Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Warm Bodies (2013)

Review By Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich and Rob Corddry
Writer: Jonathan Levine

Zombie movies are a dime a dozen now a days, so it’s hard to dig something new up in the genre. ‘Warm Bodies’ attempts to bring us into the mind of the Zombie and it does a pretty admirable job, however there are a few missteps in my mind that make it an enjoyable yet flawed movie. So what went wrong?

Core to the entire movie is the romantic comedy aspect between human Julie (Teresa Palmer) and zombie R (Nicholas Hoult). This gives us many funny moments but also slows the movie down and forces it to skim over the more interesting ideas. When we are in the mind of R and getting to know what it feels like being a Zombie, the movie moves from high point to high point. I wanted more, but I never got it.

Nicholas Hoult does a good enough job as R, though seems a little more human than he should in the beginning. I don’t think this is the fault of Hoult, more the way the movie was envisioned. Teresa Palmer is also well cast in her role, making for a very positive female character that is strong while keeping her femininity. Malkovich, however, cast as Julie’s father is wasted as he plays the leader of the human colony very predictably. I honestly wonder what drew him to the role. The big surprise for me was Rob Corddry as M, friend of R. He gives a funny yet poignant turn and I really wished he had had more screen time. Unfortunately, it’s not his movie.

Rob Corddry the MVP of Warm Bodies.
Visually the film is good looking, with the occasional flourish when the scene calls for it. CGI is a bit of a letdown though, with the ‘Bonies’ (Zombies who are skeleton-like) looking pretty fake, especially in the bigger scenes. I will, however, give credit to the zombie effects and how they subtlety changed over the course of the movie to reflect the change to human. Regrettably, at the end of the day there was nothing that really leapt off the screen for me in a memorable way.

I can’t say that this movie is bad, not by a long shot. It’s funny, entertaining and tries something new. Biggest problem is that it seems edited down to appeal to Twilight fans rather than horror fans looking for something different. If you like your zombie movies then give it a try, just don’t expect it to live up to the potential it suggested.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: Bioshock Infinite (2013)


Developers: Irrational Games, 2K Marin and Human Head Studios
Publisher: 2K Games

Choices have consequences; even the smallest of things can have outcomes that are huge in scope. Bioshock Infinite deals with big choices while striping away a lot of the choice from players. What could’ve turned into a linear shooter that fails to grab the player’s attention instead becomes a game that begs to be played. At its heart is a story that is beautiful, dark, well thought out and one that will haunt you well after the end credits have rolled.

You play the main character Booker DeWitt, a man with a violent past who is told that the debt he owes will be wiped away if he manages to bring his contacts in New York Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a young woman who lives in Columbia and is being held prisoner by a prophet called Father Comstock. Oh did I forget to mention? Columbia is a flying city. No biggie.

The world Ken Levine and Irrational Games have created is absolutely stunning and even on a console some of the scenes are reminiscent of a beautiful painting. Columbia comes across as a living, breathing city and taking your time to explore is full of rewards. There are plenty of interesting characters littered throughout the city and taking those few extra moments to delve into their backgrounds is always a benefit to see the inner workings of Columbia.
 
Propaganda of the Prohet is everywhere.
Of course the greatest achievement is Elizabeth. More than a sidekick, it could be argued that she is the main character of the game. Unlike a lot of game AI, or sidekick characters, she is helpful and really essential to your success. So much so, that in the story moments where she has been separated from you, you’ll be driven to find her again. The decision to enable her character to look after herself in combat is excellent and takes away the burden of care from the player.

Gameplay is excellent. While it may seem that having only two weapons and vigors’ hot-keyed at any point in time is a hindrance, the combat is still incredibly deep and continually changes as it progresses. I found myself constantly having to change tactics mid battle, yet it was always a joy and created a kinetic feel that made me hunger for more. Fighting on the skylines that connect the floating buildings together was also exhilarating, it was like being on a roller coaster and the sense of speed is palpable.
 
There is something very wrong in the world of Columbia.
Bioshock Infinite is a game that manages to create a fun experience that will appeal to most gamers, and yet wraps it up in an artistic sensibility. People may think they know where the story is going but this game treads into dark and thoughtful territory with a finale that truly offers an ending that is a satisfying conclusion. Please, play this game people!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Malcontented Moose's Top 10 Trashy Films

Article by Malcontented Moose


Having no idea where to start for my first review, I decided to ignore it for at least a small while longer and do a top ten list instead. This turned out to be a poor choice on my part as top ten lists – especially mine – seem to have a significant amount of honourable mentions, two options squished into one section, duplicate styles and they always seem to miss YOUR favourite. Philistines. So, in order to pre-emptively placate some readers and forestall others, here is my disclaimer.

Toxie approves of the following disclaimer.
“This is my personal list. It is not ordered one to ten or ten to one as I love each of these films equally for different reasons and cannot hope to judge them based solely on their brethren. Where possible I will make note of why one film is included where perhaps a more well-known one in the same genre or style is not. I will attempt to explain my love for each item with clarity and where I have not done so you can suck it. If I have missed your personal favourite it is either because I have A) not seen it or B) hate it with a passion. Let me know what you think I have missed and I will let you know why I hate it! ”

Ok? Good. Let’s go.

ALPHA: DEATH RACE 2000

Oh this film. The original Death Race movie (not the appalling re-boot in 2008) stars an exceptionally young Sylvester Stallone in one of his very first forays into film and an oddly placed David Carradine as the anti-hero of the piece. The story is as thin as you could make it, having a group of race car drivers compete in the Transcontinental Road Race – a competition in which you kill as many bystanders as possible to rack up points and race to the finish in order to win – and then throw in a guerrilla group against the race, a flimsy romance, a mystery surrounding David Carradines’ character Frankenstein not being who he is portrayed to be and lots and lots of gratuitous nudity. Brilliant and dumb, this film is just a perfect b-list to watch with friends and pick apart.

DVA: STARSHIP TROOPERS

Directed by Paul Verhoeven (an immediate red flag for awesome trash cinema in my books) this film is loosely based on a classic novel by Robert A. Heinlein. Anyone reading the novel first should be very aware that the script for this film is quite widely removed from the book but this does not diminish the fun to be had here. While the novel is significantly more serious in tone this film walks the edge of comedy satire and does it well. It follows the story of three young teens that join the military for different reasons and how they cope for the next few years when a war with a significantly underestimated enemy species erupts. It stars a number of familiar faces including Neil Patrick Harris and Denise Richards and I find re-watching this film always brings more details to my notice. Enjoyable for the terrible dialogue and cutting satire both, this is a great Saturday night film for when you don’t feel like going out.

POTATO: DOOMSDAY

Oh yes, if you want a perfectly crafted genre movie this is where you look. Want the leather wearing crazies from ‘Mad Max’ with added cannibalism? These ones have tattoos too! Need a bad ass female protagonist in skin tight suits? Rhona Mitra has got it covered. Over confident SWAT-like team getting over powered in the first ten minutes? No worries here. Oh, and my favourite of all, Malcolm McDowell playing a bad guy? Check and double check. He even has Bob Hoskins as a side kick! This movie is just a lot of fun to watch. You know every beat of this even before you’ve seen it but that won’t stop you enjoying the hell out of it.

CANAD: EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY

I have been introducing this film to friends for almost 20 years now and as yet I have failed to find someone who has seen it before. Good thing I am helping to rectify that as this is one of those really unique films that is funny, sweet and bad all at once. A long time ago Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum were married and did a series of film together. The more well-known and critically acclaimed film partnership they embarked upon being ‘The Fly’ but my personal favourite has to be ‘Earth Girls are Easy’. A silly film about three aliens (Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans all looking incredibly young) who crash land in the Valley in Hollywood and proceed to get make-overs and party with Geena Davis, here playing a bubbly nail technician looking for mister right. Interspersed with kooky musical numbers and the best alien sex dream ever, this is one of my go to films to perk me up if I am feeling down.

DELTA: SNAKES ON A PLANE

A lot of people don’t like this one and to be fair I can see why. The title pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this film. Samuel L. Jackson is in it being Samuel L. Jackson and nobody cares what happens to GET everyone on the plane, just that they ARE so that snakes can happen. However this is here for two reasons for me. One is that I honestly like it, a fun mix of stupid thing happening and I quite enjoy anticipating each passenger get theirs in various ways. The other is that I believe this film is the reason terrible monster movies have made such a resurgence in recent years. Yes, movies like ‘Anaconda’ and ‘Eight Legged Freaks’ came before and have definitely enjoyed a bit of a cult status but I feel without the internet push power behind SOAP things like ‘Sharktopus’ and ‘Mega Shark VS Giant Octopus’ wouldn’t fill the niche they now enjoy. So here it is.

42: DEMOLITION MAN

Ahhhh, one of my all-time favourite movies. This film is on this list as both a personal favourite and also as what I consider to be the apex of a few movies to come out during this period. Other films that could also take this spot are ‘The Running Man’ or ‘Total Recall’ however ‘Demolition Man’ fills this spot due to the excellent use of both humour and skewed satire prevalent throughout the movie. The jokes are clever, especially considering how well they hold up after 20 odd years, the characters work well to each role and the intense energy Wesley Snipes exudes is just that much more fun to watch knowing he is having a blast. Sylvester Stallone takes an interesting tone here melding both his He-Man persona and a softer, more subtle characterisation to create an interesting role that is easier to connect to throughout the film. Funny, clever and action packed ‘Demolition Man’ is not one to miss.

NANA: TOXIC AVENGER

Troma had to be somewhere on this list, right? Again, this was a toss-up between a few films – namely ‘Cannibal: The Musical’ and ‘Poultrygeist’ – however for me ‘The Toxic Avenger’ beats them both for being amazingly camp and amazingly gross at the same time. This film is the one that despite the budget effects, hilariously bad dialogue and played out story you love to pieces and so do your friends. One of my first forays into trash cinema, Toxie will always be close to my heart.

TVIMADUR: ZOMBIE STRIPPERS

I have felt for a while now that ‘Zombie Strippers’ is an exceptionally underrated film. Yes, the dialogue is just as ridiculous as other films on this list and yes, the story treads very familiar ground where the ‘government sanctioned virus out of control’ is concerned however there is just something strangely riveting about it. Whether it be Jenna Jameson as Kat spouting Nietzsche or her rival Jeannette Sousa as Berenge quoting from ‘The Warriors’ the film manages to draw you in, if not to care about the character, than for the sole purpose of watching them fall. The twist on the zombie formula is cute and the ongoing black satire of the world outside the strip club sits well with the horror/comedy premise. Definitely one to watch with mates.

ZZ9: DEMON KNIGHT

Oh Billy Zane, you are just a great bad guy. If you haven’t seen this Hollywood version of the classic comic book/TV show I can’t blame you. I found it in a bargain bin at a video store when VHS was still a thing. Don’t let that deter you though, this is a great comedy/horror from an age when duct tape and fishing line were top notch special effects.  The acting is both cheesy and brilliant, the script is actually exceptionally well thought out and Billy Zane as the Collector is worth everything, ever. If you can’t find a physical copy to entertain your friends I recently discovered this gem floating around the bowels of Netflix and if that’s still not good enough I believe the whole thing is up on Youtube, so get to watching!

DEK: TANK GIRL

So, apparently a significant amount of people loathe this film. If you’re a fan of the comics they are based on I can see why. The film does veer wildly from established cannon and does away with a number of characters for the sake of brevity. I can also see why if you’re just not a fan of the style, it is quite ….different for some people. You know what though? I adore this film anyway. The characters are mental, the story is insane, Ice-T is a giant human-kangaroo hybrid and Malcolm McDowell is the bad guy. I love it; I will never stop loving it and there’s not much else I can say other than ‘she’s just the girl, she’s just the girl, the girl you want!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter (2012)

Review By Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ was such a massive literary hit I knew that I would eventually need to read it. However as I was never a fan of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ the addition of zombies couldn’t persuade me to try it. Then Seth Grahame-Smith released his follow up novel ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’. Quickly buying it I found a story that I loved. The story was surprisingly indepth and the characters engrossing.

When I heard the movie was being made, not only with a screenplay done by the original author, but also directed by the mind behind ‘Night Watch’ and ‘Day Watch’ I was excited, positively tingling at the prospect of a new vampire movie far removed from the Twilight world.

Oh how I wish I had stuck to the novel. While the visual style of the movie was very interesting, everything else was a nice big pile of disappointment - not to be confused with a sadness pile as described by Patton Oswalt. So where did it all go wrong? Put simply it was a very dumb movie, that made me feel dumb for watching it and anything that might have proven interesting was quickly rushed through.

The story I remember from the book was hacked to pieces. I’m surprised at how this movie lacked some of the nuances of the book, considering it was written by the same person. Personally, while I think Seth Grahame-Smith is a great novelist, he seems to have a weakness when it comes to screenplays. I wasn’t impressed with his work on Dark Shadows either. He just seems to have an inability to bring the characters to life and fully develop them on the screen.

Learn to love the axe!
However the writing isn’t the only thing that’s lacking - even the acting is a bit blasé. Most of the main actors seem to be taking this movie a little too seriously and it makes the film all the more dull. Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln just never grabs me; his mentor Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) is a little bit more lively but isn’t given that much to do. I think the biggest disappointment was Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln. She is a respectable actress yet has nothing with which to really grapple here. Merely appearing to move both the movie and Abraham along when the plot calls for it, she comes across more as a talking item rather than character. Rufus Sewell as main bad vampire Adam has his moments of moustache twirling villainy which I admit I did enjoy, but there really wasn’t enough.

Visuals are the strongest part of this movie with some interesting scenes keeping me somewhat invested; if not emotionally connected. Timur Bekmambetov is always a stylish director, and has proven with films like ‘Night Watch’ and ‘Wanted’ he is capable of producing an action movie with some depth. Unfortunately with this film he just doesn’t gel with the material.

If you see this movie playing on a Saturday afternoon, and you don’t have anything else to do, then this movie might offer some interesting action. Other than that, the movie is pretty flat with characters that you don’t really get to know and a story that seems to be rushing rather than concentrating on its potential. Disappointing overall.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kickstarter Appeal for Peelers

A bit back I wrote a review for the movie Skew. Recently I got an email talking about the directors new project Peelers. However it needs help through Kickstarter. So what follows it the media release for everyone to read. If you liked Skew and have some spare cash I would suggest putting down some money.


Independent Horror Feature PEELERS starts off with a social media BANG on KICKSTARTER!

The makers of the Independent Cult Horror Feature SKEW step it up a sinister notch as they get ready for production this summer on their new filmPEELERS.

PEELERS takes place on the closing night of a small town strip club when a group of unwanted guests arrive and all hell breaks loose.  Club owner and ex-ball player Blue Jean Douglas, is our sexy, confident, ass-kicking heroine who rises to the task of protecting both her girls and her bar from psychopathic infected killers who will stop at nothing to slaughter everyone.  PEELERS destroys the cliché stripper horror sub-genre by giving us a story packed with strong characters, exciting twists and lots of blood.  Oh, and did we mention strippers?

“Much like how SKEW brought an original and unique twist on the found footage sub-genre, PEELERS will be a stripper horror feature film that actually delivers on tension, terror, and trepidation.” – Sevé Schelenz (Producer/Director)

But the makers of PEELERS need your help.  Check out their kick-ass Kickstarter Campaign at http://kck.st/YVgAgf.  They need a hand in raising funds to make this bloody film happen.  Set to shoot in June of 2013, pledges are vital to see this feature claw its way into theatres the following summer of 2014.  Get involved right now as you only have a limited time to receive some amazing rewards.

Want more horror?  Contact Sevé Schelenz at sleepapneaprods@hotmail.com for all PEELERS questions/requests/bloodlettings.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Wreck It Ralph (2012)


Director: Rich Moore
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch and Sarah Silverman
Writers: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston and Jim Reardon

Brave won the Oscar for best animation movie over Wreck It Ralph, Frankenweenie and Paranorman. I can remember how people took to the streets with pitchforks and torches, hunting for the sinister Academy voters. Actually it was just a bunch of people complaining on the internet that the wrong movie won. Having only watched Brave last year I never could comment, but after watching Wreck It Ralph I’m beginning to understand.

Wreck It Ralph is a movie that delivers to both the older and younger audience. There is such a love for the video gaming culture that it’s hard not to be charmed. The movie has a big heart and an interesting message for young children. One about it’s okay to dream, but sometimes you need to be look at what you have to truly find happiness.

Animation is bright and interesting. It’s a delicate balance between making their own world and also being faithful to the recognizable faces. Not only do they really get how the Zangief’s and Sonic’s well, but they do use them in a way which isn’t just a reference for reference’s sake. Also while these characters not be the main ones, they do infuse in a quick time memorable persona’s.

Speaking of characters, the main characters are very well realised with genuine emotional ties being generated. You can’t help but feel sorry for Ralph and Vanellope. All the voice acting is very strong, with me constantly forgetting who the actors were and instead seeing them as the characters. Well all except Sarah Silverman. I have a problem with her comedic stylings, and it was really hard for me to not keep seeing her in the character, however there is a certain restraint to what she gives Vanellope and as such it wasn’t as big a problem as I would of thought.

Bad guys have always got each others backs.
More time could have been given to the story as it does move at a break neck pace. Relationships are quickly established and the audience is asked to but into the developments quickly. Every plot point is backed up and foreshadowed; it’s just done at a rapid rate. More time could have been given, but then this is a kid’s picture so a movie going to long is always a consideration.

Those who love video games and animation, young and old, should find a way to watch this movie if you haven’t already. Truly a wonderful movie that blends a strong message with an excellent use of nostalgia. I hope that we get a chance to delve further into this world.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: Paranormal Entity (2009)


Director: Shane Van Dyke
Starring: Shane Van Dyke, Erin Marie Hogan and Fia Perera
Writer: Shane Van Dyke

From the makers of such classics as Snakes on a Train, Princess of Mars and Almighty Thor, comes the next in a long line of straight to video movies trying to cash in on the name of more successful films. Now being a fan of the Paranormal Activity movies (just take a look at my reviews), you would think that I am about to curse this movies existence. Well you would be wrong, dead wrong.

See I don’t know how many times I've told people that I really enjoy the Paranormal Activity movies and then been yelled at for my taste in movies. “Those movies have no talent behind them,” and “Anyone could make those movies,” are the common comments. How ever now that I have seen Paranormal Entity, I have a movie to show them, that is basically Paranormal Activity without any talent what so ever.

From cover, to set up, to general premise, this movie wants to be Paranormal Activity (hereby dubbed P.A) so bad. Some could point out that this movie doesn’t have the studio money like P.A, and yet that’s a load of crap. P.A was made for $15 000, and while it’s not the greatest there is definite tension built, characters that appear more than stock cut outs, and some talent when it comes to what is shown and how the haunting’s are pulled off.

Yes, stick your tongue out more. More tongue means more dead.
Paranormal Entity is a movie where not a whole heck of a lot happens, and when something does it’s normally off camera. The big show down that this movie is building up to isn’t even shown. Good damn it movie even the absolutely terrible Documenting the Grey Man had some pay off, even if it was horrid. This movie reeks of laziness and even goes so far to give us nudity to spice things up. It isn’t called for, isn’t effective, and made me feel really sorry for the actress.

I will give Asylum one thing. It is capable of making movies that are enjoyable with a group of friends and large amounts of alcohol. This movie even fails at this; there is no enjoyment to find as nothing ever happens. I’m not sure if I can go on more about this movie, so just avoid this wretched piece of crap, but be warned. Give Paranormal Activity a bad name, and I will make you watch this, it’s the only way you’re going to learn.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Dishonored (2012)


Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Assassination isn’t really my thing, sneaking about, finding the target and getting rid of them is something that comes very hard to me. Oh…um…I mean in a video game, never really tried it in real life. Anyway it’s not a game mechanic that really draws me. When a game gives me a choice of going about things, I often leave the sneaking to the professionals, grab my guns and make like a John Woo movie. Dishonored was something very different for me; I went out of my way to be sneaky, I enjoyed the challenged and what’s more I’m hoping a sequel is around the corner cause I want more.

So what happened? How did this game get me to act differently? Well first off the game play was brilliantly done. A lot of effort has been put into offering the players many different tools and letting these tools be fully explored in the city of Dunwall. You want to blink around like Nightcrawler on acid? Well guess what, you have every opportunity to do that. Hate combat? You don’t have to touch a single enemy if you want. Want your name to be feared? Through discretion out and burn any enemy that gets in your way.

Of course choice means nothing, if there are no consequences and this is where I think Dishonored truly shines. Go in guns blazing and the city watch will make future levels harder with more guards, traps etc. Take some quests that are evil in nature and see the world become a darker place as plague spreads. I went into the game with a normal mentality of collect everything. Unfortunately collecting everything means taking some less than savoury quests on, and even as early as the second level I was knee deep in plague victims. This made me assess what I really wanted to accomplish as such I replayed earlier levels to get an outcome and city state I was satisfied in. This normally never happens with me.

Sometimes a gun is the only way to win a knife fight.
Yet it’s not just the freedom in game play that grabbed me, but the story and setting. While yes the story is a pretty simple tale of revenge, the richness of the Dunwall setting allows it to feel more complicated than it is. Corvo Attano can be one of the noblest of characters, or despicable, your choice. Right from the outset I tried to make him an honorble man, with doing small things like playing hide and seek with the Empress’s daughter Emily, helping those he found in trouble, and trying to be an all round nice guy. As such I was hooked in the story, and found the ending I had gone out of my way to attain, one of the most satisfying I’ve encountered in a while.

Art direction really helps with the steam punk feel of Dishonored. What some might see as cartoonish, the style really allows for grotesque caricatures of the ones Corvo is hunting. The look of the game’s characters are also helped with the voice talent on call. Susan Sarandon, Michael Madsen, Brad Dourif and Chloe Grace Moretz all lend their talent to create characters that were more than just stock characters.

Learn to fear Tall Boys.
If there was one problem with the game, it’s the length of it. I’m a slow player, but this game took me 8 or so hours over the course of 3 days. That’s really quick for me, so I can imagine big gamers knocking this out in an afternoon. I can understand the minds behind this game focusing a lot on individual levels and giving the players numerous ways to finish each; in that regards it does offer replayability, but the journey was over so quick I really wanted more.

If you haven’t played this game already, I suggest you go back and give it a go. Even if it’s not the style of game you normally play, it’s well worth it and it may surprise you. While it isn’t a long game, it is a satisfying one, this is one of the gems of last year, and deserves all the recognition it gets.