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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Chris Hemsworth Weekend – Cabin in the Woods (2012) Revisited

Director: Drew Goddard

Writer: Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon (Screenplay)

Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker

 

Plot: Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods.


Tagline – If you hear a strange sound outside… have sex.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Stand Out Horror

 

Story: The Cabin in the Woods starts when five college friends Dana (Connolly), Curt (Hemsworth), Jules (Hutchison), Marty (Kranz) and Holden (Williams) head off for a break in the cabin in the woods, with plenty of booze and laughs.

With the friends starting to act strangely we learn of an operation being run below the cabin, with Sitterson (Jenkins) and Hadley (Whitford) pulling the strings for a much bigger picture, where the teens are selected as sacrifices with the rest of the world getting their plans to suit their cultures.

 

Thoughts on The Cabin in the Woods

 

Characters – When we look at the teenagers, we have Dana who is making up for her own relationship woes with a teacher, being set up with Holden, but downstairs she is classed as the virgin. Curt is dating Jules, he likes his sport especially American Football and is well educated, at the cabin he turns into the jock figure. Jules is the best friend of Dana trying to support her through her problems, she turns into the slut at the cabin. Marty is the stoner, the fifth wheel if you like, he has the funniest lines of the whole movie, best scenes and has found a way to stay immune to the toxics effecting the others, pointing out the horror clichés mistakes. Holden is the friend of Curt’s sent to hook up with Dana, he is a good guy with what he does though, even if we don’t learn that much more about him. This characters are designed to become the stereotypes in the horror genre.

When we look at the people conducting the operations we have the two leaders Sitterson and Hadley who have been doing this for years, Hadley is waiting for a merman which is an on running joke through the film, while Sitterson knows how to fix every single problem. We do have the newest member of the team Truman that questions what is going on with Lin trying to help him understand the situation they are working for. This is all before even showing us the creatures will we be seeing through the film, each one bringing a new level of horror unlike anything we could have imagined.

PerformancesThe stars of the movie are good throughout, Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams and Fran Kranz as the teenagers are great with Connolly and Kranz stepping up to steal the show, you do get an early glimpse of what Hemsworth can do for comedy too. Jenkins and Whitford have excellent chemistry together giving us the dry comedy needed for their side of the film.

StoryThe story here turns what we know from your generic horror movies on its head, we know how the cabin in the woods slasher movies go but turning the story into an idea of human sacrifice in a satirical way does make this stand out from the crowd. The story does play into fan service for horror fans by doing this because it does play into clichés for a purpose, though it does go against clichés too and shows us how certain clichés haven’t transferred into the modern horror era. There are so many details you can talk about here and even the later stages go crazy, you will be hooked watching.

Comedy/HorrorThis is a horror movie, there is no questions, we have so many iconic figures from horror concepts, the comedy does show when it comes to going against the ideas of horror, mostly satirising what we know without parodying it.

SettingsThe film uses two major settings, first we have the cabin with the surroundings we know about, it is used for moments of horror too, the underground facility shows us how the operations are unfolding and how the people operate.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film do look great, with the final 30 minutes uses such large amounts of practical and CGI going on.


Scene of the Movie –
Lift opening.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I didn’t not like anything about this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror movie that plays into the horror clichés to make them noticed, much like what Scream did in the 90s, this took things to the next level and with a final 30 minutes which will leave you jaw dropped.

 

Overall: The modern masterpiece of Horror.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – H – Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (2012)

Director: Stewart Hendler

Writer: Aaron Helbing, Todd Helbing (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Green, Anna Popplewell, Enisha Brewster, Ayelet Zurer, Masam Holden, Mike Dopud

 

Plot: UNSC Cadet Thomas Lasky must conquer his inner fears and join forces with super-soldier John-117 to take down a massive faction of the Covenant.


Tagline – The story of Halo begins at dawn.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Bad

 

Story: Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn starts with one of the UNSC cadets Thomas Lasky (Green) following in his brothers footsteps in training to become a Soldier in the war. He doesn’t follow the rules which has left him getting questioned by his team and captain April Orenski (Brewster).

Thomas must battle his own personal problems before being sent into the field because his tactical knowledge has shown his potential, but the war isn’t everything they thought it would be.

 

Thoughts on Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

 

Characters – Thomas Lasky has had added pressure put on him after his brother fought in the war. He is rebellious in his actions often lead his unit into trouble, but his skill is there for all to see. We do have other cadets who just blend into each other too easily.

PerformancesThe performances are not strong here, the actors feel like they are playing too young of characters which shows in their weaker performances. Most of the performances feel like they are starring in a school level production.

StoryI will start this by saying I do feel you will ned to have played the games to have any idea just what the hell is going on because this does feel like a basic training to go into war against enemies they are not prepared to do battle against. This takes so long to get going with the escape being the only redeemable part of the movie.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action does feel like a mostly parody of most that you have seen, the adventure isn’t the best either while the sci-fi side of film feels just like the beginning.

SettingsThe settings could be any training location, nothing about what we see makes us feel like we are on a different planet.

Special EffectsThe effects are not used very often and don’t seem to look very effective once we get into the bigger battle


Scene of the Movie –
The Master Chief looks cool.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Nothing seems to happen.

Final ThoughtsIf you are a fan of the game you might get something out of this film, but if you haven’t you will just find yourself being bored.

 

Overall: Bland and boring.

Rating

 

 

Matthew Fox Weekend – Alex Cross (2012)

Director: Rob Cohen

Writer: Marc Moss, Kerry Williamson (Screenplay) James Patterson (Novel)

Starring: Tyler Perry, Edward Burns, Matthew Fox, Jean Reno, Carmen Ejogo, Cicely Tyson, Rachel Nichols

 

Plot: A homicide detective is pushed to the brink of his moral and physical limits as he tangles with a ferociously skilled hired killer who specializes in torture and pain.


Tagline – Don’t Ever Cross Alex Cross

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fox Shines

 

Story: Alex Cross starts with homicide detective Alex Cross (Perry) and his team Thomas (Burns) and Monica (Nichols) needing to show their skills when a new hired killer nicknamed Picasso (Fox) uses his torture and pain techniques while eliminating people.

When the team learns of the targets they must work with who they think is the main target Giles Mercier (Reno), but this has made his team the newest targets for Picasso, who makes the killings personal.

 

Thoughts on Alex Cross

 

Characters – Dr Alex Cross is a homicide detective, we have seen this character before, but this time we meet a younger version of him, before he becomes the FBI agent we know. Alex has a family and is on the way to making his big career decision, when Picasso comes into his life, Alex will need to balance his skills and rage to stop him. Picasso is a hired gun, he is one of the very best in the world, he enjoys the pain he gives and receives, he makes his mission personal and drives Alex to limits he has never been pushed before. Thomas is the partner of Alex, he is shorter tempered, but loyal to Alex. Giles Mercier seems to be the main target of Picasso mission, he is the rich man that gets what he wants.

PerformancesTyler Perry was considered a strange choice for the leading role in this movie, known mostly for comedy and taking over from Morgan Freeman, he just doesn’t reach his levels, but is good through the film. it is Matthew Fox that shines the most as the cold calculated killer that enjoys the pain. The commitment Fox showed to this role needs to be praised because of the physical change he put his body through makes him an unlikely looking threat. Edward Burn is good as the partner while not being anything special and Jean Reno will always be good in the role he takes.

StoryTo step into another Alex Cross story is always going to be interesting, picking up before he became an FBI agent helps us understand what drove him to be the determined man we know. Making the story personal for Cross shows how he can balance the law and revenge in his attempts to solve the crime. The story might not reach the level of intensity is could have for a personal story, it does everything we need for an entertaining crime mystery thriller.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe action involved in the film is good, even if moments of the effects used are weak. The crime is an interesting one to watch unfold, but it takes away from the mystery because we are always on the same level of the cops, we are not feed anything to solve.

SettingsDetroit makes for a good setting, it always feels like it is a place known for the crime rates.


Scene of the Movie –
Picasso introduction fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Rocket effects.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to watch crime thriller, it does everything it needs to do and is carried by a wonderful villain performance from Fox.

 

Overall: Crime fans watch.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – L – Lesson of the Evil (2012)

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Takashi Miike (Screenplay) Yusuke Kishi (Novel)

Starring: Shota Sometani, Takayuki Yamada, Fumi Nikaido, Nicole Balsam, Howard Harris

 

Plot: A popular high school teacher concocts an extreme plan to deal with the rise of bullying and bad behavior among the student body

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strange Horror

 

Story: Lesson of the Evil starts by taking us into the High School in Japan, the school is filled with cheating, bullying and worst of all sexual harassment, the teachers even look to new ideas to stop the cheating by blocking phone signals during tests. We focus on Kesiduke (Sometani) and Reika (Nikaido) as they turn to popular teach Seiji Hasumi (Ito) for help during the situation they see wrong.

When Hasumi finds himself searching for a way to end the trouble at the school and his methods prove to be deadly, we are left to wonder which students will become the latest targets of his clean up mission.

 

Thoughts on Lesson of the Evil

 

Characters/PerformanceSeiji Hasumi is the likeable teacher that the students turn to for help, they are unaware of his darker side as they could become the victims of his decision to go to the extremes to clean up the school. Tetsuro is one of the stricter teachers that takes advantage of the students, Keisuke is the slacker in school, happy to cheat his way through class but never truly bullied from what I could tell. Reika is the girl that falls for Hasumi which plays into the rule book that he has set up making her a potential victim.

The performance are all good throughout the cast, fitting the film tone and ideas, with the kids running scared and the teacher enjoying what he does.

StoryThis film askes the question, what would a teacher do to clean up the school, well this pushes everything to the extreme in what is part Saw and part Funny Games. The film does have a chance to tackle real issues but fails miserable to tackle them instead focuses too much on just the cheating going on within the school of the problems that are much more serious.

HorrorThe horror is all through the idea of a teacher going to the extremes to teach the lessons about cheating.

SettingsWe don’t get too many iconic settings, most of the film starts in the school but we also have certain random places for the crimes.

Special EffectsThe effects are all used well to create the kills but otherwise nothing overly important is coming from the effects.

Final ThoughtsThis is an overly long horror that tries to give us a shocking film but in the end it is just something that misses a big chance.

 

Overall: Sloppy horror that doesn’t click.

Rating