Review Roundup - Wicked Woman

THE VILLAINESS (2017)

Extreme movies in this vein don't come along very often, even in the world of international cinema. So hearing this is basically a South Korean take on Luc Besson's Nikita I was wary of what to expect; it's all been done before and then some. Initial previews for the film also raised eyebrows as they seemed to have taken a lot of inspiration from the Russian short films from Biting Elbows and the subsequent feature length release Hardcore Henry. Do we really need any more dizzying first person knife fights? Fortunately this is not the sum of these parts, and it manages to escape being purely derivative to become something more exciting. Beyond a few narrative stumbles this is a great piece of shoot-em up revenge drama.


Festive Roundup - 'tis The Season

CHRISTMAS ROUNDUP (Part 1 of 2)


KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005)


So it's time to kick things off this holiday season, a time for excessive foul language, over acting and high body counts. What did you expect, that we'd be talking about A Miracle on 34th Street? I think you know better than that by now. It doesn't contain a single monster, gun battles or latex wearing caricature. And where else could we begin than with some classic Shane Black shenanigans. The man has a fetish for this time of year after all, no matter how tenuous the link to the actual plot. It just needs to have that festive mood and a few hundred coloured light bulbs, from Lethal Weapon to The Nice Guys.

Horror Bites - The Pumpkin Patch

PUMPKINHEAD (1988)

I usually have some reservations when it comes to talented people who work behind the scenes taking on the role of the director. After all, their craft is one thing but telling an effective story is another. Jumping from cinematographer to helming a feature has be done of course, but I'm always wary. However in the case of Stan Winston, his calibre is so high that it's impossible to resist seeing something he made personally instead of just being the monster guy for once. After all he worked with so many greats and was responsible for numerous iconic designs, he must have learned a lot over time with other directors and in the second unit of several classics. So is this effort an example of amazing visuals and lacklustre plot, or is it a true cult classic? I'm happy to report it's the latter.

Review Roundup - The Beach

DUNKIRK (2017)

There are a lot of general expectations for a Christopher Nolan film, not limited to what it will look and sound like. His idea of how to put together a World War II story conjures up images of grand battle sequences, brain twisting special effects scenes, and sweeping IMAX vistas accompanied by a Hans Zimmer score that roars and ticks like a trailer music making machine. A lot of this is entirely true here, and there are still plenty of tilting set rigs, time twisting narrative choices, and blaring electronic noises. But it's seeing how these elements are utilised that means all of this is still just as exciting as it was last time around. Best of all the grand scale of the central wartime disaster is mixed with a lot of smaller, intimate, intertwined stories that are all totally compelling.

Review Roundup - The Last Laser Master

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

The Force Awakens was a fun but often lacklustre reboot, a story that seemed to be designed primarily with two goals in mind; to recapture the original Star Wars spirit and to create a lot of mystery box questions that would keep viewers talking after the credits rolled. This posed a few obvious problems, with the most prominent being whether the answers would be satisfying... if they came at all. But with a new director and writer personally taking the creative reigns things became more promising, and there was a chance it could be less corporate and more meaningful. Would Rian Johnson deliver something unexpected or would it just be a middle chapter that resembled Empire on the surface but lacked the magic? Or is this a worthy expansion of the characters and the mythology that enriches the previous adventure?

Horror Bites - Turtle Power

GAMERA 2: ADVENT OF LEGION (1996)

I can't be certain, but if I had to guess I would say that the Bible verse being quoted here in the title might be misquoted. I've no idea if the old 'we are many' excerpt refers to an actual swarm, and it's one of those clich├ęs that must be out of context most of the time when it appears. But it's probably not referring to a swarm of giant bugs. But I digress, Gamera the other big G in Japanese monster movies is back. After being rebooted in the 1990s this is the second of three films, and this is probably the best of them. For the genre it definitely holds up fairly well. That is, considering it's yet another film featuring a giant turtle with super powers. As you'd expect this is a big creature clash movie with rubber suits, a lot of collateral damage, and a few ecological messages.


HCF Review - Future Echoes

THE PREMONITION (1976)


There are a lot of ways to discuss a strange, eerie and rather unpredictable thriller like this. Are the surprising twists and turns an effective way of keeping the suspense levels high? Or are all the odd forks in the road just too weird to keep things from becoming muddled? There’s a lot to break down here in a film which is part kidnap plot, part telepathy story, and at least partially a tale of mentally unstable outcasts on the run from the law. There are a few false starts along the way before the narrative gets going and the interesting moments start to arrive. They even throw in some intriguing thematic ideas about loss and parenthood. But like a lot of storylines that seem to lack focus or a solid central idea, some of these inclusions work better than others.

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Review Roundup - Ape Escape

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017)

It doesn't really feel like it was that long ago, but it's been quite a few years since the first entry in this new trilogy, and now here we are at the conclusion. Not a sequel baiting, cinematic universe expanding semi-conclusion, but a real final note that wraps all of this up. Of course there's always room for more, I would be surprised if it didn't happen. But for now it's a trilogy in three parts. As I mentioned at the time with the Dawn review it was a surprise that not only did the first instalment overcome the problems of a re-imagining, but part two was more complex and more interesting. But that leads us to the third episode, something which traditionally is where things go to pieces and our good will is sapped away. It's often the case that best ideas have all been used up, and while the visual effects reach an all new high things are not quite as good on paper. So how do things a fare in the case of Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his followers?


Scorecard

NOVEMBER


FILM OF THE MONTH: Stand by Me ☆☆☆☆
Dr Terror's House of Horrors ☆☆☆☆
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ☆☆☆☆
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang ☆☆☆☆
The Nice Guys ☆☆☆☆
Spider-man: Homecoming ☆☆☆☆
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ☆☆☆☆
Star Wars ☆☆☆☆
Superman ☆☆☆☆
The 'Burbs ☆☆☆☆