A Strange Variety of Film Reviews by CosmicRunaway

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I have seen Gene Generation. Never heard of the other two though.
Shaolin Soccer's exactly what it says on the tin. Tai Chi Zero is... emm... I couldn't finish it.
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"Well, at least your intentions behind the UTTERLY DEVASTATING FAULTS IN YOUR LOGIC are good." - Captain Steel
Movies / Anime / Ultimate Showdown / Veg*nism / Action 2015





Swerve (2011)
Dir. Craig Lahiff
Starring: David Lyons, Emma Booth, Jason Clarke

I'm sure by now I've said at least a few times that I like Jason Clarke for no discernible reason. My friends often accuse me of liking movies only because he's in it, and while they may actually have a point there (cough-TerminatorGenisys-cough), he's also been in quite a few things that have failed to impress even me and my apparently low standards. I do admit that I've watched a number of things I normally wouldn't have just because he plays a part in it, and even though they do occasionally turn out pretty good (Everest, The Chicago Code tv series), Swerve is one of the many instances where it does not.

To it's credit, the movie does have a somewhat intriguing premise. After a drug dealing criminal cheats another out of his money, a man just passing through the countryside witnesses him get into a fatal accident when the criminal passes him and has to swerve off road to avoid colliding with a woman who is attempting to run away from her husband. The traveller discovers a briefcase full of money while checking on the other drivers, and after reporting the crime and delivering the case to a local policeman, gets involved in a bit of a mystery when he stays at that officer's house and discovers that the cop is actually the husband of the woman from the crash.



While Swerve starts off a little quirky, and almost gives the impression that it might have a sense of humour, after setting up the story it fails to do anything interesting with it. After the opening scenes, the movie doesn't really have any momentum, and its attempts to build suspense with a number of strange plot twists and a major conflict that is infuriatingly based on a series of misunderstandings just falls flat. Worst of all, instead of addressing any loose threads, the film just throws some more unsurprising curveballs near the end to try and trick the audience into thinking its clever instead of just being poorly written.

When I first saw Swerve last year, I wasn't expecting much from it (especially since the last Australian movie I had seen was Drive Hard), yet it still somehow managed to disappoint me. I didn't absolutely hate the movie, but I have a feeling that might just be my Jason Clarke bias speaking, and for that reason I'll give this movie 0.5-1 star less than I'm currently thinking. I really don't think it's particularly good, and seeing this movie twice was, at the very least, one time too many.



If you don't mind bland thrillers with disappointing conclusions,
then Swerve can potentially keep your interest for 90 minutes.

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Black Sheep (2006)
Dir. Jonathan King
Starring: Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Peter Feeney

When you live in a country where the ratio of sheep to humans varies between 5:1 to 10:1, a crippling fear of those fluffy animals would be an incredibly inconvenient phobia to have. Unfortunately for the main character in Black Sheep, a cruel prank played on him as a child has left him terrified of those woolly mammals. However if you're thinking this film is a sort of smart, psychological adventure, then you're dead wrong.

Black Sheep is a horror comedy about violent zombie-like sheep whose bite will turn you into a were-sheep hybrid creature. Sounds completely ridiculous, right? Besides a couple of relatively hammy performances, the movie actually takes itself fairly seriously, though its straight face adds to the comedy instead of detracting from it. It's got a dirty and morbid sense of humour, as well as an abundance of violence and carnage, so I would not recommend it to the easily squeamish.


Besides a large helping of real sheep, the film features some really good looking sheep (and sheep-creature) animatronics and puppetry. Of course that comes as no surprise, given that the people behind the practical effects of Black Sheep worked on various costumes, sets, and creatures for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as created the exo-suits from Elysium (2013), with their Digital division working on films like Mad Mad: Fury Road, and Avatar (2009). Who would've guessed that such an odd movie would have such a respected pedigree behind it?

I first saw this movie a few years back, and since then I've managed to talk quite a few people into watching it, because even though you might roll your eyes at the ridiculousness of the story, Black Sheep is a novelty well worth watching for fans of the genre. It has plenty of gore and comedy to go around; just make sure you do not mistake it for the 1996 film with the same name.


+
If you're a fan of horror comedies and practical effects, then
you owe it to yourself to give this movie a chance.

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Hey Cosmic Runaway, I really like your reviews and profile! I'm attempting to start a film review youtube channel (we'll see how long that lasts)
Please check out my youtube channel Cinematicalamity
I'll check back in for more of your reviews!



Thank you. (:

Obviously I loved Dredd, but I can understand why a lot of people wouldn't like it. Even if you take the poor marketing campaign into consideration, its terrible performance at the box office sort of attests to the film's lack of appeal to most audiences haha.





Love Comes to the Executioner
(2006)
Dir. Kyle Bergersen
Starring: Jonathan Tucker, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jeremy Renner

Love Comes to the Executioner is a black comedy that tries to be unique and quirky, and while it does occasionally hit the mark, a few lacklustre performances and an overuse of Dutch angles really holds the movie back. I don't normally spend so much time giving a rundown of the plot, but since the Wikipedia entry for this film is just a single sentence that basically just says “it's a movie” and a cast list, I figured I'd write out a longer premise for anyone interested in tracking this movie down:

After graduating college with a degree in Classic Languages, Heck the main character, returns home hoping to pack his bags and leave the small town behind for good. Unfortunately, his plans goes awry when he's forced to stay home and look after his sick mother. However he finds it difficult to find a job locally, due to his lack of experience and because some of the town's residents worry that, due to his family's history, he has a genetic disposition towards murder.



That psychological profile works in his favour when he applies for a job at the Prison, though the job offer he receives is not what he expected. He accepts the Executioner's position partly because of the pay, but also to spite his brother Chick, voted “Most Likely to Commit a Heinous Crime” in their high school year book, who is an inmate at the prison and is sitting on death row. Due to budget cutbacks, Chick's ex-girlfriend is brought to the prison for execution as well, and when Heck begins to fall in love with her, things start to get complicated.

If you can track it down, this movie might just surprise you, however be warned that the best scenes are present in the trailer, and that the rest of the film really lacks the spirit of those moments. It's an oddity, in that it's only just strange enough to hold your interest, but it occasionally has some clever, satirical writing that makes it seem like it has potential, as well a pleasantly unexpected ending. It's definitely a very niche title, but even if you're not quite on board with the movie, if you can stick through it, Jeremy Renner singing “American Pie” makes the entire thing worthwhile.



Though likely difficult to find, Love Comes to the Executioner is the movie
for you if you'd like a black comedy that's dark, but not too alienating with
a story that's somewhere in between boring and unique.


Note: I apologize for the quality of the header. I'm trying to keep the image widths even, but couldn't find a large image online so I just took a picture of the DVD case because I was too lazy to hook up my scanner.

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Deep Shock
(2003)
Dir. Paul Joshua Rubin
Starring: David Keith, Simmone Jade Mackinnon, Mark Sheppard

Deep Shock is an original sci-fi horror film from Sci Fi Pictures, known now as SyFy Original Films. If you've ever seen a Sci Fi produced movie, then you know exactly the kind of quality to expect here. I own a disturbing amount of these movies on DVD, mostly because local video stores would sell used films (especially those in poor condition) for next to nothing, and the shelves were lined with various sorts of B-movies like those produced by the Sci Fi Channel, Asylum, or other independent distribution companies. While I'll probably get to a number of these in due time, for now I'll just focus on this one.

Deep Shock is not by any stretch of the imagination a clever film. I'd go as far as saying that it's actually incredibly stupid. We're led to believe that the United Nations would authorize a nuclear strike on an unknown, unseen disturbance in the Arctic Ocean in the hopes of curbing global warming. Sounds totally legit, right? Well, to make matters worse, the rise in temperature is being caused by giant electric eels capable of generating devastating EMP blasts, who are also sending transmissions into outer space. For some reason I'm more willing to believe the intelligent giant eels than the United Nations having nuclear weapons onboard a research facility.



The sets are actually surprisingly good looking, though I get the feeling that they may have been thrown together using recycled parts from other Sci Fi original productions. It's too bad that the CG effects are nowhere near being up to par, though that is pretty typical of Sci Fi Channel films. The eels look incredibly cartoonish, with the rest of the special effects not being much better. I do not usually complain about performances being “too acceptable”, but I feel that if the cast had done a worse job acting then the movie would at least be so bad it's hilarious. As it stands however, it's just boring.

I used to love trash films like this, but my tolerance for them has greatly diminished over the years. I still have piles of them I haven't even watched once, yet for some reason I watched this movie twice before, and once again today. I think I keep expecting it to be worse than it is, but instead of being hilariously bad, it's closer to being borderline competent. If you're curious, you have literally nothing else to do, access to SyFy, and they happen to run this film again, then maybe give it a watch. Just do not spend a single cent on it.



If you're a huge fan of B-movies and are looking for something of a cross
between The Abyss and Deep Blue Sea, then maybe check out Deep Shock.

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District B13/Banlieue 13 (2004)
Dir. Pierre Morel
Starring: David Belle, Cyril Raffaelli
Language: French

In a ghetto district blocked off from the rest of Paris by its enormous and encompassing concrete walls, the leader of a notorious drug-running gang get his hands on a nuclear bomb that threatens the safety of the entire city. In order to retrieve the weapon, an undercover cop has to team-up with a local resident looking to rescue his sister, who has previously been taken hostage by the gang as revenge for the brother's interference in their drug operation. While District 13 plays this set-up fairly straight, it doesn't take itself too seriously overall, and has a number of comedic moments to balance the otherwise foreboding nature of a plot involving a nuclear bomb.

The plot isn't particularly unique or even all that interesting, and the dynamic between the two lead characters, Leïto and Damien, is certainly something we've seen done before, but District 13's story and characters take a back seat to the action, and the film really shines whenever it really gets into motion. Despite their occasional absurdity, the action and chase sequences in B13 were performed pretty much as-is without the assistance of wires of green screens. And as you would expect from the founding father of parkour, these stunt performances are absolutely amazing to watch.



The director of B13 was the cinematographer for The Transporter (2002), Unleashed (2005), as well as Taken (2008), and B13 certainly has a similar look and feel to those movies, even with someone else directing the photography for this film. I love when action movies aren't afraid of warm colours, so the visuals in B13 really stand out against similar films that overly commit to the bleakness of dystopian settings. And for a film where the two main characters are played by stuntmen, the acting in District B13 is actually really good. While their rivalry is a little cliché, Leïto and Damien have decent chemistry on screen and work well together, so I'm willing to forgive their stereotypical behaviour.

I first saw B13 about 10 or 11 years ago and have watched it a couple times since then, yet to this day even simple sequences, like when Leïto jumps through a narrow glass window atop a door frame, never fail to impress me. Belle and Raffaelli succeed in daunting feats of athleticism that are a joy to watch regardless as to what you think of the plot, and even though the most impressive action scenes take place earlier in the film, there is more than enough residual kinetic energy to see the movie through to the end credits.



Do you like parkour and movies like Escape from New York? Then check
out District B13, but avoid both the sequel and the Canadian remake.


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i think this is the only review thread ive read through that doesnt have a single movie ive seen
great read though!
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Haha, thanks. I originally planned to have more of a balance between popular/well known films and the obscure ones, but it doesn't seem to have worked out that way.





Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
Dir. Tom Stoppard
Starring: Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Richard Dreyfuss

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, a film based on Tom Stoppard's absurdist play of the same name, follows the antics of the titular characters as they witness the events of Shakespeare's Hamlet unfold around them. In Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were summoned by the King in an effort to gather information about Hamlet's motives and to help determine whether or not the Prince was truly mad. Ultimately they were minor characters who had no real agency within the plot, so at face value a story with them as the lead characters seems rather odd.

However with the point of view reversed, we're treated to a quirky narrative where the characters are vaguely aware of their pointlessness and inability to control their own fate. Since they are not present when key moments of the Hamlet story occur, they are forced to wander around, lost, as major changes happen for seemingly no reason. Even though the film focuses on their perspective, they are still largely ignored by everyone else and treated as a single unit instead of as individuals, with the other characters unable to distinguish between the two of them. In a comedic fashion, even Rosencrantz and Guildenstern themselves have trouble remembering which name is their own.



The film is incredibly dialogue-intensive, with the pair almost constantly conversing about life, past or ongoing events, and philosophy as they stumble through their chaotic environment. As such, your enjoyment of this movie will depend entirely on how you feel about Tim Roth and Gary Oldman's performances. For me, both Tim Roth and Gary Oldman do a good job and have enough chemistry on screen together to make their scenes quite enjoyable. The characters themselves do lack the energy of the supporting cast, however, with Richard Dreyfuss' Player and even Iain Glen's odd Hamlet easily overshadowing the main cast.

It is possible that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are intentionally less interesting than the minor characters, in order to emphasize how inconsequential they are to the main plot, even when the story is told from their perspective. While the whole concept is fairly interesting, the film really does not make use of the medium, and has a boring, lacklustre atmosphere. If I didn't really enjoy both Tim Roth and Gary Oldman, I probably wouldn't have watched the entire thing. It may be that this story is much better suited for the stage, or perhaps the writer was the wrong person to adapt the material. Either way, the final product was just barely entertaining.



If you'd like to watch a play but don't want to go to the theatre, then
perhaps Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is the film for you.

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Kill Command
(2016)
Dir.: Steven Gomez
Starring: Vanessa Kirby, Thure Lindhardt, David Ajala

Released earlier this year to little fanfare, Kill Command is a science fiction action-thriller that follows a military unit training on a remote island facility that unbeknownst to them, is home to an advanced quantum warfare AI. This robot, known as a Study Analyse Reprogram unit, is capable of learning tactics from the human fighters and adapting that information to use against them. With communications to their base blocked, the team has no one to rely on other than an android from the corporation in charge of the operation, who may be withholding information from the others.

Aside from a couple of poorly done green screen shots, the effects work in this film is rather impressive, especially considering that it had a total production budget of just £1,000,000. It's not so surprising after you learn that Steven Gomez' background is in visual effects, but I've seen worse robots in big budget blockbuster films, so that's still a pretty big accomplishment. On top of that, the production design is solid, and the cinematography is far more professional than what I was anticipating from this kind of film.



Even though the story is following a very common formula, the film is fairly successful at pulling the whole thing together, mostly thanks to its notable visuals. However due to a lazy script, most of the characters are rather bland, and with frequently weak performances from some of the actors, the film is really dragged down by their lack of charisma and personality. The acting never really comes across as bad or amateur, but it does little to interest viewers or to elicit any emotional response when they're being hunted by the S.A.R. Unit and its drones.

The premise is simple, and unlike the antagonist AI, never evolves into anything more complex. If you've seen Predator (1987), Aliens (1986), or any one of the myriad of other action sci-fi films to come out over the past few decades, then you can easily predict exactly what is going to happen in Kill Command. However that predictability doesn't mean that the film is not worth watching. Other than a boring script, there's nothing inherently wrong with Kill Command, and with its lean runtime and interesting visuals, it's definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of the genre. Just be warned that it's nothing you haven't seen before.



Do you want Predator but with a bigger action finale? Then check out Kill Command.
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The Blood of Heroes/Salute of the Jugger (1989)
Dir. David Webb Peoples
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Joan Chen, Vincent D'Onofrio

Blood of Heroes is set in your typical post-apocalyptic wasteland, where a dangerous game serves as the primary source of entertainment and fame. While not referred to by any particular name in the film, the game played in Blood of Heroes is what happens when you mix a game of lacrosse with the world of Mad Max. Despite being written and directed by David Webb Peoples, who co-wrote both Blade Runner and Twelve Monkeys, Blood of Heroes is a film that seems to be relatively unknown. It did manage to inspire the creation of a real sport known as Jugger, that is thankfully not played with real dog skulls, but it doesn't garner much attention outside of those circles.

In the film, Juggers can make a living through tributes won by defeating local teams, provided they can survive long enough to reap the rewards. Once a veteran team has won enough trophies, they have the chance to impress the underground-dwelling aristocracy and earn a place in the League, where the most brutal players compete and are rewarded with a life of relative luxury. Blood of Heroes follows the story of Kidda, a villager from a poor dog town who dreams of proving herself worthy and earning that kind of prestige, as she attempts to join a travelling team lead by former League player Sallow. However Sallow is more concerned with survival than he is with redemption, and if Kidda wants to have a chance against a League team, she's going to need a lot of practice and guidance.



Visually, the film is incredibly reminiscent of the Mad Max series, with Beyond Thunderdome striking the most similarities in both aesthetic and general tone. I expected as much going into the film, given the fact that not only did cinematographer David Eggby work on the 1979 Mad Max, but the film's editor, Richard Francis-Bruce, also worked on Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. On top of that, both Blood of Heroes and much of Beyond Thunderdome were filmed in Coober Pedy, Australia, so even the landscape is familiar territory. I actually wouldn't be surprised if this film used leftover costumes and props from Thunderdome as well, though I can't find any information to support that claim.

Blood of Heroes doesn't add anything interesting of its own, and seems content to leech off the success of the Mad Max series with its style and similarly minimalistic dialogue. If it wasn't for Peoples' original game, this movie likely would've faded even deeper into obscurity not long after its release. That said, the action does certainly deliver on its promise of brutality, and the rules of both the game and the film's universe are easy to understand without any unnecessary exposition. Even the weakest performance is good enough to give the paper-thin characters some semblance of life, though the story and its execution are incredibly predictable and unadventurous. At the very least, if you're a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, you could do much worse than Blood of Heroes.



If you've ever wanted to see a girl play a game of Mad Max Lacrosse in the
hopes of winning a silk dress, then I can't think of a more appropriate film.

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My gosh Cosmic.............how in the hell you can even finish these films must be a testament to your fortitude.

It is nice to find a gem out of nowhere though.



If I was smart, I probably wouldn't watch half most of the movies I do. I have a pretty high tolerance for bad films, and occasionally you do get surprised or find something so bad it's brilliant, so it's worth the risk to me haha.



My reviews practically ground to a halt while I was playing Survivors VI and VII, but now that they're over I plan to write again on a more consistent basis. If anyone has any recommendations for me, you don't have to wait for the Chain Challenge to send them my way.