Xenophobia (2019)

Director: Joe Castro, Thomas J Churchill, Steven J Escobar

Writer: Joe Castro, Thomas J Churchill, Steven J Escobar (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Renton, Manu Intiraymi, Rachel Sterling, Brinke Stevens, Angie Stevenson, Kelly Lynn Reiter, Nick Principe

Plot: Six complete strangers recall the details of their individual experiences with alien forces-sharing the terrifying stories of their abductions and possessions.


Tagline – Fear the Aliens

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Little Alien Anthology

Story: Xenophobia starts as we head to an alien support group after Eric (Powell) has his own experience of the unexplained. The group has been meeting for years and to make him feel welcome, they let him know about their own experiences, first up is Becky (Renton) who on a camping trip with her husband and dogs get a visit that will change the world forever.

The next story follows a new member Karen (Stevens) who believes her daughter has been abducted by aliens after receiving a worrying video message, we follow the night which led up to the disappearance of the daughter, which is filled with strange occurrences.

The third story comes from Kara (Sterling) who has been running from her abusive husband, to a hide away for women of abuse, with Adrian (Perez) leading the protection for the women, only for them to find themselves stuck in a world they couldn’t have imagined.

Thoughts on Xenophobia

PerformancesWhen we look at the performances in the film we get the type of performances we are expecting in the b-movie style of movies, we have moments that are over the top, while others bring us the grounded performance we need.

StoryThe story here is an anthology of alien encounters that are connected by the support group, each member does have their own story, which gives us a chance to break down the different stories. First up was Pinnacles which might be one of the quickest stories, but it does let us see just how a typical alien encounter might come about, it is simple and does what it needs to, to send Eric to the support group. Doomsday is one that starts like you would imagine, only to go down a very different path which will shock along the way. Star Child is the story that embraces the b-movie style the movie gets through, it does feel like the campiest of the anthology. The Sullivan House is the biggest of the stories, it has a bigger message going on, which is all the more interesting despite the clear alien heading their way at some point. For an overall anthology this is on the similar levels as the VHS film only for it to only focus on aliens, each one will have a different look.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi side of this film focuses on the different aliens that are visiting the humans, each one does have a unique look which is great to see, something different.

SettingsThe film does give us the normal locations for alien encounters, be it a remote house, the woods or a cabin in the woods, yeah nothing overly difficult, but they do work.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are a mixed bag, the practical ones all look great, which is nice to see, certain CGI moments do just look out of place though.


Scene of the Movie – The Sullivan House.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The CGI moments are weak.

Final Thoughts This is an entertaining alien anthology film, it is nice that they are all connected in some way which helps with the meeting, rather than just having random stories.

Overall: Anthology to enjoy.

Rating

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X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

Director: Simon Kinberg

Writer: John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum (Screenplay) Jack Kirby, Stan Lee (Comic Book)

Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee

 

Plot: Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.


Tagline – The Phoenix will rise.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mostly Forgettable

 

Story: X-Men: Dark Phoenix starts in the world where Charles Xavier’s (McAvoy) group of X-Men, Mystique (Lawrence), Beast (Hoult), Jean Grey (Turner), Scott (Sheridan), Storm (Shipp), Quicksilver (Peters) and Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee) are celebrated around the world for their efforts to rescue people where normal humans can’t reach, with their latest mission taking them to space, where Jean Grey gets infected by an unknown lifeforce.

Back on Earth Jean struggles to control this new power which will lead to tragic consequences with her needing to turn to Erik (Fassbender) for advice before being visited by the mysterious Vuk (Chastain) that wants the power within her.

 

Thoughts on X-Men: Dark Phoenix

 

Characters – Jean Grey is our central character in this film, we see how she has a troubled childhood, before being welcomed to the school, she has learnt to control her powers which become enhanced with the incident, to a level she can’t control anymore. Jean is left wondering who she can trust, Charles, Erik or Vuk, just to find her place in the world. Charles Xavier has seen his school become the place the President turns to, this has made him reckless with the behaviour, willing to risk them when he doesn’t need to, he must face the reality that his school will always be looked at differently and that he hasn’t always done thing correctly. Erik has once again returned to a quiet life, this time helping mutants have a place away from the world, he will do the best to stop any conflict until he learns what has happened.  Mystique continues to have the ability to question what Charles is doing, she wants to keep everybody safe, even if it means going against everything Charles is thinking. Beast is still believing in Charles, until the tragedy hits home, forcing him to question what is best for the students in the school and mutants alike. Scott does play the only character that Jean loves, he can help at times when she starts to lose control, while being one of the few people she wants to protect from the danger she is becoming. Storm, Quicksilver and Nightcrawler complete the X-Men team which sees him just being extra members of the fight for the most part. Vuk is the mysterious being that is searching for the power that has taken over Jean, she is the leader of a group that want this power for their own destructive motivations.

PerformancesThis film has a mix of performances, Sophie Turner does continue to struggle in the leading role, she just never manages to convince with the unsure factor of how she is feeling through the film. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are usually the standouts in these films, but they both don’t get to make the impact they have in the past. Nicolas Hoult does have good moments, but we would have liked more from him. Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp and Kodi Smit-McPhee do everything asked in their roles, while Jessica Chastain seems to be wasted in the villainous role.

StoryThe story shows us a world where mutants are a welcome and used to help sav people around the world, when one of these missions goes wrong the mutants show the danger they can bring to the world, when one gets infected with an unknown power which makes them the most powerful person in the world, while a new group wants that power. It is nice to see the story continue to show how the world has changed from the events in the previous films, even if it does throw a lot of the timeline out the window. We do follow certain lines that we did follow in The Last Stand too, which didn’t feel fresh, the script does have some awful lines which doesn’t help either. Now on the positive side of the story, we do get to flip Charles’s characters showing that he isn’t the all positive figure, it does make him the focus of the story at times though, we do get to see some of the other X-Men unleash their powers is nice to see too. This could easily be one of the weakest stories in the X-Men universe and you can see just how difficult it was.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in the film does have a couple of entertaining moments that do get to see just how powerful each mutant can be when unleashed to their full powers. We do hit new levels for the sci-fi elements as we see the new enemy and power.

SettingsThe film doesn’t give us the best looking settings, most action sequences actually feel like they are just on sets, never inside an environment.

Special EffectsThe effect in the film give us a weird look to the design of the power that is coming over Jean, which does work in places, though it doesn’t look overly interesting in when it comes to the wounds.


Scene of the Movie –
The train sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We should be called X-Women.

Final ThoughtsThis is a forgettable addition to the X-Men franchise, with simple acting and mostly safe actions.

 

Overall: Basic-Men

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – X – XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017) Revisited

When I first reviewed XXX: Return of Xander Cage it got a 7.1.

Director: D.J. Caruso

Writer: F Scott Frazier (Screenplay) Rich Wilkes (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collete, Samuel L Jackson

 

Plot: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.


Tagline – Guns, girls, global domination.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Popcorn Film

 

Story: XXX: Return of Xander Cage starts when Gibbons (Jackson) is killed by a falling satellite, CIA know the one device which could have caused this, ‘Pandora’s Box’ a device capable of taking satellites out of the sky turning them into warheads. Xiang (Yen) and his team Serena (Padukone), Talon (Jaa) and Hawk (Bisping) steal Pandora’s Box right from under the CIA agent Jane Marke (Collette) hands.

Jane is forced to turn to long thought dead Xander Cage (Diesel) to return Pandora’s Box, with his own team of Adele (Rose), Tennyson (McCann) and Nick (Wu) to travel the world to even the odds in the fights that will go around the world.

 

Thoughts on XXX: Return of Xander Cage

 

Characters – Xander Cage has returned from the dead, the extreme sport lover is bought back in for a new mission which will see him take on the deadly Xiang as his team of elite fighters. He uses his connections to get the mission complete, with his extremes sports to escape the situations he finds himself in. Xiang has led a team to steal the Pandora’s box, he is highly skilled and went through his own XXX recruitment program. His plans might not be as evil as first thought. Serena works for Xiang, she has the same background as Xander, working on the rebellious good guy nature. Adele is one of Xander’s team, she hunts hunters with her sniper skills. Jane Marke works for the CIA and needs recruit Xander to return the stolen weapon, she isn’t as friendly as Gibbons as she knows the stakes. We get the generic side characters too, each having their moment to help the mission.

PerformancesFirst thing before we get into the complete conversation on performances, we must praise the international cast, which sees actors from around the globe join forces. Vin Diesel is the leading role does better than I first gave him credit for, this is every you would expect from him. Seeing Donnie Yen stepping into an American movie is great because we get to see his fighting skills in action. Deepika Padukone steps away from Bollywood for her first Hollywood role never looking out of place in the action heavy role. We do have a wonderful supporting cast that includes Tony Jaa, Ruby Rose, Rory McCann and Toni Collette each getting to show off their time on screen.

StoryThe story brings Xander Cage back from the dead as he must lead a team in an attempt to return a stolen device which could be used as a weapon against the world. let’s be honest, we don’t need the deepest story because this is a film used to showcase the combat abilities of the cast, needing to keep the story nice and simple, good guys need to get device back before devastation could happen. We have a few twists along the way and we do get to build upon the universe that XXX operates in. this is one you can switch your brain off and enjoy.

Action/AdventureThe action is massive with fights, stunts and chases going on through the film which is a joy to watch if you want to switch your mind off, physics might well be out the window, but extreme sports fans will enjoy. The adventure side of the film takes us around the world as the mission is put into play.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show different locations that the XXX team would be operating in, be it hiding or willing to fight in.


Scene of the Movie –
Plane ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ice Cube’s role is mostly wasted.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the action films you can just switch on and switch off to enjoy the action unfold.

 

Overall: Pure popcorn action blast.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Horror – X – X Moor (2014)

Director: Luke Hyams

Writer: Luke Hyams (Screenplay)

Starring: Melia Kreiling, Mark Bonnar, Nick Blood, Olivia Popica, Simone Kirby, Sophie Harkness

 

Plot: A £25,000 reward offered by a local newspaper brings documentary makers Matt and his girlfriend Georgia to the remote North Devon moor in a bid to capture the fabled Beast purported to be a wild cat, like a panther or a puma on film.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Dark to Enjoy

 

Story: X Moor starts with Georgia (Kreiling) and her cameraman boyfriend Matt (Blood) head to North Devon to enter Dartmoor in search of the legendary beast of Dartmoor which in its glimpses has been compared to different big cats, the team is joined by tracker Fox (Bonnar) on this adventure.

The hunt takes an unexpected twist when Fox has used the team to help him try and capture a serial killer he believes is dumping the bodies of their victims on the moor. The leads to the battle to survive the horrors of the moor.

 

Thoughts on X Moor

 

Characters – Georgia is the documentary film maker that heads into the moor in search of the beast in the area, she seems to come off as a woman who wants to get ahead in the game becoming a big name in her field. Matt is the boyfriend and cameraman for Georgia that would like to enjoy a holiday in the sun but does support her decisions. Fox is the tracker that has tricked thee crew into the big discovery that even he wasn’t ready for.

PerformanceThe performances through the film are not the best through the film, we only get a lot of running, arguing and screaming through the film.

StoryThe story does follow the documentary film crew that head into the Moors to find a creature and get more than they bargained for, simple enough to follow but very difficult to see anything. This is another film that falls into the idea of filming at night which is needed but making it nearly impossible for us to see anything going on. The story does have a twist on the idea of hunting a mythical beast and does have plenty of potential to be an enjoyable horror film.

HorrorThe horror in this film is mostly survival horror which does work for the story, it all heads in a mix of directions that can only keep us wanting to see what the big bad will be capable off.

SettingsThe film is set mostly in the moors of Dartmoor which shows us the mystery behind the place which is filled with legends and myths.

Special EffectsThe effects are mostly down to the camerawork going on which I do feel let a large part of the film down because we are left not being able to see anything in the darkness as times.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Impossible to see the darkness scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis was a good idea for a film but fails to give us the chance to see most of the important scenes due to the darkness it takes place in.

 

Overall: Simple Horror with nice twist on the monster hunting idea.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – X – X: Past is Present (2015)

Director: Hemant Gaba, Pratim D Gupta, Sudhish Kamath, Nalan Kumarasamy, Anu Menon, Sandeep Mohan, Quashiq Mukherjee, Rajshree Ojha, Raja Sen, Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Suparn Verma

Writer: Hemant Gaba, Pratim D Gupta, Sudhish Kamath, Nalan Kumarasamy, Anu Menon, Sandeep Mohan, Quashiq Mukherjee, Rajshree Ojha, Raja Sen, Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Suparn Verma (Screenplay)

Starring: Rajat Kapoor, Radhika Apte, Anshuman Jha, Piaa Bajpai, Sara Bhaskar, Neha Mahajan

 

Plot: A filmmaker with a mid-life crisis meets a mysterious young girl who reminds of every woman in his past.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Reminiscing Never Felt so True

 

Story: X: Past is Present starts as K (Kapoor) is at a party when he meets a young woman that reminds him of his former love, each moment he sees her through the night reminds him of previous women in his life and we follow the young K (Jha) through these relationships.

Each memory brings back a moment in his K’s life, one that he will never forget and one he can never live through again, these stories have made K the man he is now even the missed opportunities he went through.

 

Thoughts on X: Past is Present

 

Characters – K is the womanising filmmaker having a mid-life crisis, he meets a young lady at a party and starts to reminisce on the women that have help inspire his movies through the years. He is filled with happiness and sadness with memories that have made him and broken him in the past. The young woman likes the stories she is hearing and does have motivation for arriving in K’s life. Rija is the wife that K lost in his story of love, she wanted a normal life, something K never offered.

PerformancesRajat Kapoor is great in this leading role showing us the memories that K is having with the happiness and regrets like we all do. This does have strong performances from the whole case too.

StoryThe story follows the man having a mid-life crisis remembering the women that came into his life, some for the better, others for the worst, each one brings their own story and lesson he learned through life. While looking at the different stories is wonderful too, it does become difficult to understand the different times everything is happening for K because the jumps seem ransom for the different time eras. Away from that slight flaw the idea is something I could enjoy watching and is one that I feel people will understand.

Mystery/RomanceThe romance in this film comes from the different memories that K has been having the loves he once had for years and the small slings which lasted a lifetime. The mystery comes from who the mysterious girl is and even if she is real.

SettingsThe film takes us to plenty of different settings that K has been through his life they have helped him write his own movies.


Scene of the Movie –
How the flashbacks feel, because they feel like they are how memories would be.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Keeping up with the timeline in the flashbacks

Final ThoughtsThis is a very good look at how life can lead us down different paths, some that will show us the best and most memorable moments and others which will remind us of the mistakes in our life.

 

Overall: Lovely look at life’s best moments.

Rating