Machete – Review

Grindhouse returns in Robert Rodriguez’s exploitation extravaganza, Machete.

Machete Cortez (the totally bad-ass Danny Trejo) is an ex-federale who was betrayed by his own police force chief. His wife and daughter are murdered during a set-up raid. Machete is thought to be killed. Three years later Machete now lives across the boarder in Texas as an illegal immigrant working the day to day jobs of a Mexican in America. He is caught up in a web of chaos when he is hired to kill the state senator, John McLaughlin (played by Robert De Niro). Jessica Alba plays a mexican born department of immigration agent who investigates a boarder crossing operation known as ‘The Network’. ‘The Network’ is run by Luz – a.k.a the infamous “She” (Michelle Rodriguez) who works in a taco trailer as a front for her operations with ‘The Network’. The man who hired Machete and got the ball rolling into this total bullet and blood-fest is Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey), whose model/socialite, drug-doing daughter (Lindsay Lohan (didn’t have to act all that much for this character, did she?)) also plays a roll in the war. Cheech Marin plays Padre, the preist seen in the trailer with one of the most awesome lines in the film “I took a vow of peace… and now you want me to kill all these men? I’ll see what I can do”. Steven Segal rounds off the main cast as the drug-lord, Rogelio Torrez.

You will laugh at how over the top some of the scenes and some of the weapons used in this movie. Rodriguez’s style of filmmaking is second to none. His “low budget” movies, I believe top some movies that spend millions more. He is a god at making things out of nothing. I also recommend for any filmmakers out there to check out his 10-minute film school segments that you can find on his dvd’s or on youtube.

Machete: Below Average

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Griff The Invisible – Review

Griff (Ryan Kwanten) is an office worker by day and a superhero by night. He has a very hi-tech set up in his apartment where he monitors the his suburb and fights off any wrongdoers and attackers. He has a Superman/Clark Kent sort of alter ego-ality (yes its now a word) where regular Griff is picked on at work and is very shy and incredibly awkward, while when he wears his suit he is the other extreme, he is strong and brave, he is Griff The Invisible (though the name is never revealed, he toys around with a few name ideas). His brother, Tim (Patrick Brammall) has moved from Adelaide to help out the troubled Griff. In the process he meets Melody (Maeve Dermody) and the two begin dating. But when Melody meets Griff she is immediately attracted to him and upon realising who he ‘really’ is she wishes to help him and become his sidekick. Unfortunately things take a turn for the worse and Griff has to look at himself and see if it’s time to grow up.

This movie is such a good and cute film. The character of Griff is so awkward you can’t help but fall in love with him. The tale is whimsical and charming, the acting is decent and usual for an Australian film. Unfortunately I have a bone to pick with others who have reviewed this film. It’s clear to me, through reviews, that some Australians are far too critical of this industry and have rated this movie poorly while it’s others from other countries that find it a very good movie. People are critical of the acting in these films but as I have noticed, people don’t like seeing themselves in film, Aussie films these days are almost mirror images of who we are and how we act. In fact I think they are very good representations of our way of life and encourage the Australian Film Industry to continue. Ryan Kwanten is a very successful actor in the states and has returned, in his breaks on True Blood, to do local films like Red Hill and Griff, again I applaud this move. This movie overall is sweet and is definitely one to see with your partner.

Griff The Invisible: Below Average

The Loved Ones – Review

Aussie Horror at it’s best!

Now I am not a huge fan of the sadistic horror films but I had to see this one because it was Australian and it got a lot of good reception. The Loved Ones is about Brent (Xavier Samuel), a high school kid who six months prior to the end of school dance is involved in a car accident that kills his father. Brent’s girlfriend, Holly (Victoria Thaine) seemed to be his girlfriend at the time of the accident and at the time of the main story (although it’s not clear), she is very pretty and seems to be the perfect girl for a tortured soul like Brent. Enter Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy), the social outcast at school she asks Brent to the dance, he declines, saying he’s going with Holly. Lola gets angry and her psychopathic father (John Brumpton) kidnaps Brent and sets up the school dance from hell for his little “princess” and her new ‘toy’. Things go bad to worse when it turns out that the sadistic apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as Lola and her father brutally torture Brent and attempt to turn him into a lobotomised prisoner just like the ones she keeps under her trapdoor.

This film seems to tread an incredibly fine line as to what is entertainment and what is just down right insane. Never have I seen a seventeen(ish) year old girl be so deranged and demented. That being said Robin McLeavy is fantastic as Lola Stone and has been recognised by folks in the US for her acting ability (lets hope it’s acting, cause she scares the shit out of me!). The film was a financial flop taking in a small amount on the first weekend. But it has received very strong reviews from the many festivals it has screened at.

If you love immensely gory, incredibly insane, and (for want of a better phrase) completely fucked-up movie… this one is for you. If however you are weakhearted and the idea of hammering knives into peoples feet and power-drilling in to someones head makes you want to throw-up… perhaps watch something else.

The Loved Ones: Above Average

Wasted on the Young – Review

Wasted on the Young is an Australian film from first time feature director Ben C. Lucas.

Wasted on the Young is a film that begins with a jumpy timeline, centring around the fateful party where Xandrie (Adelaide Clemens) is drugged and raped, while showing before, for example the meeting of Xandrie and the protagonist, Darren (Oliver Ackland) and after the party, where Xandrie wakes up traumatised on the beach. The rest of the film deals with the events that follow that night. In the end everyone is involved because as Xandrie says, “If you see something and do nothing, you’re not a witness… you’re an accomplice.” All hell breaks loose when Zack (Darren’s step-brother) (Alex Russell) believes he’s gotten away with what he did to Xandrie on the night of the party and decides to throw another party to keep his “loyal followers” entertained. Darren has other plans and seeks “justice” for the crimes Zack committed.

This movie has a heightened sense of reality, there are no adults present (with the exception of a teacher’s voice on one occasion) and so it gives you a feeling that there are only these young people in this world, almost a Lord of the Flies feeling. They rule and justice and punishment is handed down their way. It can be looked at as a reflection of the issues plaguing youth these days and in a world without adults, who knows, this could be the way things would be handled. The acting in Wasted on the Young is very strong, Adelaide Clemens handled her difficult role of Xandrie incredibly well. The character of Darren reminds me a lot of the character of Simon in the british tv series Misfits and Oliver Ackland struck a cord with me, he could resonate this rage-ful helplessness that really connected with me. The whole young unknown cast did a fantastic job of making this “parallel world” come to life.

Wasted on the Young’s techniques are what sets this apart from other Aussie films, is high-contrast, and exclusive and selective shots contribute to this feeling that something is wrong with this world, you can tell that it’s not quite real. The director, Ben C. Lucas has this film planned and executed perfectly. It really made me think if this was the world we live in today, would this be the end result, is life truly Wasted on the Young?

Wasted on the Young: Above Average

Swimfan – Review

Swimfan tells the story of Ben Cronin (played by Jesse Bradford) an ex-drug addict who has found his life again by swimming, he now has the perfect life, perfect girlfriend, etc. But that gets turned upside down when Maddison Bell (Erika Christensen) comes to town. Ben and Maddison hook up and get it on nautical style in the school pool. Ben tries to forget the night at the pool and return to  his relationship with his girlfriend Amy, but Maddison has other plans. She comes on a little strong, going to his house, leaving things in his locker, and interfering in his life until, ultimately people start dying.

This psycho-thriller (emphasis on the Psycho) is aimed at an older teenage market and can be seen as a little intense. This is one of my favourite films of all time. One of the reasons for this is that the actors in this film are relatively unknown and its refreshing to see a cast like this be in such a fantastic film. As someone who swum in primary school and high school the swimming element in this film and other films get to me… See The Covenant & Wasted on the Young… and like those other films Swimfan has a very blue atmosphere which adds to the darkness of the storyline. Overall a visually and narratively appealing film.

Swimfan: Above Average

Superheroes To Save Us From The Apocalypse

With the supposed Apocalypse coming at the end of 2012 the superhero films are coming out hard and fast with this year and next year looking to be bigger and better than previous years.

2011-

Green Hornet – Hopefully not a sign of things to come as far as the next two years in Superhero films go.

May, June and July (around the American Summer Break) seem to be this year’s Super Months. Thor, featuring Australian, Chris Hemsworth is set to be released around Late April – Early May. It’s the story of Marvel’s least original superhero, the Norse god of Thunder Thor and his exile to earth. Next on the bill, in June is X-Men: First Class. This film is about the first generation of mutants – Professor X, before he was a professor, Magneto, before he was a total evil badass… and many more. Modelled after the new Star Trek film, the producers want to take the series in a new direction with a fresh young cast. This film is seen as the first film in a new trilogy in the franchise.

To DC’s only release this year, The Green Lantern. Ryan Renolds plays Hal Jordan, one of the first characters in the comic books to don the ring and fight for the Green Lantern Corps. The movie is seems to have a Iron Man sort of feel to it and from the trailer it’s difficult to say how this movie will go. Hopefully it will do well and one day DC might follow Marvel’s suit and create a Justice League movie.

Wrapping up the summer of super is Captain America: The First Avenger, the film is a chronicling of the first Avenger, from his rise out of the super soldier program to his status as “America’s Greatest Superhero”. Chris Evans plays the scrawny come super, Steve Rogers. While Hugo Weaving plays the evil Nazi, Red Skull.

2012-

Casting has been announced for the new Nolan produced Superman film with Diane Lane joining the cast as Martha Kent. Earlier this year Henry Cavill was cast as Superman for the film. The casting of Cavill made me think that maybe Christopher Nolan wants the world’s super heroes to be british? Batman played by Christian Bale and now Superman standing up for Truth, Justice and The Way of the Queen. That aside the director of the reboot tentatively titled “Superman: Man Of Steel” is Zack Snyder. This mix of Nolan and Snyder could be a strong one! – Superman: Man Of Steel is set to be released the end of next year. Another Nolan addition to the ranks is The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final instalment in the rebooted Batman series. Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Anne Hathaway is slated to play Selena Kyle (Catwoman) and Tom Hardy to play Bane. Could Batman’s back be broken in this film by the deadly Bane? All I know is it’s Batman and it’s back… Nolan Style. Prepare for epicness! – The Dark Knight Rises is expected to be released July 20, 2012.

Marvel returns in 2012 with 3 movies so far… a Ghost Rider sequel, the Spider-Man Reboot: “The Amazing Spider-Man” and the ultimate superhero team up movie… The Avengers.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will star Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider again. It’s been several years since making a deal with the Devil and Johnny Blaze (Cage), living in self-imposed isolation, finds himself as the only person who can help save 10-year-old Danny – and ultimately the world – thanks to his unwanted and uncontrollable power – he has the ability to transform into the hell-on-wheels monster known as the Ghost Rider. Andrew Garfield, famous for playing the co-founder of Facebook in The Social Network returns to the screen in 2012 as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man, the reboot of the series that ended only a few years ago. Marc Webb, the director of (500) Days Of Summer, has signed on as the aptly named director of this film. The Lizard and Van Atter, the Proto-Goblin are billed as the villains of the film.

The ultimate cross over sequal, The Avengers is Marvel’s flagship movie for 2010-2012 with almost all their films tying in to this movie. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow & Nick Fury are all planned as cast in this movie directed by the one, the only… JOSS WHEDON! The ultimate comic-y fanboy has signed on to direct what will hopefully be an epic film of epic proportions!

The next two years are going to be incredibly super if all the movies work out… the are a few at the moment I’m not too sure about at the moment but we’ll see how they go. Who knows maybe 2013/2014 will be just as good… although the only Super-Film planned at the moment is Iron Man 3 :/

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The Terminators – Review

Quick review today for an incredibly b-grade (maybe even lower) film, The Terminators.

I’ll take a step back for a second and tell you a little about The Asylum, they are a film production and distribution company infamous for releasing films (sometimes called ‘Mockbusters’) similar to blockbusters in both story lines and titles, very close to the date that these blockbusters are released. Examples being:

Transmorphers, around the time of the first Transformers movie in 2007

The Day The Earth Stopped, around the time of The Day The Earth Stood Still in 2008

and many more such as, Snakes On A Train and The Da Vinci Treasure (guess what they’re similar to).

The Terminators was released (I bet you guessed) around the time Terminator: Salvation was released. But unlike the original
series, it follows a more Battlestar Galactica storyline, other critics have compared it to 1973’s Westworld. The similarities with the Terminator movies however are that the actors of the TR5’s (the robots in the film) have rigid movements, are muscley and all have angry faces (like Arnie) but thats about it (they don’t even say “I’ll be back” or anything!). Like in many of these movies by the Asylum, (and I will be reviewing more of these because they are so… I’m not quite sure what the word is… crass?) I kept waiting for one of these characters to say “This shit just got real.” (But they never do.) The crappy acting and poor special effects make these films funny to watch.

Keep an eye out for a scene where the main characters are running into a warehouse after the TR5’s have attacked and killed everyone… you will see a highway in the background, with moving cars… Apocalype, No!

The Terminators: Below Well Below Average (unless these fantastically bad movies are your thing)

I Am Number Four – Review

I don’t see I Am Number Four, coming in at #4 on any list I can think of unless its for Hyped-Up-Mediocre films.

I Am Number Four is an adaptation (yes, thats right… another one) of a book by “Pittacus Lore” (Pen name for: James Frey and Jobie Hughes). This book and film had so much hype around it that the movie rights were bought a year before the book was released, the film was then released six months after the book too so clearly they didn’t muck around. The screenplay was adapted by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, known for creating Smallville, and if your a fan of the first few series of Smallville, you may enjoy this film. The director D.J. Caruso directed Disturbia and Eagle Eye, contrary to what the trailers imply… if you liked Disturbia, this film may not be for you.

The film is about nine alien children sent from there devastated home planet of Lorien as a last hope of the species (sound like anything familiar, Superman fans?). In pursuit of them are another group of aliens, Mogodorians, the ones responsible for the destruction of Lorien. In order to kill the nine remaining children, the “Mogs” (presumably a derogatory term) must kill them in order of the numbers assigned to them at birth… The main character (which you’ve probably guessed) is Number four. They have already killed the first three. There’s a high school love, a jock come bully come psychopath and a boy who believes in aliens (Smallville fans… see why Gough and Millar were drawn to this story?) pretty much everything you need for a tale of epic proportions right?

Wrong! Unfortunately despite the tricky light shows courtesy of everyone’s favourite explosion obsessed producer Michael Bay, the film didn’t do that well. The story line was not presented in a way that excited the viewer, I’m sure the younger generation will enjoy this film for the other features. If you want the story of this I suggest the book, (although I have not read it) chances are like many adaptations at the moment it would be much better than the film.

Featuring two Aussie actors: playing Number Six, another alien child, is Teresa Palmer from Wolf Creek & December Boys. Also playing Sam, the boy who believes in aliens, is Callan McAuliffe, who appeared as minor characters in TV shows like Blue Water High and Packed to the Rafters. Alex Pettyfer, who plays Number Four, plays a character similar to his portrayal of Alex Rider in the poor film Stormbreaker. All in all this movie has a young and more or less unexperienced cast.

So this film did alright, it’s a movie for the masses, and I’d say its better than The Last Airbender (which isn’t hard).

I Am Number Four: Well Below Average (if you liked old Smallville or your 12-15… however parents there is some mild course language, perhaps to make the film more gritty?)