Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review: Zombie Apocalypse Redemption (2011)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Ryan Thompson
Starring: Johnny Gel, Fred Williamson, Joseph Scott Anthony
Writers: Ryan Lieske, Matthew O'Day

There was a point when I was a kid that I had borrowed almost all of the well known action/horror films and had to start delving into the less know and cheaper movies. These are the bad 80’s flicks that many cult movie watchers remember, nearly all were bad but there was an enjoyment to find in some of them. Zombie Apocalypse Redemption seems to be a nostalgic blast from the past even though it was made only recently.

Right from the get go the film is shot on some pretty old stock - it legitimately looks like it came from the 80’s. Quickly we are introduced to a movie that mixes zombies and Mad Max and given a hard-nosed hero, Knox, whom is trying to gain redemption. Things are pretty by the numbers and you know it’s leading up to the final confrontation with the villain, Rome.

And what a villain. Jerry Lynch eats up the scenery with some acting choices that completely baffle but still entertain. There is also Fred Williamson as Moses who lends some much needed badassness as the mentor reforming Knox. Unfortunately other than these two the acting is pretty atrocious with people desperately mugging for the camera or seemingly misunderstanding what human emotions are.

Really, thinking back on this film I’m not sure exactly why I liked it as much as I did. It’s a bad movie; every aspect of the movie is bad. Yet I was into it. The story is pretty simple and moves at a brisk pace and with the post apocalyptic take on zombies, it probably didn’t hang around enough for me to really hate it.

I think for cult film viewers there might be something to watch here. It does have a nostalgic quality to it - it also has a villain who is fun to watch. Fred Williamson completionists will also want to check it out. But for everyone else, it’s probably best to just leave it alone. There is no redemption to be found within.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch
Writer: Skip Woods

If a movie bores the heck out of me, I would normally come to the conclusion that it either wasn’t very well put together or it is devoid of any real passion. A Good Day to Die Hard is so boring, in fact, that by the end all I could really think about was how much longer until I could go play some Skylanders. Yet I can’t help but feel that some of the blame should be aimed at the studio.

Scenes from the trailer seem cut out of the main product and a much touted scene with Bruce Willis and a returning Mary Elizabeth Winstead is gone. Overall it seems that character development is sacrificed for action and the hopes that people will be distracted with all the explosions. I just didn’t care. It may sound weird to some people but I do require more than just action in an action movie.

Bruce Willis seems like he’s sleep walking (a complaint I have in many of his recent films). Jai Courtney seems okay as the McClane son but isn’t given much to do. What really disappointed me is the villain is so boooooooooooooooooooooring. Die Hards 1-3 had interesting villains and even number 4’s Gabriel had a certain something about him. Even the plot just seems to be going through the motions and not giving the villains anything to really cling on to.

Everyone in this scene looks bored as me watching this crap.

Visually the action scenes will grab your attention but with nothing backing them it’s all too easy for it to become a grey blur of motion. The movies of the past have action scenes that I can vividly remember; yet again even number 4 has some scenes that I recall fondly - aiming a car at a helicopter and fighter plane vs big rig – immediately leap to mind. Die Hard 5 has nothing truly memorable and therefore nothing I really want to re-watch (yes I’ve re-watched Die Hard 4 a few times).

There is proof that there was more to this film in the beginning. Scenes we know were filmed and even hyped, seem to have been taken out and thrown away. However studio intervention or no, for me there is nothing in this that is memorable. It’s a paint by numbers picture with nothing to recommend. Just avoid.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Movie Series Review: Hellraiser Part 2

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Last time on The World of Disgruntled Monkey, DM learnt that even in space Cenobites are mighty, Clive Barker is a twisted individual, and video camera's are truly the work of the devil. Now we continue the Movie Series Review of the Hellraiser franchise.

Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)

Inferno is really the beginning of a new set of movies that try to keep the franchise alive but seeming to have little to do with the original Hellraiser. I’ve heard that scripts were found and then altered to have Hellraiser references crammed into them. It seemed to steer the film more towards showing characters in their own personal hell, rather than the previous themes of blurring pleasure and pain. It also makes Pinhead the tourist guide and ultimate keeper of morality. It’s weird to have him go from one extreme to the other with no real connection to what he was.

As for the movie itself it’s actually pretty decent. The story looks at a dirty cop as he tries to solve a murder and find out who the Engineer is. It starts off subtle enough and slowly adds in the weirder elements. Performances and special effects are all pretty good. It’s just a shame that it’s not a Hellraiser movie in spirit. Made with out the baggage of Hellraiser it could have been something special.

Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)

Hellseeker tries to take something familiar and blend it with the new approach of Inferno. With this tale we get a shady business man by the name of Trevor trying to find out about the death of his wife Kristy Cotton. Right here is the biggest problem with this movie. What should have been an awesome return by a well loved character is instead hamstrung by the fact that she’s hardly in the damn thing. What’s worse is when we get to the end of Trevor’s tale we are told by Pinhead himself that he’s not important at all. Way to waste my time movie.

Up until that point the story is at least interesting and pretty freaky in some parts, yet unlike Inferno it’s not particularly subtle so you get a good idea of what’s happening before you get to the ending. On the upside Pinhead is a lot more like he was in the first two movies, yet despite both this and Kristy’s return, this still doesn’t have that proper Hellraiser feel.

Hellraiser: Deader (2005)

Kari Wuhrer plays journalist Amy Klein who is trying to track down a cult whose members are known as Deader’s. Apparently their leader can bring the dead back to life and Amy smells an awesome story in the making. Somehow this involves Cenobites, Pinhead and the puzzle box. Don’t ask me how.

I found myself getting pretty bored during this film as I never really felt that much tension or reason to care. Throwing in the Cenobites was pretty pointless as was the puzzle box. It just never really made sense. Having said all this, I will point out that Kari Wuhrer was actually fairly good and the core idea was at least interesting enough to grab my attention in the beginning. Pity it couldn’t hold it.

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

This is really really bad. Five friends get invited to a Hellworld party. What’s Hellworld? It’s an online video game. Yep Pinhead has gone digital and he really really sucks. This is the last Hellraiser film for Doug Bradley and it’s an unfortunate swan song.

The biggest problem with this film is that it’s a movie about the movie Hellraiser and therefore not actually being a Hellraiser movie but in the end it’s actually a Hellraiser movie. Did we get that? No? Too bad. On top of this the story is a teenage slasher flick which flies in the face of everything that is Hellraiser.

There is so much wrong with this movie but I guess its greatest crime is that it not only wastes Doug Bradley but it also manages to waste Lance Henriksen. I hate you movie.

Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)

*cries in the corner*

This is absolutely horrendous. That’s all you really need to know. If I go on about the problems with this movie I’ll probably turn into a raging fanboy so I’ll simply say that you should avoid this movie at all costs. Poorly thought out, poorly executed, poorly - just everything. The only positive is there is no where for this franchise to go but up.

*continues to cry in the corner*

Okay maybe I can stand to go on a little more. But I'm going to show and tell this bitch.

In this movie Pinhead actually has a god damn mini me! I mean come one. Does Pinhead look like Dr Evil to you? Also while i'm on Pinhead, this marks the first time Pinhead is played by someone other than Doug Bradley, you can really feel the difference in acting ability. Also this Pinhead looks like's he's done a lot of torturing down at the local Krispy Kremes store.

Okay rant over, back to crying.

Final Thoughts: 

Despite where Hellraiser went as a franchise, I can say that I will always remember at least the first two movies with a fondness. Also upon reviewing all the movies I know what the next step is. Reviewing the comic books or at least the most recent series. Truly the soul of the Hellraiser series has taken up residence in those books, far from the manipulations of the studio system.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Movie Series Review: Hellraiser Part 1

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Oh Hellraiser, you were so integral to the development of my love for horror cinema. While Phantasm (I will get to that series review) is the horror series that I hold above all else, Hellraiser is probably a close second. I’ve always been into the darker more cerebral horror offerings although that’s not to say I’m not a fan of good hack and slash fun. With Hellraiser, or at least the first two movies, we are given a very dark story of desire, pain, pleasure, flesh and hell which come all wrapped up in some very gory and impressive visuals. Greater still we have a wonderful female character in the personage of Kirsty Cotton whose character really develops over the course of the two films.

Things deteriorate quickly after the second movie but there are still moments to enjoy - especially Doug Bradley as Pinhead. Honestly, the foundation and themes were so strong that eventually a comic series that continued Kristy’s story was created and is fantastic. On to the reviews!

Hellraiser (1987)

The series starts of relatively small with the audience being introduced to the Cotton family. We come at a time were things are very strained between all but there is effort to try and mend bridges. Unfortunately an accident wakes up the dead and a twisted tale of desire unfolds. Featuring copious amounts of blood, the movie is wise in trying to keep things small and taking time to introduce us to all the players.

While a great horror movie, Hellraisers’ greatest asset is also it’s one weakness. In all of his work Clive Barker has a fantastically dark imagination that allows him to touch upon some intriguing themes and ideas all set in this massive world that seems endless. This is why Hellraiser is brilliant. Under its simple story is a world that is massive in its complexity, and yet this leads to the weakness of not being focused.

So many things are introduced but never truly fleshed out and this leaves the movie feeling incomplete. Who is the insect eating vagabond that turns into a bone dragon? What role does the wall monster play? How does the box truly find its next owner? It’s also suggested in this movie that the box can lead to other realms, this is dumped by the later movies, but it’s an interesting ideas.

Despite the world, themes and ideas being unfocused Hellraiser is a brilliant start to the franchise.

Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988)

My personal favourite in the series - mainly due to it taking things to the next level. Bigger, bolder, more epic in scope, it shines a lot brighter than the original; unfortunately it also exposes its’ flaws to more open scrutiny. Following on from the first film Kirsty is now institutionalized but the danger is far from over. Besides Uncle Frank and the Cenobites we have step mom Julia moving up as a major villain and Dr Channard as a new unknown. With all these villains it does seem like an uphill battle for Kirsty, thankfully it really gives us a sense of the stakes involved.

On top of that we get to see the home of the Cenobites in all its gory glory. With both the mental institution and the Cenobite home world we are given some exceptionally dreamy visuals and great personal interpretations of individualistic hells. Thrown all together what dominates is a sense of things coming to a head, and that you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole well and truly.

Unfortunately some of the effects are a little bit cheesy, especially the Cenobite baby. It’s the case of being too ambitious for the budget that was available. The ending is also a little abrupt in some regards and the final shot of the movie is clearly desperate to set up the next instalment but all in all is pretty hilarious in execution.

Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992)

With memories of ‘Video Camera Cenobite’ and ‘Disc Player Cenobite’ this marks the point for many when the Hellraiser series took a dive. Well, evidently they forgot ‘Molotov Cocktail Cenobite’, ‘Chain Smoking Cenobite’ and of course ‘Pneumatic Engine Cenobite’. Yes the cenobites’ may get a little silly, but personally the worst change is Pinhead becoming a full on moustache twirling villain.

 In the previous two films Pinhead was a demon, but he did follow rules and was never after the purely innocent. While this instalment does explain the personality change it unfortunately opens the door for the other movies in the series. Pinhead’s personality isn’t the only thing changing here either. The tone of the film becomes very bombastic and over the top. It reminds me more of a slasher flick than a cerebral journey into hell.

The cast of Cenobites that drove some fans insane. And yes that
is Pinhead trapped in a wall.
There are still things to like here though. Terry Farrell is great as the new protagonist and Doug Bradley is just having a ball as evil Pinhead. Every scene he’s in, he laps it all up with relish. Also yes, while the tone is different there is a certain joy to be had in the cheesy slasher vibe, especially the dance club massacre scene.

Hellraiser: Bloodlines (1996)

With Bloodlines we really get the end chapter of the first Hellraiser saga. Like any good ending we discover more of the origin through the film playing out in three different time periods. The past section is during the creation of the puzzle box that summons the Cenobites. The modern day is where we have a story that almost ties the third movie into the preceding history and offers us more about the Merchant family and their cursed bloodline. Finally we go into SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE. Here the last of the Merchant line tries to defeat Pinhead once and for all.

There are some really goofy ideas in this movie, the major one being having Cenobites in space. There is a genuine attempt to tie all four movies together in a way and end what was started. Apart from the goofy ideas, Pinhead really starts to unravel. Without actual plot points to back up the personality change, Pinhead becomes the ultimate villain, trying to TAKE OVER THE WORLD. *facepalm*

He even speaks about there being rules and yet his plan involves not really following anything set up in the first two films. Yet despite all this Bloodlines isn’t actually as bad a movie as some people think. It ends the franchise in a somewhat satisfying way and for all its faults I was at least entertained.

Come back in two days for the epic
conclusion to the Hellraiser Series Review!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Disgruntled Monkey’s Rant Log: Xbox One and the Ark of the Customer

Rant by Disgruntled Monkey

(The following is a rant and shouldn't be perceived as the truth. The writer of this rant lives in a world of unicorns and Cthulhu like monstrosities.)

So with Microsoft doing an about face and getting rid of their DRM restrictions, gamers have begun celebrations akin to the Ewoks cheering at the death of the Empire. But can we really call this a victory? I don’t think so and it’s not because I think anything was lost thanks to this change in policy. While people should be happy at the change in policy, this is really only a battle won, the war honestly continues.

Yes I just called Gamers, Ewoks. Come at me bro.

Do you trust Microsoft to not try this DRM gambit again?

Do you really think Sony is the saviour of gamers?

We are dealing with businesses and it surprises me that many people forget this. They are out to get our money and while they can go about things with a sense of decency it’s up to us to be forever vigilant. Customer rights are only there if we insist upon them. If we roll onto our backs and give in, then it’s a quick one, two, three and the companies become the World Champions of our collective asses.

Forums, comments and social media are an interesting learning experience. You can already see people thinking everything is now fine and that they can go about buying Halo 5. Now I’m wouldn’t want to begrudge someone from buying a product that they are perfectly happy with. Hell let’s step into the alternative universe where Microsoft were Mr No DRM and Sony was the evil empire. If Sony was to back down, I would be happy cause then I could buy inFamous: Second Son without guilt.

But this isn't about boycotting, it’s about blindly supporting brands as if they were your friends. They aren’t and they never will be. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Valve they are all wolves who’ve learnt to stand up right and wear suits. They may seem civilized but they are just waiting for that chance to strike. Thankfully it’s money they are after and not your blood or flesh.

No matter the company, they've all studied diagrams to fool you into loving them.

Maybe it’s my marketing background that helps me disassociate myself from brands but I just don’t understand the relationship some people have with their brands. Sure I like the stuff I buy but I would never say that the brands define me. Hell working in a comic store for a year I saw some of the worst that fanboy and fangirls had to offer and I don’t want to ever become like that.

Instead of crowing about the victory the customer has had, we should take a moment and realise the power that we actually possess. We can put pressure on companies to do the right thing, but we can’t just stop when one thing goes our way. With the Xbox One a patch will be put out on day one to get rid of the DRM stuff, if a patch is all that it takes to get rid of then a patch is all that is needed to put back in. Plus if a company is intent on making this the future, then you can bet it’s going to come back.

In a way it was very smart for Microsoft to do this now. By making the announcement before launch than technically the DRM policies become an idea not yet trialled instead of an idea that is failed. This gives them more than enough wiggle room to come back with the same ideas. It could even begin with just one game.

Just read the following fantasy statement I made up.

“Oh Halo 6 is going to be powered by the Cloud cause it’s that big a game, of course one of the side effects is that to play it you need to always be online. We at Microsoft apologise for this, but we are sure you’ll love what the game has to offer.”

Doesn’t this sound like something that can happen?

Yet having said this it’s important not to go the other way. Microsoft my play ball, Sony might have learnt its lessons from PS3, we may never encounter something like this again. But we must always be vigil.

It doesn't matter who you support. They both want your money.
Never become complacent.

Always ask questions.

And don’t trust companies to always do the right thing by you.

This is Disgruntled Monkey carrying more than a pinch of salt and signing off for now.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Slightly sick today so no update. However enjoy this recreation of last Friday Nights celebration.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: Inbred (2011)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Alex Chandon
Starring: Jo Hartley, Seamus O'Neill, James Doherty
Writers: Alex Chandon, Paul Shrimpton

Beautiful green fields set in the English countryside greet us; yet dark clouds immediately begin rolling in as an ominous musical shift arises. It’s only the credits and already the tension and atmosphere are being cranked to creepy heights. Abruptly we cut to a scene of an English gentleman and lady being brutally murdered by one of their man servants. This in turn proves to be a movie that some of the main characters are watching but it perfectly encapsulates Inbred. It’s a film of two halves that while excellent on their own, don’t work together.

I completely adored the first half of the movie. Locations were used to maximum effect and the camera work was beautiful. All the build up housed really creepy touches, from children beating up a scarecrow that seemed a little life like, to one of the leads finding pornographic books which had some interesting paste jobs. It all works very well and I wish the movie would keep this style up, but it inevitably changes.

The film truly goes down the rabbit hole when the villains of the piece finally reveal themselves; all manner of depravity hits the screen. It becomes exceptionally disturbing - but in the good kind of way – a form of twisted horror that so many movies seem to miss the mark with. This may sound weird but it also manages to do torture right. It’s not about violence but about mentally breaking someone and in its’ way Inbred does a great job.

However this plunge may not be everyone’s cup of tea. We have a butt tonne of animal porn, the lead villain in black face for the last third, some cruel as hell deaths and probably the closest representation of the Aristocrat joke on screen we’ll ever see. It also wraps these atrocities in the veil of very dark humour which while I enjoyed may leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.

A disturbing future vision of 3D movies.
While some may decry this as nothing more than an exploitative bit of trash there seems to be a real love in this movie. Everything is not only done with care but an effort has been taken to make this a really good film. The acting is decent, the camera works is marvellous, special effects are a nice blend of practical and CG and the music is extraordinarily creepy. My hat comes off to Alex Chandon who seems to have put his all into this piece.

What it all comes down to is how much can you stomach? Inbred is not a movie for people who don’t like dark humour or entertainment that plays in some disturbing territory. However for fans of the horror genre this is a little gem that I’m really happy to have discovered. Time to move to the English countryside.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Malcontented Moose Takes Vancouver Comic Arts Festival

Article by Malcontented Moose

Well, I guess it’s not really a review but more of a run down on how bad I am at dealing with people I respect and admire. Oh well.

This was quite a fun and intimidating day for me. I originally heard that VANCAF was happening through a tweet from one of my favourite artists, Alex Steacy. Well known through LRR I stalk him through the internets in order to appreciate his works from afar, yet suddenly here was an opportunity to meet him in person! And potentially buy his stuff! Also other artists I adore! I very nearly had an aneurism at work.

I prepared in advance by grabbing a ticket for the VIP bag of goodies (the event itself was free) and showed up on the Saturday too early feeling wet and alone (it was raining –thankyou Vancouver- and I have no friends in Canada).  One of the plus sides of turning up early however, was that I got to meet Jeph Jacques – of Questionable Content (website here)fame- and have an incredibly thrilling yet stilted conversation with him.   It was nothing on his part of course, he was very lovely, I just cannot manage the artful flow of a natural conversation with someone who to me is more interesting and famous than the Beatles. After 5 minutes my brain insisted on either leaving or having a meltdown so I continued on my way around the space to check out the other artists.

This was a bad choice. Every stall I came to had interesting and beautiful artwork on display, in so many different styles and genres. I did a full loop through then went and got more money out.  My hour of power had commenced! I spoke to nearly every artist, asking about their work and process, buying from those I found particularly engaging. A good few of the artists there I had either heard about or previously read their work online and it was incredibly satisfying to meet them and finally own a physical piece of their work.

There were some artists I truly wish I could have bought from, such as Kory Bing, who’s art is both beautiful and an interesting mix of old mythology and new. While her books were out of my price range I took a tote and card so I can find her online. Others whom I love, like A Softer World, were unfortunately well outside the range of affordable - $40 for a single print – and were, let’s say, less engaged in the visitors than their phones.

After burning through all my cash I wanted to visit some of the lectures, unfortunately, the weather had caught me and I was feeling sick and light headed. For me VANCAF was short yet sweet, filled with interesting people and great art. I will definitely be going again.

The Moose's Haul.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Trailer Trawl Vol 6


Another trailer, another reason to get excited for this movie. I think that this could be an awesome science fiction move that combines excellent action and a deeper meaning. Matt Damon seems to be the perfect choice these days for action and acting ability, now all we need is him in a movie directed by Ben Affleck. In fact have Affleck direct Damon in a Daredevil movie. Affleck can get redemption and Damon can play the role he was meant to. Whoops, side tracked myself. Elysium looking damn good.


Speaking of redemption this movie looks set to wipe away the first wolverine movie from our memories. A second trailer is out and it's everything I could of wanted for a wolverine movie. It was a really good idea to tell the japanese Wolverine story as it allows to be very self contained without having to tie into all of his origin stuff.

300 - Rise of the Empire:

When I heard that this movie was being made I was less than enthused. I had images of a very cheap sequel being made to cash in on the 300 name. Having seen the trailer I now see I was completely wrong. This looks like a very worthy follow up with great looking action and already some nice touches. I especially like how Gerald Butler is back for a very very small cameo. As I said, some nice touches.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nerd Watch: E3 2013 Special

Well the 2013 E3 is here and as was prophesied by the old gypsy woman, every man, woman, dog, cat and unicorn has an opinion. We here at The World of Disgruntled Monkey are no different and boy do I have a lot of opinions. However we also try to make this place free from the fanboy bias that is ever present on the internet so I'm going to show one thing on the whole Sony vs Microsoft thing and then move ahead and look at the games that really interested me.

inFamous: Second Son

I'm a huge inFamous fan and was already looking forward to this game. Seeing the trailers and gameplay i'm all over this. It looks so beautiful. FEAR THE FLYING SMIRK BOMB!

Kingdom Hearts 3

To me there's always been something magical about the games of Kingdom Hearts. It's like i'm in the adventure I always dreamed of when I was a kid. 

The Division

I never thought I would say this about a Tom Clancy product but this looks pretty sweet. The combat and strategic elements look right up my alley.


The Order: 1886

No gameplay footage is out yet but I can't help but be intrigued. The trailer shows Victorian Age England, Monsters and a massive amount of Steampunk. This was a pleasant surprise.


There are other games out there that caught my eye, Dead Rising 3, Destiny, Elder Scrolls: Online and Saints Row 4 to name a few more. But to go through them all would extend this post a bit longer than intended. Overall this E3 was one of excitement. It has been a while since i've been this excited for consoles. From the games shown, to the smack down that Sony gave to Microsoft, my emotions are invested and that makes this E3 a huge success for myself. If you want more info, i've got links to some gaming sites that are covering all that is E3.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: The Last Stand (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Kim Jee-Woon
Staring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker and Johnny Knoxville
Writer: Andrew Knauer

Staring up at the television, ten year old me is excited because I’m watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. At that stage he’s one of my heroes’ and I hope he never goes away. From a barbarian to Russian cop to super spy to killer-robot-with-a-heart, I’m intrigued with everything he does. Flash forward many years and he will enter into politics, eventually becoming the ‘Governator’. Now a grown adult I find a little part of me is sad because I believed I’d never see him in movies again. So when Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) walked onto screen that little kid inside me got really excited.

The Last Stand is not only Arnolds’ big return to lead roles in film; it is also Kim Jee-Woon’s first American movie. I adored ‘The Good, The Bad and The Weird’ and was hoping that Kim Jee-Woon would bring the same kind of kinetic fun to this movie. What I got was an action movie that had some stylish elements but seemed slightly muted.

The translation from different cultures is a tough one and in some ways Kim Jee-Woon has taken the safe road by making a simple action movie with a star who was once one of the biggest draws in Hollywood. While there are shades of great things, the movie is a little bit of a waste.

Acting wise we have some great people but no one really stands out that much. It was great to see Arnold back and he still has some charisma, but the years that have passed are evident and he isn’t quite the legend he used to be. Still, the man can give a cheesy one liner like no ones’ business. Peter Stormare is great as one of the main villains of the piece, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand what accent he was using. I liked Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzman but the movie needed more of the comedic antics. Forest Whitaker was a complete and utter waste; he does nothing and adds nothing to this film.

Nothing like a shotgun pumping Arnold.
Thankfully where the story and acting let things down, the action pulls things back up again, highlighting what a great director Kim Jee-Woon is. It’s here that the visual style of the director really comes to the fore and while the movie isn’t anything excessively substantial it’s at least entertaining. Maybe if the studio had a bit more faith in the director, maybe if there was a bit more money, something really good could have been created.

Overall this film is entertaining if not amounting to much. The return of Arnold wasn’t as spectacular as it could have been and that’s a little sad for me. Still, if you are after a movie with some well shot action then you should give it a watch. Maybe the return of Arnold will be the cherry on the Action Sunday for you.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review: Tomb Raider (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix

She reaches for the idol hoping that the books had the right information. One wrong move and these ancient ruins could reveal all the hidden traps set forth long ago by a people intent on having this resting place of the honoured dead preserved, not raided for its wealth. Everything she ever wanted had come down to this. Taking the idol off the podium she hears a click, then the muted sound of bricks rubbing against each other. Damn it. Time to run.

And run you will - from all the perilous pitfalls prevalent in this game. One wrong move and you are greeted by some of the hardest to watch deaths I’ve seen in a while. Lara Croft get’s brutally dispatched and as such it has caused a little bit of a stir with some people. Sure the first hour you feel that the exploits of the young Croft verge on the exploitative, but then something happens that makes this game better than I would have expected.

You are given a female lead character that survives, endures and slowly becomes a hero. As you get further along in the game you do everything you can to avoid the brutal deaths present, not because of the inherent set back (there is none), but because every nerve you have is driving you to help Lara survive. You are in this as much as the video game character and that is a rare achievement. The brutality isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste but it’s highly effective and shouldn’t be dismissed as only exploitative.

Along with the excellent success of involving the player, we have gameplay that makes you feel every bit the hero Lara becomes. Every collectible found, every little side adventure goes towards building up your weapons and skills and your sense of power. It’s great but this is also where things start falling apart a bit. The flaws don’t make this an awful game, in fact this game will probably still be considered one of the best of the year, but it does mean that there is room for improvement for the inevitable sequel.

This remind me of the Decent except with less blood.
One of the biggest problems is who Lara is as a character (story wise) and what she is on the game play side of things. Lara is young, inexperience and very unsure of herself. Throughout the story and through journals you can collect, we see Lara constantly questioning her own motivation. Yet when it comes to shooting the bad guys, she’s every bit the Arnold Schwarzenegger of bad 80’s action movies. Bodies fly everywhere, bad guys tumble to their deaths and shotguns are used with wild abandon. It’s fun but it doesn’t gel with the perceived insecurity of the characters personality.

Tomb Raider is a very strong origin story with some excellent gameplay that unfortunately doesn’t go together that well. The brutality of the deaths and treatment of Lara may turn people away but there is a point to it all. It’s a wonderful game, just not a masterpiece; Crystal Dynamics has truly resurrected Lara Croft and has given a exceptionally strong foundation for a new franchise to be born.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: House at the End of the Street (2012)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Mark Tonderai
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue
Writers: David Loucka , Jonathan Mostow

There’s always a house in every neighbourhood that has a story to tell. It could be a ghost story or a tale of someone snapping. People whisper to each other about it and point to it. Children gather on Halloween and dare each other to ring the door bell or walk inside if abandoned. House at the End of the Street deals with such a tale, but does it do it justice?

Unfortunately, no. It starts off well enough; it begins with an interesting premise and has some decent acting, especially from Jennifer Lawrence. In fact I think she’s so good in this movie it really high-lights the waste of talent on display. You see no matter the good point - and there are good points - this movie completely crumbles in the final act in every single way. From story to technical aspects, everything suffers.

Maybe there might have been something to salvage if the story was better paced but it moves at such a slow speed and when the ball finally drops the reveals are so bland in presentation that any hope of over the top fun is shot. Honestly, for the life of me I’m not sure what this movie was hoping to accomplish. There are some interesting ideas but they are never given enough time to flourish, instead, the movie focuses all of its attention on the teen drama.

Most of the movie pictures feature Jennifer Lawrence in a white shirt. Oh
well, i'm a lazy man, this shot will do.
I had heard the movie had problems and was only released because Jennifer Lawrence was beginning to be noticed. With the first third of the movie I thought that maybe people were being overly harsh. Then a few plot holes appear, continuity gets scrapped and some very big mistakes are made. Magical make up that appears and disappears, character leaps of logic that will leave your head spinning and, uncomfortably, morals that support those that are in the wrong.

Can you burn this movie at the stake? Well, not really. It’s the sort of bad movie that will be forgotten given time. I don’t recommend it for anyone and I urge those people who like really bad films to also give it a skip. Let this movie fade into obscurity.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review: Zombie Cheerleader Camp (2007)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Jon Fabris
Starring: Jamie Brown, Chris White, Nicole Lewis
Writer: Jon Fabris

A non-existent budget, a story so thin it could be used as a wafer and not a competent actor in sight. Knowing all this before I even started the movie meant my expectations were pretty low. Unexpectedly, the movie began with a pretty rocking song and a cartoon prologue. Sure, it wasn’t animated – this being a sign of the low budget - but there was a certain charm. As the film went about its business I found I couldn’t help but be entertained. So what went right?

It sure wasn’t the acting, it was damn abysmal. I have never seen this much wooden acting before and those that weren’t overly stilted were over the top. Despite this, everyone seemed to be having a good time and enjoyed what they were doing. It was this genuine love that managed to hold my attention and kept me watching even in the more tedious stretches.

I guess this is where the movie peeks above a lot of other, similarly horrid, films - it has a heart that is very hard to ignore. This is an exceptionally cheap film but no body seems to care. The scene that stands out the most in this regard is the zombie squirrel attack. Yes, really. The zombie squirrel is stuffed and an actor has to wrestle with the inanimate object for a good five minutes. It’s hilarious, it’s stupid, but damn it I believed that actor was being attacked by a zombie squirrel.

Yet a film with a big heart can only push the picture so far. In the last ten minutes or so the movie really starts to strain under the weight of having no story to tell. Also, the ending seems to suddenly become oddly serious and this certainly doesn’t gel with the overall tone. I’m not sure what the thinking was behind it but it really ended the whole on a bad note.

The future of Glee.
While there were scenes that had me laughing my head off, a goodly amount of the humour just doesn’t work. Some may even find parts of it offensive - but only mildly so. Honestly I feel that everyone was chucking as many ideas at the script as possible and just leaving what stuck. Some lines might have even been improvised on the day.

There is a charm to this movie and one that might actually appeal to people who don’t mind venturing into the valley of low budget horror. It’s truly not for everyone and in no way am I saying that this is a good movie. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t smile or laugh during the course of the film. GO TEAM ZOMBIE!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review: Farcry 3 (2012)

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft

“Don’t you see,” said the turtle, “it’s what is unseen that defines you.”

“Can’t you hear,” said the hare, “your screams fall on deaf ears.”

The man looked at the turtle and the hare and replied, “alas, you are my madness, you do not know me.”

Farcry 3 is all about insanity, loss and trying to find yourself. As Jason Brody, you are thrown down the proverbial rabbit hole and in the midst of the bloody playground you find there, reality starts to crumble. Alliances to friends and loved ones are tested and a character that is very much a spoilt brat learns what it means to take control of his life. Take away the gameplay and there is a vibrant story underneath that really dug its claws into me.

Thankfully, story themes interwoven into the gameplay never derail what is a fun, action packed first person sand box game. Taking the first few steps into the island you soon realise that there are many opportunities to be had, and that simply picking a direction and walking can yield an adventure. Along with every collectible and side mission giving much needed experience to make Jason a better survivor, it has all the ingredients to be a highly addictive game.

Yet while I’m in total awe of this game and loved every minute I spent playing it, it’s far from a crowning jewel. Farcry 3 deals with many issues and ideas, yet never delves too far into their depths - it’s a lot more fun to burn a marijuana farm to the ground with a flame thrower than contemplate the societal reason behind the farms’ existence. Story wise we are also kept on a very linear path and are never given a real choice in what to do. Instead we are asked to go along with Jason’s journey, albeit a very fun journey.

Shoot the bad guys, buy some fish for dinner.
Visually the island is a lush playground that does house different environments that still hold together as a collective whole. Also while not completely over flowing with inhabitants there is a sense that this island is alive. Numerous times I saw animals tracking each other down or fleeing for their lives without giving any attention to me. It was like a mini story was happening that had nothing to do with me.

I was over the moon with last years Dishonoured, but I think in retrospect Farcry 3 probably pipped it at the finish line. It’s not the greatest game in the world, the story would have to be a lot more closely tied to the gameplay, but it deserves a place in anyone’s top ten of 2012. If this is what the future of the Farcry franchise is then sign me up because I’m ready for more.