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Marshland, La isla minima, Raúl Arévalo, Javier Gutiérrez, Antonio de la Torre, Nerea Barros, Jesús Castro, Alberto Rodríguez, Mercedes León, Adelfa Calvo, Manolo Solo, Salvador Reina, Jesús Carroza, Juan Carlos Villenueva, Alberto González, Manuel Salas, Cecilia Villanueva, Ana Tomeno, 

Marshland (La isla minima): two out-of-favour Madrid detectives are sent out to the middle of nowhere to investigate the disappearance of two girls; they soon uncover a serial killer and potential police involvement. The main drama of the film comes from lots of complex and conflicting relationships; the detectives and the villagers, the villagers with each other, the detectives and their new boss, and even the mismatched investigators themselves with their ‘old school’ and ‘new school’ approaches. Aesthetically, and tonally, this is very similar to HBO’s True Detective (although they came out at the same time); the palette is dominated by earthy, natural, and rustic colors & locations, which help the odd top-down  drone shots of ethereal landscapes really stand out. The film also holds an interesting Spanish angle too; being set at the start of the 80s in a ‘New Spain’, but calling back to the Franco dictatorship and exploring how large and looming the shadow of that time still is. Marshland is a very well made, excellently acted picture with a sufficiently eerie & suspenseful score: however, there’s nothing particularly fresh or exciting in the story itself… it’s just been tarted up and presented in a more unique setting than normal.

Score: 7.5/10

Marshland, La isla minima, Raúl Arévalo, Javier Gutiérrez, Antonio de la Torre, Nerea Barros, Jesús Castro, Alberto Rodríguez, Mercedes León, Adelfa Calvo, Manolo Solo, Salvador Reina, Jesús Carroza, Juan Carlos Villenueva, Alberto González, Manuel Salas, Cecilia Villanueva, Ana Tomeno, 

Marshland, La isla minima, Raúl Arévalo, Javier Gutiérrez, Antonio de la Torre, Nerea Barros, Jesús Castro, Alberto Rodríguez, Mercedes León, Adelfa Calvo, Manolo Solo, Salvador Reina, Jesús Carroza, Juan Carlos Villenueva, Alberto González, Manuel Salas, Cecilia Villanueva, Ana Tomeno, 

Marshland, La isla minima, Raúl Arévalo, Javier Gutiérrez, Antonio de la Torre, Nerea Barros, Jesús Castro, Alberto Rodríguez, Mercedes León, Adelfa Calvo, Manolo Solo, Salvador Reina, Jesús Carroza, Juan Carlos Villenueva, Alberto González, Manuel Salas, Cecilia Villanueva, Ana Tomeno, 

Marshland, La isla minima, Raúl Arévalo, Javier Gutiérrez, Antonio de la Torre, Nerea Barros, Jesús Castro, Alberto Rodríguez, Mercedes León, Adelfa Calvo, Manolo Solo, Salvador Reina, Jesús Carroza, Juan Carlos Villenueva, Alberto González, Manuel Salas, Cecilia Villanueva, Ana Tomeno, 

 

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Hardcore Henry (Хардкор): when he is resurrected with no memory and new robotic limbs, Henry must save his kidnapped wife from a telekinetic psychopath who has plans to weaponise a robo-army. From the opening credits (graphic, but blackly comic violence) you can tell this isn’t your usual action film – most of the movie is shot from a ‘First Person’ perspective, from the point-of-view of ‘Henry’ using an intricate head-cam rig. The film is basically 90 minutes straight of Henry running / jumping / shooting / punching through a long line of obstacles; with some awesome freerunning & parkour (seemingly no wires – or brains!), and high intensity and very high quality stuntwork: the elements combine to create a truly unique  and awe-inspiring action spectacle. There’s also a great anarchic/punk sensibility to the movie; anything goes, and there’s a lot of crazy & zany elements… it even using things like subtitles to make a few jokes with. The biggest problem is that when everything is up at 150% the whole time, you end up becoming a bit numb to it towards the end. Another downside of the FPS style is that the camera is very shaky and has a warped fish-eye lens which distorts a lot of the outer frame. Hardcore Henry is a film that is truly cutting edge, in that it couldn’t have even been made a couple of years ago – the only remotely close comparison you could draw would be a less offensive, but higher-octane version of the Crank films. It’s fun, impressive, and completely mental, but overall struggles to engage after a while. Best viewed after consuming a twelve pack of Red Bull.

Score: 7/10

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NOTE: The entire film was spawned from this music video – if you fancy 90 mins of this, look no farther than Hardcore Henry.

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hardcore-henry-poster-sharlto-copley-danila-kozlovsky-haley-bennett-tim-roth-andrei-dementiev-svetlana-ustinova-darya-charusha-oleg-poddubnyy-will-s

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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.

Score: 7.5/10
B-Movie Score: 9/10

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hatchet-freddy-krueger-tamara-feldman-kane-hodder-joel-moore-deon-richmond-mercedes-mcnab-parry-shen-joleigh-fioreavanti-robert-englund-tony-todd-adam-green

 

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Kickboxer: Vengeance – when his brother is killed in an underground deathmatch by the brutal Tong Po, a young fighter plots his revenge with the help of a master fighter (JCVD). I love martial arts movies and despite what you’ve read elsewhere this is a solid remake. First off; there’s shitloads of fighting – as in every five minutes, fight fight fight. There’s all the punches, all the kicks, a homoerotic rain fight, workmen walking through fights with panes of glass… there’s even a couple of street / marketplace fights that remind you of something like Ong Bak. Director John Stockwell clearly knows and respects the ancestry of this film; retaining key markers like the training montages, and bringing back key cast members; he even throws in some gratuitous boobs… however, most of the cheesier elements have been dropped and the story is more (Tong) po-faced. Just when you think they missed out the infamous car crash drunk dancing scene our new lead pays his respects with some truly horrendous Van Damme jivin’ during the end credits. Casting-wise, the new lead (Moussi) isn’t much of an actor, but what he lacks in charisma he makes up for with some high end fighting/action/stunt prowess; Batista doesn’t have a whole lot to do, although he’s a larger-than-life baddie; meanwhile JCVD steals all of his scenes with his cheeky acting chops, legendary moves, and unbelievably shredded torso. My only real niggle was the weirdly flashy subtitles clearly aimed at people who don’t read subtitles!. There’s a lot of misplaced nostalgia for the original Kickboxer: it’s ultra-80s, it hasn’t aged well, didn’t actually contain much fighting or action, and was basically a showcase for JCVDs moves. Kickboxer Vengeance however is a worthwhile and respectful remake that’s short on acting but crammed full of action. A sturdy modern martial arts movie.

Score: 7/10

dear-god-no-poster-crop-james-bickert-jett-bryant-madeline-brumby-paul-mccomiskey-olivia-lacroix-shane-morton-johnny-collins-nik-morgan-james-bickert-rachelle-lynn

Dear God NO! [Grindhouse Cut]: a murderous outlaw biker gang kill their rivals and hide out in the woods, where they meet a crazy scientist and big foot… I think.  Yup, here’s another ‘nasty nostalgia’ film with faux grain effect, pops and scratches, heavy saturation, projector sounds, mono/muffled soundtrack, tracking issues, etc, etc. It’s only 81 minutes long, but is crammed with filler: you get 5 minutes straight of up-close ‘mondo’ style topless dancing, a psychedelic heroin dream trip, and a Nazi Dr Frankenstein babe trip – all for no reason other than padding out the runtime (and increasing the shock factor). Made on a shoestring, the film’s packed with bad dialogue, bad acting, bad characters, actor changes, and ‘plot threads’ that make literally no sense. It’s like the director asked a 15 year old boy what he thought was cool – boobs, swearing, drinking, and bad attitudes man – and just rolled with that. We first meet the biker gang the morning after they trash a bus full of nuns and rape/murder them all, and it only goes downhill from there; bottoming out with a snuff scene that goes too far with a double rape and fetus removing/killing. I’ve seen much worse than this and not been as disgusted as this just nasty for nasty’s sake; and I couldn’t believe that there are directors out there that make Rob Zombie look like a proficient filmmaker. I’ve sat through some truly terrible movies in my day, and this is down there with the worst of ‘em. The only good thing about the entire project is it’s old school poster, and the only way I can imagine convincing anyone that this has worked is if you pitch it as a poor-taste no-budget physical effects show reel – or a masterclass in using controversy and a good poster as a get-rich-quick idea. A very very niche and ultra-nasty bikesploitation film.

Score: 0.5/10

dear-god-no-poster-james-bickert-jett-bryant-madeline-brumby-paul-mccomiskey-olivia-lacroix-shane-morton-johnny-collins-nik-morgan-james-bickert-rachelle-lynn

vice-principals-hbo-danny-mcbride-walton-goggins-kimberly-hebert-gregory-georgia-king-sheaun-mckinney-busy-philipps-shea-whigham-maya-g-love-edi-patterson-susan-park-mike-ogorman

Vice Principals: when a school principal retires and the vice principals are passed over for a promotion they form an unlikely tag team to take their new boss down. Not unlike most Danny McBride projects, the humour in VPs is an acquired taste: it’s stupid and lowest-common denominator stuff, but I’m a fan of the funny to watch the crass swearing, childish squabbling, stereotypes, silly faces etc… McBride’s pretty much been here before in Eastbound and Down with his faded baseball star going back to school to teach; his latest character Neal Gamby is essentially an older, and slightly more filtered/censored Kenny Powers. Goggins on the other hand turns in an against-type effeminate role, that requires a lot of eye rolling, sucking up, and mincing around in pink clothes. Both leads are great at what they do and the core supporting cast notes (Gregory / Whigham / King / Love – GO SCOTLAND! / Patterson) all hit the right comedy notes. The show mostly cruises along, with scenarios that lead to silly and cringe comedy, but there’s a few curveballs in here with surreal moments, weird filming techniques, and the finale feels a little too bizarre and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the show. Vice Principals will go down best with fans of McBride’s trademark style, and he’s firmly in his comfort zone… for regular viewers it may be stray a little too far into crass and unacceptable territory.

Score: 6/10

vice-principals-poster-hbo-danny-mcbride-walton-goggins-kimberly-hebert-gregory-georgia-king-sheaun-mckinney-busy-philipps-shea-whigham-maya-g-love-edi-patterson-susan-park-mike-ogorman

 

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Heavy Metal: animated action-fantasy anthology movie for adults. Technically, it should really be called Heavy Metal, and soft rock, and a great movie score”, but that’s nitpicking… all you need to know is that the soundtrack is very varied and really drives the movie. The over-arching story is ambitious and comes together in the vein of a grand intergalactic rock opera with elements of Noir / Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Sword & Sandals – something for every type of nerd.. The 9 segments were made by different animation studios – giving each one a unique style, and they’re all so fantastically rendered that it feels like a showcase of the best hand-drawn animation of that period. Being a ‘cartoon for adults’ this is packed to the brim with violence, gratuitous nudity, and ladies with unimaginably large waps (it is based on a French fantasy magazine made for alternative teenage boys – duh). As with most anthology movies not all parts are created equally, and ‘trippy’ doesn’t come close to describing the more eclectic parts of the story; clearly all of the drugs were been taken during the making of this, it’s probably the most 80s thing I’ve ever seen – at least since Tenebre. You have two choices with Heavy Metal: try to figure it out, fight it, and piece it together, or simply let it wash over you and absorb the crazy-good, now-defunct retro animation.

Score: 6.5/10

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Soft Landing

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Grimaldi

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Harry Canyon

heavy-metal-den-caveman-muscles-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Den

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Captain Sternn

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B-17

heavy-metal-so-beautiful-and-so-dangerous-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

So Beautiful and So Dangerous

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Taarna

heavy-metal-loc-nar-green-glow-house-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Epilogue (Loc Nar)