Hatchet: a boatful of tourists go on a haunted swamp tour and end up coming face to face with a local superstition… the murderous Victor Crowley. There’s some strong horror ancestry in here; Kane Hodder (Jason/Leatherface) is the main baddie, with Tony Todd (Candyman/Final Destination) and Robert Englund (among others) popping up in cameo roles. Even though this is the kind of sloppy horror premise you’ve seen a thousand times before Hatchet is different in that it’s very well made: it’s brilliantly lit, boasts supreme gore FX & inventive deaths, and has a cast full of good performances. It takes everything that people love and expect from a slasher film and turns it up to eleven: e.g. you don’t just get to see one pair of boobs, but are treated to entire line-ups of Mardi Gras waps. It’s also got a cool comedy/horror vibe in that if it wasn’t for the brutal ultra-graphic moments of cartoonishly over-the-top deaths, the film would probably be a 12A, as it’s overall quite playful and funny; the wannabe actresses in particular provide more than their fair share of the LOLz. There’s also a beautiful ‘classic’ orchestrated soundtrack that wouldn’t be out-of-place in something like Indiana Jones. Everything comes together nicely to create a movie that’s surprisingly hard to describe or define, but is undeniably fun… it’s not quite a parody, and it’s definitely not a kids film, but it’s a rip-and-roaring “Old School American Horror” – and for once, a slasher that lives up to its tagline.
B-Movie Score: 9/10
Grindhouse: Death Proof. A washed up stuntman stalks and hunts sexy wimin’ in his ‘death proof’ stunt car. Part of the ‘Grindhouse’ double feature; this is given the ‘aged movie reel’ treatment – with tons of deliberately rough editing, cutting, lo-fi mono audio, scratched film, bad ADR, black/white… to make it feel like you’re watching a 70s film. It gets confusing however when people have mobile phones, and talk about CGI and Red Bull… Also, for whatever reason, this isn’t carried on through the second half of the film – making it seem even more gimmicky than it first appears. It’s ridiculously sweary – even by Tarantino standards – and boasts more leg and bum shots than a Michael Bay outing. The pacing is all over the shop – waiting 50 mins to first Final Destination style deaths, and spending most of the runtime listening to women gossiping and referencing niche pop culture in various cars and bars. For the most part, it’s not really gripping, but the action finale saves the day as stuntwoman Zoe Bell perilously navigates the bonnet of a speeding muscle car with no tricks. Despite only being in a handful of scenes Kurt Russel steals the show as an old-skool senseless maniac. Although Death Proof is a bit of a mess it remains watchable because of Tarantino’s quirks, dialogue, and the fact that you’re never really sure what’s coming up next. Definitely not his finest hour.
Momentum: an ex-military ‘ghost’ turned bank robber and her team get tangled up in a conspiracy after a high-tech heist. Think Salt or Colombiana but on a tighter budget and with no characterisation. Kurylenko is just right for this role: she doesn’t get to act much, runs around in a sassy robe and knickers for the first act, then does enough pouting, shooting, and punching through the rest of the movie to distract you. Purefoy on the other hand is good fun as the devilishly smarmy antagonist – essentially reprising his Joe Carrol role from The Following. Good acting feels like a bonus here as this is all about the highly styalised action; and on that front the film delivers: prolonged bank heist, car chases, home invasion, abandoned factory & airport showdowns – no box is left unchecked. For a 15-rated film, it’s pretty severe – “very strong language, strong violence, sex, sexual threat” – to quote the BBFC rating, which doesn’t even mention torture or child abuse – I kept thinking it had to be an 18. The biggest thorn in the movie’s side is the scatter-gun approach in tone: it’s a bit sci-fy-y, a bit superhero-y, a bit revenge-y, a bit quirky, a bit tasteless-y, a bit dark, and a bit leery (the girls are formidable – but still run around in their panties and hooker boots)… it makes watching Momentum confusing at times: having to judge if certain parts should be funny, or shocking, and if parts are cliché, or a more knowing parody. Momentum is a brainless, action B-movie with a hack plot (nothing wrong with that) but sports a fascinating veneer of fringe A-list actors, slick visuals, ambitious action scenes – it’s not Citizen Kane, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the one-star reviews and relatively unknown status would lead you to believe. An entertaining action film aimed primarily at teenage lads.
Literally dialing in his couple of scenes
Non-Stop: an alcoholic veteran air marshal must figure out which of his passengers are picking the others off one by one until their ransom is met. To be fair, the director did all he could with this, but it’s a difficult task making a SMS conversation seem dramatic – although that can and has been done better with an even smaller scope. Neeson is in full-on Bryan Mills mode; the gruffly mumbling back-against-the-wall everyman with mad fighting skills and a character-defining family backstory. After the first couple of completely preposterous twisty-turney moments you learn not to think too hard about the rest of the plot. The one thing this film does have going for it is a sincere moment about the ‘Illusion of security’, which totally stands out against the dumbness of everything else going on. Probably an idea that sounded fantastic in a pitch, but was ultimately too great a task for the writers and director: leaving the end product feeling a bit daft. Japes on a plane! Proof that turkeys can fly! Plane rubbish! Etc etc…
– Dafuq Jeff – Plz stop sendin me grindr dik pics u basic bitch
– LOL IDGAF, shut yo skanky ass ratchet mouth #YOLO ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The Factory: when his daughter is taken by a kidnapper who has successfully evaded him for years the clock is ticking faster than ever for a Buffalo detective. Featuring Cusack, and a similar type of story, you may expect something like The Frozen Ground; or a movie like Insomnia, Se7en, Mystic River etc… Unfortunately, this isn’t in the same ball park. The story’s horribly clunky, and the clues/pointers are even worse – in particular a ridiculously bumbling angle about fertility and infertility which would stick out in any dialogue. The film (and detective) flounder from missed clue to missed clue before it throws up a preposterous ending – complete with flashbacks for those at the back not paying attention. The title of the film makes no sense until the last 2 minutes of the movie – which is also distracting. Character-wise you’ve got the clichéd married-to-the-job detective, rookie sidekick, and a kidnapper that should have been demented and scary (Buffalo Bill style), but was played like a comedy redneck character. Despite a promising synopsis and Cusack in the lead is not much more than a bottom of the barrel, bargain bin, by-the-numbers, straight-to-DVD, B-movie with an A-List star and some TV actors (minor characters from Dexter, Good Wife, Arrested Development).
Brick Mansions: a cop must team up with a convicted cop killer to take down Detroit’s most vicious drug dealer, who’s holding the city ransom with a nuclear bomb. The biggest thing that this has going for it is action; lots and lots of action. David Belle action is always a treat to watch, and his stunts are all to a high standard. David Belle’s dubbed face on the other hand isn’t as fun to watch, if anything, a little distracting, and it’s not just the syncing, but the ultra low gruff effects that make him sound like Vin Diesel. Paul Walker doesn’t lag too far behind Belle in the action stakes, which is surprising. With 90 minutes of sweet action, a ticking clock scenario, lame-ish acting and a basic, predictable story – it’s essentially a flashy B movie. Then there’s a massive elephant in the room though; the originals – which, if you’ve seen them, completely take the wind out of Brick Mansion’s sails as large sections are literally scene for scene, jump for jump, punch for punch re-shoots – with a bigger budget. Add to the fact thar this that 10 years on, Parkour is not as cool or fresh, and that the crucial social commentary (and plot in general) feels like more of an afterthought in this one – it lets the film down. If you have no interest in foreign films, this is as solid a B movie action film as they get, but if you’re feeling adventurous I’d absolutely recommend D13 and D13 Ultimatum over this.
Law Abiding Citizen (mild spoilers): when his wife and kid are murdered and the legal system fails him, a disgruntled everyman with nothing to lose spends years engineering his quasi-legal revenge. Gerrard Butler (Shut up, Butt wad), WTF are you doing man? You’re all over the place and why the fuck did your character get nude when you were arrested? The Fantastic Mr Foxx is OK, doing what he does (normal guy in a moral quandary) but his character’s role is unbelievably wonky: supposed to be a prosecutor, but does loads of detective work. The film starts off interesting – and the opening in particular is powerfully violent – the set-up is theatrically gruesome, but once Butler is in prison it turns absolutely ridiculous – and when you hear about his previous employment it’s like being slapped in the face with a big silly stick. However, it’s quite funny and enjoyable despite being so bizarrely cheesy and shockingly stupid. Deliberately 18-rated, over-the-top B-movie with an A-list cast.
Bullet to the Head: a career hitman and police detective team up in order to bring down a corrupt politician. From the opening scene (and every other frame of the duration) this is 100% a shameless Sly Stallone action vehicle – making him out to be as cool and badass as possible for the duration – which, let’s face it, a 66 year-old action hall-of-famer, doesn’t really need to do. His voice sounds like a sub-sonic stroke victim – so close to requiring re-dubbing or subs. Almost every minor character (wannabe models and actors) seem to be using this film as nothing more than exposure. The action scenes are poorly handled; but even blurry focus, fast cuts and shaky cam can’t spice up what’s clearly shit fights! To make up for this Sly and Walter Hill cram as many other things from the action B-movie checklist as possible: big loud guns, sexy cars, booze, nudity, drugs, tattoos, broads and more fights – and it never aims higher than that. The bi-racial ‘buddy’ element (90% of the film) reeks of 1980s – and generates cheap ‘cultural misconceptions’ and ‘hilarious’ misunderstandings RE: opposing work-ethics. The final talking point is some in-yer-face product placement – namely cars and Bulleit Burbon. While The Expendables (& #2) takes everything that was awesome about 80s action films and cranks them up past 11, up to 15; Bullet to the Head feels like a typical action B-movie with one big star and half a budget, and in the end, it’s not a bad film, but despite their best efforts, this is nowhere near Stallone or Hill’s glory days.
“I live my life a quarter-mile at a time…Nothings else matters, not the store, not the mortage, not the garage, not my friends or any of their bullshit. For those 10 seconds or less, I’m free.”
The Fast and the Furious: an undercover cop infiltrates an LA street racing scene in the hopes of busting a ring of hijackers with crazy-good driving skills. So it’s not the most ambitious, smartest, or brilliant piece of film-making, but ‘TFATF’ does what it does really well. It’s brimming with bicep-bulging machismo, dangerously-torqued grotesque muscle cars, nearly-nude dance / club girls, thick green wedges of dead presidents and general glorification of the thug life… There’s a pretty cool soundtrack (for the time), but it’s a little dated now – although dance/trance/rave pounding through entire scenes makes it feel like an arcade game. The characters are all fairly stereotypical, the script’s as cheesy as they come, but these are cancelled out by some decent action set-pieces, some serious stunt-driving, and what’s essentially a ton of car-porn. My biggest gripe is that it feels far too derivative of previous undercover action films like Point Break and No Man’s Land. It’s easy to sneer at a film this dumb, but you’ve got to admire how a bunch of car fanatics could get together and turn out a film with a decent story, awesome cars, great stunts and above all – keep it broad and entertaining.
The Adjustment Bureau: an aspiring politician accidentally sees behind the curtain of ‘fate’, and how he’s not fully in control of his own destiny, so he tries to re-write the books. This is the first romantic, heavily religious sci-fi thriller I’ve seen in a while… and juggling all those things hurts the film – but that’s only one of the minor problems. The ‘adjustors’ – who are never fully explained – are cringe-inducing. They wear old style clothing (ok), and their special powers are hats that allow them to walk through doors (ookaaaayyyy…..), and their Achilles heel is water (oh.)… Seriously – semi omniscient beings whose kryptonite is the most abundant compound on the planet! As for the other characters, there’s almost no attempt to develop anyone. It also feels like it’s been put together by the NYC tourist board, with no fewer than 10 photogenic locations. As the film went on some of the reveals and explanations were so stupid I was chuckling for minutes at a time. Emily Blunt’s totally watchable, but did I really just see Matt Damon in a big-budget b-movie?? Seriously, what’s he doing here? The final product is a totally ludicrous and non-sensical film; but you get the feeling that everyone involved knew that. It’s ultimately harmless, but totally stupid.