2000/Director. Brian Yuzna.
Review by Justine Ryan.
Standing on the edge of a bridge, broken and despairing since the murder of his girlfriend, and about to commit suicide, artist John Jaspers (Mark Frost) is approached by two strangers – Mephistopheles (WISHMASTER’S Andrew Divoff) and Claire (Monica Van Campen) who offer him a deal. The deal is this, M will grant Jaspers the power of vengeance and allow him the power to vent his rage towards whomever he wishes. “Go forth and mutilate” Mephistopheles tells Jaspers.
The catch is, M will collect his soul from the day he begins to care and believe in something again, which he eventually does making for a really fun ride while watching this film.
FAUST: LOVE OF THE DAMNED is based on the 1988 thirteen-part graphic novel of the same name by David Quinn and Tim Vigil. The film is toned down quite a bit compared to the comic, which is ultraviolent and sexual, to the point that in the graphic novels initial release, copies of it weren’t allowed through customs in the UK, New Zealand, Canada or Mexico. Artist Tim Vigil and Writer David Quinn (who also penned the screenplay for the film) were accused of offending women and promoting rape. Some years have passed, but Vigil and Quinn completed the final two chapters of the comic in 2012.
In the early stages of the film, Stuart Gordon was announced as director and producer. Early casting choices for the role of Claire (the sadistic mistress to M, who much like a widow spider enjoys killing her prey after sex, though Claire goes the extra mile and kills them during the act!) were Gordon regular Barbara Crampton and Madonna.
Brian Yuzna does a fine job with this. The film has quite a few differences compared to the comic but Yuzna in his usual style always finds a way to make it his own, which all good adaptations should be. Two thumbs up from this gal!
2013 / Director. McG
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I've always had trouble watching films directed by McG. I mean honestly... Mc-fucking-G. What kind of egotistical, wanky personality must someone have to use a name like that professionally. He's not a rapper. Nor is he a DJ... he's a damn director and the absurdity of it kind of puts me off his films... not to mention the fact that his films have never really been all that good. On the flip side I generally LOVE most of the movies that Luc Besson writes and/or produces. Films like THE TRANSPORTER, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and DANNY THE DOG are just some of the examples that give him an auteur status. 3 DAYS TO KILL is a strange cocktail of action and drama that delivers on one but not the other. Kevin Costner plays a former CIA assassin who is dying and has only months to live. He returns to France to be with his ex-wife and reconnect with his daughter. While doing so he is sucked back into the job and given an assignment to kill an elusive arms trafficker. There are a lot of things that work well in this movie and Kevin Costner contributes to it's pros. He's definitely a peculiar choice to lead this film but he works the material well. His presence is assured and confident and he balances the comic material nicely... however there is too much comic relief in this one for my liking. The action sequences, true to Besson form, are fantastic. They're equally gritty and glitzy and keep the overall film from being a dud. The soundtrack is also good with a handful of modern pop/rock songs supporting the action. Where it falters is in the drama department. The father-daughter-wife relationships are forced and never really resonate and a weird dramatic subplot involving a family of squatters is distracting. If 3 DAYS TO KILL had been 20 minutes shorter, more focused and less comical then it would have been an absolute belter but as it stands, it's an adequate action flick that passes the time.
2013 / Director. Gary Fleder.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
There's no mucking around with HOMEFRONT. It's a balls-to-the-wall action movie that draws a lot of influence from the 80s. Jason Statham plays a retired DEA agent who moves with his daughter to a small town in Louisiana. It isn't long before he butts heads with local rednecks and finds himself an outcast and target of local thugs. When his true identity is revealed word spreads as far as the city where a bikie gang has a score to settle with him. HOMEFRONT is built upon a strong and true formula and there are no new tricks here. What anchors the story is a strong cast, solid script and qualified directing. Jason Statham does Jason Statham (who are we kidding? He's awesome) and he's supported by great performances from James Franco, Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder (Franco is brilliant as the local meth dealer). The script was written by Sylvester Stallone, who is no stranger to writing, and it doesn't falter. In fact there are a lot of similarities to Stallone's FIRST BLOOD. It's a story dealing with an outsider unwillingly making enemies in a small town and it plays out in a gritty and unapologetic way. Stallone adapted the script from a novel and over the last few years I've heard various stories that he's been throwing around for a potential fifth RAMBO movie... I am pretty certain this story was one of them. There is no doubt that he had Rambo in mind when writing this and I'm tempted to call it a thematic companion movie to FIRST BLOOD. The story moves along tightly and flows well. There are no boring lulls in the script and every frame is used with purpose. The film flew under a lot of radars and few knew about it until it's DVD release... and many still aren't aware of it. It's a sleeper that it eagerly awaiting it's audience and a sequel has already been suggested. Stacks of fun!
2013 / Director. Alexander Payne.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Bruce Dern plays Woody, an elderly man, who believes he won $1M when he receives a scam promotion in the mail. Despite his family's insistence that he hasn't won a cent he seizes every opportunity to walk to Lincoln, Nebraska, to retrieve his winnings. When his son realises that there's no stopping the old man he offers to drive him there, using the time to try bond. Along the way they visit Woody's childhood town where the entire township learns of Woody's newfound wealth and suddenly be becomes a local celebrity and everyone wants a piece of the pie. Filmed in black & white, Alexander Payne has pieced together a simple, yet moving story. Each film he makes feels more mature than the previous and he's becoming one of my favourite modern filmmakers. Bruce Dern is amazing in the lead and deserved of every accolade he received. Also incredible is June Squibb who brings a heart full of humour to the film as Woody's long suffering wife. She is superb. Will Forte is perfectly cast as their son who struggles to convince his father of the deception and desperately attempts to protect him from the ugliness that comes with such a "win". The black & white cinematography looks gorgeous too and emphasises the stark and desolate landscape that symbolises the psychology of Woody's mind and life's struggle. Everything works here. I'm sure that the film will test a lot of people's patience but if you're not already a fan of Alexander Payne then perhaps you're not going to bother. It had me glued from start to finish and at times it cast my memory back to David Lynch's superb A STRAIGHT STORY. NEBRASKA is understated and skilfully directed.
2013 / Director. DJ Caruso.
Review By Glenn Cochrane.
If some kids come away from STANDING UP thinking about the way they treat others, then the film's work is done. Sadly I can't imagine the film resonating with that demographic as much as it would hope to. Set in 1984 it tells the story of two tweens who are victimized at a summer camp. They are taken to an island on the lake, stripped naked and left stranded. They are left humiliated and terrified and so traumatised that they refuse to return. Instead they wander into the woods, searching for a way home... or at least to safety. In the mean time they form a bond and become pillars of strength to each other. Through their adventure they form a resilience and an inner strength that sees them grow into young adults. It is a lovely film with a lot for young people to take away from. Whether bullies themselves or defenseless victims, this movie speaks to it's audience and invites them to reflect on their own lives. There are times throughout the film when some of the secondary characters seem contrived and forced, but they go as quickly as they come and don't really upset the comfortable and meandering nature of the story. The two lead kids are wonderful and offer up sincere and heartfelt performances. Radha Mitchell provides a strong support as the mother of the lost girl who realises her own faults and drops her busy life to find the kids. If anything I don't think her character was given as much room as she deserved. I would like to have seen her take on the camp officials much more than she actually did. Nevertheless, her daughter's well being was first and foremost, as it should be. This movie is a huge departure for director DJ Caruso too. He's a filmmaker known for high concept movies like I AM NUMBER 4, EAGLE EYE and DISTURBIA. Apparently he had been trying the make STANDING UP for over ten years and ended up doing so for a measly $4M. He's done a wonderful job of it and proves himself to be a versatile director.
2009 / Director. Julian Fellowes.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
FROM TIME TO TIME is a lovely family film, which sadly, won't appeal to many modern kids. It's far too classic for most of today's youthful attention spans and that's really sad to me (I hope that I'm wrong). The story is set in 1944 when a young boy visits his grandmother at her estate in the English countryside. While there he sees ghostly figures from the past and he finds himself able to step through time, witnessing a long-held family mystery, which occurred 200 years prior. Secrets are revealed and old riddles are solved. With the support and belief from his grandmother he explores his family lineage and in turn he starts to process the loss of his father, who up until now he refused to believe was gone. It's a wonderful story told well with a fantastic ensemble of players including Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, Pauline Collins and Dominic West... amongst others. The film's lead is Alex Etel who previously blew me away with his performance in MILLIONS and WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER (see them now). Films like this are a dime a dozen these days and that makes FROM TIME TO TIME all the more special. Watching it took me back to stories like THE SECRET GARDEN and PLAYING BEATIE BOW, combined with a GOSFORD PARK aesthetic. Director Julian Fellowes is no stranger to this style of period filmmaking, having written GOSFORD PARK, VANITY FAIR, THE YOUNG VICTORIA and DOWNTON ABBEY (to name some). What a lovely film. I hope that there are kids out there who will find its adventure enthralling. I hope that there are kids out there who need more than stupid CGI animals and talking puppies. This is wonderful.
2014 / Director. Bryan Singer.
Review by Sean Dumee (12 Years Old)
I have asked my son to contribute short film reviews to the site. These assignments are an alternative to homework on nights when the school provides none.
The X-men trilogy is a great thrilling tale of evolution if it was to give us powers. The newest addition to the epic series is X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. This instalment is a great tale of changing the one event that lead to the collapses of the whole world and the defiance of the natural inevitability of evolution. The movie is about Logan shifting his mind back into his younger self and stopping Raven (Mystique) from killing the man who invented the sentinels. What was wrong with that was none would believe him when he died and it became the focal point in time allowing the alternant reality that he was trying to create. The whole movie was outstanding. Towards the end Wolverine walks through a metal detector and it was silent and he turns around and looks surprised at that point (I laugh so hard but I was the only one laughing in the whole cinema). Over all the movie was awesome and a great sequel and prequel (at the same time). I was astounded at all the people who left during the credits. Everyone knows that at the end of Marvel movies there are little cut scenes that make you want to watch more. At the end of the credits there was a picture of a blue woman that was a telekinetic building the pyramids.
1985, 89 & 90 / Director. Robert Zemekis.
Review by Sean Dumee (12 years old)
I have asked my 12 year old son to contribute some reviews. Today he has delivered a piece on Back to the Future and as you will read, he sure doesn't mince words. LOL)
Back to the future is AWESOME!
The whole concept is of a mad scientist and a regular teenage boy traveling back and forth between times, making parallel universes and retuning. It is crazy but that's what makes it so good! Marty McFly is a regular teenage boy who just happens to be friends with a mad scientist. The entire series evolves around Dr. Emmett Brown. He’s a genius with a mad twist, he invents the time machine which in turn allows him travel through time to get Marty to go on missions to improve his whole family’s future and past. At the end the Doc's journey he’s a blacksmith in the old west, which is awesome. The series is a great step for filmmaking and not only a terrific movie to watch as a family but also to educate your kids about one of the absolute greatest movies of all-time.
1997 / Director. Albert Pyun. Movie #27
I'm not going to beat around the bush. NEMESIS 3 was terrible. It was a hard film to take following the wonderful first instalment and the fun sequel... and then came NEMESIS 4. All expectations were abandoned with only the hope that it would be a step-up. I think it was and I am a fan of this strange cyber punk movie that builds upon an established character and takes the story into a new and unexpected setting. The African location of the middle two movies has been abandoned in favour of a futuristic, post-apocalyptic environment that more closely resembles the first movie. Sue Pace's character of Alex is now living in a future time and she earns a living as an assassin. She wanders the ruins of an abandoned city and seduces her victims before killing them. While this is technically the same female character we know from the previous movies, she is different. She is no longer a hero and has been turned into a soulless killing machine. Of the NEMESIS series part 4 probably receives the most ridicule but I don't get that. I think this instalment was a step in the right direction and it looks great. Also consider the fact that it was shot in 5 days at the same time when Albert was shooting pick-ups for his other film ADRENALIN. Using the same crew and much of the same cast (including Andrew Divoff) Albert invited Sue Price to Slovakia to shoot this sequel and what he was confronted with was a woman who had changed drastically since he had last seen her. Now looking more man-like than ever, with a physique ridiculously over-buffed Albert used her body to his advantage (her appearance is even addressed in the movie as "abnormal"). With a strong cyber-punk aesthetic Albert has Price walking around in the nude for most of the film. The sight of her having copious amounts of sex is unsettling and strangely compelling. The SFX are wonderful too and hold true to that awesome pre-CGI quality that so many of us cult filmies love. While none of the sequels ever matched the awesomeness of the original NEMESIS, this fourth chapter comes closer than the others and consider that it's a quick knock-together movie and there's a lot more to appreciate about it than people give it credit for. I also think it closely resembles another Pyun movie called OMEGA DOOM. The setting and storyline are very closely related... so much that OMEGA DOOM (filmed around the same time) could have easily been NEMESIS 5 (although I like Omega as a stand alone).
2013 / Director. José Padilha.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Remaking classic movies is never a good idea and it's no secret that I am generally opposed to most remakes. Most film geeks would agree that Paul Verhoeven's 1987 film has stood the test of time and is as good now as it was then. When it was announced that ROBOCOP was being remade I immediately leaped to the defensive. I saw no reason to tell the story again when the original was still so visually strong... the early concept art and leaked images of the new Robocop suit has me worried. Oh dear... so when I finally got around to watching this new incarnation I was relieved to see how fucking awesome it was. Wow. I am more than happy to concede that my reservations were in vain. ROBOCOP 2014 is a ripper of the movie and serves the franchise well. It's not exactly a remake in a traditional sense but rather it takes the concept and builds upon it. The original film was a simple premise. Cops gets killed. Cop gets turned into a cyborg. Cyborg is used to prevent crime. I mean it's overall story arch has more to it but that was essentially the film in a nutshell... BUT this new movie takes that concept and introduces a whole lot of new concepts, dilemmas and themes. Robocop now has a fully functioning brain, capable of emotion, feeling and every other trait of his former life. He has a family he longs to be with and a strong sense of revenge for the crime that was committed against him. I think this human element to the character adds a lot of strength and depth to the series. I was also thrilled that they kept the original design of Robocop for a substantial portion of the film before upgrading him to a new, sleeker, more tactical design... this new look was off-putting in the promos but it works so well within the context of the story. The action is fantastic (although disappointingly bloodless) and the cast is great. Joel KInnaman is an excellent replacement to Peter Weller and his support is strong with Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, Samuel L Jackson and Jackie Earl Haley all bringing extra cred to the film. Perhaps my expectations were so low that I have overreacted to this new ROBOCOP but I was truly impressed and I would love to see more instalments. There are so many new ideas for possible sequels and plenty of room for new original stories that needn't take cues from the earlier sequels.
1996 / Director. Albert Pyun. Movie #23
My love of Albert Pyun cannot overcome the disappointment of NEMESIS 3. As previous reviews show, I am a huge fan of the first film and while the second one bore little relation it was still a fun, action packed b-movie in it's own right. Part 2 established a new action movie hero unlike any we're seen before. Sue Price played Alex and brought us a screen presence that was new, confronting and exciting. In NEMESIS 3 she returns and her story continues... though it's a pale reflection of the previous instalment. To tie the storyline in with the original film Tim Thomerson returns as a new incarnation of Farnsworth, the ruthless cyborg who hunted Oliver Gruner's character in the first film. Now older and much hairier, Thomerson looks weary and out of place. Along with two cyborgs from the future he is hellbent on killing Alex to prevent her DNA strain from finding its way into the future. The first 20 minutes of the movie are made up almost entirely of flashbacks to part 2. Not just any flashbacks but really irritating, repetitive and aggravating flashbacks. Joining Price and Thomerson is Pyun regular Norbert Weisser who offers the only actual appealing aspect to the film. His presence on screen is always appealing to me, however, he finds himself stuck in a shit story with shit special effects and even shitter acting. The NEMESIS property had so much potential for being a strong sci-fi franchise but Pyun missed the boat on this one... though from no fault of his own. The studios have never been fair to him and this is his effort at picking up the pieces after being proverbially fucked by them. On the plus side the new German blu-ray release of the movie is absolutely gorgeous. They've cleaned the film up and present it in beautiful hi-def widescreen. It is very appealing on the eye and helps lift the movie up aesthetically. Sadly NEMESIS 3 is a sad turning point in the series.
1995 / Director. Albert Pyun. Movie #22
Fans can be forgiven for being disappointed with NEMESIS 2 because it bares little resemblance to the original film. That is not to say that it's without merit. It begins 73 years later in a time where cyborgs have all but cleansed the world of humans. A new DNA strand is engineered that will bring an end to the cyborgs and a pregnant mother is injected with the new strand. She has the baby and with the cyborgs determined to terminate her child she steals one of their space crafts and travels back to 1980. The mother is killed on arrival and the baby is adopted by a local african tribe who raise her as their own. Cut to 20 years later and the child is now a fully buffed up tribeswoman with a cyborg bounty hunter closing in. The film has all of the characteristics of a stand-alone film that has been modified to fit in with the NEMESIS storyline. The unique style and creative set-ups of the original are lost here and the film plays out more like a futuristic western. Where the first movie was heavily influenced by THE TERMINATOR this sequel takes a lot of cues from PREDATOR. Sue Price was a world champion body builder at the time and her huge muscular physique is, at first, unsettling... but she soon becomes a consummate action hero and proves to be a welcome alternative to the typical blokey stereotypes. Despite the film's overall lack of originality the action sequences are still awesome. The film clearly had a limited budget in comparison and it would seem that much of it's money went into pyro and explosives (wisely so). With the first film in mind it is far too easy to criticize NEMESIS 2 but watching it in it's own right it clearly has a lot of it's own merit. When it comes to mid 90's direct-to-video releases this was a cut above the rest. Good fun and an all new type of action hero unlike any other.
2013 / Director. Steve McQueen.
Review by Glenn Cochrane. (Minor Spoiler)
A lot of films have been made about black slavery in America but few have dared to depict the cruelty in such an honest and confronting way as 12 YEARS A SLAVE. The film tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a well respected black man living freely with his family, who is abducted and sold into slavery. Living the next 12 years in the barbaric hands of several slave owners he is subjected to human depravity of the most heinous nature. One can only imagine the atrocities committed against black people through slavery (and beyond) but this film brilliantly extracts the ugliest things your mind could conjure and puts it all on the screen like a punch to the face. In my mind, when it comes to this subject, this is the greatest films ever made. Not only is the violent imagery confronting but the performances are exceptional. Chiwetel Ejiofor is incredible in the lead and he commits every ounce of his being into this role. His face has a thousand expressions and he conveys so much emotion with just the slightest movements. The support cast is about as strong as you'll find, and brave too, with some of the most racist and vile characters you are likely to encounter. Michael Fastbender, Paul Giamatti and Sarah Paulson deliver particularly courageous performances and ought to be commended. 12 YEARS A SLAVE is a tough watch but it's a valuable one. In today's day and age most of us are all schooled on our past wrongs but every now and then we need to be reminded where we've been and how far we've come... or perhaps how much further we've got to go. In a powerful, yet fleeting, moment Solomon's character breaks through the fourth wall and looks the viewer in the eye... he makes a connection with us that really resonates and emphasises the sentiment of the film. It forces us to reflect on our own conduct and question how we treat others. Director Steve McQueen has tackled this story brilliantly and being British he shows that sometimes the most powerful stories about a place are told from an outsider's perspective. I doubt that an American filmmaker could have made this film.
1992 / Director. Albert Pyun. Movie #14
NEMESIS is considered by many fans to be Albert Pyun's best film and I think that's a fair call. The theatrical cut of the film is not a fair representation of what he envisioned and that's important to keep in mind when watching it. As with most dealings with big studios Albert was forced to sacrifice some of his core elements, none greater than casting a 30 year old German man in a role which was written for a 13 year old girl. Albert was also shut out of the editing process and had no control over the final cut and when you listen to him discuss the film it is clear that he was hurt by the experience. Having said that... NEMESIS is an absolutely kick-ass sci-fi action movie that delivers in spades. Taking a lot of obvious cues from TERMINATOR, the movie tells the story of a future world where cyborgs are beginning to rise up and are taking the identities of the world's most powerful people. Alex Raine (Olivier Gruner) is a former assassin who is forced back into the game to find the mastermind of the uprising. Not all is as it seems and the movie comes with various revelations and secrets. Action rarely gets better than this and some of the sequences of NEMESIS, as far fetched as they might be, are amongst the best I've seen. This flick has more gunfire, explosions and stunt work than almost every other movie of it's time. Even now over 20 years later its excessive violence is hard to match and while Albert might not have had control over the edit, the visuals are still entirely his. What we see on the screen, he directed! There is no mistaking his eye for action and NEMESIS is easily amongst his best. From insane machine gun fights to absurdly awesome multilevel escape methods... waterfall diving whilst shooting mid-backflip and concealed guns in eye sockets... good luck finding a sci-fi action movie as fun as this one. The SFX are awesome for it's time with renowned visual FX people from TERMINATOR on board to beef up the eye-candy. Albert was recently able to release his own director's cut, using an original work print. This allowed him to make some changes that eased his pain over the experience and brought a greater sense of accomplishment. This director's cut is also worth a look and gives us a great idea of what his original vision beheld. The quality of this version is quite poor given that he only had a workprint to run with. Fortunately a German company has just released the director's cut as part of a NEMESIS collection, including all 4 films in the series. They've managed to clean up Albert's cut and have presented it in the best quality it's ever going to get. Whichever version you watch there is no question in my mind that NEMESIS is the epitome of 90s sci-fi action. Hell, I'll even take it over TERMINATOR and ROBOCOP. Ah huh!
1987. Director / Mark G Gilhuis.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
BLOODY WEDNESDAY is based on the infamous San Ysidro McDonald's Massacre and tells a fictionalised account of the events where a lunatic walked into a diner and shot the place up. The poster art always resonated with me when I was a kid wandering the isles of my local video store. Upon reflection the poster is a blatant rip off of APOCALYPSE NOW but nevertheless it left an impression on me. The film itself is cheap and tacky. If you've ever seen COMBAT SHOCK then you will get a good idea of what it's like. In fact has Buddy Giovinazzo directed HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER it would have looked something like this. The acting is atrocious and the overall direction is astonishingly sub-par... and yet there's something about the movie that leaves an impression. For the most part the story explores the killer's psychological state of mind in the lead up to the massacre. From early scenes to him walking into a Sunday mass nude to his committal to a mental asylum. His reality becomes blurred and his psychosis degenerates into complete madness. By it's very nature BLOODY WEDNESDAY is an exploitation film. Director Mark G Gilhui has taken a very topical and sensitive incident and turned it into a b-movie horror film. He has shot it in a dark, dank and grotty style that is reminiscent of MANIAC and there's no doubt that it conjures an uneasy feeling. It's been many years since I've seen the film but having just watched it again I got a real kick out of it. I guess you could lump it on the "so bad it's good" basket but I'll give it a little more credit. It has rightfully earned itself a cult status and offers a lot to fans of 70s and 80s exploitation. BLOODY SUNDAY is a misunderstood nasty that, while not as graphic as other movies of its type, succeeds in capturing an ugly truth about the American culture.