Archive for February, 2013

If you could have a clock that counts down to exact moment when you’ll meet your soul mate, would you want to?

This is the premise of the stunning directorial debut from Jay Schaeffer and what an interesting premise it is. The film is set in a very near future where scientists have developed a timer (the timer of the title) that once installed into a person’s wrist, will say exactly how long it will be before they meets their true love. Our main character Oona (played by the amazing Emma Caulfield) is having difficulty finding her soul mate and it doesn’t help that her timer is blank (possibly meaning her love hasn’t had a timer installed yet or does it mean she doesn’t have a soul mate?). She falls for a supermarket assistant Mickey (played by John Patrick Amedori) who’s timer says he is due to meet his true love in 4 months’ time. Can the two of them beat the system and fall in love despite their timers?

When I saw the dvd of this in a shop I was for some reason drawn to read the synopsis. It sounded really interesting and it sounded like it had that unique twist that many films  are lacking (especially romance pictures). I bought it and found myself not to be disappointed. It is a truly phenomenal romance picture that really does strike up some interesting questions on love and fate. It’s the way that it handles these questions that makes it truly stand out from everything else (not that there is any other film quite like this one).

WARNING! – this is where I may get all mushy and sentimental.

The biggest question that the film raises is probably ‘can we help who we fall in love with?’:

It’s a very interesting question and one that really can’t be fully answered due to the nature of what it is. Love is the one emotion that can’t be broken down, can’t be fully analysed as everyone experiences it in different ways. For me, love is the most intimate emotional connection one can have with another human being. There doesn’t necessarily have to be anything physical about the relationship (although there generally is), it is far more than that. It even surpasses that need, that human craving for companionship. It can’t be explained faithfully in words, it is something one must truly experience to fully understand (even then it is something that I believe defies understanding.) I am a true believer in Love and believe that it is the greatest emotion one can feel (even if it does go wrong).

It is also true when people say that you never know what you’ve got until you lose it. The feeling one gets is best described as heartbreak. It’s something that I never believed but it’s true. A piece of your heart gets torn out and you never know if it’ll ever heal. Even when it does there will always be a scar (Not that it is necessarily a bad thing, even if at the time, it feels bad.) It is these scars and our life experiences that craft us into who we are. They can make us stronger (or even weaker) but it’s who we are. But for me, Love it is the one thing that is truly worth the risk (although some may disagree with me)

Where would we be without risk? Nowhere is the answer.

This is what the film handles really well. These two characters, Oona and Mikey who are not ‘destined’ to be together, develop true feelings for one another and they have the tough question of ‘is it worth the heartache?’ For Mickey it is but Oona isn’t sure (which is a natural response) none of us want to get hurt but without the risk will we ever find true happiness?

The film’s ‘timer’ aims to solve this problem (well at least in the film world). But it brings up a question of can you fall in love with someone because you’re told to? I don’t think you can (as much as it’d help). You can get that spark which leads you to approach and talk to another individual but I’d class that initial spark to possibly fall closer to lust than love. You could even say that you love the ‘idea’ of a certain individual without even knowing them. It can’t be explained this easily though. I honestly believe you can know when you are in love with a person, You can know it from your first meeting, but even then it increases and soon can become an overwhelming rollercoaster ride of beauty (and sometimes pain). In the film Oona and Mikey’s relationship starts as one of lust (well at least for Oona) but as the film progresses and they spend more time together lust develops to love. This can be how love works, but as I’ve said love cannot be summed up so easily (oh! I wish it could be).

The film really does hit home on some of these questions and for this reason it hooked me far more than most films.  It goes from being funny, to beautiful, to utterly heart-breaking (just like real life). Love isn’t a smooth ride and relationships can be hard work for both parties. This is what the film acknowledges and gets right. This is what makes it a remarkable piece of film making in my eyes.

The acting was amazing especially from the two leads who hold the film together with their realistic portrayal of what a relationship can be.  The fact the film doesn’t glorify everything and doesn’t paint everything in black and white, makes it that much better than most romantic comedies out there (although I wouldn’t really call this a comedy). I loved it I really did.

So It brings us back to the opening question of whether you’d want to know if you’ve found true love. I personally don’t think I would (although at times it would make things a heck of a lot easier). As I’ve said it makes us who we are and as much as it can hurt, you never know what will happen. I also don’t believe in a clock that tries to break down the true emotion into a series of numbers. For me, this film made me question my own life and feelings more than any other and that surprised me. For that I can barely fault it. A must see. 9/10.

 

*sorry if I went off topic a bit. Just got a bit carried away.

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Eric Robert crops up when you least expect him!!!!!

The film concerns Rick played by the very good Jake Busey (son of Gary) as he travels across america to have sex with his porn star idle Ginger played by Jennifer Tilly. Along the way he meets the eccentric Jules played by the brilliant Crispin Glover. Together they go on an epic road trip full of sex, violence and Eric Roberts.

Eric Roberts only appears in the film for a short amount of time but he is amazing and plays a pretty scary role in what is possibly one of the most awkward kinda rape scenes I’ve ever seen in film. It’s a hard film to place in a specific genre or even fully explain as it hops around wherever it feels like (much like the characters contained within it.) All I know is It was good, verging on very good.

I was really surprised by this film as it had a lot more depth to it than I expected, with some actually quite moving segments towards the end. I must also say that it has a pretty brilliant ending that left me feeling a lot more satisfied then i expected.

It is really well acted and although the plot isn’t wholly original, I think it has just enough to make it stand apart from the crowd. I’d say it’s worth checking out. 6/10

Say what you will about the insane amount of dance films that have come out in recent years but I’d argue that most of the haters haven’t actually watched the films they claim to hate. I belive it’s more of a ‘I won’t like that kind of film’ mentality that sways judgement without even giving the film the benefit of the doubt. I would’ve had the same mentality (heck, I did for a while) but then I decided to give some of the films a shot and you know what …. I kind of enjoyed some of them. I would even say that I really liked some of them.

Before you stop reading, hear me out……

At some point a few years ago I caught ‘Step Up 2’ on Tv and thought it was awful except for the final dance number which I thought was incredibly well choreographed and really well filmed. This in turn led me to start checking out some of the other dance flicks out there to see what the dance numbers were like.  I grew to kinda enjoy big ensemble dance numbers as well as just good choreography (in a way I kind of enjoy the dances in films much like the fights in martial arts films).

For some reason I was really interested in seeing Step UP 3 (will review at a later date) when it came out and after seeing it became really excited about the prospect of number 4 (to a lot of mockery from friends). When it was finally released on dvd I didn’t hesitate picking it up.

I watched it and was like ‘WOW’. The dances are amongst some of the very best I’ve seen in modern films and to be fair the acting isn’t all that bad. One of the things the film does 100% right is the fact it focuses on the dance numbers more than the rather basic plot (your usual Romeo and Juliet-esque love story). I was hooked from the first dance to the very last and thought that all of them were amazing (especially the one in the offices of the big land grabbing cooperation (oh yeah there is the other side of the plot about the lead female’s father trying to buy up land to turn into hotels.)

Ryan Guzman and Cleopatra Coleman are both great in the two lead roles and actually look to have a spark between them in the more romantic scenes (again generally dance numbers).

I’d say that this film is well worth seeing, or even trying. It’s much better then one would think (especially for the fourth film in a franchise). I’d even say that this is possibly the strongest of all the Step Up films. It’s brilliantly directed, amazingly filmed and a great piece of fun….  8/10

 

recently I’ve discovered the wonderous back catalogue of films distributed by Odyssey Films. Almost all of them are TV movies but every one I’ve seen has been anything from good to brilliant. Most of the films are ‘based on true events’ which always makes me slightly dubious but here the stories do feel like the stories that inspired them. Many of these films feature some big name stars (generally before they became big) such as, Brad Pitt, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ving Rhames, Terry O’Quinn etc….

‘Deadly whispers’ concerns the murder of a nineteen year old girl. Every clue leads to her father, but how could a nice, kind family man do such a thing?

Tony Danza gives a brilliant performance as lead male Tom who is nice family man with a dark side. He has the perfect balance and his performance reminds me slightly of Jack Nicholson’s in ‘the Shining’ (not as great but just as creepy). His wife is played by Pamela Reed (who I’d only seen in comedies prior to this). As she is kind of the main character of the piece, it is on her shoulders that the threat rests. If we didn’t feel for her and the kids, the film would be a failure. The good news is she’s great. In fact almost everyone in the film plays their role really well.

The direction is tight as is the camerawork. It does have that feel of ‘TV film’ but it never detracted from the action on-screen.

Overall I really enjoyed the film (not as much as some of the others from ‘Odyssey’, but still…) It’s well worth seeing if you have an afternoon free, although I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again. 6/10

I’m here today to compare and figure out which is better, Judge Dredd (1995) – directed by Danny Cannon or Dredd (2012) – directed by Pete Travis?

Firstly I know that it’s not good to compare movies and it’s better to take each movie on its own. But having tried to write separate reviews for each of these films I just can’t help it. As such I have decided to do a proper ‘VS’ section on this blog with these films being the first comparison.

One of the reasons I find it impossible not to compare the films is because I grew up reading Judge Dredd and still read it now. As such I have very strong feelings towards the character and his world, meaning I automatically analyse any media based on the property (sometimes unfairly, but most of the time I think I can clearly justify my reasons.).

 

BASIC BACK STORY OF JUDGE DREDD

In the future the world is a scarred wasteland after international conflicts leading to mass nuclear warfare. Most of the world is radioactive ‘hell on earth’ and is known to the people of the few surviving cities as ‘The Cursed Earth’. In the dystopian city of Mega City One (the main location for the Dredd comics), crime is an everyday thing that people take for granted. Gangs attempt to rule the city and the only things standing in their way are the ‘Judges’ (Judge, Jury and Executioner all in one). Of all the Judges in the city, one if feared above all others, ‘Dredd’. (Essentially Dredd is the ultimate badass who will only give up when he’s dead.)

The idea of Judge Dredd is simple at heart but can be as complex as the writers of the comics want to go. Dredd was spawned in issue 2 of the British comic publication ‘2000ad’ in 1977. This joint creation by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra was an instant hit and is now known the world over in almost all mediums (books, films, comics, videogames, board games etc…) Only 2 official feature films have been of the character. One in 1995 directed by Danny Cannon which came out to a pretty negative reaction and the other directed in 2012 by Pete Travis which aimed to fix the problems people had with the 1995 picture.

So let’s begin the review/comparison:

PLOT

Judge Dredd (1995) –

Dredd is convicted of a murder he did not commit and is sentenced to life imprisonment (after the Chief Judge stands down in order to spare Dredd’s life.) The true culprit of the murder sets about to take over the law department so he can rule over Mega City One. Dredd must find a way back into the city and clear his name before it’s too late.

Dredd (2012) –

Dredd and new recruit Judge Anderson are sent into Peach Trees (a 200 storey tall slum block – essentially a vertical city) to investigate the murder of three drug dealers. After raiding a drugs den they soon find the Owner of the block won’t let them leave easily and has locked down the entire block. Dredd and Anderson must find a way out before they themselves become bullet ridden bodies on the floor.

————–

Two similar films with two very different plots.

  • JUDGE DREDD: The 1995 film has the sort of plot that seemed very popular in the 1990’s and unlike most people I don’t see it as that much of a problem. You could argue that there are hundreds of Judge Dredd storylines they could have used (especially the ‘Judge Death’ storylines) but instead they go with a pretty formulaic ‘man sets out to prove his innocence’ story. Many critics and viewers a like didn’t like the simplistic story and the fact that the plot was very ‘Americanised’, but I think it works and to be fair Dredd has always been quite ‘American’ in style (It’s even set in America). It may not pick holes in the political system as much as the comics but it does the job. One thing that the story does really well is ‘scope’. We get a look at a large chunk of Mega City One and even get a look at the wasteland outside its walls. The plot also incorporates many other characters from the Dredd universe (as well as a few other 2000ad properties). Overall I think the plot works as a great introduction to the character of Dredd and proves to be an above average sci-fi plot. 7/10
  • DREDD: The 2012 film is much smaller in scale compared to the 1995 picture as it is mainly set in a large tower block. It tries to explain the city but struggles because of its limited locations. The story does feel like the sort of tale that is in the comics which is good, but what works in comics does not mean it’ll work in a padded out feature film. There just isn’t enough story to fill out the full run time of the film as essentially it consists of them trying to escape then deciding to go kill ‘Ma Ma’ (the head gang leader). It’s sufficient but really is as simplistic as they come. Also for a film which aims to make the story ‘more like the comics’ it fails to explain factors such as the Psi-Division (a select group of psychic Judges – one of which being Anderson). 4/10

CHARACTERS

DREDD

The main character of both films is of course the title character ‘Judge Dredd’. Both films provide a very different take on the character. (In my view neither is perfect):

  • JUDGE DREDD: The title role is held by Sylvester Stallone that many seemed to agree made a great Dredd until he takes his helmet off (not because it is Stallone underneath but because in the comics he rarely removes his helmet and even when he does you never see his face. in the 35+ years the comic has been running his face has never been shown clearly.) for many this was enough for them to instantly dismiss the film as a whole. For me I honestly didn’t mind. The main reason he takes his helmet off is because when you have a film with Stallone in you kind of have to show his face (well you kind of did in the 90’s.) You also have to remember that Dredd wasn’t as widely known around the world and as such was a gamble they hoped would pay off after the success of other comic book films in the years previous. (Without Stallone I doubt the film would have been made and I doubt he would have done it if you never saw his face.) Enough about the helmet issue. In my view, Stallone plays the part pretty much perfectly. He may not be the best actor in the world but his lack of acting and ‘woodenness’ help portray the cold character from the comics. (This is not to say I don’t like Stallone in other films. I think he can be a good actor and he usually does the job put before him, pretty admirably.) In this film he delivers each line like the character from the comic (even when he’s trying to add an emotional depth to the character). He also has the physical presence that Dredd is meant to have helping you believe why people would both fear and respect him… Stallone pretty much carries the film on his back with his portrayal of Dredd and as such you’ve got to commend him. 8/10
  • DREDD: For this version of Dredd we get the actor Karl Urban. Although nowhere near as big an actor as Stallone, Urban has in recent years been in some of the biggest films such as ‘Star Trek’ and ‘the Chronicles of Riddick’. He is a great actor and in terms of acting is far superior to Stallone. This is where my problem with him as Dredd lies. Dredd is meant to be ‘cold’ and doesn’t ever really show emotion (even though Stallone’s tried to). Urban just doesn’t have the coldness. He delivers each line with too much emotion and it just feels forced (almost like he trying to imitate Stallone’s ‘non-acting’) He also doesn’t have the presence that Dredd has in the comics. In the film he just feels like a member of a S.W.A.T team. For me I just didn’t believe in the character and as such just found him a kind of failure (Which I find sad as I usually really like Urban as an actor). 4/10

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS & VILLIAN

Interestingly both films use different supporting characters from the comics, so this is less a comparison of the actor’s portraying them and more on the strength of them as how they fit into the story.

  • JUDGE DREDD: The main supporting character in the film is ‘Fergee’ played by comedian Rob Schneider. When I first watched the film I didn’t like the comedicness of the character as I found it detracted from the reasonably dark storyline. Having reread many of the comics from the 90’s (and even many of the more recent ones) I kind of like the character now. It’s where the humour from the comics kind of comes through. He’s not great but he plays off Stallone pretty well. The main female in the film is ‘Judge Hershey’ played by Diane Lane. She is a strong female character and does all of the ‘thinking’ in the film. She is the character who is ruching against time to try and clear Dredd’s name. She is a good actress and she is great here. The main bad guy in the flick is ‘Rico’ played by Armand Assante. He does the job as a villain but never feels truly threatening enough for me. I find that you always need a villain equal to or more powerful than the hero. In this I didn’t ever feel that, He only managed to win against Dredd at the start by faking footage and faking Dredd’s uniform. I guess in the grand scheme of things he gets the job done but he never a great character (I think the problem is the character instead of the actual acting). Max Von Syndow also does an admiral job as Chief Judge Fargo. AS a whole everyone does a very good job. 7/10
  • DREDD: ‘Judge Anderson’ is the lead female in the 2012 adaptation and is played amazingly well by Olivia Thirlby. Anderson is a regular character in the comics and it is nice to see her translated well onto film. As the film focuses on the beginning of her career she only begins to become as badass as she is in the comics towards the end. But this doesn’t stop her being great. The problem we have is I think that she’s a far stronger character in this film then Dredd and as such I feel this impacted on the whole film. I didn’t care about Dredd and was just keen to watch Anderson’s development. The villain of the picture is Madeline ‘Ma-Ma’ Madrigal played by Lena Headey and again she never feels ‘evil’ enough. She’s probably a better villain and more comic like then ‘Rico’ from the ’95 film but she still isn’t amazing. You see some of her power coming through but never the full extent of how strong she is (considering she led her gang to take over the entire block). There are a few other incidental characters that do the job but no one else is standout. 6/10 (For Thirlby’s portrayal of Judge Anderson alone.)

VISUALS & AUDIO

Being comic book adaptations, both films aim to try and recreate the look of the comics. As with everything both take very different routes to doing so:

  • JUDGE DREDD: The 1995 feature uses model work and Matte paintings to help create the dystopian future for Mega City One. As such the effects haven’t really dated; they look like they did when the film was released. The director was very clever in filming almost everything in the city at night, thus helping the dark feel of the city. The ‘Cursed Earth’ bits are done during daytime which helps emphasise the vastness and the bleakness of the hostile terrain. Both play off one another perfectly and help create a great looking Judge Dredd. Dredd has always been one of the ‘darker’ comics and as such that is how I feel it should be filmed. The whole visual style is much akin to films such as ‘The Crow’, ‘Dark City’ and even ‘Blade runner’. It works really well. The costumes, weapons and vehicles all look like they’ve been pulled straight out of the comics and they are what I remember from when I was young and reading Dredd. Even the ABC warrior is great (although possibly slightly misplaced in this film). It is really well done and looks like it did in the comics. The music is typical of the sort of film it is with a strong score running through it. Nothing much to fault at all 9/10
  • DREDD: This is a tricky one because the film does look very ‘comic-booky’ but it gets boring very fast (at least for me it did) the outside shots look very ‘fake ‘ and CGI which is a shame and I think that it’ll look even worse it years to come. The film also uses a lot of slow motion which does look really good, the first few times then it just gets boring. They use ‘Phantom’ Cameras to film at a ridiculously fast speed meaning they can pretty much slow it down and pause a rain drop if they wanted to. It’s an amazing bit of kit but it can get boring. (It’s not even like its brand new technology or even the first film to be using it. Lars Von Tier used a Phantom camera in 2009 on his film ‘antichrist’ which used the tech a lot more artistically. Even the Jackass franchise used the same tech.) On one hand it does feel like a comic but on the other, the hand that looks at the film as a series of moving images, it sees it as a simple way of padding out a flimsy story with a shortish runtime by an extra 25%. The costumes, weapons and vehicles all feel too different from the comics and from what I remember. They also look far less practical and far more ‘silly’ some of the indoor sets look great but they can’t make up for everything else. The audio takes a very industrial feel which kind of works but sometimes just feel like there are faults in the soundtrack. It’s not bad and I can see what they were going for. They just failed to deliver 5/10

FUN FACTOR

This is where things become even more subjective but I will try to explain my reasons for enjoying/not enjoying each film:

  • JUDGE DREDD: I love this film. It is the definition of a well-made guilty pleasure. The story keeps the pace on-going and Stallone is always watchable on screen. The humour between him and Schneider is great and works really well. I just find this film a great piece of entertainment every time I see it. There are always bits I forget about as well which always gives the film a reasonably fresh feeling. It’s never boring and always enjoyable. 8/10
  • DREDD: I wanted to love this film. The first time I watched it I got around an hour in and just wasn’t enjoying it at all so I turned it off. I thought maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to fully enjoy it. I decided to give it another chance recently and was kind of excited to do so. I don’t know why I was so excited. To be fair it was slightly better than the first time but only marginally. I just found it poorly scripted and really badly paced. I got almost no enjoyment out of it at all and what little I did was from the character of Judge Anderson. 3/10

VERDICT

It’s pretty obvious which of these films I preferred before working out the average score (rounded up) based on all of the above sections. But let’s do it anyway:

JUDGE DREDD – 8/10

DREDD – 5/10

There we have it. I honestly think that the new film was a massive step backwards, both in terms of Dredd films but also Comic book adaptations. The ’95 flick has its problems but they are nowhere near as bad as the problems with the new film (which focuses all on ‘fancy’ visuals instead of story, characters, script, or anything else important.) This is just my opinion but if you want to see the better of the two Judge Dredd films watch the 1995 one (ignore the new one. It’s not even really worth a watch)

For a film with a tag line ‘A bullet made the orphans. Revenge makes them dangerous’, I was expecting a cheap 80’s action flick. It delivered one part of what I expected, The cheap part.

It looks and feels like a movie filmed on cheap film stock by a film crew who were just out of college. It just looks ‘studenty’ and ‘cheap’. I don’t mind bad-looking films as long as they have something that provides me with entertainment (things like ‘Toxic Avenger’, ‘ Maniac Cop’ etc.) This film wasn’t entertainment really. It was boring, poorly scripted and just not really worth the time.

The ‘Bullet’ of the tagline is featured in a boring flashback that the filmmakers keep cutting back to throughout the duration of the movie. It almost feels like the flashback is a way of breaking up the tedious and boring story. (what little there is)

There’s a scene at the beginning with a shotgun rigged to a piece of cat gut. That’s probably the most interesting thing in the whole film (until we see the man who got shot at point-blank range in the scene after with juts a wounded arm.)

It’ s just a bad film that has no merits at all other than the fact that the director made a piece of film that runs from point A to point B in a reasonably coherent fashion.

Not really worth anyone’s time 1/10

Taken was one of those films that never needed a sequel. It was a pretty self contained revenge/rescue picture in which Liam Neeson punched a load of people in the throat. Come 2012 and they decide that in fact they should make a sequel, but this time instead of his daughter being kidnapped it would be Mr Neeson himself (and his wife, but she’s not that important)

I was never a big fan of the first film. I found it boring thriller with a poor script and some poor action sequences (except for Neeson’s throat punches.) So I was not excited at the prospect of a 2nd film. I put off watching it until this evening as I had nothing else I could be bothered to watch.

Boy, was I surprised…….

I really enjoyed it. Yes it has a poor plot and some awful dialogue but it was just fun. It focused almost entirely on action and it did the action really well. It kinda harked back to old school action flicks from the early 90’s. It’s pace was good and I never found myself getting bored. The fight sequences were well choreographed as well as a long car chase (which as car chases go, was very good.)

There are a few things that annoyed me such as the fact that no one seems too bothered by the random explosions that are going off around the city as Neeson’s daughter throws grenades so he can triangulate his position on a map (it is pretty far-fetched.) I think this is one of the reasons why I enjoyed the film. It never really felt it was taking itself too seriously (unlike the first one).

I’d say it’s well worth a watch and should provide a good couple of hours of mindless fun…. 7/10

Directed when the Asian Horror market was becoming highly popular in the West after the local releases of ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Ring 2’, ‘The Eye’ became an instant hit with its interesting take on the idea of seeing ghosts. (and has since spawned 2 sequels and a remake)

The story is about Mun who after having a cornea implant to make her see again for the first time since she was 2, begins seeing visions of spirits and a shadowy figure lurking just beyond reach. She then goes in search of the person whose eyes she was given.

Before seeing the film I expected another film much like ‘ The Sixth Sense’ with the whole ‘I see dead people’ vibe. How wrong I was. This feels like a fresh take on that idea as although the audience know who may or not be a ghost, Mun is still adjusting to seeing again so cannot rely on what she sees. It’s a clever way of adding suspense and tension to a film that you feel like you’ve seen before.

What i think is really clever about the film is it isn’t really a horror film. It has some moments that shock and are creepy but I’d not call it a horror film. I’d say it falls in with a lot of foreign horror in the fact that it has that style you just don’t get in the west. (not just visual, but tonally as well.) Much of the film is a beautiful observation of someone trying to cope with seeing for essentially the first time and the mental anguish that goes along with it.

It is beautifully shot and beautifully paced. The Pang brothers have an eye for visuals as can be seen in their previous film (Bangkok Dangerous) and It is great that they try to use practical effects over CGI whenever they can. I must say that the opening of the film did make me freak out a little just in case i had epilepsy (I don’t), but a random flashing was not good on my panic threshold.

There is a sequence around the middle of the film where Mun essentially becomes a recluse again. the scene is told through multiple shots while Mun is playing her violin. The song is beautiful as is the sequence and the pacing. (the song is featured throughout the film as a running piece of score). THis scene sums up the film for me in tone and feel. Although quite dark in places I found that on the whole it was a beautiful analogy for love and the beauty that we (who see the world everyday) just don’t respect and notice.

The acting performances are brilliant with Angelica Lee claiming every scene as her own as the main character Mun. The supporting cast are just as good with a great performance from newcomer Yut Lai So as Ying Ying (a little girl whom Mun befriends).

The film builds to a large-scale set piece which is amazingly well filmed and is a fit almost ending to the film. For those that like films such as ‘The ring’, ‘The Orphanage’, ‘The sixth Sense’ and films that offer more than simple scares, this really is worth a view. It’s a great piece of asian cinema that will stay with you long after you’ve seen it. 8/10

 

Following on after the events of the first season. Season 2 aims to have more characters, more scope and more battles.

It achieves all of these but it makes the series worse because of it. The battle scenes are still very well done and this one does feature battles with more troops, but it really isn’t much different from the first. If anything I prefered the battles in the original series as they built throughout the series until the finale which was reasonably epic in scale with all clans standing against the Oda clan. The second series never builds up to much and the final episode (not the amusing episode 13) is not all that great. It does try to cover more scope with numerous fights going on at once, but this just distracts rather than make anything better.

The characters are much the same as before as is the basic plot. It’s really more of the same and in this case it’s not better because of it. the first series kind of ended at the right time before it all got stale. this series just goes to show that it was right to end when it did. It’s repetitive and frankly quite boring.

The visuals and the music are top notch but the story and characters feel the same (if anything they feel more two-dimensional)

Even if you’re a fan of the first series I’d give this a miss. 4/10

This review is an edited / rewritten version of the first film review I ever wrote (hopefully with much better grammar)  and is based on the UK DVD release of the film……..

Yet another creature feature produced by the ‘great’ Phillip Roth.

Who is Phillip Roth? I here you ask…

Well, over the last 10 or so years Phillip Roth has lent his producing hand to numerous creature features, this film included. He seems to have a knack for finding films that have the possibility of being quite good and therefore in terms of creature features, he is the name to look out for. This is one of the reasons I got excited about ‘Python II’ the third film in the kind of ‘Python VS Boa’ quadrilogy. The first of these films Python, starred the great acting talents of Robert Englund, Casper Van Dien, Will Wheaton and William Zabka (the bad kid from ‘Karate Kid”). It was a great film, full of fun and some great sequences of suspense (not to mention sheriff Python the Bomb Defusing Snake – you’ll understand when I review it.)

The second film entitled either ‘New Alcatraz’ or ‘Boa’ starred the great Dean Cain (the New Adventures of Superman) it was very different form ‘Python’ in the fact it was set in a giant underground prison in the middle of Antarctica. (Like ‘Python’ I plan on reviewing this film at a later date) Needless to say, the film was again a great piece of fun filmmaking and was this time directed by Phillip Roth. It had its flaws, but was still highly enjoyable.( This one featured Deputy Boa the Parachuting Snake – again you’ll understand later)

This brings us to the third part in the series which ids entitled Python II (although the UK DVD release is entitled ‘Snakes: Mankind has found a new enemy’ – worst title ever. I have no idea why as it just made finding ‘Python II’ that much harder. when I finally realised it was the third part I just found myself getting annoyed with the UK distributors. They also have trouble with roman numerals on the case writing world war 111 instead of III. It’s little thing#s like this that make reading DVD boxes amusing.)

The film semi continues on from the previous Python film. I say semi as it is only really a sequel by name and some of the actors (namely William Zabka reprising his role as Greg Larson, the sheriff). Zabka is possibly the only ‘good’ thing in this film, but that is only because they’ve changed him from a good guy to the main human villain of the picture.

Where the original film proved to be amusing for almost its entire run time (mainly due to the wonderful Robert Englund), this one fell to pieces during it’s opening scenes. Gone are the following:

  • Amusing one liners
  • Casper Van Dien’s hilariously bad russian accent
  • Some pretty good acting for a creature feature
  • Sheriff Python the bomb defusing snake (who is also a master of disguise)

What we are left with is a boring ‘Ten Little Indians’ like story of a commando unit trying to capture an 85 foot snake that is running (slithering) loose in an underground military base.

The film begins with an overlong sequence where a military unit are trying to capture the giant snake of the title in a 6 foot long box. (the snake is clearly far bigger than 6 foot. I have no idea of how they plan on fitting it in. Even if they cut it up I still think it would be far far to big. If they had numerous 6 foot boxes I may understand but they don’t.) The sequence reuses the same death footage again and again to give the film a longer running time. The opening should be enough to tell you what you’re getting yourself in for.

After this it is essentially the same plot as the first film, just in an underground bunker kinda like Boa in fact, albeit with a worse script, worse CGI and worse acting. The only promising moment in the film is when Zabka returns towards the end, but even he can’t make up for what’s come before. ( it is amazing how the special effects are worse than the first Python film made 2 years previous.)

Before you say; ‘This sounds like the perfect film to watch over beers!’ It’s not. I watched it with a 2 other friends (all of us usually enjoying this sort of film) One friend fell asleep while me and my other friend discussed how we would have made a better film (we still plan on making our version).

To round this whole thing off I’d say that the film has no real redeeming qualities and really isn’t worth the time. You’re better off just watching the first two films in the series and imagining a third which focuses on sheriff Snake and his newly opened Bomb defusal business, which may or may not be set all across the globe. (Please someone make this film).  2/10 (It’s still better than some films I’ve seen and does feature a giant albeit poorly CGI’d snake)