Time: 97 Minutes Age Rating: R18 Jean-Claude Van Damme as Chance Boudreaux Lance Henriksen as Emil Fouchon, Arnold Vosloo as Pik Van Cleef Yancy Butler as Natasha Binder Wilford Brimley as Uncle Clarence Douvee Director: John Woo
Chance, a destitute merchant seaman, agrees to aid Natasha in her search for her missing father. However, this puts him on the deadly trail of a killer whose victims are homeless men.
I knew of Hard Target with it being a John Woo movie, his first American movie in fact. It also starred Jean-Claude Van Damme, and I hadn’t seen many of his movies outside of Universal Soldier and The Expendables 2, so I was curious about it, and I had a lot of fun with it.
Hard Target is firmly a B movie, very over the top and is enjoyable as such. It has a lot of humour, cheesy one liners, and goofy moments like Van Damme punching a snake. The story is decent enough, with an interesting concept being about rich people paying to hunt people. In execution though, it’s a serviceable action plot. The story begins relatively slow but picks up the pace as it continues, culminating in a highly entertaining third act action climax.
Jean Claude Van Damme doesn’t give the best performance, but is still working at the right level for this movie. He’s charismatic and entertaining, especially with his stunts and action scenes. However, it’s the villains who stand out the most. Lance Henriksen is great as the main villain; he’s wonderfully over the top and is clearly having a blast here. Arnold Vosloo is also an effective henchman, and gets a lot out of his screentime.
John Woo definitely brings the over stylised visual flair that you’d expect from him, and you can immediately tell that it’s one of his movies. There’s some great and well shot action from the explosions, slow motion, to the shootouts and fighting scenes, and Van Damme’s martial art skills are spectacular to watch. The stunts are pretty impressive and the movie even uses a lot of practical elements. Despite being an American Woo movie, it doesn’t hold back on the violence. The third act is particularly an absolute blast.
Hard Target is a very fun and over the top B-movie, with some entertaining action, enjoyable cheesiness, solid villains in Lance Henriksen and Arnold Vosloo, and really good direction from John Woo. I definitely wouldn’t put it among his best movies (it’s no Hard Boiled or even Face/Off), but it’s nonetheless a fun movie.
Time: 117 Minutes Age Rating: Horror scenes Cast: David Arquette as Dewey Riley Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers Patrick Dempsey as Mark Kincaid Scott Foley as Roman Bridger Lance Henriksen as John Milton Matt Keeslar as Tom Prinze Jenny McCarthy as Sarah Darling Emily Mortimer as Angelina Tyler Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie Deon Richmond as Tyson Fox Kelly Rutherford as Christine Liev Schreiber as Cotton Weary Patrick Warburton as Steven Stone Director: Wes Craven
As bodies begin dropping around the set of STAB 3, a movie sequel based on the gruesome Woodsboro killings, Sidney and other survivors are once again drawn into a game of horror movie mayhem.
Scream 3 is widely regarded as the worst instalment in the franchise, however in terms of worst entries in horror franchises, Scream 3 is better than most. There are definitely some issues, but I had a lot of fun with it.
For a first in the series, Ethan Kreuger is writing the script instead of Kevin Williamson, and you really do feel his absence. The meta commentary is a little mixed, it’s not as smart as the last couple of movies. It takes on certain things like the abusive system and politics of Hollywood. The Stab movies were introduced in Scream 2 but I think Scream 3 utilizes them a lot better in the plot given that it’s set in Hollywood. However, sometimes the commentary is a bit too on the nose and silly at points. There is also a certain subplot that has either aged well or aged poorly in the movie, considering that Scream 3 is a Harvey Weinstein movie. At the very least, it makes the plotline a little more awkward and uncomfortable now. The plot is still entertaining and has good humour, even if they lean into that a little too much at times. The main trio with Sidney, Gale and Dewey as usual were the highlights and I liked how it continued their stories. However the movie does lack the wittiness and cleverness of the movies that came before, and is a very generic affair. It falls into the tropes that it tries to parody, which is never a good sign. There are some questionable story decisions too, particularly with some reveals at the end of the film. However the biggest criticism I have is for a particular aspect that bugged me for the whole film. I can buy that each Ghostface wears the same costume, mask and voice changer that gives them the voice of Roger L. Jackson. However, this Ghostface also has another magical voice changer that makes them sound like literally any character that they want, and I really didn’t like that. With all that being said, I really like how Scream 3 ended the movie with its last scene.
There are some solid performances and enjoyable characters. The main trio in Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette deliver as always, Gale and Dewey are front and center, but I also think this movie really rounds out Sidney as a character too. As for the newcomers, they weren’t really the best, just sort of okay. However, Parker Posey was one of the highlights of the whole movie, playing an actor who was cast as a fictional version of Gale in the newest installment of the Stab franchise.
Wes Craven directs this well, though in terms of direction and technical elements, Scream 3 is probably the worst in the franchise. There are some good set pieces, even if they aren’t on the level of the first two movies. But really, there weren’t many standout scenes, and none of them really bordered on being scary or suspenseful. The music is reliable as ever, with Marco Beltrami again doing well with the score.
So unsurprisingly, Scream 3 is the worst of the franchise but is still pretty decent. While the meta commentary was very hit or miss and some of the story decisions didn’t work out, the cast and some of the set pieces were solid, and I still enjoyed watching it. Plus it ended on a note that would’ve been a fitting conclusion for the franchise if they didn’t continue it nearly a decade later. At the very least, there’s some enough good stuff here to make it worth watching.
Time: 107 Minutes Age Rating: Contains violence, offensive language and sex scenes. Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 “Model 101”
Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Paul Winfield as Ed Traxler
Lance Henriksen as Hal Vukovich Director: James Cameron
Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Sent to protect Sarah is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who divulges the coming of Skynet, an artificial intelligence system that will spark a nuclear holocaust. Sarah is targeted because Skynet knows that her unborn son will lead the fight against them. With the virtually unstoppable Terminator in hot pursuit, she and Kyle attempt to escape.
With Terminator 6 coming later in 2019, I thought that I should rewatch and review the other Terminator movies leading up to its release (aside from Genysis, which I reviewed already), even though the first two movies are the only ones relevant to the upcoming movie. James Cameron’s The Terminator and its sequel Judgement Day had a massive effect on cinema, especially for the sci-fi genre. While the sequel is generally praised more than the original, the first Terminator still deserves a lot of praise, with both standing the test of time as being fantastic pieces of science fiction cinema.
When it comes to The Terminator, plotwise, it’s perfectly crafted. It feels like everything that needed to be in the movie is here, there’s never a scene that feels unnecessary, and it doesn’t feel like there needs to be anything more added to it, its all fits well. It’s a pretty straightforward story, cyborg goes back in time to kill one of the protagonist and the protagonists need to survive from said cyborg. Even all the time travel elements and all the information about what happened (or in this case, what will happen) are explained sufficiently enough and aren’t too complicated. All the pacing is done very well, it’s under an hour and 50 minutes long and it never feels like its moving slowly. It feels heavily in the 80s and I guess there’s some aspects that you might call a little dated (some of which is to do with the way some scenes are written or directed) but it doesn’t get too distracting.
Sarah Connor in the first Terminator is… well, she’s not the Sarah Connor of Terminator 2. Her character here is not the greatest but Linda Hamilton nonetheless does a really good job playing her. Although her character gets much better in the sequel, it wouldn’t have been as effective if it wasn’t for what they did with her here. She is given a good character arc here, she develops over the course of the movie and it has a very satisfying ending. Michael Biehn is also really great as Kyle Reese, the soldier from the human sent to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator. Hamilton and Biehn also have good chemistry together. It wouldn’t be a Terminator review if we didn’t talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is great in the titular role. Before he played more heroic versions of the Terminator in the sequels, Schwarzenegger here is really convincing as an intimidating, emotionless and literal killing machine. It’s not just that he can talk like a robot or anything, the way he moves, the way he looks at everything, he just doesn’t seem human. The film does a great job at making the Terminator a seemingly unstoppable force, and Schwarzenegger also contributed to that.
James Cameron’s direction is nothing short of excellent. The second movie is more of a big action blockbuster, but with the original movie, Cameron does a fantastic job creating a quieter and more suspenseful movie, with the atmosphere playing a key part in this. The atmosphere is a big part about why The Terminator works so well, it’s not quite a horror movie or anything, but the way certain scenes are filmed are reminiscent of a slasher movie. The third act in particular is all suspense, with the sequence taking place in a factory being a standout. The practical effects are outstanding, especially on the Terminator itself. The only time where it doesn’t quite work is some of scenes with The Terminator when Arnold is clearly replaced by a literal robot made to look exactly like him. Granted for the 80s it is impressive, but you can clearly tell the difference when it goes from one shot of real Arnold, to one shot of fake Arnold and then back again, even if it is a pretty good recreation of Arnold’s face. It is absolutely perfect for the third act as the Terminator at that point received a massive amount of body and facial damage, but before that point it’s a little distracting. Aside from that, the practical effects are flawless. The action scenes aren’t as iconic as those in Terminator 2, but they are still done really well, relying mostly on practical effects and with most of what you’re seeing on screen being really what’s happening. Some of the visual effects aren’t the best like the lightning effects when both The Terminator and Kyle Reese appear but its not too much of a problem, its from the 80s anyway so there’s only so much that visual effects at this point could do. Something that I found effective is that the actually Terminator in robot form, we only see the true appearance towards the end, which seemed to be achieved through a mix of visual effects and practical effects, and its movements are so unnatural that it actually makes it more scary than the robotic forms of the Terminator in later movies. We do get a couple of scenes taking place in Judgement Day are all fantastically done, making it feel really gloomy and nightmarish. The score by Brad Fiedel is quite effective, which was composed and performed on the synthesizer. It gives the movie an eerie and menacing feel to it, yet being somewhat melodic. I guess the only bummer is that the iconic main theme that The Terminator is known for is still pretty early stages here, but the sequel fixed that.
The Terminator is a classic for a reason. With James Cameron’s fantastic direction, good work from its cast and a perfectly crafted plot, it really gets everything right. The two Terminator movies are different enough from each other that there’s no clear film which is better. Whether you prefer this movie or the sequel, there’s not denying the impact that they have made, both well worth the watch if you haven’t seen them already.
Time: 83 Minutes Age Rating: Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Brent Ryan
Selma Blair as Kendall Ryan
Anne Winters as Carly Ryan
Zackary Arthur as Josh Ryan
Robert T. Cunningham as Damon
Olivia Crocicchia as Riley
Brionne Davis as Tanner
Samantha Lemole as Jenna
Lance Henriksen as Mel Ryan Director: Brian Taylor
Definitely something terrible is happening on in the peaceful suburban community as, one day to another, former loving and caring parents mysteriously turn into ravenous carriers of an unfathomable pandemic that targets their offspring. Suddenly, every son and daughter (not only in the neighborhood but also in the entire nation) must to run for their lives, as the rage-filled murderous intent is simply as unstoppable as it is inexplicable. Of course, Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall’s (Selma Blair) teenage children are no exception, and before long, the simmering but usual familial tensions will take a completely different meaning. Kids, stop hiding. Mum and Dad love you so much.
I was interested in Mom and Dad, mainly because its Nicolas Cage going absolutely crazy in a movie where he tries to kill his children, directed by one of the directors of Crank. It sounded absolutely nuts and I was on board with it. I wasn’t really sure what the actual movie would be like, I just knew Cage would be nuts and I heard that the movie is actually pretty good for the movie that it is, and that’s pretty much the case. Mom and Dad is an weird, insane darkly comic horror movie, which is quite entertaining and surprisingly works. Its two lead performances however are what makes it really work.
The first 20 minutes of the movie are setting up things before the whole “everyone tries to kill their children” epidemic happens. While the writing and dialogue can feel a little iffy, most of this is to establish the similarities between this situation and the troubled relationships between parents and kids. After that 20 minute mark though, that’s when the children murdering epidemic starts, and it doesn’t let up after that. There isn’t any clear explanation for why parents are killing their children, theories are thrown around and that’s it. That really worked for me personally, doesn’t overcomplicate the plot. The movie keeps things reasonably straightforward, the plot isn’t convoluted and the characters are really simple. The writing itself is basic enough but it works. The Crank movies at times can have some bad writing but for the most part you don’t see that in Mom and Dad (with the exception of one supporting character which was pretty much written to be a stereotype). Now it is worth noting that this is a dark comedy, because so much of what happens is so violent and over the top that it does much more than just border on hilarity, the humour is a big part of the movie. It’s not a straight up scary horror movie. It doesn’t take things too seriously but there is some subtext with the parents’ frustrations even before the epidemic starts, especially with flashbacks with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair. While most movies (especially bigger movies) would have the parents be loving and all that before their rampage, they already establish them as being very unstable and not having the best of relationships with the children, which I think works well and makes it more effective. Mom and Dad is less than an hour and 30 minutes long and that really worked, there’s enough time to set up the characters and everything up before the epidemic starts, and after that point it’s entertaining right till the end. I will say though that a disappointing aspect was the ending. While I understand why they wanted to end on the note that they do, its rather abrupt and I wanted something a little more.
Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair are a big part of why this movie works. Sure the story concept sounds entertaining enough but it requires really convincingly unhinged performances to make it work, and they really brought it. They play both very convincing frustrated parents before the epidemic, as well as completely psychopathic parents who want to kill their children during the epidemic. Of course Nicolas Cage particularly stand out (as he would being Nicolas Cage), from the very beginning he’s crazy and has the movie goes on he just gets more and more crazy, and sometimes it can lead to some hilarious moments. I’m not going to reveal most of his big moments, but one of his stand out moments is when he screams the hokey pokey song while destroying a pool table with a sledgehammer. 2018 seems to be a comeback for Cage, with both this and Mandy. With that said, Selma Blair’s performance shouldn’t be overlooked either because she’s great as well. While Cage has a mix of being scary and funny, Blair comes across as being convincingly scary and unhinged. The kids of Cage and Blair played by Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur are okay, they serve their purposes well enough.
This movie is directed by Brian Taylor, who was involved with directing the Crank movies as well as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance alongside Mark Neveldine, and if you have seen these movies, you’ll definitely pick that up watching Mom and Dad. Now there aren’t crazy stunts being done or anything, but he does bring the style from his previous movies here, with the editing, cinematography and all that. Some of the crazy and wild camera movements might be a little too much for some people (here it’s a little incomprehensible at times), but for those who have seen the Crank movies, it’s much more tame in comparison. This movie does not hold back at all, especially with the violence. It is brutal, and really ballsy considering much of the movie’s violence shown is against children. With that said it’s not nearly as bloody as you’d think it would be, I can’t tell whether it should’ve been more bloody or if the less is more approach was better. The music used can get a little repetitive and annoying, especially during the intense and violent scenes.
Mom and Dad is a completely nuts, darkly comedic horror movie, that’s simple but effective. The unhinged performances by Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair really make the movie work as well as it does. If you’re a big fan of Nicolas Cage, this is a must see movie. If you’re up for a darkly comic and over the top made by one of the directors of Crank, this might be right up your alley. Just know that if you are going to watch Mom and Dad, don’t take it too seriously.
Time: 137 Minutes Age Rating: Violence and Offensive Language Cast:
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
Carrie Hann as Rebecca ‘Newt’ Jordan
Michael Biehn as Corporal Dwayne Hicks
Lance Henriksen as Bishop
Jenette Goldstein as Private Vasquez
Paul Reiser as Carter Burke
Bill Paxton as Private Hudson Director: James Cameron
The only survivor of the Nostromo, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) awakens half a century later (after the events of Alien) after her escape vessel is recovered and taken back to Earth she soon learns that the human colony of LV-426 which is on the planet the alien she found, lost contact with Earth. Ripley is called back to the planet as an adviser with space marines to investigate.
The idea of having a sequel to a film which was a horror movie, which is now an action movie, seemed like a recipe for disaster. However, this movie is greatly directed by James Cameron and even manages to still contain some of the fear elements from Alien. It is always hugely entertaining and has led to many other sci-fi movies. Aliens is a thrill ride that never lets up at gaining your attention, scaring you or entertaining you.
One thing noticeable is the pacing which isn’t as slow as its predecessor; it is slightly faster which is good for the type of movie it was going for. The ways the Xenomorphs (the aliens) work are shown so we get an idea about how powerful they are. However, Cameron doesn’t show all of it or explain it; he gives enough information necessary for the audience to understand. The film also manages to balance the action scenes with the suspense scenes. The film’s action scenes build up over time and are always satisfying. The final act is particularly enjoyable and entertaining and is Ellen Ripley being a pure badass.
Ellen Ripley is more developed here than in Alien and therefore Sigourney Weaver’s performance here makes her character so great; her performance even being rewarded with an Oscar nomination, despite this mostly being a sci-fi movie. She is stronger in this movie and you can clearly see her develop as the plot goes on – like Sarah Conner in Terminator 2. The side characters have more personality than in the characters in Alien; however as there are more of them, this means that a lot of them die, which results in some being more developed than others. There are some stand out characters that are focussed on more such as Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henrikson, Jeanette Goldstein, Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton – and all of these actors were really good in their roles and carry the movie along with Sigourney Weaver.
Aliens takes advantage of its higher budget and makes use of really good effects, especially for the aliens, though they aren’t CGI, which is great. As with Alien, this movie has really good cinematography and lighting, which were some of the things that made Alien so effective as a horror movie. As this now takes place on a colony, where as Alien took place on a ship, Aliens has a larger place to work with and therefore have a lot of impressive sets that were used. The sound design and editing are also good, like in Alien. The soundtrack composed by James Horner is also good, adding to the atmosphere the tension and the feeling of the unknown.
Aliens proves that there are times where a horror movie can become an action movie – you just need the right people who can make it so. This is one of the rarest cases where a horror movie to action movie translation actually works, and in this case brilliant. You won’t get as many scares as you may have from the previous movie but this is still a great experience. This is my favourite movie in the Alien franchise. Aliens is a great action sci-fi movie that gives the audience exactly what they want, when they want it.