Author Topic: Random Reviews  (Read 184402 times)

random axe

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #3435 on: February 11, 2018, 04:45:42 PM »
Train to Busan, which is basically a South Korean cross between Snowpiercer and World War Z, except it doesn't suck.  It's much smarter, more inventive, and more visually impressive than most zombie movies.  Also, the photography, acting, direction . . . as seems usual with Korean films, they're so good that it makes most US films of the genre seem stuck on some lower level.

Plus, like almost any good horror movie, it's basically an adventure film.  Being Korean, it's also much more emotional and heartfelt.  If you like zombie movies, you probably want to see this one.

The same director made an animated companion film, Seoul Station, which the internet variously tells me is a prequel or sequel.  I'd like to see it, regardless.

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #3436 on: February 14, 2018, 11:19:55 AM »
Spectral, a military SF film from a couple of years ago.  It's sort of a smooth combination of Aliens, Final Fantasy: Spirits Within, Assault on Precincts 13-30, and The Darkest Hour.

Nutshell:  A top engineer at DARPA gets sent to Eastern Europe to troubleshoot multispectral military goggles he designed.  The problem turns out to be apparently supernatural, and very hard to fight, and then they gotta figure out how to deal with that.

The first hour and a quarter of the film are almost pitch-perfect.  Nothing fully original, but the execution is way better than average.  Cast is better than it needs to be, if you know what I mean.  The FX aren't bad.  The military stuff is spot on, distilled from the better bits of a lot of other films.  It doesn't belabor the awkward bits, and even a lot of the inevitable technobabble exposition is handled with dignity.

Then there's an amusing but pretty rapid A-Team Assembles The Equipment bit where they make new weapons.

After that . . . the film comes unglued, a bit.  The action scenes aren't framed as well as they should be, and the climactic discoveries are handled a bit oddly . . . and with an uneven flow . . . and some of the dramatic cheese clunks.  Basically, the last half hour gets awkward and steps on itself a bit.

Overall, I still thought it was a lot better than, say, Prometheus or Avatar, not to single out a particular director.  It's better than the later Alien or Predator movies in general, or the later Terminator ones, and so on.  Could've been improved, but it was better than I expected.  It's just a shame that the weakest bit is the last half hour.

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #3437 on: February 16, 2018, 05:56:43 PM »
The Ritual, an oddly named horror film from last year that was written and directed by David Bruckner, whose work . . . I really like.  He was also one of the people who did The Signal and V/H/S.

The Ritual isn't meant to be a revolutionary new horror film.  It's about a bunch of guys who go hiking in Sweden on holiday, take a shortcut through a forest, and learn that a forest in a foreign country can be a terrible mistake.

Done before?  Sure.  But generally not like this.  To be honest, The Ritual starts with a slow burn and hints that you may be disappointed, including character drama that may not be entirely gripping and some arty touches that may be worrisome.  When our merry band (fighting amongst themselves, as happens) first finds an ominous cabin in the woods, nothing unusual has happened yet -- although what has happened has been done well.

Then some atmospherically strange and forboding things begin to occur in earnest, and the details are a trifle fresher than average.  Also, more creative, more insane.  Bruckner's work is sort of characterized by taking things up to the next notch.  And while there are things that you might wish the film gave you a better look at, it doesn't dwell tiresomely on gore, and it does deliver some creepy and exciting moments -- and it does eventually give you good looks at something very odd indeed.

It left me wanting a sequel, in fact.  A thoughtful one that goes from Alien to Aliens, if you will, not just a rehash of this film, which doesn't need rehasing.  But it's rare that a horror movie has enough moxie to leave me wanting more of the same brew.

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #3438 on: February 18, 2018, 03:20:35 PM »
Oh, I saw a noir suspense film from 2012 called either The Samaritan or Fury, depending on the distributor, which stars Samuel L. Jackson.

Mostly very well done . . . but it ends badly, and, honestly, I can't remember ever seeing a film that so very, very, very much needed its ending re-written.

The basic story is that Jackson is a complex-con grifter who gets out of prison after 25 years.  He was in for shooting his former partner.  Once he's out, he's pursued by the former's partner's son, a wealthy criminal who works for a fearsome crime lord.  Naturally, the kid is trying to lure Jackson into running a con, and no one is quite doing what they claim they're doing, and it's all quite tense.  You'll be tempted to guess at what's really going on and what people are planning.

Unfortunately, the climax doesn't make any sense, once you think about it.  The clever scheming characters turn stupid and generally not to have made any plans, all in order to allow for an ending that's deeply unsatisfying.  :nonplused: 

It's a shame, because the cast is good, the story is uncomfortable, and the setup wants something clever to happen.  Tom Wilkinson plays the crime boss with relish, Luke Kirby perfectly plays the most punchable face in a long time, and Ruth Negga plays a character who surely isn't who she seems.  Gil Bellows shows up as a bartender, and Deborah Kara Unger as a tired veteran of the con game.  The direction's good, the music's good . . .

But, boy, that ending.  Alas.