Category Archives: Sci-Fi

Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021) Review

Prisoners-of-the-Ghostland-1-1

Prisoners of the Ghostland

Time: 103 Minutes
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Hero
Sofia Boutella as Bernice
Bill Moseley as The Governor
Director: Sion Sono

In the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town, a ruthless bank robber gets sprung from jail by a wealthy warlord whose adopted granddaughter has gone missing. He offers the prisoner his freedom in exchange for retrieving the runaway. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct in five days, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman — and his own path to redemption.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I was actually quite excited for Prisoners of the Ghostland. One of the biggest selling points (which was used to market the movie) is that lead actor Nicolas Cage said that it might be the wildest movie he’s ever made, which is saying a lot considering his reputation for being in wild movies and/or being wild in some of his movies. So that combined the simple yet over the top premise, I was looking forward to it. The actual film didn’t quite deliver as I hoped it would.

FE65OuVXEAABFEI

The premise is straightforward, a bank robber played by Nicolas Cage has bombs attached to him and he’s given a certain amount of time to rescue a woman before the bombs go off. I liked how the film started, and it showed some promise. It is a mash up of genres, with it being a western, samurai and post apocalyptic film, and it’s certainly impressive for that. However I had a sinking feeling as it approached the end of the first act, as its many issues reared their heads. The script is poorly written, and not always in the campy B-movie way. Despite the premise and the over the top nature, Prisoners of the Ghostland is surprisingly dull. It meanders a bit too much in the first half and I had mostly tuned out at the halfway point. Not much actually happens in the movie, and in the scenes where nothing was happening, I struggled to find out what the point of them were. It seemed like it was trying to build lore in these scenes, but even from that perspective the execution was lackluster.  On that comment from Cage, its definitely not one of the wildest movies he’s made but it is on the Weider side. However, it feels somewhat low effort and more like its weird for the sake of being weird, and it comes across rather hollow. It only picks up again when it enters into the climactic final battle in the third act. If the movie was just the climax it would’ve been a highly enjoyable throwback to over the top B-movies. However it is stretched to an entire movie length, and even at 100 minutes long it is tedious to watch.

E_dLqCsWQAIEXh2

Nicolas Cage is in this movie and as expected this movie is definitely trying to play to his skills of being over the top. However to put it bluntly, if I was to make a list of the top 10 over the top Nicolas Cage movies/performances, Prisoners of the Ghostland wouldn’t come close to making it. He’s certainly over the top and lets loose in some moments. Otherwise he seems strangely restrained, probably because there’s not much of a character for him to play here, it’s just like he’s a parody of action leads. He makes the movie easier to sit through, but he somehow feels out of place with the rest of the movie. Sofia Boutella is the only actor in the movie who isn’t over the top, she’s playing the woman who Cage is trying to rescue. She’s decent in her part but she was very underused and not given much to do here. Every other actor is over the top and ‘weird’ but there’s not much of a character for them to play.

image

Part of the hype for Prisoners of the Ghostland was the director Sion Sono, I haven’t seen any of his movies but I heard that he’s quite unique and ‘crazy’ as a filmmaker. With this film there’s certainly a lot of flare to his direction. The cinematography is fantastic, the practical sets are impressive, and the action isn’t anything special but is nicely stylised and fun to watch.

Screen-Shot-2021-01-26-at-10.05.29-PM

I was rather disappointed in Prisoners of the Ghostland. Despite the premise, its just rather dull to sit through, especially the middle hour of the film. It does have some strengths, Nicolas Cage was enjoyable to watch despite being underutilised, I liked the mash up of different genres, and a lot of the technical aspects are impressive. At the very least, it has me interested to check out Sion Sono’s other work, but by itself, Prisoners of the Ghostland is just fine at best.

Don’t Look Up (2021) Review

Leonardo-DiCaprio,-Jennifer-Lawrence,-Meryl-Streep,-and-Jonah-Hill-in-Dont-Look-Up

Don't Look Up

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language, nudity & drug use
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy
Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky
Rob Morgan as Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe
Cate Blanchett as Brie Evantee
Meryl Streep as Janie Orlean
Jonah Hill as Jason Orlean
Mark Rylance as Peter Isherwell
Tyler Perry as Jack Bremmer
Ron Perlman as Colonel Benedict Drask
Ariana Grande as Riley Bina
Scott Mescudi as DJ Chello
Himesh Patel as Phillip Kaj
Melanie Lynskey as June Mindy
Director: Adam McKay

Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I remember Don’t Look Up at one point being one of my most anticipated films of 2021. It has a massive cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep, Timothee Chalamet and more. I also liked Adam McKay’s more recent dramatic work with The Big Short and Vice, and I was interested in him doing a full on satire with his latest film. However as it approached its release date, I had my doubts. The trailers weren’t the best and the reactions coming out of it weren’t exactly confidence inspiring. Still I gave it a chance and overall I’m prepared to say that I like it, though I completely understand why some people dislike it.

FHybZZXXEAEAyL_

I do like the premise of the movie, with the lead characters trying to warn the world about a coming disaster while the world doesn’t listen, definitely works for a satire. It is a comedy, and while I wouldn’t say it failed, most of the humour didn’t work. There are funny jokes throughout but not as many as you’d hope for. I was generally entertained throughout, even if it was never that great in the first two acts, just a mildly funny comedy with very mixed satire (more on that later). The movie is around 2 hours and 20 minutes long, and it really didn’t need to be that long. I wouldn’t say that I was bored during the movie, but it all felt very drawn out and not a lot happens or is said to really justify that length, and the comedy and satire isn’t good enough to fully sustain things all the way through. I feel like on rewatch I’d find it harder to get through. Strangely enough, it gets into much more dramatic territory in the third act, and its surprisingly quite effective, and its far better than what came earlier. Looking back at the rest of the movie, it actually works much better as a terrifying and depressing end of the world downer (with darkly comedic elements) than a smart political and social satire. Another issue is that the tone is all over the place. McKay’s last two movies jumped between drama and comedy as well, but it feels messier in Don’t Look Up. Until the third act, it just can’t seem to decide whether it’s trying to be an apocalyptic drama and a mostly straight-faced satire, or a full on spoof. I think it needed to either be more straight faced about it or lean much further into absurdity.

screenshot-2021-12-27-at-120452

While I enjoy the movie, the actual satire is one of the weaker elements unfortunately. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen of Don’t Look Up is that its very obvious and not subtle at all, much like McKay’s last two movies. And I’ll always stay true to my belief that its not inherently bad if a film is more obvious than subtle. Sometimes it is refreshing for a movie to be more direct about things. The problem is that a lot of the satire just feels a bit too obvious, in the sense that its too easy. For example, many of the characters are caricatures meant to represent types or groups of people, but they feel very overdone and a little lazy, the upbeat news anchors, the president and politicians who doesn’t know what they’re doing, dumb celebrities, etc., and McKay doesn’t do anything with them beyond the obvious. There’s nothing particularly daring or insightful said in this film, and the caricatures and not-subtle messaging makes the film hard to be engaging. I will say that some of the ways that people respond in the movie is like how people would respond in real life. However for every one of those moments, there’s moments where the satirising of aspects of today’s society isn’t quite right. An example is when Jennifer Lawrence’s character becomes a meme of sorts, but the memes that are very displayed are outdated top-text and bottom-text meme formats from the 2000s. It doesn’t break the movie or anything but moments like these go towards the film not fully succeeding at being a satire of today. While I wouldn’t say that the movie talks down to people and is condescending (although I can see why people would see it that way), there is a general sense of self-importance, and the feeling that they are more insightful and smarter than they really are. Part of that is the fact that the comet in the film is intended as a metaphor for climate change, and the movie is apparently meant to urge people to take it seriously. If we look at the movie from this perspective, Don’t Look Up really only spreads awareness that climate change exists and does and says nothing beyond that, at most its only preaching to the choir. Also when you really think about it, the comet doesn’t really make for a particularly good metaphor for climate change, especially in the context of the film (without spoiling anything). I wouldn’t normally look this deep into a movie like this, but McKay and his co-writer really seem to believe that they are saying something important about climate change, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

dont-look-up-review

One of Don’t Look Up’s biggest selling points is its absurdly large cast, which is no doubt why so many people wanted to check it out in the first place. While I wouldn’t say that any of these actors are even close to giving career best performances in this movie, most of them are pretty good in their parts. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play astronomers who discover the comet heading for Earth and try to warn people about it. This is the third of DiCaprio’s more comedic performances after The Wolf of Wall Street and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he has shown himself to be surprisingly great at comedy. He’s also really good here at portraying his stressed and panic stricken character, and he especially has a great and notable rage sequence in the second half of the movie. Lawrence is also great and entertaining, she’s especially good in the scenes of comedy. DiCaprio, Lawrence and Rob Morgan (who is also great) are the best performances in the movie because they were the only performances and characters that actually felt somewhat grounded and felt like actual characters, in contrast to every other actor. When Meryl Streep showed up as the president, at first I thought she was phoning her performance, but I actually think she’s pretty good. I soon came to realise that most major actors in the cast play an over the top and obvious caricature, and so they all feel underutilised to a degree. With that said I think most of them actually work in their parts. The highlights for me were Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, and Cate Blanchett, Ron Perlman is also a scene stealer in his 5 minutes. So while it is disappointing that this stacked cast weren’t really utilised to their fullest potential, at least most of them gave decent performances. Notice that I said ‘most’ instead of ‘all’, the sole exception is Mark Rylance, I have no idea what he was doing in this movie. Rylance plays a tech billionaire, and I definitely get the point of his character. He’s a riff on Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and every other rich tech CEO right now, and it makes sense for that kind of character to be in this movie. However, his performance is so weird and strange from his line deliveries and the way he decides to play the role, and not in a good way. I think the best way I can describe it as he’s trying to play Joe Biden playing Elon Musk. I know that everyone is an over-the-top caricature in this movie, but Rylance is on a completely different wavelength from the others that he feels completely out of place.

2b9fc-16404474301959-1920

Adam McKay’s directing style in this movie won’t work for everyone. Most notable is the editing, which is very fast, messy, and often cuts to a lot of brief clips and images, similar to what McKay did with The Big Short and Vice. If you hated the editing in Vice, you’ll probably hate the editing in Don’t Look Up too. I will admit that I liked the editing in McKay’s unofficial political trilogy, but while I mostly liked the editing in Don’t Look Up, some of it got on my nerves a little bit at points. However, I will say that it actually does work very well in some moments in the third act and worked to give some parts some emotional punch to them. Editing aside, a lot of the other technical elements are strong. Linus Sandgren’s cinematography is great, for the most part its not really a movie that needs to be particularly well shot, but he does make the most of it when he can. Nicholas Britell is reliably great as the composer, and his score is one of the strongest parts of the film. Its definitely not on the level as his some of his other work like Succession or Vice, but its still great. The budget is absolutely insane at $75 million, and watching the movie, most of the film really didn’t need to have that large of a budget. With that said, the scenes involving large visual effects from comets to rockets were quite good.

where-was-dont-look-up-filmed-1640200002826

Don’t Look Up is already proving to be incredibly divisive amongst people. If you really aren’t a fan of McKay’s style from his past two movies, I think that you’ll find his latest film to be a struggle. I can completely understand why some people are really disliking the movie. I don’t think it really succeeds, particularly as a satire, and even from a comedy standpoint it could’ve been better. Still, it has its moments (both comedic and dramatic), some of the technical elements are strong, and most of the performances from the cast are decent. I recommend checking it out at the very least.

The Matrix Resurrections (2021) Review

MV5BMjYxZDQ2ODMtZjg2Mi00ZWNlLTlmMjMtNjBmMTVkNWRjZThmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTE0MzQwMjgz._V1_

The Matrix Resurrections

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Thomas Anderson/Neo
Carrie-Anne Moss as Tiffany/Trinity
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus
Jessica Henwick as Bugs
Jonathan Groff as Smith
Neil Patrick Harris as The Analyst
Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Sati
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Director: Lana Wachowski

To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, Mr. Anderson, aka Neo, will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. If he’s learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of — or into — the Matrix. Neo already knows what he has to do, but what he doesn’t yet know is that the Matrix is stronger, more secure and far more dangerous than ever before.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

I really didn’t know what to expect from The Matrix Resurrections. I had previously watched the original trilogy some time ago, but I only just liked those movies and I wasn’t such a huge fan of them (even when it comes to the original). Then I watched the trailers for Resurrections and my interest shot up immediately, compelling me to revisit the original trilogy right before the new film. In my more recent rewatches of the trilogy I found that I was liking it a lot more, especially the sequels despite how divisive they were. So I was looking forward to the latest instalment, and I’m happy to say that Resurrections delivered in what I was hoping.

Screen-Shot-2021-12-06-at-1.58.24-PM-1200x520

Something you’ll see in every review for The Matrix Resurrections is the word ‘meta’, and the film is definitely very meta. I won’t go into detail as to the specifics of the plot, its worth checking out for yourself. However a noticeable part of it is very much is a commentary on IP culture and the commodification and exploitation of IP, as well as criticising blockbusters (mainly reboots). While some might consider the self-aware aspects annoying, I actually loved them, and it’s a very bold addition. In a way you could make a comparison between Resurrections and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. In a sense, some of the meta aspects are dropped once it leaves its first act and becomes more of a continuation of the Matrix story, though honestly the meta aspects could’ve felt tired when pushed longer so it was probably for the best. The second act is admittedly on the slower side and not quite as strong as the first or third acts, but I was nonetheless engaged with what was happening. Then it moves into its third act which I found incredibly gratifying and satisfying to watch.

Culture_Matrix4-Warner Brothers

Something that I admire about the Wachowskis is that they are making the movies that they want to make and not really catering to the audience, which is most evident in their sequels with Reloaded, Revolutions, and now Resurrections. This is something that’s established from the meta first act, and Resurrections is essentially the creators reclaiming their franchise nearly 20 years later. While there is some nostalgia including references and returning characters, its still very much a personal movie with lots to say, and is very heartfelt and sincere. This is the most emotionally charged of the four films by far, from the emotional core of the story with Neo and Trinity, to just the feeling behind the whole film. As typical of it being a Matrix movies, there are a lot of themes at play. Along with the commentary and deconstruction of IP cinema, it still maintains the metaphors and themes of the original trilogy including systems and identity. Themes aside, Resurrections still does find a way to build upon the lore and continue the story in a way that I was satisfied with. While it certainly establishes some things which could be built upon in future films, I’m actually very comfortable with Resurrections being the conclusion of the whole series.

Brody-Matrix

I really liked the acting in the movie, everyone was really good in their part. Keanu Reeves in this movie isn’t only his best performance in a Matrix movie, but one of his best performances in general. He’s good throughout but he’s particularly great in the first act. Carrie-Anne Moss also returns as Trinity, and she was also great. She’s not in the movie as much as you’d expect, especially when it’s a movie about her and Neo, but she’s really good in her screentime. My biggest criticism of the first Matrix movie is that the central romance came out of nowhere at the end and wasn’t convincing. The sequels fixed this and made it believable, and Resurrections is no exception. While you don’t see Trinity as much as you would like, their connection is nonetheless a vital part of the movie and the essential emotional core. This movie very much builds off their established connection into something more, and for what its worth, Reeves and Moss have the best chemistry here out of the four movies, and they feel very believable.  The new additions to the cast were great too, mainly Jessica Henwick as Bugs and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus, or rather a new Morpheus. Addressing the elephant in the room, there is an explanation as to while the real Morpheus as played by Laurence Fishburne isn’t here. I like how Yahya doesn’t try to replicate Fishburne and is very much doing his own thing. Neil Patrick Harris was probably the biggest surprise in the movie. He plays Keanu’s psychologist known as The Analyst, but he has a far greater role in the movie, and proved to be a very different kind of antagonist compared to Smith. Speaking of Smith, that role this time is played by Jonathan Groff. While it definitely is disappointing not seeing Hugo Weaving reprise his role, Groff’s version is nonetheless interesting to watch, especially with how different he is. He doesn’t try to replicate Weaving and that really was for the best, and he’s wonderfully chewing up the scenery. There are also some welcome return actors and characters like Jada Pinkett Smith and Lambert Wilson in their roles.

61ca38548e6e4.image

Lana Wachowski, one half of the Wachowski sisters, returns to direct the next Matrix movie. I thought her work here was great. It’s certainly feels very different stylistically to The Matrix which some might take issue with. But I feel like its less like she lost her Matrix touch and more like her filmmaking style has evolved since 18 years ago, and I appreciate how it feels very different rather than trying to recapture the original trilogy’s style. The cinematography is great, it certainly feels very different than the first three movies with the colour pallet and style, but I loved it, especially with the use of colour. The visual effects are fantastic too, and it’s quite something seeing a Matrix movie in the 2020s with modern technology. Watching is on the big screen was an incredible experience. The biggest complaint that some people will have is about the action, and the action is one of the most known parts of the movies. To be blunt, aside from one or two sequences, the action in Resurrections doesn’t rank amongst the best action of the franchise, there’s not much like the Freeway Chase in Reloaded or the final battle between Neo and Smith in Revolutions. There’s also not that many action scenes in the film. With that being said, I do like the action, and there are some moments in the third act which really stand out. In saying that, the action definitely isn’t a focus point compared to the previous three movies. Lana Wachowski is clearly more interested in the themes, plot and character and I respect that. The score from Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer is great, very reminiscent of Don Davis’s score from the original trilogy, with the same feel and atmosphere. It really elevates the action scenes particularly.

Culture_matrix_rev-1-MX4-TRLR-0012_High_Res_JPEG

The Matrix Resurrections is one of the most ambitious and creative blockbusters I’ve seen in a while. It’s meta and nostalgic while having enough changes to feel fresh for the franchise. Its entertaining, subversive, bold but also personal and heartfelt, with an enthralling story and is excellently directed. Resurrections is already proving itself to be an incredibly divisive movie. If you aren’t such a fan of the Matrix sequels you might not be into it. But for what its worth, as someone who loves the Matrix sequels, I loved this film and its one of my all-time favourite movies from 2021.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003) Review

MV5BMTY3MzY4ODkwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDA4Nzc3Mw@@._V1_

The Matrix Revolutions

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

Neo, humanity’s only hope of stopping the war and saving Zion, attempts to broker peace between the machines and humans. However, he must first confront his arch nemesis, the rogue agent Smith.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I rewatched the first two Matrix movies earlier in the year in preparation for the fourth movie, The Matrix Resurrections. However I ended up just rewatching the first two movies and didn’t get around to completing the trilogy. As it was approaching the release date of the newest film, I decided to attempt to rewatch the whole trilogy again, and I’m glad I did. I’ll admit I wasn’t such a huge fan of these movies previously, even the original I thought was just decent. However in spite of my issues with it, along with it being an incredibly impactful, influential and technically impressive movie, The Matrix was a great film in itself. Even the more recent rewatch of Reloaded had me really liking it. It’s definitely messy and overstuffed but It was interesting, bold and ambitious with its ideas and I might’ve even enjoyed it more than the original. I was curious about how I would find Revolutions since I have only seen it once and I don’t remember much except that it seems to be the least liked out of the trilogy by many people. However I’m glad to say that I liked it about as much as the previous two films.

The-Matrix-Revolutions-2003-featured

Something noteworthy about The Matrix Revolutions is that it is very much a continuation from Reloaded, in fact you could say that the two movies combined are a singular sequel to The Matrix. So try not to watch them months apart or anything. The Matrix Reloaded had a ton of exposition for the lore and the themes, way more than the first movie. Revolutions has some of this but its not nearly as overwhelming. I do appreciate the dialogue in Reloaded from my rewatch (along with grasping what people were actually talking about), but I appreciate Revolutions easing off that a bit. It’s also not as convoluted, you don’t get a scene like the infamous Architect scene from Reloaded. It does seem to lean more into action scenes than long philosophical conversations about reason and purpose. With all that being said, Revolutions can still deliver on the ideas, and its certainly not short on ambition. Reloaded could feel a little bloated at points with both the themes and action being dialled up, and could feel a little unbalanced, Revolutions on the other hand feels more focused and consistent. Something that I know people don’t like about Revolutions is that there isn’t a whole lot of time in the actual Matrix. Most of the Matrix’s screentime take place in the first third, whereas most of the movie  takes place in Zion, the last human city. There’s even a very long battle in Zion against the machine which lasts well over 30 minutes. It can feel a little too long and no doubt they could’ve been shaved down those scenes a bit. However these scenes are nonetheless effective, with the action having a lot of tension and weight to them as the threat of the machines feel overwhelming and scary. Thankfully the Zion action isn’t the last action we get, as we get a final action scene taking place in the Matrix which I found very satisfying. I found the ending to be quite fitting and conclusive, and so I’m wondering how Resurrections will connect with it.

Matrix-Revolutions-2003-8

Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne are back again in their roles of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus and I think they were really good once again. Like with Reloaded, is also a lot of focus on the romance between Neo and Trinity. Their relationship was one of the worst parts of the first movie because there was virtually no chemistry between the actors, and with the writing, it just sort of comes out of nowhere in the film. However this is mitigated in Reloaded and Revolutions, and the scenes between these two are particularly great. Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith continues to be a considerably scene chewing and highly enjoyable villain. Whereas in Reloaded he was a supporting villain who occasionally showed up to be a problem, here he takes on an even larger villainous role. He steals every scene he’s in and is one of the highlights of an already great film.

The_Matrix_Revolutions-339253159-large

The Wachowskis direct this incredibly well as expected, and it’s great on a technical level. The Matrix movies all look amazing, but this is probably the best looking of the trilogy, from the scenes in the matrix to the scenes in Zion. The action scenes and set pieces are impressive, and even the CGI holds up well (at least compared to some of the CGI in Reloaded). We only get about a third of the movie in the Matrix, but those gunfights and battle scenes are nonetheless impressive. The divisive battle between the humans of Zion and the Sentinels was actually quite impressive, if a bit too long and chaotic. It’s a real spectacle from the visual effects to the scale, and the Sentinels feel more scary and unstoppable than they have ever before. The real highlight action scene for me is the climactic fight between Neo and Smith, playing out like a big anime fight. Like all the Matrix movies, it’s unapologetically over the top, and while that might be seen as ‘too much’, it only makes the movie better for me. Don Davis’s dramatic choral score is epic like in the previous movies, and really elevates the tension and scale in many of the scenes.

thematrixrevolutions

The Matrix Revolutions is a very divisive conclusion to the original trilogy, but one that I really liked. It may have some of the typical Matrix issues like some clunky and stiff dialogue, and some occasional messiness, but on the whole it succeeds. The themes and the direction the story go in was impressive, and the technical aspects and action are enthralling to watch. At risk of going off topic, I have to say that there is something quite refreshing watching the Matrix sequels, as the Wachowskis take the follow ups to their critically acclaimed movie in the directions they want to take them, regardless of what audiences want, and I will always appreciate when filmmakers do that. Even if they don’t 100% work, the sequels are ambitious if nothing else, and I’m glad to be one of the people who really like the sequels as much as the first movie. After being successfully ‘Matrix Pilled’ for all 3 movies, I’m looking forward to seeing how The Matrix Resurrections turns out.

Titane (2021) Review

rsz_titane_photo_2carole_bethuel

Titane

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, sex scenes, nudity & content that may disturb
Cast:
Agathe Rousselle as Alexia
Vincent Lindon as Vincent
Garance Marillier as Justine
Laïs Salameh as Rayane
Director: Julia Ducournau

Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) suffers a terrible skull injury and has a titanium plate fitted into her head. When she gets out of the hospital, she rejects her parents and embraces passionately the car that almost killed her. She meets Vincent (Vincent Lindon). Vincent is a tortured man who tries to preserve his strength by injecting steroids into his aging body. Will they find a way to deal with their emotional problems?

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I heard that Titane was the Palme d’Or winner, which definitely got my attention. I soon learnt that the director was Julia Ducournau, who previously made Raw, a movie that I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. I watched it and found it to be an incredible film, and it only increased my anticipation for her next movie. Having seen Titane, I can confirm that it is amazing, even if it’s not for everyone.

titane-1

I won’t spoil the movie, much of it is worth going into yourself. It is hard to describe without saying too much, but I’ll do my best. However, I’d say that part of the premise is that a serial killer with a titanium plate in her head has sex with a car and finds herself pregnant. Of course the movie is more than just that but if your interest switched off after learning that, then chances are this movie might not be for you. The direction the story goes in is genuinely interesting though, and one worth experiencing for yourself. The first 30-40 minutes are very brutal and gruesome, and body horror is a present part throughout. However I expected that, pregnancy by car aside. It’s the second two thirds that caught me off guard, the second half is comparatively less grotesque and that’s where you find out what the movie is about. The script is original and ambitious, and I was invested in the story. The movie is certainly insane, unsettling and unnerving, and it takes influence from the likes of David Cronenberg (especially his 1996 film Crash). Despite many of the scenes in the movie, Julia Ducournau isn’t interested in ramping up the gore and being outwardly disturbing (outside of maybe the first act). The writing is very sincere, disarmingly sweet, and bizarrely beautiful. It was more profound and emotionally resonant than I was expecting. There’s a lot to take away from the movie and analyse. However I can tell from this one viewing that Titane was about family, abandonment and acceptance in its strangest form. Identity is also a big part, especially gender identity and gender fluidity. The movie does a great job at juggling multiple different tones and themes. As for issues, the first act and the rest of the movie does feel quite disjointed, mainly with how different they feel in tone. It doesn’t have a focused central idea like Raw did, and so its initially quite hard to figure out where the story is going. I do get the feeling it would improve on repeat viewing (but only if you really wanted to watch it again).

1752271498_683_0_3414_2048_1600x0_80_0_0_51090b41f1fa8262a08a2065bd2e496c

The performances are great, and it mostly comes down to the main two lead characters who are very fleshed out. Agathe Rousselle plays the main character of Alexia. At first she’s really not a character you start to like, especially given that she’s a serial killer who at first seems to stab anyone she meets. However you sympathise with her by the end, mainly in the second half. Helping this is a memorable, transformative, and committed performance from Rousselle, particularly impressive given that this is her first performance. Vincent Lindon is equally great as the captain of a firehouse who is also a father who’s lost his son. His performance is effectively restrained and sensitive, and his scenes with Rousselle are fantastic.

1AgocSYPYvqJEomw2Ob6

Julia Ducournau has once again shown herself to be an outstanding director. On a technical level, Titane is a massive step up from Raw, and that movie was already greatly directed. The cinematography and camerawork are amazing, visually striking with some very memorable imagery throughout. The sound design is rich and the score from Jim Williams (Possessor and Raw) is eerie and effective. The film is unflinching when it comes to the scenes of gore and violence, and the effects were impressive.

Brody-Titane

Titane will certainly be one of the most memorable and talked about films of the year. It will definitely alienate many people because of the graphic content and bizarreness. However I found it to be an intriguing mix of body horror and heartfelt drama, with excellent writing and direction, and great performances from the leads. Amongst my favourite films from 2021.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) Review

11067016 - Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Venom Let There Be Carnage

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock/Venom
Michelle Williams as Anne Weying
Naomie Harris as Frances Barrison/Shriek
Reid Scott as Dan Lewis
Stephen Graham as Patrick Mulligan
Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady/Carnage
Director: Andy Serkis

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is still struggling to coexist with the shape-shifting extraterrestrial Venom. When deranged serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) also becomes host to an alien symbiote, Brock and Venom must put aside their differences to stop his reign of terror.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

After waiting for just under 2 months longer than most countries, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is finally here in cinemas. I’ve actually been very looking forward to it. I enjoyed the Venom movie released back in 2018, however it definitely had some issues, especially on my more recent rewatch. With the addition of actors like Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris and Andy Serkis as the director, I was interested to see how it would turn out. I was at least hoping that it would learn its lessons from the previous film and work to its strengths, and I’m happy to say that it does.

11067016 - Venom: Let There Be Carnage

The story isn’t anything special, its surface level and simplistic but its functional. Had it been more complicated it might’ve ended up being a detriment to the rest of the film.  One element of the first Venom that could’ve been improved on is the tone. A big surprise is that it had a lot of campy elements which were some of the stronger stuff, unfortunately it felt like it couldn’t decide whether to be campy or to be serious, and jumps between the two. Venom: Let There Be Carnage fixes this issue. It doesn’t take itself seriously, its darkly comic and silly and it knows what it is. I was thoroughly enjoying the movie from beginning to end. Another strong element of the first film was the dynamic between Eddie Brock and Venom, which was entertaining but felt rushed. This again is utilised to its fullest potential in the sequel, in fact Let There Be Carnage is essentially a romantic comedy between the two. The relationship between them is handled with confidence, each of them felt like individual beings with a connection, and it felt believable. In the movie they have relationship issues and friction between them, with Eddie wanting to have a normal life, while Venom wanting to be the hero along with eating people. Its strangely wholesome and heartfelt at times, I could watch 10 movies of just Eddie and Venom interacting. Another way it noticeably improves is in the runtime considerably less than Venom’s 1 hours 50 minute runtime, instead at under 100 minutes in length. As I said, it’s a pretty tight plot, there’s not an ounce of fat and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. All I’ll say about the mid-credits scenes is that its worth sticking around for.

Venom in Columbia Pictures' VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE.

Tom Hardy is back as Eddie Brock/Venom and is wonderfully bonkers and fun to watch. These movies wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining without Hardy’s commitment to the role. Eddie and Venom are likable and fun to watch, especially when they are interacting with each other. A disappointing area with the first Venom was the villain, but it improves on it here with Carnage, one of Spider-Man/Venom’s most famous villains in the comics. Woody Harrelson plays Cletus Kasady, a serial killer who acquires a symbiote from Venom and is even more dangerous than Venom. While Kassidy is not much more complex than Carlton Drake in the first Venom, Harrelson’s gleefully maniacal performance makes him fun to watch and a highlight of the sequel. Naomie Harris is also here as a villain named Shriek. Like everyone else in the movie, Harris knows what kind of film she’s in, and hams it up effectively. To a degree she was underused, but she was entertaining in her screentime. Stephen Graham is in this movie as a detective investigating Cletus Kasady, while it’s a stock detective part, Graham is quite good in his part. Michelle Williams is back from the first movie as Eddie’s ex-fiancée Anne, it’s a thankless role and she’s probably given the worst material out of anyone in the movie but she plays it well.

eb0b75438ca738f6f0ae7516d27027f2_original2

Andy Serkis is here as a director and that had me very interested. I like him as an actor and I liked his previously directed movie Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, but its his understanding and experience with CG characters which had me most interested in him directing. He put that to great use, and on a technical level its also better than the first movie. The cinematography is from Robert Richardson of all people, and this movie certainly looked really good, a cool aesthetic with great lighting and colour grading. There’s particularly a scene in a cathedral which caught me off guard. The CGI was a lot better compared to the first movie, it could still be a mess at times but its more comprehendible here. Venom looks good as always but the highlight with the effects is when it comes to Carnage. First of all the design while somewhat similar to Venom is different beyond being a different colour. He’s shown to be distinctly different in terms of powers and is shown to be a real threat, and the film conveys that greatly. The moment when you see Carnage on screen for the first time, it was a great introduction. The action scenes are enjoyable and are easier to comprehend. While you don’t see Venom and Carnage fight for much of the film, when they do it was satisfying and enjoyable to watch, certainly helping that this time they are identifiable and you can see what is going on with them. I was hesitant with the movie having a PG-13/M rating considering how violent Carnage is in the comics (he is a serial killer after all). However Serkis pulls it off quite well, it definitely borders on the R rating but does just enough.

eb0b75438ca738f6f0ae7516d27027f2_original

Venom: Let There Be Carnage was much better than I was expecting. It learns the lessons from the first film and made the follow up way better. It leans into the campiness and is enjoyable for that, it has a stronger focus on the Eddie/Venom dynamic, and its visually stunning and the action is enjoyable. I’m looking forward to Venom’s next on screen appearance, whenever that will be.

Dune (2021) Review

0520-Dune-Tout-Lede-a

Dune (2021)

Time: 156 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides
Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica
Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides
Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck
Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban
Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat
Zendaya as Chani
David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries
Chang Chen as Dr. Wellington Yueh
Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr. Liet-Kynes
Charlotte Rampling as Gaius Helen Mohiam
Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho
Javier Bardem as Stilgar
Director: Denis Villeneuve

Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence, only those who can conquer their own fear will survive.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

Dune was my most anticipated film of 2021. Along with sporting a massively talented cast including the likes of Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac, it is also the next film from Denis Villeneuve, who has already delivered some outstanding films like Blade Runner 2049, Sicario, Prisoners and more. On top of that, he’s adapting Frank Herbert’s Dune, and although I’ve never read it and I have only watched the David Lynch adaptation, it is said to be one of the most iconic and important sci-fi novels ever. So for the talent involved I was absolutely on board and was greatly anticipating its release. Unfortunately, the wait for the release date in cinemas for Dune here in New Zealand has been delayed to December, resulting in me having to watch it through other means. All that aside, I can now confirm that it is a fantastic movie that lived up to all the hype.

Rabban-Arrakis

Despite this movie being called Dune in most places, the true title of this movie (as shown in the opening) is Dune: Part One. Denis Villeneuve made the decision to split his Dune adaptation into two parts, a very wise decision to me. David Lynch’s Dune attempted to adapt the novel all in one film to very mixed results. So far, Villeneuve’s adaptation really benefits from this. There is a lot of strong worldbuilding, as well as lore and characters established. It really does earn its 2 hour and 30 minute runtime. I haven’t read the book and my knowledge from it came from watching the Lynch movie, and even then I only grasped some aspects and plot details. However with Dune Part One I grasped the story and lore surprisingly well, and I wanted to know more about this world. I was on board with what was happening the entire time. The pacing is steady especially near the beginning, but I wouldn’t have changed it at all. Villeneuve does well at conveying the stakes and scale of the events and setting, while also telling a personal journey of the lead character. This movie essentially focuses on Paul’s (Timothee Chalamet) internal struggle with his growing power and the story is about him accepting his role in a coming war. Like other movies, it does have the concept of a messiah-like or chosen one protagonist but there’s something about the way its handled here that makes it feel unique. Part One does essentially serve to convey a lot of exposition and worldbuilding for the Dune universe, but it approaches it in a way that felt natural to me. Some characters are more fleshed out than others for sure but that’s to be expected with a movie on this large a scale, with so many characters to keep track of. I didn’t really have any issues with the film off the top of my head, there was a lot to take in and a second viewing would definitely help. The only thing I will note is that as you probably would’ve guessed by this point, not everything is resolved at the end, in fact most things aren’t. It does well at getting you interested in what’s to come next, but this movie’s quality in a few years from now will depend on whether Part Two can deliver.

dune-movie-2020

As said earlier, the cast is really talented and they are great in their roles. Timothee Chalamet is in the lead role of Paul Atreides. He’s a commanding screen presence and captivating as this layered character. Rebecca Ferguson is once again great, Oscar Isaac was solid as the Duke and Paul’s father, and Jason Momoa is a scene stealer and perfectly cast in his role. Other actors like Josh Brolin, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Javier Bardem and more also do well in their parts. Some actors have less screentime than others. Stellan Skarsgard plays Baron Harkonnen, the main villain of Dune. Despite being in under 5 scenes in this movie, he leaves a strong and memorable impression with his menacing performance. Zendaya doesn’t get a lot of screentime but her presence is felt throughout through visions that Paul has. She’s good in her scenes, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in Dune: Part Two.

dune-photo-rebecca-ferguson-zendaya-javier-bardem-timothee-chalamet-1383159

Denis Villeneuve is a great and ambitious director, and his work on Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 particularly felt like an audition for this movie. Unsurprisingly his work on Dune is fantastic. Again I wasn’t able to appreciate all the work done on a big screen yet, but for those who can watch it in a cinema, I highly recommend it. This movie is an absolute experience and spectacle of a film, it’s rare to find a blockbuster that actually feels this epic in scale. The cinematography from Greig Fraser is outstanding, with perfect use of framing, colour and lighting. The production designs and locations were incredibly effective. So many of the places shot were memorable and unique from other sci-fi movies, with an otherworldly look to them. The set pieces and wardrobe are well crafted and help bring this world to life. It is not an action movie by any means, but the action that is here is very well handled and shot. The score from Hans Zimmer is operatic and unique, fitting the film perfectly.

DUNE1-e1623427081459

Dune: Part One is truly an immersive experience and spectacle of a film. A fantastic and visually gorgeous sci-fi epic, with an intriguing story, characters and world, a great cast of performances, and stellar direction from Denis Villeneuve. The only thing about Dune: Part One is that essentially we are watching part one of a full story, this movie could end up becoming better or worse depending on how Part Two is. I do know that I am even more excited for Part Two now, and I really want to check out the novel it is based on. If you’re able to, try to watch Dune on the big screen because I can already tell that it’s worth it.

Videodrome (1983) Review

Videodrome-DI-1

Videodrome

Time:  84 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains content that may offend
Cast:
James Woods as Max Renn
Debbie Harry as Nicki Brand
Sonja Smits as Bianca O’Blivion
Peter Dvorsky as Harlan
Leslie Carlson as Barry Convex
Jack Creley as Dr. Brian O’Blivion
Lynne Gorman as Masha
Director: David Cronenberg

As the president of a trashy TV channel, Max Renn (James Woods) is desperate for new programming to attract viewers. When he happens upon “Videodrome,” a TV show dedicated to gratuitous torture and punishment, Max sees a potential hit and broadcasts the show on his channel. However, after his girlfriend (Deborah Harry) auditions for the show and never returns, Max investigates the truth behind Videodrome and discovers that the graphic violence may not be as fake as he thought.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I’ve heard of Videodrome as a horror film directed by David Cronenberg and starring James Woods, it was meant to be something of a cult classic, but I had no idea what to expect from it going in. It turned out to be among the strangest movie watching experiences I’ve had, and I actually ended up loving it quite a lot.

Videodrome - 7

Videodrome was very much ahead of its time, in fact I can see it being inaccessible to some people. It’s really one of those movies that you will need to watch for yourself and determine what it is. This is especially considering that the lead character is a bit of an unreliable narrator and you can’t tell for sure whether what he (and by extension us) is seeing is real or not, which I guess was very much intentional. From what I can tell, Videodrome is a commentary about our desensitization to sex and violence through the media, as well as the power of media on the whole, especially with the rise of television at that time. Now the movie is very much set in a VHS era (in the 80s) but if you substituted television with the internet today, the message would still remain the same, and remain just as relevant if not more so. As a movie, it was a uniquely disturbing and fascinating experience for sure. I will say that I wasn’t certain about what was happening 100% of the time (again probably intentional), but I was going along with whatever was happening. As that, it really is best if you go into this movie and experience the strangeness for yourself without knowing too much beforehand. Cronenberg created such an uneasy and tense atmosphere that only grows the more you watch. The movie is 90 minutes long and for every minute you are invested in what is happening.

d29d77c92f9afaa1dd7917368c88c32e

James Woods does very well in the lead role of Max Renn. Despite his character being rather morally dubious, he does have a human aspect that evokes enough sympathy in the audience to make him watchable enough. Additionally, other actors in the cast like Debbie Harry and Sonja Smits also do well on their parts.

20200518-170048-B 0520 Videodrome Review Courtesy

David Cronenberg really shows off the best of his talents with Videodrome. Much of the uneasy feeling throughout the movie is due to his direction, there’s just a feeling of wrongness throughout, even when there’s not currently something weird or disturbing happening on screen. It’s very surreal, and claustrophobic at times, and helps to build up this uneasy atmosphere. The editing also contributes to this. Cronenberg has done lots of body horror in the past, and he does it again here with Videodrome to some great effect. There are some truly impressive and gruesome body effects which still hold up over 3 decades later. However it’s not just the body effects, there’s some effects that are meant to represent hallucinations and they do very well in making you question whether what’s happening on screen is real or not. Howard Shore’s score also fit perfectly with the movie, giving it even more eerie and uneasy vibe.

videodrome_-_3

Videodrome is a very weird movie for sure but it’s great, it’s directed incredibly, I was invested throughout, and it was such a uneasy and incredible experience. I actually want to get around to rewatching it sometime, because I feel like I’d get even more out of it on repeat viewings. While there’s many more of his movies that I have left to see, at the moment I’d say that this is one of David Cronenberg’s best, if not the best I’ve seen from him so far.

The Thing (1982) Review

the-thing-1982-lede

The Thing

Time:  109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady
A. Wilford Brimley as Blair
T. K. Carter as Nauls
David Clennon as Palmer
Keith David as Childs
Director: John Carpenter

In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, it brutally attacks both human beings and canines in the camp and they discover that the beast can assume the shape of its victims. A resourceful helicopter pilot (Kurt Russell) and the camp doctor (Richard Dysart) lead the camp crew in a desperate, gory battle against the vicious creature before it picks them all off, one by one.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

John Carpenter’s The Thing was underappreciated on its release back in 1982, in fact it opened to very negative responses from audiences and critics alike (not helped that it came out around the same time as E.T.). However it found an audience when it released on home video and television, and today it is considered a horror classic, and for very good reason. It remains an incredibly effective and influential horror movie that holds up decades later.

1_nQl2mSH30TcovIouCBcXWg

The Thing is a great mix of sci-fi, mystery and horror. It is gripping from beginning to end and I appreciate and notice new details every time I watch. Essentially it is an intriguing whodunnit mystery, that just happens to have a lot of thrills and gore in it. It has a feeling of claustrophobia and isolation throughout, which is on point and well tuned with John Carpenter’s classic minimalist aesthetics and atmosphere that are present in some of his other movies. It does so well at selling us on how hopeless it is trying to escape from this alien, you feel that sense of chilling paranoia around every corner, much like the characters do. Carpenter’s deliberate pacing and emphasis on the lack of escape also steadily increases the tension. Something which also increases the suspense is the lack of knowledge of who The Thing is at any given time, not to mention the lack of knowledge of what it even is. We also only see it react when its actually being threatened or exposed, and we don’t see the alien and becoming the person. This movie might be known for its effects, but there’s a lot of suspenseful sequences, one involving a blood test especially is a great example of suspense and shock. The ending is also haunting and fitting for the overall movie.

MV5BMjAyMTczOTc2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjQ0MjczMjI@._V1_

There are some top-notch performances from the cast. The lead character is that of MacReady, who is brilliantly played by Kurt Russell, one of his best performances and roles. He is believable as a hardened but normal guy finding himself up against an all too real alien threat. The same goes for the rest of the cast, for what they lack in development, they still feel like real human beings stuck in a dangerous situation. Every character feels so lived in and shine with what they are given, really playing into the paranoia considerably well throughout. The script doesn’t delve into everyone’s backgrounds, but it does give each of these people their deserving moment.

image

John Carpenter directs this movie, and this is some of his finest work. He is great with atmosphere in his movies, and The Thing is no exception. His use of the cold arctic landscape in this setting further emphasises the crew’s helplessness and isolation from the outside world. All the cinematography and production design are immaculate. There aren’t many jumpscares, but the ones that are here are done well. The Thing contains some of the most mindblowing and gruesome practical effects and makeup in a horror movie, and they hold up after nearly 40 years. The sound design is great, really putting you in the moments. The scores of John Carpenter’s movies are usually done by himself, this time it’s composed by Ennio Morricone. Despite this, it sounds exactly the way he would’ve score it, with simple synthesised tracks that help enhance the sinister mood of the movie. Incredibly simple yet effective.

TheThing02

The Thing is fantastic and an absolute horror classic for so many reasons. Its script is finely tuned to near perfection, the characters are simple but given enough believability and are performed well, and John Carpenter’s direction is fantastic, making the film effectively suspenseful and unnerving from beginning to end. It is John Carpenter’s best film to date, and it has aged very well over the years. If you are a horror fan, definitely check out The Thing as soon as you can.

Scanners (1981) Review

Scanners-1981-11

Scanners

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror scenes and violence
Cast:
Stephen Lack as Cameron Vale
Jennifer O’Neill as Kim Obrist
Patrick McGoohan as Dr. Paul Ruth
Lawrence Dane as Braedon Keller
Michael Ironside as Darryl Revok
Director: David Cronenberg

Dr Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) finds Vale (Stephen Lack), a powerful scanner, and uses him to stop Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), another powerful scanner who wants to form an alliance with others of his kind and dominate the world.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I only knew a little bit about Scanners going in, just that it was another horror movie from David Cronenberg, and is the source of a certain famous head explosion scene. Honestly, I was quite surprised by the movie. It for sure has its problems but it was very entertaining.

MV5BNDM3Y2EyNGYtOTI5Ni00ZWUxLThiZGYtODAyYTdiMjVkMmVmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTc5MDI5NjE@._V1_

Cronenberg takes the time to establish this universe about Scanners, which are basically powerful telepaths. At its core, it is a corporate espionage film that happens to involve telepaths at the centre of it. It’s more of a sci-fi film than a horror movie, though I think it has enough horror elements that it can still be classified as such. It is entertaining and I was pretty interested throughout, although there were some moments across its 100 minute runtime that did lose me and I wasn’t as invested. The script doesn’t feel quite polished, it also feels very run of the mill, especially considering Cronenberg’s standards. This concept and blending of story elements was ahead of its time for sure, but I feel like it could’ve been better and explored further (not that I’m asking for a remake or anything). Now there is an exposition dump right at the end of the movie, while I usually don’t like exposition dumps in movies, I was alright with it here, although there was also some reveal in that act which I found rather pointless. On the whole though, I thought that the movie really shined in the climax.

Scanners-1981-8

The weakest part of the movie was the characters and the actors. Stephen Lack plays the lead character and he was the weakest link in the cast. At times he gets away with it with such an intense stare when it comes to doing ‘scanning’, he seemed to have been deliberately chosen for this role for this reason. However he seems to suffer outside of those moments which don’t utilise that, especially when it comes to delivering lots of lines, his performance is quite bland and forgettable to say the least. Jennifer O’Neill gets the highest billing of the cast. She is introduced in the second act, her performance is alright but nothing special, she really doesn’t do much. Patrick McGoohan plays a doctor, essentially he is just there to give a lot of exposition throughout but he still works well even in that role. Michael Ironside is the standout in the cast and the movie as the villain. He really rides the line of being campy and over the top but still works out quite well, and was a very entertaining presence.

tumblr_muzd559rr71svtxvbo4_1280

David Cronenberg directs this well as to be expected. The body horror is there (Cronenberg also did that with The Fly and The Brood), though I was hoping for a little more horror than what was in the final film. The use of practical effects were great and creative, especially with the way that Cronenberg decided to portray telepathy in this movie. The aforementioned head explosion scene is still impressive to this day (if very over the top), though unfortunately there’s only one head that explodes in the movie. However thankfully it isn’t where the movie peaks with the impressive effects, there’s still a lot of other outstanding moments later in the movie. Howard Shore’s score is great and really works for this movie.

scanners-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

Despite some issues, such as the so-so characters and acting (aside from Michael Ironside), Scanners is quite good. Cronenberg’s direction definitely elevated it, the script had me interested enough in what was happening, it’s well made and it was quite entertaining. Check it out, especially if you are a Cronenberg fan who hasn’t gotten around to this movie yet.