Monday, 28 April 2014


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.