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!

Yehaw!

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 

Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold Film Review

I’m just going to come out and say it, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is my third favorite take on the Dark Knight after The Animated Series and the Adam West version which literally saved Batman from being cancelled so show it some respect every once in a while.

Because I know that a lot of people like their Batman as serious as a German film festival and gritter than a mile long gravel driveway but to me, the idea of a grown man dressed in a bat costume punching a clown is an inherently funny one.

Also, Batman is supposed to be prepared for everything and which Batman was more prepared than the Adam West version? I’m prepared to toss a coin to my Witcher that Bale didn’t have any shark repellent bat spray in his mope cave.

Anyway… for those of who didn’t watch Batman: The Brave and the Bold (and you really should) imagine the Justice League Cartoon seen through the innocence of comics made back in the 60’s with some pretty great voice acting and your pretty much there.

So I guess it made sense for this Batman to team up with Scooby-Doo rather than say… Keaton’s Batman.

We all know he was more a cat person anyway.

But back on topic and this is actually a pretty fun little film whereupon the Scooby gang get invited to join the ranks of Mystery Analysts of Gotham (an offer not extended to the absolutely hysterical and slightly miffed Aquaman) and promptly get caught up in Batman’ only unsolved case which naturally enough involves a hell of a lot of Batman’s rogues gallery, a quick tour around Gotham and a chance for both teams to play to their strengths. Unlike certain other Scoob! films I could mention, this film remembers that the Scooby Gang are detectives who rely on their wits to escape from situations and never, ever resort to violence.

Unlike Batman who’s perfectly happy to resort to violence.

The plot does a good job of keeping you on your toes, throws a few good twists in at regular intervals and it’s always fun to spend time with this version of Batman and his rogues gallery.

The show looks great with some amazing animation, the voice acting is brilliant, it’s nice to see a superhero film with a sense of humor and at a mere 75 minutes it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome even if the ending does feel a bit rushed and doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch that it really should have.

Which is a shame as I think this is that rarity in cinema these days in that another 10 minutes added to the runtime which would have allowed the film some time to breathe and develop some plot points would have helped the film no end.

Also it’s nice that the Joker is relegated to a cameo for once.

Fast moving, fun and showing two different mystery solvers teaming up and forming a perfect partnership, this film is just a good time and shows us that comic books can be fun as opposed to dark, brooding and full of miseryguts.

And I hope that in the future we see a lot more like it. As opposed to the Twilight B(r)at allegedly a playing  ‘raw’ and ‘not sanitized’ Batman because the last thing the world needs at the moment is more people interacting with raw, unsanitised bats.

My Score- See It

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 

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War Film Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged that whilst Marvel is currently crushing it (financially if nothing else) at the silver screen DC has been absolutely ruling the small screen via its DC Animated Movie Universe or it’s abbreviated form- DCAMU which I would argue needs some more work-shopping but consists of 15 animated movies the last of which Justice League Dark: Apokolips War wraps up the franchise in about the most conclusive way a franchise can be wound up.

It’s not the last DC animated movie by the way, just the last in this particular continuity as several are in development. Most starring the most over-exposed and used character in all of fiction- Batman

Anyway,   Justice League Dark: Apokolips WAR (Aside from making my spellchecker go nuts) actually functions pretty well as a standalone movie. If you have a basic understanding of who’s who in DC then you’ll be fine here.

Just so long as you  don’t care about anyone because the body-count here would make Thanos feel that it was a bit over the top.

Yeah, if you thought that animated=kids movie then You. Are. Wrong. Characters get ripped to pieces, eaten alive, blown up, burnt to a crisp and that’s just the first twenty minutes.

So… you know how in most of these films Darkside invades, get beaten back by a load of costumed fashion disasters then swears that he’ll get Earth next time? Yeah, that doesn’t happen here. In fact, this is the first film that portrays Darkside as the unstoppable menace I’ve always felt him to be. Someone who even Superman can barely even pause, let alone stop. Our hero’s lose badly in the first ten minutes then the rest of the film is set two years later as a scattered and desperate resistance try to mount one last attack to save whats left of the Earth against impossible odds.

Yeah, there’s more than a passing resemblance to Endgame but here there’s no attempt to humanize the villain or give him a sympathetic agenda. He’s here, he wants to rule the galaxy because he’s a conqueror who can’t think of anything else to do with his time and nothing and nobody can even slow him for a second.

Refreshingly, this film finds it’s center not in that flaming Bat but in John Constantine (voiced by the only acceptable actor for the role Matt Ryan) who ran away from the first fight and is now drinking himself to death when the chance comes for redemption.

The animation is flawless, it’s grim and dark without being overwhelming the plot moves along at a fast enough clip even if I did spot one minor plot hole that i’m sure someone with more DC knowledge than I will be able to fill in. It all builds to a satisfying climax and with one exception the voice acting is spot on.

Yeah, there’s a reason that Darkside is voiced by Michael Ironside or someone else who sounds like their number one hobby is competitive gravel eating.  This guy just hasn’t got the gravitas that his look and actions demand.

Aside from that there’s not really a lot to nitpick here and a lot to like. The characters are well developed, the action scenes fluid, varied and fun. the film doesn’t outstay it’s welcome (running at a mere 72 minutes) but still manages to make you care for all it’s participants even if the plot doesn’t really hold very many surprises once you twig that the filmmakers are having a fine old time killing off everybody like some horrifying version of the fashion police.

Even the ending is beautifully bittersweet.

If they had changed Darksides voice actor and explained that moment towards the end that I bumped on, then I think this film would be pretty much be the best animated film that’s I’ve seen in years.

But even with that, it’s still the best animated film I’ve seen in years.

My Score- See It Now 

 

Sea Fever Film Review

“The crew of a West of Ireland trawler, marooned at sea, struggle for their lives against a growing parasite in their water supply”. Went the IMDB description.

Hmm thought I, does this mean Alien knock off, Deep Rising knock off or Slither knock off? Oh, and it’s a low budget film from the country that bought as an alien invasion where the aliens can only be seen if your three sheets to the wind?

This sounds like a job for someone with way too much time on their hands to review!

So… it’s not an Alien knock off, Deep Rising knock off or Slither knock off. Sort of.  If anything i’d say it was more akin to a pandemic type of film where our our poor crew are picked off not by a rubber monster or CGI creations but instead by things that we can’t even see, let alone fight.

And i’ll be honest, as a pandemic film this sort of works, but I don’t think this film wants to be a pandemic film, I’m not sure that it wants to a a creature feature film either, in a way it does play closer to an Alien film where the crew encounter the enemy, retreat, plot their next move then head off to try and kill the enemy. But there’s something missing here. Because all the ingredients are here for an involving film, you’ve got sort of interesting characters being played by actors who are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, an interesting, beautiful menacing creature which you could remove completely and replace with a virus bought about by eating some dodgy fish for supper. The boat is claustrophobic, full of dark corners and looming shadows, the sense of isolation is great as is the natural explanations for neither being able to call or radio for help (a horror director friend of mine once called mobile phones ‘the death of the horror movie’.)

But there’s just… something missing…

Because this film just isn’t scary. IMDB says it belongs in the horror genre, it’s got the plot keyword of aquatic horror but I wasn’t scared in any way shape or form. Which is one of the issues when your film is basically a pandemic film as opposed to a horror film. Without an actual monster for your cast to defeat it’s just a bunch of isolated people on a boat trying not to catch a contaminant which is spread via contact with water which, word for word is the exact plot outline of an episode of David Tennants Doctor Who.

Which is a shame because once you put the fact that this horror film is less scary than my nephew at Halloween aside and start looking at it as a character drama about a group of ordinary people coming to terms with the fact that they have sadly discovered a new virus and what to with that knowledge or even if they should quarantine themselves when their only instinct is to go home.

Yeah, sadly this film has acquired an undertone due to… influences outside the films control.

Which I would say is a shame apart from the fact that this fleeting brush with relevance is the best thing that could have happened to this oddly frustrating film.

Look, at 90 odd minutes I knew that this wasn’t going to be the Abyss but I was expecting more from this film. It’s a sort of monster film that didn’t need a monster, a character study that didn’t develop it’s characters enough, a pandemic film that feels overburdened with carrying multiple genres on it’s back that it didn’t need to carry.

All of which is a shame because I did enjoy certain aspects of this film. I liked spending time with this films characters, I liked the fact that they acted like people and not stereotypes (within reason, I could still sum them all up in about 3 words.), I liked the sense of isolation and growing desperation which is the core of any good horror film as the survivors dwindle and paranoia begins to creep in. It’s a film that clearly made every single penny of it’s miniature budget work as hard as it could.

It’s just a shame that a film with such promise ends up just being sort of… there. It needed to go one way or the other because sitting in the middle of the road just means your going to get hit by both lanes of traffic. Either be a character study about people accidentally discovering a deadly new pathogen and trying to work out what the right thing to do is, or be a film about people discovering a new form of life that picks the crew off one at a time but you can’t mix the two as they require two totally different reactions from your audience.

Which is a shame.

TLDR? Sea Fever is all the gear but no idea. Or to put it another way…

My Score- If Nothing Else 

Extraction Film Review

Extraction asks a question I never thought needed answering until now- What if we threw John Wick and The Raid in a blender with Chris Hemsworth, playing someone with a generic tragic backstory, decided not to really bother with a plot beyond a generic get the thing (in this case a boy) out of a place where it is to a place where it isn’t via the medium of insane levels of action?

Oh, and also we should really go into the whole one take shot thing. Like really go for it. As in an 11 and a half minute unbroken shot with some insane levels of action and enough grit to salt every road in the world.

Do you think people would like that?

Yes.

Yes I do.

Sort of.

Look, Extraction is amazing to watch, the one take action sequences (actual one-take action sequences, not 1917’s we just did some clever editing one-take sequences.) Are incredible and set the bar so high for brutal, no holds bared epic action which would easily rate this film as an 18 were it ever to grace the silver screen that I don’t see how it can ever be topped.

This film hits the ground running and barely stops for a second for breath other than to scornfully look at us and say “You thought that was good? Wait until you see this!”

It’s

It’s…

It’s film as video game. I mean I swear I’ve played this exact level on a Call of Duty game or something similar and whilst the fights are very, very good, that’s pretty much all the film has. It’s characters are flat, the plot predictable I mean I know that cinema is a visual medium and that the first bite is taken with the eye but sooner or later other bits have to get involved as well otherwise i’m just going to get bored. Also, throwing in a joke or a one liner every now and then wouldn’t have hurt, or developing our bits of cardboard? Sorry, I mean adding depth to our hero’s and villains?

Because I’ll be honest, this film didn’t really have a lot of connective tissue and whilst I loved this film when I watched it yesterday, i’m really struggling to remember it now or wondering why I would ever watch this as a whole film ever again when it feels like something designed to be turned into videos on YouTube that get millions of views?

I mean I’m not asking for deep debates on the meaning of life or a James Bond Quip after every kill but surely something every once in a while or even a simple “I didn’t think that would work” Just something to lighten the mood.

But aside from the po-faced script, dull characters, predictable plot and weirdly charismaless Thor then there is a lot here to enjoy but I’ve seen this sort of thing done better, with more memorable characters and narratives that actually felt like a narrative (of sorts) rather than a paper thin excuse for some (admittedly) incredible action scenes. But where in say John Wick, there was always a reason for an action sequence and a feeling of something deeper than the surface story was letting on, that’s not the case here. The surface story IS the story and whilst that’s great for a quick rush there’s really no reason to ever see this film again unless your a fight choreographer or have career  ambitions in that direction.

Not when the best moments are already online.

Look, if you an action junkie needing a fix then Extraction WILL knock your socks off but in every other aspect this film just doesn’t have anything to recommend. Maybe that’s enough. But for me, film as some sort of never ending video-game cut-scene just makes me want to get my controller back so I can start shooting things again and it isn’t why i’m watching a film as opposed to playing Battlefield India.

And, if this does work for you, can I recommend Strike Back? It’s got more interesting plots, developed characters, lighter moments whilst still having awesome action scenes that are light years beyond anything else in cinema or on TV today.

Just start at season 2 and I’ll see you next time.

My Score- If Nothing Else