experiment.

I think.

Carruth is a competent Director. 

The breakdown of the relationship of the two protagonists is fierce, and as power is afforded them, they cannot cope. Clearly one of them is dealing better with it than the other, the other quickly becoming manipulative, distrusting, and devious.

The ending of the film portrays where the two men end up within their own relationship.

Under the hard science, there is a dark and gritty undertone, and the film is not, well, happy. It's not a light film, and shouldn't be watched instead of, say, Back to the Future.

And the answer?

No. Don't time travel.

I think.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Derailed (2002)

Van Damme has had a career of ups and downs. He started well, much like others of his ilk (Seagal et al) with movies fondly remembered, Bloodsport and Universal Soldier, and like others when trends changed he started to struggle to find quality work. But he made a comeback! JCVD is great!

This is before the comeback.

Not to be mistaken for 2005's Clive Owen movie of the same name

The problem with this film is not just the plot. It's silly schlock, but still. JCVD is a high tech bio-weapons agent on holiday with his family, when shock horror, a job comes up. He must escort Galina Konstantin - defecting, I guess - to safety carrying bio weapons. On a train. Then the bad guys show up because of double crosses! Then his family show up because of plot convenience!

Okay, everything is pretty much lifted from other films. Part 'True Lies' (1994) and part 'Under Siege 2' (1995) the plot offers little. But hey, it's an action movie. As long as that works, then all is good.

Van Damme always has a good fighting style. He's always up for the challenge. The problem here is space. And direction. There is no space for the martial arts as every notable fight scene is on a train, and the direction is fast. I mean really fast. The average length of a shot is 1.53 seconds.

You can't tell what the fuck is going on.

And then there is the budget.

Hornby must've made money on this.

Toy trains. Seriously. This is the train from the movie. 

There are virtually no practical stunts. 

Everything is made of a screen of green...

And then there are some ... interesting ... plot holes. Like the secret agent on a train, who swapped compartments in secret. And then his wife and kids just turn up.

He's supposed to be a banker. How did they know he was on this train? How did they know what compartment he was in?

How come smallpox vaccines are so easy and quick to manufacture?

How come his son survived?

We want answers, dammit.

Alright, we don't.


This film is terrible.

Friday, 2 December 2016

I, Frankenstein (2014)

Why, Frankenstein?

Nice poster.

Penned by Kevin Grevioux, the comic book (graphic novel, whatever, leave me alone) is supposed to be good. Like really good.

Apparently, that didn't translate to the movie's writer and director, Stuart Beattie.

The plot revolves around Frankenstein's monster, who after the death of Victor, is attacked by demons, saved by gargoyles, and who then spends the next couple of hundred years hidden in the shadows, being a demon hunter.

I'd like to see that story.

But no, that's the prologue. The Demons are trying to find the secret to creating life to raise an army of...more demons. Doing so by capturing Victor's monster and studying him.

Frankenstein's MONSTER. 

Okay, so the film has some issues. Let's step by step.

The cast is largely stellar. I'm a massive fan of Aaron Eckhart. Dude needs some serious leading man work. Bill Nighy? Man's a legend. Even Kevin Grevioux gets in on it. He's good. The supporting cast are good. But I still have the question of why does Jai Courtney keep getting work?

The story is...meh. It's there, but plays out like a monster of the week episode of Supernatural. In fact, casting Jared Padalecki as the monster wouldn't change a thing. It's set piece after set piece action. Demons bad. Gargoyles good. 

But that leads to the makeup and effects. Oh dear. Look, I have issue with Frankenstein's Monster looking like a model. I know you don't want to hide the face of your star, but he looks like an underwear model that's been mugged. What happened to this?

Robert D. 

Aside from that, the film feels like it ran out of money halfway through. Suddenly there is a drop in CG quality.

Overall, it's watchable if you want nothing from it, and care not to pick holes in it. Which I did.

The gargoyles have hidden from sight for hundreds of years.

HOW? They're flying down a New York street.