Cockneys vs Zombies Film Review

Cockneys vs Zombies cleverly subverts the ‘does what it says on the tin’ simplicity of it’s title to instead become a meditative, thought provoking film about the nature of loyalty to family and the deeds we will do to protect them, as well as the nature of our social identity, is it determined by the geographical location of our birth or does it change as we grow and change and the environment around us changes? Seen via the medium of zombie apocalypse to keep the kids awake and unaware that their very notions of self are being questioned and dissected right in front of them onscreen.

It’s truly an underappreciated art film wearing the clothes of low budget zombie-horror with an appropriate box office ($109,518 (worldwide) versus a 2.25 million pound budget) that truly delves into the idea of  a fading community already under siege from those that care nothing for it’s history, only for what they can build in it’s place and their attempts to find a place for them in the world whilst they rage against the dying of the light.

The casting of mostly unknowns (with the possible exceptions of Honour Blackman- Richard Briar and Alan Ford) means that were able to identify with our leads whilst always worried that since we haven’t hard of them, it’s unlikely that they will suffer from plot armor, which always annoys me in a zombie or indeed any other type of film.

It begins with incredibly subtle symbolism of a pair of vultures sitting on top of an advertisement for flats that are being built before… within 3 minutes a pair of workmen have accidentally released a zombie horde, then Monster by The Automatics starts playing, we get opening credits that look like their ripped straight from a graphic novel and the film starts proper.

Because whilst there is some of the stuff I’ve just spent almost 300 words describing it’s also a really good horror comedy in it’s own right. I mean it’s not Shaun of the Dead, but it’s still a blast that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome at a mere 82 minutes- 87 if you include the credits.

Such plot as it is, feels like a blending of early Guy Ritchie and… naturally enough Shuan of the Dead whereupon a group of bank-robbers, in attempt to steal enough money to save their granddad’s retirement home and spare him from a retirement in ‘The North’ accidentally steal all the money from a fraud and then have to race across London to save their grandfather and all the others in his retirement home from becoming not so fast food to the zombies.

And this is a film that is the best version of itself, I liked all the human characters, appreciated the fact that these are slow moving Romero zombies and enjoyed this films many, many humorous touches- One that’s going to stink in my mind is one retirement home resident and their zimmer frame racing at top speed to escape the waking dead, all shot and scored as a fast paced chase action scene which just makes it all the funnier.

Naturally enough the low budget means that everything is done with practical effects, but if you have the silly idea that guns should run out of ammunition occasionally, seeing as their not magic bullet producing factories then you might not be in the right sort of frame for this sort of film.

On the other hand though, if you wanted gritty realism, then why are you watching a film called Cockneys vs Zombies? Hmmm?

Magic guns notwithstanding, there are a few other issues with the film, it’s characters never seem to be in enough danger for my tastes and when some do shuffle off this mortal coil it doesn’t have the emotional weight that it should. Also, it’s ending does seem a bit rushed, as if there was meant to be another 5 minutes of screen but the budget tran out so they just wrapped it up as best they could.

Also, this film had (at the start) at least, a habit of cutting to some funny non-sequitur flashbacks which I would have liked to have seen a few more of.

On top of that, it’s a good job that I liked all of the one dimensional characters as the zombies themselves (like I’ve already hinted) don’t really seem to pose much of a threat and appear to be held together by Twiglets.

But on the whole, Cockneys vs Zombies gets as much fun as it can out of watching a bunch of cockneys fight off the recently brown bread. It’s action scenes are mostly exciting and varied enough, even if this film did forget that zombies are only really scary in tight, claustrophobic locations (which is why most zombie films have the majority of their scenes in inside locations.) Because outside well, their just sort of there.

But, if you’ve ever wondered what a Guy Ritchie zombie film would look like, here’s the answer to your question.

My Score- See It 

Iron Fury/ T-34 Film Review

Since my last cinematic trip to Russia lead to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan trying to save a dragon who’s eyelashes give us tea and it’s being guarded by a bunch of rejected power rangers villains, I figured a film released in the UK under the title of Iron Fury would be a similarly ‘interesting’ experience.

Which it was… sort of.

I mean, this films actual, literal, tagline is “Fast and Furious on tanks” now, I’ll be a merciful God and overlook that we already have a Fast and Furious on tanks- Fast and Furious 6 (2013) You remember that one, right? It’s the one with the runway that’s roughly the length of half of Spain? It’s fun.

But back on topic and Iron Fury/ T-34/ What do you mean in Russian Media the movie was CALLED “‘The Fast And The Furious’ on tanks”!?!? That’s the tagline.. of the… fine, you know what? I’m calling it Vroom, Vroom Boom Boom.

Anyway,in Vroom, Vroom Boom Boom, we find ourselves in the Russian end of the Second World War and spending time with a courageous group of Russian soldiers who have managed to escape from German captivity in a half-destroyed legendary T-34 tank with the Nazis in hot pursuit.

And I’ll say this, for a film with a mere 10 million dollar budget this film looks amazing. The tank battles are easily the best I’ve ever seen on the silver screen (which isn’t hard admittedly) although I would state that if you are going to go into slow motion cannon vision 1) I wouldn’t do it for seemingly every shot – I’m not playing Sniper Elite  here as your cannon shells not only look really CGI, they slow the pace down somewhat- which is the last thing you want in a high octane tank fight scene and detract from the fact that a lot of this film is done with practical effects, something that should be celebrated. Also, something like that should only be done to signify something important or extra cool is happening. Overuse dilutes it’s effectiveness and reduce this game of cat and mouse to film as video game.

Away from the tank fights in this tank fighting film you find characters that come straight out of central casting, evil game playing Nazi, tank crew who are fun to be with, lead character who seems to be without flaw and of course our love interest erm.. ‘woman.’ Their the right sort of characters for films like this but I doubt I’d be able to remember anything about them this time tomorrow which is a shame, but comparing it to the Fast and the Furious, yeah, it’s all good.

One thing that a lot of people might bump on though is language. Now, being a Russian film made in Russia for Russians the film is (naturally enough) a Russian language film. Except not the version I watched. No, for that version they just grabbed half a dozen Americans (who don’t even attempt a Russian accent) and proceed to dub over Vroom Vroom Boom Boom with all the care and accuracy of a late ’70’s kung-fu film. The subtitles don’t match up either.

Although this does lead to a pretty cool idea, instead of everyone being able to communicate with each other, the Russians and Germans can only communicate with each other when there’s a translator present. Which I thought was nifty.

Minor nitpicks aside, I really enjoyed myself with Vroom, Vroom Boom Boom. The pace moves along well enough, I like how it shows the planning and care that goes into everything that our crew does, the random uses of classical music, I enjoyed spending time with our leads and just had a blast with this film.

The battle scenes are exciting (silly slow-mo shell-o-vision notwithstanding), I understood where everyone was, what they were doing and why they were doing it (something of dying art in Hollywood these days.) And it even remembers that hero’s who can get injured and feel frightened are more interesting than indestructible bits of plastic. Even if this is just basically an 80’s type action movie with modern special effects. Which is not an issue in this house.

If your after just a bit of tank fighting fun then Vroom, Vroom Boom Boom will tide you over. It’s fun and disposable but if you go into a film like this expecting Doctor Zhivago then good luck to you.

I just wish they’d developed their characters a bit more, made their tank battles a bit more flowing, used less bad CGI and more awesome practical effects.

In short?

My Score- See It

Crawl Film Review

Sometimes in life a film does exactly what is says on the tin. Crawl promises “A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.” And that’s exactly what it delivers.

Mind you, with a run-time of a mere 87 minutes there’s not really a lot of time for deep monologues about the human condition.  It fact there’s no real time for any monologues of any type as buddy, we have got some people to turn into gator chow!


It’s also nice to note that since the last time the director made a creature feature (Piranha 3d, a film that a younger me absolutely loved) he has apparently discovered that women will not spontaneously combust if more than 1% of their body is covered in clothing.

Sadly though, he’s traded in some gloriously awful dialogue for the ages- “Check it out, they’re fish with boobies.” Is one example I’ll sadly carry to the grave – with functional, stodgy predictable dialogue. There were no quotes here that I’ll carry to the grave. “Well, Apex predator all day.” Might make it to the middle of next week but no further.

But to be honest, if you went to this film expecting film quotes to live up to a dying characters last words being “Wet t-shirt… wet t-shirt!” Then you are seriously in the wrong frame of mind.

Because this is a siege movie. My favorite genre of film. A father and daughter trapped in a house that’s slowly filling with water and under attack from 850 Alligators who seem to have nothing on their to do list but eat humans.

Sadly though, this film treats the Alligators like their sharks with very little attempt to have them lying in weight for our heroes or use their terrifying death role or even have some jump scares or creeping up on out protagonists as they desperately try to survive another few minutes. Also, Several shots of the gaters look like the CGI team fell victim to hungry creatures, and the interns finished off the work.

But those are just minor nitpicks in what is actually a very, very solid little film. The run-time is perfect. The small cast amazing, but I would have liked a few more jump scares and tension as well as some of the obvious red-shirts putting up more of a fight than someone who’s only two days from retirement showing a picture of their pregnant wife whilst telling their mates that they should all split up. Whilst wearing a redshirt and covering themselves in BBQ sauce.

What else….

It’s a good thing that Scodelario’s character is an amazing swimmer and the films really well shot and a lot of fun to watch and there’s a lot to be said about a film that just goes for it. Minimal setup and exposition before boom! Into this house which is apparently irresistible to future handbags.

Not sure what else there is to say. It’s a good fun little film which could have done a little more with it’s premise added some dread, a few more animatronic puppets- they look and age better and actors prefer them. The actors are having fun and doing what they can with the limited material their given. Maybe a few more inventive kills as well but on the whole if your looking for a fun diversion then this will do you.

Crawl is no masterpiece and I wouldn’t seek it out or even remember it but if it came on TV one night, I wouldn’t change the channel.

My Score- See It 

The Man Who Never Was Film Review

The year is 1943, according to Churchill ‘the sun of victory has begun to touch our soldiers helmets’ following numerous victories in Africa and the time began to approach for an assault into Europe.

But there was a problem, concern among the Allied planners that Sicily was an obvious choice – Churchill is reputed to have said “Everyone but a bloody fool would know that it’s Sicily” – and that the build-up of resources for the invasion would be detected. This would lead to the loss of thousands of lives and the destruction of possibly hundreds of ships.

Clearly there was only one thing to do! Find the right sort of dead body, dress them up as an officer of the Royal Marines then place personal items on him identifying him as the fictitious Captain (Acting Major) William Martin. Then plant correspondence between two British generals which suggested that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia, with Sicily as merely the target of a feint, on the body. Then, transport the body to the southern coast of Spain by submarine and releasing it close to shore, where it would be picked up the following morning by a Spanish fisherman. Then the nominally neutral Spanish government would share copies of the documents with the Abwehr, the German military intelligence organisation, before returning the originals to the British.

You have to admit, this plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity.

Don’t look at me like that, we actually did this in the actual World War 2 and it was lot more complicated than this, also one of the people who came up with this idea would go on to create arguably the greatest fictional spy of all time but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, The Man Who Never Was, was made released in 1956 when a lot of the details of the operation were still very, very classified so i’d definitely take this more as a film based on something that happened rather than what actually happened.

If your interested though, the BBC did a really awesome documentary on Operation Mincemeat a few years ago (link:

Back on topic for a change and this film feels like an old school crime movie, where we spend the first half of the movie watching the planning, the acquiring of resources, the setting up of backstories and covering of weak links, then we see the event itself, before the third act where we follow a policeman (or in this case an entirely fictional German spy) following up leads, making sure that nothing smells fishy.

After all, as the Germans themselves put it:

Admiral Canaris: The Führer, of course, has certain advantages over mere intelligence officers like you and me, Frederick. He has his intuition, whereas we have to rely on our brains. And he’s sure God is on his side.

German Officer: But you are not?

Admiral Canaris: I do not believe that God is on my side to the extent of sending me the enemy’s plans.

The whole thing is as tight as a drum, with even one scene in the first third that irked me slightly paying off in spades towards the end of the film. Sadly, one of the most affecting scenes in the entire film is entirely fictional but (like most great scenes) is no less affecting for being made up.

The film moves along at a fair old clip and being made in the 1950’s means long takes, no shakeycam which makes a refreshing change from most modern films, also if your a fan of film as video game then you might want to look elsewhere as this is and old school thriller in the vein of a heist movie.

And this is definatly a film rather than a historical document but on the other hand, the officer who was in charge of Operation Mincemeat, has a small cameo and if it was good enough for Captain The Hon. Ewen Edward Samuel Montagu, CBE, QC, DL, RNR then it’s good enough for the likes of me and you.

Now, a modern version of this film (with access to all the information) did enter pre-production this year and a musical comedy version was supposed to hit the London theatre scene but I think you can guess what happened to them.

Also, the effects of Mincemeat went far beyond this one operation,  during Operation Market-Garden, the Allied invasion of Holland in September 1944 (fourteen months after Operation Mincemeat and the invasion of Sicily), a British staff officer brought a complete Corps-level operations order with maps and graphics, which was never supposed to leave Britain, with him on a transport glider and then inadvertently left it on the glider when it landed in Holland. The Germans eventually overran the glider landing zone and found the operations order. But due to Operation Mincemeat, they were so convinced that this was another set of fake documents planted for deception by the British, and actually maneuvered contrary to what the documents indicated for the first few days of the battle. This was included in A Bridge Too Far (1977), about Operation Market-Garden.

I know that had nothing to do with the film but I just wanted to let you know that amazing fact.

But even if this was a purely fictional story, I would still love it because it’s so tense, exciting and thrilling, every scene and frame is still needed, it’s characters memorable, it’s impact-full moments impact-full and that’s pretty much all you can ask for from a film like this.

My Score-  See It Now

Jaws: The Revenge

“So what do you feel in the mood for Daniel?” Inquired Amazon Prime  as I scrolled through it.

“Well, Jaws: The Revenge caught my eye” Said I.

“Are you sure?”

“It’s just the first Jaws is right there and there’s Jaws 2 right next to it. Why don’t you download those instead?”

“I know the Jaws script backwards and forwards, Jaws 2 never really did it for me and besides this film has  a voodoo doctor, Papa Jacques, a local man who the islanders turn for advice and guidance. and after an altercation with Mike Brody, Papa Jacques summons the Shark to do his bidding. Tell me a film which couldn’t be improved by a shark wielding voodoo witch doctor?”

“Erm.. actually that was removed for pacing reasons.”

“No wonder the film is currently number #28 on IMDB’s bottom 100. So…. this films title insinuates that the Shark is the one plotting it’s revenge for Jaws 3d? And what exactly did the film replace Papa Jacques with?”

“Oh, it’s got Maurice Joseph Micklewhite Jr. he’s got two Oscars don’t you know.”

“Maurice Joseph Mickle…. what in the name of Jennifer Laurence is Michael Caine doing in Jaws: The Revenge?

(Actual line) “I deliver laundry”

Ask a stupid question I guess…

Well at least as one of the most expensive movies of 1987 with a whopping great budget of between 23 and 30 million dollars, the sharks going to look like an actual shark, right? I mean it’s not like it’s going to like something a hungover art student threw together the day of his deadline is it?

Oh well, at least you didn’t do anything stupid like give it a roar that you find in an old Tom and Jerry cartoon… You did that as well, didn’t you film?

Ok, ok, ok, at least there must be some kind of cool thing that happens in this film. No? It’s mostly about Caine and  Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody) having a quite sweet romance which would be nice were I not trying to watch a film about a giant killer shark being controlled by a voodoo priest.

Which means that Jaws The Revenge winds up feeling like a film with a bit of an identity crisis. On one hand it’s a film about a family trying to survive being attacked by yet another shark and on the other it’s a later in life rom-com. You could very easily, literally split this film into two short films and I don’t think anyone would notice. I mean you’d be left with a monster movie where you can see the mechanisms propelling the shark  in some shots! As well as a rom-com that’s so traditional and dull that I doubt it would even get aired on afternoon TV.

And I’m not alone in this opinion. When Caine was asked about this movie in an interview, he answered, “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

Well, I have seen it. It is terrible. And I didn’t even get a new house out of it.

Flat characters, bad sfx (even for the time), no shark controlling voodoo priest and enough plot holes to drive a laundry carrying plane through.

My Score- Bomb

Should you watch it- God no. There are a lot better shark films to see (47 meters down springs to mind.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me i must write an ancient cinematic wrong I need to right!

Robot Monster/ Monster from Mars Review

I knew going in that this was going to be an ‘interesting’ one. After all, for a film made in 1953 to still have even the slightest reputation in 2020, it’s either got to be a timeless masterpiece or timeless disaster and brother this is no timeless masterpiece.

But don’t just take my word for it, some of the ‘accolades’ that this film has won include (In 1980) the award for “The Most Ridiculous Monster in Movie History”. It’s is listed among The 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson’s book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE® MOVIE GUIDE as well as featuring in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Sadly, according to the Medved brothers’ book “The Golden Turkey Awards”, director Phil Tucker attempted suicide after the film was released because critical reaction was so negative. He put a gun next to his head, pulled the trigger, and missed.

But on the positive side the film made a million dollars in 1953! On a budget of 16’000 dollars and with no sets at all! It’s considered the first science-fiction film with stereophonic sound AND was even shown on MTV! In its original 3-D format. MTV offered 3-D viewing glasses by mail order ahead of the broadcast date. Which was nice of them.

And my God, this film is just so awful in every regard it’s fascinating in a way that good movies never are. I’ll start from the top, the Robot Monster/ Monster From Mars is very clearly a guy in a gorilla suit with a diving helmet on and he’s either waving his arms around desperately trying to let everyone know that he’s suffocating in that getup or he’s trying to be threatening.

He’s under orders from the Great Guidance (Same guy but this time with a violin bow. Whatever works I guess…) To wipe out the humans with his dreaded ‘Calcinator death ray’ which is either a terrifying brand of toothpaste or the weapon of a villain of the week from Doctor Who. He’s done a great job wiping out everybody in the world apart from 8 human shaped pieces of cardboard that are our main characters. How they survived I have no idea. Maybe they all use Colgate.

Anyway, Ro-Man (as all the cool kids call him) and the Great Guidance communicate via a tv screen that for some ungodly reason blows bubbles whenever in use. Interestingly, “N. A. Fischer Chemical Products” is given prominent credit for the “Billion Bubble Machine”, instead of doing what I would do if my product was used in this film which is to deny it ever existed. Not only do these scenes take up about a quarter of this films 62 (!) minute run-time but every time the damn thing is switched on it emitted a high pitched noise that made me think that my ear buds were either broken or had decided that I was no longer worthy of the sense of sound. Which meant that I would never have heard the deathless line ” I cannot – yet I must. How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do “must” and “cannot” meet? Yet I must – but I cannot!” Which in any other film would stand out but in Robot Monster? It’s just another day at the office.

Oh, and I don’t care how small your budget is, you can afford to rewrite before requiring actual humans to say the line “I’m bossy? You’re so bossy you oughta be milked before you come home at night.”

Anyway, after a toy rocket being held by a glove against a black bit of cloth is destroyed in a puff of talcum powder… sorry, I mean after Ro-Man destroy a few desperate refugees trying to escape in humanity’s fastest rocket, were left with him hunting down the remaining humans whilst at the same time falling love with one of the female pieces of cardboard.

It runs out of steam after 45 minutes and then starts stealing footage from other films. It’s short, terrible, I wasn’t sure whether I was meant to laugh at it or just be amazed at what you could get into the cinemas back in those days.

But you have got to see it. Earphone destroying sound and all because these types of film don’t get wide release anymore, normally going straight to DVD or Streaming. You will never again see such an ‘interesting’ monster combined with some of the most terrible dialogue and flat as a pancake characters.

Is it Amazon Prime? No.

Do you need to see it? Yes. My God yes.

Assassin 33 A.D Film Review

I… uh…. genuinely have no idea if this is the most or least blasphemous film ever made.

I mean just reading the plot outline a I was skimming IMDB looking for something to review would have caused me to spit my tea out if i’m far too English for such a foolish action to happen.

I mean just the plot itself is enough to make me check my own sanity or… wonder if a lot of stuff that’s been coming on recently has been quietly released whilst there’s something of a captive audience situation happening.

But anyway, Christian films exist and that is something that film critics have had to deal with, mostly by ignoring them. Their central audience doesn’t really care for what we have to say and I see enough terrible, poorly acted, terribly written, shot, directed ‘films’ as is so we mostly just ignore each other. The fact that their normally only released online or via DVD and I used to stick to the silver screen doesn’t hurt either.

But… sometimes one of these films decides that it’s a real film. It gets out into the real world and the critics decide that today is a good day to shoot some fish in a barrel.

But I would have reviewed this one in normal times. As soon as I took one look at this film I knew that I would have to review it because well…

It’s got all the usual hallmarks of a Christian film, the acting is more wooden than Sherwood forest, the whole thing looks like a couple of cheap sets that get endlessly reused, the characters are all one note (seriously, who even uses the wacky black man stereotype anymore?) God gets squeezed into every conversation whether or not he belongs there and the whole thing seems insufferably pleased with itself.

But the plot, by film, the plot. All right. You ready? Here we go. Whilst trying to build a working transporter, our lead (apparently based off of the insufferable lead off of the unwatchable Big Bang Theory) accidentally invents time travel (as you do).Then, his boss who was planning to beam bombs everywhere he wanted gets the bright idea to go back in time and shoot Jesus thus proving that he’s not the messiah just a very naughty boy… sorry, just a prophet and not the actual son of God.

And I suppose it is sort of refreshing that the villains are extremist Muslims (no, seriously the plot screeches to a halt for a few minutes so the characters can debate this and decide that the villains aren’t Muslims but extremists, which is a nice bit of growth for films of this type and it make a change from hate filled mustache, twirling, two seconds from tying young maidens to rail-lines atheists that are normally the villains in this type of film.)

It’s also nice that the film decides to stick with Back to the Future time-travel where you can change the past as opposed to the pre-destination or bootstrap paradox but as for following the plot of the last half of the movie? Good luck with that, the film bounces around like one of those bad episodes of Doctor Who where everyone’s all over time and place, someone dies but then goes back in time and stops themselves from dying so the villain goes back five minutes before them and changes that…. It’s a mess that I gave up trying to follow and instead just grabbed a beer, took a shot every-time I saw a plot-hole and tried to work out why I was watching this and not the greatest Jesus film of all time – 1987’s Robocop. No, seriously, Verhoeven has stated that he sees the character as a futuristic version of Christ and the dude ‘walks’ on water at one point!

Also… that plot description… a company developing transportation technologically accidentally creating time travel instead… THAT’S THE PLOT TO NOTORIOUS BOMB TIMELINE STARRING A YOUNG LEONIDUS!!! Ewww….

Switching back onto topic for once we find that all our leads are flat, one dimensional characters, one of our villains is an alcoholic who hates God after his family died in a car crash, our leads are fresh off of geek typecasting, there’s very little development of anyone, enough of a bodycount by everyone that I’m great-full that there’s no sort of commandment against killing otherwise everyone on screen is doomed to an eternity of watching James Corden films, the dialogue is woeful, the lines delivery is just frankly shocking at times as well as is the fact that Jesus apparently speaks perfect English, there’s green-screen when there’s quite clearly no money for green-screen, the scriptwriter (who is also the director, which is usually a bad sign) just seems to be making things up as they go along and then in the end the whole thing is proven to be a meaningless waste of my time in an ending which I think is meant to be heartwarming but just made me angy.

Assassin 33AD is exactly what I thought it would be, as bad as I thought it would be, as much of a mess as I thought it would be, it’s too serious to be watched as a bad movie to roast, too trashy to watch as a theological film, it’s ending just made me angry, the people I was meant to be rooting for seemed to think they were (and spoke lines that seem to be for) a sitcom and the whole thing just looks cheap.

One other hand they got Jesus to say “If you finished my movie, you would know that I’ll be back.”

The movie, BTW, is Passion of the Christ. Jesus is apparently a Mel Gibson fan.

But on the other hand they use Daylight Savings Time as a plot device.

Please, please please don’t take this score as an it must be so bad it’s good, it’s not. It’s so bad it’s bad and the only Assassins that should be wandering around history are the Assassins Brotherhood.

My Score- Bomb