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Showing posts from 2010

Battlespace

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Title: Battlespace
Rating: 0.5/5
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Starring: Eve Connelly, Blake Edgerton
Director: Neil Johnson

Let me waste as little time as possible explaining why nobody should bother watching this film. Yes, I knew it was a budget flick going in and so my expectations weren't exactly high, but this goes beyond simply being 'bad,' into that rarely seen sleeping pill level of atrocity. We spend most of our time learning about the narrators 'heroic' mother who flees in the middle of battle with a technician, lands on a desert planet (mostly desert, there's some rock and ice topped mountains nearby) brought about by the fact it has a ridiculous number of suns and moons. It's also smaller than earth but has perfect gravity – perhaps as a result of the “terraforming” that's mentioned a few times but never elaborated on – and given the mission of blowing something up with a space age super gun that needs new batteries.

Nothing is ever explained prop…

Mother (Madeo)

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Title: Madeo
Translated Title: Mother
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Starring: Hye-ja Kim
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Language: Korean

I'd been meaning to explore more of this director since he came out with the best monster flick in years with “The Host,” and this film clinches it; South Korea now has two directors that everyone should start keeping a close eye on. Using a play on words (both “Mother” and “Murder” translate to the same 'letter' in Korean), this tale of tragedy is simple in its design, right from the actual plot itself right down the use of language, cinematography and musical score. Yet, it never feels raw as much as it does simply unapologetic in its treatment of the subject material; the characters are on display as ultimately human with both the good and the bad left for all to see, yielding a certain sense of natural complexity that makes judging their actions all the more difficult.

What on the surface might seem like a straight-forward murder m…

Shigurui: Death Frenzy

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Title: Shigurui: Death Frenzy
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Animation, Historical Drama
Director: Hiroshi Hamazaki
Language: Japanese (English dubs)
Duration: 25mins (12 episodes)

I must confess that of all my interests in Japan and it's culture, I always felt I was neglecting their history, but it never seemed like a widely discussed topic and with the wealth of information available it always seemed like something of an insurmountable task, deciding upon where to begin. Upon hearing about this adaptation of the manga of the same name – in turn based upon the novel Suruga-jō Gozen Jiai penned by Norio Nanjo in the 50's – my interest in a series that takes serious consideration for the intricacies of the Edo period (late 17th to mid 19th Century) had been peaked. There is no attempt to take the subject matter lightly either; Japan may have been in a state of peace but the path of the samurai were none the less bloody for it, the problems with their strict code of conduct made more than a…

The Girls Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers

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Title: The Girls Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Exploitation, Horror, Comedy
Starring: Sasa Handa, Yuria Hidaka, Ayumu Tokitô
Director: Kôji Kawano
Language: Japanese

Its always seemed that the Japanese have taken the art of cheap low budget schlock gore porn and made it their own, taking over from the rapidly diminishing quality and number of American offerings. Its little wonder they're finding their target audience either, for whilst the name is something of a mouthful, its the combination of new ideas and the knowledge of what's wanted from such a film that quickly elevates them to that must-see status, and here is no different; Japanese high school chicks – dressed in skin-tight swimsuits no less – getting it on with one another whilst being hunted by sadistic zombies and a “final boss” to make that big dude from Resident Evil seem plausible.

An epidemic is sweeping the school, quickly causing the decision to make everyone take a vaccine. A vacci…

Religulous

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Title: Religulous
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Documentary (Comedy)
Starring: Bill Maher
Director: Larry Charles

“The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world actually could come to an end...Those who consider themselves religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.”

For all my slandering of obvious American comedians, Maher stands out as one of the fewer that has the intelligence to speak out not through arrogance or defiance – though his atheist views have certainly earned him something of this reputation, a fact he doesn't really seem to argue against here – but for doing his research and genuinely trying to understand this gap in his understanding. As he puts it himself, “People who are otherwise so rational about everything else, and then they believe on Sunday they're drinking the blood of a two thousand year old god,” and it'…

Ebola Syndrome

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Title: Ebola Syndrome
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Crime, Thriller, Exploitation
Starring: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
Director: Herman Yau
Language: Chinese

Amidst a sea of gore emerging from their not-so-distant cousins, the Japanese, you could easily overlook this low budget title they can call their own, but doing so would be a grave mistake. This is a tale that plays out like a sick joke; a situational comedy involving rape, torture, mischief and mayhem; a story that by virtues of its plot description alone demands attention to itself. And of those that have seen it it'd appear that half didn't know what to expect, but for the rest it must surely rank amongst those precious few exploitation flicks capable of delivering on a plot that can captivate far more effectively than the most convincing scenes of horror could alone.

Subtly, the film starts out with our sexual deviant, Kai, getting it on with a woman, who as it would quickly transpire is his boss's wife. It's at this point …

Dylan Moran's “What it Is”

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Title: Dylan Moran's “What it Is”
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Stand-Up Comedy
Starring: Dylan Moran

"Where's the cake? Cake is the language of love and I don't see any cakes in the building."

If the fact I wasn't a fan of this comedian's material wasn't already evident with the last couple of reviews of his work, then this most recent endeavour of his should make sure there's no confusion. Dylan Moran's style is back to his original form and he once more unleashes his Irish fury at everything that irritates him, which as it turns out is a pretty long list indeed. His material revolves around telling us things we already know, ranting and raving like only he knows how and making use of hyperbole to emphasise his point; he may be offensive at times but he's not biased, he's offensive to everyone – and if he hasn't touched on something about you yet, its simply because he hasn't the time in the set – and even then it's hard to really …

Masters of the Universe

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Title: Masters of the Universe
Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: Action, Adventure
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Courtney Cox
Director: Gary Goddard

“I wonder why they put the meat on these little white sticks?”
“Those are rib bones.”

[Insert lolwut face]

Pre-Scream yet post-Star Wars comes a film that by all reasonable sense should be something of an atrocity. Clearly taking a lot of influence from Star Wars in particular, bordering plagiarism in fact, which I largely let slide as for all the laser guns, deflecting blasts with swords and running around trying to hunt a guy who looks like a Skeleton (the aptly named Skeletor), all of this featured prominently in the early 80s cartoon and book series on which the film is based. If anything would be guilty here the original series should burden the blame, and despite the obvious appearance of a late 80s budget pile of crap; nothing more than a cash-in on a popular series, the simple fact is that against all odds, this is a classic in the same way that Sta…

Evil Aliens

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Title: Evil Aliens
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Comedy
Starring: Emily Booth, Jamie Honeybourne
Director: Jake West

“What are you boarding up the windows for? Have you never seen a zombie film? You know that never works”

I do love films that are precisely what they say it is; this is a British film about evil aliens. Now, I know most probably aren't familiar with British horror beyond maybe 28 days later, so instead I want you to think of this as more akin to Peter Jackson's early splatsick work; low budget but with buckets of blood and no shortage of witty remarks mocking standard horror conventions. In fact, drop in “2001 Maniacs” and their film crew and pit them all against Predator, blend it all together with Braindead's lawnmower and and you probably aren't all that far off.

It doesn't take long before we're treated to our first glimpse at the gore to come in the form of an anal probe (note: I'm pretty sure it wasn't really a probe) as we l…

Taxi to the Dark Side

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Title: Taxi to the Dark Side
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Documentary
Director: Alex Gibney

"Put it this way – they're no longer a problem to the United States" – President Bush on the death of suspected terrorists

Before you cry “oh no, another documentary on Afghanistan” in that do-we-really-need-another sense, it should be pointed out this isn't some broad elaboration on how it started or anything of the sort. Instead it focusses very specifically on the cases of torture by the American army towards the Afghan detainees in both Guantanamo Bay as well as in Badrul, Abu Ghraid, and other detainment camps in Afghanistan. Perhaps most importantly though, is it doesn't seem concerned with taking sides; there is no vilification of the US soldiers, no mention of the requited treatment of American POWs, and it remains remarkably unbiased in its views, which is no small feat when given how high up the governmental ladder many of the orders came from.

Much of the documentary has …

Crank 2: High Voltage

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Title: Crank 2: High Voltage
Rating: 1.5/5
Genre: Action
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Bai Ling
Director: Mark Neveldine/Brian Taylor

Whilst I'm sure it would surprise a few here, I enjoyed the first film and this is one I've been intending to get around to since its release. The debut was silly, sure, but it was one of those simple but profound ideas that made you stop and wonder why nobody had done this before. No more half-assing trying to squirm the characters into car chases or dangerous situations, but make him need the adrenaline in order to survive. Picking up where we left him – immediately after falling out of a plane, killing a man mid-air and doing a full body slam onto a car, he is whisked away, revived and then has his heart replaced by a mechanical heart, and not a particularly good one. It has a battery that dies in five minutes and an appalling ability to regulate the flow of current, meaning most of the time it'll either be racing or barely pumping. …

Dylan Moran's “Like, Totally”

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Title: Dylan Moran's “Like, Totally”
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Stand-up Comedy
Starring: Dylan Moran

“Now, I meant to talk about something else earlier on, and I've forgotten what it was. I've remembered what it is again, but I've also forgotten. And that's really what adult life is like most of the time.”

Let me keep this quick and to the point as I have the odd craving for a glass of wine and a smoke. That is the effect this witty Irishman has on me; the unquenchable desire to get drunk for no reason other than because it might be fun. Or it might not, who knows? And whilst it's been two years since he debuted with “Monster” he seems to have changed a fair amount in that time. One particular diversion involves him eating fruit and drinking tea. This isn't the Moran I remember, he seems all too sober to be that crazy Irish drunk stumbling around on stage forgetting his train of thought. Well, actually he still forgets his train of thought relatively often, but tha…