Beyond Skyline

Posted: March 21, 2018 in Movies


It’s fair to say that when Skyline (2010) came out it was not a big hit with audiences or critics. Cut to a confused me when almost a decade later I saw a sequel was on the way. The sequel, Beyond Skyline, stood out for two reasons when it was announced. It had a unknown director and a great cast. I was interested. It slipped out onto DVD earlier this year and – get this – the reaction was not just warm but outright glowing. Having rented it recently I can see why. Beyond Skyline is the sequel nobody wanted that just keeps on giving. It’s very good.

Taking place in and around the same time of the alien invasion of the original this sequel focuses on a new set of characters. There are refrences to the original movie but you can enjoy this without feeling lost. Our new heros have to face the alien menace and stay alive in order to work out a way to fight back against their other worldly conqueres on equal terms! The characters are much better. You connect with them and you root for them. That’s due to a better script and a great cast led by Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy) and featuring great support from Bojana Novakovic (Drag Me To Hell) and The Raid stars Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian and you better believe those guys were hired for a reason. I’ll leave it at that.

I’m shocked this sequel never got a theatrical release. It looks great and the special effects are not cheap looking. The story is solid. It’s funny because despite feeling like the aliens in the first movie looked cool I didn’t give much of a thought as to the ‘why’ of the invasion. In this sequel the mythology gets explored in a big way that not only makes sense but is really cool. It’s big science fiction presented in a (and this is a compliment) true old school B movie vibe. It’s very gory too. The action in Beyond Skyline is head and shoulders over the original and the liberal approach to the carnage and bloodshed was most welcome except for one quite gashtly scene. It’s unpredictable and has one hell of a last act that you have to see to believe.

Director Liam O’Donnell makes his directorial debut with Beyond Skyline. The young director has a visual effects background (Iron Man 2, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) and wrote the original Skyline as well as this sequel. His effects background could have played a role in why the sequel’s effects look so good despite what must have been a limited budget. O’Donnell clearly saw somthing in the Skyline world and perhaps it was a gamble to go back to but it has paid off. I look forward to seeing what O’Donnell comes out with next as a writer/director.

Beyond Skyline is a must see for science fiction fans. It’s so great. It has everything. Great characters, an interesting plot, boss effects and smashing action scenes. There’s tons of great moments in here that I’d hate to ruin. Just give this one a shot. I know the first movie wasn’t that great but forget it and go into this with a open mind. I hope we get a Skyline 3 sooner rather than later. I can’t say I thought I’d ever be writing that!




This is without a doubt the golden age for comic book movies and a huge reason for this is the quality and the care Marvel puts into their productions. Arriving next month is Avengers: Infinity War. The film is set up to act as a final chapter to each proceeding film that has come before up until now. Marvel bosses have been very clear in stating that come the finale of the Infinity War two movie saga the MCU will be a very different place.

Contracts are up which means we may well see the last of some of our favourite heroes come the end of Infinity War. Of course contracts can be renewed and no one stays dead for long in Marvel comics. I’d be shocked if any of the big deaths stick but what do I know? I reckon Cap, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and yes even Iron Man are safe. I just don’t think Marvel has the guts to get rid of ’em! Maria Hill, War Machine, Nick Fury and Scarlet Witch? Sure. I could see one of those sadly departing the MCU but time will tell.

Anyway! Enough of speculation. What matters is the film delivers. Who lives and who dies isn’t as important as the film being great. The Russo brothers have had one heck of a task bringing a film of this scale to life. I think they’ve pulled it off. We’ll find out in a few weeks!

Full Metal Jacket

Posted: March 16, 2018 in Movies


When I saw Full Metal Jacket for the first time I was too young. I didn’t understand it (beyond it being a war movie) nor could I graps the big themes and political climate about that time in history. Recently I saw the film again. In a way for the first time because now I am older and have a better understanding of the Vietnam war and the various points of view about it. I am not an expert on it. I won’t be looking at Full Metal Jacket as if I am.

The Vietnam war was a horrible war for both sides. Whatever your opinion on the conflict there is no denying that the consequences of the war and the massive loss of life on both sides were horrific. Director Stanley Kubrick directs a contained war movie, different from Oliver Stones Platoon and Apocalypse Now, that focuses on a small group of soldiers. The plot follows them fthrough training and into the conflict itself.

The film boasts a solid cast that includes a terrifying, tragic and unforgettable performence from Vincent D’Onofrio (Jurassic World, Adventures in Babysitting) and a early role for Firefly star Adam Baldwin. The lead of the film is played by Matthew Modine. He plays Pvt.Joker who is a army approved reporter. I don’t know if this was deliberate or not but I did not like the character. I found the supporting cast and characters more compelling. R. Lee Ermey as the troops drill instructor Gny. Sgt. Hartman is what I imagine the army to be at it’s worse. A bully, who may mean well, yet his actions and ‘motivation’ has deadly consequences for his platoon before they even reach the battlefield.

Full Metal Jacket tackles several themes beyond institutional bullying. I guess the most obvious and important is the way some of troops on the ground are being mentally effected by the war. Is it a fair portrayl of American troops during Vietnam? I can’t say. Sadly I’m sure many troops did sadly loose their minds during the conflict and carried out unspeakable acts but surely there must have been those whose intentions were good and did the right thing. If the later is the case, as it must have been, this film doesn’t really focus on that as much. This is a dark look at a dark time in history. There’s a sense of tragedy and loss both of life and of minds on both sides.

Stanley Kubrick directs like one of a kind. The detail on display in the frame leaves you feeling like you’re not watching a movie from 1987 but a live report on TV. Not because the film is presented in a documentary style but because of the care and attention that went into recreating the war torn conflicts throughout Vietnam. A lot of war films don’t shy away from hardcore violence. Given the subject matter this one isn’t as graphic as Hacksaw Ridge or Saving Private Ryan. If that sort of violence is too heavy for you I don’t believe this movie would prove a hard watch in that respect, although it does clearly contain burts of violence and some upsetting scenes that stay with you beyond the film.

I feel woefully underqualifed to take a look at a film such as this but I know its reputation as a vital film in how it looked back on the Vietnam war and I wanted to see it. I appreciate the effort that went into the making of Full Metal Jacket and I’m glad that I went back to it. It’s a hard watch at times but these films need to be because Hollywood and co. owe it to history to not shy away from the harsh reality of the past.


Annihilation (No spoilers)

Posted: March 14, 2018 in Movies, Uncategorized


The Southern Reach trilogy of books from author Jeff VanderMeer are heavy science fiction in the best way. Otherworldly but with enough of the familiar the reader doesn’t feel lost. Despite exploring mind blowing ideas and horrors the books also maintain a sense of humour so don’t come off as pretentious. After I read the trilogy, with the knowledge a film was on the way, my intital reaction was “Good luck adapting this tale” because I felt it was unfilmable. Now Annihilation, the first of the books, is here as a movie and director/writer Alex Garland has managed to pull it off big time. Rather than stick to what VanderMeer put on the page Garland has took his own approach to the material, which given the subect matter is fitting.

The story focuses on a female team of scientists and soldiers who venture into ‘Area X’ This mysterious landmass is situated on the American coast and appears to be growing. The fear being that should it spread it may bring forth unkown threats into not just major American citites but the whole world. Each team that had previously gone into investigate has not returned. Except for one. A soldier, whose wife, played by Natalie Portman, takes it upon herself to venture into Area X as part of the female team to find out just what happened to her husband. What awaits them is a landscape similar to our own yet different in breath taking and deadly ways.

It is a pitty Annihilation debuted on Netflix outside of America. The film warranted a big screen debut. On the plus side it’s available right now on Netflix. So there’s that. Garland frames the film in a way I liked, it’s full of lucid and dream like imagery that I think does the book justice and gives it a identity all its own. However some choices, such as Portman’s biologist recounting her expedition, takes away a part of the suspense. That’s not a spoiler as it’s right from the get go once the film begins more or less. Even though I’ve read the book, so I had an idea of what was going to go down (I still came away surprised BTW fellow Southern Reach trilogy readers), I found this choice weird. It’s tricky to talk about the plot with this one so I’ll wrap it up here.

What is cool and safer to talk about is how each of the team play a vital role and all of the actresses do tremendous work. Portman, as the world knows, is a fantastic actress and she anchors the movie. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a total mystery as Dr. Ventress, a character whom you’re never quite sure of what her ultimate agenda is. Tuva Novotny and Tessa Thompson do good work in strong support roles but it’s Gina Rodriguez who shines brightest. She manages to make a compelling character out of what could have easily become a one note ‘tough lady’ role, due to her talent and Garland’s writing. Oscar Isaac impresses in his limited screen time but this ain’t his character’s movie. It’s very much female driven and the better for it.

Normally with a movie based on a book you loose some stuff in the adaptation process. Normally character centric stuff but I think Garland’s writing actually brought quite a bit to the characters the book was not able to explore. These characters aren’t any less fleshed out in the book it’s just the film presents different shades. On the other hand, as is the case with adaptations, Garland changed some stuff in the narrative. Which is totally fine. For example the book felt like it had a bigger tale to explore, as proved to be the case with two further books, yet the movie manages to be not only it’s own version of Annihilation but one that feels complete. Like I said it must have been tricky working out how to adapt the book and when you see what Garland managed to pull off it’s all the more impresive.

Annihilation has been met with universal acclaim. A modern classic. It may be. For me I found it to be a great movie and one I look forward to seeing again. It won’t be for everyone and that’s understandable. It’s not action packed and it takes its time telling it’s tale. It kept me engaged, surprised me and shocked me on more than one occassion. Give it a go. It may not be for you or you may love it but one thing I’m pretty sure of is you won’t forget it soon.


The Big Sleep (No Spoilers)

Posted: March 12, 2018 in Movies
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Right from the start, with it’s two leads (Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall) smoking in silhouette, The Big Sleep oozes cool and class. This film noir classic was directed by Howard Hawks, adapted from the short story Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler and follows Private detective Phillip Marlowe (Bogart) into a dark web of murder, missing persons and blackmail. Set against the backdrop of 1940’s Hollywood, the film not only looks fantastic but is full of excellent dialogue, outstanding characters and a serious noir atmosphere.

Film Noir is a tricky genre to pull off. Ever notice how you don’t seen that many of them in todays movie climate? It is a forgotten art. Thankfully due to history there is whole host of excellent films that still resonate and thrill decades after their initial release and The Big Sleep is one such film.

The film has a dense plot and you need to pay attention but that commitment is rewarded by the time the credits roll. Marlowe is asked to look into a blackmailing/missing persons case by the wealthy General Sternwood. His aid, who was like a son to him, has gone missing. General Sternwood wants to know what’s happened to him and why he is being blackmailed. His two daughters, Vivian (Bacall) and Carmen (Martha Vickers) are not helping matters. In their fathers eyes neither one is up to no good and trouble never seems far from either. So Marlowe sets off to get to the bottom of the case. What follows is a thrilling ride from start to finish.

Bogart’s Philip Marlowe is one of the coolest characters in cinema. You don’t get guys like this nowadays leading films. He’s all charisma and wise to the workings of the world and it’s darker trappings. An everyday guy who has probably seen the worse of people and the world yet still manages to get up each day and do his bit to make the world better. Lauren Becall, as femme fatale Vivian Rutledge, is excellent. Her character’s motivations are shrouded in mystery throughout the film and as a viewer you are never quite sure if Vivian is a complicated gal who means well via questionable actions or a villain! Indeed this sense of unknowing regarding the wide array of the films characters and their true motivations is what makes the experience so exciting.

There are a few reasons why I love this film. From Marlowe and Vivian Rutledge’s verbal sparring (nothing I have seen to date on film has come close) to Marlowe’s many memorable encounters with strangers during his investigation, some of whom prove to be allies while others are deadly. The Big Sleep is like a puzzle that you and its lead character unravel together. It’s a great ride. The film’s tone and style set a standard in some ways, the taxi ride in Pulp Fiction a uncanny homage to one Marlowe takes in this. It’s clear The Big Sleep has played a massive role in shaping writers and filmmakers over the years. The music by Max Steiner does a boss job setting the tone throughout the film. Seriously everything about this film is really well crafted. I know there are excellent films getting made today but back in the golden age of Hollywood it just comes off like everyone cared that little bit more about the quality of what it was the studios were putting out.

If you ain’t seen The Big Sleep then do so. It’s a fantastic film and a brilliant slice of noir that will not only make you a fan (hopefully) of that genre but set you on a path of searching out some other golden oldies from this classical Hollywood era.



Mackenzie Davis (Blade Runner 2049, Halt and Catch Fire) has landed the lead role in the brand new Terminator movie. The film, to be directed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller and with story input from series creator James Cameron, is set to shoot this June. Davis joins the already announced Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton who will both reprise their iconic The Terminator roles.

What’s so special about this Terminator? Okay well how about Cameron himself stating that this is, for all intents and purposes, the true sequel to T2: Judgement Day. This movie will mark the first time Cameron has been involved in a creative capacity in the series since his original movies. Oh and did I mention Tim Miller is directing?

Mackenzie Davis is a great choice. A great actor and I am very happy to see her land such a role. Personally I was rooting for Callie Hernandez (Blair Witch, La La Land, Alien: Covenant) to score the role but I’m just as happy with Davis. The new movie starts shooting in June and will be out in theatres summer 2019!


Posted: March 7, 2018 in Movies


I had to go on the IMDB this week and look up Renny Harlin. Let’s take a moment to name check some of his work shall we? Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Deep Blue Sea. To name a few. This guy can direct. Give him a great script and he will deliver. What’s dissapointing is I had to go and look up his past few projects because I had no idea what he’d done and sadly Harlin hasn’t really had a hit to match his 90’s winning streak. I hope sometime soon this guy can make a comeback with a great script because when the screenplay works he really brings in great action movies. Case in point is 1993’s Cliffhanger starring Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone stars as Gabe Walker, a mountain rescure worker who, on a seemingly run of the mill job, has his world come down around him. The opening of this film is harrowing. Once seen it can NEVER be forgotten. Everytime I watch it, because I’m silly clearly, I always think the opening rescue will go the other way. It’s awful. Anyway, to get to point, wrecked with guilt Gabe takes off. In the meantime, just as Gabe makes a return to his workplace and the past he sought to escape, a government plane carrying millions of dollers is hijacked! It goes wrong, the cash is lost over the mountains and the bad guys are forced to rely upon Gabe and his colleagues to help them get the money back. If not then Gabe and co. will be killed.

Death by crazy robbers is bad enough. Thsee guys are stone cold killers. In Cliffhanger death by execution is just one threat. The other is the fatal heights at which the majority of the film takes place. Proving potentially lethal for everyone up on those mountains regardless of which side of the law they land on. The film looks stunning. Harlin, as always, makes the most of the vertigo inducing settings and the breathtaking mountain landscapes the film plays out in. The action is great. Harlin delivers the action and Stallone and the game cast raise to the challenge of selling it. Violent action too. The demises in this film are brutal.

Stallone is great. He always is. Why I think I like Cliffhanger as much as I do is down to Gabe’s fractured friendship with his fellow mountain rescuer Hal, played brillianty by Michael Rooker. Gabe and Hal are forced into a life or death situation in which they have to put their sad past behind them if they want to get out of the movie alive. Despite having his own reasons to hate Gabe, Hal simply can’t turn his back on him, nor is Gabe able to leave Hal to a grissly fate at the hands of the bad guys. Simply put you give a shit about the characters and that’s due to a great script and good acting. John Lithgow plays the main baddie and he’s fine in the role. Not the normal sort of guy you’d expect Stallone to go up against but Lithgow’s Qualen manages to be a formidable foe for Gabe. Ruthless too! The rest of the cast do their roles justice.

Cliffhanger is a boss 90’s action flick. What a great decade for this genre. So many great movies. This one stands out due to a good story, strong acting, great action and heart. I miss these sort of films so much. It’s beyond frustrating that you don’t get this sort of action film in 2018. I guess that’s what makes them so special though when you revisit them.