Creed 2 (2018): Review by Grosse Point Geek

Creed 2 (2018): Review by Grosse Point Geek

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Plot in a nutshell: Newly crowned world heavyweight champion Adonis Creed (Johnson) faces an irresistible challenge by undefeated Russian fighter (and man mountain) Victor Drago (Munteanu)  who just so happens to be the son and boxing protege of one Ivan Drago (big Dolph) who killed Adonis’s father Apollo Creed 33 years previously (see Rocky IV for more).

However, Adonis’ trainer and mentor Rocky Balboa (Stallone) wants nothing to do with it, feeling that Adonis is doing the fight for all the wrong reasons and is likely to get seriously hurt in the process.

To say anymore would spoil it for you but safe to say that if you have seen any of the other Rocky films you can pretty much guess the rest.

 
What worked? Very much like 2015’s Creed, all the performances are absolutely superb – Stallone is of course brilliant as Rocky (in his 8th go around), Johnson is extremely good again as Adonis as is Tessa Thompson as his long term girlfriend Bianca. Munteanu also does very well in what could have been a standard villain role but instead manages to give Viktor a good deal of depth which was very refreshing. Finally Dolph Lundgren is absolutely superb and a total joy to behold returning to his most famous role as Ivan Drago – snotty critics take note  -never let it be said that this guy cant act as he is bloody fantastic here. Lastly the boxing matches are very well staged  – particularly the bruising climactic bout and naturally there’s a great training montage which will have you clapping and cheering.
 
What could have been better? As good as it is this sequel doesn’t quite scale the heights of its 2015 predecessor, the original Rocky or for that matter the sixth entry Rocky Balboa.
Newcomer Steven Caple jr does well in the directors chair but lacks the same raw flair and edge of Ryan Coogler (who takes an executive producer credit here) also for me the filmmakers could have had Stallone and Lundgren share more scenes together and this seemed like a wasted opportunity. Finally the film does drag a bit in the middle somewhat. 
 
Best Scene: What else? The training montage, the big fight between Drago and Creed and naturally THAT music theme.
 
Review summary: Not as bonkers as Rocky IV nor as good as some of the other entries, but despite some shortcomings Creed 2 is a damn good sequel and another great entry in this wonderful and seemingly never ending franchise. 

 


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Will Strong

The Austin Powers to Phil Hobden’s Dr Evil, it’s fair to say Will spends his life trying to convince Phil that Paul WS Anderson ISNT a bad filmmaker, that The Hobbit movies really are THAT good and, for the most part, Phil is wrong about most things. Which he is.

Overlord (2018): Review by Motion Picture Manaic

Overlord (2018): Review by Motion Picture Manaic

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Sorry to say, I was disappointed with Overlord, the pulp tale of a small batch of US soldiers dropped into Nazi occupied France, mere hours before the landing in Normandy, only to discover a secret underground laboratory in which locals are transformed into zombie soldiers for the sole purpose of world domination for the Third Reich. That synopsis sounds more than a little cool does it not? Like it could be the more up-beat exploitation zombie mowing extravaganza version of the movie Downfall, which… damn, I think that’s ten years old now!

Unfortunately Overlord is not much fun, it’s R rating/18 certificate has not been taken advantage of as much as the material calls for, its story beats are generic and unoriginal, the characters are not particularly likeable and the Nazi zombie soldier stuff feels like a mere after thought for only act 3. Seriously, the mad science experiment stuff feels hardly even there, it was only the major selling point of the trailer – now you could say well, surely that’s just the trailer’s fault for giving off false impressions; true, but what else then is the movie offering up? A generic load of not very much to be honest.

When I say the characters are unlikeable – oh dear God, the characters make some well and truly stupid beyond belief decisions. After jumping out of an airplane the fact of reality is quickly established for our main heroes that there are Germans literally everywhere, they could be just off in the distance ready to shoot or around any corner turned; and I mean established very, very quickly. So what do the heroes do after grouping up and finding out only about 5 of them survived even getting on the ground? Walk and talk like they’re on a good old stroll, the Germans are forgotten about within seconds, don’t worry that their presence has been established as anywhere and everywhere, nice night for a walk isn’t it?

Not only that but the token no-nonsense grumpy guy gets saddled with the task of reminding these fools, our main characters, to stop talking so loudly, to turn their damn torches off, that maybe using a camera isn’t such a good idea; stuff a soldier really ought to know in enemy territory at night, or better yet, stuff anybody with a brain would work out through standard common sense. The real kicker for me though, was when they capture a Nazi officer just as he is about to start raping a village girl who is keeping the heroes hidden, they tie him up and the grumpy guy starts beating him up, demanding information about the underground zombie lab, and our number one hero, the absolute main character in all this, has a look on him like “this is wrong, we shouldn’t be doing this, we’re sinking down to his level”, and he even tries to stop the grumpy guy from continuing the beating, citing that “that’s enough”!

How are we supposed to feel about that? The guy wasn’t just a Nazi, he’s a rapist too and we’re supposed to feel bad when he gets beaten up; because the main character is just so good and moral and kind hearted underneath? Well screw that noise, I kept thinking of Inglourious Basterds, because, you know, the guy was a feckin’ NAZI!!! A RAPIST NAZI NO LESS, beat him with baseball bats, scalp his head, carve a swastika into his face, but no, Overlord wants to take moral high ground and suggest that violence against violence is not the way to go – WHAT???

This is supposed to be a film about zombie soldiers and you’re trying to teach lessons in humanity? Get outta here! Even though moments of gore are not shied away from, this is hardly the gore fest its rating suggests, it’s like the movie doesn’t want to allow itself to let loose and have fun with its premise, choosing instead to try and be serious, is it ashamed of its exploitation roots or something like that? The music was a mixed bag, I counted about two times it was actually really good and unique sounding, most other times it was just as generic as the rest of the film, dialogue didn’t impress, the story was told in a rather boring fashion, characters do things, not because of who they are, but because that’s just how people behave in the movies and don’t even get me started on small things like a character drying off after falling head to toe in water very quickly or a multitude of gun shots failing to alert the enemy who are literally just outside.

Overlord has no idea what it wants to be or why it should exist, it feels more like a tired obligation rather than something someone legitimately wanted to make and barely even offers what was first promised, let alone what one would expect from a halfway decent movie, you could say the acting isn’t too bad, a little unremarkable but far from terrible and on the technical front it’s ok I guess, but aside from that: no, not for me thank you.

 

Author: Motion Picture Maniac  

 


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The Descent (2005): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

The Descent (2005): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

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It’s actually kinda difficult, as of beginning to write this blatant gush, to put into words exactly why I love The Descent as much as I do, aside from it simply being a great film in its own right. As of writing this review, Halloween is imminent, tomorrow in fact, and what film would be better to review than one of my all time favourite horror movies, one that I’m yet to see someone review in honour of Halloween; despite being one of the most terrifying movies ever made in my opinion.

A group of women head out into the wilderness to go cave diving a year after one lost her entire family to a car accident. A rock slide occurs, trapping them underground, and as they try to feel and squint their way through the pitch black tunnels towards some kind of secondary exit, that may not even exist, it becomes very apparent that this cave system also functions as a home for a pack of deformed monstrosities hell bent on gobbling them up. Just when you think being stuck in a maze of caverns and underground tunnels is enough to send you around the twist Mother Nature also sees fit to send the ugliest motherf*ckers on earth to rip you limb from limb; just for good measure.

I first saw The Descent at a time when it just so happened to tick every box I had ready and waiting for a new horror film, as a teenager horror movies were my primary thing (in a feeble and incredibly stupid attempt to seem cool at school) but I didn’t just want any old straight to DVD or generic nonsense, no I wanted something good and for the horror film genre that’s a pretty rare happening. Oh but I was one fussy little sh*t, during childhood I developed an obsession with monster movies, one that carried over into later life, and being young I was frustrated with all the “unseen threats”, potentially cool looking monsters that were constantly kept in the shadows or behind whatever.

Being older now I know that is indeed the better way to go, as what’s scary is what we imagine, not what we can simply gawk at, but back then I wanted a monster I could look at, stare at, but I was setting an impossible task because I also wanted it to be scary; hard to achieve if you’re just going to show it like that. But then along came The Descent, the movie that cracked the code, achieved the impossible, that got away with showing the monster and managing to be utterly terrifying at the same time; it broke the rule and is much better for it. Even into adulthood I find it very scary, so it hasn’t lost its touch or proven it never had one since I was so naive back in the day, in fact, watching it with older and wiser eyes; I do not hesitate to call it one of the greatest horror films of all time.

Even without the monsters the film has a nerve shredding tone, the opening car crash blasts your system to pieces and never lets you piece it back together again – a film in which a child dies in a car accident? I hadn’t seen to much of that before this. Shauna Mcdonald plays her character as not having gotten over it, even as the film skips a year, which sounds realistic enough, who the hell would get over losing their entire family within a single year? But in movies people often get over traumatic experiences rather quickly, and with The Descent’s very cold and autumn-like colour scheme and contrast, one can’t help but feel very uneasy seeing the character Sarah continue to appear as though it only happened last week.

That’s something more than a little under appreciated about this movie, despite knowing full well what it wants to achieve and never straying away from the appropriate simplicity of its plot, Neil Marshall never once forgot that these need to be characters to like and root for. It’s an all female cast without a single stereotype or outdated but atypical trope in sight. We have our hero who starts off uneasy about the whole thing and a tad useless (but never unsympathetic) before literally being reborn in blood and becoming very capable, there’s the one we don’t quite trust, the hero’s one and only hope for sanity who watches out for her (and doesn’t last too long); I mean this so easily could’ve been your run of the mill monsters in a cave movie but we have actual characters running around I legitimately care about – that and… the crawlers.

The crawlers just might be my favourite movie monsters, looking like wax dummies of Gollum on a meth binge that came to life with a hunger for flesh, there’s an uncanny valley feel to what little human features they have left, making them very scary to look at indeed. Like I said before, this movie broke the rule and got away with it, in this instance it isn’t what we don’t see but what we are allowed to have a good close-up look at that makes us fear for our hearts bursting, Marshall handled these beasties like a chemist conducting something dangerous, he gave one million percent effort to every single scene in which even only their presence can be felt.

The sounds they make are what keep us awake in a cold sweat as we try to sleep at night, their faces are what we never hope to see waiting for us in the dark, they’re often shot with a sped up frame rate, a tool I always find effective in horror, that gives their movements a very spider-like feel and they sometimes even interact with the camera, looking right into or coming straight for it; making us feel they’re coming for us. That’s why they work so well and succeed in being truly scary, every shot showing them feels thought over and carefully crafted, like Marshall has horror down to a science, he never just throws them onscreen, every time the show up its like the first time we see them; even when they’re not there we know they’re not too far away.

It’s funny because you almost don’t need the crawlers at first for the film to be effective, it’s dark tunnels and caves give even someone like me, who must be as far away from claustrophobic as you can get, the chill that gives your spine a good… crawling. When they do make their grand appearance I was surprised they don’t actually show up to cause trouble until roughly the last half hour or so and it’s a bloodbath, quite literally a bloodbath; the kind of lair I would rather die than wake up trapped in. The set design and lighting complement each other very well, making you feel not just trapped but in somewhere you absolutely don’t want to be trapped in.

That’s something the sequel really failed to do, the lighting style consisted of little more than having everything be pitch black and having the characters hold a very minimal light source and I can’t recall many movies presenting darkness to quite that extent. One thing to note is how little time there was to make the damn thing, sets are reused a number of times for different locations but you can never tell, there’s a two on three fight scene at the end that could only be shot in one single day and it’s better than most films allowed to shoot theirs in a week; every time I see it I can never tell where there’s any kind of compromise.

Then there’s the fan theory about a particular hidden subtext, especially regarding the film’s uniquely bleak ending. What can I say except that I absolutely love this theory, it is said that, in actuality, there are no crawlers, that Sarah has lost her mind and murdered all of her friends, something else that makes this film that tiny bit more special – you can think about it too, more than you can say about most other creature features. I could go on folks, I really could, The Descent was my dream movie as a teenager and now, as an adult, it’s just one of the best horror films ever, for me it’s perfect, the outstanding lighting and cinematography that create genuine uneasiness, the characters you actually like and don’t want to see die, the fantastic handling and presentation of its monsters that succeed in being very scary, extreme gore, relentless violence and a very interesting subtext; this is a movie I cannot live without.

Author: Motion Picture Maniac 

 


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Halloween (2018): Review by Will Strong

Halloween (2018): Review by Will Strong

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Plot in a nutshell: Forget all the previous Halloween sequels and the Rob Zombie remake, this new version is a total reboot and a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic that basically gave birth to the slasher film genre.

40 years after he killed five people on Halloween night, deranged nutcase Michael Myers (Nick Castle) once again does a runner from the loony bin and heads for Haddonfield to finish off Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) – however this time she’s prepared for him having spent the last four decades arming herself to the teeth and training up for the inevitable showdown with the masked maniac.

What worked: Its well made, very bloody, never less than entertaining, the ever reliable Jamie Lee Curtis is good plus director David Gordon Green and writer Danny Mcbride do seem to have tried very hard to homage John Carpenter’s unique film making style.

What could have been better: For a film that purported to be a proper sequel to the original it doesn’t exactly work very hard at bringing anything new to the party – it has exactly the same plot, the same scares, once again we learn absolutely nothing about Michael Myers, and the character of Laurie Strode is somewhat of a rip off of  T2’s Sarah Connor. Worst of all though is the criminal under use of Carpenters brilliant theme tune, yes its there in places  but certainly not near enough as it should have been.

Review Summary: Not a bad film by any means and certainly alot better than all of the previous sequels and the remake, however there’s nothing fresh or original here save some gory deaths and a pretty good last 15 minutes

See it at the cinema? Yes

Buy it on Blu Ray/DVD? Possibly but not at full price that’s for sure

 

Author: Grosse Point Geek 

 


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Hunter Killer (2018): Review by Will Strong

Hunter Killer (2018): Review by Will Strong

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Plot in a nutshell:

When the Russian president is overthrown by a rogue military general and his army of dissidents its up to maverick US submarine captain Gerard Butler plus a small team of special forces soldiers to free him before world war three breaks out

What worked:

Pretty much everything  – the action is fast paced and exciting, its very well directed by newcomer Donovan Marsh, the submarine effects are excellent and in a surprising turn of events Gerard Butler puts in an refreshingly restrained and nicely understated performance that doesn’t involve his usual copious amounts of shouting or brazen machismo.

What could have been better:

Not much really -ok ill admit that its daft as a brush, a bit predictable in places and very much a boys film – so lads if you are going to take the Mrs to see it i suggest you promise her dinner and drinks afterwards as compromise.

Best scene: All the action scenes, especially the climactic last 20 minutes which is seriously thrilling edge of the seat stuff

Summary Review:

Fantastic entertainment from the get go, really exciting, well made with an an excellent performance from Butler – highly recommended

See it at the Cinema?: Yes

Buy it on Blu Ray/DVD?: Yes

Author:Grosse Pointe Geek 

 


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Venom (2018): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

Venom (2018): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

OK, this is a weird one, sometimes, having mixed feelings on a film isn’t the surest thing in the world, the answer to the question “what did you think?” simply being “I have mixed feelings” doesn’t feel like it does a rather endearing little film like “Venom” the justice it deserves. Did Venom have bad? Yes, yes it did. Did Venom have good? Also yes, I would be lying through my teeth so hard they would come flying out like bullets if I said I thought it didn’t. Do I feel hesitant to call the overall piece a generally good film? Yeah, I’m afraid so, but why then give it a 6 as opposed to 5? The reason is, when I’m mixed in this particular and oddly specific way, I ask myself the question – would I actively want to see it again? And in the case of Venom; the answer is yes.

Tom “Shut The F*ck Up You C*nt” Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a famous reporter who, through a series of circumstances, finds himself host to a parasitic alien symbiote named Venom, sometimes a disembodied voice in Eddie’s head with some control over Eddie’s body, other times a big black monstrosity with big teeth who likes to bite off people’s heads. Eddie must get over the fact that Venom is here to stay and embarks on a raw meat munching mission, kitted out with quips n’ quotes, to win back his girl and beat the baddie.

The plot is very basic when you think about it afterwards, but is that a bad thing by definition? I’ve seen a lot of people make a comparison between this film and all the Marvel superhero films that predate Iron Man and I think that’s because Venom’s plot is late to the game. It’s as simple as A B C, 1 2 3 and at this point in movie history we’re all used to A 1 B 6 17 C (the same reason some MCU films are feeling familiar in the story department), but again, does that make it bad? Personally I have no idea, I’m disappointed that A B C, 1 2 3 lacks ambition but I also like the aesthetic of the movie ending up that way because it enjoyed watching Tom Hardy go nuts too much for its own good; something I’m not mad about because I too am guilty of doing.

I freaking love Tom Hardy, he’s one of my favourite actors and the primary reason I look forward to films he’s in, films I otherwise wouldn’t think too much about before seeing anyway due to cinematic obsession but I digress. I have read some reviews that call this his worst performance but I couldn’t disagree more, there’s not a moment in the entire movie in which he’s onscreen that I could take my eyes off him, as well as being a much more likeable iteration of the character than what’s found in the source material and the stupid Spiderman 3; he’s like the physical embodiment of a carnival (I’m talking about Eddie Brock and the voice of Venom with that one).

It’s a shame the tone is as inconsistent as it is because when the movie wants to be funny I think it really succeeds, Venom’s quips always had me laughing and big dumb fun action scenes accompany that sort of thing quite well. Unfortunately the jokes are often broken up by evil mad scientist stuff that belongs in a different movie – not badly made, just inconsistent and strange. The directing doesn’t help the tone much since I’m not sure Ruben Fleischer was interested in originality so much as just doing his own version of stuff he liked seeing in other movies, he didn’t bring his own sensibility to the table, Venom doesn’t have an original look or feel of its own, its cinematography is commercial and unremarkable and I think a sequel needs both a different director and an R rating, sorry Ruben but i think this task is better suited to an auteur.

There’s a word I would use to describe Venom, unremarkable, apart from Hardy a lot of it feels just that, even bordering on generic, shoot maybe the story being late to the game is a bad thing after all , the plot, characters and style feel derivative of other works and I, like many others it seems, was hoping for more, in fact I’ll be truthful – I really wanted Venom to be great to spite a critic I can’t stand and who embodies a lot of the arrogance and pretentiousness that has mutilated modern internet film criticism into the popularity contest it is today (no, it’s not Mark Kermode), I mean what is the deal today with judging a film’s quality before it’s even been shot because of, in this guy’s case, the character it’s based on supposedly being overrated and the fanbase is just ill-informed?

No, I’m not grasping at straws in a desperate attempt to say Venom is a good film out of sheer spite and personal resentment towards the current comic book movie critical culture that called it terrible before it was even made, I’m just a bit fed up with movies like Venom doing nothing to help disprove these idiots and falling into status quo’s that make their pompousness predictions look like some kind of prophesising like their smug looks suggest!

All that being said I did enjoy Venom, I enjoyed its action, its cast and performances, its jokes and while the CGI on things like crashing vans and super powered feet leaping from a brick wall wasn’t all that good the CGI on all things symbiote was top notch and impressively detailed, like I said at the beginning, I asked myself if all that is enough to want to see it again and the answer is yes. Venom is a messy, flawed, not sure what it wants to do with itself guilty pleasure that I had fun with during moments of genuine effort such as the action and the dynamic between Eddie and Venom.

Author: Jamie Robinson (Motion Picture Maniac)

 


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Vengeance (2018): Review by Matt Duddy

Vengeance (2018): Review by Matt Duddy

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Former WWE superstar wrestler Stu Bennett stars as John Gold, an ex-soldier turned mercenary who arrives in the sleepy countryside village of Devotion to investigate the brutal murder of his friend and former colleague. All is not as it seems as the sleepy village seems to have a surprisingly large military presence, so with the help of local girl Sandra (Anna Shaffer) and a scene stealing Sebastian Knapp (drug dealer Keith) Gold must track down the killers and deliver his own special brand of vengeance.

Vengeance is a formulaic by the numbers revenge film (the title kinda gives that away). Sure it has a few clunky scenes, especially an establishing scene featuring Gold rescuing a kidnapped girl and a couple of dodgy CGI muzzle flashes and explosions but what it does have is a well-executed story with some interesting bit characters, Stu Bennett showing why he is one to watch, decent fight choreography and set pieces and Gary Daniels giving the best bat shit crazy performance  since Vernon Wells (they even share the same moustache!)

There are further nods to Schwarzenegger’s Commando, from the now stock shots of our hero tooling up for battle, cheesy one liners once a villain has been despatched to Anna Shaffer’s  brilliant channelling of Rae Dawn Chong.

With filming underway on the sequel, Vengeance is setting itself up to be an action series that like its leading character is Pure Gold.

 

Review by Matt Duddy

 

 


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