Involuntary: Swedish outing about five everyday people, that examines human behaviour. There are no ‘conventional’ shots in the film; the director opts for long and static/passive takes of legs, backs of heads or very wide group shots. It’s also book-ended by a camera stuck to an ambulance, just driving through nondescript streets. There are apparently five ‘stories’ in here, but they’re all so tedious that you’d get more entertainment from a trip to your local slaughterhouse. It’s so uninspired that it’s one of those films where the actor’s real names are also their character’s names. This is exactly the sort of ostentatious euro-drivel that gives ‘Arthouse’ a bad name. Yet this was Sweden’s 2008 Oscar entry. It’s sitting at 7.1 on IMDB, and 74 on Metacritic. WTF am I missing? Who enjoys watching films like this?
Like a sucker, I’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book: the DVD cover over-sold it. Ultra-misleading description; billed as a cringe/comedy citing Larry David/Ricky Gervais, but I didn’t smirk once. Ultra-misleading cover; four and five-star reviews, and two blonde Swedish girls with big tits (zoomed in on to be even bigger). Ultra-misleading rating; 18 rating DVD + boobs on the cover would normally mean the film has something worth watching – like a professional troll it’s only an 18 because you see a guy’s willy. This DVD can eat a platter of dicks.
Alternative Plans: After 30 mins I put it on 1.5 speed for a few mins (about ½ a scene), then 10x speeded it to the end to make sure I didn’t miss anything interesting – alas it didn’t look like I did.
Everly: after four years as a Yakuza sex slave Everly wants to be back with her family – and she’s willing to kill anyone that stands in her way. Welcome to Titty City: population 2, Salma’s girls. This film is ‘bootay central’ as Salma jogs around in silk nightgowns, low cuts, yoga pants… and the sprinklers even come on to give us a sexy wet-look finale! (classic move). She gets shot, burned, stabbed, tased, tied, tortured… but never looks less than fantastic. Being set in a brothel there’s also a long line of leggy babes dressed like all the fantasies! Not content with misrepresenting just women, this throws every Japanese stereotype you can think of in the mix: intelligent Asian man full of wise “my uncle once told me” proverbs; full theatre costumes with geta shoes; samurai sword / sai dagger wielding yakuzas; sprawling back tattoos, etc etc. On the upside, the film is very well made – looking as good as most big-budget pictures – and the SFX team does some great work with buckets of blood, severed limbs, and loads of new creative ways to kill people. I was rather enjoying it all until a nasty acid torture moment, which seemed to dip briefly into torture-porn territory and haul me out of the film. This type of movie isn’t for everyone, but Everly combines the story elements of an old-school rape-revenge rampage with modern over-the-top ultra-exploitative action; and it does both of those very well. Salma’s acting and director Joe Lynch’s enthusiasm raise this above the shlocky B-movie that it truly is.
B-Movie Score: 8/10
Blood Rage (AKA: Slasher. AKA Nightmare at Shadow Woods. AKA Complex): an evil child frames his twin brother for murder – 10 years on, when the sane brother escapes from an asylum, he finally has an excuse to kill again. The clunky dialogue and bog-standard horror scenarios really emphasise the wooden performances – championed by the mum, who is drunk in one scene, then normal, then catatonic, then madly cleaning, then scoffing food off the floor… she’s laughably terrible. Strangely, the direction itself isn’t bad; conjuring up some striking and iconic images, and the ‘twins’ aspect (both played by the same actor) is well done; arguably the most impressive thing about the film. Despite the catalogue of unintentional missteps it’s a fun enough film to watch – namely due to the comically extreme and over the top slashtastic gore: entire sets are painted red, and limbs & bodies end up everywhere. Mash this all together and it kind of works in a weird, HDTGM type of way (nothing about the story makes sense). While Blood Rage isn’t a great film in anyone’s book; it’s the best type of bad film, for having a high body count, and being knowingly bad (like the Cranberry sauce zinger!). it can still be enjoyed, and is prime for cult viewings and drinking games.
B-Movie Score: 7/10
The Arrow Blu Ray 2K restoration is great: the film looks cleaner and brighter than it has any right to be, and – as always – there are shedloads of behind the scenes, extras and interviews with the cast. Making this a must-have for B-Movie aficionados.
San Andreas: After a massive earthquake hits the Californian coast a rescue-chopper pilot needs to – literally and figuratively – save his family. Finally, The Rock, HAS COME BACK… to California! The opening car crash rescue sets an unfairly poor tone of the film with laughably bad CGI, physics, and silly stunts. The rest of the film however is all about epic (and impressive) biblical-scale devastation: buildings, streets, and entire cities rippling, twisting, and breaking at the mercy of megathrust earthquakes and a megatsunami. Along with this comes Titanic levels of tiny people being dropped, squashed, battered, and maimed at every opportunity: but you’re not supposed to care about the millions – AND MILLIONS – of dead Californian jabronis, or that The Great One shirks his emergency callout to steal (and wreck) a rescue helicopter in order to save his EX(!!)-Wife!! You’re also not supposed to worry about the dodgy ‘quake science, or that for no reason it’s set in a whole bunch of places – Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Hoover Dam, Bakersfield (which is soooo geographically confusing for non-Americans) – yet named after a fictional city from a computer game. The central trio are paper-thin characters with a family dynamic lifted straight outta Taken; and they’re surrounded by a bunch of IT DOESN’T-MATTER-WHAT-YOUR-NAME-IS stereotypes like a token bumbling English gent; slimy cowardly businessman, and the ‘Basil Exposition’ science guy (played so, so intentionally hammy by Paul Giamatti). San Andreas is a blockbuster movie propped up by THE MOST ELECTRIFYING MAN IN MOVIE ENTERTAINMENT, 9/10 CGI effects, and Daddario-oh-ohhh playing a just-old-enough-to-be-sexy daughter for the lads and dads. It’s not a great film by any measure, but it’s undeniably entertaining and impressive, which easily makes it the best Epic Action Disaster Movie (is that a genre?) in recent memory.
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.
Iron Sky: in 1945 a group of defeated Nazis fled to the moon, in 2018 they’re coming back to finish what the Fuhrer started! For a B-movie, the graphics and effects are superb: the Blu Ray looks delicious, although washed out in the colour department. Sets, costumes, machinery, and industrial / steampunk settings all look fantastic. Written as an open-source script (aided by the internets) the entire movie is tongue-in-cheek and absolutely rammed with gags, nice details and one-liners – loads of laughs to be had. It’s a bit of everything: political satire, comedy, invasion, sci-fi, exploitation, ‘Nazispoitation’ – the only things it really shies away from are (surprisingly) nudity and gore. You could say that the film’s biggest weakness is that it’s all over the place; but flip it around, there’s something for everyone in here. Cast-wise, everyone’s at the top-range of B-movie; with guys like ‘Stamper’ from Tomorrow Never Dies and Udo Kier going in to full-on scenery chewing baddie mode – what’s not to like?! Given that it’s about moon Nazis, there’s some taboo moments, covering everything from skull measurements to a kamikaze Japanese spaceship – most are subtle enough to be overlooked. Although Iron Sky was panned by mainstream critics, if – like me – you’ve sat through thousands of over-promising, under-delivering B-movies, you’ll understand why this is a top-tier cult / midnight movie. A fantastic space Nazi romp, great fun, and put a smile on my face for the duration.
Nazi base on the moon, obviously.
This post is part of the The 5 Obstructions Blogathon over at MyFilmViews; a series where Nostra challenges film reviewers by issuing limitations and rules for five film reviews over five months. The first month’s challenge is to “write a positive review of a movie you don’t like, or write a negative review of a movie you love.” Here goes.
Barb Wire: It’s 2017, the 2nd American Civil War rages on – this film shows how everyday people struggle to make ends meet – by mixing lapdancing and bounty hunting. When people talk about culturally important movies you never hear Barb Wire – this pisses me off. This story is a re-telling of one of cinema’s finest: Casablanca, which sets a high bar for this film – although Barb Wire vaults over that daunting monument with ease. Pamela Anderson, bounces seamlessly from TV and into the movies, cashing in on her trademark look – and transforming herself into a cinematic icon with bodacious curves, blonde hair, skimpy leather outfits and gallons of water for that signature ‘wet look’. The director further complements this by making every single shot about her (and ensuring she flashes a tit every 10 minutes) – not to mention casting Pam as the only sexy person in a world full of freaks and mutants: she truly stands out, and delivers her lines with the cold, jaded authenticity of a bounty hunter that really has seen the horrors of war first hand. She’s supported by some big names, including Udo Kier, Xander Berkley, and Steve Railsback – not to mention a talented Bon Jovi lookalike – who all fit right in with this calibre of movie. The movie is crammed with bold striking imagery and iconography, creating a totally believable futuristic landscape by fusing together the visuals from distinctive eras like WWII, the American Civil War, and Cyberpunk classics, which are expertly stitched together with a Noir look and feel. Despite being 1996, this has the explosions and action of an 80s blockbuster. Barb Wire is a film that has it all: a sexy, dangerous leading lady, on-form supporting cast, action, plot, direction, and most of all re-watch-ability. A criminally overlooked studio classic that will hopefully be seen for the cultural masterpiece that it is within my lifetime.
Real score: 1/10