Repo Men [Blu Ray]: when organ replacements are bought on hire purchase, people who miss payments have said organs removed by repo men. Jude Law is in the future again, hanging out with cyborgs again, sporting an awful accent… again. Live Schreiber is a snake oil salesman / shark in a suit… again. So the casting’s not very imaginative. Storywise, it hurts your head to watch such an incoherently directed film: three months pass in 5 minutes. One character goes from rich to unwell, to a hobo, then finds hobo love, then becomes an action hero, then a blood fetishist… Then from out of nowhere someone gets a conscience. It’s generally hard to know what’s what in the mangled plot, as well as how much time has passed and what’s supposed to have happened between the scenes. There’s some heavy flow gore (done well), cheeky product placement, a ridiculous voiceover, and it’s the only film I’ll probably ever watch and shout “Scan her tits!” at the screen. Things eventually pick up with a semi-redemptive OTT knife-and-saw fight near the end, followed by an insane blood orgy and a half-decent ending that made me add a 1/2 mark out of pity. The other two points are for Whittaker and the soundtrack. Blu Ray picture and sound are both solid – but just don’t waste your time with the film! Repo Men is a classic case of great idea with batshit terrible execution; rendering it the definition of idiotic.
Jennifer’s Body [Blu Ray]: when a slew of horrific murders hit a sleepy town, Needy starts to think her best friend is a blood-thirsty vampyre. On the surface this appears to exists as a Megan Fox bootay appreciation vehicle, which is fine by me, especially because she plays a sexy femme fatale – with some brilliantly lewd lines. Fortunately, there’s more here than just foxy Fox. The film is laced with a good dose of black humour and absurdity; just enough to confirm that it’s not taking itself too seriously – 8675309 / Goths at a Funeral / Emo band story arc etc. It’s also ‘teen horror’ to the core: with an emphasis on ‘hip’ music, high school setting, sexually charged ‘teens’, pop cultural references, slang vocabulary… right down to the Prom Night finale. The direction’s strong, and BD picture and audio quality are both very good – also the directors cut is apparently far superior to the theatrical version. I was more than surprised as I watched this with a constant smile, and some proper belly laughs; it’s one of the best in its genre since the likes of the Faculty and Idle Hands. After its initially poor cinematic reception Jennifer’s Body will hopefully shine a lot brighter on DVD/Blu Ray as it’s far better, runnier, sexier, more violent and smarter than it looks, and you’d expect.
A Single Man: [Blu Ray] – Follows an over-educated, depressed homosexual suicidal lecturer! The role could have been totally melodramatic Oscar Bait, but was played realistically by Firth. Stunning performance, well-earned gongs. He’s simply great to watch, and is the intense focus of every scene. The colouring / sound mix playfully tweaks with what you see and hear for around the first hour, but by the end it’s overused with some ridiculous gray = sad / colour = happy scenes. For being such an intense story, it’s very slow burning – with a few dramatic peaks to keep staleness at bay – I feel the drama could have been milked a little more. It’s undoubtedly well directed; every shot is stylish and looks cinematic, even scenes like a man on the toilet! The Blu Ray isn’t very watchable: much of the film has a stylistic (read as: shitty) diffusion / grain to the picture to set the era and tone. Overall, it’s quite a plain non-eventful story, boosted by a brilliant central performance.
Rubber [Blu Ray]: For reasons unknown, a discarded tyre comes to life, and starts a murderous rampage using its psychokinetic – head exploding – powers. There’s an awesome short movie in here, but in order to ‘beef it up’ into a film, several (ridiculous) elements are thrown in that don’t really do it for me. A film that’s punctuated with meta sequences and references should have a better reason for doing so than simply adding to the runtime; the entire observer side-story just broke up and detracted from the fantastic personification of a demented tyre. The SFX and direction are impressive – the tyre’s personality is built up piece by piece as he shakes, moves, inquires, turns, breathes, rolls, crushes and showers all on its own. Moreover, the film has an art exhibit / music video style and feel throughout, with fresh visuals and great cinematography featuring the Californian desert. The BD picture is among the best I can remember watching, every texture is rendered crisp and sharp; audio is generally flat, but bouncing when the music kicks in. I liked Rubber, but really wanted to love it – ultimately, it should have either been a 20 minute intense short, or full-on 80 minute character study of the tyre.
Vengeance / 復仇 [Blu Ray]: a French chef travels to Hong Kong to avenge a brutal attack on his daughter and her family. Having a mish-mash of French, English and Cantonese dialogue this clearly has international aspirations. As you’d expect from Johnnie To it’s a very well-directed film; in particular he gets the most out of his cast, even from the lead character – aging rocker (now botox-faced) Johnny Hallyday (!WTF!) – although Anthony Wong’s the real star as usual. To also wrings a lot of tension from many of the buildup and action scenes – although there is one nighttime shootout that’s a total mess, and several times when it changes from night to day (and vice versa) in 2 seconds flat. So it’s all good, until the film starts dragging on a bit, throwing up some strange plot twists (Memento anyone?) and generally falling into the ‘Asian Gangster’ pitfalls – many stylishly dressed gangster factions are all entangled with one another and disputes can only be settled through gun-centric confrontations – the only difference is the European actors, who seem a bit crowbarred in for international effect. As a Blu Ray, the picture’s OK and the sound is impressive enough (thunderous gunshots). Despite the big names and big story, for a person that’s seen scores of Asian gang movies, this has already faded in to the big pot of genre films.
Hobo with a Shotgun [Blu Ray]: tells the tale of an individual with no permanent residence, and his acquisition of a short-range firearm… Duh! Being born the same way as Machete, I had some reservations before starting this – but they were short-lived. EVERYTHING about this film is an authentic ode to the horror/exploitation ‘masterpieces’ I grew up watching from the 70s and 80s. The setting is a dystopian, lawless town, so rotten that only the eponymous anti-hero can clean it up with a shotgun. There’s fantastic gore every 5 minutes, and all kinds of insane and outrageous blood-soaked SFX. The story is so absurd and OTT that you simply can’t begin taking seriously. – it’s essentially a cheap vehicle used to maximise the blood ‘n’ guts factor. Rutger Hauer is a little too good for this type of film, fleshing out an emotional, solid central character. Abby also makes a good scream queen, and the rest of the cast are enjoyable stereotypes. The colour pallet is very saturated; bright and poppy, the blood leaps off the screen – Hauer’s face was also what BD was made for; the faithfully recreated Carpenter-esque 80s sci-fi horror synth soundtrack and gunshots pump out of all speakers – this is worth the Blu Ray upgrade if the film sounds like your bag. All in all, the video, music, plot, gore, sleaze and nastiness all combine to make this feel like an authentic retro film – unlike the one crappy video-grain effect used on Machete. This beat every expectation I had, and while it’s no cinematic masterpiece, it’s certainly an absolute must-see for all horror/B-movie/retro movie fans.
The Interceptor: [Blu Ray] [not even going to try to explain the plot here]. It boils down to being a hardcore Sci-Fi picture featuring the paranormal, supernatural, people from another realm… and that’s just the headlines. It starts with a dude jumping out of an exploding plane, and has similarly insane and impressive stunts for the duration. The action’s handled and executed very well – edited perfectly with long steady takes so you know what’s actually happening! (Speedboat chase / huge fight scenes and generally a shitload of car-flipping stunts) To balance out the awesomeness there’s an overdose of artsy-fartsy dreamy sequences that don’t really make much sense, or advance the story much, but nevertheless look pretty. There’s Assassins creed style visuals with symbols and glyphs all over the shop, an overload of suits ‘n’ shade dudes, and a few hotties thrown in for good measure – put everything together and it’s a nerds wet dream. The BD picture detail is stunning and the minimal pallet ensures that any colours leap out; the sounds solid enough too, particularly in the action sequences. After Nightwatch and Daywatch it’s strange that Russia’s biggest films still go down the Black Vs White, Good Vs Bad… route. A more technically proficient, stylish and insane film you could not ask for – a simpler story, you could.