12 February 2011

Threshold the Complete Series

The 90's weren't kind to genre shows with quick cancellations of Nowhere Man, Harsh Realm, the Dark Shadows remake, and American Gothic. In the noughties, well thought of series such as Journeyman, Surface, Invasion, Persons Unknown, Flash Forward, Firefly and others, didn't fare much better and were all gone within a season. Threshold is another show that was given little chance of success, despite its potential, and was gone in 13 episodes.

The Threshold series comes from the post X-Files world, where everyone knows that aliens and conspiracies run rampant on planet earth, but the government does their best to convince us otherwise. The story starts when a naval ship ( the humorously named USS Bighorn ) sights a UFO and most of the crew are killed. The government enacts the Threshold Protocol led by Dr Molly Caffrey ( the convincingly smart, realistically unsettled, and cute in glasses, Carla Gugino from Watchmen ), and including Data from Star Trek The Next Generation, Charles S Dutton ( Alien 3 and Mimic ) and the midget from Death at a Funeral.

Caffrey discovers that aliens are trying to rewrite human DNA with audio signals ( something I believe has also been tried at recent music festivals, judging by some of the "people" I often find myself traveling with on public transport ) and some sort of cosmic Spirograph. If the aliens were a little trendier, and had some level of forethought, they could have planted their signal in iPods, and changed the world quicker than even Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg might have imagined.

The writers were careful to not reveal too much too quickly, but failed to reveal enough to capture the audience they needed. Mix together "Invaders", "X-files", and the "Thing" and you've got an idea of what to expect. Sure, they're here, but 5 years on, do we really care?

06 December 2010

A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

The latest in remakes takes the 1984 horror masterpiece A Nightmare On Elm Street as its inspiration. This time around, Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen) takes the role of child molester Freddy Krueger. Krueger comes back from the grave to seek revenge on the children of the people who killed him.

I don’t think there is anyone better for playing a small, wiry, twisted, nightmare killer than Haley. He oozes malice. The film though, is nothing exceptional, and there is a lack of killing and surreal visions. I could say that about the last six Nightmare films too. Despite the lack of originality, I still enjoyed Krueger haunting the teens, including Kyle Gallner (Jennifer’s Body), Thomas Dekker (Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Katie Cassidy (Supernatural), Kellan Lutz (Twilight), and Rooney Mara (Urban Legends Bloody Mary). Watching the film made me think of an interesting twist, what if Krueger was innocent and was wrongly killed.

03 December 2010

Machete (2010)

Robert Rodriguez (Planet Terror, Sin City, From Dusk Til Dawn) assembles a dream cast to make the full length version of the trailer he created for Planet Terror / Deathproof double.

The ageless Danny Trejo (Predators,Fanboys, Blood Ties) finally has lead billing in a film. He is Machete, a Mexican ex-Federale illegally in the USA. Machete finds himself caught up in the dealings of a Mexican drug lord (Steven Seagal – The Keeper, Urban Justice, Against The Dark, Cockpuncher), a US Senator (Robert De Niro – Frankenstein, Brazil), the senator’s spin doctor (Jeff Fahey – Darkman 3, The Lawnmower Man) and his trashy daughter (Lindsay Lohan – I Know Who Killed Me, Mean Girls), a Mexican hater (Don Johnson – A Boy And His Dog), an Immigration Officer (the hot Jessica Alba - Fantastic Four Rise Of The Silver Surfer, Dark Angel), and a taco selling activist (the even hotter Michelle Rodriguez – Avatar, Fast & Furious, Resident Evil).

Rodriguez’s film is deliberately retro, violent, and funny. Iam sure much of what he does is what they tell you not to do at film school. That just makes Machete better. I’m still confused about the message the film is trying to convey, still appalled by some of the effects, and still amazed at how good the finished product is.

02 December 2010

Toy Story 3D (2010)

Woodie (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the gang of toys are back and things look dire for them. Their owner is growing up and going to college, and the toys find themselves sent to a day care centre. They are lovingly greeted by the existing toys when they arrive, but the warm feelings subside as Toy Story 3 turns in to a prison movie with a malevolent warden and vicious guards, and Ken (Michael Keaton). Ken is great, and he loves fashion.

When the action is inside the day care centre, the film is very good and very dark for a children’s movie as it reworks prison movie cliches. The overlong, feel good ending, which is probably needed to cheer up the children watching the movie up, is less enjoyable.

01 December 2010

Predators (aka Predator 3) (2010)

A group of unconnected killers wake up in a jungle and have to work together to fight a group of Predators.

Predators does away with the unnecessary story elements that slow down many action films to focus on action and conflict. This is the first of the Predator sequels to capture the spirit of the original. It's a simple premise that has character, comedy, guns, twists, and an impressive cast including Adrien Brody (Splice), Topher Grace (Spiderman 3), Alice Braga (I Am Legend), Walter Goggins (The Shield), Oleg Taktarov (Bad Boys 2), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Cherry 2000) Danny Trejo (Machete, Fanboys), Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (The 4400), and Louis Ozawa Changchien (Robot Stories).

30 November 2010

Lost Boys The Thirst (aka Lost Boys 3) (2010)

Lost Boys is classic, Lost Boys The Tribe is not. Lost Boys Thirst is in between, thanks mainly to Corey Feldman (Bordello Of Blood, Bikini Bandits, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) doing his best to save the film on his way to saving the world from vampires.

Feldman reprises his role asEdward Frog from the previous two films, and he is even reunited with his onscreen brother Alan Frog (Jamison Newlander). Corey Haim was meant to be there to make up the trio from the first film, but his untimely death meant he is only seen in flashback.

The Thirst combines elementsof recent vampire mythos with the classic Lost Boys scenario. That means we have young, sexy vampires distributing vampire blood as a drug (as seen in True Blood) at nightclubs (like in Blade) and we even reference Let The Right One in (when a vampire enters a house uninvited). Top that off with Feldman doing his best Batman voice (continuing the serious attitude he had in the first film), some digs at his own reality show, and flaunting an array of inventive weapons, and you have a film that works as unsophisticated entertainment. I expect there will be another film, and I look forward to it.

29 November 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010)

This is supposed to be the darker Harry Potter. It’s not really dark, and that’s because the series is hampered by its juvenile beginnings and main audience. There is a little blood and killing, but nothing too sinister. It’s part 1 of a two parter series finale, and that does allow them to avoid a happy ending (much like The Empire Strikes Back) as Harry and friends continue the fight against he who must not be named (Lord Voldemort).

The films, like the books, suffer from too many characters and no flow in the story. There are fewer characters in this film, which should simplify matters, but there is still no pace or rhythm. There is potential to create a sense of despair or suspense when Harry, Hermione, and Ron are on the run in some impressively desolate locations, but it doesn’t happen. The film jumps from drama to action to comedy to boredom with no cadence. A wedding is thrown in for no apparent reason, as are people flushing themselves down toilets. The film is a mess and increasingly tedious as it progresses. At least young males have Emma Watson for eye candy. I’m not sure who young women have to ogle in the film. Robbie Coltrane? Alan Rickman? Bill Nighy?

30 September 2010


The Indians dont know what they're playing with because likely they saw some sort of Bollywood version of Planet of the Apes where everyone just dances and sings... forgive them, they know not what they do.

13 September 2010

District 9 (2009)

Aliens land on earth and, rather than landing in Washington or Moscow and going on a global rampage (eg Earth vs the Flying Saucers, Independence Day) or spreading their message (V, The Day the Earth Stood Still), they become stranded in South Africa. The aliens aren’t assimilated into society (eg Alien Nation, Third Rock from the Sun) but herded into a slum where they become bottom of the social hierarchy.

This is the kind of science fiction film we don’t see enough of – original and thought provoking. District 9 succeeds because of its intriguing premise, a clever and socially aware script, and effects, despite the fact it has less of a budget than a trip to the hairdresser by james Cameron.


10 September 2010

Abominable ( 2006 )

If ever there was a more accurately named film than "Abominable", then I would be very surprised.
Although Bigfoot has had a long and illustrious career in Hollywood ( 6 million dollar man, and bigfoot & wild boy to name but two ), even he must've had qualms about lending his hairy visage to this cinematic travesty.

Matt McCoy ( who played Commandant Lassard's nephew in the Police Academy films after Steve Guttenberg had enough... and seriously, what does it say about your film when even Guttenberg says "no" ? ) returns to his home in the woods for the first time after a tumble off the perhaps foreshadowingly named "suicide peak", left his wife dead and him confined to wheelchair. From there, the film enters what could only be described as Rear Window meets Harry and the Hendersons territory, when Bigfoot shows up and starts murdering the nubile co-eds that have naturally moved in next door... all as poor Matt looks on.
Some reviewers kinder than me, have praised this films "claustrophobic use of space", its "hitchcock-esque feeling of dread", and its "quick pace"... personally, I think they're just trying to find a roundabout way to say its the kind of film that would have Alfred spinning in his grave fast enough that you could sharpen your knife on him.

The shower scene is a nice momentary distraction, but the last time I saw a moon that pale and voluminous, the Wolfman was howling below it.

After making films like this it's no wonder that the Sasquatch's appearances in public have dwindled of late. Too ashamed to show his furry face no doubt.

06 September 2010

The Runaways (2010)

The Runaways are bigger now than they have ever been. That’s good for some (mainly Joan Jett who owns the rights to the music) and not so good for others (those members of the band who can’t capitalise on the increased fan base).

This film is based on the book by singer, Cherie Currie, and guitarist Joan Jett is executive producer. That gives the film credibility but also means the film may be a little biased in its representation of the facts. Currie (Dakota Fanning – Twilight New Moon, Push), Jett (Kristen Stewart – Twilight, Jumper) and, to a lesser extent, the band’s manager, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon – Bug, Dead Birds) are the focus of the film. Drummer Sandy West and guitarist Lita Ford are virtually ignored, while Jackie Fox had her name excluded from the film and the replacement bassist is known as Robin (played by Alia Martine – Whip It, Arrested Development).

The Runaways is a glossy version of band’s story, and most of the unpleasant events in the group’s tumultuous career are ignored and replaced by a girl’s own adventure. Jett comes across as a flawless demigod, Currie as an innocent girl gone wild, and Fowley as a not too slimy manipulator. The movie may be sanitised view of these revolutionary musicians, but Stewart and Fanning are convincing, there is a general air of fun and excitement, and the costumes and music are wonderful. If you want to know more of what went on, there is always Edgeplay for a more intimate look at the drugs and bickering and abuse. If you just want a good time, then stay with The Runaways.

03 September 2010

Barbara Windsor

Strangely, even watching the Carry On films... I never really found Barbara that attractive. In Eastenders, it would be safe to say that generally, she annoyed me a lot... In fact, that would probably be an understatement. Yet now that she's leaving, I actually find it a little sad. Sigh... I'm so fickle.
"We didn't get a lot of money and we did always seem to be doing outside shots in winter but it paid the mortgage and I loved it." - On her Carry On movies

30 August 2010

Twilight New Moon (aka Twilight 2) (2009)

Twilight New Moon is longer and even duller than the first film, Twilight. In the two hours of story, almost nothing happens. Forget supporting Team Edward or Team Jacob, I’m going for Team Victoria. Anyone that wants to kill this pack of mournful losers has my support. And what is with painting six packs on the male actors?!

09 August 2010

What We Do Is Secret (2007)

The Germs were a pioneering LA punk band led by the mad genius Darby Crash, although the term “genius” may be an exaggeration. The Germs were not that well known in their day, but they have grown in stature since, and this is their story.

Darby saw punk as an avenue to indulgehis five year plan, and that included rock stardom. Things didn’t go according to plan, and Darby’s turbulent musical, sexual, and drug practices left him outcast, disenchanted, and suicidal. The limited footage and press I had seen of Darby lead me to believe he was somewhat of an idiot, in the style of Sid Vicious. If this movie is to be believed, he was more intelligent and philosophical than Sid, if equally self destructive.

ShaneWest (Dracula 2000, TheLeague Of Extraordinary Gentlemen) is very good as Darby. He has the look and the attitude. The feel of the film is great, down to replicating what I had already seen of those times (eg footage from The Decline of Western Civilisation). It no doubt helped that Darby’s guitarist, Pat Smear, was involved in the production. The poorest point is the actors who play Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible from The Damned. They are laughable. The funniest point may be the re-enactment of Joan Jett’s production on The Germs album. It’s an interesting look at an interesting time and an interesting individual.