Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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The Asylum Company (the well known rip off company that creates terrible films with almost identical names to big Hollywood blockbusters to try and cash in on their success) outdid itself in 2001 by creating their most diabolical film to date; a truly terrible rip off of Alien vs. Predator called Alien vs. Hunter.
Usually an Asylum production can be relied upon to at least provide some unintentional laughs and the odd bit of gory action but AvH is so inept that it is dangerously close to torture and a real endurance test to sit through. There is no quality to be found here; the film contains the worst acting you will ever see, a terrible plot about two "aliens" fighting each other, horrendous looking alien effects, awful camera work, countless goofs and the stupidest twist ending you will ever see. The creature effects are so bad that the director took it upon himself to use a terrible stop motion effect so we can barely distinguish what the creature actually looks like. The film changes from colour to black and white every now and again for no reason whatsoever and ALL of the action either happens off screen is an indecipherable mess.
Really there is nothing to be recommended here, there are bad movies which are fun to watch and then there are bad movies which are torturous to watch. Alien vs. Hunter definitely falls into the latter category and is easily one of the worst films ever made.
The very second that the "Happy Madison Productions" logo comes on screen you know exactly what type of humour is going to be found in Strange Wilderness. The company run by Adam Sandler is not exactly known for its high brow humour and a quick look at the cast list will show a number of actors who seem to appear in every Sandler movie made, again an indication of what's to come. Luckily though, if you like this brand of childish then you will certainly enjoy Strange Wilderness as it has it in spades.
When his father dies, a stoner called Peter takes over his deceased father's popular nature program called Strange Wilderness. Unfortunately his complete ineptness leads huge a reduction in ratings and eventually two weeks notice of the cancellation of the show. Peter recognizes a chance to save the show when friend of his fathers shows him a photo of big foot in Ecuador as he decides to bring the crew on a long road trip and make a documentary about the creature. Needless to say there are many mishaps along the way as well as having to try and beat a rival production team to the punch.
First off, if you don't like low brow childish humour including crude jokes about vomiting and farting then stay well away from this film as that is about as sophisticated it gets. Strange Wilderness is an incredibly stupid film populated by incredibly stupid characters going on an incredibly stupid mission to capture Bigfoot on film. This line alone should be enough to make you want to watch the film or run screaming for the hills. Luckily as low brow comedies go it's a good one despite the hit and miss nature of the jokes. There are some genuinely laugh out loud moments, many others that will have you laughing with sheer disbelief and plenty of chucklesome moments too. There are also a large proportion of terrible jokes that will have wondering just how anyone would think they would be funny. The story itself is nothing more than a setup for the jokes but it works well enough and keeps you entertained. The acting is solid and it's clear the cast had a good time making the film. Many of the lines seem to be ad-libbed, particularly the funniest moments which doesn't say an awful lot for the script. To put it simply, if you think a man getting is penis stuck in a Turkey's throat is funny, then this is the film for you.
Strange Wilderness is definitely one of the better efforts from the Happy Madison Production Company; particularly of the films not starring Adam Sandler. The jokes are hit and miss but when it's funny then it can be very funny but when it's bad it can also be very bad. If low brow humour is your thing then there is plenty of entertainment to be had here but of Woody Allen comedies and sophistication are your thing then I advise you to stay well clear.
It never ceases to amaze me the sheer amount of direct to DVD rubbish that is produced on a weekly basis. Week after week there seems to be yet another low budget creature feature hitting the shelves, and I genuinely can not fathom how they possibly make any money. Despite the warning signs, I still had hope for Age of the Dragons, not least because it's based on the classic Herman Melville novel Moby Dick, had a decent trailer and stars Danny Glover, a man couldn't possibly lower himself to the level of the average SyFy film. Although it's quite as bad as that, I will certainly never be watching this bore fest again.
The storyline is roughly based on Melville's classic book but in this version Captain Ahab and his crew are searching for the great white dragon that burned his body and took his leg as a child. Ahab hires an aspiring dragon hunter named Ishmael and his close protector friend to join his ragtag group of dragon harpooners ahead of the harvest season. It soon becomes clear that Ahab is only intent on gaining revenge on the white dragon and will lead the crew to their deaths is he has to.
I think it's only fair to begin by commenting on the plus points of Age of the Dragons which unfortunately there are too few. The production values are way above average for a film of its type with a good sets and costumes and passable CGI effects for the dragons. The cast is solid with Glover being great fun as Ahab playing him as over the top as possible and even the usually annoying Vinnie Jones is bearable. Some of the action scenes are quite fun but the main failure of the film is the sheer lack of them. The only reason anybody would consider watching this film is for some good old fashioned dragon slaying action but despite a scene at the beginning and the films climax there are no dragons in sight. In fact even the final battle is painfully short, clearly the production team just didn't have the budget to give the dragons more screen time. This means that a huge proportion of the film is dialogue driven and when you have a script this bad it's a recipe for disaster. To put it bluntly, age of the Dragons is a very boring film with only the B-Movie fan being able to see it to the end.
It was a nice idea to adapt Melville's book into a fantastical setting but the low budget, lack of action and terrible script renders this one a failure. It's hard to even recommend this one to bad movie lovers.
Back in 2007 when the cinema verité style of filmmaking was still reasonably fresh, writer/director Jaume Balagueró released his Spanish language horror film effort to huge critical acclaim. It was an excellent film in every way with many truly frightening scenes. Fast forward a few years and we are treated to the inevitable sequel that was hugely anticipated by the fans of the original. Suffice to say it's a huge disappointment that seems to have forgotten the elements that made the original so popular.
The sequel picks up exactly where the original film ended but this time the action follows a team of Spanish police as they are tasked with entering the building to escort in a medical officer and to search for survivors. They are almost immediately set upon by the infected inhabitants leading the loss of one of the team. After pressing the medical officer for answers it seems as if things are not as they seem and the cause of the infection is much more sinister than a simple infection.
The actual story behind the action of Rec 2 is very good as it ends up going in a completely unexpected direction. There is a much more complex film with many more plot points than the original that even brings in a supernatural element to the story. The problem lies with the films execution; to put it bluntly it plays out more like an action computer game than a film. Gone are frightening scenes of the original that have been replaced by countless action scenes that simply don't work and are almost incomprehensible at times due to the overuse of shaky cam. The camera point of view shifts at various times from soldier to soldier which almost feels as if you are changing character in a first person shooter game. I really can't stress enough how similar this looks to the countless zombie games that are flooding the market. Balagueró has actually managed to come up an interesting back story for the infection and if he focused on the slow building tension and scare tactics of the original then this sequel would have been every bit as good as the original. The final twenty minutes are excellent as the plot unfolds without the silly action scenes. Sadly it's not enough though and we end up with a severely inferior sequel despite the good ideas.
Rec 2 is a huge disappointment that ends up feeling like you are watching someone play a computer game. It's unfortunate as it has an interesting back story and some nice ideas but suffers from its execution. More of an action film than a horror; this comes no where near to matching the quality of the original.
Let's face it, the "What would you do if you were stuck on a desert island?" question is one that all of us have considered at one time or another and it is a question that has featured heavily in both literary and cinematic stories. Cast Away is yet another film that aims to portray this pertinent question on the big screen but as well as showing one mans struggles to stay alive on a desert island it also shows perhaps an equally difficult task that he faces, trying to get your old life back once you escape.
Tom hanks plays Chuck Noland, a man very much in love with his girlfriend who he is planning to ask to marry him. Unfortunately him though, the Fed-Ex plane that he is travelling on encounters a problem over the pacific ocean leading to it crashing with Chuck being the only survivor washed up on a desert island. With only the clothes on his back and a few washed up Fed-Ex packages, he must try to stay alive and formulate a plan to escape the island.
In all honesty the plot of Cast Away is not high on the originality stakes but it doesn't need to be, a survival film such as this has always caught the attention of the cinema goer. Although the island section of the film is entertaining, it's not particularly insightful into just how Chuck managed to survive the four years on the Island. In fact the biggest problem with the film is that it doesn't deal with the aspect of the passing time very well, what is supposed to be four years feels like four months due to the huge chunk of time that is missing from the script. What makes it stand out from the myriad of other films of its type though is not the survival part of the film but instead the aftermath when Chuck must face the fact that his life has been changed forever and that the people he loves whose memory helped him escape that island have moved on with their lives leaving him behind. Director Robert Zemeckis handles this portion of the film excellently and it has a real emotional impact on the viewer that the desert scene failed to have. Technically cast Away is an excellent film. Tom Hanks puts in a very good performance as Chuck which was vitally important as he is the only character on screen for large portions of the film. The special effects are excellent with the place crash scene being a real standout. At 143 minutes long it's quite a long film but luckily the pace of the film never allows boredom to set in and manages to maintain a strong entertainment value throughout.
Cast Away is certainly one of the better stuck on a desert island films that have been made. The island segment itself is interesting although it's actually the weaker part of the film. The real achievement is with the final act that provides excellent dramatical scenes. Emotional at times and entertaining throughout, Cast Away is a very good film and definitely worth 2 and a half hours of your time.