Monday, August 21, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

After making it through Alien: Covenant this weekend, I decided to change genres completely for my next flick. That movie is the 2017 action/adventure King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Plot/ Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy - whether he likes it or not.

I can see why this is polarizing. On one hand, this is definitely not your traditional King Arthur movie, which would leave traditionalists up in arms. But, there are some interesting aspects that make it entertaining. Personally, I did enjoy the action sequences, the performances, and most of the effects. However, the lack of character development, the modern dialog, and the overall lack of Arthurian atmosphere did not do it for me. Was it a terrible movie? No, in fact, had it been made outside the King Arthur universe it would have likely received a better reception. In the end, if you like period pieces and can look past the idea that this is Arthur and Excalibur, then you may enjoy this one more than I did. Not a terrible movie, but not quite what I was expecting.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Alien: Covenant (2017)

I decided to take a couple days away from the blog to relax and to spend some time helping out a good cause by entering the dunk tank dressed as my favorite character Bert the Bird. That did not stop me from watching a couple movies. The first one that I am going to review from that group is the 2017 sci-fi entry Alien: Covenant.

Plot/ The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination and must attempt a harrowing escape.

I have always been a fan of the Alien universe and was looking forward to this installment. Unfortunately, for me, this one did not leave me wanting more as it felt extremely forced and less organic than some of the earlier films that made the franchise great. While it was not terrible, it just lacked the dark and foreboding atmosphere that saturated the earlier entries. Plus, the characters left nothing to be desired and were flat and predictable throughout. Even the Xenomorph and the effects lacked the feel and intensity of the source materials and the ending was expected. The cinematography and scenery worked, the performances were not terrible, and there was potential within the storyline to create something interesting, this one just missed the mark. Overall, it just did not hit home like the originals. In the end, I really wanted to like this film, but I couldn’t. Sure, it was not completely terrible or the worst sci-fi flick out there, but it just did not resonate in the same way that the original Alien films did.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Attack of the Monsters (1969)

As I said yesterday, I needed something mindless and turned to my 12 Creature Features set. Even after the first movie from the set I watched last night, I needed more. That is when I broke down and continued a Gamera marathon with Attack of the Monsters (AKA Gamera vs. Guiron) from1969.

Plot/ Aliens kidnap two children and take them to another planet for the purpose of getting knowledge from their brains, but Gamera follows and tries to rescue them.

So, I went down a Gamera rabbit hole last night and did not come out until I was two movies into it. Incredibly, this flick was even more ludicrous than the first one, but it was also quite entertaining and laughable. This entry had everything fans of this genre will appreciate including crazy monsters made from rubber suits, uneven audio dubbing, and a fascinating storyline that goes off in multiple directions when you least expect it. More of a kid-centric film than the tamest Godzilla entry, this schlockfest is both entertaining and comical, plus it features some decent acting and decent cinematography for what it is. Yes, all of those technical aspects could be considered flaws (and will be from those who didn’t grow up with these creatures), but they are part of the charm. In the end, while I did like Gammera the Invincible more, this one was rather entertaining and did a great job taking me back to my youth. If you are like me and a fan of 1960s monster driven schlock, give this one a shot. It is a blast and kept me entertained.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Gammera the Invincible (1966)

All right, I had planned to review a film that I rented at Family Video, however, that movie was even worse than some of my latest selections. Needing to clear my mind, I decided to head back into some of the schlockfests that came with my 12 Creature Features set, after some debate, I decided on the 1966 American release Gammera the Invincible.

Plot/ An atomic explosion awakens Gammera--a giant, fire-breathing turtle monster--from his millions of years of hibernation. Enraged at being roused from such a sound sleep, he takes it out on Tokyo.

Fans of no-budget monster flicks from the 1960s and 70s should already know what expect from this one; a lower budgeted Godzilla type flick full of cheese and schlock. In fact, this one offers that and more. Yes, there are the cheesy effects with a rubber suit and miniature cities, the storyline is unfathomable and hilarious, the dialog and dubbing while bad and uneven make this one extremely entertaining and laughable. Plus, the soundtrack is awesome and the Cold War tensions are perfect! Of course, for non-fans of this genre, they will say this is a miserable movie with very few redeemable qualities; to them, I say grab some popcorn and free your mind. In the end, technically, there are definitely many flaws, but then again, that was part of the charm of these movies when watching them on the Saturday morning creature features on a UHF channel. If you are from that generation, you should definitely agree with me on that. This one is easy to find in the bargain bins, find it and check it out.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Blessed Ones (2016)

Last night I made it through a couple of movies, but unfortunately, neither did anything more than help me pass time. The first one of those was the 2016 flick The Blessed Ones (AKA Polaris and The Divine Ones).

Plot/ The Blessed Ones shadows a tightly knit cult hiding in a remote desert enclave as they prepare for the impending apocalypse. Two dissenters try to escape through the vast desert wasteland as the cult embarks on a mass suicide pact.

When I read the synopsis of this one at Family Video, I was drawn in. Disturbed cults and serial killers are always great subjects to watch or write about. This low budget indie flick was an interesting film with a storyline that I thought explored many of the darker facets that exist within a cult. The problem is that the budget in no way helped bring what could have been an extremely entertaining and possibly surreal movie to life. Yes, there are some positive moments with solid cinematography and interesting concepts, but overall, the film felt disjointed, the scripting and performances uneven, and the pace felt predictable and forced, unfortunately, these flaws also left the film somewhat unmemorable and left me wanting more. In the end, while I loved the concept, it never really reached its potential. Yes, it has a few moments, but not enough to make it worth watching. Stay away.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wait Till Helen Comes (2016)

After Shin Godzilla and Phoenix Forgotten, I wanted to change direction. At first, I did some sports writing for one of the sites I manage, but that was not anything that really helped pass the time until Twin Peaks: The Return. That is when I decided on the next flick, 2016s Wait Till Helen Comes (AKA Little Girl’s Secret).

Plot/ When a reconstructed family moves to a converted church in the country, 14-year-old Molly must save her troubled stepsister from a dangerous relationship with the desperate ghost of a young girl.

I grabbed this one to have something to watch with the girls and it definitely served that purpose. However, for me, even with the creepy look of the house and the decent cinematography, this one did not move the needle. Sure, the performances were not bad and the storyline was believable, but that did not save it from being anything more than background entertainment. There was nothing new in this one, as the story was predictable (although I could have read this in my youth), it lacked atmosphere and tension, and there was nothing in this that made it in any way memorable. In fact, I may have already forgotten some of it. In the end, this one is a decent flick to watch with the kids if they are searching for a ghost story, but nothing more. Unless you are in that position, stay away.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shin Godzilla (2016)

As I was relaxing last night doing some last minute paperwork for Prestige tryouts today, I thought about working on a second review. Instead, I waited for today to review one of the best monster movies I have seen, 2016s Shin Godzilla (AKA Godzilla Resurgence).

Plot/ An unknown accident occurs in Tokyo Bay's Aqua Line, which causes an emergency cabinet to assemble. All of the sudden, a giant creature immediately appears, destroying town after town with its landing reaching the capital.

The last few modern creature features I have watched have been pretty good and I hoped that Shin Godzilla would be the same. This was especially the case after hearing that Toho was behind the film and taking the famed creature back to its roots. What I found was both enlightening and entertaining with a darkness that seems to create something deeper than most of the stylized Godzilla flicks from my youth. The storyline is intriguing with an interesting look at the flaws in the way the Japanese Government is set up. I have to wonder if this is somehow a message about the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant. Even after the initial scenes with the monster, Godzilla morphs into something amazing and more devastating than one would expect, the performances are solid, and the soundtrack works really well. Yes, the character development is lacking, there are some head scratching moments, and the audio dubbing is not the best, but those flaws were somewhat expected. In the end, this was one of the best monster movies I have seen in some time, and I could only hope that this is the creature that ends up facing King Kong. Sure, it is not quite the typical Godzilla flick, but it is well worth watching.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Phoenix Forgotten (2017)

After doing some softball drills with a couple players last night, I decided last night that I was going to step away from the computer and relax. Plus, I had Shin Godzilla to watch and wanted to focus on that. However, that is not the next movie up for review, that movie is the 2017 mockumentary, Phoenix Forgotten.

Plot/ 20 years after three teenagers disappeared in the wake of mysterious lights appearing above Phoenix, Arizona, unseen footage from that night has been discovered, chronicling the final hours of their fateful expedition.

This was a movie that I wanted to see when it came out, but decided to wait for the video release. As a person that saw the live coverage of the Phoenix Lights on national television, I have always been convinced that more happened there that night than we will ever be told. For me, this was a interesting mockumentary that adds a fictional twist to the true story of the Phoenix Lights and a movie that had more than a few believable moments. The performances were decent, the storyline interesting, and the 1990s feel was spot on. Yes, this is partly a found footage flick, so that will likely turn some viewers off, the pacing was a touch slow early on, and the ending added some frustration, but overall those elements really did not detract from the feel of the film. In the end, keeping the true story of the Phoenix Lights is an extremely important endeavor and movies such as this will not let the world forget about that event. Sure, this movie isn’t perfect, but it also isn’t terrible. Check it out, you may be like me and enjoy it.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Beyond the Gates (2016)

After taking a break from some movies last night, I decided to kick into high gear tonight. Right now, I am in the middle of Phoenix Forgotten (which is interesting). Earlier, I sat back and watched the 2016 throwback Beyond the Gates.

Plot/ Two estranged brothers reunite at their missing father's video store and find a VCR board game dubbed 'Beyond The Gates' that holds a connection to their father's disappearance.

When I sat down t watch this one, I had no idea what to expect, but with this movie being a throwback of sorts to my youth, I was excited. What I found was indeed a low budget homage to early 1980s horror, although it did not inspire me as much as some of those films did back then. While this one is not terrible, it does have its flaws including poorly paced dialog, a slow building story that is overly tedious, uneven performances, and some flat characters. Yes, there were some fun elements; the effects (considering the budget) were interesting and the idea had potential. Unfortunately, those positive moments did not offset the execution problems. In the end, this one could have been much better and even more entertaining. Is it terrible? No, but it will likely be met with a polarizing response and disappoint many hardcore horror fans.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

This is Not Always What It Seems

I can’t believe that it has been two days since the Phoenix Arts Center's Ten Minute Play Fest came to an end and Not Always What It Seems received such a great reception. Honestly, I am still humbled by the experience and have a newfound confidence that is driving me to focus on creativity. In fact, the ideas are already churning around in my head and I just have to put everything together and decide what I want to focus on.  

Today, I was surprised as Brenda finished the upload of the video recording of the play. So, for those of you who missed seeing it in person, give it a look and let me know what you think.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Phantom Fiend (1932)

Earlier, I was reading an article on Jack the Ripper and yet another claim of solving that mystery. As a history buff, I have always been fascinated by the Ripper and enjoy consuming everything about the horrific tale. Incredibly, while searching for a movie tonight, I stumbled upon this 1930s entry based on a book about Jack the Ripper, The Phantom Fiend; a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock silent classic The Lodger.

Plot/ An enigmatic young man in a London boarding house becomes the subject of suspicion as the infamous Jack the Ripper begins his campaign of slaughter.

Being a fan of classic cinema (and of the Hitchcock silent gem), I figured I was going to be in for some head scratching moments with this one. Anytime someone attempts to remake Hitchcock, it never seems to end well. While this one is not unwatchable, there are a ton of flaws that make it fall well short of the inspiration. For me, any time Jack the Ripper is involved in the storyline, the movie has potential and this one does have potential. Unfortunately, between the uneven performances that made it feel like a poorly dubbed silent film, the poor sound quality (considering the dialog), and an ending that in no way serves justice for the original, this one is a tough watch. Sure, the storyline is not anything spectacular or groundbreaking, but there is something there that should have been better. In the end, this one is a bit of a disappointment. While it is not terrible, it is nowhere near anything that I would watch a second time.