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Enemy 2013 2014 José Saramago, The Double, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Kedar Brown, Stephen R. Hart, Frank Welker, Denis Villeneuve Spider Ring

Enemy [Mild Spoilers]: when a history lecturer spots his doppelgänger in the background of a movie scene he becomes increasingly fascinated by the actor. Quite a difficult film to articulate, this probably falls vaguely under the Psychological Thriller banner. There’s a deliberately slow and intense build up, magnified by a doom-laden score that the intensity relies heavily on. This is completely Jake’s film, as we see him pull off playing two people, and then each character ‘impostering’ the other (Imagine Face/Off^²). Stylistically, there’s an intense amber hue for the duration, which I didn’t really see the point of – or understand. Naturally, there’s a lot of playing around with duality, repetition, mirrors, doubles, from the get-go, and although the film’s not explicitly wrapped up (the ending is a bit of a mystery/clusterfuck) there are a lot of clues and lines in there; namely that our lead may have a split personality. Definitely the least accessible film since he started working with ‘big’ names; this bleak, tense, and dark thriller is the perfect appetiser for Arrival; and lays out the “un film de Denis Villeneuve” style that he’s kept right through to his current, mega-budget films.

Score: 6.5/10

Enemy 2013 2014 José Saramago, The Double, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Kedar Brown, Stephen R. Hart, Frank Welker, Denis Villeneuve Doppelganger

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Chopping Mall Killbots Julie Corman, Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton, Nick Segal, John Terlesky, Suzee Slater, Paul Bartel, Angela Aames, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller

Chopping Mall (aka Killbots): it’s the near-future, where mall cops have been replaced by security robots, and “absolutely nothing can go wrong,” but a couple of lightning strikes later… yuuup, things are going wrong for a bunch of “teenagers” stuck in the mall overnight. If one thing defines this film, it’s the knuckle-chewing levels of cheese present in every scene. All characters are hyper-generic (nerd, wallflower, hunk, party boy) and the dialogue / delivery is terrible across the board – even the cool and quotable lines like “Let’s go send those fuckers a Rambo gram!!” The film plods through as a by-the-numbers pedigree b-movie, that’s not quite bad enough to be so-bad-it’s-good – but everyone seems to know how bad it is, and rolls with it anyway. Shopping centre boffins will note that this looks very similar to the one from Commando!! Chopping Mall just isn’t as shocking, gory or violent as the ‘slasher’ title would suggest; it just ends up feeling like a 1950s sci-fi film with a 1980s face-lift.

Score: 3/10

Chopping Mall Killbots 02 Julie Corman, Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton, Nick Segal, John Terlesky, Suzee Slater, Paul Bartel, Angela Aames, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller

It’s like Krieger’s robot and Cheryl/Carol from Archer!

Chopping Mall Killbots 03 Julie Corman, Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton, Nick Segal, John Terlesky, Suzee Slater, Paul Bartel, Angela Aames, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller“Where the shopping can cost you an arm and a leg”

Sniper Reloaded, Billy Zane, Chad Michael Collins, Richard Sammel, Patrick Lyster, Annabelle Wright, Kayla Privett, Justin Strydom, Rob Fruithoff, Khulum M. SkenjanaSniper: Reloaded – when his team are ambushed by a single shooter, a marine goes behind enemy lines to draw the sniper out and avenge his fallen comrades. For a b-movie, the action in this is surprisingly strong and intense; unfortunately the filler between these big set-pieces is fairly standard. Unbeknownst to me, this is the 4th film in the series, but you don’t have to have seen the rest to understand this; although they may explain the unprecedented overuse of ‘shoulder touching to convey trust’ symbolism. Most importantly, for a film about snipers, pretty much all of the famous / trick shots are in there: kill through a wall, one shot – two kills, thread the needle through another sniper scope. It’s also aided by some stunning wildlife & nature shots and a gratuitously bad all-holds-barred sex scene. For a no name cast (other than Billy Zane, who kinda feels at home here) and no budget, Sniper: Reloaded shouldn’t be nearly as good as it is, but the action, cinematography and setting make up for shortcomings in the script and story departments.

 Score: 6/10

Sniper Reloaded, Billy Zane, Chad Michael Collins, Richard Sammel, Patrick Lyster, Annabelle Wright, Kayla Privett, Justin Strydom, Rob Fruithoff, Khulum M. Skenjana 2

Dr. No: Britain’s best spy James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of another agent, when he uncovers a more sinister plot. The first thing we see is Bond’s silhouette crossing the screen then going for ‘the gun barrel shot’, followed by the unmistakable Bond credits.

The now famous gun barrel shot, which opens up every movie

Opening credit silhouette - another hallmark of the films - no nudity in this one

I always wonder if anyone could have known how iconic these scenes would become. As the first film in the series Dr. No does a superb job of delivering a rock solid spy story, while simultaneously setting up the franchise potential by introducing the main people, themes & concepts: Bond, Double O’s, M, Moneypenny, SPECTRE, PPK, exotic locations, universal exports, quips, action, car chases, licence to kill, fights, exploding cars, theme song, Spectre, alcoholism, espionage and boner-inducing bond girls. Bond himself bursts on to screen embodying suaveness, ingenuity, Britishness, intellect, sex appeal, and – of course – sexism!

Bond's entrance, the epitome of cool

We also quickly come to realise that only in a Bond film would you find great and believable gadgets/technology, but the most lenient use of scientific principals like gravity and radiation! There’s a few glaring continuity errors, but that’s another aspect of the films that we’ve all grown to love. Given that this was made in 1962 the film still stands up well today as a touchstone for the genre. While it’s primarily a detective story backed up by a little action, it’s still a great way to open up the series, and the idea of a ‘secret agent’ film.

Score: 7/10

Honey Rider's entrance - still to be topped

TOP TRUMPS

Villain: Dr No – Crushing metal hands & general megalomaniac – solid, archetypal villain. 8
Henchmen: Asian secretary Spy and the Marine Biologist – weak line up. 3
Bond Girl: Honey Rider (Ursula Andress) with the most iconic entrance of any character in the series – Hubba Hubba – 10
Action: Car Chase, several attempted murders, fake dragon, villains base destroyed – more would be gratuitous. 5

Dr. No - the first of many megalomaniacs

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: pulp noir parody about a small-time criminal that gets in way over his head when he discovers a Hollywood murder plot. At the centre of this are two rock solid characters; RDJ is a quirky lovable rogue, and Val Kilmer plays ‘Gay’ Perry, a hardened P.I. but again, quite likable. Both interesting, charming and acted superbly; the chemistry between them is second to none. As the film pans out the story broadens and remains interesting, but the best part of KKBB is the humour. Almost every base is covered; screwball, wit, black, gross out and slapstick – with corpses, fingers, dogs, guns and a Christmassy undertone. This is further backed up by a sharp script, littered with comedy gems. I also liked the non-glamourised aspect of being in bottom half of the film industry and L.A. social scene. There’s a few minor faults; pretty corny and obnoxious meta narration by RDJ, a lot of smug pulp and movie references, and for some people it’s probably too left field. It’s more of a mish–mash of genre than a single type too, although that could equally be a good thing. Other than the ridiculous action-hero ending KKBB is an absolutely solid film, funny, sharp, black and a total hoot.

Score: 7.5/10

Salt: (Mild Spoilers) CIA agent Evelyn Salt is accused of being a Russian sleeper assassin and has to go on the run ’til she can prove her innocence – but who are her loyalties to?? Jolie‘s still looking good and does a top job at keeping the character of Salt grounded in reality (even though her action capabilities are anything but realistic). Liev is typical Liev and Ejiofor is Mr bit part again, which is a shame as he can hold his own as a main. Action-wise the film’s pretty good, and although you’ll have seen most of this done before, and better, it’s all done quite well (other then a few super-crazy shaky cam scenes). The story, however, is as uninspired as modern spy thrillers go – with the film twisting its way to the end from about the 40 minute mark. Twists have become so much the staple of this genre that they’re no longer effective – you can also see the plot developments and twists in Salt a million miles off. What ever happened to the good guys being good and bad guys being bad? After years of modern thrillers being based in and around the middle east it’s refreshing to see the good old Col War Russians getting back behind the guns and planning AmericaMageddon!!  All-in, this is essentially Jolie’s chance to play a sexier version of Bourne or Bauer… no complaints from this guy.

Score: 6.5/10