ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – P – Piranhaconda (2012)

Director: Jim Wynorski

Writer: J Brad Wilke, Mike MacLean (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Madsen, Rachel Hunter, Rib Hillis, Terri Ivens, Chris De Christopher, Shandi Finnessey, Michael Swan, Noah Blake

 

Plot: Two piranha/anaconda hybrid creatures hunt down the scientist who stole their egg and a film crew; making a slasher film in the jungle.


Tagline – Part Snake! Part Fish! All Killer!

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Trash

 

Story: Piranhaconda starts when scientist Lovegrove (Madsen) takes a new snake egg of a piranha & anaconda hybrid, the snake heads off into the jungle island in search of it killing anyone who gets in its way. Elsewhere on the island Mile (De Christopher) is directing a low budget slasher movie with diva leading lady Kimmy Weston (Finnessey), add into the mix the local gang that are kidnapping people for ransom, we have three groups that are being targeting by the snake who must now work together.

 

Thoughts on Piranhaconda

 

Characters – Lovegrove is the scientist trying to study the eggs of a piranhaconda which only disturbs them from their home, he somehow manages to elude the snake unlike anyone else on the island and fills in information. Talia is one of the kidnappers, she is the right-hand woman and that is about it. Jack is the stuntman that is dating one of the behind the scenes woman while batting off the interest of the leading lady, he kind of becomes the reluctant hero. Rose is the crew member that is starting to date Jack who gets jealous of the leading lady. We also have the director, the diva star and the kidnapping locals.

PerformancesTime to rant without insulting, Michael Madsen has been in Tarantino movies, how did he end up in this? He is clearly her for some form of pay check as he looks like he just turned on at the resort one day and was given the role. Rachel Hunter fills the quota of just having models in the film, she does absolutely nothing. Rib Hillis is the strongest of the performers in this film with Terri Ivens doing the second best, even though I did enjoy watching the diva actresses played by Shandi Finnessey. Most of the performers are women in bikinis running around Hawaii.

StoryThe story follows unlikely group of people needing to work together to escape a giant hybrid piranha anaconda mix, superfast, super hungry and super aggressive. This is simple enough and for sure this is easy to watch if that was all we had, we don’t we have terrible character development as we spend half the story seemingly meeting random people on the island that get selected to be the next victim, usually hot women. The science behind the creation is loose to say the least and to say the storytelling process is smart would be an insult to anyone.

Action/Adventure/Horror/Sci-FiThe action gives us the shoot as many bullets at a creature whose skin just bounces bullets off with a couple of explosions. The horror would come off as the creature feature concept which has always worked well, but not this time. The sci-fi side of the film give us the idea of an unknown creature causing the problems.

SettingsThe film is set in Hawaii which looks pretty, but the reality is that it could be any jungle island.

Special EffectsThis is a sci-fi level movie, we know the level of special effects and this is particular weak because it just uses the same technique for every kill which gets boring quickly.


Scene of the Movie –
Most of Jack solo scene, because he knew what the tone of the movie is all about.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The kill move.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those truly bad low budget films, it has weak acting, effects and storytelling with only one actor seemingly understanding the tone of the movie.

 

Overall: Not even so bad its funny.

Rating

 

 

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Upgrade (2018)

Director: Leigh Whannell

Writer: Leigh Whannell (Screenplay)

Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Melanie Vallejo, Harrison Gilbertson

 

Plot: Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey, a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem.


Tagline – Not Man. Not Machine. More.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fantastic Action Horror

 

Story: Upgrade starts as we go to the near future, with improved technology that isn’t too far away from reality, Grey Trace (Marshall-Green) stills like getting his hands dirty for work, while his wife Asha (Vallejo) has accepted this new life. On a routing journey home their self-driving car takes them to the wrong neighbourhood, causing a crash to which the locals murder Asha and leaves Grey paralysed.

Left feeling suicidal Grey gets a visit from a former client and technological recluse wizard Eron (Gilbertson) that offers to give him a revolutionary operation that will bring his mobility back to him through a chip known as Stem, which leads him on his own personal revenge mission with the help of Stem.

 

Thoughts on Upgrade

 

Characters – Grey Trace is a mechanic who in a technology heavy world, he would rather get his hands dirty than rely on the technology, he sees his wife murdered and left paralysed from the incident, he becomes suicidal like you would imagine believing his life is not worth living, he get a chance at revenge though from advanced technology even though himself doesn’t like violence or blood. He is our main character he will have Stem the chip control him in fights movements making him a deadly weapon. Cortez is the technology avoiding cop that is investigating the original case as well as the bodies piling up that could be suspects in case. Eron is the technology wizard that offers Grey a chance to get revenge with a chip to recover his movement. Fisk is a man hunting down Grey, he has extra abilities too which makes his hunt different to Cortez.

PerformancesLogan Marshall-Green is brilliant in the leading role because he takes full control of each and every scene, be it the talking to the voice in his head or handling the fighting. The rest of the cast are good with their scenes without taking any spotlight of Logan.

StoryThe story here shows one man given a chance to go on a revenge mission after getting a technological upgrade that cures his paralyzed position. This does take us into a realistic future with technology that does seem like it could be used in the future. Away from just the technology side of story we get a revenge film which follows the paths we expect, starting with a small fight leading up to a bigger more challenging fight by the end. We get twists and turns along the way which does keep us guessing. If you want to have a story that is fast paced throughout keeping us wanting more throughout the film.

Action/Horror/Sci-FiThe action in this film just keeps getting bigger as the film goes on, we get combat which feel unique in how Grey performs it because of his characters ability or lack there off. The horror blends in with certain graphicness of the kills and the idea behind the sci-fi in an ever-increasing technology heavy world.

SettingsThe film keeps us in a city that has accepted new technology with self-driving cars, drones covering the area and most importantly everything still looks like a normal city.

Special EffectsThe effects are used wonderfully well too, we have different abilities which make for different attacks that shows just how deadly the additional technology could be if we don’t control it.


Scene of the Movie –
Stem take over.

That Moment That Annoyed Me With all the technology in play surely the ‘Off’ switch would activate quicker.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fast paced sci-fi action film that will fly by, it has great choregraphed fight sequences, good use of special effects and a performance from Logan Marshall-Green which you will remember.

 

Overall: Must watch Action Sci-Fi Horror.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – O – OtherLife (2017)

Director: Ben C Lucas

Writer: Kelley Eskridge, Ben C Lucas, Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Jessica De Gouw, Thomas Cocquerel, T.J. Power, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Sarah Anjuli, Liam Graham, Tiriel Mora, Clarence John Ryan

 

Plot: After inventing a drug that induces time-compressed virtual realities, young Ren grapples with partner Sam over how to use their powerful creation.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Sci-Fi Film

 

Story: OtherLife starts as Ren Amari (De Gouw) is trying to sale her brilliant invention, a virtual reality world creator that can let you experience breath taking moments within minutes of your life. With her partner Sam (Power) they could be about to change the world, though Ren has been working on a side project to help save her brother, who didn’t survive the virtual experience.

When Ren puts her boyfriend Danny (Cocquerel) on her latest project disaster strikes and she is left facing jail time, unless she complies with Sam and the correction department that want to use her creation to teach criminals a lesson in a matter of minutes, she becomes the first person to go through one year in one minute, can she survive this isolation, until she learns the truth about the last year of her life.

 

Thoughts on OtherLife

 

Characters – Rem Amari is a brilliant programmer who created OtherLife, a virtual reality program that lets people live life experiences in minutes, as her ambitious continues to grow, so does the risks she is willing to take, this is until something goes wrong. She is meant to be the first trialist of a long-term experience in correctional behaviour, but after her year in the system she learns the truth and must learn what has actually happened to her. Danny is the boyfriend of Ren’s that she believes she accidentally kills leading her to take the deal in the first place. Sam is the partner in the company, he is interested in profit over the science which causing friction between the two, he even talks Ren into making the deal in the first place.

PerformancesJessica De Gouw is wonderful in the leading role, we get to see how someone can be changed with a limited capacity that does make us believe everything she is going through, she is clearly the best performer in this film. when we look at the rest of the cast we do get good performances without them being at the same level as Jessica.

StoryThe story here takes us to a world where we are looking at the reality of virtual reality experiences in minutes as we follow one woman that wants her design to help bring her brother out of his coma, but the risks push things too far leading to her needing to take the next experience. This is a sci-fi film that will make you think from start to finish and does have twists along the way which is all I ever ask for in sci-fi films. The biggest aspect behind this film is playing into the idea of experiencing something yourself or tricking your brain into experiencing it for you.

Crime/Mystery/Sci-Fi The crime side of the film comes to us through the human experiments that were not legal for certain parts of them. The mystery comes from Ren’s experience in the correctional system as she needs to learn to unlock the truth about what is happening. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the technology and the usage it receives by playing the programs in the brain.

SettingsThe film takes us on the locational tour of the film, we have the office complex as well as the isolated location Ren finds herself in, while we also head to the locations which would be off the map.

Special EffectsThe effects are strong throughout as we see the different moments being used for different positions the characters are in.


Scene of the Movie –
The clocks countdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It would have been nice to see a couple more locations you could experience.

Final ThoughtsThis is a smart sci-fi film that does offer the questions I enjoy seeing in sci-fi films about increased usage of technology, it has a strong leading performance from Jessica De Gouw and does keep you guessing until the very end.

 

Overall: Sci-fi to enjoy testing the brain.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – N – Neon City (1991)

Director: Monte Markham

Writer: Jeff Begun, Buck Finch, Monte Markham, Gus Peters (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Ironside, Vanity, Lyle Alzado, Valerie Wildman, Nick Klar, Juliet Landau

 

Plot: “Mad Max” clone set in the not-too-distant future about a group of people trying to escape to a safe haven called Neon City after a solar disaster that has decimated the Earth.


Tagline – Take a deep breath, it may be your last. Welcome to the year 2053.

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Mad Max Rip Off

 

Story: Neon City starts in the 2053 as lone drifter Harry M Stark (Ironside) goes around the wasteland searching for the next payday, his latest was Reno (Vanity) being the choice in a hope to get to a place known as Neon City, a safe haven from the wasteland.

With the latest transport heading from Jericho to the Neon City, Harry is forced into the transport along with a host of colourful characters, but the journey isn’t going to be that easy for them.

 

Thoughts on Neon City

 

Characters – Harry M Stark is the lone drifter looking to make the money to head to Neon City to extract his revenge on the man that murdered his mutated son, he has nothing to lose but will make sure the transport gets to the city in the best condition possible. Reno is the latest criminal that Harry is transferring to jail for the murder of her parents, she is a fighter and will help the people in need on the transport too. Bulk is the old friend of Harry that is leading the transport, he knows his clients are the most valuable part of the transport and will do the right thing for the people he is transporting. The rest of the characters we meet are the different people with different stories to why they are on the transport.

PerformancesMichael Ironside is the biggest name in the film, he does a good job in the leading role and shows why he is the star of the film. Vanity is good for the supporting role showing enough fire in her performance and Lyle Alzado is good fun in the role he plays too and the whole cast does look like they are enjoying their roles enough to be good throughout.

StoryIf you don’t compare this movie to Mad Max, then you would be lying about knowing too much about film, the wasteland the concept and even certain styles are just what we have seen in those movies. The story does follow a group travelling across a wasteland in hopes of reaching a safe haven from the harsh conditions, each character has their own reasons for being on the trip which gives meaning to what they are willing to risk in the battle to survive. This is an easy watch with how the story flows keeps the pacing good throughout.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action follows the transport as they go from one city to the safe haven, we get the shoot outs from the vehicles which give us general explosion, this plays into the adventure side of the film as we see the obstacles they must face. The sci-fi side of the takes us to the wasteland where we see just what has become of the world.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just how the wasteland can look for the journey which can hold the problems they will be facing.

Special EffectsThe effects are solid enough, but never come off to standout for the film to great.


Scene of the Movie –
The final run in.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It isn’t the most original.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable and easy to watch sci-fi movie in the same ideas as Mad Max, which can be fun to watch.

 

Overall: Fun and easy to watch.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – M – Meteor (1979)

Director: Ronald Neame

Writer: Stanley Mann, Edmund H North (Screenplay)

Starring: Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Martin Landau, Trevor Howard, Richard Dysart, Henry Fonda

 

Plot: The USA must join forces with the USSR in order to destroy a gigantic asteroid heading straight for Earth.


Tagline – There’s No Place On Earth To Hide!

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Typical 70s Disaster Movie

 

Story: Meteor starts when a gigantic asteroid is discovered in space, heading straight to Earth, now Dr Phil Bradley (Connery) is bought in to use his design of Hercules as a defence to eliminate the threat from space, the problems come from the idea the military have turned his idea into a weapon hovering over Russia, which brings the Russians into the mix with Dr Dubov (Keith) needing to work with the Americans to stop the threat.

As the two superpowers start to put their differences behind them, the threat needs to be addressed and the question remains how the world will prepare for any failure in the missions.

 

Thoughts on Meteor

 

Characters – Paul Bradley created the defence operation in space for any potential threats coming from out of space, he isn’t happy they were used to place missiles on enemy countries and now he must fight to get his ideas used the correct way once a threat from space comes to light. Tatiana is the translator between the two nations, she must help build the bridges between the two sides who are aiming for the same thing. Harry Sherwood runs the operations from the American side as he works to help Paul get his ideas out even if it means going against the higher ups want. Dr Dubov is the Russian with his own version of Hercules, he will help even if it means not everything is working for him.

PerformancesSean Connery gives us the performance we would expect from him, he is good without standing out in anyways.  Most of the performances are just fine, there are a lot of military performances we would expect and power struggle needing to be played out.

StoryThe story here shows how the world first started facing the fact their destruction could come from space, while also balance the idea of the superpowers of the world trying to stay ahead of each other even defending the Earth. When it comes to disaster movies, I feel like I have seen them all, the good, the bad and the ugly of the selection the world has given us. If I was to compare this to a more modern one, it would be Deep Impact as they both show the scientific side to defending the Earth and are not afraid to have the destruction from small asteroids. Everything does play out smoothly enough and with the boom in disaster movies it follows the typical clichés previous movies have offered too.

Action/Sci-FiWhen we look at the action the film gives us, we are looking at destruction caused by the falling asteroids, while you can tell most scenes are miniature modals of city, they do come off good when it comes to the destruction where of course its only major locations that get hit. The sci-fi side of the film shows the focus on the idea that an asteroid could come and hit Earth and offers ideas to prepare for it.

SettingsThe film mostly stays in he science facilities only leaving to show us the destruction to the typical location we always see get destroyed in the disaster movies.

Special EffectsThe effects I believe were good for the time, even though they have dated with how they achieve certain destruction sequences.


Scene of the Movie –
The destruction scenes are the best ones to watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The awkward tidal wave scene.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid 70s disaster movie, it checks the boxes well and shows the possibilities Earth could face with an asteroid strike.

 

Overall: 70s Disaster movie 101

Rating