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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Movie Review - The Descent (2005)

If you ever think you live a sheltered life… you do. We are only able to watch movies that are available here in North America. What I mean is that other countries have produced great movies but they just do not end up here. The world is our stage and we should explore what other countries are able to release.

I just finished watching “The Descent” (2005). The movie is made by a UK production company and also filmed there. Although the movie opened in theatres in the UK, it was a year later when it came to North America but only with limited previews. I’m not even sure you can buy the DVD here.

The premise is pretty simple. Sarah feels that she is ready to get on with her life and her friends want to help by putting together a trip that she will remember. The last trip was the previous year; while returning home from water rafting trip, her husband and daughter get killed in a motor vehicle accident involving impalement of copper tubes. Sarah and her five friends go on a trip to the Appalachian Mountains for a bit of exploration The group arrives at the predestination with the help from a tour book but as it turns out, the cave is not the one listed on the map nor does it appear to be explored. One of the girls thought it would be a better idea to explore something that wasn’t already a tourist trap. The girls make their descent into the cave network and soon become trapped by falling rocks. While trying to find a way out, a shadowy figure is spotted and the group scurries in fear. With the help of flashlights, flares and a video camera on night mode they are able to navigate through the caves running away from cannibalistic humanoid creatures trying to survive. One by one, Sarah’s friends are taken by the creatures and it it's up to Sarah to get herself out.

The movie seemed a bit slow, 40 minutes in and no action. Lots of talk... girls ? I will say that once the action of the creatures came in the movie picked up like a roller coaster. The acting was okay, no one stood out. The creature affects decent, some blood and gore.

The story doesn’t sound that original but it was alright for what it was. It’s definitely a movie you would want to watch with your girlfriend, wife or mother -you get the idea. It was like “Sister Hood of the Traveling Pants” meets “The Cave” (2005).

All in all it wasn’t too bad. I rate it a 7/10.

Movie Review - Moon (2009)

How about something that plays with your mind? I just finished watching “Moon” (2009). It is classified as SCIFI and is a prime example of science fiction at its best. The film had limited screening in the US and Canada but originates from the UK as an independent film.

I won’t give away too much of the story but basically it involves an anstronaught farmer; Sam Bell who tends to the cultivation of helium-3 some sort of power fusion crop. Every so often he goes out and collects a cylinder from the automated combines. The cylinder is then launched back to earth. He interacts with GURTY the computer system that helps him through daily life. Sam only has just 2 weeks left out of a 3 year mission and then someone else comes up to relieve him. Things change one day for him, while out driving the rover, he crashes it and knocks himself unconscious. When he awakes he finds that the person that had rescued him is not someone he would have expected. He then must come to terms with his station in life and carry it through to the end.

The movie stars Sam Rockwell playing Sam Bell an astronaut tending to the lunar moon farm. I’m, not familiar with his work but his acting in this movie was decent. I really enjoyed his characterizations. The other actor which I would like to give hats off to is Kevin Spacey. He voiced GURTY (similar to HAL 9000) - a computer with such finesse.

Not too much for effects, the sets were simple but this movie was all about the story, the characters and the personal-mid life crisis that Sam Bell goes through. This movie kept my attention so much that I never once paused it nor did I run to the bathroom. I really enjoyed this one and recommend viewing it. I rate it 8.5/10.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Movie Review - Alien Raiders (2008)

It’s amazing how many movies are made and end up to be direct-to-DVD, sometimes they’re duds and sometimes not. This movie is in the middle as far as far as quality goes but was a little on the fun side. I just finished watching "Alien Raiders" (2008). Sounds intriguing? It did for me.

The film opens with a grocery store closing for the night, located in a small town some where in Arizona. The cashier is just taking the last of the customers and the store manager has just announced that the store is closing. The scene then switches to a van pulling up. Enter a group of masked gunmen who yell out that this is a robbery. Everyone in the store is frightened and hides. Some shots are fired and some are killed. The masked men soon take control and lock the doors. What seemingly looks like a robbery turns out to more of a 'witch' hunt. One by one each patron is investigated and interrogated by a man telepathically. You soon find out that the group is really scientists searching for an alien organism which they have traced to be at the store. The interrogator gets shot by a cop who was in the store and now it’s back to the old method - chopping of a finger. By this time there are police outside the door trying to negotiate for the return of the hostages. Some who passed the scan are able to leave while the others are left behind. The hostages later find out that they are dealing with an alien parasite and must band together with their captors to fight the alien controlled host.

The story wasn’t bad, holds some merit but I felt that more could have been done. A little bit of a twist I think, it kept me guessing. To me it was almost like ‘Clue’ meets ‘The Usual Suspects' meets 'Alien’ with 'The Mist'. This movie is low budget –obviously, filmed in a grocery store. I think it is an independent film. The pace of the movie was fantastic. There were a few decent gore scenes and the effects were acceptable. The acting was okay nothing too terrible.

It’s up to you if you want to give it a go. I personally like independent low budget films so I give an 'A' for effort but rate it 6/10.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Movie Review - Mulberry Street (2006)

Alright, I have a good one for you. I should add that I was pleasantly surprised. May I present “Mulberry Street” (2006). This movie is categorized as a horror thriller. I should also mention that the movie is an independent and had a budget of $60,000.

The movie opens showing various tenants living their lives in a small apartment building. You meet Clutch; a father who lives with a gay man awaiting the return of his daughter from the military; a single mother with her son and two older gentlemen sharing a flat. They all know each other. Then intermixed are scenes of the sewer; rats eating each other behaving oddly. The start I will admit is slow and you wonder where this is all going. The news is reporting strange incidents of rat bites with swarming. This has led to an outbreak of some sort of infection. An epidemic of huge proportions have transformed the residents of Manhattan into some sort of zombie rat like creatures and so the story focuses on the survival of the six tenants.

You may think, ‘so what’. I know the film is not really that original but this movie is more about getting there than anything else. What I mean is there is a storyline behind the tenants which resulted in excellent characterization. This showed through as the acting was decent -not award wining but above average. The camera work was just amazing. The pans, the pull ups, some good special effects were used but nothing over the top. The only thing I didn’t like is that the film seemed like it was sped up to show the craziness of the rat turned people.

No matter what, this movie is better than independent and better than being a direct-to-DVD. I do recommend watching it and rate it 7/10. I was impressed for what it was and I hope my review conveys that.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Movie Review - Mirrors 2 (2010)

I just love to be disappointed with sequels. Not just any sequel but a ‘direct to DVD’ sequel. If you haven’t had a chance to watch “Mirrors 2” (2010) –Don’t!

I did like the original movie and was intrigued by a sequel. Sadly it was not up to par.

Here’s the story; the Mayflower department store has relocated to New Orleans and will be opening soon. A freak accident involving a night security guard eating glass leaves the position open. Max Matheson is recently on the road to recovery after loosing his fiancĂ©e in a tragic car accident. Max gets volunteered to be the new night security guard by his father Jack who owns Mayflower. On Max’s first night he starts having visions, one of which is an executive which he met earlier that day being killed in her bathroom. He later recognizes a woman he sees in the mirror to be the same one pictured in the missing flyer taped to pole outside. He contacts the sister and begins to unravel both the mysterious disappearance of the woman and the killings of key operations staff at Mayflower.

Does it sound familiar? It should, the story is really the exact same premise as the original but with a few small changes. Even still, I found it to be completely predictable. It did hold my attention only just so I could watch the ‘train wreck’ unfold.

There is decent gore with some good death scenes. It made me think of the “Final Destination” franchise. The acting was okay; acceptable for what it was. The movie starred Nick Stohl (he played John Connor in Terminator 3). I didn’t really recognize anyone else. There was a little bit of gratuitous nudity within, just enough to forget the movie was bad for about 20 seconds. This movie had potential to be better but failed to do so.

I would not recommend viewing this. It was a waste of time. I say it was okay and rate it 3.5/10. Watch out for those ‘direct to DVD’ movies. Anyone see this?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Movie Review - Dark Star (1974)

Everything has a beginning and that is especially true with the latest sci-fi movie "Dark Star" (1974). It was directed and co wrote by John Carpenter. It's basically his second movie made before "Halloween" (1978).

The story surrounds 4 astronauts aboard a small scout spaceship whose mission is to seek out unstable planets and destroy them to make way for colonization. Sound simple enough? They’ve been doing it now for 20 earth years or 3 of theirs and to make matters worse the ship is starting to malfunction with age. They have been denied any retrofitting or repairs due to recent cut backs. A recent electrical accident has left their Commander; Powell dead but he is still able to communicate left on ice in a cryro-freezer. The crew is quirky, an alien beach ball being is loose, and the ship and the bombs have their own personality. Things really get out of hand when the computer malfunctions and the bomb #20 wants to detonate. It’s up to the crew to pull together to get through.

Now, I won’t give away anymore than that. You will just have to watch it.

There was good use of camera work. The set was not bad for what it was. The affects were decent for it's time and in fact the person responsible was hired by George Lucas. Some of the wardrobe and props were questionable though. The acting was alright, all unknowns. The musical score was fantastic, made by John Carpenter himself and had that "Halloween" sound that we are all use to.

This movie was fun but serious at times. It was like “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) on crack. While watching I couldn’t help but notice some similarities; this movie may have been the inspiration to the “Red Dwarf” series.

I really liked this hidden jem low budget film. I recommend viewing it and rate it 7.5/10. If anything you should be curious what John Carpenter was able to do as a novice film maker.