Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Kong: Skull Island (2017): Review


Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 American Kaiju film. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kings of Summer) the film stars Tom Hiddleston (High Rise), Brie Larson (Room), John C. Reilly (Stepbrothers), Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes on a Plane) and John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane). The film is part of Legendary pictures continued “Monsterverse”.


The film is set in the early 70s against the dying days of the Vietnam war as Monarch operative Randa (Goodman) attempts to get an expedition together in order to visit the mysterious Skull Island. Joined by Mercenary James Conrad (Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Larson) and Colonel Packard (Jackson), the team soon discover that Skull Island is far from uninhabited as the giant ape lays waste to their squad of helicopters. Stumbling upon castaway Hank Marlow (Reilly), we soon learn that Kong is the protector of the island and that the subterranean “Skullcrawlers” pose a far greater threat. The team must survive the horrors of Skull Island and escape, as Kong does battle with a jumbo Skullcrawler, in order to tell the rest of the world about these gigantic new creatures.


Skull Island has long been pitched as King Kong (1933) meets Apocalypse Now (1978), which is a pretty bold claim considering those are two of the greatest films ever made, and, on this promise, it delivers in spades. Vogt-Roberts is clearly well versed in both these films, as well as kaiju and war movies in general, and does a fantastic job in creating this fresh take on a modern monster movie. The direction and visual set ups are eye watering as, locations wise, we’re taken on a world tour of Vietnam, Hawaii and Australia and the visual effects, as with Godzilla, blend seamlessly into the world. The design of Kong is a welcome return to the classic bipedal character, with Peter Jackson’s anatomically correct character now a distant memory, and the King has been massively scaled up so that he can do battle with the other King in 2020.


The pacing is perfect, as the film wastes little time getting our protagonists onto the island, and the cast is strong despite a wasted John Goodman and a woefully miscast Tom Hiddleston as an action hero (Kurt Russell, he is not!). I particularly enjoyed Jackson’s turn as the Colonel Kurtz-esque Packard, he just made it through a war, he’s not about to let a damn dirty ape trample all over him! My immediate concern when I first saw the trailer was that John C. Reilly was there to provide ill-advised humour and, although his character has unexpected depths, I felt that a lot of the attempts at comic relief still fell flat on their face. However, for every human character that was in danger of becoming irritating, there were more than enough creatures on display to marvel at including a giant Octopus, Spider, water Buffalo and, of course, the sinister Skullcrawlers (themselves actually based on a briefly glimpsed creature in the original King Kong).


Much like 2014’s Godzilla, the film isn’t perfect but it does exactly what it needs to do, it brings these beloved characters back to life and sets them in new and vivid adventures for Kaiju fans, old and new, to enjoy. The philosophy of enlisting Vogt-Roberts is clearly the same as Gareth Edwards, these are technically exceptional directors with a passion and nerdom that we can all respect and relate to. See it on the big screen at least once to maximise your adventure to Skull Island, and don’t forget to stay for the post credits sequence. There’s never been a better time to be a kaiju fan!

***** 5 Stars

What did you think of the film? Did you like the Vietnam war setting?

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Gaff returns for Blade Runner 2049


Some very welcome casting news has emerged surrounding the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 in the form of Edward James Olmos reprising his classic Gaff role. A mysterious and infrequent character in the original Blade Runner, he said more with his origami skills, however, also got to utter one of the greatest final lines in film history.

"It's too bad she won't live. But, then again, who does?"

Olmos joins Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Dave Bautista and Jared Leto in Denis Villeneuve's belated sequel to the classic sci fi film.

What do you think of the casting choices? Are you excited for this one?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A Cure for Wellness (2017): Review


A Cure for Wellness is a 2017 Gothic horror. The film is directed by Gore Verbinski (The Ring) and stars Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) and Jason Isaacs (Event Horizon). The project was an American-German co production.

Lockheart (DeHaan) is an ambitious young businessman from New York. After the CEO of his company disappears into the Swiss Alps, to a mysterious clinic, Lockheart is tasked with travelling to the clinic and retrieving Mr Pembroke. However, after being involved in a car accident trying to leave the clinic, Lockheart soon finds himself a patient under the watchful eye of the hospital director Dr Heinrich Volmer (Isaacs). Lockheart is forced to investigate the hospital in order to uncover the mysterious “cure” that they offer, as well as the sinister history of the building before he ends up becoming a permanent resident.

After languishing under the uninspired wing of Disney for over a decade, including interminable Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and the disastrous Lone Ranger (2013), Gore Verbinski has finally returned to the horror genre after his enormous contribution with The Ring (2002). It’s a shame that such an auteur moved on so quickly from the genre and, indeed, you probably didn’t know that the first 3 Pirates of the Caribbean films were directed by the same person. Happily the iconic aesthetic of The Ring carries through to A Cure and Verbinski crafts another visually astounding modern Gothic horror. The direction is flawless and the setting is breathtaking, with much of the exterior scenes being filmed on location at a German castle, and Verbinski shows a perfect command of the big screen.

In terms of the story, you might think we’re in Dr Caligari/Shutter Island territory and you’re partly right. However, there is real effort made to forge a separate path through the “lunatics are running the asylum” trope and the film certainly kept me guessing as to the true nature of the plot. A tense and mysterious atmosphere gives way to body horror as the film progresses, giving DeHaan a bit more to work with in terms of his character, though I still didn’t feel he was well cast in the lead role. Isaacs gives a much better accounting of himself as the sinister hospital director, and a cracking German accent. At around the 2 hour mark, I felt the film could have concluded very nicely, but then, the plot takes a wild turn into dangerously silly territory and they throw an awful lot of plot twists at the wall to see what sticks, which is a bit of a shame.

Overall, A Cure for Wellness is a solid effort from a very talented director which somewhat suffers from its similarities to other films and, more importantly, it’s attempts to differentiate. Come for the scenery and jaw dropping cinematography, but don’t expect to be satisfied by the wacky twists and turns that prevail. Let’s hope to see many more modern Gothic horrors, especially if they’re directed by Gore Verbinski.

*** 3 Stars

What did you think of the movie? Were you satisfied with the ending?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Giant shark movie "Meg" delayed



The upcoming adaptation of Steve Alton's novel "Meg" has hit a snag as the film has been pushed back from spring to summer 2018. Scheduled to be directed by John Turtletaub (National Treasure) and starring action hero Jason Statham, this moves the film into the much more traditional summer season for shark movies.


Personally, I lost a lot of interest in this project when Eli Roth jumped off and Statham jumped on but, at the very least, we may well get to see the biggest shark in movie history. until Statham punches it back to extinction!


Are you looking forward to this one? Would you rather see a shark movie in the summer?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Vera Farmiga joins Godzilla sequel


Some more casting news regarding the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters this week as modern day scream queen Vera Farmiga joins the project. Best known for her roles in The Conjuring series, as well as Norma Bates in Bates Motel, Farmiga joins Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown.


After so long in developmental hell, things hadn't been looking great for Godzilla 2. But now, with the cast shaping up and with Michael Dougherty (Krampus, trick r treat) directing, we may still get a sequel that lives up to it's royal title.

What do you think of Varmiga being added? Who else would you like to see cast?

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

"To the Covenant!" online prologue for new Alien film


A short prologue has been released for the upcoming Alien: Covenant. Clocking in at just 4 minutes, the clip introduces you to the new crew and even throws in a clever nod to the original Alien movie. Presumably this won't be included in the theatrical cut, but is a really nice way to introduce the new cast members and establishes a tone that can seemingly shift from jovial to terrifying in a split second. Check it out...


Also, interesting is the various tension between crew members, particularly James Franco's character and his subordinates. We''l have to wait until the 19th of May to find out more.

What do you think of the prologue? What are your first impressions of the cast?

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Void gets a new trailer


A new trailer has been released for the upcoming Astron 6 project The Void. From the team that brought you Father's Day (2011), the film has been gathering quite a bit of steam as comparisons to John Carpenter classics like The Thing have begun to rack up. The trailer foregoes setting up any plot and instead opts for a sequence of glimpses into the Lovecraftian horrors that dwell within the hospital which the film is set in. Check it out.


It's quite refreshing to have a trailer which doesn't reel off the whole plot but, like a comedy, if all your best bits are in the trailer it could make for a disappointing watch. It also seems to take on a more serious tone than the usual Astron 6 fare, which is good. The film will be released on the 31st March in the UK.

What do you think of the trailer? Is it too similar to older horror films?