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The Sci-Fi Slob's Movie Reviews

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Tremors
Directed by Ron Underwood



Tremors is a classic B-movie monster movie, and one of my all-time favorite films. Set in a small Nevada town called perfection, the film mostly revolves around to local handymen, Valentine McGee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward). The two soon realize that the residents of the small are not alone in the baron dessert valley, when they discover a giant thirty-foot-long underground worm.

Ward and Bacon suit their characters perfectly, Ward being the grumpy old redneck and Bacon the cocky young cowboy wannabe. My favorite character, however, has always been Burt Gummer (Micheal Gross). A local gun enthusiast who had previously been mocked by the towns folk for his lifestyle, soon becomes their lifeline. My favorite scene of the whole film is the one when one of the Graboids breaks into Burt's basement, and he, and his wife Heather kill it with a hail of bullets from their sizable gun collection, with Burt eventually finishing the creature off with two blast of his Elephant Gun.

The practical special effects in the film were groundbreaking at the time and still look convincing to this day. You won't see any CGI in this film, which is a refreshing change, there's nothing like good honest practical effects. The only film that I can really compare it to in terms of practical effects is The Thing (1982).

The film is a mix of comedy, monster movie, and western - an unlikely mix of genres that works perfectly in this case. The comedy in the film comes from Val and Earls constant wisecracking, and also the over-the-top reactions and statements of the crazy gun-nut Burt. As well as comedy, the film has some genuine 'make you jump' moments, which are well-timed and put together. Everything happens at a brisk pace, maintaining the tension throughout - hence the 90 minute running time.

Tremors is a quick, fun, action comedy horror, which has cemented its place as one the best monster movies ever made (in my opinion).



Awesome Alien review! Definitely time to revisit that one. Looking forward to reading more of your reviews (I'm new here)



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The Sacrament
Directed by Ti West




The Sacrament is the third feature from Ti West, and is basically his take on the Jonestown massacre. The film follows two journalists shooting a documentary about a man's attempt to locate his missing sister, they eventually find her in a rural cult preparing for a mass suicide.

The two journalists are airlifted to a remote area in the forest and then driven by truck to the cult's camp. When reach the gate, they are greeted by three angry African men armed with machine guns (which doesn't put them off entering the camp). They are greeting by the man's missing sister, who is happy, a little too happy...to see them.

Soon after their arrival the journalists are invited to a town meeting by the leader of the camp, a man the cult members call "father". At the camp meeting the journalists interview the charismatic cult leader, when he tells them about his belief in the rejection of western values, capitalism and modern technology, and warns the journalists not to give the group a bad write-up in the paper or divulge any info on the camps location. Much like all cult leaders, "father" makes out that the camp is a utopia of sorts where the people are truly free. It turns out, however, that all is not well in utopia.

The one thing that irritated me was the stupidity of the journalists: even after his friend is abducted and killed by the cult leader, one of them remains trying to find the groups photographer and the man's missing sister. A one point he tries to escape on a chopper, only to be fired upon by the armed guards. So where does he flee to..? the woods, to a find a road maybe, the sky, anywhere but back to the dam camp! But that's where he goes.

The acting is pretty good and film was pretty well paced. As powerful as the subject matter is, the found-footage style added to the authenticity. However, the film loose its way and becomes a little predictable towards the end. After the cult members drink their the magic orange juice, it's just a loan survivor left roaming around aimlessly, hunted by the guards for twenty minutes before getting on the chopper.

The characters may have been infuriating at times and the ending all too predictable, but the The Sacrament is a well-made and disturbing edition the Ti West filmography.



love the film strips you've made for each entry
awesome reviews Sci-Fi Slob, keep it up!



Glad to hear The Sacrament is good, I'm looking forward to it. I'm a big fan of what I've seen by Ti West, House of the Devil is especially fantastic.



Non-Stop
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra




Flightplan ...I mean Non-Stop, is a fast-paced airline safety propaganda video disguised as a Liam Neeson thriller. Neeson plays an air marshall, who years early lost his daughter to cancer, so became a burnout alcoholic (just the kind of guy you'd want as an air Marshall).

The film starts with him necking some whiskey while sat in his car in front of the airport before proceeding the departure lounge - he is to be overseeing the security of a long-haul London to New York flight. After fifteen minutes of Liam Neeson grunting, and shuffling around the plane looking like a corpse, he eventually receives a troubling text message on his phone. The message is from and unknown source and says that they will kill one of the passengers if Neeson doesn't wire an inordinate amount of money into an offshore bank account. The fact that the would-be criminals would send such a demand to an Air Marshall is completely diabolical.

After a series of mysterious deaths on board the plane, Neeson becomes paranoid and soon begins to loose it. He starts searching passengers for the mobile phone that he has been received the messages from. It seems his only friend on board is Julianne Moore, who was sitting next to him when boarded the plane, though he suspects her at one point. The most unrealistic element of the film is how the passengers put up with Neeson's antics for so long. A crazed looking man running around a plane with a gun searching passengers without giving them any explanation.

The film will have you guessing who the culprits of the extortion/hijack are, and have you suspecting everyone. However, the section of the film where Neeson is searching for the phone is a bit silly, he stands in the middle of cabin looking at everyone to see if they 'look' like they're using a mobile.. Any criminal with half a brain isn't going to send a message while he's stood there.... He even has Julianne Moore and a stewardess highlight suspect passengers with maker pens on a security monitor! Plus, conveniently, Neeson meets a mobile phone programmer on the plane, and they come up with a plan to set up the suspect by send a photo message to his phone causing it ring.

Eventually, everything comes to a head, resulting in some tense stand-off scenes and a truly ridiculous scene involving a floating gun. Neeson and Moore's performances were ok, the rest of the cast were all unknowns and TV actors. Not a bad little thriller, lost it's way in parts, but finished well enough - a genuine three star, late night, drunken Netflix affair.



Flightplan ...I mean Non-Stop is a fast-paced airline safety propaganda video disguised as a Liam Neeson thriller. Neeson plays an air marshall, who years early lost his daughter to cancer, so became a burnout alcoholic (just the kind of guy you'd want as an air Marshall).
You're a funny guy, Slob.



The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Directed by Peter Jackson




And so we rejoin the Dwarfs and Bilbo on their journey towards The Lonely Mountain, to reclaim their homeland and slay the deadly, but rather charismatic, Smaug.

It's quite obvious from the start that Peter Jackson stretched the source material to the limit over this near three hour long adventure, resulting in a slightly disjointed story with an underwhelming ending. I don’t know if the special effects budget was an issue, but the CGI in some sequences looked cheap. The scene where Gandalf fights Sauron is the worst of all; the CGI on Gandalf during the distance shots was shocking. The effects were up and down throughout the film. The best sequence was the barrel river escape, and the scenes with Smaug were quite solid as well. One other that I noticed is that not all of the Orcs were actors, but instead cheap CGI versions. I wouldn’t mind if they were just soldiers in a huge battle scene, but these were main characters. The special effects in the final scenes seemed at bit dodgy as well - especially on the molten iron in the mines – it looked T2 T1000ish…

Not only were the special effects a bit ropey, but the dialogue seemed a bit cheesy in parts, especially during Thorin Oakenshield’s pontificating. Well, that’s my gripes out of the way, now to the plus points. Without Legolas and the rest of the elves having such a strong presence in the film, I don’t think it would have been have as enjoyable. The fights scenes with Legolas were the highlights of the film for me, especially the scenes in Lake Town. However, I do think they made his father Thranduil a little bit too camp. Some of the scenes where he was arguing with Thorin made me wonder if he was going to hit or kiss him.

Gandalf plays a more minor role in this film, going off on his own little quest under the instruction of the lady Galadriel, to discover the source of the darkness that hangs over Dol Guldur. As with The Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit is full of interesting minor characters, one of which is Beorn the shape shifter, who takes in Gandalf, Bilbo and the Dwarves and protects them from the Orc pack pursuing them.

When Bilbo and the Dwarves finally reach the Lonely Mountain it is left up to Bilbo to face Smaug. Whilst true to the book, I thought the scenes with Bilbo and Smaug did drag on for a little too long. However, the scenes following this with all the dwarves being chased around Erebor by the dragon, were quite entertaining. The end was a bit of a letdown. I was waiting three hours for a something amazing to happen, and it never did. All in all, a little hit and miss. Hopefully the third film will be the finale Tolkien fans deserve.



The Day The Earth Stood Still
Directed by Robert Wise




The Day The Earth Stood Still was made during the Cold War and directer Robert Wise created a warning message of sorts, and in his own way took the wider view of the global situation, by making one the greatest science fiction films ever made.

When I first saw this film I was taken by the simple yet powerful message it conveyed. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite books: Childhoods End by Arthur C. Clarke - a tale of an alien race arriving in a giant spaceship on a mission to rid the earth of war, famine and hatred.

The plot is fairly simple and direct: A visitor from another planet has come to warn us that we are too aggressive, paranoid and dangerous to ourselves and the other planets if we continue the nuclear arms race.

Klaatu, the alien visitor (played by Michael Rennie), is an instantly likable character. Having arrived on earth to a less then polite welcome, he escapes the clutches of the military and takes shelter in a guest house, where he befriends a young inquisitive boy and his mother, who eventually help him to complete his mission.

The great old school b-movie soundtrack and radio broadcasts at the beginning of the film set the perfect, foreboding atmosphere. One of the most iconic and memorable characters in sci-fi history is Gort, the giant robot guardian of Klaatu - an 8 feet tall clumsy looking thing wearing size 50 silver clogs - that's fifties special effects for you.

An easily accessible and enjoyable sci-fi classic and easily the best of the fifties, followed closely by Invasion of the Body Snatchers andThem!. The Day the Earth Stood Still is a truly timeless classic and a must watch.



Godzilla
Directed by Gareth Edwards




Well, where to start? To be honest, I’m still in shock. I was so looking forward to this after seeing the trailer, but what a monstrous disappointment it’s turned out to be (pun indented)

The title of the film should have been: Cloverfield Monster vs The American Army plus Godzilla. In the whole 2 hour running length of the film, Godzilla appeared 4 times, and for a total of about 20 minutes. The first half hour involves Bryan Cranston’s character searching the world for the monster that killed his wife when it attacked the nuclear plant she worked at 15 years earlier… He eventually discovers that the mysterious beast is being held captive at secret base, run by an annoying scientist played Ken Watanabe.

Watanabe and his scientific college (an annoying women who looks like a frog) advise the army throughout the film. They both seemed to have contracted ‘locked jaw’ because their response to any crisis or question was to look down at their feet, move slowly and dramatically towards to camera (jaws trailing on the floor), and state the obvious.

Everything happens at a thousand miles per hour leaving no time for character development or a discernible plot of any kind. There were the usual cheesy one-liners, ridiculous American army posturing, and lots of grunting and saluting – what you’d expect from an action film this – only worse.

The only highlights were the battles between Godzilla (in his rare appearances) and the Cloverfield monster. I have to admit, Gareth Edwards actually did a great job with the look of Godzilla . He looked much more like the classic beast we know from the Japanese films, and not like the giant iguana that Roland Emmerich crapped out.

Great monster battles and CGI don’t make up for a horrendous plot, though. And at times, I actually thought I was watching a Transformers film. Gareth Edwards may have been out of his depth with this - seeing as his previous films were low budget indie films - which is a shame because I really liked his first film Monsters. I hope that if there is to be a sequel, they will learn from their mistakes .



Edge of Tomorrow
Directed by Doug Liman



When I first saw the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow pop up on TV, with that cheesy music and slow motion battle scenes, I thought "oh god..not another Battle L.A!". But how wrong I was. This sci-fi action film has come out of nowhere into to my Top 3 films of the year, and will probably stay there till New Year.

Tom Cruise plays the unlikely role of a coward turned savior -- we are normally used to seeing this 5 foot 5 inch action dynamo playing the hero -- so it was a little strange to see him play such a character; his performance, however, was top notch.

Edge of Tomorrow is a rarity when it comes to summer blockbusters in that it is smart, well-written, funny,complex, isn't made by Marvel or DC, and most important, it makes sense. The main point everyone was discussing about the film was the time loop element, which I first thought would have made the film repetitive and boring, but the way it was incorporated into the plot created the opposite effect.

The visuals are outstanding. From the first D-day style battle scene to the thrilling final battle. The design of the soldier suits looks fantastic, giving it all a very near-future feel. I really liked the design of the aliens as well. But where it truly excels is in a handful of action sequences and some stunning set pieces.

The cast was pretty good. Emily Blunt was very convincing as the bad-ass soldier hero and Bill Paxton should of had more screen time - he was hilarious. Cruise was Cruise - great. He may have acted in some poorly written films recently (Oblivion not included), but he always puts in a solid performance.

Edge of Tomorrow is the surprise of the year. A well-made, fun, sci-fi action film, which has cult classic written all over it.



Good review sci-fi. Edge Of Tomorrow is definitely the surprise of the year for me as well. I agree with much of what you said although I rate it about a star lower. It has some third act issues, which is a complaint I use a lot for thrillers and blockbusters, but only because its true. I could see it making the tail end of my top ten this year.
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The main point everyone was discussing about the film was the time loop element, which I first thought would have made the film repetitive and boring, but the way it was incorporated into the plot created the opposite effect.
That was my biggest concern. I wasn't a fan of Source Code because of the repetitiveness, and I figured the same thing would happen in Edge of Tomorrow. Good to hear that isn't the case.

Edge of Tomorrow received better reviews than I expected and everyone I know who went to see it really seemed to enjoy it. I look forward to watching it at some point.
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