Sunday, April 24, 2016

Titan A.E.


  Murder? Greed? Betrayal? The extinction of humanity? Not exactly light viewing for a kid's flick, yet who says kids movies had to be light viewing? Titan A.E. might be almost 16 years old now, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hold up. It's still a sprawling space epic with all the gusto of a Star Wars movie, but the grunge and energy of something like The Matrix. It plays around with very, very familiar themes and tropes- like the reluctant, young, white, male, hero with emotional baggage over the death of a single parent. No, I'm not talking about Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy, I'm talking about Cale Tucker in this movie.

Holidays


   I'm a sucker for anthology flicks. Even if I haven't seen some of the most famous ones (Creepshow springs to mind), I've seen my fair share. The V/H/S movies, The ABC's of Death, Necronomicon, and others. I'm a fan of the sub-genre enough to get excited when I hear that there's an anthology flick with a horror-themed segment for each major holiday of the year. Well... almost each holiday. I guess they figured Thankskilling had at least one of the bases more than covered. Holidays, like most anthology flicks- is admittedly, a mixed bag. But it was fun, and well worth a watch.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Housebound


   A surprisingly good directorial debut from newcomer Gerard Johnstone, Housebound is pretty awesome. It's a horror comedy that knows when to be creepy and when to be funny. It never entirely substitutes one for the other. It's easy to expect a horror comedy to delve deeper into it's comedy, and to make the punchline of each 'scary' scene a joke, but Housebound isn't about that. It actually has a really interesting story to tell, and a few well written twists to keep you guessing along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed Housebound. What's not to like?

Frontier(s)


   Frontier(s) is a good one if you like this sort of flick. It sort of rounds out this unofficial trilogy of movies I lump together- all French new-wave horror flicks. It's Martyrs, Inside, and Frontier(s). I've known about all of them for ages, but I only just saw the latter two for the first time this week. I think Martyrs is the best one, followed closely by Inside (which I think is also the most easily accessible) and then Frontier(s) is trailing behind them. It's not... bad. Not at all. It's a very well made flick, but, it also never once made me think. Martyrs made me think, Inside made me think, Frontier(s) just presented me with gruesomeness and atrocity and... that was about it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

They Look Like People


   They Look Like People was recommended to me by a friend, who's usually reliable as far as recommending things goes. This was no exception. I never saw a trailer, a poster, nada. Just the recommendation from him, and I was set. He told me it was about a guy who thinks people are turning evil. Plus, that friggin title. That's a great title. They Look Like People? Movie titles don't get much better than that. So I knew all I felt I needed to know before watching the movie. As far as my end of this- reviewing it, I have the harder task here.

*batteries not included


   As far as charming, inoffensive, creative, and feel-good sci-fi flicks go, you could do much, much worse than *batteries not included. It's a straight-forward and well-meaning movie that is honestly more fantasy than it is sci-fi, but since the plot of the movie revolves around a pair of personality-rich flying robots who come to the aid of some downtrodden strangers- how can you not label it sci-fi regardless? Yet at it's core, the movie postulates about miracles and faith. It's less concerned with the technical why's and how's of the robotic visitors than it is with character drama, friendships, and the all-too-real scary bits of life as well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Oxenfree


   Indie games have been killing it lately, in the best way possible of course. Firewatch blew me away, and so did a handful of other games which included Anatomy and The Static Speaks My Name. Of course, Anatomy and TSSMN are both straight up horror, and Firewatch is an intensely dramatic mystery. The game I'm reviewing right now is a timely blend of both. The style of Oxenfree might look like art from a YA novel, but the themes running through the game are often much darker than that comparison would allow. But, don't get me wrong, the game is not some gritty survival thriller- despite being trapped on an abandoned and potentially haunted island... the biggest theme of all in Oxenfree... is friendship.

Mad Max - First Impressions


   If you need more Mad Max after Fury Road, and lets face it... who doesn't? This game is where it's at. Especially after you've already gone back and watched the other three movies. The game understands not only the concept at the core of a good Mad Max tale, but what makes post apocalyptic action movies so much fun. The game opens with Max killing a ruthless wasteland overlord named Scabrous Scrotus, but also getting your iconic "black on black" Interceptor stolen and hacked up. So, the plot of the game is essentially about you beefing up your new ride, bit by bit. Which is fun. Overall, the game isn't without it's fair share of flaws, but it can also be a hell of a good time.

Inside


   One of my new year's resolutions for 2016 was to watch more horror movies in general, not just cram a ton into October and call it even. Nah, that's fun, but spread em out more. Anyways, if new year's resolutions could have footnotes, this one would've said "specifically, watch the ones you've been meaning to watch." Which, in this case, included the French, new-wave horror flick... Inside. It's a move that frequently pops up on 'most disturbing', 'most gruesome', or 'hardest to watch' lists. And, thankfully it actually lives up to it's much hyped reputation. It is definitely disturbing, gruesome and hard to watch. But boy am I glad I dug in.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Freddy vs. Jason


   As a complete freak for 80's horror cinema, a couple of my good friends were baffled that I'd never seen Freddy vs. Jason before. So, obviously it was the go-to party flick of the night. Boobs, beer, blood, and blades. After now having seen this movie, I can safely say that having both Freddy and Jason as guest characters in the Mortal Kombat games was fairly inevitable.  Freddy vs. Jason has the two eponymous horror icons quite literally breaking out the kung-fu. It seems I was just late to this particular party. You couldn't get away with this shit anymore. (Sadly?) Whenever the two bladed cinematic baddies went at each other, I half expected the quasi-techno beat to slowly evolve into something like this. And, that's Freddy vs. Jason in a nutshell.

Goodnight Mommy


   I was on a winning streak having not seen a movie I disliked in quite some time, but dammit Goodnight Mommy, you fucked it up for me. This movie got under my skin, and more often than not- not in the way it was trying to. Having a simple concept and an threadbare plot (by design) does not excuse lazy writing. The makers of Goodnight Mommy were so concerned with building tension, which normally isn't a bad thing, that they forgot to keep their story on par. The movie is vague, confusing, and ultimately capped off with a shitty twist and a stupid ending. Not happy with this movie at all.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Delta Force 2: Operation Stranglehold


   This is cinematic junk food of the best kind. It's brimming with shooting, explosions, and ridiculous one-liners. The villain is cartoonishly evil, and the only legitimately interesting thing about the movie is the heft of trivia behind it and it's complete disregard for real-world logic, politics, and policy. At least in movies like Rambo: First Blood Pt. II, an absolute paragon of 80's action-excess, the plot facilitated the absurdities on display. Of course, Delta Force 2 stars Chuck Norris. And, as you all well know, Chuck Norris doesn't follow the law... the law follows Chuck Norris. So I'm pretty sure international law does the same.

Hush


   Hush takes your average home invasion concept and adds a twist- the woman, all alone in her house? She's mute and deaf. If that was where the movie stopped innovating, we still would've gotten a fairly standard flick. But despite working with basic themes, the movie is absolutely greater than the sum of it's parts. It's lean, stylish, and brutal. What could've been a short throwaway premise turned into a hair-raising survival thriller. I was quite impressed with Hush, and unlike most movies it dominated my attention span entirely. It's not an amazing movie, but it's a damn sight better than most other entries in the same genre.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Baskin


   I'd had my eye on this movie for over a year. Constantly checking to see if, when, and where it was getting released. The first trailer for it immediately hooked me, and I needed to see this movie. Now I finally have, and I can safely say the wait was worth it. With what little reviews are even out there at this point, critics and keyboard warriors are complaining that Baskin is 'low on plot'. Hearing that as a complaint really grinds my gears. See, there are some movies that are just devoid of enough creativity to generate an interesting plot, and then there are other movies like Baskin, that are that way by design. If you don't like the movie... fine. But, it's REALLY well made.

Trained to Kill


   A movie called Trained to Kill is almost always a sure thing. It's going to be an 80's or 90's action movie of questionable quality, ridiculous one-liners, some kind of a revenge plot, and at least a handful of slow motion scenes. You either love and expect that kind of movie, or you don't. In which case, I don't know that we have anything else to talk about. Move along, there's nothing for you here. If you are actually still here that means you dig movies with titles like Trained to Kill, Raw Deal, Rapid Fire, Stone Cold, Red Scorpion, Hard Target... you get the picture. Specifically though, I am here to talk about Trained to Kill, because boy was this movie a treat.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sinister


   It's never particularly easy for me to decide which mainstream horror movies are worth watching. There's so much absolute garbage out there, and there's also a bunch of gems. I'm not keen to waste my time on movies I'm going to hate so more often than not I'll avoid a movie if it looks like it even has the potential to be crappy. Sinister was one I avoided back in 2012, but for some reason I got the itch to see it now. I don't know why, I can't even remember what brought it back to my attention- but there I was at four in the AM, watching it. Oh boy.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fantastic Voyage


   Fantastic Voyage has got to be one of my favorite science fiction films from the 60's. It's suspenseful, exciting, imaginative, and features a core concept yet to be achieved by modern science- unlike 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The premise is simple: A scientist with some very sensitive knowledge barely survives an assassination attempt, which lands him in a coma with a brain injury. Using experimental shrinking technology, a mission is quickly assembled to send a hi-tech submarine with a small crew into his body, so they can pilot the vessel into his brain, and use a laser beam to remove the problem. Simple enough. Right? Wrong. Everything that can go wrong... does. But, if it didn't, where's the adventure?

As Above So Below


   I'd heard fairly negative things about this movie before I got the itch to see it, so while most everyone is saying that it was a letdown or that it didn't live up to it's potential... I have to disagree. Although maybe that's simply because my expectations were lower? I'm not sure. Either way, As Above So Below is effective in a way that a lot of found footage films aren't. Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief quite a lot, and the main protagonist is annoyingly perfect, but once you can accept those things as necessary evils in order for the story to function, you're more likely to enjoy this claustrophobic thriller.

Razorback


   Razorback is the kind of movie I absolutely love. For starters, it's an 80's creature feature flick. On top of that, it's an 80's ozploitation flick. Even better already. If you know anything about how wild and crazy ozploitation movies get, than you know what kind of insanity to expect from Razorback. If you don't know what ozploitation is, educate yourself here and here. The movie wastes no time laying out a rich and spooky atmosphere, with smoky nights and a rugged landscape... and then a gigantic mutated boar charges, crashes through a house, and ends up dragging an infant off with it, much to the horror of the baby's grandfather. Cue Moby Dick-esque revenge story.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Firewatch


  I guess I'm on a gaming roll lately, and for once I'm not a whole year behind on the hype train for a new(ish) game. Firewatch is a recent indie game and the debut title from developer Campo Santo and publisher Panic. Seeing how it's so damn good, both Campo Santo and Panic now have my attention. What's next, guys? Whatever it is, I'm already interested. Anyways, down to brass tacks. People have called Firewatch a 'walking sim' and I've personally heard that term slung as a very unpleasant critique of this game genre. It feels a variation on "boring", the one dimensional complaint that 'simple' people sling at movies that don't have explosions every five minutes. Fret not... Firewatch is not boring. Not by a long shot.

The Last of Us


   I'm that one guy who's late to every party- figuratively speaking. I'm not fond of your average party, but I am of course speaking about video games. I won't buy a triple-A title until it more or less hits the bargain bin. I never feel comfortable spending more than $20-25 on a single game. Which means I'm trailing everyone else by about a whole year or more when it comes to popular video games. Such was the case with the last two games I discussed on here, Grand Theft Auto V and Saints Row IV. And, predictably, such is the case with The Last of Us.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Rambo: First Blood Part II


   Earlier this month, I saw RoboCop, and First Blood- introducing them to my little brothers for the first time. Both are amazing movies that have completely stood the test of time, in my opinion. I could prattle on about both movies and what they mean to me (RoboCop seriously changed 12 year old me... For the better, of course!) but, they mean a lot to just about everyone. People love RoboCop, people love First Blood. The negative opinions about those movies are in the absolute minority. So, me reviewing those movies now... without some kind of fresh perspective is just masturbatory. But... Rambo II? Now that one we can talk about...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Deadpool


   My feelings about this movie are well documented, much to the lament of my Facebook friends. I was so fed up with the half-informed 'fanbase' that I would run into on a daily basis that- no, I'm serious. The kind of asshats who think it's cool to try and talk to you like Deadpool, with all the sass, sarcasm, and snark. FYI, you just sound like assholes. Anyways, I was so fed up with these asshats that my positive outlook towards the movie was starting to circle the drain, to put it mildly. Vitriolic hate rants and cherry picking negative reviews to repost were just the tip of the iceberg. Not to mention, I was really sick of hearing about how revolutionary this R rating was, and how the only thing catching on from the marketing was dick jokes. Nevertheless, I told everyone... I'll be open to the movie, and if I'm wrong, I'll eat my words with a slice of humble pie...

Deadpool, Superman, and the letter 'R'


  These are some strange and wonderful times to be a comic book nerd, or just a nerd in general. The powers that be have realized for quite some time now that hokey comic book movies just aren't going to cut it. Spawn has been in talks for a reboot for ages, and the 1995 Judge Dredd flick (starring Rob Schneider as much as Sylvester Stallone. Ugh.) got it's upgrade in 2012, with a Verhoeven-esque throwback in the critically acclaimed Dredd. Yet it's only now that the R rating married to a comic book movie is getting massive attention, thanks to Deadpool. I have a review of that movie on the way, but whether or not it's good, or you liked it, or I liked it- is entirely irrelevant. It was successful. Bottom line. That means people, and more importantly... important people- are paying attention to it. They're going to be taking notes. This... could get messy.

Men Behind the Sun


   Men Behind the Sun is a movie that you'll see making it's rounds on 'most disturbing' lists, and for once I'm not let down. After years of hype and ridiculous exaggeration, genre juggernaut A Serbian Film, touted to be one of the most disturbing movies ever made, just about put me to sleep. The gulf between my expectations for it, and what I got instead, are kind of the standards by which I gauge all hardcore 'most disturbing' movies. So, on a scale of "This isn't that bad, I kinda wanna go get snacks..." to "Oh god, I probably shouldn't have eaten..." This is somewhere in-between. I can handle that. I'm not scarred for life, but honestly... I don't think there's any movie out there that could do that to me at this point.