Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Pack


   I've never found dogs or wolves particularly scary. Like, even in most movies when someone's getting attacked by a dog, my inner animal-lover just sees a hard luck dog who needs to be loved. Maybe then he'll stop mauling people to death. I'll take him! The Pack is the first movie to actually unsettle me when it comes to dogs. These dogs weren't potential house pets, they were cinematic monsters, leaving The Pack to evolve from a simple survival thriller, into a ferocious creature feature. We need more back-to-basic horror flicks like this. Bottom line? The Pack is simply inspired.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sinners and Saints


   There is an ineffable quality to the action stars of the 80's and 90's. From the lower rung, featuring guys like Dolph Lundgren, and Carl Weathers, to the mid range like Jean Claude Van Damme, and Steven Seagal, to the top two genre titans: Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. You can beef up and snarl one liners to your heart's content... but you still won't be one of them. Action movie throwbacks like Sinners and Saints do their best to generate that same quality, but while the movie is a lot of fun, it only ever captures the same aftertaste quality of this latterday action resurgence.

The Invitation


   The Invitation sounded interesting when I read the synopsis on Netflix, but I passed it by without even adding it to my instant queue. But, now that it's the end of the year, there's all these 'best of 2016' lists popping up. Imagine my surprise when I found The Invitation on a few of those. Starring Logan Marshall Green (Prometheus) and virtually nobody else I'm familiar with* (which is quite a feat), The Invitation is pretty hard to classify. It's an understated and creepy movie, but calling it a horror movie has the potential to betray it's own story, not unlike calling They Look Like People a Sci-Fi movie. Go figure.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Synchronicity


   This atmospheric sci-fi noir tale put a smile on my face far more than once, and despite it's limitations, it was thoroughly watchable. It's not great, or fantastic, but it's really good. Unfortunately it's also the kind of movie that's somewhat hard to review. I don't really know what to say about these kinds of movies because there's not much to discuss. The cast is comprised of mostly unknowns, despite a few minutes from Michael Ironside, the plot is complex to the extent that I couldn't spoil it for you even if I tried. But, it's good. It's not bad. Nuff said? Of course not.

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace


   No movie was ever more of a victim to an uncontrollable hype machine than The Phantom Menace was. But, recently, the majority of Star Wars fans have officially invalidated their own opinions (in my eyes), making themselves look like fools in the process. They complain about shoddy storytelling in the prequels, yet make excuses for the regurgitated nostalgia mess that is The Force Awakens- which isn't ANY better in the storytelling department. The difference? The Phantom Menace actually feels fresh again after the regressive nonsense of The Force Awakens.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


   This movie is not okay. Following my viewing of the fantastically entertaining Rogue One, I decided to revisit The Force Awakens. I take back what I said. This doesn't hold up at all, and what little time has passed since its release has really not been kind to it. This movie is a massive carbon copy of A New Hope, a movie over thirty years old by now with probably billions of fans. I've called The Force Awakens a 'necessary' movie because good will towards the franchise was dashed by the prequel trilogy. But, you know what? Star Wars fans did not deserve the prequels. The prequels were too good for them.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


   May the 4th can hardly claim to be the ultimate Star Wars holiday anymore, not when theaters are packed to see the latest Star Wars movie on Christmas day two years in a row. It feels like the best gift you could ever find wrapped under your tree, even if you know what it is. But, given that this is the second new Star Wars movie I've seen in as many years... I wasn't about to get all teary eyed this time around. It's an odd thing, this Star Wars movie, but hardly a bad thing for that matter. Quite the contrary.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fantastic Planet


   This animation classic does in 70 minutes what most big budget Hollywood sci-fi adventure movies can't in over 2 hours.  Like Gulliver's Travels by way of H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury, Fantastic Planet is full of stunning sights, immense scope, haunting creatures, and a sharply self-critical view of human nature. I found myself swept up in it's epic narrative, engrossed in the struggle between the gigantic Draags and the human-like Oms. You'd be hard pressed to find another movie like this, but conversely, there's a little bit of Fantastic Planet in most big sci-fi adventure movies anyways.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

World on a Wire


   I must admit, I was at a bit of a disadvantage when I popped in World on a Wire. I slowly realized that yes, it was based on the book Simulacron-3. You know what other movie was based on Simulacron-3? The Thirteenth Floor. And, can I just say really quick... Fuck that movie. Fuck that movie so hard for wasting such sterling potential. World on a Wire is a million times the movie that The Thirteenth Bore is. It's engaging, intriguing, well-acting, suspenseful, intelligent and exceptionally well written. I thought I was done being mad at The Thirteenth Floor, but I guess not.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Grand Theft Auto Online


   I've talked about GTA V on my blog here before, but I've come to realize that Grand Theft Auto Online is practically it's own game at this point. It actually has more content unto itself than the 'story mode' has. Rockstar has been continually updating and releasing content for GTA:O since it came out, and it's simply staggering in scope. I rue the day this gets shut down, but I predict that won't happen for a very, very long time. The simple fact of the matter is, GTA:O is amazing. Most triple A games these days have multiplayer as a core mechanic, or as an afterthought. There's very little middle ground. But, when you buy GTA V, you're essentially getting two GTA games for the price of one.

Coherence


   Coherence is a movie that absolutely impressed me. It's not perfect, but it's genuinely great despite it's few flaws. It's a science fiction thriller that is intriguing in concept, and haunting in execution. It explores themes of self-identity, uniqueness, and the value we place on both. I kinda wish I could leave my review at that. It was word of mouth alone that got me to see Coherence, and the word was simply "great". My friend insisted that this was a damn good movie, and he was absolutely right.

Capricorn One


   Boy this is a weird movie. Weird in a good way though. It's melodramatic low-tech (non)sci-fi the way only the 70's could've produced. The movie is a big conspiracy thriller mainly starring James Brolin, Elliot Gould, Sam Waterson, and O.J. Simpson. It's not as silly as some 70's sci-fi efforts, but it's also not as vaingloriously self important either. To put the icing on the cake, it's not technically sci-fi at all. Go figure, right? Nevertheless, Capricorn One is a star-studded oldie worth checking out.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Shallow Grave


   When the screenwriters for this movie were looking for a director and met with Danny Boyle, who at that time had only TV credits to his name, the first words out of his mouth were "Blood Simple". Referencing of course the debut movie of Joel and Ethan Coen, another absolutely excellent crime thriller. Even now, more than 20 years after Shallow Grave's release and over 30 years since Blood Simple hit the scene, both movies have maintained their relevance to each other, and both are still fantastic all the way around.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Shin Godzilla


   Western audiences have been spoiled to pieces with Pacific Rim. Consciously or otherwise, it's generated a false perception that kaiju movies (giant monster movies; usually Japanese) have a lot of screentime of the monster(s). They don't. They never have. The chief complaint I've been seeing circling the interwebs about Shin Godzilla is that there isn't enough screentime of Gozilla it/himself. The same complaint was leveled at the 2014 movie, and Godzilla is on-screen twice as much in this movie than he was in that one. Go figure. People are fickle.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Spectral


   Every so often, a sci-fi/action movie comes along with really good acting, great visuals, an excellent concept, and then... the last act pulls some miracles out of it's ass with cinematic duct tape and rampant implausibility. Spectral had me though. Spectral had me so hard. I was ready to slap a four star rating on this shit and move right the hell along. I was entertained from beginning to end and that certainly counts for something, still, but in retrospect, this fun ride was deeply flawed.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Krampus


   It's really hard to review Christmas movies in my opinion. Most of them are directly engineered to manipulate your emotions to very specific ends. It works, but it also makes them critic-proof. Is The Santa Clause a good movie? It doesn't matter. It's an effective movie. It's one of countless dozens that riff on the same jokes and gags, and this is why nobody watches It's A Wonderful Life off-season, but nobody has any issue popping in Halloween in April. Then, here comes Krampus. The anti-Claus. A movie that took me completely by surprise.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Genocyber


   Stay on the internet long enough and you'll probably run into clips of Genocyber. It's a notorious little anime nasty that's known for it's graphically detailed gore and violence. "Say no more-", I said to nobody in particular, "Where the hell do I sign up?" I love shit like this. Some ultra-violent anime from the 80's or 90's with decent animation and a cyberpunk-esque plot. That's my bag. That's my whole bag. Unfortunately, even the promise of a bloodbath with sci-fi trappings can't save some things from just outright sucking. Was Genocyber one of those unfortunates?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance


   I do not get why people were so hard on this movie. For comic fans, it's easy to see that the directorial duo Nevaldine/Taylor genuinely get the appeal of Ghost Rider, as a character and as a property. The movie is full of insane imagery and wild action scenes. For the casual movie fan, what's not to love about a movie that's 90% nothing but Nicolas Cage absolutely losing his shit? That's entertainment. The Ghost Rider comics were never high art or deep genre defining works of fiction. They're just lurid fun, like this movie is. So what's the deal?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Black Magic M-66


   This is probably the most uncomplicated, cut-and-dry, straight forward, simple anime OVA ever. Two military robots get struck by lightning in transport, go haywire in their test mode and end up targeting the granddaughter of their creator for extermination. That's the whole plot. The 45 minute flick is just a breezy action romp. The animation is solid, the story is too simple to have plot holes or twists, and when all is said and done, you'll probably be on Google, wondering if there's more.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rush Hour


   It's easy to dismiss Rush Hour as nonsense from the late 90's, and maybe you're not missing much if you do, but holy crap is it more fun than I remember it being. It certainly holds up better than Bad Boys did. Mainly due to the fact that Chris Tucker is funnier than Martin Lawrence in the 'funny one' role, and Jackie Chan plays the 'straight-faced' cop surprisingly well. Their dynamic is much easier to mine comedy from, and the story is a damn sight better than anything Bad Boys had to work with.

Bad Boys


   It was 1995, 21 years ago, and Martin Lawrence was the box office draw here- not Will Smith, who at the time hadn't yet starred in Men in Black or Independence Day. Surreal thought isn't it? As Michael Bay's first big movie, I've often cited Bad Boys as a highlight of Bay's career because by no means is it as bad as some of his later efforts, but how would this buddy cop movie hold up after all this time? The answer? Well... there's no clear cut one. It's plain to see though that Bad Boys is a definite mixed bag.

Corpse Party: Tortured Souls


   I'm totally the kind of guy who googles "most violent anime" and then makes a "to-watch" list out of the results. I just really like bloody anime. It's pretty much the only reason I bothered with Elfin Lied. On the other hand, I also really like Japanese ghost stories, so Corpse Party was a no-brainer. I don't have the highest standards when it comes to anime, so I enjoyed Corpse Party fairly well but it desperately needed tighter writing. If it had that, it could have had the potential to be a genre classic. But, it doesn't, and it's not. Which is really a shame.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Spectre


   I love revisiting James Bond movies, and buying a box set containing the entire 24 movie franchise is a perfect excuse to do just that. I watched The Living Daylights the other day, and came away feeling exactly how I did last year- it's a supremely fun and highly underrated spy adventure. How would Spectre fare upon second viewing? Well, I liked it well enough the first time. It might've been a cut under Casino Royale and Skyfall, but still a full hack above Quantum of Shitness. Watching it now, I think a few things clicked for me that simply didn't the last time. Spectre was a necessary movie, and that is something to seriously consider.