Summary: It should be one of the happiest days of Bernie Webber’s (Chris Pine) life. Becoming engaged to his girlfriend, the beautiful Miriam (Holliday Grainger), Bernie’s aim is to go to work at the Coast Guard station where he is stationed and go through the ritual of asking his boss, Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana), if he can get married.
As fate would have it though one of the worst storms to ever hit the United States strikes on that very day. Offshore two oil tankers split in half and while the Coast Guard rushes to save the crew of one they have no idea that another is in difficultly until the alarm is raised much later. As Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) battles to keep his crew alive Bernie finds himself being sent on a mission to rescue them, with a crew of his own –a crew that doesn’t trust him as his last rescue ended in the loss of life.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Craig Gillespie
Screenwriter: Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Casey Sherman (book), Michael J. Tougias (book)
Cast: Casey Affleck (Ray Sybert), Savannah Rae Allen (Eliza), Eric Bana (Daniel Cluff),Abraham Benrubi (George ‘Tiny’ Myers), Rachel Brosnahan (Bea Hansen), Danny Connelly (Dave Ryder), Alexander Cook (John Stello), Ben Foster (Richard Livesey), Jesse Gabbard (Domingo Garcia), Kyle Gallner (Andy Fitzgerald), Holliday Grainger (Miriam Webber), Beau Knapp (Mel Gouthro), Benjamin Koldyke (Donald Bangs), Keiynan Lonsdale (Eldon Hanan), John Magaro (Ervin Maske), Matthew Maher (Carl Nickerson), Graham McTavish (Frank Fauteux), John Ortiz (Wallace Quiery), Chris Pine (Bernie Webber), Michael Raymond-James (D.A. Brown), Angela Hope Smith (Catherine Paine), Josh Stewart (Tchuda Southerland)
Runtime: 117 mins
OUR THE FINEST HOURS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Sometimes when a film is released you just have to shake your head at what the distributors think they are doing with the film. Disney’s choice to release The Finest Hours in Australia with no media screenings and only in limited cinemas is a baffling one. Traditionally, disaster films always do well in Australia and not only that The Finest Hours is certainly not the kind of film that should be kept away from the film loving public as it is a film that has a lot going for it.
So often when a director and screenwriter team together to make a disaster film they fall into a familiar trap of trying to make the audience like the characters so much they pile a heap of back story into the film and the result is the disaster itself starting way too late into the film. That certainly isn’t a trap that Craig Gillespie and his team of screenwriters fall in to. Gillespie as a director is someone that certainly can’t be peg holed into a style of filmmaking. From the thought provoking Lars & The Real Girl through to the horror frights of Fright Night Gillespie seems to just make whatever film he damn well feels like and here with The Finest Hours he shows why he is a director that should be added to your list of ‘exciting directors in modern day filmmaking.’ He doesn’t muck around with tons of back story with The Finest Hours, instead the storm itself hits within the first half hour of the film, which means that Affleck and co and in peril before the ice in your Coke has even started to melt.
Surprisingly The Finest Hours also manages to raise the stakes on a number of levels. Not only are the crew of the oil tanker in great peril but Gillespie also makes in known in no uncertain terms that Bernie is being sent on a mission that he has badly unprepared for with a boss that has no clue what he is doing… he is being sent to certain death. Just to raise the stakes even more Gillespie then has the events happen not only through the eyes of Bernie and Ray but also from the perspective of Miriam, an innocent bystander who is forced to watch as the man she loves is being sent on an impossible mission.
It’s for that reason that The Finest Hours is a must see for those people that love good cinema. The suspense never lets up and Gillsepie masterfully directs intense scenes which sees Bernie’s small Coast Guard boat become a submarine as it plunges through the waves in front of it and the even more suspenseful scene during which Ray’s crew have to face the hard decision of whether or not to jump into the wild sea that has just claimed their tanker.
The team of screenwriters also have done enough with the screenplay to make the key characters here likable. You instantly care what happens to the likes of Bernie and Ray, while they even steer well clear of making Mirian a whiny character, something that you feel a lesser team may have accidentally found themselves doing. The screenplay and Gillespie’s directional style also allows the cast to have a little bit of free reign as well. A look between Chris Pine and Ben Foster as their characters race towards the wild sea says more than one ten pages of script ever could. Likewise watching Casey Affleck sit in the corner and calmly think while the rest of his ‘crew’ panic says more about his character than any back story ever could. While both of done some great work in films over the years The Finest Hour is the one film that really shows that Affleck and Pine are so much more than what we have seen from them in the past.
Through no fault of its own The Finest Hours is one of those films that is going to be overlooked by a lot of film goers simply because of the fact that it hasn’t been promoted properly. That’s sad when you realise that in a lot of ways this is a far superior film to something like The Perfect Storm… yes Craig Gillespie has somehow managed to create a classy disaster flick that demands a viewing by serious film lovers.
Summary: When young Detective Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) is moved into a tough squad of the Atlanta Police Department he is unaware that his new partner, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), is corrupt and working with a group of criminals including Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Russell Welch (Norman Reedus) and another corrupt officer, Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jnr.).
With the group running a series of robberies for Russian Mafia boss Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) they find themselves stretched to the limit and it is decided that the only way to pull off the hardest of the robberies is to have Triple 9 (Police officer down) call put across the airwaves. Their chosen target is Chris because they know his uncle, respected Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) will pull every officer onto the case.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: John Hillcoat
Screenwriter: Matt Cook
Cast: Terri Abney (Leah Green), Casey Affleck (Chris Allen), Armando Alonzo (Emilio), Michelle Ang (Trina Ling), Carlos Aviles (Fernando Rivera), Alexander Babara (Ben Feldman), Anthony Belevstov (Yussel Gotlib), Ian Casselberry (Gomez), Clifton Collins Jnr. (Franco Rodriguez), Luis Da Silva Jnr. (Luis Pinto), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Michael Atwood), Gal Gadot (Elena Vlaslov), Michael Harding (Walter Sims), Woody Harrelson (Jeffrey Allen), Karen Kaia Livers (Shanice), Anthony Mackie (Marcus Belmont), Blake McLennan (Felix), Valiant Michael (Sergio), E. Roger Mitchell (Smith), Teresa Palmer (Michelle Allen), Aaron Paul (Gabe Welch), Norman Reedus (Russell Welch), Terence Rosemore (Joshua Parks), Labrandon Shead (Sgt. Pete Nelson), Christiana Simonds (Christina), Michael Kenneth Williams (Sweet Pea), Kate Winslet (Irina Vlaslov)
Runtime: 115 mins
OUR TRIPLE 9 REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Yes it might be a year when we are getting films like Batman vs Superman and of course another Captain America film but one of the films I was most excited to see this year was Triple 9. Triple 9 looked like it would be interesting watch, not only did it have a stellar cast involved including two of my favourites Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet (who never normally chooses a bad script) but was also directed by John Hillcoat whose filmography contains films like TheProposition, The Road and Lawless all films that have revealed that he is gritty director certainly worth watching the work of. Throw in a healthy dose of Police corruption and this was well and truly on the road to becoming one of my fave films of the year. That was until I sat down and watched it.
To be honest Triple 9 isn’t a bad film, in fact many elements of the film do in fact work. Hillcoat is at his normal gritty best with some realistic action sequences in which a normal cops and robbers chase across Atlanta becomes something of violent beauty, while some of the urban shoot-outs will have the audience on the edge of their seat. The problem with Triple 9 though is that it tries to do too much and is sadly let down by a script that needed just a few more re-writes.
It’s not surprising to learn that Triple 9’s screenwriter Matt Cook is a first time feature writer. The idea behind Triple 9 is sound but still the screenplay itself has some very big holes. First of all there is way too much happening and too many of the characters are too similar, so similar in fact that some of the critics at the Melbourne media screening were turning to each other and asking ‘who the hell was?’ after the screening… never a good sign.
As a screenwriter Cook seems to created quite a good world with a massive amount of back story that just doesn’t come through during the film. Just how did Michael start having a relationship with Elena, what ended etc are just never fully explained. Then there are huge plotholes like if all the team need is for a Triple 9 call to go over the airwaves do they really need to shoot a cop or can they just ‘pretend’ a cop has been shot? A seasoned screenwriter would have known to have ironed out things like that during the writing process but sadly that is something that Cook has overlooked. Hillcoat does all he can to make the screenplay watchable but just falls short of making this a decent film.
Likewise the weak screenplay also leaves some of the cast floundering as well. Luckily Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet are there to save things. Affleck does a more than admirable job playing the fresh faced Chris, but it is Winslet that really excels herself. Casting Winslet as a Russian Mafia boss was a risky pick. A pick so risky that if she had failed she could have been looking at finding herself in Golden Razzie territory, luckily though she is up to the task and Winslet delivers another fine performance… this time showing that she can pretty much handle anything that is thrown at her.
Also up to the task is Harrelson who seems to borrow a little bit from his role that he had in Rampart. Those suffering though are the likes of Antony Mackie, Aaron Paul and Chiwetel Ejiofor who in roles where they are severely hampered by the fact that their characters are dangerously clichéd. Then there are poor Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer and Michelle Ang whose characters just seem to go missing for huge chunks of the film.
There is no doubt that with a little bit more work on the screenplay Triple 9 could have been a brilliant film. The poor screenplay unfortunately though leaves the audience asking too many questions and dumps this film right in the middle of a heap of other average films. While it may appeal to fans of The Shield don’t expect the writing of Triple 9 to ever lift it to anything near as brilliant.
Australian director John Hillcoat makes visceral, violent, dark and aggressively masculine thrillers, ranging from the bleak prison drama Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead through to the gritty outback western The Proposition, the apocalyptic journey into a heart of darkness with The Road or the prohibition era crime drama Lawless. And he seems to be able to attract A-list actors to work with him. Hillcoat’s latest film is another gritty and morally murky crime drama that is not for the squeamish or faint hearted. Triple 9 features a strong cast, some strong action sequences and a high body count. But it is also something of a disappointment given his body of work.
Written by first time writer Matt Cook, Triple 9 is set on the mean streets of Atlanta, Georgia, a lawless city full of crime and corruption where the gang and gun culture seems out of control. But the script itself raises too many questions and there are some gaping holes in the plot. Some of the dialogue is cliched, and the characterisation underdone.
When the film opens a carefully planned bank robbery is in progress. The thieves rob some money but their prime interest lies with a safety deposit box that holds some important documents vital to a Russian gangster incarcerated in a Siberian gulag. The thieves turn out to be a couple of former special forces operatives and a couple of corrupt cops. They have been blackmailed by the powerful Irina Vaslov (Kate Winslet, cast against type), the wife of the Russian gangster, into working for the Kosher Nostra, a criminal gang of Russian Jews. But Irina welshes on paying them, instead she forces them to break into a Homeland Security safe house, an even more secure location, to steal further incriminating evidence. The thieves plan to distract the police by killing honest cop Chris Allen (Casey Affleck).
On the trail of the daring brazen thieves is veteran detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), who happens to be Chris’s cousin.
The title comes from the police code for “Officer Down,” a code that sees police officers everywhere stop what they are doing and respond immediately to the distress signal. The film itself is full of some violent action, double crosses and revenge. But this contemporary heist thriller is also a morally empty film, and its seedy air of corruption and desperation reminds audiences of Training Day and the films of Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, etc).
Hillcoat certainly directs with energy and he maintains a fast pace throughout. He effectively ramps up the action with a superb urban shootout that imitates Michael Mann’s superb Heat, and an exciting adrenaline charged car chase on the city’s freeway.
Belgian cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis (the moody crime drama The Drop, etc) gives the film a grimy authenticity as he has shot the film largely using a restless handheld cameras to take us into the action. This is particularly effective in a couple of tense scenes. He has also shot in muted colours, lots of reds and blacks that is meant to intensify the mood, but the colour scheme also sometimes renders it hard to discern what is happening. The film has also been edited in that rapid, kinetic style by Dylan Tichenor (who has worked with the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson) which sometimes renders the action incomprehensible. And too many of the characters seems too similar and we never really get a handle on them and what makes them tick.
Strong performances from Affleck, Winslet and Harrelson bolster the film. Winslet steps into a role originally intended for Cate Blanchett (who wisely said “nyet”), but she adopts a convincing Russian accent and a cool icy demeanour. Affleck delivers one of his best perfomances yet as the fresh faced cop unaware of the corruption surrounding him. Harrelson is also good as the seedy and jaded veteran cop with an addiction problem, a role that has some similarities to his recent work in True Detective and the gritty drama Rampart.
Unfortunately, talented players like Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clifton Collins jr, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul and The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus find themselves stuck with cliched, one-dimensional characters ands do not leave much of an impression.
With its convoluted plotting and cliched characters, Triple 9 is unfortunately just another police action thriller that doesn’t really offer anything particualrly new or surprising.
John Hillcoat has an impressive back catalogue to show off. All of them tapping into a vein of masculinity being tested. Whether it be Ray Winstone saving face in The Proposition, Viggo Mortensen going above and beyond fatherly duties in The Road, or literally every cell mate in Ghosts… Of the Civil Dead. Based on a screenplay by Matt Cook, Triple 9 lets Hillcoat return to these themes and, well, triple them. Not always to great effect.
In Atlanta, Georgia, three professional criminals (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul) join up with two corrupt lawmen (Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins Jnr) to rob a bank at the behest of a Russian mob wife (Kate Winslet). She stiffs the group on their reward, politely and violently asking them do one last robbery for the sake of her incarnated husband.
Each of the man has a lot to lose, financially and personally, if they don’t steam ahead. Ejiofor, for example, will lose custody rights to the kid he’s fathered with Winslet’s sister. So, realizing that the robbery is impossible unless they come up with a big enough distraction, the decision is made to kill a cop on the day. With Atlanta’s police searching for a cop killer, they should have plenty of time to get in and out unnoticed. Enter Casey Affleck as Mackie’s new partner, who he clearly doesn’t care for.
Triple 9 is bolshy, angry and suffers from excess in all departments. With such a pedigree of cast on display, I haven’t even mentioned Woody Harrelson yet, it’s understandable the film wants to get plenty of bang for its buck.
This should be an ensemble piece, but it feels like Triple 9 can’t decide who its focus is. Is it Affleck stumbling around naively? Is it Mackie wrestling with his subconscious? Perhaps it’s Ejiofor battling to see his son. Triple 9 wants it to be all of them. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t achieve its goals.
Meanwhile, Hillcoat’s direction paints a suitably sweaty, gritty world lit in blue and red. At it’s best, it’s a reminder of Ghosts… of the Civil Dead. At it’s worst it’s Heat as directed by Michael Bay, where men are real chest beating men and women have minimal dialogue or clothing. That’s not an exaggeration as Triple 9 ensures that anyone remotely female is saved for background or wifely duties. It’s only really Winslet that manages to rise above the heap and she does so with an outrageous accent.
There is still a lot to enjoy here, with some breathtaking set pieces that suggest Hillcoat could be eyeing up an action movies as his next gig. But this is then clouded by overripe dialogue, undercooked characterisation and so much backstabbing it makes Wild Things blush. Please understand, this isn’t a bad film. It’s perfectly serviceable, but it is not what we expect from Hillcoat, who has proven in the past he can play with restraint. Enjoyable, but a bit of a misstep.
Triple 9, directed by John Hillcoat and containing a decent cast consisting of Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson and many more. Personally I am not one who is into all the Police and crime films but after seeing Triple 9 I must say that is a film that is definitely worth watching. The film opens with a bang consisting of a bank robbery and from that point on the film is non-stop action. There aren’t any big defying scenes of the film that consist of car chases and explosions but the film is very confronting when it comes to the criminal side of things. The film has a lot of graphic scenes which really gives the film a very dark feel to it. Some of the things I liked about the film was the story and the acting. The story itself had many twists and turns that you don’t see coming and it adds so much to the film when you see something you don’t believe would happen. The acting in the film from all the actors was incredible. The pure emotion that was seen on screen was great to me.
If your a fan of the Police and crime films this is a film that you really should go see.
Summary: Based on the hit novel by Rick Yancey The 5th Wave sees teenager Cassie Sullivan’s (Chloe Grace Moretz) world get turned upside overnight. One moment she is your typical partying High School student who has a crush on classmate Ben Parish (Nick Robinson) and the next moment everything changes as an alien race known as The Others begin four waves of attack on Earth.
Soon Cassie finds herself in a desperate bid to survive while trying to find her brother, Sam (Zackary Arthur) who has become separated from her and is now in the so-called safe hands of the military. But Cassie knows that nobody or nowhere is safe anymore and she will do anything to get back to her brother.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 14th January 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: J Blakeson
Screenwriter: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Rick Yancey (novel)
Cast: Zackary Arthur (Sam Sullivan), Cade Conan Ball (Oompa), Talitha Bateman (Teacup), Michael Beasley (Major Bob), Maria Bello (Sergeant Reznik), Bailey Ann Borders (Julia), Faneal Godbold (Trooper Fay), Nadji Jeter (Poundcake), Adam C. Johnson (Sergeant Webb), Scott Ledbetter (Officer Henry), Charman Lee (Ms. Paulson), Ron Livingston (Oliver Sullivan), Gabriela Lopez (Lizbeth), Alex MacNicoll (Flintstone), Flynn McHugh (Tank), Maika Monroe (Ringer), Chloe Grace Moretz (Cassie Sullivan), Johnny Otto (Dr. Osborne), Tony Revolori (Dumbo), Derek Roberts (Private Barker), Alex Roe (Evan Walker), Nick Robinson (Ben Parish/Zombie), Liev Schreiber (Colonel Vosch), Terry Serpico (Hutchfield), Maggie Siff (Lisa Sullivan), Parker Wierling (Jeremy)
Runtime: 112 mins
OUR THE 5th WAVE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner – there’s been no shortage of teen utopian flicks coming out the last few years and now there is a new kid in the playground – The 5th Wave, and boy does this kid have some bite. The 5th Wave doesn’t mess around, as some unsuspecting parents discovered in the screening I was in when they had to rush their kids from the cinemas after Chloe Grace Moretz gets shotgun friendly within the opening moments of the film. Yes this film’s a winner, but I just wish I’d had a better and longer time to get to know the characters.
Don’t get me wrong The 5th Wave delivers on all cylinders, in fact it has everything that a movie like this needs. The problem is that the story and the characters are so interesting I wanted to spend longer in their world. Instead of a two hour movie I would much rather have seen Cassie and her family put through trials for a longer period of time and had this become a television series that I could enjoy alongside The Walking Dead and Under The Dome. The first four waves of the attack happen so quickly in the film it seems the only way to do it true justice would be to have it happen over two or three seasons of a show.
Still credit needs to be paid to The 5th Wave as a film. Director J. Blakeson knows how to deliver suspense, he did it by the bucket loads in the haunting The Disappearance Of Alice Creed and here he teams up with a talented screenwriting team that among others features the talented Akiva Goldsman (yes the genius that brought us I Am Legend). Together these two set about making this film enjoyable for the same reason we loved Maze Runner… because they don’t hold back and as a result the story is more believable. Believability was really on their side as Cassie isn’t based in some far off world, her world is our world just with some alien attackers added. Blakeson and co then brilliantly have her face decisions that many of us would struggle to comprehend and the result is a film that has you on the edge of your seat throughout. Once the twists and turns start occurring in the plot you never know what is going to happen next.
The other thing that makes The 5th Wave work so well is that all the characters are relatable. Cassie isn’t your superhero archetype, instead she is the girl next door who suddenly finds herself having to fight for survival. Her instinct of wanting to protect her family is something that we all identify with and the audience very quickly finds themself ‘barracking’ for her. Sadly that same feeling takes a bit longer to generate with Ben as he missing for a huge part of the middle area of the film… still he is likable enough for it to come back and it would have been nice to have been able to spend more time getting to know him as a character.
The well written script and good direction from Blakeson also allows the young stars to shine. Chloe Grace Moretz is her usual stand-out best but unlike her role in Kick-Ass we do get to see a much softer side to her this time around as well. She is well supported by Nick Robinson and also Alex Roe who both announce themselves as stars of the future. A gruff performance by Liev Schreiber is also worth mentioning as he is at his menacing best.
One of the saddest things about writing this review is that I can’t tell you the real reason for why I loved The 5th Wave so much and that is for the twisted elements that exist due to the film’s plot turns and revelations. The 5th Wave is a good action sci-fi that has a little more bite than some would predict. Easy-to-warm-to-characters and an interesting storyline means the audience quickly feels part of this new world… so now we can only hope that this spins off into franchise so we can spend a little more time watching Cassie and co go up against The Others. Bring on number 2 please.
The 5th Wave, Directed by J Blakeson is a film adaptation from the popular novel written by Rick Yancey.
Chloë Grace Moretez (Cassie Sullivan) is the star of the film accompanied by a variety of young actors. Nick Robinson (Ben Parish), Alex Roe (Evan Walker), Zackary Arthur (Sam Sullivan) and Maika Monroe (Ringer) all play leading roles in the film.
The 5th Wave is the story of an alien race, known as The Others, coming to Earth and trying to claim the planet as their own. The Others attack Earth in a series of waves. The 1st Wave, lights out. All electrical appliances and vehicles are terminated from being able to be used by mankind. The 2nd Wave, Surfs Up. This wave involved tsunamis and flooding to occur all over the world and killing millions. The 3rd Wave, Pestilence. The Others increased the effects of the bird flu and infected the whole planet ridding Earth of those who were left, those who caught it at least. The 4th Wave, They Arrive. In this wave The Others come to Earth in human form and try to gather up the last remaking human’s by impersonating the Army. The 5th Wave… This is what the whole film is based around. Trying to stop the 5th wave from happening.
During the film I loved the acting by some of the cast members and I loved the aspect that Humans are so delicate and vulnerable to so many things and how the aliens used our vulnerabilities to kill us. The story itself was a good story. I felt as though it was dragging on a little bit towards the middle of the film but that’s just my personal opinion. Once a few plot twists were presented to the audience things really picked up in my opinion. Being the School holidays this is a great film to take the whole family to. Action, drama and romance are all included writhing the film so I think there should be an aspect of the film that everyone will enjoy.
Summary: Traumatised by a series of losses in her life the recently divorced Caroline (Lanna Olsson) finds herself suddenly living in a strange apartment alienated from everything she once took for granted. Surrounded by peculiar neighbours and with disturbing, inexplicable events increasing in frequency, Caroline struggles to make sense of her new circumstances. Is her mental illness getting the best of her? Is she just struggling to adapt to living alone? Or is there something more sinister at hand?
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Christian Hallman
Screenwriter: Christian Hallman, Mans F.G. Tunberg
Cast: Norah Andeson (My Jansson), Karin Bertling (Vera Brandt), Boel Larsson (Elsa Ullman), Harald Leander (Frank Mandel), Alida Morberg (Emma Trelkovski), Lanna Olsson (Caroline Menard), Rafael Pettersson (Johan Steiner), Linnea Pihl (The Girl)
Runtime: 81 mins
OUR SENSORIA REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The Scandinavian film industry has delivered some brilliantly hard edged movies over the past few years – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Let The Right One In spring straight to mind – and now horror fans are about to start raving about the release of a brand new film from Sweden with Sensoria certainly deserving to be described as one of the horror films of the years.
Directed by first time feature film director Christian Hallman (who is mainly known for his involvement with several film festivals across Europe) Sensoria is the kind of film that keeps you guessing while you are watching it and then stays with you for a long time after the final credits have rolled. Hallman sets up so many David Lynch like characters in the apartment building that when things first start happening to Caroline you can’t help but wonder is it the strange bossy lady, the blind man who quickly learns way too much about Caroline or the creepy Steiner who has date-rapist written all over him. About the last thing you actually expect is the twist that Hallman delivers, a twist that is so good that Sensoria deserves to be put into the truly memorable horror films category.
Sensoria really does show that Christian Hallman is a director to watch over the years. While many carry on about the fact that films like The Conjuring or Insidious have you on the edge of your seat, the weak amount of suspense that those films generate is nothing compared to what Hallman manages to create with Sensoria. Even better is the fact that he manages to do it without falling into that whole found-footage genre or having to rely on blood and gore to do what he wants to do… and that is send some chills down the spine of the audience.
Teaming up with Hallman here is cinematographer Janssen Herr who also helps give Sensoria the look and feel that makes it so special. Very few filmmaking teams in the world can make a simple thing like water dripping from a tap so eerie, but that is something that these two manage eerily well. Together Hallman and Herr actually make the apartment building a character in itself and at times you are left wondering whether it is the actual building that is the horror that is taunting Caroline.
Sensoria also allows some acting talent to burst onto the scenes as well. Lanna Olsson really reveals herself as an actress with great range as she plays the traumatised Caroline very well. Whether it be a suspenseful moment in a bath tub, a freaky encounter with a neighbour or even a dramatic scene in which she pours her heartache out to her best friend Olsson’s range allows her to never fall below par. She is also well supported by child actress, Norah Anderson who writes herself into horror film folklore and steals a lot of the scenes that she is performing in.
While it may have flown under the radar for many horror fans Sensoria is a film that needs to be checked out. Christian Hallman reveals himself as a horror director with a big future ahead of him while the films mash of Scandinavian horror and J-horror creepiness makes it a complete stand-out.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Sensoria reviews: Nil
Summary: Young filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her wannabe rapper brother Tyler (Ben Oxenbould) decide to visit their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) for the first time when their mother (Kathryn Hahn) decides to take some time out and go on a cruise.
At first the pair are excited about their visit and Becca decides that the trip would make a good subject for a documentary. However, things start to become creepy for the two when their grandparents start acting strange and they are forbidden to leave their bedrooms after bedtime. Is something sinister occurring?
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
There is no doubt about it the once promising career of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is on the rocks. He burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense but then came average films like The Happening which were quickly followed by some of the worst movies ever made – The Last Airbender and After Earth. Well it seems as though Shyamalan listened to the public and the critics because he has decided to do something very different with his latest film The Visit. He goes right back to the drawing board and has decided to make a low budget film with a cast of virtual unknowns.
Now that might be enough to make some people groan, but it seems to be the right decision for Shyamalan as returning to the basic style of filmmaking has meant that he has had to rely on a good script to impress the audience rather than millions of dollars worth of special effects. And I’ll admit it to my surprise he manages to pull it off very well with a film that has now even seemed to win horror fans… some of the hardest film lovers to impress.
Early on The Visit did have me wondering what the hell I had walked into as the character Tyler started to rap… yes rap like a poor man’s Eminem. After a while though I realised that Shyamalan had just inserted this to get some laughs from the audience or even to make this film a little bit different, no instead this was something that had been lacking from his films for quite a while – characterisation. With the important aspect of a screenplay welcomed back Shymalan then takes his audience on a journey that provides a more than enough scares along the way, with the odd chuckle and then delivers its payload with a twist that actually drew sounds of amazement and fear out of the audience I was sitting with. Yes Shymalan has not only managed to deliver a horror with a mix of comedy, but also made that a damn good horror film at the same time.
It does feel that The Visit’s fairytale style story allows Shyamalan to take a journey make to his childhood and he mostly seems to do this through the character of Becca who you can easily imagine is the female version of what the wannabe-filmmaker teenage Shymalan would have been like. Maybe it’s because of this personal touch or perhaps because the film actually works but this was one time when the ‘found footage’ style of filmmaking didn’t make me want to leave the cinema.
Of course one of the dangers of making a low budget film with no names acting is that the acting is going to be below par but that certainly isn’t the case here. Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan bring a brilliant level of creepiness to this film while the young Australian stars Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge put in mature performances well above their ages. This is something that fans of Australian television series Puberty Blues have come to expect from Oxenbould and he continue to shape himself to be one of the big international stars of the future.
Well its official people, it has taken a few bombs along the way but M. Night Shyamalan is back with one of the most impressive horror flicks of the year. The back to basics storytelling approach that Shyamalan takes with The Visit results in a horror flick with an amazing twist that is guaranteed to provide a few scares for its audience.
The following is David Griffiths’ second The Visit review which originally appeared in Heavy Magazine
While it may have been bombarded by the amount of blockbusters that have been released recently new horror thriller The Visit is actually a film that has a lot riding on it – the most important thing being the career of its writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. Shymalan was once the talk of Hollywood thanks to the fact that his film The Sixth Sense was classed as a classic, but since then Shyamalan has never reached those heights again and his past two films The Last Airbender and After Earth saw him get crucified by critics and film lovers so badly he now needs a hit film to get some credibility back.
The Visit is a brave choice for Shymalan. It has a small budget, stars virtual no-names and decides to mix comedy and horror together – two genres that sometimes meet to create little more than a car crash. Shymalan’s The Visit presents itself like a fairytale. A mother (Kathryn Hahn – We’re The Millers) reluctantly allows her children, budding filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge – The Sisterhood Of Night) and wannabe rapper Tyler (Ed Oxenbould – Puberty Blues), to go and stay with her estranged parents. But then when the two kids arrive they find that Nana (Deanna Dunagan – Have A Little Faith) and Pop Pop’s (Peter McRobbie – Lincoln) behavior is strange to say the least.
The great news horror fan is that The Visit sees Shymalan back at his creepy best. He takes some huge gambles with this film and luckily they all pay off. Sure early on when young Tyler bursts into some pretty ordinary rapping you might groan but stick with it because that is just setting up his character and soon you find yourself embedded in an old style horror film that actually has enough scares to have you jumping in your seat. Oh and there is one hell of a twist that will leave you screaming WTF!!! Yes, it is such a surprise you will actually say it out loud.
Even the fact that this is largely a ‘found footage’ film doesn’t hold it back and for once a screenplay actually manages to include a few humorous parts into what is actually a pretty frightening horror film. Young stars Olivia DeJone and Ed Oxenbould do Australia proud and once again cinema fans can start to get excited about a film with the name M. Night Symalan attached to it.
Summary: Set in Melbourne in the mid-1970s, Cut Snake tells the story of Sparra Farrell (Alex Russell), an ex-con in his twenties trying to make a life for himself in a new city. He has found honest work and becomes engaged to the beautiful Paula (Jessica De Gouw). But the prospect of his new life is challenged when the charismatic, dangerous Pommie (Sullivan Stapleton) tracks him down. Sparra finds himself drawn back into a world that he thought he had left behind.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Tony Ayres
Screenwriter: Blake Ayshford
Cast: Ricahrd Anastasios (Wayne), Syd Brisbane (Ben), Christopher Bunworth (Mr. McGrath), Jessica De Gouw (Paula), Luke Elliott (Bruce), Megan Holloway (Yvonne), Graham Jahne (Len), Catherine Larcey (May), Paul Moder (Carl), Robert Morgan (Duck), Alex Russell (Sparra Farrell), Jim Russell (Neil), Sullivan Stapleton (Pommie), Brett Swain (Boss), Rosie Traynor (Mrs. McGrath), Antonius Verlaan (Bear), Kerry Walker (Mrs. Farrell)
Summary: When FBI Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), her partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) and her boss, Jennings (Victor Garber) accidentally uncover a Mexican drug cartel’s house of death Kate suddenly finds herself thrust into a brand new, very dangerous world.
With Jennings’ blessing Kate finds herself recruited to join a black-op mission led by special Agent Matt graver (Josh Brolin) and a Columbian operative known only as Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). The mission soon sees Kate very much in the middle of the borderland drug war in a word where there seems to be no rules whether you are on the side of good or evil.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Screenwriter: Taylor Sheridan
Cast: Edgar Arreola (Guillermo), Jon Bernthal (Ted), Emily Blunt (Kate Macer), Josh Brolin (Matt Graver), Julio Cedillo (Fausto Alarcon), Benicio Del Toro (Alejandro), Laurence Scott Deveraux (Alex Driver), Jeffrey Donovan (Steve Forsing), Victor Garber (Dave Jennings), David Garver (Bob Fisks), Maximiliano Hernandez (Silvio), Daniel Kaluuya (Reggie Wayne), Lora Martinez-Cunningham (Jacinta), Jesus Nevarez-Castillo (Eliseo), Hank Rogerson (Phil Coopers), Bernardo P. Saracino (Manuel Diaz), Boots Southerland (U.S. Marshall Keith), Adam Taylor (U.S. Marshall Kevin), Matthew Tompkins (Jessie Garza), Raoul Trujillo (Rafael), Kevin Wiggins (Burnett)
Runtime: 121 mins
OUR SICARIO REVIEWS & RATINGS:
No I’m not chucking in my card to the Comic Book And Cult Film Lovers Association but one of the films I was most looking forward to this year was Sicario. Yes I am not too embarrassed to admit that the fact that a certain director is at the helm of a movie is sometimes enough to make me wanna see a film and that was certainly the case here. See to me Denis Villeneuve’s last film was a cinematic masterpiece. I can watch Prisoners over and over again and find something new that I like about each time, add that to the fact that Villeneuve was directing a borderland crime film starring Josh Brolin and yes Sicario had me at hello. My biggest fear for Sicario was that Hollywood would have claimed Villeneuve and that he would decide to rope in his grittiness and harshness, luckily that certainly isn’t the case here.
Many have labeled Sicario a blockbuster for this year, yet that title just doesn’t seem to fit comfortably with this film. This film is harsh, bloody harsh and it’s not hard to see that the popcorn set are going to struggle with the film’s brutal opening in with Kate finds a house that contains more dead bodies than your local morgue. And in typical Villeneuve fashion he doesn’t make it easy watch for its audience, no as he goes in for the close-up on a decaying man’s face you are well and truly aware of the fact that while he is making a Hollywood film he certainly hasn’t been claimed by Hollywood.
Visually Sicario is a blessing. Villeneuve along with DOP Roger Deakins have made this movie look like some kind of modern day western with it’s yellow tinge and cinematic aerial desert shots, and somehow that works wonders with Brolin and Del Toro cruising around like modern day Sherrifs seeking vengeance. Sadly though Sicario’s screenplay isn’t always as good as the visuals the audience are being treated to. Unlike Prisoners this film has some weak points that leave the audience shaking their head, nothing major but little moments like Kate picking up the Police Officer in the bar… isn’t it just too much coincidence that her partner would just happen to be good friends with the guy?
Still there are powerful moments in Sicario, moments that are so powerful that they will stick in your mind for ages. From the fact that this is a very much anti-Mexican tourism video as Villeneuve takes you past bodies hanging from Mexican border-town overpasses to suspenseful scenes such as the border battle which will have any cinema lover watching with baited breath. Then there is the magnificent finale with Del Toro and a dining table… I’m not going to say anything else but that as I don’t want to spoil the film… but hell it is one of the most suspenseful scenes you are going to see in cinema for a long, long time. Adding to the suspense all throughout this film is the pounding soundtrack that simply becomes a character upon itself.
Now you may have heard some people criticize Emily Blunt’s acting performance in Sicario. Don’t believe it. She puts in a great effort and those complaining about her performance are simply looking for something that doesn’t need to be there. Kate is not Lara Croft in a Police uniform. She’s a very innocent but good at her job cop normally used to dealing with hostage situations who suddenly finds herself thrown into a world she just doesn’t understand. Anyone that goes into this film expecting Blunt to be the gun-ho character she was in Edge Of Tomorrow is going to be disappointed, it’s just not what Kate is.
Then there is Brolin and Del Toro who knock their performances out of the park. Brolin is gruff and rough as you expect him to be and is well backed up by Del Toro who has an air of mystery about him from the moment he first appears on the screen here. Some of the Del Toro’s performances have been a little questionable recently (no I still have not recovered from that scene with him, Diaz and a windshield in The Counselor) but here he bounces back with a brutal performance and for once he doesn’t over act his way through it. He’s just on song.
If you’re a fan of Denis Villeneuve’s past films you are certainly not going to be disappointed by Sicario. It is brutal, rough and in-your-face, just the way a crime thriller should be. Brolin and Del Toro bring their A-Games and this is one film that is a must see for 2015.
Summary: Based on actual events London Road looks at the reactions of local residents in a quiet street named London Road in Ipswich whose peaceful neighborhood was at first disturbed by the arrival of prostitutes deciding to sell their trade in their street and then the craziness and fear that resulted after a serial killer murdered five of the woman.
With a script that has dialogue that comes straight from the interviews conducted with the residents over a three year period London Road explores how everyday people such as a taxi driver named Mark (Tom Hardy) and local residents like Dodge (Paul Thornley) and Julie (Olivia Colman) cope with the resulting media and Police circus.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Rufus Norris
Screenwriter: Alecky Blythe
Cast: Angela Bain (Kath), Rae Baker (Anglia Newsreader), Jason Barnett (Chris Eakin), Gillian Bevan (Colette McBeth), Clare Burt (Jan), Steve Carroll (Tony – Kerb Crawler), Olivia Colman (Julie), Rosealie Craig (Kelly McCormack), Calvin Demba (Alec), Anita Dobson (June), James Doherty (Seb), Kate Fleetwood (Vicky), Hal Fowler (David Crabtree), Michael Fox (Nightclub Bill), Richard Frame (Jason Photographer), Jenny Galloway (Margaret), Jonathan Glew (Steve Cameraman), Amy Griffiths (Sarah), Anna Hale (Jessica), Tom Hardy (Taxi Driver Mark), Linzi Hateley (Helen), Janet Henfrey (Ivy), Rose Hilal (Hayley), Paul Hilton (Tim), Nick Holder (Ron), Ruby Holder (Stephanie), Philip Howard (Bob), Sean Kinglsey (Alan), Mark Lockyer (Grahame Cooper), Helen Lymbery (Stella), Barry McCarthy (Harry), Jayne McKenna (Imelda), Claire Moore (Counciller Carole), Michael Shaeffer (Simon Newton), Mark Sheals (Wayne), Nicola Sloane (Rosemary), Frank Stone (George – Kerb Crawler), Paul Thornley (Dodge), Morgan Walters (Graeme), Howard Ward (Terry), Duncan Wiseby (Gordon)
Runtime: 91 mins
OUR LONDON ROAD REVIEWS & RATINGS:
London Road is not an easy film to talk about because to be brutally honest this is a film that is going to divide cinemagoers like no other film this year. On the one hand London Road is a breath of fresh air in the cinema, a type of film that we haven’t really seen before. But then on the other hand all the things that make it so different are also the things that are going to make this film appeal to a very small audience indeed.
For those not in the know London Road is based on the popular National Theatre production that had critics and audiences raving. Now the name National Theatre shouldn’t be foreign to cinema lovers any more. Over the past few years the theatre company have reached out into cinemas with countless productions that have featured some of cinemas’ biggest names – Danny Boyle directed Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch in Frankenstein, Kenneth Branagh directed Macbeth and Gillian Anderson starred in A Streetcar Named Desire. With these productions filling cinemas worldwide it is very little wonder that the National Theatre have decided to look at other ways to bring their work to the cinema and the result is London Road, a film that is produced by them, stars most of their actors and is directed by Rufus Norris, a Tony nominated theatre director who has had a few films reach the cinemas over the years as well.
Now this is where things get tricky for London Road. The idea of creating a modern day musical about a spate of prostitute murders is so different to anything we have ever seen before that it is actually something that is worth watching. At times the film does really draw you in but the alternative style of musical theatre that makes up the score never really allows its audience to comfortably forget the fact they are watching a musical. The key to a good musical films – things like Sweeney Todd, Moulin Rouge or Rock Of Ages – is to make the audience forget that most of the dialogue is being delivered in song, but here the fact that the songs often contain the one piece of dialogue used over and over again, and the fact that in trying to make this film feel natural they haven’t selected the best singers in the world means that for the entire film you are conscious of the fact that you are watching a musical.
On the plus side though London Road is different enough that it does draw you in. You genuinely feel sorry for the innocent members of the public that through no fault of their own got swept up in this Ipswich Ripper case and at times the directional hand of Rufus Norris does creatively show things such as how scared young girls were scared to walk down the street or were judging every man they meet. Moments like a radio station capitalizing on the murders by running a promotion giving away personal alarms for women are memorable but the most powerful part of this film is when you start to hear the stories of some of the prostitutes who worked in London Road at the time and the effect that the murders had on them.
Aside from those moments the other thing that works for London Road is the fact that there will be one or two characters that each audience member will warm to and you find yourselves really wanting to go on the journey with them. Dodge played by Paul Thornley is one such character and he is one of the more interesting characters. Unfairly you sometimes wonder if he is the killer because of his appearance and seemingly unhealthy obsession with the prostitutes early on the film, and as a result characters like this become a lot more interesting then people like Mark who you know have only been added to the film to get a big name actor like Tom Hardy into the film. While these appearances are a little unnecessary we do learn rather quickly that it’s a good thing that Nolan didn’t want Hardy to portray a musical version of Bain.
London Road is a film that is only going to be lapped up by a very small clique of audience members. Its musical stylings are a little too alternative for you traditional musical lovers while the film is too musical for lovers of alternative cinema. It’s quite a pickle the film finds itself in, but the core problem is that the filmmakers didn’t seem to realise that audiences are a lot more open to alternative theatre than alternative film. Still London Road is worth a look if you like your cinema on the quirky side and it certainly shouldn’t be described as a bad film.
Summary: As Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) dreams of the days he actually got to fly a fighter jet instead of being bunkered down in Las Vegas at the controls of drones flying bombing raids in Afghanistan he turns to alcohol while on a crash course of ruining his marriage to his wife, Molly (January Jones).
His and his team’s, which features newbie ‘pilot’ Airman Vera Suarez (Zoe Kravitz), hell continues when he is ordered by his superior, Lt. Colonel Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood) to follow a new set of orders from the C.I.A., orders that will see a rise in the number of innocent civilians killed.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th August 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Andrew Niccol
Screenwriter: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Jake Abel (M.I.C. Joseph Zimmer), Sachie Capitani (Jesse Egan), Rich Chavez (A1C Thomas Rutledge), Peter Coyote (Langley), Stafford Douglas (Billy), Bruce Greenwood (Lt. Colonel Jack Johns), Jessica Stotz Harrell (Airman Jean Jacobson), Ethan Hawke (Major Thomas Egan), Colin Jones (Frank), January Jones (Molly Egan), Corey Kapahulehua (Senior Airman Miller), Dylan Kenin (Capt. Ed Christie), Zoe Kravitz (Airman Vera Suarez), Zion Rain Leyba (Travis Egan), Ryan Montano (Airman Roy Carlos), Kristen Rakes (Iris), Edric Ray (Airman Steven Willer), Ross Shaw (Lt. Drier), Michael Sheets (Danny), Alma Sisneros (Emily Jones), Kevin Wiggins (Trooper Morgan)
Runtime: 102 mins
OUR GOOD KILL REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Good Kill is the kind of the film that the United States Armed Forces do not want you see. Sure there are some conspiracy theorists out there who are claiming that this is the reason that Good Kill has been ‘hidden away.’ Make of that what you want but the history of Good Kill to date is kind of surprising. It launched to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival and then seemed to just disappear after a dismal opening weekend in the United States where it just scraped over the $1000 mark (yes I mean $1000 I haven’t left any zeroes off it).
Now whether or not you believe that The Smoking Man made this film disappear or whether or not it was a case of people staying away because of either the fact that Ethan Hawke’s movies are normally hit or miss these days (you could be excused for placing a Hawke ban on yourself if you had just seen Getaway) or that this from director Andrew Niccol that’s last film was the dog named The Host. Whatever the reason people did stay away from Good Kill and in doing so missed one of the film’s of the year.
Good Kill is one of those films that not only stays with you a long time after the credits have rolled but also opens up your eyes to something that you didn’t even realise was happening. The war is Afghanistan is almost forgotten these days but through this film Niccol is able to shake the public into seeing a hidden side of this war, a side that is not only seeing the lives of innocents lost in a country far away but a side that is also seeing the lives of former combat heroes ruined on the home front.
As the director and screenwriter of Good Kill Niccol expertly draws his audience in by making his audience believe early on that this is going to be a film in the vein of Top Gun, a film that glorifies the Armed Services. Early on we introduced to Thomas Egan and we see him as the Air Force pilot that is considered a hero by those around him, drives a hotted up American muscle car and goes home each tonight to the drop dead model-like wife. But through a series of events Niccol pulls that all away and soon the hero of this film is being forced to watch a graphic rape 7,000 miles away that he can do nothing about and is wasting away in a job that has having a seriously negative affect on his life. To Niccol’s credit he does ‘nice up’ this film for his audience, instead he makes his audience watch the some horrors that Thomas and co are watching and he strongly makes the point he is trying to make without making it feel like he is preaching to his audience.
You can say a lot about Ethan Hawke as an actor. Sure he doesn’t always know how to pick the best script but when he is given a quality script to work with he does deliver. Here is one of those times. Good Kill sees Hawke play the falling hero exceptional well with the scenes he shares with Bruce Greenwood being some of the best scenes you are likely to see on the big screen this year. To the film’s credit it gives some bite to the roles of its female cast and as a result you see some strong acting from January Jones and from Zoe Kravitz who for once is stepping away from the big action blockbusters.
Good Kill is not always an easy film to watch. The graphic rape and bombing raid footage might be a little hard to stomach for some but this is a film that you feel that you must see to realise just how frightening this new X-Box style of war using drones really is. Credit must be paid to Niccol for not holding back, he instead makes his film as stark as the Las Vegas desert landscape he captures so well. If you like a film that makes a strong political point than Good Kill is one film you need to watch this year.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Good Kill reviews: You can listen to our Good Kill review on an upcoming episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show. You can also read our Good Kill review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.
Summary: Ten years after the initial outbreak and the Infected Zone now spreads right across the world. Already stretched to the limit trying to control that the U.S. Army suddenly becomes alarmed at the amount of insurgency occurring in the Middle East. Soon young soldiers like Michael Parkes (Sam Keeley) and Frankie Maguire (Joe Dempsie) find themselves deployed to the region to take on both aliens and insurgents alike.
However, the situation is a lot worse than what leaders like Sergeant Forrest (Nicholas Pinnock) and Noah Frater (Johnny Lewis) anticipated and soon the group find themselves severally undermanned and under prepared for the situation leaving them dangerously outnumbered and their lives are threatened.
Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A
Australian DVD Release Date: 1st July, 2015
Country: United Kingdom
Director: Tom Green
Screenwriter: Tom Green, Jay Basu
Cast: Phillip Arditti (Khalil), Sofia Boutella (Ara), Michaela Coel (Kelly), Lulu Dahl (Lena), Joe Dempsie (Frankie Maguire), Johnny Harris (Noah Frater), Sam Keeley (Michael Parkes), Jesse Nagy (Ryan Conway), Nicholas Pinnock (Sergeant Forrest), Parker Sawyers (Shaun Williams), Kyle Soller (Karl Inkelaar)
Runtime: 119 mins
OUR MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT REVIEWS & RATINGS:
When the original Monsters film hit our screens in 2010 it took the world by storm. How the hell did director Gareth Edwards manage to create such a masterpiece of a monster film on such a low budget and with such a short shoot? The film has deservedly become a cult favorite over the years and while the talk over further films in the series always bubbled under the surface it never seemed like it actually would happen because even Hollyood as impressed by Edwards and soon had him working on Godzilla and of course a Star Wars film.
Not one to disappoint fans though Edwards decided to further the series as a producer (along with the first film’s leading man Scoot McNairy) and placed first time feature director, Tom Green in the director’s chair. A quick glance of Green’s directional Resume though seemed to worry more than a few fans of the series (he is mainly known for directing several episodes of Misfits) but they need not have stressed because Monsters: Dark Continent ends up being a brilliant film.
The first thing that hits you about Monsters: Dark Continent is that Green has not made a pure monster film. Somehow Green manages to brilliantly interweave the monster genre and the war genre together in a way that most filmmakers would be extremely jealous of. The film actually opens with some beautifully written scenes that make you feel like you are watching a documentary about soldiers preparing to go to war. The dialogue is no natural that any screenwriter will be envious of how the scenes turned out, but meanwhile the fans of the series will be thinking ‘well that’s nice but where are the monsters?’
Some monster film fans will probably decide that there just isn’t enough monster scenes in this film, but I tend to disagree. Instead I found myself marveling at how Green does manages to intermingle both the monster and insurgents storylines watch the battles start in the Middle East. Green has this knack of making the audience concentrate on a battle between soldiers and monsters and have you forget all about the insurgents until they show up out of nowhere and then the same happening vice versa. It’s a nice twist and go way for Green to make a strong political statement as well. Talking of twists Green also introduces an interesting theme later on about the native tribes and the monsters which could create an interesting storyline for the next film.
The no-show of any A-listers in the cast also doesn’t hold back the film either. Sam Keely leads the way with a brilliantly natural performance that enhances the docco feel in the early stages of the film. Keely does more than enough here to show that like McNairy he could use this franchise to shoot himself off to be a much sought after Hollywood actor. He is also well supported by Joe Dempsie, another star on the rise, and Johnny Lewis who comes to the fore when his character is cracking mentally.
Monsters: Dark Continent is a film that will take you completely by surprise. Director Tom Green announces himself as a director to watch as he expertly melds the monster and war genre together and ends up with one of most realistic war films since Black Hawk Down. Monsters: Dark Continent is a great little cult flick that really delivers.