Skinwalkers (2006)

Director: James Isaac

Writer: James DeMonaco, Todd Harthan, James Roday (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Natassia Malthe, Kim Coates, Sarah Carter, Tom Jackson

 

Plot: A 12 year old boy and his mother become the targets of two warring werewolf packs, each with different intentions and motives.


Tagline – For them to live, we must die.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Werewolf 101

 

Story: Skinwalkers starts as Varek (Behr) leads the hunt for a young boy for his werewolf pack, joined by Sonja (Malthe) he learns the location of Timothy (Knight) which takes him to small town to collect him.

Varek didn’t count on Timothy being under the watch of another prepared werewolf pack led by Jonas (Koteas) and his daughter-in-law Rachel (Mitra) who wasn’t ready to learn the truth that on Tim’s 13th birthday everything changes in the battle.

 

Thoughts on Skinwalkers

 

Characters – Varek is the leader of the werewolf pack that wants Timothy dead to stop the event he will cause, he hunts calmly through the film knowing how to get ahead of his enemies, though he is unaware of his connection to the child. Jonas has been protecting his nephew for years now, knowing what he means to the species, he has built the team his truss around him to make sure he is safe. Rachel is the mother of Timothy, she thinks he is just a normal kid and that she lives in a normal town, he must learn fast how to cope in this world filled with werewolves and protect her son. Sonja is the deadliest fighter on Varek side of the war, she enjoys hurting people and we see her take pleasure in this.

PerformancesJason Behr as the conflicted werewolf is good to watch, he shines on the bad boy side of this story, though when he must show the other side of the emotions we see him struggle at times. Elias Koteas is strong for his role which is one that we often see him in. Rhona Mitra does well in the reluctant heroes being the strong need to learn to battle mother figure in the film. everyone else in the film is fine without needing to be anything special, they fit their roles well to help the story flow.

StoryThe story here follows two warring werewolf packs that know the importance of a child for both their existences, so basically something we have seen before only with a modern style to it. The fact the story does feel like an introduction to a much big world building idea is promising and while it isn’t the film’s fault we didn’t see the next chapter, it does show us how story telling can think ahead of time. If we are being honest this is a by the book storyline, it doesn’t bring us anything new to the werewolf mythology it just tries to keep it in the modern world.

Action/Fantasy/HorrorThe action sequences are mixed bag because we have shoot-out which are routine and lack the peril for certain characters, while the fights show the effects that two werewolves fighting would have on each other. The fantasy world of werewolves living among humans is nicely done, showing two sides to them, though the horror does seem weak because we never feel terrified by what we are seeing.

SettingsThe film uses the settings in a mix of quality and generic, the small town gets the big surprise with everyone being part of the protection, then we hit the road and its nothing we haven’t seen before.

Special EffectsThe effects for the werewolves and wounds look nice, its just most are hidden from the full effect of the shock.


Scene of the Movie –
Town stand off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There are a few blink and you miss it moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book werewolf film, it has good moments, it has forgettable moments and ends up feeling like the pilot for a television show.

 

Overall: The werewolf genre done safely.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – G – The Good, The Bad and The Dead (2015)

Director: Timothy Woodward Jr

Writer: Sean Ryan (Screenplay)

Starring: Johnny Messner, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Vivica A Fox, Michael Pare, Natassia Malthe, John Laughlin

 

Plot: Brian Barnes (Johnny Messner) wakes up in the desert wounded and with no memory and no idea why he’s surrounded by eight bodies, a van with four million in cash and a van full of cocaine. Brian is pursued by not only notorious drug lord Danny Perez (Danny Trejo) who desperately want his money back, and DEA Agent Rooker (Dolph Lundgren), but also a by the corrupt Sheriff Olson (Michael Pare) who will stop at nothing to get his hand on the new found fortune. On the run, Brian discovers the more he remembers the less he wants to know about who he really is.


Tagline – Who can you trust?

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over Populated Action Film

 

Story: The Good, the Bad and the Dead starts as the outlaw (Messner) wakes after a drug deal goes bad, corrupt sheriffs try to claim his prize which brings in the Enforcer Bob Rooker (Lundgren) to do the work for the Suit Imani Cole (Fox) who has been trying to stop the drug deals coming across the borders. When the drug lord Mateo Perez (Trejo) wants his drugs back, it becomes a race against time to see who ends up with the drugs, money and lives.

The race to solve the case and close the case brings us many twists which leave Outlaw Brian needing to face the facts about who he really is and what he was doing at the crime scene.

 

Thoughts on The Good, the Bad and the Dead

 

Characters – Brian Barns is the outlaw, he is left shot in a drug deal gone bad, he has no memory which leads him to need to go on a journey to first learn who he is and later how to escape. Bob Rooker is the DEA Agent tracking down the events of the shootout, he is following clues while staying on the right side of the law. Mateo Perez is the drug lord that is wants to track down who killed his son and took his money. Imani Cole is the suit trying to put the pieces together with her team. Most of the characters we meet don’t get enough development and we keep getting more characters added to complicate things.

PerformancesThe performances are affected by the pure number of characters we are dealing with, nobody gets a chance to stand out or is given enough screen time to be effective for the film.

StoryThe story does try to bring us a story that has plenty of interweaving arcs, which the film doesn’t get enough time to get flushed out and then we try to make every single character seem like they are the most important character to the story. The story does try to stay fast paced which doesn’t help either because we do get a lot of scenes which involve talking and just shooting or planning which takes a lot away from the final outcome of the story.

Action/WesternThe action is by the book shooting which never feels challenging to watch and leaves you not caring too much.

SettingsThe film doesn’t use the settings well enough for the film making none of them having any memorable scenes.

Special EffectsThe effects are fine when it comes to the wounds, but otherwise it will not become anything memorable.


Scene of the Movie –
The opening sequences works well.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters and twists.

Final ThoughtsThis is an overly complicated and populated movie that brings in too many characters to make the twists happening.

 

Overall: Too busy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – D – DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)

Director: Corey Yuen

Writer: J.F. Lawton, Adam Gross, Seth Gross (Screenplay)

Starring: Jaime Pressly, Devon Aoki, Holly Valance, Sarah Carter, Natassia Malthe, Kane Kosugi, Matthew Marsden

 

Plot: The world’s best fighters are invited to DOA, an invitational martial arts contest. There, four female rival fighters will have to work together to uncover the secret that the organizer of the tournament is trying to hide.


Tagline – You’re Invited.

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Guilty Pleasure

 

Story: DOA: Dead or Alive starts as we meet our three leading ladies, wrestling royalty Tina Armstrong (Pressly) who wants to prove herself in legitimate fighting, Chinese princess Kasumi (Aoki) who leaves her clan to find out what happened to her brother at last year’s tournament and master thief Christie Allen (Valance) who can fight her way out of any corner.

The three get selected to enter this year’s DOA tournament along with 12 other competitors along with daughter of the creature Helena (Carter), they get sent to remote island where the three becomes friends and fight for the prize pool which will see them waiting for their opponents to be selected.

 

Thoughts on DOA: Dead or Alive

 

Characters – Tina Armstrong is an American wrestler, she has been on the top of that world and has always dealt with people questioning her own fighting ability, this tournament will give her a chance to show just how good she is. Kasumi is a princess of a Chinese clan, forbidden to leave the temple or face death, her brother vanished in the last tournament, she will go against tradition and face death in an attempt to uncover the truth about her brother. Christie Allen is a master thief whose latest job attracts the attention of the organisers of the tournament, she along with her partner have other plans while on the island. Helena is the daughter of the creator of the tournament, this is her first year on entry and she wants to do her father proud.

PerformancesThis is a movie which hired actresses that needed to look extra sexy, we can see this from our main four women, each comes from different backgrounds which shows in the performances where they all handle the fighting well, with Jaime Pressley giving us the best performance outside of the fighting.

StoryThe story follows three women bought from different background to enter a fighting tournament on a mysterious island, unlike most fighting tournaments, these can happened whether you get informed about your opponent which does give us different locations for the fights, it also shows us how the honour between these fighters is shown, with none of the fighters being the villainous side of the story. this is a video game turned film, so we know the story isn’t going to need to be the deepest and as long as we see the people fight we will be happy. Things do go over the top in the final act of the story which is fine again, for a video game story it all makes sense. There are clearly holes in the story which comes from where the defeated competitors go after losing and having one extra side story feels like we have slightly too much going on at times.

Action/AdventureThe action is a mix of different fights in different locations with the final fight in the temple being the true highlight on this side of everything. the adventure side of the film takes our characters from around the world ready to compete in the tournament.

SettingsThe film is mostly set on the solo island location, we get the beach, temple and hotel locations shown for the fights.

Special EffectsThe film does have moments of effects which are not as strong as they should be, with explosions and moments in the fights not looking that impressive.


Scene of the Movie –
Christie’s introduction is so ridiculous.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Disappearing characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily become people’s guilty pleasure, it has solid enough action scenes making it an acceptable video adaptation.

 

Overall: Video Game Joy.

Rating

 

 

Alpha (2018)

Director: Albert Hughes

Writer: Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt (Screenplay) Albert Hughes (Story)

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Marcin Kowalczyk, Jens Hulten, Natassia Malthe, Spencer Bogaert

 

Plot: In the prehistoric past, a young man struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe during a buffalo hunt. He finds a similarly lost wolf companion and starts a friendship that would change humanity.


Tagline – Leaders are born from survival.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Adventure

 

Story: Alpha starts as we meet Keda (Smit-McPhee) a young man and member of a prehistoric tribe, this is his chance to go on the hunt with the chief and his father Tau (Johannesson) to complete his path to manhood in the tribe, along with the other recruits, the week doesn’t end well for the young man when he becomes separated from his tribe.

Keda must find his tribe while dealing with the perils of the wilderness including the wolves, one of which he rescues making an unlikely friendship in the harsh world he is travelling through.

 

Thoughts on Alpha

 

Characters – Keda is the young man, the son of the chief of his tribe, he must go on his first hunt which only leaves him alone in the world. he must earn fast how to survive this environment with his caring nature showing with a wounded wolf that he nurses back to help. Alpha is the wolf that was hunting Keda, only to get wounded, she sticks around after being nursed back to health which brings her a new connection, one with a human. The two remain loyal to each other through the bitter winter which will test both of them. Tau is the chief of the tribe and father to Keda, he wants his son to follow in his footsteps showing strength to the rest of the tribe and wisdom to his son.

PerformancesKodi Smit-McPhee is fantastic in the leading role, he has to go through such a physical performance while balancing the emotion impact of believing he could be alone in the world. he does have to deal with most of the work in this film and the connect he has with the wolf. The supporting cast is good with what they need to do without having to do as much as Kodi.

StoryThe story follows one young man that gets separated from his tribe and must figure out how to get home, making a new friend along the way, a wolf. This does follow the survival story very clearly and the bond between man and animal starts coming through during the film. even with the formulaic storyline you are kept on edge through out as we want to see if Keda and Alpha can make it home. The connection between the two makes us see how humans and wolfs became one together. The simple story is what keeps us happy.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure takes Keda who is part of the tribe through the prehistoric world with threats that a solo man would be struggling to survive through. This does have moments that would be slightly too dark for the younger family audience.

SettingsThe world created is beautiful, we have the open plains to the snow filled background each condition becomes more difficult as we go on the adventure.

Special EffectsThe effects are strong for the most part, we do have moments that are not good but for the scale of the film should be applauded for the world we see.


Scene of the Movie –
The tiger attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not understanding the bison hunt.

Final ThoughtsThis is a visual treat for the audience with a connection between man and dog that is fantastic to see, the story might be generic but it works well.

 

Overall: Entertaining adventure

Rating

 

 

Lake Placid (1999)

logoDirector: Steve Miner

Writer: David E. Kelley (Screenplay)

Starring: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White, David Lewis, Tim Dixon, Natassia Malthe, Mariska Hargitay

 

Plot: A group attempts to destroy a giant, 30-foot-long man-eating crocodile, which terrorizes Black Lake, Maine.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Creature Feature Before it was Mega

 

Story: Lake Placid starts with a scientist tagging beavers with Sheriff Keough (Gleeson) looking after the boat, but something attacks the scientist leaving the Sheriff to pull out half his body. Move to the city where we meet Kelly Scott (Fonda) palaeontologist. Next back to Lake Placid and Jack Wells (Pullman) from Fish and Game has turned up to investigate the body and what could have attack the man. Kelly is sent to Placid to look at a strange tooth that is found on the body only to discover it is from a living reptile.

Hank, Jack and Kelly have to put aside their differences and work together to figure out what is in the lake and what could potential do the damage to actually rip a man in half. When Hector Cyr (Platt) arrives believing they are after a crocodile. Finding remains of the first victim they discover they are in fact after a crocodile so they prepare to capture it.

The four still struggling to get along they finally get to see how big the crocodile actually is when it takes down a grizzly bear. They have to decide whether to catch or kill the crocodile and after they decide to try and catch it we are left to see if it was the right decision.croc

Lake Placid is a film that is almost before its time, I say that because we look at what is getting made on a regular basis now (Mega Shark, Giant Octopus, Sharkzilla the list goes on) this was how to make one with a little bit of money and practicial effects. I am not saying this was brilliant but most importantly it was fun and made for a good horror comedy. I like the idea of four main characters and seeing them not get along as well as having that feeling that one might get eaten throughout the film. On the negative side we don’t get a real body count which takes away certain aspects of the horror side of the film. I personally found this fun and easily re-watchable just don’t watch it with your serious head on. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Bill Pullman: Jack Wells man from Fish & Game who is in charge of the investigation and has the final say on any of the ideas going on. Jack constantly takes charge and flirts between being a good guy and bad guy with his choice even though we know he is making the right ones each time. Bill gives a solid performance but doesn’t reach the levels we know he can. (6/10)

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Bridget Fonda: Kelly Scott palaeontologist who is sent from New York to identify what cause an animal attack and ends up staying to help catch the creature even though she spends more time falling out boats or cars. Bridget does a good job as the constant damsel in distress. (6/10)

 

Oliver Platt: Hector Cyr the crocodile expert who wants to try and catch this creature and his constant trap setting makes for extra laughs because the friction between Hector and Hank is very funny. Oliver does a good job and shows off a good comic side here. (7/10)

 

Brendan Gleeson: Sheriff Hank Keough is from the school of seeing is believing and doesn’t believe there is a crocodile until he sees one. He wants to keep the people safe at all costs. Brendan does a good job in this role that has good comic side to it. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: Lake Placid has a support cast that in different levels of authority who help out, an old lady who has been feeding the crocodile and the people who sent Kelly along. They all help for a bit of extra comedy.

 

Director Review: Steve Miner – Steve does a good job directing and we know we can trust him with this genre of film. (7/10)

 

Comedy: Lake Placid has good comedy moments mostly involving Hank and Hector. (7/10)

Horror: Lake Placid doesn’t reach many horror levels but also doesn’t try too hard to be one. (5/10)

Settings: Lake Placid has a beautiful showing how a paradise can turn into something terrible. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Lake Placid uses very good practical effects for the crocodile making it feel more like a real attack. (8/10)

Suggestion: Lake Placid is one for the horror comedy creature feature fans to enjoy. (Horror Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Crocodile and the bear.

Worst Part: Bit short.

Funniest Scene: Hank falls for another one of Hectors traps.odd couple

Kill Of The Film: Deputy on the boat.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has 3 TV movie sequels

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $57 Million

Budget: $27 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

Tagline: Part Mystery Part Thriller Parts Missing

 

Overall: Lake Placid is a fun film that really hasn’t dated over 15 years, but really could have been the top dog on the world we are in now with all these creature feature like films.

Rating 71