Wednesday, 19 July 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017): Review (spoiler free)


War for the Planet of the Apes is a 2017 post apocalyptic action film. Directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield) and starring Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings), Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers), Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) and Karin Konoval (Planet of the Apes series). The film acts as the final film in the rebooted trilogy, as well as a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes series.

War for the Planet of the Apes picks up 5 years after the events of Dawn, and 15 years after the events of Rise. The man made virus has almost entirely wiped out the human race and given the apes the evolved intelligence to form their own society, and army, after relations broke down in the previous film. Led by the trilogy's hero Caesar (Serkis), the ape colony are under constant attack and seek to permanently move to a more remote location. However, catastrophic actions taken by the leader of the human army, "The Colonel" (Harrelson), spark a full blown war as Caesar seeks blind revenge and the balance of apes and humanity hangs in the balance.

Perhaps the most unexpected thing about War, is how it simultaneously manages to be a war film of epic proportions whilst also remaining a very cerebral and personal story that has been played out of the course of three incredible films. Matt Reeves, and series masterminds Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, have never been interested in the conventional action/sci-fi or action/war film and this shows more than ever as the trilogy concludes just as it started, from the perspective of the apes. This, of course, absolutely hinges on Serkis' central performance as protagonist Caesar, as well as an excellent  supporting performance from Konoval as the much loved Maurice the Orangutan.

Luckily, this is a career best performance from Serkis as Weta digital push the mo cap performance to it's absolute limits and you never once consider that this might not be a Chimpanzee. Harrelson turns in the second best Colonel Kurtz impression of the year (after Samuel L Jackson in Skull Island) and, I have to admit, executes a much darker performance than I thought he was capable of (it's been a long time since Natural Born Killers). Though Toby Kebbel's Koba is missed from Dawn, the new character of "Bad Ape" (Zahn) breathes a new sense of fun into the mix that was noticeably absent from the last film and the comic relief is well judged and very welcome.

Mad Max, Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Godfather...stand aside. The Planet of the Apes "Caesar" trilogy is the most consistently incredible and breathtaking movie trilogy ever crafted. And that would not have been possible if War had gone the way of many bungled and ill judged threequels. War for the Planet of the Apes does not falter or buckle under the enormous pressure placed upon it by the previous 2 films (or indeed the original 5 films). War sticks to it's guns and spits in the face of the brainless Michael Bay blockbuster, proving you can make a big budget action movie with brains and heart, told entirely from the perspective of non human characters. This might not be the end for the Apes franchise, but Reeves and Serkis can stand by this trilogy and say they made the absolute best films of this decade.

***** 5 Stars

What did you think of WFTPOTA? What's your favourite trilogy?


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Leatherface gets a red band trailer


A new red band trailer has dropped for the upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel "Leatherface". Covering the early teenage years, the film follows the young Thomas Sawyer as he escapes from a mental hospital and goes on a state wide rampage, pursued by Stephen Dorff's Texas ranger. check it out...


I'm no fan of over explaining the origins of one of horror's great icons, and this has more than a whiff of Rob Zombie's dreadful Halloween remake. Plus, the Texas Chainsaw has had an extraordinarily bad run of sequels, arguably only the first sequel measured up to the brilliance of the original. 

However, the movie is being directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, the pairing that brought you Inside (2007), Livid (2011) and the Texas Chainsaw-esque Among the Living (2014). This is sure to guarantee excessive levels of violence if nothing else! We'll find out when the movie is released in October

What do you think of another Texas Chainsaw sequel/prequel? Are you a fan of any of the other sequels?

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

James Wan and David Leslie Johnson on board for Conjuring 3


In addition to the spinoffs Annabelle: Creation, The Nun and The Crooked Man, The Conjuring franchise is still set to receive a third instalment to the main series. Fortunately, it has been announced that David Leslie Johnson, writer of the second film, and James Wan, the man behind the franchise, are coming back for me. 

While Wan is not neccessarily se to direct, he will still have heavy involvement in the film with Johnson continuing writing duties from the last movie. No release dae for this one yet but stay tuned.

Are you excited for another Conjuring movie? Do you think the franchise is being oversaturated?

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Pool Party Massacre (2017): Review


Pool Party Massacre is a 2017 slasher film. Directed by Drew Marvick and starring Alexis Adams, Dora Deceuninck and Mark Justice. This is Marvick's directorial debut and he also wrote and appeared in the film.

The film centres around Tiffany (Adams), a spoiled suburbanite who throws an impromptu pool party while her parents are away on vacation. Among her friends is Dora (Deceuninck), who has long since outgrown their shallow high school friendship and is starting to pull away from Tiffany. After a boyfriend and his half wit brother crash the party, things start to go wrong and people start to dissapear as a mysterious handyman dispatches the attendees of the pool party massacre. It's down to the final girl to avoid being dispatched and escape the deadly LA suburbs.

Pool Party Massacre is an overt homage to the cheesy teen slashers of the 80s, such as Slumber Party Massacre (1982), Sleepaway Camp (1983) and The Mutilator (1984). In this it is very successful, complete with splatter kills and porno dialogue, and wisely walks more on the side of parody so you can laugh with it, rather than at it. A lot of attention is paid to the gruesome murders and, although initially they involve basic stabby techniques, they do advance to various gardening tools and there's a nice bit of dramatic irony as we get to see the unknown killer pick his weapon from a wall rack.

The movie comes with a great electro/metal soundtrack and always feels like the cast and crew are having a great time making the film. The authentic cheesy dialogue does tend to grate after a while and not all the jokes land in the way I believe they were intended to, but there's a decent central performance from Deceuninck and Marvick's own character is delightfully over the top. The film rattles on at an advisable pace, not leaving you time to get bored of the brainless plot, but I have to say I guessed the identity of the killer about halfway through, leaving the resolution somewhat lacking.

A great film for a friday night with a few friends and a few beers, Pool Party Massacre is exactly the kind of enjoyably dumb trash that was churned out at an alarming rate in the 80s. As long as you don't take the film any more seriously than any of the cast and crew, you'll be on the right side of the joke and have a lot of fun.

*** 3 Stars

What did you think of Pool Party Massacre? Are you a fan of 80s slashers?

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Flatliners remake gets a trailer


The upcoming remake of Joel Schumacher's Flatliners has released it's first trailer. The 1990 supernatural thriller helped to turn Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland into huge 90s movie stars and has now received a modern update. Seemingly following the same plot as the original, the film follows a group of young medical students as they experiment with pushing themselves to the brink of death, and beyond.


With a much more underwhelming cast in the form of Ellen Paige, Nina Dobrev and Diego Luna, although Sutherland is also credited, the film would appear to be scraping the very bottom of the barrel when it comes to unnecessary remakes. However, the aesthetics are at least a change from the grungy, gritty original and, you would assume, there will be some incorporation of new scientific ideas that have emerged since the early 90s. The film is released this September.

What do you think of the trailer? Does Flatliners need to be remade?

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Adam Wingard to direct Godzilla vs Kong


Indie horror legend in the making Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest, Blair Witch) has been announced as the director for upcoming kaiju mashup Godzilla vs Kong. Wingard is a tried and tested hand in several different variations of the horror genre, but he's never tackled anything on this scale and has a writers room to contend with.


We'll wait and see what fellow indie horror director Michael Dougherty (trick r treat, Krampus) can do with Godzilla 2 before seeing Wingard's epic monster clash in 2020.

What do you think of the choice of director? Are you a fan of Wingard's previous movies?

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Colossal (2017): Review


Colossal is a 2017 indie kaiju film. Directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) starring Anne Hathaway (Interstellar), Jason Sudekis (Horrible Bosses) and Dan Stevens (The Guest). The film debuted at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

The film follows the self destructive Gloria (Hathaway), an unemployed alcoholic who's just been dumped by her boyfriend Tim (Stevens). Forced to move from New York back to her small hometown, she soon rekindles a friendship with childhood friend Oscar (Sudekis) who employs her at his local bar. Suddenly, A giant monster is spotted attacking Seoul on the other side of the world and, although initially shocked, Gloria soon discovers she can control the monster from the safety of her local park. However, Oscar also learns that he can control a giant robot in Seoul, and their relationship soon begins to strain under the great responsibility of having your very own city smashing avatar.

Colossal is a wonderful little indie movie that surprises you at every turn, and ends up being a film about personal relationships that just happens to have giant monsters in it (much like Gareth Edwards Monsters). However, when it comes time to do a bit of smashing, the effects are spot on and the monster a fairly original design. The film is beautifully shot and the small town setting and flawed characters well drawn, if indie film cliches. What's most impressive is Vigalondo's restraint, whenever using the monsters in the plot, he always does so to get across a point and to draw parallels with his human characters.

The only drawback of the film is the characterisation of Sudekis' Oscar. The intention is to have him become the anti villain to Hathaway's anti-hero, however, you're either a villain, or you're not. Swinging wildly between drunken tirades, pathos, and punching Gloria in the face, serves only to confuse audiences and I wasn't quite sure how to feel about him by the end. Hathaway's performance, however, is tremendous. Playing against type, she is a disheveled, damaged mess and creates the same sympathy for her monster avatar as she does for her own character.

The subgenre of indie kaiju is a small niche indeed, but a welcome twist on the genre as Legendary are doing a bang up job of the blockbuster variety. Colossal joins the likes of Monsters (2010) and The Host (2006) as a charming tale of small town relationships set against the larger backdrop of giant monsters and Vigalondo continues to prove one of the most original minds in the business.

**** 4 Stars

Wha did you think of Colossal? Would you have liked more monster action?