Archive for September, 2016

Where are the Snes reviews?

Posted: September 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

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I know right? I was (still am) looking forward to sharing a ton of my favourite Snes games on Hella Movies with you all. The problem is the price of the carts. Oh man… they are expensive and truth be told I can only afford so much each month so more than I’d like the retro stuff has to take a back seat. I have not forgotten about it and I do plan to bring more retro video game reviews into the site as the months pass. Perhaps with the NX around the corner the system will allow a more affordable entry point to digital retro titles? Here’s hoping. Hey if I become a millionaire in the next few months you can bet I’m hitting Ebay to grab that ££££££ boxed Super Metroid but for now I just can’t. The great news is that there’s a ton of dedicated retro gaming sites available on here and across YouTube that probably do a far better job than me!

Above is the Urien reveal trailer. He’s available now for season pass holders and in the games digital store. Urien is a Street Fighter III fave and it’s good to see more of the classic and unique Street Fighter III cast make glorious comebacks.

VS CPU mode is now available. About bloody time! Still no Arcade Mode. I’ve stuck to my guns. I won’t be buying this game until it has more offline modes. As a service (which is how Capcom have presented SFV) I find the whole thing lacking and hope Capcom learn a lesson and never go down this ‘service’ route again. More stage finishers have been added as well as a few extra ways to earn fight money or whatever the in game currency is that lets you unlock colours, costumes and characters.

For those who love the online factor I hope you’re all enjoying SFV. If anyone else is holding off getting the game like I am may I suggest King of the Fighters XIV? It’s a lot of fun, solid gameplay and has like….crazy this…but a full range of online and offline features!!

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This is a love letter to A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Yes, Dream Warriors gets a ton (warranted) love from fans of the series as the best sequel but I would argue Dream Master is just as good. In 1988 the Elm Street series was at the height of it’s popularity and New Line were eager to get a sequel to Dream Warriors (which had proved a hit) out into cinemas. Renny Harlin was brought on board to direct a film that would see the return of the surviving Dream Warriors who must again go toe to toe with Freddy Krueger. The film would introduce a fan favourite character in the form of Alice and boast brilliant special effects (not a CGI shot in sight) from Kevin Yagher. It would also go on to be the most successful Elm Street movie at the box office bringing in an impressive $91m.

Dream Master has a likeable ensemble of characters and the fact it feels like an ensemble is one of the strong parts of the film. Each character has a mini arc, something to add to the story the point of which ties in to the theme of growth for the central character Alice. She starts the film as a wallflower only to transform in confidence and determination as Kruger takes out her friends one by one. After each loss Alice absorbs a part of her friends who all fill a vital personality trait she will need to face Freddy. I love that aspect of the film because of the way it adds a classic arc to the heroines journey. Alice is shown confronting herself several times throughout the film, a motif of pealing away the layers and walls she has put up demonstrated in her covered mirror that boasts a collage of pictures of friends and family.

Lisa Wilcox is great as Alice and her supporting cast flesh out their characters just as well. Andras Jones as Rick, Alice’s brother (and surviving Dream Warrior Kristin’s boyfriend) in particular is a stand out. The same can be said for Tuesday Knight as Kristin Parker, Knight taking over the role from Patricia Arquette. Recasting is never ideal but Knight brings an intensity to the role and contributes a belter of a song to the soundtrack. If I’d had my way I’d have followed this trio throughout the next two Elm Street sequels and feel it was a mistake not to use their chemistry and likeability moving forward. Fellow Elm Street 3 survivors Kincaid and Joey do good in their reduced roles. Robert Englund IS Freddy Kruger and at this stage he owns the role and could probably do it in his sleep. That’s meant as a compliment too because he makes Kruger’s sadism and evil seem effortless.

Dream Master has one of my favourite movie soundtracks ever. It’s a great collection of songs and artists that compliment the film and it’s bombastic MTV vibe. Yes. Dream Warriors may well be the most respected sequel in the Elm Street series (not counting the meta New Nightmare) but damn if Dream Master isn’t the most fun out of the sequels.

 

Blair Witch (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Posted: September 19, 2016 in Movies
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In 1999 the original Blair Witch Project changed cinema. Make no mistake it had a profound impact on moviemaking. Aside from being a box office smash The Blair Witch Project brought about the foud footage genre, one that allowed filmmakers to produce films cheaply, having to rely on creativity in order to create scares and solid narratives. Seventeen years later Blair Witch has arrived. The film sticks close to its found footage roots and the mythology that terrifed audiences almost twenty years ago which is a good thing because The Blair Witch Project is a solid foundation but ultimatley leads to a Blair Witch that’s good but frustrating.

Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (The Guest, You’re Next) clearly have respect for the original film. With the Blair Witch the duo work well in expanding upon the mythology, going further into the myths and getting into the horror filled reality of what is happening inside the cursed woods. We see the witch. I love that and I liked how it was handled by Wingard by which I mean we see just enough without the fear factor becoming dulled. Space and time play a role in the narrative and it gives the film this cool freaky Sci-Fi tint that goes hand in hand with the chills. Questions of multiple realities and time travel are open for discussion and it’s great to see this crazy stuff in play and I appreciated Barrett and Wingard really going all out with that.

Blair Witch keeps the audience as confused as its characters. As their dread and confusion escalates so does ours. Our lead character has a tie to the original movie that gave him and his pals a legit reason for going into the woods. This direct link to the Blair Witch Project and specifically it’s lead Heather gives the new one more weight and purpose than simply “Oh here’s some random thrill seekers going to look for the Blair Witch”

Here’s what I didn’t like. First of all the end. Literally the very end of the film sees a character fall for a trick (that’s the best way I can put it) which they’re already aware of. It felt cheap. It felt like Barrett and Wingard couldn’t figure out a conclusion so they opted instead for a fail safe that would let the narrative close. The other issue was the use of the drone. Technology has changed since the first film so it was boss how the film uses ear cameras, drones and such. The drone allows for awesome shots that work well establishing scale yet I wanted to see some more chills mixed in with the tech on use. I felt that could have been pushed further. Also the build up takes too long, in reality it’s maybe 15 to 20 minutes of set up but it felt longer. Characters are doing “funny” stuff that wasn’t that funny or engaging.

Speaking of the characters we get a likeable bunch. I didn’t want to see anyone die, no one was overly stupid or asking for it (except for that last moment but I don’t blame the character haha. I blame the writer for that! Haha) and the lead dude well I wanted him to find his sister. It’s a shame that by sticking so much to what the original film did the new one felt almost afraid to take chances with certain characters and situations and how they play out. If we know every time a bunch of people goes into these woods they’re going to eventually find a house and never get out what’s the point in engaging with these characters? It renders investment void.

I like Blair Witch. It is the sort of film that wants you to come back and watch it again to pick up points you miss first time around. It’s a horror mystery that rewards an open mind and can sit proudly next to the original. Such a shame then that the end of the film felt it couldn’t go further than what was already established almost two decades ago. That final scene in effect making an origianl sequel finish as more of a remake.

 

 

 

 

From Dusk Till Dawn Season 3 is out now

Posted: September 14, 2016 in TV
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Just in case you missed it From Dusk Till Dawn’s third season is underway on Netflix UK. New episodes will be added weekly. I am going to wait until the whole season is available to stream and watch it that way. In the meantime I’m watching Angel season 3 🙂

From Dusk Till Dawn started off a little rocky but it steadily developed into one of the most fun genre shows on TV. Well worth a look if you’ve been on the fence. The show totally comes into its own during the second season opening up the mythology and exploring the characters in more depth than the (excellent) original movie had the chance to do. There is also plenty of Easter Eggs fans of the movie will love and this trend looks set to continue with the new season if one new cast member in particular is anything to go by.

 

Don’t Breathe

Posted: September 14, 2016 in Movies
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Don’t Breathe was a movie I was looking forward to seeing. The early word of mouth appeared to be universally positive. The one point that stuck out for me was the director of the film. Fede Alvarez. No question Alvarez has a handle on stunning visuals. Evil Dead is a great example of that. As is Don’t Breathe. Sadly both of those films falter when it comes to character. In Evil Dead I thought the characters were dumb and I didn’t care what happened. While Don’t Breathe isn’t quite as bad it still suffered with character and I felt little connection to any of them for the most part.

The story focuses on three thieves, Rocky, Money and Alex, who live in Detroit. They have poor chances of a bright future and for Rocky in particular their latest job is make or break. See they set out to rob a war vet who was blinded while overseas. Somewhere in his home is a huge amount of money and for Rocky it’s a golden goose that will allow her and her sister to get out of their horrible home and start fresh in California. Once inside the veterans home our three leads find out they have horribly underestimated the ease of this job and they’re in deadly danger.

Alvarez constructs good tension. A compact air vent scene and one nasty fall in particular crank the tension right up. Another stand out sequence is filmed in night vision allowing the audience to see the dangers awaiting our leads which they themselves are oblivious to as they are stalked. When the film is focusing on the cat and mouse hunt between the thieves and the blind vet it is at it’s best.

My issues are mostly set on the characters. I didn’t feel like the film took enough chances playing with audience expectations. The one character we are meant to connect with makes some selfish choices which have bad consequences for others around them. Yes it is sad Rocky has an awful home life but when the film asks you to root for a character who puts those around her, those who are willing to fight for her life, in direct danger it’s hard to do that. Don’t get me wrong some awful stuff happens to our lead character and none of it is deserved I just felt Alex came across as more likeable.

The filmmakers toss a twist into the film too that I felt was done to make the audience side solely with the thieves and thus turning the ‘victim’ into an all out madman. For a film that could have took some bold chances it was frustrating to see it play out so run of the mill. For example had the war vet not been painted as such a madman it could have created a more complex moral ambiguity for the audience. Who do we identify with? The thieves or the man whose home is being broken into?

I think Don’t Breathe is okay. I personally wouldn’t rave about it but I won’t say it’s a big let down either. It’s worth seeing for its well shot set pieces and a brilliant performance from Stephen Lang as the blind man. Just don’t expect to care too much about what happens to the characters.

 

 

 

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Posted: September 8, 2016 in Movies
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Early into the 00’s fans got the long in development T3 in the form of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Rise of the Machines is the first film in the series not to be written or directed by series father James Cameron. Stepping into the directors chair would be Jonathan Mostow who at that point in his career was known more for well crafted thrillers (Breakdown) than big budget action movies. Series star Arnold Schwarzenegger would return as the Terminator but Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor was M.I.A. (Sarah did feature in several drafts of T3) which did not sit well with some fans. T3 was in development hell for years with rumors of insane budgets and several false starts. In the summer of 2003 the film arrived but would it meet the insane (yet) justified fan expectations the previous films in the series had put in place?

The answer is yes and no. When you compare Rise of the Machines to either of the Cameron directed Terminator films it falls short; taken on it’s own terms though Rise of the Machines is a lean and brilliantly (the pace of this film is near on perfect) directed sci-fi action flick that harks back to the simplicity of the chase the original Terminator did so well.

Rise of the Machines picks up some years after Judgement Day with John Connor (a strong Nick Stahl taking over the role from Eddie Furlong) living “off the grid” and plagued with nightmares of the machine uprising. He was right to listen to his gut because Skynet do send back another Terminator to bring about Judgement Day in the form of the deadly T-X. A series first, this female Terminator is a total killing machine designed to take out not only human targets but other Terminators. Luckily for John a certain someone (no spoilers here) sends back the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) we all know and love to see that John and one Kate Brewster (a brilliant Claire Danes) survive the rise of Skynet!

I think the action scenes in Rise of the Machines are great and do the series (which is known for stand out action sequences) proud. Mostow shoots the action real good, it’s so clear and fluid without ever making the viewer feel disconnected from the spectacle. A multiple vehicle chase through downtown L.A. is amazingly shot and brilliant to witness. I love how the scene starts off at night (dawn) and transitions to daytime. The T-X is arguably over powered, her arsenal and abilities arent that clearly defined allowing her to cause all sorts of destruction and provide more than a worthy threat. Her encounters with our heroes are never short of mayhem and of course she has a standout showdown with The Terminator himself.

The script for Rise of the Machines is strong. It’s simple and has a clear endgame in sight. In simple terms Rise of the Machines is a chase movie just like in The Terminator and T2. Our heroes have to get away from the T-X. Writing this review in 2016 it’s easy now to look back and appreciate the film even more than I already did for it’s simplicity. Sequels Terminator Salvation and Genisys while not without some merit, feel convoluted and too ambitious in some regards loosing sight of what made the franchise so exciting to begin with. The third act reveal deserves credit for not copping out and delivering a game changing ending that for the time was almost unheard of in a summer blockbuster.

In case you can’t tell I love Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. It’s my favourite sequel to the original two films out of the five released to date. It’s a shame than neither Stahl nor Danes would return to the series. Both stars had signed contracts for multiple sequels beyond T3 yet neither one would return. The cast shake ups have not been good for this series and would continue between T4 and T5. I would have begged Mostow to return to direct T4 but like Stahl and Danes he would sadly not return to the series which is a shame as he seemed to understand the universe.

Sure, Rise of the Machines is no The Terminator or T2: Judgement Day but it is one hell of a fun action movie and it still holds up (with it’s great action, acting, story and effects work from the late great Stan Winston) thirteen years after it’s release.

 

 

 

 

My Soul To Take

Posted: September 6, 2016 in Movies
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My Soul To Take was released in 2010 and for me this ranks as one of Wes Craven’s best movies. Craven wrote and directed the teen slasher. This is of note due to Craven not producing a self penned slasher since Wes Craven’s New Nightmare back in 1994. My excitement for the film was massive from the moment is was announced. For me Craven delivered a truly unique horror movie and one of his most personal films to date.

The story centres on the town of Riverton and a town legend which focuses on several teens known as the Riverton Seven. Each of the seven born on the night sixteen years prior when the Riverton Ripper lost his life. Now it appears the Ripper is back and he has the Riverton Seven in his sights. There’s a lot more to the plot than this brief overview but by now you know I don’t like to give stuff away. Let’s just say the Ripper and the seven have more in common than first appears to be the case.

Craven was a brilliant write and created a lot of iconic cinematic boogeymen over the years and likeable victims. The Riverton Seven are made up of distinct characters, each one given depth that lifts them above the normal slasher movie teen stereotypes. I’d expect nothing less from Craven. The film is completely unapologetic when it comes to who lives and dies too. I loved that. As the seven starts to drop you feel bad when they go. For the most part anyway yet even the most unlikeable of the bunch is still given layers to their character. The kills are brutal. This Ripper is vicious.

There are themes of the supernatural mixed in with the science of mental illness and it is with praise when I say Craven is able to present this plot point with ease. I think one of the reasons I love the film is that it reminded me a lot of A Nightmare on Elm Street. The cast are great. Max Thieriot (Bates Motel), John Magaro, Denzel Whitaker, Zena Grey, Nick Lashaway, Paulina Olszynski and Jeremy Chu each make a strong impression as the Riverton Seven. Emily Meade (The Leftover’s), Frank Grillo (The Purge, Captain America: Civil War), Jessica Hecht (Breaking Bad) and Danai Gurira (Walking Dead) fill out the cast and provide solid support. The cast is stacked with talent, many of whom have gone on to have great careers. Craven always had an eye for up and coming talent.

The only real issue I had was there is one character who is set up in the opening of the film and it leads you to believe this particular persons arc will have some sort of pay off in the films final act. Yet said character, while they feature in the final confrontation, doesn’t take up that much of an active role which I felt was a missed opportunity. From a narrative point of view I think it would have worked better if he/she had of played a bigger role in dispatching the Ripper. I can’t say who it is I mean as the identity of this person plays into the plot as a reveal.

My Soul To Take is one of my favourite slasher movies. The plot is original, the characters and their relationships are done really well. You believe in the friendships on display and when the shit hits the fan it’s bad seeing some of these guys and gals get taken out in brutal ways. I’d have loved a sequel. Sadly the film did not perform amazingly at the box office and I feel like this may have hurt Craven as I truly believe he put a lot into this film. However it exists and in my opinion it stands out as a uniquely Wes Craven movie and an example of his unparalleled talent in the genre.