Friday, 31 March 2017

New WFTPOTA trailer

A 2nd trailer has been released for the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes. Whilst not quite nailing the brevity and impact of the first trailer, this does seem to shed more light on Caeser's motivations against the human militia and, interestingly, indicates some of the Apes have turned traitor and joined up with the humans. Woody Harrelson also gets some cracking dialogue as the Colonel Kurtz-esque character including “Sometimes it is necessary to abandon our humanity, to save our humanity”. Check it out...

This also promises to be the most action packed instalment of the rebooted franchise, after Rise (2011) and Dawn (2014) so skilfully set the scene. This is my favourite franchise of the decade and I can't wait to see the full scale wintery warfare promised in this trailer. War for the Planet of the Apes will (ironically) be released in July.

What do you think of the trailer? Are you a fan of the series?

Thursday, 30 March 2017

IT gets first trailer

The first trailer has been released for the upcoming remake/adaptation of Stephen King's IT. The creepiness factor is definitely strong with this one and I was impressed by how much they held back, showing very little of Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise. check it out...

Although I'm not completely sold on this interpretation of Pennywise, it was always going to be difficult to replicate the sheer terror of Tim Curry's iconic performance, everything is looking good here and they've certainly nailed that classic King atmosphere. We'll have to wait til September to be traumatised by Pennywise all over again.

What did you think of the trailer? Are you looking forward to the new Pennywise?

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Get Out (2017): Review (spoilers)

Get Out is a 2017 psychological horror film. Directed by Jordan Peele (Key & Peele) and starring Daniel Kaluuya (Psychoville), Allison Williams (Girls) and Stephen Root (Office Space). The film is the directorial debut for Peele, who was previously known for his comedy sketch work.

The film follows the young couple of Chris (Kaluuya) and Rose (Williams), as Rose prepares to take Chris home to meet her family. Chris is initially paranoid at being the only black person at the house before being introduced to the black staff Georgina and Walter, however, they begin to exhibit very strange behaviour. After being coerced into a hypnotism session with Rose’s mother, we learn that Chris has been harbouring guilt from his childhood relating to his own mother’s death and, during a party at the family home, the rich white guests start to take an unhealthy interest in him. It soon becomes clear that Rose has been luring young black people back to the family home where, bizarrely, her brain surgeon father transplants the consciousness of the rich white people into their bodies. Trapped inside the house, and under hypnotic mind control, Chris has to fight for his life to escape his grim fate and remain in control of his own body.
Jordan Peele has crafted one of the most witty, socially relevant and suspenseful horror films in recent memory, and the fact that this is his first film is all the more impressive. The set up is somewhat familiar, reminding me of Funny Games (97) or You’re Next (11), but the idea of race as a source of tension is introduced right away and is the main thread from which the plot points hang. It is an exceptionally well written film as Peele plants seeds throughout that will only be paid off in the third act, or even on a second viewing, and there are many lesser directors that simply don’t think this far ahead. Crucially, the heavy subject matter of racism is peppered with comic relief, mostly in the form of Chris’s friend Rod, as well as clever eccentricities in the characters that ensure it is a film that can be enjoyed and analysed in equal measures.

The performances from the supporting cast are excellent with Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener providing the perfect balance between sinister weirdos and strangely likeable parents. Allison Williams proves much more interesting after Rose’s true motives are revealed and Georgina and Walter’s performances are fascinating when reassessed in the light of the third act reveal. The only downsides, performance wise, are the pretty bland protagonist Chris and the under-utilised Stephen root but this can be forgiven in quite a busy cast. As ambitious and original as the whole hypnotic slave/consciousness swapping angle is, I have to say the idea of mashing 2 brains together in one skull to create an avatar was a pretty far fetched notion in an otherwise grounded movie.

Get Out reinvents the twisty Hitchcockian thriller for the interesting modern times in which we live and offers a rare black perspective within the horror genre. Multiple mysteries are deployed and resolved with the precision of a much more experienced director than Peele and, no doubt, the horror world will be watching his next move closely. Get Out doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it is surely the freshest take on the genre you'll see this year.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of Get Out? Did you feel the plot was a little too out there?

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Kong: Skull Island (2017): Review

Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 American Kaiju film. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kings of Summer) the film stars Tom Hiddleston (High Rise), Brie Larson (Room), John C. Reilly (Stepbrothers), Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes on a Plane) and John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane). The film is part of Legendary pictures continued “Monsterverse”.

The film is set in the early 70s against the dying days of the Vietnam war as Monarch operative Randa (Goodman) attempts to get an expedition together in order to visit the mysterious Skull Island. Joined by Mercenary James Conrad (Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Larson) and Colonel Packard (Jackson), the team soon discover that Skull Island is far from uninhabited as the giant ape lays waste to their squad of helicopters. Stumbling upon castaway Hank Marlow (Reilly), we soon learn that Kong is the protector of the island and that the subterranean “Skullcrawlers” pose a far greater threat. The team must survive the horrors of Skull Island and escape, as Kong does battle with a jumbo Skullcrawler, in order to tell the rest of the world about these gigantic new creatures.

Skull Island has long been pitched as King Kong (1933) meets Apocalypse Now (1978), which is a pretty bold claim considering those are two of the greatest films ever made, and, on this promise, it delivers in spades. Vogt-Roberts is clearly well versed in both these films, as well as kaiju and war movies in general, and does a fantastic job in creating this fresh take on a modern monster movie. The direction and visual set ups are eye watering as, locations wise, we’re taken on a world tour of Vietnam, Hawaii and Australia and the visual effects, as with Godzilla, blend seamlessly into the world. The design of Kong is a welcome return to the classic bipedal character, with Peter Jackson’s anatomically correct character now a distant memory, and the King has been massively scaled up so that he can do battle with the other King in 2020.

The pacing is perfect, as the film wastes little time getting our protagonists onto the island, and the cast is strong despite a wasted John Goodman and a woefully miscast Tom Hiddleston as an action hero (Kurt Russell, he is not!). I particularly enjoyed Jackson’s turn as the Colonel Kurtz-esque Packard, he just made it through a war, he’s not about to let a damn dirty ape trample all over him! My immediate concern when I first saw the trailer was that John C. Reilly was there to provide ill-advised humour and, although his character has unexpected depths, I felt that a lot of the attempts at comic relief still fell flat on their face. However, for every human character that was in danger of becoming irritating, there were more than enough creatures on display to marvel at including a giant Octopus, Spider, water Buffalo and, of course, the sinister Skullcrawlers (themselves actually based on a briefly glimpsed creature in the original King Kong).

Much like 2014’s Godzilla, the film isn’t perfect but it does exactly what it needs to do, it brings these beloved characters back to life and sets them in new and vivid adventures for Kaiju fans, old and new, to enjoy. The philosophy of enlisting Vogt-Roberts is clearly the same as Gareth Edwards, these are technically exceptional directors with a passion and nerdom that we can all respect and relate to. See it on the big screen at least once to maximise your adventure to Skull Island, and don’t forget to stay for the post credits sequence. There’s never been a better time to be a kaiju fan!

***** 5 Stars

What did you think of the film? Did you like the Vietnam war setting?

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Gaff returns for Blade Runner 2049

Some very welcome casting news has emerged surrounding the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 in the form of Edward James Olmos reprising his classic Gaff role. A mysterious and infrequent character in the original Blade Runner, he said more with his origami skills, however, also got to utter one of the greatest final lines in film history.

"It's too bad she won't live. But, then again, who does?"

Olmos joins Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Dave Bautista and Jared Leto in Denis Villeneuve's belated sequel to the classic sci fi film.

What do you think of the casting choices? Are you excited for this one?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A Cure for Wellness (2017): Review

A Cure for Wellness is a 2017 Gothic horror. The film is directed by Gore Verbinski (The Ring) and stars Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) and Jason Isaacs (Event Horizon). The project was an American-German co production.

Lockheart (DeHaan) is an ambitious young businessman from New York. After the CEO of his company disappears into the Swiss Alps, to a mysterious clinic, Lockheart is tasked with travelling to the clinic and retrieving Mr Pembroke. However, after being involved in a car accident trying to leave the clinic, Lockheart soon finds himself a patient under the watchful eye of the hospital director Dr Heinrich Volmer (Isaacs). Lockheart is forced to investigate the hospital in order to uncover the mysterious “cure” that they offer, as well as the sinister history of the building before he ends up becoming a permanent resident.

After languishing under the uninspired wing of Disney for over a decade, including interminable Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and the disastrous Lone Ranger (2013), Gore Verbinski has finally returned to the horror genre after his enormous contribution with The Ring (2002). It’s a shame that such an auteur moved on so quickly from the genre and, indeed, you probably didn’t know that the first 3 Pirates of the Caribbean films were directed by the same person. Happily the iconic aesthetic of The Ring carries through to A Cure and Verbinski crafts another visually astounding modern Gothic horror. The direction is flawless and the setting is breathtaking, with much of the exterior scenes being filmed on location at a German castle, and Verbinski shows a perfect command of the big screen.

In terms of the story, you might think we’re in Dr Caligari/Shutter Island territory and you’re partly right. However, there is real effort made to forge a separate path through the “lunatics are running the asylum” trope and the film certainly kept me guessing as to the true nature of the plot. A tense and mysterious atmosphere gives way to body horror as the film progresses, giving DeHaan a bit more to work with in terms of his character, though I still didn’t feel he was well cast in the lead role. Isaacs gives a much better accounting of himself as the sinister hospital director, and a cracking German accent. At around the 2 hour mark, I felt the film could have concluded very nicely, but then, the plot takes a wild turn into dangerously silly territory and they throw an awful lot of plot twists at the wall to see what sticks, which is a bit of a shame.

Overall, A Cure for Wellness is a solid effort from a very talented director which somewhat suffers from its similarities to other films and, more importantly, it’s attempts to differentiate. Come for the scenery and jaw dropping cinematography, but don’t expect to be satisfied by the wacky twists and turns that prevail. Let’s hope to see many more modern Gothic horrors, especially if they’re directed by Gore Verbinski.

*** 3 Stars

What did you think of the movie? Were you satisfied with the ending?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Giant shark movie "Meg" delayed

The upcoming adaptation of Steve Alton's novel "Meg" has hit a snag as the film has been pushed back from spring to summer 2018. Scheduled to be directed by John Turtletaub (National Treasure) and starring action hero Jason Statham, this moves the film into the much more traditional summer season for shark movies.

Personally, I lost a lot of interest in this project when Eli Roth jumped off and Statham jumped on but, at the very least, we may well get to see the biggest shark in movie history. until Statham punches it back to extinction!

Are you looking forward to this one? Would you rather see a shark movie in the summer?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Vera Farmiga joins Godzilla sequel

Some more casting news regarding the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters this week as modern day scream queen Vera Farmiga joins the project. Best known for her roles in The Conjuring series, as well as Norma Bates in Bates Motel, Farmiga joins Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown.

After so long in developmental hell, things hadn't been looking great for Godzilla 2. But now, with the cast shaping up and with Michael Dougherty (Krampus, trick r treat) directing, we may still get a sequel that lives up to it's royal title.

What do you think of Varmiga being added? Who else would you like to see cast?