Thursday, 17 July 2014

Under the Skin


Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin, for the most part, follows a beautiful and mysterious young woman (Scarlett Johansson) as she travels around the streets of Scotland in a van, picking up single men and taking them back to her dilapidated home with the promise of a one night stand.

Under the Skin is truly a thing of beauty. For many it will be too slow and arty to allow them to enjoy the film but scratch beneath the surface and what you get is a slow-burning sci-fi production which is as original as it is creative and compelling. The film has gained some notoriety for including the first Ms Johansson full-frontal nude scenes but if you're watching this simply for that reason then you are missing out on so much more.

Stripping back the cloak of film-making, director Glazer uses hidden cameras, undecorated rooms and non-actors throughout much of this production but none of that detracts, rather it adds so much more to a genre that some feel has become a little stagnant of late. It's especially refreshing to see more sci-fi thrillers coming out of the UK which rise above the cliched norms we so often see.

Johansson is beautifully seductive as the mysterious woman (we never get a name for her, in fact none of the actors in the film have names assigned to their characters in the credits) and will certainly be a draw for many viewers but a large chunk of the credit has to go to the real people, suddenly finding themselves picked up in a van by Scarlett Johansson and remaining brilliantly relaxed and calm about the situation throughout!

If you're looking for something different to watch today, something without the explosions and over-the-top CGI and fast-paced action, but rather something which grows, develops and entices you to continue to watch it, then UtS will make your day.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Sparks



With the glut of Superhero movies hitting the market of late, it should come as no surprise that everyone will be jumping on the band-wagon to grab a few loose dollar bills floating round. Sparks actually has more in common with Kick-Ass (than the DC/Marvel hero franchises) in terms of look and feel as well as the now oft-used 'hero without any actual powers' thread running through it. Actually, that's not entirely true, the hero Ian Sparks does actually have an uncanny ability to blackout at a moments notice!

In a nutshell, a radioactive meteorite crashes on a town in 1920's American (as a notorious serial killer is topping-up his quota of kills in the same town) creating the powerful 'Rochester 13', a group of super-powered humans. Flash forward a few years and Ian Sparks, our eponymous hero, is fighting crime with little but his fists and soon teams up with (and falls in love with) Lady Heavenly to form a crime-fighting duo. Introduce 'super-villain' Matanza to the mix and I think that's pretty much this film's description tied up in a neat little bow.

At this point it's probably worth stopping and mentioning that Jake Busey is also in this film, so you get a clear idea of exactly what you're getting!! Whilst the CGI backdrops are fairly impressive for what is obviously a low-budget film, the storyline is weak and often a little dull and the characters do nothing to allow you to sympathise or even like them. In fact this reviewer, quite regularly throughout the film, found it difficult to care at all when disaster struck this character or that.

It's pretty obvious from the beginning where this movie will eventually take us and, whilst an attempt is added to throw in a bit of a twist towards the end to prove us wrong, it only serves to make the 'big reveal' even more ludicrous and falls somewhat flat as a 'ta-da' moment.

If you're a fan of Superhero movies, this reviewer would recommend giving this a watch as an example of what can be produced on a low budget but other than that, I think sticking to Kick-Ass (not the dire sequel) or the far superior Super is the best way forward. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Machine



War is imminent. China is threatening to strike every day and, in the UK, developments at the MoD are underway to create true, self-aware artificial intelligence. Computer programmers Vincent and Ava are close to creating the ultimate being but everyone has their ulterior motives for the creation of The Machine.

Made in Wales (so I was a little biased already, being from Wales), this slow-but-tense burner builds through a good amount of character development without ever disadvantaging the storyline. It creates real tension as a power struggle between good (Vincent) and evil (the Mod) who both have their reasons for making sure that the creation of The Machine succeeds. This is also the first feature from director Caradog James and shows the full range of his talents - certainly one to watch for future projects.

Caity Lotz (Arrow, Mad Men) is fantastic as Ava, bringing two different but equally enthralling roles to the film. The whole cast, in fact, work well with the script and bring life and interest to the variety of characters on show.

If you enjoy sci-fi which breaks from the norm and doesn't go straight in to the crazy action but burn away nicely to a pulsating climax then this is the film for you. Rent The Machine. Bask in the talent that the British Film Industry has to offer and hope that this can set a good example as a break away from the current run of British made 'Gangs and Guns' films that seem to be churned out a a rate of knots at present. The future is indeed bright.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Trashy Trailers #16 - Zomboobies!



ZOMBOOBIES!

Truly brilliant! I cannot wait to see this bra-busting zombie lunacy!

American Weapon aka Blood Shed: An American Horror Story



Obnoxious twenty-somethings. A cabin in the woods. Lots (and I mean LOTS) of political rants about war and soldiers. A quick story about an escaped soldier/convict. Escaped soldier/convict appears for little reason and kills people. Escaped soldier/convict suddenly repents his sins. The End.

Yup, nice, short and simple and sums up American Weapon (aka Blood Shed) perfectly. I just wish someone had done this for me to save me from having to watch this awful film. Well, at least I've saved you from having to watch it now, which is something. I guess.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Bad Meat (2011)



6 kids are sent to a camp for delinquents to try and cure them of their unruly behaviour. Unfortunately a batch of tainted meat ends up on the dinner plates of the camp's sadistic guards, turning them into salivating monsters with a taste for human flesh. Sounds great right? That's what I thought when I sat down to watch this low-budget affair. Little did I know that what I was actually in for with Bad Meat was 90 minutes of sheer boredom and confusion.

What I found most interesting about this production was the pretty decent cast involved; Mark Pelligrino, Dave Franco, Tahj Mowry and Jessica Parker Kennedy to name but a few. All of the aforementioned cast are well known for different productions, indeed some, like Dave Franco, seem to be current flavours of the month, but this film (albeit only 3 years old) seems to have captured them all pre-fame and during a period where over-acting is the phrase that pays!

None of the cast are particularly likeable, so from the get-go you find you cannot root for anyone's survival. As previously mentioned, the acting is pretty poor across the board. For long periods of time very little actually happens (despite people dying/getting infected with goodness knows what (the reason for the bad meat is never explained)/monsters on the loose) half the characters sit around and chat and if they're not doing little they simply seems to wander round, nonchalantly walking into any room without a care for what may lie behind the closed doors.

Characters disappear with little to no explanation and the rest of the group simply carry on without worrying what has happened, the filmmakers rightly deciding that the viewing public will care little about them so why make a big deal of it in the film. By now you're probably thinking "Well, at least things can't get any worse" - Ha! How wrong you could be! Just when you think that you've devoted an hour and a half of your life to this tripe that you may as well see it out until it's conclusion, the film suddenly just ends, with no explanation as to what happened to the 5 or 6 characters that were left just a few seconds before. The director simply attempts (very badly I might add) to thrown in a 'surprise' ending and the film fades to credits and we, the viewers, are left feeling that watching that wet patch of paint on the wall drying might have been the better option after all ...