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Deliver Us from Evil (2014)
Excellent horror film.
Great film! In some ways reminiscent of The Exorcist, this film goes from being a cop procedural to something entirely more sinister. The acting is excellent as are the special effects, though the horror elements are more psychological and supernatural rather than being based on blood and gore. I think the film is all the better for it. Genuinely disturbing in places, Deliver Us From Evil is a great take on supernatural horror and is apparently based on true events. Highly recommended for fans of supernatural horror.
S.W.A.T.: Firefight (2011)
Passable at best.
This film is at best passable. WIth the exception of the 'bad guy' the acting is wooden. The plot is the entirely generic, extremely tired 'rogue government agent' trope. The writing and dialogue is mediocre at best. Props and uniforms for the SWAT team members are passable though not great. The one and only saving grace this film has is that the cinematography is in places very good. If you're a huge fan of cop movies or SWAT films then this will be a decent if entirely uninspired use of your time. If not then don't bother - the original SWAT film and the more recent SWAT TV series are all infinitely better than this movie.
Felt like I watched 2 different films.
After watching Polar I felt like I'd watched two different films that had been spliced together. One film was a fantastic watch about a retired assassin who gradually develops feelings for a woman with whom he has a much deeper connection than he first realises. This half of Polar was a fantastic film! Mads Mikkelsen very ably portreys the serious, retired assassin who just wants a quiet life but whos past is catching up with him. The acting was genuinely excellent and the chemistry between Mikkelsen's assassin and the woman played by Vanessa Hudgens. Their developing relationship made for great viewing and the plot twist at the end was genuinely surprising.
That half of the film is legitimately a 9/10, so good is the acting and script writing.
Then there's the other half of the film - the team of assassins sent after the protagonist to kill him and therefore save his former employer a pile of money. This half of the film was a disasterous shambles. The "team" of assassins were entirely incompetent, totally unbelievable and the scenes in which they try to find Mikkelsen's character are filled with pointless levels of excessive blood and gore. I have no issue with violence in films, where it serves a purpose. Here it served no purpose whatsoever. In very sharp contrast to the brooding, threatening assassin played by Mikkelsen the team sent after him come across as a bunch of needlessly violent incompetent clowns.
I fully understand that the director was attempting to faithfully follow the plot and themes of a graphic novel, but that does not necessarily make for a good film. Polar could have been an entirely stand-alone film all about the relationship and dynamics between the retired assassin and the woman for whom he develops a growing emotional connection. With Mads Mikkelsen and Vanessa Hudgens that would have made for an *amazing* film. The rest of the utter crap included here was utterly forgettable with the notable exception of the surprisingly impressive portreyal of the psychopathic antagonist by Matt Lucas.
One half of this film I would happily watch over and over again. The other half I would happily set fire to in my back garden.
Who wrote this trash?
Such a shame, this could have been a great animated film. To be fair to the film the quality of the CGI is really rather good: animations are smooth and natural and the graphics for want of a better term are excellent. The voice acting is also pretty good.
The major problem here is the quality of the script writing and dialogue. The plot is one lenthy cliche. The attempts at humour are both ill-timed and juvenile at best. The antagonist is frankly assinine and the story itself is incoherent and has very little to do with the wider Starship Troopers franchise.
Potentially good film ruined by abysmal writing.
Beware the ghosts of war.
FINALLY! An actually original scifi film that doesn't include super tired tropes such as evil corporations or rogue secret government agents. I'm so sick to death of tired, totally unoriginal, formulaic films that include evil corps or rogue agents as their central premise. It's boring and lazy writing.
Spectral was therefore a breath of fresh air in what has become a very stale genre! No bond villains, no evil corporations seeking to make money from war crimes or evil experiments, no rogue CIA or KGB agents, just a group of soldiers who are peacekeepers in a brutal civil war that come up against an enemy they don't understand, can't see and can't seem to fight.
Yes there are plot holes if one looks hard enough and the science is bunkum, but wrong science in scifi is sadly par for the course these days so the film can be forgiven for that.
Acting is generally very good. The film obviously had a decent budget so the props, clothing and SFX are all excellent. Not all the characters had any great depth to them but the good quality acting made all the characters at least very believable from the logically minded scientist to the tough Delta Force team members to the general trying to fight a barely understood new enemy in the midst of a brutal civil war.
Spectral is hardly the best film ever made but it *is* made very competently, has a refreshingly original story and is generally well acted. Can't ask for more!
Ad Astra (2019)
Sounds, music and SFX were excellent. Brad Pitt turns in a decent performance but once again a scifi film has a ridiculous plot.
A near-future astronaut with psychological abandonment issues has to confront his father near the edge of the solar system who is somehow responsible for growing ecological disasters back on Earth.
I understand what the writers attempted to do with the story but a good hour of the film is completely superfluous. What was the point of the constant disasters? The moon pirates - why? The Norwegian ship on which the biological experiments had obviously gone horribly wrong - why include that entire scene? What possible purpose did it serve? The near-death experience on the flight from the Moon to Mars - what was that for? The fight on board the ship just after leaving Mars - again what narrative purpose did that serve? The central story of the film wasn't as terrible as some make it out to be but there was just so many scenes that served no purpose whatsoever.
What science there was in the film was horribly inaccurate but sadly that's par for the course these days with scifi. It is what it is.
Overall? This is the space film that Arthur Shopenhauer would have made. Overall a 4/10 as a scifi movie. If you love psychological dramas you could bump that up to a 6 or maybe a 7.
Another Life (2019)
The Wrong Stuff.
This is terrible to the point where I don't even know where to begin. Sound, music & CGI are decent but the positive aspects of this slow motion train crash end there.
Firstly the plot. Alien artifact lands on Earth. 5 minutes later a faster-than-light ship is sent to make first contact with the senders of the artefact. The decision to send the ship could have legitimately been the contents of the 1st episode but no, 5 minutes later and we're off. If Earth science could build an FTL ship inside of 6 months, why didn't they already build one & send a crew off to explore?
The plot holes are strong with this one. In fact the plot holes are so large one could sail a damned world war 2 battleship through them.
Worst of all - the crew of the ship. Oh my god the crew. Imagine the premise behind the mission: making first contact. Probably the most important event that would take place in human history up to that point. Now imagine what sort of crew the Earth would send on a mission of such importance. Think a collection of the greatest pilots, engineers, scientists, linguists and biologists from the whole planet. Men and women from any and every background, chosen for their expert knowledge and professional experience.
What crew do we get? A collection of utter emotional and professional incompetents who can't get on with each other for longer than 2 minutes. Not so much the "right stuff" but closer to being the personification of the "wrong stuff." By episode 4 I thoroughly despised them all, with the notable exceptions of Katee Sackhoff's captain character, her scientist husband and the ship AI avatar.
I wanted to enjoy this. REALLY wanted to enjoy this because the premise intrigued me. Sadly the collection of childish morons sent off on the most important mission in human history broke any form of immersion I could muster.
2036 Origin Unknown (2018)
What was that even supposed to be?
Katee Sackhoff puts in a good performance as usual. The SFX were passable though obviously done to a tight budget. Sound & music were decent if forgettable. Unfortunately that is where the positive aspects of this film both begin and end.
The plot, such as it was, felt as though it had been written by a child. A very young child who had no interest in scifi. Where to begin? Firstly the plot contains every tired scifi trope imaginable - evil corporations. Rogue AI. Ineffable alien intelligence. Even then these by now very tired plot elements have been done vastly better elsewhere. The plot also contained holes through which one could fit an entire soviet tank division.
Ultimately I just didn't see what overarching point the story was trying to make. Was the Earth destroyed by the alien intelligence / AI? Was that it's plan - to wipe out humanity in order to rebuild by leaping past the constraints of human science? Where are all these "rebuilt" humans going to come from?
After watching it I gave this film some serious thought - I wondered if there was some exceptionally clever philosophical point it was trying to make but ultimately decided that the story was merely utter twaddle. Everything in this film has been done better elsewhere. Don't bother - this is just over an hour of your life that you will never get back.