Red Machine, American/Canadian movie (2015)

Nearly everybody loves a good monster movie. Ever since Jaws graced the movie theatres way back in the 70’s, there have been numerous movies featuring people being hunted by animals. We have had movies about Orca’s, Crocodiles, Alligators, Snakes, Spiders and Bears. The movie that most springs to mind featuring the latter animal is The Edge, starring Anthony Hopkins. It was a good thriller with a very well trained animal in the form of Bart the Bear. His namesake, ( but not related to the original), Bart the Bear 2 , is featured in the movie i am about to review: Red Machine. (Also known as Into the Grizzly Maze).

It tells the story about the young man Rowan, who returns to his hometown, after he has received a call to find an old friend who has been lost for a while. Arriving in town he is soon reunited with his estranged brother Beckett. Setting out in the neighbouring woods to find his friend, Rowan becomes the target of a rogue grizzly bear. Also in the woods at the time, is Becketts deaf wife, Michelle. When more people become the target of the bear, a local hunters help is called in. A battle and fight for survival begins in the dark forests….

This movie was definitely not bad. It features a pretty impressive cast in the form of James Marsden, Glenn Jones, Thomas Jane, Piper Perabo and Billy Bob Thornton. As such the acting is definitely above par, and this truly elevates the movie to above average. The story ofcourse isn’t the next contender for best script at the next Oscar race, but that is not the reason you watch a movie like this anyway. There are a couple of pretty tense and exiting scenes featuring the bear, and all credit has to go to the animal trainers. Some of the scenes are so realistic that you have to wonder how in the world they did that with a real live animal.

All in all this was a pretty nice little creature feature. It starts of a bit slow, but once it picks up the pace, there really is enough to enjoy to definitely make it worth it. If you like monster movies, chances are good that you will enjoy this one.

I give this movie a 7 out of 10 score.

[REC ] 3 Genesis, Spanish movie (2014)

In 2007 the Spanish horror movie [REC] gave a jolt to the found footage horror genre. The film told the story from a first person perspective, and featured a reporter travelling along with the fire department when they are sent out on what at first appears to be a routine call. Arriving on the scene they find themselves trapped in an apartment building, right in the middle of an outbreak of a deadly virus, which transformed the residents into bloodthirsty monsters. It was cleverly filmed, had a lot of scares, and was just a treat for horrorfans. The sequel, though not as good as the first one, was still a very enjoyable ride, and picked up the story right where the first movie ended. And then came [REC] 3.

In this third installment we are dropped in the middle of a wedding. As in the first two movies, the story is told from a first person perspective, and features shots of the wedding guests and the wedding itself between the lovely couple Koldo and Clara. At least that is how it starts. Later in the evening all hell brakes loose, as guests begin attacking each other, and it becomes apparent the virus has once again claimed new victims. It is then that the movie all of a sudden exchanges the first person perspective with a normal style of film making, breaking with the tradition of the first two parts. Koldo and Clara become seperated from each other, and the movie alternates between them in their quest to find each other. Will the couple be reunited or are they to fall victim to the mindless horde of zombies?

Wow! What an incredible mess this movie was. As much as i enjoyed the first two movies i can’t believe how bad this third part was. Gone are the scares of part 1 and 2, instead turning this one into a kind of dark comedy, albeit a very bad one. The blood and gore is completely over the top, as zombies get sliced and diced in ever more gruesome ways. That would not be a bad thing in itself if the movie was any fun to watch, but unfortunately it is in this department that the movie fails completely. It’s very short run time, 1 hour and 17 minutes, does not improve it either. I expected a lot more from this one, and was very disappointed by it to say the least. Hopefully the fourth part, that supposedly ends the franchise, will at least redeem the series.

I give this movie a 2 out of 10 score.

Bitten Season 1, Canadian tv series (2014)

The Canadian born actress Laura Vandervoort, has achieved a bit of a cult status amongst sci-fi fans. She is perhaps best known for her role as Kara, Supermans niece in the fantastic tv show Smallville. After that she has played in numerous sci-fi and fantasy productions most notably the sadly cancelled V. Bitten is the first show where she is not playing a supporting role, but stars as one of the lead characters.

Laura plays the role of Elena Michaels, a woman who is at first glance a strongwilled, but normal person. Elena has a very dark secret however. She is the first woman who has survived a bite from a werewolf. Elena tries hard to live a normal live, together with her human boyfriend Philip. Eventually though her werewolf past catches up to her. The Pack from which she desperately has tried to stay away, is in dire need of her help. Someone is turning serial killers and other psychopaths into werewolfs, and the local autorities are beginning to investigate her surrogate family. Elena, who was the best tracker of the Pack, is asked to help find the people responsible. It is not long before Elena is drawn back into the Pack and has to face her former ex-boyfriend Clay, himself also a werewolf. Will Elena be able to keep the secrets of her past in balance with her new life? As the bodies start piling up, and events are beginning to hit closer to home, things are becoming increasingly more difficult…

When watching the first few episodes of this show, i did not really feel a connection with it. The characters lacked depth, the special effects were not very convincing, and the frequent nudity just felt like it was put in there to draw an audience. I am glad i stuck with it though, because as the show progresses it definitely becomes better. I loved the increasingly dark atmosphere, and especially the second half of the season, is definitely well worth your time. As the story becomes darker and more secrets of the past are revealed, the show begins to pick up the pace, and the first few episodes are quickly forgotten. The end of this season will definitely leave you hungry for more. This series could best be described as an adult version of Teenwolf, and if you like dark fantasy shows, with convincing performances, this one is for you.

I give the first season of Bitten a 7 out of 10 score.

Predestination, Australian movie (2014)

I love movies and tv shows that involve some aspect of time travel. There are ofcourse the classics, such as Back to the Future or the Terminator, but sometimes you come across a movie that does it in a completely different way. A movie that when the end credits roll, you just know will keep spinning through your mind. Predestination , starring Ethan Hawke, is a movie like that.

Ethan plays the role of a temporal agent who’s job it is to prevent major crimes before they actually happen. He is hunting the terrorist known only by the name the press gave him : “the Fizzle Bomber”. Travelling through time he tries to catch up to this man, before the bomber causes an enormous explosion in New York, that will result in the death of more than ten thousand people….

Now when you read this short synopsis you expect a big action flick with a lot of big fights and special effects, right? Well, let me tell you that this movie is completely different from what you would expect. For one thing it is pretty slow. The first act will cause some people to maybe switch it off, because nothing really happens, besides someone telling a story. Trust me when i say that if you would, you would be missing out on an absolutely amazing movie. I cannot tell more about the story itself without giving away spoilers, so that is not what i am going to do. There is a reason the first act is slow, and you will discover that reason as the rest of the movie unfolds.

The script of this movie, based on a short story of Robert A. Heinlein dating back to 1959, is incredibly clever. It will guarantee to keep your mind occupied throughout the unfolding story, and like i said after you finish it. Ethan Hawke, who is always a solid actor plays a very good role as the determined temporal agent. Credits also have to go to actress Sarah Snook, who plays an even better role than Ethan himself.

This is definitely not your average movie. It contains little to no action, but what it does do is give you one of the best time travel stories that i have seen to date. Give it time (pun intended) and the movie will definitely reward you for it.

I give this movie an 8 out of 10 score.

Black Sails Season 2, American tv series (2015)

Black Sails is a tv series about Pirates. To describe it like this would definitely be selling it short. Because Black Sails is so much more. It is about men seeking revenge, justice, redemption, but above all it is a show about characters. This series produced by Michael Bay can best be compared to Vikings, as both shows share a bit of a similar vibe. The first season of Black Sails was good, but also contained some episodes where i felt they were just dragging out the storyline. The second season though, has none of those. It is a vast improvement over the first season, and the incredible season finale could almost have been a big blockbuster movie.

The second season starts off right where season 1 ended. Captain Flint is still trying to get to the gold of the Spanish vessel Urca. However there is much mistrust amongst his men and they doubt his ability to lead. In fact the only ally he seems to have left is mr. Silver. The season interestingly explores a lot of the background of Flints character, and we get to find out exactly what drove him to become the man he is today. We are also introduced to a couple of new characters this season of which the most noteworthy is captain Ned Lowe. To call Lowe evil is an understatement. He is nothing short of a monster, who brings along a lot of new troubles to the island of Nassau.

Anne Bonny and her relationship with Jack Rackham will also be put to the test, and this storyline is also one of the more interesting ones that are explored this season. Everything in this season is bigger, and you truly get the sense that we are transported back in time to the early 18th century. The battles that are fought both on the ground and at sea, are so good that you wonder how it is possible that they did this with a tv-budget. Everything, from the incredible sets, the impressive ships, and the wonderfull costumes, just feels right.

I absolutely loved this season of Black Sails. As i said the first season even though i liked it, felt a bit underdeveloped at times. But in this one, the writers just did everything right. I loved watching  most of the characters getting a proper background story, and it is because of this, that you definitely get more invested in them. This is especially true with captain Flint, and as this season ends, it will be very interesting to see where his journey will take him next. All roads are open, or should i say, all sealanes are open….

I give this 2nd season of Black Sails a 9 out of 10 score.

Pound of Flesh, Canadian Movie (2015)

Jean Claude van Damme used to be a high profile action movie star, and about as highly rated as Stallone and Schwarzenegger. He has made a lot classic action movies such as Bloodsport, Kickboxer and Hard Target. Unfortunately his stardom has dwindled in the past years, and you now almost exclusively find him in B-movies. Which is a real shame, because most of these, even though made on a shoestring budget are still entertaining, especially for the action flick lovers amongst us.

In Pound of Flesh he plays the role of Deacon Lyle a Kidnap and Rescue expert. Deacon finds himself waking up naked in a hotel room bathtub, in icecold water. It is not long before he dicovers that he has become the victim of a bunch of organ traffickers, who have stolen his kidney. The kidney was to be used for a transplant for the daughter of his estranged brother. Now Deacon has to travel through the dark streets and corners of Manila in order to find back his kidney before it’s too late. He gets help from one of his old contacts and his brother. Working with his brother presents it’s own set of problems though, as he is the complete opposite of Deacon. The trail begins with a mysterious woman whom Deacon remembers was with him in the hotel room, just before his kidney was taken from him. Time is running out however, and the ruthless people behind the theft will stop at nothing to prevent Deacon from getting what he wants.

Pound of Flesh is a pretty decent action movie. The script will not win any oscars, but it at least tries to do something different than your usual run and gun flicks. Actionwise there are some interesting fight scenes involving Van Damme in which he proves, even though he is getting old, he can still pull off some moves. The green screen effects in this movie are where it loses points though. Some of the carscene effects are downright silly, and could definitely have been avoided when shooting from another camera angle. The acting is okay enough for a B-movie, and it is nice to see veteran actor Aki Aleong reunited with Van Damme. If you like action movies in general, and don’t mind watching a B-movie from time to time, you can’t really go wrong with this one.

I give this movie a 7 out of 10 score.

Poltergeist, American Movie (2015)

Every movie genre has them: classics. Whether you’re an action movie fan or whatever else kind of movies you like, chances are you have seen an alltime classic. A movie that just set a benchmark for the genre, and will forever stay in your mind. Unfortunately Hollywood lately has this urge to remake these classics, usually resulting in a mediocre movie, or something that sets bad blood with fans of the original. I myself don’t necessarily have problems with remakes, but i do think certain movies are just off limits.

The original Poltergeist movie from the 80’s was definitely a classic in the horror movie genre. It raised the bar for movies featuring ghosts and haunted houses, and has withstood the test of time, even though it is a 34 year old movie. Last year the remake was released, a movie produced by Sam “Evil Dead” Raimi. Obviously i had my reservations about this once, since the original was so incredibly good and near perfect. To my surprise though, this version of Poltergeist most certainly wasn’t bad, in fact i really enjoyed it.

It tells the story of the Bowen family who have recently moved into their new home. The father of the house, played by Sam Rockwell, has recently lost his job, and tries to hold his family together as best he can. When young Madison Bowen and her brother Griffin begin to experience some strange things, at first it is all dismissed as childhood fantasies. However it is not long before Madison disappears and the parents are confronted by the horrible truth: their new house is being haunted by a Poltergeist. With the help of a group of paranormal researchers they will will have to confront their deepest fears to get their daughter back from the spirit realm. However, the ghosts have no intention of letting Madison go……

This remake was, as far as remakes go, really done well. It is not a copy of the original, which in my opinion is a good thing, but it does try to pay homage to the classic of the 80’s. The special effects in the movie are pretty good most of the time, and there are a couple of jump out of your seat scares. One scene featuring a drill definitely stood out. The acting in this movie was the one thing that i wish was done better. The young actress Kennedi Clements, who plays the role of Madison, does this very well, and makes a good impression. It is her moviebrother Griffin though, played by Kyle Catlett, who sometimes lacks the skills to convince the audience that he is truly scared. But this is a minor thing. Otherwise there is very little wrong with this movie, and it just serves up an entertaining ride, without blood or gore, but just good old scares.

I give this movie an 8 out of 10 score.

Poker Night, American/Canadian movie (2014)

Everybody who watches movies must have come across this phenomenon at least once. A movie that you want to turn off because it is not really good, but can’t because you just want to know how it ends. It is almost as if you are under some kind of spell that prevents you from finding the stop button on your remote. Poker Night is one of those movies.

In Poker Night we follow a young rookie cop, Stan Jeter, who has just recently been promoted to detective. He is invited to a night of poker by his fellow colleagues, all of them veterans on the job. During the night all of the veterans share a story of something that happened to them during the job. The stories are meant to impare their experience and wisdom to young Jeter, thus preparing him better for the tough life ahead on the job. When Stan get’s himself kidnapped along with a young girl by a deranged killer, he will need to think back on all those words of wisdom. Will it be enough to let him escape, save the girl and bring the killer to justice though….?

Poker Night has a lot of good things going for it. There are some very decent actors in it, most notably Ron Perlman and Giancarlo Esposito. The atmosphere in the movie is very dark and the camera work is also done very well. Even the story is not half bad. However, even though the movie starts of pretty good, it quickly spirals out of control. The story is told throughout a series of flashbacks, which can be entertaining when done right. There are so many flashbacks in the movie though that it is at times hard to follow exactly where you are. Also there are some pretty weird scenes in it, which makes you wonder if you are watching another movie alltogether when these scenes appear.

As there also a lot of tense moments, and the story still has enough twists in it to make you wonder how it ends, that is what i meant by saying it is hard to turn it off. As soon as the end credits roll, you get this feeling you are somehow cheated, even though you can’t quite put a finger on it. I really wanted to like this movie, and at certain times i most certainly did, all in all though the bad moments just outweigh the good ones.

If you love good thriller movies, there are most certainly better ones out there than this one. If you still want to give it try, you will probably find that in the end you have been cheated, just like in a bad game of poker.

I give this movie a 5 out of 10 score.

 

Planet Hulk, American (animated) Movie (2010)

The wealth of storylines Marvel comics has created, is almost infinite. A lot of the more popular ones, are finding their way to the big screen, in the form of blockbuster superhero movies. We all know how succesful these movies have become the past few years. But Marvel has also been releasing a lot of straight to dvd animated features. Some of these are just downright awful, and obviously an attempt to make a quick buck. However, luckily there are also a few of these that are a genuine surprise and Planet Hulk is one of those.

Adapted from the comic book of the same name, it tells the story of Hulks exile from planet Earth. As the heroes of Earth fear the destruction and chaos the green giant causes, they have put him on a spaceship on a direct course for a distant and uninhabited planet. The plan goes wrong however and Hulk crashlands on a planet under the rule of the evil Red King. Soon, our green friend gets captured and is forced to fight in an arena, for the entertainment of the population and the Red King. There, he meets a group of diverse characters who are trying to undermine the King, and win their freedom. Will Hulk choose their side, or is he truly the monster so many people think he is ?

I really enjoyed this animated film. The animation, though not amazing, works for this movie, and it features a couple of great arena fights, in which the emerald hero is doing what he does best: Smash! Another thing worth of note is the voice acting. None of the actors in this movie are well known, but they truly deliver some great performances. Having not read the comic, i can’t tell if this movie stays true to the source material. However storywise, especially for a movie such as this, it contained an entertaining script, and Hulk fans will definitely enjoy it.

All in all if you are a Marvel comic book fan, or like superhero movies in general, this is definitely worth checking out. It really is one of the better Marvel animated features out there, and serves up an hour and a half of mindless fun.

I give this movie an 8 out of 10 score.

Banshee Season 3, American tv series (2015)

Some things in life are just guilty pleasures. The American tv series Banshee is one of those. Yes, it contains a lot of sex and a lot of violence, but oh my, this is so incredibly good. For those of you that have never heard of the show let me tell you what this is all about. Banshee tells the story of criminal Lucas Hood, who has just been released from prison. Travelling to the small town of Banshee, he assumes the identity of a murdered sheriff. Lucas, with a band of colourful friends, continues his crime spree, right under the noses of the local police. However, eventually Lucas learns that some sins can’t be outrun, and his past catches up with him. Soon the town erupts  in violence…..

Now Banshee has always been a terrific show. It contains brutal violence, but because it is sometimes so incredibly over the top, it almost feels like you are watching a comic book. However season 3 takes things to an entirely different level. Following the events of season 2, Lucas Hood faces his most dangerous enemy yet. Right from the very first episode this season kicks off into high gear and doesn’t let go until the season finale. Every episode this season has been a thrill ride and it is hard to even name an event that stands out at all. However i am going to name one: and that is the fight in Episode 3 between Indian girl Nola Longshadow and the brutal enforcer Burton.

Now i have seen a lot of fights in a lot of different shows. But this one has to take first place in the rankings of alltime greatest fights ever made for television. Ofcourse i am not going to tell the outcome, but trust me when i say that this will leave you gasping for breath. As for the rest of the season, there are some truly shocking moments, and we also get to know a lot more about the past of some of the characters.

Performances in this season are absolutely top notch, and as always it is Job who is the one who provides the best one liners. To say that this is the best season of Banshee so far is putting it mildly. It outclasses the other already very impressive seasons by so many miles, it is almost as if the writers have been ignited with a high octane mixture of liquid nitrogen. Unfortunately i have only one more season to watch and then the series meets it’s end. I have no idea if season 4 will also be this impressive, it is almost hard to believe, but i am definitely looking forward to it all the same.

I give this season of Banshee a 10 out of 10 score.

Michels Book/Boardgame/Movie review Blog

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