JamesMovieGuy_117

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Reviews

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker
(2019)

very safe space adventure
I attempted to go with an open mind when going to watch Star Wars: Episode IX - Rise of Skywalker. I had not enjoyed the previous entry in the saga, Rian Johnson's experimental 'subverting expectations' film (Star Wars: Episode XIII - The Last Jedi), which has proven to be perhaps the most divisive movie in recent memory. I did enjoy JJ Abrams nostalgic but very derivative 'Star Wars: Episode XII - The Force Awakens' when it first released, but in retrospect despite being extremely well made it was essentially a soft remake of A New Hope to lure in older fans who didn't like the prequel trilogy.

Now we have the last instalment of this new trilogy directed by JJ Abrams and while it ends some of the character arcs quite nicely, it's also a very safe space adventure which for the most part lacks any emotional engagement with the audience.

The highlight of Rise of Skywalker is definitely the character interaction between Rey and Kylo Ren, they are the main stars of the film. Some things fans questioned about these characters are given an explanation which makes sense even though some details are still hidden. There's also lots of fan service to older characters- the introduction of Lando and Emperor Palpatine will surely excite fans. Despite this, most of the other characters from this new trilogy are put on the sideline and have almost no character development whatsoever. There was a moment when a character mentioned something about someone's past which sparked some curiosity in me, but then he quickly shrugs it off saying it didn't matter. This kind of writing is what has disappointed me about this trilogy- the originals and even the prequels had well defined characters but some of these new ones all feel the same and could help with some fleshing out.

The story is reminiscent of an Indiana Jones film, as the characters seek to find a hidden artefact which navigates them to a Sith base. It wastes no time in starting the adventure as the opening crawl announces Emperor Palpatine has been pulling the strings all along, hiding inside a secret Sith base. It's an extremely fast paced movie, perhaps overly so as there's a plethora of action set pieces which while well made can feel overwhelming.

Star Wars: Episode IX - Rise of Skywalker may be just as divisive as the film that preceded it, some seem to think it's shallow trash while others think its entertaining. With all three movies released, fans can look at the trilogy holistically and possibly re-evaluate their thoughts. I stand by my opinion on The Last Jedi but I can understand why some would think it's the best of the trilogy since it's the riskiest when it comes to writing and storytelling. The Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker are both similar tonally, being reminiscent of the swashbuckling space adventures that popularised the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although there's some decent characters like Rey and Kylo Ren, there were some missed opportunities for inventiveness which some would argue was in The Last Jedi but in my opinion is so tonally inconsistent with the other two movies it just ends up being a huge mess. That's what this new trilogy feels like to me, a series of movies that don't know what they want to be because no one set in stone the story from beginning to end unlike what George Lucas was able to achieve.

Black Mirror: Smithereens
(2019)
Episode 2, Season 5

This might be the most important Black Mirror episode yet
I've never reviewed a tv episode before but since I enjoyed this so much I felt the need to put my thoughts out there. As of writing this review the reception of this episode is mixed to say the least, it's one of those episodes you either love or absolutely loathe.

Black Mirror is a series which has opened the minds of an entire generation as it showcases the more frightening and disturbing aspects of technology. With each stand alone story it manages to freak you out or even if it doesn't it touches into very real subject matter that Hollywood wouldn't even dare touch.

Many who hated this episode highlighted how the story was predictable or how there was a message which wasn't all that profound as some other episodes. I can see where people are coming from and I must stress it's not an episode that's going to freak you out with anything extremely mind blowing. What really makes this episode work and left such an impact on me was how it explored a very real subject matter that easily could have come across as exploitative but through the drama of the characters really makes it touching especially if one has experienced trauma or extreme depression.

It's sad to say but younger people have become more depressed nowadays throughout the world for a variety reasons but more often than not its due to the distractions and pressures of websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This fact forms the basis of this episode and really makes scenes that much more tragic whether it's the protagonist accidentally running into a car killing his fiance and another driver because he was distracted by a notification on a fake social media network called Persona or a mother grieving over her daughter's suicide which may or may not have been caused by something on social media.

The episode isn't trying to suggest that social media is evil and you shouldn't use it whatsoever, but instead like all the cautionary tales in Black Mirror, showcases how it can devastate lives when it is used poorly, in this case when it's an addiction.

The acting is absolutely phenomenal and it was great seeing Topher Grace who I thought was absolutely phenomenal as Billy Bouer, the head of Persona. I could see a lot of people making parallels between his character and Mark Zuckerberg in addition to criticising the fact that he's portrayed as an understanding guy which in Zuckerberg's case is probably far from the truth. Again this is fiction and even though there is that parallel, the episode I feel needed that heart because if everyone for instance wanted him to kill himself it may be a bit too pessimistic, even for Black Mirror standards.

This might be the most important Black Mirror episode yet, a close second being Shut Up and Dance. I can see Black Mirror in the future been seen as a cultural reflection of this decade's obsession with social media, our reliance on technology and how downright paranoid a generation it was... If you hate this episode I'm not going to change your mind but if you liked it I'm sure you liked it for the same reasons I did.

Alien Warfare
(2019)

It's a very good flick to put on late at night and have a few laughs!
I knew Alien Warfare was going to be bad, but how bad? Well it certainly wasn't so unbearable that I wanted to pull hairs out of my head, and it wasn't so bad that it exceeded movie criticism like some of the best bad movies like The Room, Miami Connection and Samurai Cop.

This is a movie clearly trying to imitate Aliens and Predator, two of the best movies from the sci-fi action genre. It starts with a bloody action scene where we are introduced to the U.S. Navy Seal heroes as they fail a mission. They are then set to tackle a top secret mission after scientists disappear from a research centre. One thing leads to another and we discover the soldiers are dealing with Alien Warfare!

There's moments of humour thrown in, one of the more notable bits involves a soldier's obsession with protein shakes, it can come across as a little gimmicky but I won't lie I did have a few chuckles. While most of the characters are shallow, the actors are attempting to try to give natural performances which I appreciate. The make up work for the aliens is also pretty neat, the design is a very generic alien look but I appreciate they made them practical rather than CG.

I have to say, for a movie with a 2.4/10 (as of posting this review) I have seen A LOT worse! Yes I know that's like saying that dog's mess isn't as bad as that one, but I honestly think this movie does have redeeming values unlike say a Neil Breen movie, Birdemic or the worst movie of all time Manos: the Hand of Fate! I want to give the filmmakers credit because I can see they did try and yes the CG looks like it's from a sci-fi channel movie circa 2003, the alien armour looks like a Doctor Who costume circa 1975 and the plot has as much depth as a straight to video flick circa 1987. What I'm trying to say is yes it's schlocky, but by no means god awful... It's a very good flick to put on late at night and have a few laughs!

Mad Max 2
(1981)

a classic and legendary action film
Mad Max 2 became an international hit and has had a huge influence on the look and feel of the post-apocalyptic genre in all types of media. The fast pace and unrelenting action of the sequel wowed audiences, many claiming it was superior to the original film.

The film follows Max, who's now a drifter in what has become a post-apocalyptic wasteland. He agrees to help a colony of people who are defending a gasoline refinery against a gang of bandits led by The Humungus.

George Miller and Byron Kennedy, the creators of the Mad Max films, wanted to show humanity in its most primitive and aggressive form. They essentially wanted to convey, what would happen if the people of that time, with their craving for gasoline, were put in a position where fuel has become an extremely rare and valuable commodity. Whereas the heightened number of car accidents inspired the concept for the first film, this formed the basis of the second. It feels fresh which is something a lot of sequels struggle with, but the Mad Max series always brings new ideas to the table with each instalment.

The action scenes are brutal and unrelenting, with lots of variety with each sequence. There's lots of things which are very unique to Mad Max 2, like the gyrocopter (which is flown by the hilarious Bruce Spence), the punk looking bikers, all the used looking sets, props and costumes. It's also the only movie I've seen where someone gets killed by a boomerang, it's very original!

There's been some criticism of Mad Max 2... I know some who don't like the lack of a deep plot and prefer the more straight forward narrative of the first. It's a very visual film, cinema is a visual form and I admire how the filmmakers used that to their advantage with the use of minimal dialogue and told the story of the characters through their expressions and actions rather than throw away expository dialogue. The night sequences are too darkly lit and it's hard to make out what's happening. They are few and far between however and it's only a minor gripe for what's a classic and legendary action film.

Mad Max
(1979)

When the gangs take over the highway... remember he's on your side
Mad Max is an iconic landmark in Australian cinema. Its tale of fuel injected revenge resonated with Australian audiences and became the most successful film at the box office at the time in that country. Although, does it hold up? If you compare it to the sequels and other more recent films you'll be underwhelmed. Although if you understand the context on why the film was made, the limitations of the filmmakers and the sheer dedication of the crew (particularly the daring stunt people) you'll be impressed. Also if you're an aspiring filmmaker like me, this is a good film to come back to for inspiration.

The story takes place in the not too distant future where a highway gang led by the Toecutter terrorises innocent people. Max Rockatansky is a Main Force Patrol officer, who along with his fellow officers, attempt to bring Toecutter's gang down, but the influence of law and order is corrupting around them. Max then loses everything held dear to him, pushing him over the edge and leading him to enact a personal vendetta on the gang members responsible for his loss.

Mad Max was the brainchild of George Miller and he continued to direct the sequels. He had first hand experience in the emergency room witnessing the horrific injuries caused by road incidents. This sparked the concept of Mad Max and its dystopian world directly reflects the context of road safety in Australia and like many dystopian films questions where we are heading as a society.

Mad Max was made on an estimated $350,000, with most of the crew being paid in beer for their efforts. The opening pursuit of the Nightrider is one of the most impressive sequences, George Miller sacrificed his van to be wrecked for one of the shots, they used real rockets to attach to Nightriders car before it explodes and stunt men got severely injured afterwards. For a low budget film, Byron Kennedy and George Miller took tremendous risks to make it as engaging and entertaining as possible. It was also all edited in George Miller's kitchen... for a film that was edited in a kitchen I can forgive some of the awkward pacing and edits scattered throughout.

The cast is also fantastic, Mel Gibson for one of his first roles is great as the title character and demonstrates his talent from so early on his career. The gang members are all very memorable with each having their little quirks and you end up despising every single one of them by the end of the film.

Mad Max is an impressive first entry that started a cultural phenomenon. Whether you find Max to be a hero, an anti-hero or a delusional fascist hell bent on vengeance, you can't deny he is an Australian legend who audiences can't get enough of!

Sleepaway Camp
(1983)

one of the most outrageous slasher movies you'll ever see
A tragic boating accident strikes a family. Many years later, Angela along with her cousin, are sent to Camp Arawak where a series of grisly murders take place.

Sleepaway Camp is one of the most outrageous slasher movies you'll ever see. I'm not sure if it's intentionally hammy or that it takes itself too seriously to the point where it becomes unintentionally hilarious... the point is that it's one unforgettable movie!

There's so many cliches you come to expect from slasher flicks, whether it be the dumb ignorant teenagers who always get their comeuppance or the sexy youths who always fall victim to the killer. Sleepaway Camp has that and more! The identity of the killer remains inconspicuous right to the very end, very much like the first Friday the 13th. In the lead up you get your usual high body count slasher flick, but it's somewhat unique because of its tone- a mix of schlocky horror and a certain self awareness to subvert the genres conventions.

This also features one of the most unexpected plot twists to a movie of all time! It will either leave you terrified or just in awe at how unexpected and well done it actually is...

The Brain That Wouldn't Die
(1962)

gruesome and disturbing tale
A scientist gives his lover's disembodied head consciousness after a freak car accident. She then seeks revenge on the scientists who resurrected her as they plan to lure another victim to fulfil their scientific experiment.

While having a silly b-movie premise and low production, this is a surprisingly gruesome and disturbing tale of science gone wrong. It's long and meandering in parts for sure, but it's eerie and unsettling story in addition to a highlight performance of Virginia Leith as Jan (known as Jan in the Pan) make it a worthwhile watch.

You've got to give Virginia credit, it mustn't be easy playing a disembodied head and while there are some hammy moments, I generally liked her performance throughout. The most meandering parts of the film are when the scientist is trying to find a woman host, they are slow but for a b-movie from this era I guess that's what you generally expect.

Interestingly, the film had such severe censorship and legal issues that it had to wait three years to get released! It has a surprisingly grisly climax and the overall reanimating the dead storyline gets under your skin a little. This is actually for the most part an entertaining horror movie that I'll recommend.

The Toxic Avenger
(1984)

entertaining and hysterically funny
Melvin, a dorky teenager who works as a mop boy at the Tromaville health club, is harassed by his peers which results in him landing in a vat of toxic waste. He then transforms into The Toxic Avenger where he endeavours to fight crime and bring justice to Tromaville.

Lloyd Kaufman got the idea of setting a horror movie at a health club when he was working as a pre-production supervisor for Rocky. He then set out with his friend Michael Herz to make the movie under the name 'Health Club'. This later developed into what we now know as 'The Toxic Avenger'.

The Toxic Avenger is one of those b-movies that is so well done in its execution that you can't help but love it. From the outrageous and over exaggerated performances to its tongue and cheek writing to its extreme graphic violence, it's got everything you want from a movie of this kind. It's self-aware of its outrageous premise and has fun with it by satirising eighties culture and pushing the limits of controversial content.

It spawned a plethora of sequels and spin offs, even infamously a Saturday morning cartoon for kids which also resulted in toys and other merchandise. However, the original The Toxic Avenger is NOT for kids. It has sex, swearing, drugs and violence that I can imagine many parents at the time were shocked to find out if they didn't look at the R rating on the cover of the VHS.

The Toxic Avenger is an entertaining and hysterically funny film that I recommend to fans of superhero comedies.

The Beast of Yucca Flats
(1961)

an unintentionally hilarious b-movie which to just say it is incompetent is an understatement
A scientist transforms into a beast after a nuclear explosion goes off in Yucca Flats. He then terrorises those who step in his way.

Tor Johnson is a famous face in the b-movie world, starring in the supposedly worst movie of all time 'Plan 9 From Outer Space'. This was his final starring role as Joseph Javorsky/The Beast, a Russian scientist who knows secrets about the moon landing and is affected by the world's 'progress'.

Coleman Francis creates an unintentionally hilarious b-movie which to just say it is incompetent is an understatement. From the non-threatening presence of 'The Beast' to the narration ranging from stating the obvious to just being flat out bizarre, this has all you need for a b-movie of this kind.

There's a lot of scenes where you notice it's low budget production such as the guns not having any firing effect and in the nuclear explosion scene there's a shot of a suitcase on fire with Tor's non-flaming hand in shot. But it's not just that- there's this murder scene at the beginning which has no connection to the film whatsoever. Apparently, it's in there because Francis wanted a nude scene- go figure.

Zombi 2
(1979)

a solid zombie film
After the discovery of a deserted boat in New York, a scientist's daughter and a journalist set off to Matul island to see what happened to an expedition. They later find the island is inhabited by flesh eating zombies which have spread a deadly disease.

Lucio Fulci is well renowned in the horror genre and his take on the zombie sub-genre is well remembered largely due to its false tie in into Romero's zombie movies but also its controversial status. Along with a lot of horror movies that were released in the early eighties, the movie was banned in the UK and labelled a 'video nasty'. Thankfully, now it's available uncut in almost every country for horror buffs to enjoy!

There's some great moments and a highlight has to be a zombie vs shark fight which features a real tiger shark! The movie is riddled with grisly gore- there's a moment in particular involving a splinter that even made me squeamish.

The cinematography is surprisingly solid. It's in widescreen and there's some good shots throughout the film. It's not without its faults though- there's some awkward editing and the English dub is laughably bad at times, although this is a solid zombie film that I quite enjoyed.

How It Ends
(2018)

builds up tension well but never pays off
How It Ends is an apocalyptic film that builds up tension well but never pays off. Many seem outraged by the ending and I have to admit it's one of the most WTF endings I've seen in a long time.

Forest Whitaker is fantastic as always and he is great as the mentor father figure. Theo James I found to play a bland protagonist with nothing much to him except he's desperate to find his girlfriend. The other characters come and go and not in a satisfying way. Grace Dove plays one of the more memorable side characters who adds some comedy into the film and then she just leaves.

It's a shame because the movie looks great visually and its competently enough directed, it's just the script that's really at fault. I've seen some surprisingly good straight to Netflix movies such as Bright, The Babysitter and the masterful Annihilation. Although there's some others which have potential but the scripts are just awful such as Mute, The Cloverfield Paradox and How it Ends.

How It Ends is wasted potential that needed a better script to be a more satisfying experience.

Braindead
(1992)

over the top violent gory fun
A group of adventurers discover and bring back a deadly rat monkey to a zoo, who can transform their victims into blood thirsty zombies. When a man's mother gets accidentally bitten by the rat monkey, mayhem ensues.

Dead Alive, also known as Braindead, was Peter Jackson's third feature after the splatter fest Bad Taste and crude Muppet parody Meet the Feebles. Jackson this time delivers a humorous take on the zombie genre, which harkens to the likes of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead in its combination of physical comedy with blood and guts galore.

Dead Alive is said to be the bloodiest movie of all time and I'm not exaggerating! One of the final sequences required 5 gallons of blood to be pumped out per second! That's absolutely ludicrous! Thankfully it pays off and the film remains one of the greatest zombie comedies of all time.

Timothy Balme excellently pulls off the wild physical comedy and in all honesty, he is a runner up for Bruce Campbell in terms of giving the best performance in a zombie horror comedy. There are some insanely over the top moments and you just have to see it for yourself- they're insanely good!

Dead Alive/Braindead is over the top violent gory fun that I'm sure you'll enjoy!

Pumpkinhead
(1988)

if you get the chance, give it a watch!
Ed Harley (Lance Henrikson) declares revenge on a group of teenagers who accidentally killed his son. He summons a demon called Pumpkinhead who stops at nothing to fulfil its promise.

Stan Winston does an excellent job creating the eerie horror of a classic horror tale of revenge gone horribly wrong. Winston, who is most well known for special effects, does an excellent job for his first feature, it's just a shame he didn't go far after this film.

While Pumpkinhead has a familiar premise it's executed with such style to make it unique. The old farm setting makes it feel like a classic horror film and separates it from the other slasher movies of the time.

What's most impressive about the film is the creature itself. It moves rather fluently and the animatronics on the creature are quite realistic. I would say it's one of the most underrated creature designs for 1980's creature features.

It's not a flawless film, there are moments of cheap scares and a plethora of cliches. However I would argue it's underrated and if you get the chance, give it a watch!

Dawn of the Dead
(1978)

a must see for horror buffs!
A sequel to Night of the Living Dead, a group of people are held up in a shopping mall but this time they have the advantage. They're armed, have much more knowledge about the living dead and have enough resources to survive. However, they realise this paradise in a post-apocalyptic world has much more of a burden on them than they think.

Dawn of the Dead has to be one of the most loved zombie films of all time and for good reason. Coming out in the late 1970's, the profound social statements made in this film extended upon the racial metaphor of the first film. The mindless zombies represented our obedience to consumerist society and the characters temptation to live in this utopia was an obvious social statement on the society of the time.

Tom Savini after collaborating with George A. Romero on Martin, did the make-up effects and performed stunts for the film. The zombies have a blue look to them and the blood is bright red like most films from the 70's. However, Savini creates some legitimately gruesome effects which were unprecedented for the time and paved the way for lots of censorship in different parts of the world.

George A. Romero ramps up the stakes with the sequel and the shopping mall setting evokes that sense of vulnerability unlike the first film which was very isolated. His direction creates suspense and thrills that will leave you on the edge of your seat!

Dawn of the Dead is an excellent horror satire that's a must see for horror buffs!

Starship Troopers
(1997)

an excellent sci-fi satire that's rather under appreciated
A group of futuristic soldiers are sent to a planet to attack bug-like aliens called Arachnids after a meteorite hits Earth.

Loosely based on Robert Heinlein's novel of the same name, the film goes with a satirical approach to highlight the militaristic fascism of soldiers attacking aliens.

The film is directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeir, who previously collaborated with each other for the sci-fi classic Robocop. What Robocop is for yuppy consumerist culture, Starship Troopers is for the war on terror.

There's an excellent use of satire with an information based advertising system which shows hilariously cheesy propaganda against the bug like creatures.

The film follows Johnny Rico who joins the military to become a 'citizen' and also to impress a beautiful girl. However, another girl is also attracted to Rico and she joins the infantry with him, which creates a love triangle between the characters. This storyline is intentionally hammy and it's all done to satirise how youth is a cog in the machine when it comes to military recruitment.

This is an excellent sci-fi satire that's rather under appreciated although I believe it has become increasingly popular over the years.

Night of the Living Dead
(1968)

one of the most influential movies, not just to the zombie film but the horror genre itself
After a zombie outbreak, a group of people arrive at an old farmhouse where they must spend the night to survive.

This is a personal favourite of mine and has to be one of the most influential movies, not just to the zombie film but the horror genre itself. Even though it wasn't the first zombie movie it did introduce some of the most iconic tropes of the genre like using the resources you have to survive, zombies being flesh eaters and zombies needing to be shot or severely injured in the head to die.

Duane Jones delivers an excellent performance as Ben who's a strong black protagonist who stands out amongst the highly irrational fellow survivors. George A Romero excellently conveys that sense of claustrophobia with the house setting and his direction unflinchingly creates tension and suspense. It managed to be the most successful independent movie of the time, garnering 263 times its budget.

The movie features a ballsy ending and I won't give it away unless you haven't seen it but let's just say it's a profound social statement that you won't forget after watching the movie.

RoboCop
(1987)

sci-fi satire at its finest
In the not too distant future, a Detroit police officer is gunned down by a gang of killers and is resurrected as a cyborg police officer. He later regains his humanity and craves vengeance for the gang that killed him.

Robocop is sci-fi satire at its finest. It uses the action genre as a guise for deep social commentary on institutional power, media manipulation and consumerism.

One of the most memorable lines from the film is 'I'll buy that for a dollar!' said by a character from a sitcom which satirises consumerist excess. We aren't given much context about the show except that everyone finds it utterly hilarious. Even the yuppy like executives, that the show openly makes fun of, embrace this cultural phenomena by referencing the line. This pretty much sums up Robocop's message in a nutshell.

The film is directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier. Verhoeven is known for putting over exaggerated violence, sex, swearing and drugs throughout his films and Robocop is no exception. Most of the violence, except Alex Murphy's execution, is overly comical and this was done for a purpose. We laugh at the corporate climate, especially when an executive is blown to bits by a droid and is only labelled as 'a glitch'. The action in the movie is overly stylised to showcase the silly media driven and consumerist world.

Even though Robocop is humorous this is not to say the film hasn't got heavy moments of drama and tragedy. Alex Murphy is like a cog in the machine, which is similarly explored in another Verhoeven film, 'Starship Troopers'. We see him trying to imitate a popular tv show 'TJ Laser' which encourages him to join the police force. Although this results in his death and you end up feeling sorry for the character despite his naivety. However, Alex Murphy ends up regaining his humanity which brings some hope in an otherwise pessimistic view of the future.

Robocop is fantastic and is one of the smartest eighties sci-fi action films.

The Day of the Triffids
(1963)

While not necessarily smart, it's a fun creature feature
After a worldwide meteor shower, giant plants attack and the majority of the population becomes blind. It's up to the survivors to ward off giant triffids in their fight of survival.

Adapted from John Wyndham's book of the same name, this is a decent low budget post-apocalyptic movie that is rather enjoyable.

The film is a British production directed by Steve Sekely. After filming the filmmakers realised that they only shot 57 minutes of usable footage. So, in order to extend the run time, they decided to add in an extra subplot involving a couple living at a lighthouse and this was directed by Freddie Francis. Francis ended up being an Oscar winning cinematographer known for Sons and Lovers, The Elephant Man, Glory and Cape Fear.

The film stars Howard Keel who's best known for musicals and television, and he is decent in the lead role. The other actors also do well for what they are given and overall the acting is good for what is essentially a b-movie.

The Day of the Triffids has gathered a cult following over the years and has inspired many films. It acts similarly to a zombie movie in that people are surrounded by what they perceive as an unstoppable threat and they eventually find a weakness. This was a few years ahead of the pioneering zombie films so the post-apocalyptic survival story was interesting at the time.

While not necessarily smart, it's a fun creature feature that's worth a watch.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)

an excellent entry into the series and remains a fan favourite for a reason
This is one of the high points of the Star Trek movie series. After the disappointing Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this was a massive improvement in both story telling and character development.

The story revolves around a device called Genesis which creates habitable life from desolate planets. However an old nemesis, Khan, wants the device after his planet is nearly subject to the device's effect.

Ricardo Montalban is excellent as Khan and is one of the strongest villains in the series. The cast of the original series has much more to work with this time round and their performances are just as great as they were in the show.

Kirk is given lots of character development as we learn how he tries to escape death, which ties into the film's theme of sacrifice.

It's also much more fast paced and action oriented, but it still maintains the intelligence that the series is known for. The battle sequences aren't stylised but rather they show the brutal effects of combat as we see crew members bloodied bodies after the ship has been hit by phasers and ion torpedos.

This is an excellent entry into the series and remains a fan favourite for a reason.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
(1979)

feels more like a reunion and special effects showcase than a fully fledged Star Trek adventure
I love Star Trek whether it be for its great characters, different worlds, alien species and the variety of adventures, it makes for an enthralling sci-fi franchise.

10 years after the original show's cancellation, fans were treated to a feature film which saw the return of their favourite characters. While nostalgic they were disappointed by its slow pace.

When I first saw this as a kid it bored the hell out of me so I often dismissed this and went straight to Wrath of Khan. However I found there are some fans who argue the movie is underrated so I was interested to rewatch it. While I found more enjoyment out of it the second time round, I found it to have serious pacing issues.

The movie oddly enough starts with an overture which I found bizarre for a movie from this time. However, Jerry Goldsmith delivers a fantastic score which makes the slow moments slightly bearable.

It also likes to dwell and linger on special effects which I'm presuming was done to show the advancement in technology since the original show. While there's great model work and some impressive optical work it doesn't progress the story in an engaging way.

I know some people would argue this isn't Star Wars so don't expect an exciting action packed movie, but even the episodes from the original show weren't sluggish to this extent. The script is very minimal and the film feels more like a reunion and special effects showcase then a fully fledged Star Trek adventure.

Dark City
(1998)

An underrated gem
If you like the works of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, then you need to see Dark City. It's something of an underrated gem that has gained cult status in recent years, mostly due to its connection to The Matrix.

The film, depending on what version you watch, maintains ambiguity till the end and slowly gives you answers. This isn't an action film like its bigger and more commercially successful brother (The Matrix), it's a neo-noir that has many tropes of the genre.

Dark City is also a visually stunning film with moody lighting, detailed sets and fantastic model work. The performances the main actors give excellently convey that sense of cluelessness.

If you're a fan of The Matrix, this is also a film you need to see because not only do they have similar plots, they also retain some of the same sets. Both were filmed in Fox studios in Sydney during the late 90's so there's lots of speculation what film's idea was first.

This is not to say The Matrix is inferior, it's one of the best action movies of that decade or heck of all time. Although I do think Dark City deals with its themes of reality more thoroughly. Essentially I think the first thirty minutes of The Matrix are the whole of Dark City.

I had the privilege of seeing this in the theatre in its original 35mm print and I have to say it looked absolutely incredible. If you haven't seen it, check it out!

Annihilation
(2018)

A modern sci-fi classic
I can tell this movie isn't going to be for everyone, but as a fan of sci-fi horror I absolutely adored this film. I would even go as far to say it's up there with some of the classics of the genre such as The Thing and Alien.

As I was skimming through the IMDB reviews I saw the common complaints of it being too arty or it making no sense. For those people, this is the kind of movie where you need to open your mind. The characters are entering a world where the rules are different and anything can be possible due to cell mutations.

Some even complained about the film having five female cast members in the lead roles for no reason. Now I know Hollywood is putting lots of feminism in their pictures these days. I'm one that accuses the new Star Wars movies for having a Mary Sue protagonist. However these five characters are intelligent, smart and yes they all are vulnerable to the hostile environment which makes the movie tension driven and interesting. If John Carpenter's The Thing can have an all male cast, I see no reason why not to have five females in this movie.

I like how the film doesn't spoon feed the audience with answers. All the characters have gone through some turmoil whether it be their child dying of cancer or their husband being killed in action. This motivates the women to explore a world to find some greater meaning but in the end they enter a world where things make less sense, where cells randomly mutate to create sometimes beautiful but other times monstrous creations of nature.

The film is also incredibly disturbing, especially a scene involving a vicious bear which has to be one of the scariest creatures I've seen in a long time. The ending also goes into surreal territory but ultimately I found it satisfying considering the context of the movie.

I see this as a modern sci-fi classic that will be enjoyed by audiences in years to come. It kind of sucks audiences don't appreciate films like this anymore but I'm glad it was made because it reminds me there are still talented filmmakers willing to take risks to create something original.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
(2015)

A promising yet inherently flawed start to a trilogy
I have to admit when I saw this for the first time I was absolutely spellbound, I thought 'finally another Star Wars movie with charismatic characters and practical filmmaking, this is a massive step up from the prequel trilogy'. However, I was skimming over an important factor into why this movie was loathed by hardcore Star Wars fans, the 'playing it safe' derivativeness used to sucker in fans.

In fairness there is lots to like about The Force Awakens, the cinematography and look of the film is astounding and you can tell they aren't just filming in front of green screens. Harrison Ford excellently reprises his role as the always likeable Han Solo. There are a plethora of engaging and exciting action sequences reminiscent of the original trilogy. Kylo Ren is a nuanced villain who gets constantly called to the light and values Vader as some hero he must imitate.

Here's where the flaws kick in that fans giving this movie '1/10' have already highlighted. While Rey is a charismatic heroine she isn't all that interesting. Even by the next instalment we still know nothing about her and she almost always does everything right, a Mary Sue to be more blunt. Finn has an interesting backstory but apart from that he is trying to do his best Will Smith impression, attempting to create the same likeable persona.

There are some original spins that doesn't make the movie a 'shot for shot' remake of the original Star Wars, but to say it isn't derivative is an under statement. It's cool they create a Death Star out of a planet which gets its power from the sun. Instead of Death Star plans the rebellion is trying to obtain a map of Luke Skywalker's whereabouts. Apart from that, yes it's a soft remake.

Overall I'd say it was a promising yet inherently flawed start to a trilogy.

Split Second
(1992)

quite flawed yet enjoyable b-movie
In the future of London 2008, the city has suffered the consequences of global warming and as a result flooded by endless rain. Harry Stone, an anxiety induced cop is back on a murder case after witnessing a grisly murder performed by the same killer that got his partner killed. They believe the murderer is a serial killer, although the nature of the deaths seems inhuman.

Split Second is a low budget British sci-fi action horror film that managed to gain a theatrical release. However, despite promising marketing, it ended up being a flop due to the bad timing of the LA riots.

It ended up being relatively successful on home video and has now become a cult favourite among genre fans, although it still remains relatively obscure.

Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), while not giving his best performance, is having fun with the part and delivers some cheesy yet funny lines. The supporting cast also consists of recognisable names including Alastair Duncan (Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor), Kim Cattrall (Sex in the City) and Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father).

The world the film tries to create is essentially a third-rate version of Blade Runner. While some of the sets look decent, it's the location shoots where you notice they're essentially filming in London without any futuristic details. I quite like the Blade Runner esque nature of the world though, it very well could serve as a prequel of sorts.

Split Second is a quite flawed yet enjoyable b-movie that I believe genre fans will enjoy.

Hobgoblins
(1988)

the most bizarre small creatures running amuck movie
A young lad has been hired as a security guard for an old studio. However, on his shift he unleashes a bunch of creatures from a vault and they start going after the young security guard's friends. These creatures before killing their victims go into people's minds to fulfil their wildest fantasies, causing all sorts of mayhem.

Hobgoblins is a movie that's self-aware that it's b-movie entertainment. All the characters besides the protagonist are dumb stereotypical teenagers, however, the filmmakers go to the next level by having them in ridiculous and unrealistic situations.

A scene that strikes me the most is a fight between the main boy and a guy who's just been out of army training. He's cocky and arrogant and he challenges the main boy to a fight, but this isn't no ordinary fight, it's a fight with gardening rakes! They just bang the rakes together until the military guy decides to take a hit on the boy. The girls then cheer on the arrogant military dude and after want to have sex with him. It's scenes like these that solidify the movies logic and well... it's utterly hilarious!

The creatures are very inspired by the Gremlins in not only their design but the concept of them running amuck. There were plenty of Gremlins rip offs in the eighties including the Critters, Ghoulies and Munchies. However, Hobgoblins has to take the prize for the most bizarre small creatures running amuck movie.

If you watch this knowing about the ludicrous nature of this movie, then you will be in for a treat!

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