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Monthly Archives: January 2015

The latest government anti-smoking campaign perhaps went a bit too far…

The synopsis of this film’s plot sounds make it sound like an update of The Wicker Man, but in fact it’s not at all – beyond the basic premise: A pastor and his family move to a new town. The community initially seems welcoming and friendly but in fact they have sinister plans in store for him and his family…

Good Points :  The uneasy terror you feel when the family realise that everyone in the town is against them – you empathise, after all what can you really do to protect yourself then? I also liked that the director didn’t feel the need to explain everything, and often leaves you to make your own mind up as to what’s really happening.

Bad Points : Beyond the uneasy fear mentioned above, it’s not really frightening. There’s a ‘creature’ of sorts (I’ll avoid going into details to not spoil things) that is so slow moving that if you have half a brain, actually poses no danger at all. The acting is generally terrible. The central couple (the pastor’s daughter and her boyfriend) are so wooden they are often in more danger of being made into furniture.

With a decent cast, script and story, this could have been genuinely scary but instead the result is a below average horror film

Don’t watch. 3/10

“Woah… I’m really sorry for what I am doing to your girlfriend tomorrow.” Jasper (George Finn), Callie (Danielle Panabaker), Finn (Matt O’Leary) study tomorrow’s photo.

Imagine if you could tell yourself yesterday what to do today after you had lived through today. Yes it’s already confusing but be prepared to have your brain turned in more knots by this time-manipulation thriller.

Three housemates discover a camera that takes pictures of the future. The twist is they are usually in the pictures so they can use this to their advantage by sending messages back to the present. As long as they remember the next day to send the messages and take the photo. At first things work out well – Jasper (George Finn) is able to make a ton of money by betting on dog races, and Finn (Matt O’Leary) an artist who previously had creative block, now sees paintings his future-self has painted and is able to copy them. However soon their future-selves start sending worrying and disturbing messages and Finn’s paintings start to look less like art and more like warnings…

This is a pretty good film, with believable acting, it’s never boring and builds tension at a good pace. It’s full of twists and turns and you’ll often think you’ll know what’s going on but you won’t.

There are negative points: some of the time-logic seems a bit flawed at times and can be confusing unless you give yourself time to think. There are a few MacGuffins in there too that enable the plot to work – e.g. the camera is bolted to the ground and only ever points at the housemates’ apartment, and an early plot point means the housemates feel they have no choice but to match exactly what their future selves are doing in the photos. A device that is used to create much of the tension and conflict.

None of this really matters however because the films works so well. Even so it still all feels a bit small-time – more like it was made by a bunch of students with limited resources rather than a proper film company. It also cops out when it comes to nudity and sex whereas it has no problems going to extremes with the violence. Again conforming to that weird puritanical doctrine that sex is somehow worse than seeing someone’s brains bashed out. Something that continues to haunt a lot of American films.

An interesting and (comparably) realistic take on the time travel genre. Both dramatic and tense.  7/10

The Hulk wrecks havoc in downtown San Francisco.

“You wouldn’t like me when I am angry”. Muscles bulge, skin turns green, clothes rip off but amazingly stretchy shorts stay on. Yes it’s The Hulk (AKA Bruce Banner here played by Eric Bana). This is a surprsingly mature adaption by Ang Lee. I presume this is relatively faithful to the comic book. The style of dialogue often seems similar to a comic and at times it adopts comic style frames to tell the story. It’s an interesting stylistic choice and works well.

However the introduction drags on for ages. Let’s face it – we all want to see the Hulk power-fantasy, not sit through reams of interminable dialogue. “How do you feel when you are the Hulk?” asks Bruce’s girlfriend Betty (Jennifer Connelly, her with the amazing eyes). “I don’t have any memory of it except… I feel free and ….. I like it”. We all like it. Hulk is at his best when smashing up things, and then growing bigger with rage and smashing even bigger things up. Yes give us some backstory but not quite so much please.

Once the Hulk finally appears and the indignity of having to beat up 3 hulk-like dogs aside (don’t ask), things get better from this point on. There are actually 2 villians here. The first is General Ross (Sam Elliot) Jennifer’s father who wants to control or destroy the Hulk. Ross brings out the full force of the US Army against the Hulk and the results are spectacular with the Hulk making huge flying leaps across the landscape while catching Hellfire missiles in his hands and flinging them back at the pursing helicopters. It’s not long before the General realises that perhaps his greatest weapon is his daughter Jennifer…

Then there’s Bruce’s Father David (Nick Nolte) who has shadier motives but whose intentions slowly become clear over the course of film. There’s a disappointing final ‘kludge’ where another Hulk-like entity is conjured up just so the Hulk has something equal to fight against but overall this is a good film albeit it one with far too much exposition.

“Hulk Smash!” (eventually anyway) 7/10