Black Panther (2018)

One from the to watch pile…

Black Panther (2018)

Film: Now even though this is technically a rewatched film, I’m going to label it a To Watch Piler… why? Well I received a free ticket to see this at the cinema, and unfortunately it was a Mum’s and Bubs session, which means the house lights were on the whole time, so any scene that takes place at night is almost unseeable, especially when the lead cast member is wearing all black!

Black Panther is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, which all join together in a story ten years in the making which will all be resolved in 2019’s sequel to Avengers: Infinity War. Black Panther has been an important character in the Marvel comics universe since his first appearance in Fantastic Four comics in 1966, and has been an important member of not just that team, but also the Avengers as well as having several impressive comics series’ himself.

The film was directed by Creed director Ryan Coogler from a script that he co-wrote with Amber Lake’s Joe Robert Cole, and what they created caused a massive bag of excitement for its positive role models.

Black Panther tells of the country of Wakanda’s new King T’challa (Chadwick Boseman), who has ascended to the throne after the death of his father (in the film Captain America: Civil War) but the road to his regency isn’t smooth.

First, whilst being watched by his people, including his mother Ramona (Angela Bassett), potential wife Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and sister Shuri (Letitia Wright – the real revelation of this film), he must prove his worth as a leader in battle, but all the while, machinations are happening outside of Wakanda that may still threaten his rule.

A man calling himself Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) has teamed up with arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) but what is there nefarious plan, and how does it effect the rule of the Black Panther.

This film initially reminds me of a superheroic version of a James Bond film, much like Captain America: The Winter Soldier did. It has exotic locations, improbable inventions and a wry sense of humour as Boseman performs his African James Bond alongside Wright’s ‘Q’ and Forrest Whitaker’s ‘M’ as they face off against an eccentric bad guy with a sidekick with a bizarre weapon, not to mention a bevy of women, all of whom are defined by their skill, brains and asskickery rather than their looks.

The design of the film is magnificent: quite possibly the best a Marvel film to date has to offer, and the colours jump from the screen and are a nice tribute to the beauty of many African cultures, but occasionally the CGI effects fail. Ok, they don’t actually fail, but there is a standard of effects that some blockbuster films seem to think is ok which occasionally don’t sit right, due to the physics of gravity or the extension limits the human body has. I get it’s a movie based on a comic, but if you are selling it as real, it shouldn’t look like a comic. Also, there is some CGI animals that just don’t look quite right.

Ultimately, the one thing I find about this film that doesn’t work is it’s just an introduction. The Black Panther storyline is reminiscent of the first Iron Man’s story of the rights of ascension in a technological world, and serves really as just frosting on the cake that is actually film that could be called Wakanda: A Prelude to Infinity War, as it sets up one of the battlefields for the next Avengers movie, just as the first Thor and Captain America films were really just a way of getting the punter ready for a more complete film experience with the first Avengers film.

In saying that though, I don’t want to discount the amazing work it did with having a sympathetic bad guy and a great set of role models for various groups that in pop culture don’t get as many as the white male population.

This film, even though it is a fun film, in 100% sticking to the Marvel formula so if you are expecting TOO much different from the stations that the hype train stopped at whilst this film was at the cinemas, you will be disappointed.

Score: ***

Format: This film is presented in an impeccable 16:9 image with a matching DTS-HDMA 7.1 audio which is absolutely amazing.

Score: *****

Extras: As one expects with Marvel films, they have a pack of extras ready to role, some about this film, and others to advertise other product, but why wouldn’t you do that with a captured audience?

There is a Featurettes section which contains 4 parts: Crowning a New King which looks at the character of Black Panther and his world, The Hidden Kingdom Revealed is an introduction to the fictional African nation of Wakanda and making it a ‘real’ place, The Warriors Within looks at the actors who play the various Wakandans throughout the film and finally, Wakanda Tevealed: Exploring the Technology looks at the cool toys in the film.

The usual Marvel Gag Reel is present which seem to get less and less funny each time, as the actors seem to almost be acting the gags.

There is four Deleted Scenes which, like the rest of the film, are quite charming, and honestly, whilst I normally think most deleted scenes are better off deleted, there are a couple of bits here that have some heart that would not have hurt the film at all.

From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion is a really cool look at all the writers of the character, including not just the movie creators, but also comic writers like Don McGregor, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Christopher Priest.

Marvel Studios:The First Ten Years – Connecting The Universe is the first of the Marvel sales pitches on this disc of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is no doubt it is extraordinarily clever and it is pretty cool when any series of films have a linking world, like Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse and more importantly, Universal’s monster movies of the 40s that had multiple crossovers in the form of House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein. This is a fine albeit short celebration and for a moment, you look at all these separate movies as one big story, rather than a series of films with a, to date, continually unresolved plot device as it’s connective tissue.

Exclusive Sneak Peek at Antman and the Wasp is another one of those aforementioned self-promotional pieces that shows off the next attraction coming to the ci emas, in this case, Antman and the Wasp. The first movie was so charming that I actually am really looking more forward to this that either the sequel to Infinity War or my beloved Captain Marvel movie (in which I believe the main character has been miscast, but prove me wrong, Marvel).

There is also an Audio Commentary by writer/ director Coogler and production designer Hannah Beachler is fascinating as it doesn’t talk about the usual writer/ director stuff, it also explores the design of the entire world of Black Panther and Wakanda.

Score: *****

WISIA: As it is a part of the greater world of the Marvel movies, I will watch it again, but it’s not a top tier Marvel movie for me.

Roger Corman: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)

One from the re watch pile…

Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)

Film: I sometimes wonder if when the Lumière brothers stood on the shoulders of Thomas Edison and William Dickson and created their wonderful Cinématographe machine if they ever sat down and discussed the wonders of what their creation may hold in the future.

‘I imagine one day a man will make a film about an Island of Fishmen!’

‘I imagine one day someone will make a film called ‘ Dinoshark’!’

‘I imagine one day someone will adapt the work of Edgar Allen Poe into a series of films!’

‘I imagine one day a man will make a film with a spaceship in it that has boobs on it!’

‘I imagine one day a man will make all those films, and write/ produce/ star in many many more!’

‘Oh Auguste, don’t be ridiculous: one man could never do all that in one lifetime!!’

Well, one man did, and continues to do so! Roger Corman would have to be the most important man in the history of cinema. He is certainly a rebel before his time who has not only nurtured such talents as Ron Howard, Jonathon Demme, Joe Dante, Jack Nicolson, Martian Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich and many others, he’s also been at the forefront of effects development, expediency of production (both time and money wise) and just the ability to show that any story, if made cheap enough, can be a financial success… and DAMN the critics. Audiences and critics want different things from cinema!

I believe that B movie fans like myself are generally Corman fans before they realise that Corman exists. I know my youth was spent looking at Famous Monsters and watching late night creature features, a lot which have probably disappeared from my memory through the eons I’ve been alive, so I must have really experienced his work around this time. For certain though, I definitely know I watched Battle Beyond the Stars, and even as a kid knew it was a cheap seats version of Star Wars, but Sybil Danning…. sigh!

It wasn’t until my Fangoria years in the 80s that I really realised what a spectacular output Corman was responsible for, and here, with the documentary Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, we get to see just why his influence on the movie industry is a unique and important one.

Written and directed by Alex Stapleton, who reviewed two important nominations for this film, one the Golden Camera at Cannes and the other a Rondo Hatten Classic Horror Award, this film looks at Corman’s history, the amazing successes he’s had over the years, and the daring steps he took into all different areas of production, direction, distribution and even sociological ideals which may not have always been wholly acceptable by the moral majority.

This film is a concise look at an amazing career, that still continues today, and with the absolute catalogue of talent interviewed here, we get a look at what Corman did for so many people in Hollywood, even if that just meant them finding out exactly what they WOULDN’T want to do as far as production is concerned.

Highly recommended.

Score: *****

Format: This film was reviewed on the UK Bluray release which runs for approximately 90 minutes. For the most part, the image is excellent and presented in 1.78:1 but that occasionally changes depending on the historical footage shown. The audio is a matching quality DTS-HD 5.1.

Score: ****1/2

Extras: There is a pretty cool bunch of extras on this disc:

Extended Interviews takes all the stuff that didn’t make the cut to the film but still had interesting stories to tell.

Special Messages to Roger is a nice collection of tributes to Corman from his contemporaries, acolytes, apprentices and dilettantes. Some are heartfelt, some funny, but all seem to be genuine!

There is also a trailer for the film. Nicholson’s comment from the film,’ by mistake, he made a good picture every once in a while’ should have been the Tagline to the whole thing, and it’s quoted here.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I actually love film documentaries almost as much as I love movies, and this is one I watch regularly.

The New Look For The Doctor

Today, the BBC released a pic of what the new look for the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) in Doctor Who is going to be…

Personally, I think it looks great. Slightly reminiscent of previous Doctor’s looks but well and truly with a look of her own. My concern for our first female Doctor would be that they would ‘sex’ her up’, but thankfully they haven’t. I’m really looking forward to this change in direction!

The Super Nintendo Mini for Horror Fans!

So today I grabbed one of these beauties:

The Super Nintendo Mini! I preordered it several weeks ago, actually upon announcement, as this was my favourite video game system of all time.

I’ve only hooked it up to a little Sonic TV and I’ve played almost all of the 21 games, I leave the RPGs to a later date, but the unit is cute, about ten cm square and 5 or 6 cm high, but the controllers feel like they are the same size as the old ones. I bought it so I could play Super Mario and Mario Kart again, but was thrilled to find that a couple of frustrating old favs in the horror/ science fiction genre have made it on as well.

The awesome sideways scrolling…. actually, these three all are…. beat em up/ shoot em up Castlevania IV where you are making your way through a map slowly taking on harder and harder villains and obstacles.

Next is Super Ghouls and Ghosts:

Super Ghouls n Ghosts was a classic arcade game and it’s still fun and frustrating and features a brave knight in a fight against zombies, werewolves and other supernatural beasties.

Last but not least was the game Contra III: The Alien Wars

Contra III is another similar style of game but can be for two players simultaneously as two tough guys are up against an alien invasion.

So what did I think of the unit? Well, I’m not a retro gamer in the slightest and even though I appreciate the look back at the past and the fun that I had with these games, especially things like Starfox and Street Fighter in addition to the ones I mentioned above, but I’d rather super cool, realistic graphics and online connectivity with my gaming. Sure this was fun, but we certainly live in a better time for gaming now!

It’s a fun distraction, but I don’t see myself playing it for a great deal of time.

Life (2017) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Life (2017)

Australian Bluray cover

Film: Have you ever seen a trailer for a film and had it cause a horrible disorder called UERS also known as Unstoppable Eye Roll Disorder? For me, when I first saw the trailer for Life I thought, ‘wow, they have remade but not name-checked Alien’, which seemed to me to be a pretty brave thing to do, after all, Alien is a scifi/ horror film that is still relevant, and still resonates almost 40 years later!

Upon watching the film, however, I realised that yes, it is similar to Alien in two ways: one, that it takes place in space, and two, that an alien life form is at fault, but essentially this is another version of the Agatha Christie/ Ten Little Indians film (with people being picked off one by one) that has been done hundreds of times in the horror genre, and you can namecheck many giallo and slashers that use them. 

The difference with this was that this film adds in the threat of being in space, such as the film Gravity did. Sure, Alien had that same threat, but rarely were you reminded that the whole thing took place in space. It was about the isolation but that isolation could have been anywhere, and until the end and Ripley gets to the escape pod, you aren’t really reminded regularly about this taking place in space. Life constantly reminds you of its external environment, with large windows showing the external views of the space station in which the film takes place, and that exterior is both a threat and a weapon.

Anyway, what is the film about?

Well, a very exciting experiment is coming to an end on the International Space Station (ISS): a probe that has visited Mars has returned with a sample from the surface, and that sample contains the first evidence ever of life from another planet. 

Ryan Reynolds loses this Deadpool.

This single cell organism, nicknamed ‘Calvin’, evolves and grows at a typically science fiction rate, and when it is probed by Derry (Ariyon Bakare) it freaks out and attacks him, and sure enough starts its way through the rest of the crew (played by Ryan Reynolds, Olga Dihovichnaya), Hiroyuki Sanada, Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal).

It’s aggressiveness, both in evolution and attitude, would suggest that it should be kept of the earth, but how can the crew survive both the creature, and the oppressive nature of space…

The first thing I have to point out this film space-based environment is utterly convincing. This is not just due to the special effects and the practical effects, but also due to the cast’s performance. The constant motion they go through, even when ‘sitting’ together at a table is a clever acting mechanic to make sure we are aware that this all takes place on a space station. Honestly, it’s quite possibly the first film I’ve seen where no main character talks a single step, which makes for another great point insomuch as one of the characters is a paraplegic, but in space, it doesn’t matter as legs aren’t required to me mobile.

Jake Gyllenhaal abandoned is human suit for a space suit.

The tragedy of the film is Calvin isn’t realised as well. Sure it is difficult to do these kind of constantly evolving creature, but occasionally it looks flat: that doesn’t take you completely out of the film, and doesn’t effect the ultimately devastating ending, but my right eye would occasionally close in disappointment.

Another thing with Calvin is that he seems to work out things very quickly: whilst I appreciate the story needs to travel along at a clip, occasionally I did think that ‘instinct’ was replaced with ‘convenient, highly intelligent thought’ and this is my only real criticism of the film.

One thing I really did like though was a really spectacular directorial sleight-of-hand which did actually fool me, and generally I’m pretty savvy!

Life is a well executed film that echoes what has come before it without completely copying it, and has some great acting and cool effects.

Score: ***1/2

Life Australian Bluray menu screen

Format: This review was performed on the multi-region Australian release bluray of the film. It runs for approximately 104 minutes and is presented in an impeccable 2.39:1 image with an amazing DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: A bunch of extras appear on this disc:

Deleted scenes sees 6 deleted scenes that really weren’t necessary to the flow of the film and aren’t missed, though the ‘Tang’ scene shows the crew’s disappointment as to not being able to go home after the discover of the lifeform could have still slipped in.

Life: In Zero G shows how the effect of the cast being in ‘zero gravity’ for the film and how the casts acting skills, the stunt team and special effects crew achieved it.

Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin looks at the research that had gone into creating Calvin as a scientifically convincing creature, and the special effects execution of that.

Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space looks at the director’s objective on making a science fiction film that feels like it could be real.

Astronaut Diaries is a series of interstitials of the cast in character talking directly to the camera.  

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s a good movie with some great performances, but I can’t see myself revisiting it frequently, if at all.

Baby Calvin: he ain’t no Baby Groot!

Power Rangers (2017)

One from the to watch pile…
Power Rangers (2017)

Australian Bluray Cover to Power Rangers

Film: I was probably too old to enjoy the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when it first hit TV in Australia in the early 90s, but I enjoyed it anyway. I’ve always liked superheroes that wear a common uniform, like the Fantastic Four or the original X-men, so ‘sentai’ shows definitely appealed.

(Sentai is a Japanese term for a military unit, like Squad or Task Force, but is commonly used to describe Japanese superhero Tv shows when a super team is involved. My favourite Star Wars toys were always the rank and file soldiers too.)

Anyway, when this movie was announced, I decided I needed to rewatch, and what 20 years adds to the human mind is the capacity to see that in MMPR, the originals’ weren’t ‘teens with attitude’ like the opening titles would suggest, but instead were douchebags with superpowers who actually bullied two mildly retarded kids, Bulk and Skull, in between fighting an array of ridiculous beasts thrown at them by the amusingly named Rita Repulsa. 

I only watched this first series and didn’t continue on though I understand from friends who are younger than me that this show in all its forms was greatly influential on them, as they were of the age to have all the toys and stuff, and so nostalgia bit them hard. Conceptually I love the idea of all the various series’s that were made, even though I didn’t watch them.

So here we are, and I’ve just finished watching the new Power Rangers movie, and quite liked it.

This Rita (Elizabeth Banks) is definitely not a ‘repulsa’!

Power Rangers starts with a battle on earth millions of years ago between Zordon (Brian Cranston) and Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) which ends with Zordon having to sacrifice himself to beat her. 

We then flash forward to now, where all-star high school football player Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is put on detention for tomfoolery in a cow which resulted in police involvement, and in detention he meets slightly autistic Billy (RJ Cyler) whom he defends against a bully and the two become u easy allies… especially after Jason learns that in return for a favour, Billy can disable his police tracker ankle band.

That night the pair go to a mining facility in their town where Billy blows up a part of a cliff face as he believes his father, who died there, knew there was something in the rock. The explosion brings the attention of fellow detention inhabitant, Kimberly (Naomi Scott), school dodging Zach (Ludi Lin) and outsider Trini (Becky G).

 Behind the cliff they find a wall made of crystal with weird coloured coins inside. They each take a coin and the next day find they are now recipients of superpowers. The three meet up back at the mine to try and find out what happened, but what they find is a buried space ship maintained by an annoying robot, Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and the spirit of the aforementioned Zordon.

Zordon tells them they are now the Power Rangers, and that their powers are a gift to help them defeat Rita as her return is predestined, but will the teens be able to learn how to ‘morph’, which so they can fully realise their true, full powers and defeat her?

It’s great how this film takes the essence of the TV show and distilled it into a proper science fiction film which shakes all the established norms, like the appearance of the kids (no more race-based Ranger colours), and Kimberly’s bullies are now two female characters straight out of Mean Girls. There’s other throwbacks like the appearance of the Zords is straight out of the TV show, with that profiled attack formation, and keep your eyes out for some of the originals popping up here and there.

I think what really makes this film is the teens take it in full seriousness and that makes the film feel real, but it balances off perfectly with Banks’ preposterously overblown badguy performance. That’s not to say the teens don’t have fun with it as there are several occasions where the ‘normal’ antagonists (Kimberly’s bullies and the redhead kid who terrorises Billy) get various come-uppances, but in general their plight is played completely straight, and I guess that will play better with teenaged viewers as all those teenaged problems feel completely real when you are that age.

As far as the story is concerned, it’s a pretty solid origin story delivered well, and most of the special effects are good, though the close-ups of Goldar, one of Rita’s minions, and his ever moving, flowing gold body are average at best. 

Red Ranger/ Jason (Dacre Montgomery) kicks some butt!

Typically I can’t not mention the soundtrack. There is a cool mix of re-done songs from the 90s, an awesome synth score and a new version of the ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ song.

Krispy Kreme have obviously put their hands up for a bit of promotional claptrappery and product placement as there is one sequence where I believe the phrase ‘Krispy Kreme’ is thrown about by every lead character within about 5 minutes of each other.

If I am to have any real criticism of this film, it’s the two female leads looked a little similar. Not that you get them mixed up, but perhaps a visual cue to separate them a little more could have been beneficial.

This film combines all the angst and teenage pain of alienation and the things people expect of you (like a John Hughes movie might display) and mixes it with a familiar, and yet somewhat unfamiliar science fiction environment, and together they form an entertaining, though occasionally whiny film that’s a load of fun.

Score: ****

Australian bluray Menu Screen

Format: The film was reviewed with the Australian region B bluray which runs for approximately 123 minutes and is presented in a beautiful 2.40:1 image which is absolutely one of the finest images I’ve seen on bluray. The sound is presented in Dolby Atmos which through my 5.1 seemed to drop out Zordon’s voice occasionally, so I am not sure whether my equipment couldn’t handle the audio file accurately or if the file had an issue.

Score: ***

Extras: There’s a decent mount if extras on this disc:

An audio commentary by director Dean Israelite and writer John Gatins which is an thorough and interesting commentary though a lot of stuff from the ‘Making of’ extras are repeated here.

The Power of the Present is a dissection of the history of the Rangers and how this film was made, and features great interviews with all involved, cast, crew and even the producers of the original programme! It’s really interesting and well worth the time. It’s actually a bunch of approximately 15 minute shorts that can be watched as a whole making of piece. 

There are some deleted and extended scenes and as usual, they didn’t need to be there and their removal makes sense for the flow of the movie.

Outtakes are amusing I’m sure as recollection for the cast, but in this case aren’t very entertaining at all.

There is also the trailer, with the capacity to watch it with a commentary, which is something cool and unusual.

Score: *****

WISIA: Oh, I’ll watch this again and again!

The new Kimberly (Naomi Scott) is a great as the old Kimberly

Galaxy of Terror (1981) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Galaxy of Terror DVD cover

Film: Talking about American cinema? Well at sometime you are talking about Roger Corman: writer, director, producer, actor… is there ANYTHING he can’t do? Not only has he many many credits to his name, he has also discovered SO many talents, such as Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese… honestly, that’s another ridiculous list one could write that would fill a book.

Roger Corman is the physical embodiment of every horror fans dream come true.

Several years ago, Shout Factory paid tribute to Mr Corman with a cool set of DVDs under the banner ‘Roger Corman’s Cult Classics’ and so such a tribute should be made’ in actual fact, I wish someone would get off their butt and do a ‘Corman Definitive Collection’ and remaster ALL his films onto Bluray. Who wouldn’t love a collection that feature such diversity as Death Race 2000, Humanoids from the Deep, Mask of the Red Death and Little Shop of Horrors in it?

This film, Galaxy of Terror tells the crew of the space ship ‘Quest’ who travel to a planet called Morganthus to find out what happened to the missing crew of the ship ‘Remus’. When they get there, they discover the entire crew is dead, but not only that, something seems to be stalking them too… something that comes from their nightmares…

Galaxy of Terror: Ray Walston... my favourite!
The first real stand out for this film in the cast: Zalman King from Blue Sunshine, Erin Moran from Happy Days, Ray Walston from My Favourite Martian, Sid Haig from Spider Baby, and of course, the man who three years later would become Freddy Krueger, Robert England.

It’s proper old school cinema as well, with heaps of stop motion, matte paintings, practical gore… even the post-filming effects look ever so slightly better than 70s television! Hilariously though, the sound effects are straight out of some Effect bank somewhere, probably the same on Hanna Barbera or Filmation used for their Saturday cartoon set. I almost expected, at times, for a Batman ’66 ‘BAM’ or ‘THWACK’.

Galaxy of Terror: Erin Moran… they weren’t ALL happy days!

It’s not the greatest story in the world, and you can see both its influences from Alien, that were then passed onto Aliens (possibly due to James Cameron’s involvement) but it is a fine way to spend 80 odd minutes, and any film with a giant maggot rape surely is a must watch!!

Score: ***1/2

Galaxy of Terror DVD menu screen

Format: This review was performed of the Shout Factory, region 1/ NTSC DVD which runs for about 81 minutes. The image is a decent anamorphic widescreen with a matching Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Heap of extras in this disc!

Tales from the Lumber Yard: The Making Galaxy of Terror is a six-part documentary exploring Roger Corman, New World Pictures and the making of this film. It’s pretty thorough and has some great interviews with cast and crew, some of whom have some interesting anecdotes about James Cameron.

There is a huge collection of stills galleries, which I normally hate, but a lot of the pictures are posters and promo material, background matte painting plates and storyboard stuff, so I’ll let it slide.

The script is also available as a PDF ( not reviewed ).

There is four trailers, for this film, Humanoids from the Deep, Piranha and Forbidden World.

There is also a commentary with Dave DeCoteu moderating discussions about the film with cast and crew members including Taaffe O’Connell, Alex Gillis and Allan Apone. It’s an entertaining commentary for sure, with heaps of memeories about the set.

Score: ****1/2

WISIA: It’s Corman scifi, which means a bit of gore, a bit of nudity and a lot of fun: of course it’s a rewatcher!

Galaxy of Terror: what a nightmare!

The Diabolical (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Diabolical (2015)

The Australian Blu-ray cover of The Diabolical

Film: I love it when a movie surprises me with a plot twist or a change of direction. I don’t necessarily mean a last ten minute jaw-dropper like in an M. Night Shymalan film, but instead a gear shift part way through. The perfect example of this would be something like From Dusk Til Dawn. At first, your enjoying a total Quentin Tarantino-styled American gangster flick, and then, the clutch is pumped and the gear stick flicked into reverse and it becomes a total Robert Rodriguez Mexicano vampire film.

The Diabolical does this, but not to the extent that QT and RR’s film did. Instead, it takes elements touched on in, believe it or not, Lucio Fulci’s House By The Cemetery, and expands upon them by throwing tropes of another genre that don’t always belong in a story about the supernatural. A warning on the contents of this film could also have the disclaimer ‘may contain traces of The Butterfly Effect’.

The film is slick and well made by first time director Alistair Legrand who co-wrote this film with another first-timer Luke Harvis.

Ali Later as Madison from The Diabolical

Single mum Madison (Ali Larter) has a few problems. Not only is the eldest of her two kids, Jacob (Mx Rose) been acting violently to other kids since the death of his father, but the house they live in (with youngest child, Haley played by Chloe Perrin) is haunted by not one, and not two, but three different spectres. In addition, she may also get kicked out of her home due to unpaid bills, though salvation in this case may be coming in the form of an offer from creepy CamSet employee Austin (Patrick Fischler).

Madison has exhausted all the local priests and paranormal investigators for help with her ghost problem, but when her physicist boyfriend, Nikolai (Arjun Gupta), finds out about it, he decides to assist her in her investigation but during the course of their research, she finds out that maybe HE is a part of her problem… and maybe Austin is more involved than he seems…

What’s great about the script to this film that upon rewatching, the ‘twist’ is hinted to on several occasions, which makes the depth of the script all that more enjoyable, and doesn’t just feel like the pancake flip that From Dusk Til Dawn was.

Amonster from The Diabolical

If I am to criticise this film on anything, it’s two minor things. One, the title The Diabolical really has no reference point in this film as nothing devilish is going on at all. The other problem is the ending is a little bit soft, especially considering how strong the rest of the film is.

That aside, it’s a great film with some great performances that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Score: ****

The Diabolical Bluray title screen

Format: This Australian, region B blu-ray release of this film is in a 1.78:1 presentation, which for the most part is really sharp, but occasionally loses focus around the edge, which is quite strange. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, though, is perfect.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: The disc starts with trailers for Bus 657 and The Drownsman but the only other extras are images of the covers for the films Dark House, Pay the Ghost and Into The Grizzly Maze.

Shame, as the film was clever enough to warrant even a small making of, if just for the twist and the make up effects.

Score: *

WISIA: It’s an entertaining film and has one of my favourites Ali Larter in it so it’ll get looked at again.

Patrick Fischler in The Diabolocal

The 5th Wave (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The 5th Wave (2015)

Film: The 5th Wave is a film based on the, to date, as yet unfinished teen-aimed trilogy written by Rick Yancey. The film’s screenplay was written by Akiva Goldsman, Susanna Grant and Jeff Pinker, and directed by J Blakeson, who wrote The Descent Part 2 and The Disappearance of Alice Creed, which was also his directorial debut.

The 5th Wave tells the story of Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her experiences during an invasion by an alien race who have obviously done their research on the planet. 

Cassie is just a normal school girl, living at home with her Mum (Maggie Siff), Dad (Ron Livingston) and brother Sammy (Zackary Arthur) when an alien invasion happens and the family ends up separated. The parents meet an untimely demise, and the kids are separated. Sammy ends up with an army regiment who are training children to fight the aliens; here he meets up with Zombie (Nick Robinson), the leader of Squad 53 (and also ex-schoolmate of Cassie), Ringer (Maika Monroe, almost unrecognisable actor from It Follows) and others.

Meanwhile, Cassie is desperate to find her brother, and after being shot, is helped by Evan (Alex Roe), a farmer who seems to be a little more well trained than he should be. The two of them set off to find him, and soon find themselves involved with all sorts of trouble with Squad 53 and their fight against the alien incursion.

So, what’s it like? Well, it’s aimed directly at teenaged girls between 14 and 19, and whilst attempts to tell a hard hitting story, the elements to do with young romance, alienation and protection of one’s family that can be found in novels like the Twilight series and the Divergent series, water it down and ‘soap opera’ it far too much for it to be taken too seriously.

It does want to be taken seriously though, and there is very little levity (actually, after the invasion there is one moment of comedy that is more out of place than a Trekkie in a slave Leia bikini) and with the teen romance angle slipping in, it’s hard to do humour without losing credibility. The interesting thing though is it attempts to butch itself up by slipping in elements, and I kid you not, of Starship Troopers, and at a pinch, I’d suggest it may want to be Invasion of the Body Snatchers as well.

As with all of these teen films, it is the first of a trilogy (although if history is anything to go by, the last film will be multiple parts in its attempt to tie up loose ends), so there is a distinct feeling of untied plot strings.

It does, however, present itself very well. The film looks fantastic, is entertaining and the cast are likeable enough, but any adult who has watched more than two ‘earth invasion’ films will not find much original here.

Score: ***

Format: A modern day film on a digital format looks as one would expect: pristine. This Australian multi-region release of the film runs for 1 hour and 52 minutes and is presented in 16:9 widescreen with a DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 soundtrack. It also comes with a Digital Ultraviolet digital download. 

Score: *****

Extras: Big bunch of extras on this disc.

A commentary by Blakeson and Moretz who talk over each other a bit, but essentially provide a thorough film commentary experience.

Deleted scenes is what you would expect it would be. Nothing that will really be missed but there are a couple of set-ups that still have the pay-offs in the film, which never seemed out of place… Well, until now that I have seen the set-up. The real shame is Maria Bello’s cruel taskmaster didn’t end up getting some amazing scenes in the film.

There is a typical Gag Reel with amusing mistakes and hijinks.

Inside The 5th Wave is your typical, made-for-home-video making of piece. It’s not an intensive, in depth look at filmmaking, but some of the brief looks at behind the scenes stuff is pretty cool.

Training Squad 53 shows us how the young actors were trained to become Squad 53. It’s funny to watch young actors take on this sort of training as they really take to it as an adventure. 

The 5th Wave Survival Guide is a bunch of generic survival tips from the cast. This piece looks like an MTV interstitial or some such.

Sammy on the Set follows actor Zackary Arthur as he learns about filmmaking from the crew. It’s a nice easy to understand breakdown of what function each crew member performs on the set. If you have a young budding filmmaker in the family, this could be a good extra for them to watch.

Creating A New World is an special effects piece looking at the design of the slow degradation of the planet as the aliens start to pull everything apart, both from a CGI and practical effects point of view.

It says ‘Previews’ but it should say ‘Preview’ and it’s for the Angry Birds Movie, which is also how the disc opens, so…why?

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s a well shot and engaging film, but is obviously aimed at a teen market, which means it’s longevity will be dubious. It’s really aimed at the Hunger Games/ Maze Runner fans, so it’s good entry level scifi if you are trying to get your 16 year old daughter to watch stuff from your movie collection, but as an adult, you probably won’t watch it twice.