Friday, June 16, 2017

Movie Review: Hologram Man

Hologram Man a.k.a Cyber Killer
PM Entertainment Group Inc., USA, 1995.

Naughty bad terrorist Slash Gallagher (Evan Lurie) causes trouble for rookie Lieutenant Decoda (Joe Lara) and his rulebook trashing Chief Wes Strickland (John Amos). Slash is going to assassinate Governor Stan Hampton (Alex Cord) and despite the best efforts of Decoda and Strickland he succeeds. 
Joe Lara
Evan Lurie
Slash Gallagher
Slash is sentenced to biopersonal rectification programming in holographic prison (umm, okay). In near future that is the hottest hot in correctional facilities. While Slash is in prison, huge Biodome is build above the city. There are flying cars and stuff. Crime is increasing and the state has become totalitarian. CalCorp company boss Jameson (Michael Nouri) rules with iron fist. The laws are so strict that no one is allowed to skip watching the news. Decoda abandons Lorenzo Lamas-look and adopts Nicholas Cage's look from "Con Air." Slash's friends One-Eye (Nicholas Worth) and 8-Ball (Tommy 'Tiny' Lister) hack the prison system with traitor Manny Giggles (William Sanderson) and Hologram Man escapes. 
Evan Lurie
Hologram Slash
Joe Lara
Decoda five years later
Arabella Holzbog
Decoda and his cop partner Andy Carradine (Anneliza Scott) try to stop Slash but it is impossible as Slash is bsically a ghost. To interact with objects slash needs a rubber skin. Slash uses psychotic liberty fighter tactics to topple the government. Decoda's ladyfriend Natalie (Arabella Holzbog) is a scientist whose father created the Holographic Prison, so maybe she can balance the unfair advantage.
Anneliza Scott
Nicholas Worth
Tommy 'Tiny' Lister
There is a vehicle that has the same function as Slicer in H.B. Halicki's uncompleted "Gone in 60 Seconds 2." Lot's of location are the same as in "Cybertracker" or "Cybertracker 2" and the shoot-out in a warehouse looks eerily familiar too. Some cost-cutting had to be made as there is a lots of action with enough firearms to start a small civil war, explosive car stunts and cheesy 1990s virtual reality effects. The futuristic world looks more enthusiastically (but cheaply) made than in usual low budget direct-to-video films. It doesn't make it a great film but it is quite impressing how many weird futuristic ideas Pepin and Merhi were able to include in the story. Biodome, VR-combat training arena, wild holographic technology, fullbody rubber masks and evil mega-company, and an insane amount of explosions. The silliness of the plot can be forgiven as the entertainment value (both intentional and unintentional) is good.
Cyber killer
Rocket cars!
Michael Nouri

The Finnish DVD suffers from bad and broken subtitles


Starring: Joe Lara, Evan Lurie, Michael Nouri, John Amos, Tina Arning, Tody Bernard, Rod Britt, Chuck Butto, Joseph Campanella, Alex Cord, James Daughton, Arabella Holzbog, David Kagen, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, Jim Maniaci, Derek McGrath, Kathrin Middleton, Stephen Quadros, Scott Riddle, William Sanderson, Anneliza Scott, Michele Smith, Paul G. Volk, Nicholas Worth, Cole S. McKay
Director: Richard Pepin

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Movie Review: Wyrmwood

Wyrmwood a.k.a Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
Screen Australia, Roache-Turner Brothers, Guerilla Films, Australia, 2014.

Aboriginal Benny (Leon Burchill) and his brothers (Damion Hunter, Alfred Coolwell) went to forest for a little hunting. The other brother turned into a zombie and the other one died. Handyman Barry's (Jay Callagher) family became victims after zombies came in for a midnight snack. Barry's goth sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) was filming artsy photos when rest of the crew became zombies. She is abducted by crazy Doctor (Berynn Schwerdt) who clearly enjoys his job too much.
Leon Burchill
Jay Callagher
On the road they meet some helpful people, most of whom quickly become zombie-food. Together with Mechanic Frank (Keith Agius) they build a vehicle that runs with unusual power source. Frank believes that the day of reckoning has come. Saving Barry's sister is what keeps the men going.
Berynn Schwerdt
The Doctor is in
Keith Agius
Common zombie
The debut film of the Roache-Turner brothers has energetic zombie-mayhem with Mad Max influences, makeshift armour and trucks from hell. The story shares similar twisted sense of humour as Peter Jackson's and Sam Raimi's early movies. In Australia they like beer but when you take beer from the freezer, watch for the zombie. He's chilling in there. It is not only amusing zombie-slaying as it has also some tragic and horrific turns as with the backstory of Barry shows. Brooke's character leaves a better impression than Milla Jovovich in the latest "Resident Evil" films. The script has couple of novel ideas such as using fumes emitted by zombies as fuel. Although the zombie genre is saturated, "Wyrmwood" is a fun ride and despite the low budget the production values are good. It became an instant cult classic and a sequel TV-series is on the production.

Rating: Good 

Starring: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill, Keith Agius, Berynn Schwerdt, Luke McKenzie, Cain Thompson, Damian Dyke, Yure Covich, Catherine Terracini, Meganne West, Beth Aubrey, Sheridan Harbridge, Damion Hunter, Alfred Coolwell, Ellen Brooke Williams, Adam Penklis, Ellie Poussot, Brendan Byrne, Craig Bourke, John Michael Burdon, Aaron Collins, Clayton Galipo, Dane Hallett, Daniel Martin, Tom Matthews, Simon Mak Murrell, Melvin Okoronkwo, Justen Petch, Jesse Rowles, Adam Sanders, Deborah Joyce 
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Movie Review: Just Add Water

Just Add Water
Bleeding Hart Films, Morningstar Films, USA, 2008. 

Ray Tuckby (Dylan Walsh) has a boring job and a boring life. He lives in a small town of Trona with mentally troubled wife Charlene (Penny Balfour) and troublemaker but sensitive son Eddie (Jonah Hill). Only light in the day is a cute grocery store cashier Nora (Tracy Middendorf) who has secretly yearned after Ray since high school.
Dylan Walsh
Ray Tuckby
Penny Balfour and Jonah Hill
Eddie and Charlene
Tracy Middendorf
Ray's brother Mark (Michael Hitchcock) is a crybaby with million plus one kids. When Ray finds out that Charlene has had a relationship with Mark since forever, Ray decides to start his life again. If only he could have courage to ask Nora for a date. Mystical stranger Merl Striker (Danny DeVito) opens a gas station in town and inspires Ray to follow his dreams. 
Danny DeVito
Merl Striker
Will Rothhaar
Druglord Dirk (Will Rothhaar) terrorizes the town. Dirk controls the water and electricity in the town. Every day Dirk's actions strain the townspeople more. The downtrodden town needs a hero so Ray starts slowly crawling out of his misery. Together with his friends he makes a plan against Dirk.
Merl and Elmo (John Balma) being stealthy
Off-beat Drama-comedy has nice little story with eccentric characters. The story has potential for vigilante story but it remains on the humoristic side. The humour is whimsical and surprising but often quite black though. Ray is a nice but passive guy and he grows up during the story affecting also the people around him. Danny DeVito has a small but important role and comedians Jonah Hill and Melissa McCarthy have some of their early roles. Melissa McCarthy appears as Ray's neighbors meth-addict wife who can throw a punch or two. The stroy opens up quite slowly, so the beginning takes a bit of patience. After that the characters become likeable and you want to know what happens to Ray and the town.

Rating: Good

Starring: Dylan Walsh, Jonah Hill, Justin Long, Danny DeVito, Tracy Middendorf, Melissa McCarthy, Anika Noni Rose, Lindsey Axelsson, Will Rothhaar, Joey Kern, Penny Balfour, Lee Garlington, Michael Hitchcock, Tracey Walter, June Squibb, John Balma, Chelsea Field, Lucy DeVito, Cerina Vincent, Ahna O'Reilly, Emily Arlook, Chris Owen, Nate Mooney, Jonathan Moore, Sewell Whitney, Scott Kinworthy, Brad Hunt
Director: Hart Bochner

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Movie Review: Kangaroo Jack

Kangaroo Jack
Castle Rock Entertainment, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Warner Bros., USA, Australia, 2003. 

Mob-boss Sal's (Christopher Walken) step-son Charlie (Jerry O'Connell) works as a hairdresser (but he is totally straight, as he desperately tries to prove). His rascally friend Louis (Anthony Anderson) gets him into a trouble with transporting stolen televisions. The gig leads to police raid on Sal's warehouse full of stolen stuff, oops. To pay back the damages to Sal, the duo must travel to Australia to deliver a shady envelope to Mr. Smith (Marton Csokas).
Jerry O'Connell and Anthony Anderson
Charlie, Jack an Louis
Christopher Baker and Marton Csokas
Crumble (Christopher Baker) and Smith
When they hit a kangaroo with their car, they decide to take some funny photos with a dead kangaroo. But karma repays the body desecration as the kangaroo is alive and escapes wearing Louis' hoodie. Kangaroo Jack becomes the richest kangaroo in Australia as the envelope was in the pocket. Well mates, better to get the envelope back before Unca Sal gets mad. Curvy Wildlife Veterinarian Jessie (Estella Warren) and bushman Blue (Bill Hunter) help, the former being the romantic interest for Charlie (because he is straight, remember? Get stuffed, Louis.) and the later being your standard comical Australian geezer. 
Bill Hunter
Estella Warren
The beginning feels like classic coming-to-age comedies of 1980-90s, but the story soon degenerates to generic buddy comedy. There's nothing wrong with stupid comedies if the jokes are funny, but here they often aren't. Too much tired toilet jokes and fringe worthy ones about CGI kangaroo imitating a hip hopper. Not surprisingly, Jerry O'Connell won Favorite Fart in a Movie Award at Kids' Choice Awards. At its best the flick has slapstick chases à la Roadrunner.

Originally this was planned as mobster comedy, but then toned to family movie. This time producer Jerry Bruckheimer is wide of the mark as the unevenness makes some jokes too crude for kids and others too childish for adults. The animal in the title has surprisingly little screen time. At least in the end it has some sentimental stuff about friendship.
Going native
Rating: Bad

Starring: Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson, Estella Warren, Christopher Walken, Marton Csokas, Dyan Cannon, Michael Shannon, Bill Hunter, David Ngoombujarra, Marco Sellitto, Damien Fotiou, Christopher James Baker, Ryan Gibson, Denise Roberts, Antonio Vitiello, Mario Di Ienno, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Robert Reid, Shawn H. Smith, Brian Casey, Emma Jane Fowler, Helen Thomson, John McNeill, Paul Wilson, David Walsman, Lara Cox, Terrell Dixon, John Gibson, Nick Jasprizza, Luke Bolland, Melissa Cretney, Adam Garcia, Chris Sullivan, David Utsler Director: David McNally

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Movie Review: Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto
New World Pictures, USA, 1977.

Three guys Michael, Trevor and Franklin plan the ultimate heist...
Fooled ya! This movie is not related to the video game series. Except maybe as an loose inspiration. It was Ron "Happy Days" Howard's debut as a director and it was produced by Roger Corman. Howard's clan was heavily involved: the story was written by Ron and his dad Rance and Ron's brother Clint has a role in the movie.

Paula Powers' (Nancy Morgan) rich parents do not like her boyfriend Sam Freeman because he is poor. They would like her to marry a rich snob instead. Sam and Paula steal daddy Bigby's (Barry Cahill) Rolls Royce and start a trip to Las Vegas. Nice trip is shadowed by bounty hunters that Bigby's favourite fiancé and sore loser Collins Hedgeworth (Paul Linke) sends after them. Other chasers are Hedgeworth's mom (Marion Ross), Preacher (Hoke Howell), private detectives and a bus full of pensioners. Over-eager Dj Curly Q. Brown (Don Steele) reports the latest events of the chase.
Ron Howard and Nancy Morgan
Sam and Paula
Elizabeth Rogers and Barry Cahill
Priscilla (Elizabeth Rogers) and Bigby Powers
Don Steele
Curly Q. Brown
Ron Howard's debut direction is a scathing criticism of forced marriage and a study about love across the class divide from road movie perspective... i.e. it is a silly chase comedy. This is a low budget drive-in cult classic from the 1970s, it has not much plot and it is not the most prominent of the car chase comedies but it is likable in its simplicity. It is just gags, amusing car chases and gratuitous car crashes, pure cult trash. Lots of cars are stolen and crashed, and a fruit stand is destroyed just because. The characters are all caricatures and hilariously over the top. The atmosphere is goofy and fun and no one gets hurt too bad. Thanks to talented crew, it has nice camera work and it is fun: both are features that many modern low budget film makers struggle to achieve.
Paul Linke
Collins Hedgeworth
Car wash
Rating: Good

Starring: Ron Howard, Nancy Morgan, Elizabeth Rogers, Barry Cahill, Rance Howard, Paul Linke, Marion Ross, Don Steele, Peter Isacksen, Clint Howard, James Ritz, Hoke Howell, Lew Brown, Ken Lerner, Jack Perkins, Paul Bartel, Bill Conklin, Robert Weaver, Garry Marshall, Leo Rossi, Rev. Bobs Watson, Jim Begg, Allan Arkush, Gisella Blake, Reed Chenault, Jean Clark, Ancel Cook, James Costigan, Laurence Cruickshank, Bill Denochelle, Jimi Fox, Lars Frederiksen, Wayne Goodwin, Ben Haller, Gene Hartline, Cheryl Howard, Karen Kaysing, Todd McCarthy, Leo Michelson, Eddie Mulder, Cal Naylor, Conrad E. Palmisano, Vic Rivers, Felicitas Sanchez, Rick Seaman, Glenn Towery, George Wagner, Tom Waters 
Director: Ron Howard

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Movie Review: Warcraft: The Beginning

Warcraft: The Beginning
Atlas Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment, Blizzard Entertainment, Universal Pictures, China, Canada, Japan, USA, 2016. 

Warcraft III was a great game. Epic fantasy plot with Humans, Elves, Orcs and Undead was both dark and fascinating. The graphics were good for its time, but somehow the characters looked sympathetically blocky, making the action look darkly humorous which was emphasized by hilarious quotes. I have never played World of Warcraft, but it seemed to maintain the visual style of original games. The movie is freely based on the storyline and characters of the original Warcraft: Orcs vs Humans.

The movie came late (WoW has been running since 2004) and it was crushed by Western critics. Still it was big in China, and Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score was positive. So it can't be totally bad, right? 
By the way the chart looks similar to "King Arthur Legend of the Sword" that seems to flop in the USA, but those who have seen it have generally liked it (I haven't so I can't really say my opinion about that):
Just to show that the fans of certain movie genres shouldn't blindly trust reviews, as they will probably see things differently than the critics. Except for "Lord of the Rings" the medieval fantasy adventures are currently not popular in the USA as superhero movies take the profits. But like any movie genre the medieval fantasy genre will come back again: who would have believed "Pirates of the Caribbean" would be a success after box-office failure of "Cutthroat Island" (which wasn't a bad film, just released in the wrong time)?

Orcs and humans have been enemies since forever. The world of the orcs is dying and they need a new home. Ruthless orc shaman Gul'dan (Daniel Wu) sacrifices prisoners to open a portal to peaceful human kingdom of Azeroth. However it is Gul'dan's evil Fel-magic that is killing the world and Orc Warchief Durotan (Toby Kebbell) does not believe that slaughtering innocents is honourable and heroic. So he needs to find allies against Gul'dan.
Durotan and Blackhand
Commander Lothar of the Humans (Travis Fimmel) goes to investigate the attacks on military posts. Guardian Medivh (Ben Foster), who should protect Azeroth, does not play with a full deck. Lothar and his new friends Mage Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) and half-orc Garona (Paula Patton) join the quest to save the world. King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) and Queen Lady Taria (Ruth Negga) hope that everything goes well and that there could be peace between humans and orcs.
Travis Fimmel and Paula Patton
Lothar and Garona
Ruth Negga
Lady Taria
Dominic Cooper
King Llane Wrynn
Political intrigue keeps things complicated and it is not at all clear who will survive to the end. Durotan's family brings sympathetic aspect to the story of orcs. However the story has too many characters introduced in short time so the motives of the human characters are hastily told. The full-packed story has its flaws it is still one of the better video game adaptations.
Ben Schnetzer
Ben Foster
The geek inside finds joy about the relative faithfulness to the games. Most hardcore fans will always find something to complain about, but otherwise the film makes a new job recreating the world of the games and the graphics look amazing. Bird's eye shots nicely show the size of the world, and remind about the real time strategy game roots. Like the campaigns of original games it is not all battles, but bases are being built and resources are gathered also. Orcs are pleasantly bulky and the battles have raw energy. Couple of familiar monster types appear and orcs ride wolves and humans ride gryphons. The costumes and items look as they should. There is also the amusing sheep spell known from the games. The ending leaves everything open for future movies and it would be disappointing if this wouldn't get sequels.

Rating: Good

Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Anna Galvin, Callum Keith Rennie, Burkely Duffield, Ryan Robbins, Dean Redman, Glenn Ennis, Terry Notary, Elena Wurlitzer, Michael Adamthwaite, Anna Van Hooft, Callan Mulvey, Adrian Glynn McMorran, Kyle Rideout, Michael Antonakos, Elisabeth Rosen, Patrick Sabongui, Kent O'Connor, Wesley MacInnes, Mackenzie Gray, Christian Sloan, Valérie Wiseman, Dan Payne, Eugene Lipinski, Christina Jastrzembska, Travis MacDonald, Frank C. Turner, Tommy Rieder, Dylan Schombing, Donavon Stinson, Meelah Robbins, One Take Charlie
Director: Duncan Jones

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