Posts tagged “Winter

Alone in the Dark / Working for Fighter Command


Alone in the Dark  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseEdward Carnby (Christian Slater) is a private investigator specializing in unexplainable supernatural phenomena.  His cases delve into the dark corners of the world, searching for truth in the occult remnants of ancient civilizations.  Now, the greatest mystery of his past is about to become the most dangerous case he has ever faced.  With the help of his ex-girlfriend, archaeologist Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), and his bitter rival, government agent Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff), Edward is about to learn that just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it cannot kill you!

2005  –  Certificate Not Rated  –  German/Canadian Film
4.0 out of 10

I hate this time of year.  It’s not just the fact that all the good bits of the winter are over and it’s still months until the summer; or the fact that I’ve got no money as I squandered it over the Christmas period; or even that there’s hardly ever any decent gigs to go to.  No, it’s also the time of year when everyone I care for dies and my relationships always end.  On top of all this, it’s when we write our Financial Plan at work too.  The latter is less a mathematical exercise and more a futile attempt to predict the future; (and the scale of my successes in the National Lottery over the past 20 years nicely demonstrates how well my precognitive abilities have been developed).  The process bares all the hallmarks of Fighter Command at the height of the Battle of Britain, wondering where the next plane or pilot is going to come from, as its fully committed assets are quickly depleted.  The consequences of all this is that it generally feels like we’re looking into a dark, bottomless abyss, as the world as we know it ends.  (Although on the up side, we are still here after nearly 55 years).  More to the point, I have to spend this afternoon and evening working, because I’ve been told to move loads of numbers about in mine; I’m not sure why, they won’t get any bigger however many times I move them.  This film is also about the end of the world as we know it.

Other than all the things and people I hate, despise or loathe, I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going, laid-back, tolerant guy.  But even I have my limits and this film has just reached one.  What makes things worse is that it could have been really good.  The story’s fine (it’s based on a computer game), the effects are decent enough (the gun-shot one borders on impressive) and even I’ve heard of its three, principal actors.  Christian Slater was the Communications Officer on the Excelsior for goodness sake; it’s not the most challenging bridge job around that’s true, but it was on Captain Sulu’s ship so that must count for something.  And Tara Reid, the Choir Chick from “American Pie”, gets given some glasses to wear, so she can look intelligent and thus play the part of an archaeologist.  The chase scene, (once we’ve got over the longest “Star Wars” like preamble in cinematic history), is actually pretty good too.  Unfortunately, the characters are so poorly written that the Oxford English Dictionary is considering using them as part of its official definition of one-dimensional.  The Alpha Male rivalry between Richard Burke and Edward Carnby is a key plot element.  (Edward used to work with Richard, so consequently they scowl at one another a lot.)  It’s probably fair to say they don’t get on, aren’t each others’ friends on Facebook and don’t send one another Christmas cards, not even e-cards.  Then, in the middle of a big battle Edward shoots a ‘bad guy’ who’s coming up behind Richard.  The latter gives Edward a brief nod of gratitude.   This incident is never acknowledged or further developed, but from then on they’re instantly the best of buddies.  Is that what it takes to remove years of personal animosity?  Maybe I’ve entirely missed some sort of gay subplot, which would explain a great many things, as well as why Edward and Aline are ex-lovers. The whole film is littered with a garbage script and stereotypical characters that act in nonsensical ways.  I especially enjoyed the Abkani (they’re the bad guys) charging towards some soldiers and then basically stopping a few metres in front of them to growl and throw their limbs around a lot, thus allowing the latter to blast away at them for ages and ages; not that the sight of thousands of rounds of ammunition fired at point blank range not seeming to have much of an effect, puts them off trying.  When I see a movie like this I want to really believe the world is about to end, not keep glancing at the clock to see how long I’ve been watching it for.  So basically it’s great, except for the characters and everything they say or do…

It has a Scandinavian, heavy metal soundtrack.  Nightwish aside, this tells you a lot.  Listen up.  Heavy metal (and all its sub-genera) should never be used for any film with a budget of over $500,000, ever.  It’s just not right.

The trailer’s like the rest of the movie; it seems to promise lots but contains nothing.

Recommended for archaeologists, private investigators, ‘Government agents’ and anyone who wears glasses to look intelligent.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At one point Steven Dorff throws a bit of a wobbly.  He picks up a few bits of paper (probably the script), scans them briefly and then pushes over a table and screams out, “My guys are dying out there for nothing; for fucking nothing!”  Seeing an actor demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence by empathising with the audience whilst also staying in character, just has to be badass.

Alone in the Dark at IMDB (2.3 / 10)
Alone in the Dark at Wikipedia
Alone in the Dark at YouTube

No trailer I’m afraid, thanks to YouTube blocking the video.  Liongate clearly doesn’t want anyone to find out about this film!


Gwendoline / Changing Evolution


Gwendoline  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseFrom acclaimed master of erotica Just Jaeckin (“Emmanuelle” “Story of O” “Lady Chatterley’s Lover) comes “Gwendoline”, one of the most sought-after ‘guilty pleasure’ movies of all time!  Filled to the brim with enough female flesh and fetishistic imagery to satisfy the most demanding of voyeurs, this is one cult fantasy film you definitely won’t want to miss!  Follow the adventures of the sweet and innocent Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen of “Bachelor Party” and those legendary Whitesnake videos) in which she travels as a stowaway to the Far East with her sexy friend Beth (played by French actress and model Zabou) on a mission to track down her father, who has mysteriously disappeared whilst on a mission to find a mythical butterfly.  Rescued from a group of lecherous seamen by the hunky adventurer Willard (actor and male model Brent Huff), Gwendoline persuades him to make up their trio and embark on a daring journey to the land of the Yek Yeik, a country ruled by a diabolical dominant Amazon queen and an army of female fetish-clad Amazonian warriors!  There, Gwendoline must defeat the evil queen and prevent Willard from being forced to spawn a new race of female warriors – or face certain death.  Gwendoline is a bizarre adventure like no other, freely adapted from John Willie’s acclaimed erotic comic strip, which fans will be talking about for years to come.

1984  –  Certificate: 18  –  French Film
Rating Details:  Strong violence
7.5 out of 10

Right now I’m sitting here drinking a bottle of Batemans Victory Ale; (6% and Vegan Society approved), thinking how great the summer is.  I know, every year the weather’s a bit of a disappointment, but somehow it’s still loads better than the winter.  However crappy the weather is, it’s still always a lot lighter in the summer than the rest of the year.  In the summer, the sun goes down to the right of that tree over ‘here’.  In the winter, it goes down behind the tree over there; (trying to hide its embarrassment, no doubt).  It’s 8:42 pm right now, warm and light enough to sit and read in my lounge without a light or coat on.  In the winter at this time it would be freezing cold, dark and depressing dank outside.  If I ever own a time machine, I’m going to go way, way back, to the point where humans (or whatever we were then), evolved away from hibernating during the winter.  Out will come a very sharp pair of secateurs and whatever genetically mutated freak of nature caused us to stay awake all year, is going to find itself well and truly snipped away from the evolutionary tree.  Bastard!  This film is about natural history too.

I thought this was one of those nature documentaries, where we’d follow an intrepid explorer searching for new species of something, in this case a butterfly.  So you can imagine my surprise when I was confronted with a chisel-jawed anti-hero, two beautiful woman who’s tops fell off slightly more often than was strictly necessary, a lot of bald chicks in leather bikinis, a lost tribe of women and a quite imaginative torture chamber.  Then again, I’ve never been on as expedition to search for anything, so perhaps Sir David Attenborough runs into things like this all the time.  I guess that would explain why nature documentaries are so popular.  Nevertheless, it is a film all about a hunt for a butterfly and without wanting to spoil the ending, it looks a lot like a blacker and larger version of a Swallowtail.  Normally I’m not exactly inspired by trashy films like this.  It’s certainly another of those vegan-unfriendly, birds-in-leather with whips films.  However, this one’s funny enough (both intentionally and unintentionally), well-made enough, epic enough and silly enough, to provide a highly entertaining and fun watch.  It looks really good and the acting is pretty spirited too.  Brent Huff at the hero Willard is a hoot and Tawny Kitaen, (who goes from innocent convent-educated girl to kick-ass, gladiatorial warrior in less than 100 minutes), looks… good.  The movie starts with an establishing shot in a busy, crowded, claustrophobic market near a harbour; I think it’s meant to be in China.  In the first three minutes we see someone nearly get run down and his cart of fruit tipped over, a fight break out, a theft of goods from the quayside with some associated shooting as the crew attempt to stop the getaway lorry, a group breaking into storage boxes, someone stealing food and someone else having a trolley taken from him; whilst two mounted police look on magnanimously, clearly on the lookout for some real crime under their noses.  That pretty well sums this movie up, as does the “Barbarella meets Indiana Jones” line on the DVD’s cover art.  It’s interesting that the BBFC’s “insight” (that’s what we call the rating details), now just says “strong violence”.  When it was first released it had 194 seconds cut out of it to enable it to get a cinema release in the UK; whilst America suffered from a version 16 minutes shorter.  Clearly, chariots pulled by semi-naked woman have lost their impact in the 21st Century.

In a B movie kind of way, this film has quite a decent soundtrack.  There’s not a lot else I can say about it really.

Recommended for naturalists, lepidopterists, heroes and anyone with a convent-based education.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Willard first appears in the film by crashing through a window.  He then takes a few moments to adjust his hat and smile, before dispatching all the bad guys with a display of high quality, hand-to-hand combat and rescuing two women from human traffickers.  That’s badass.  I’ll never be that cool.  :-(

Gwendoline at IMDB (5.0 / 10)

Gwendoline at Wikipedia


The Box / Zombie Invasion (On Bicycles)


The Box  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)Press the button and get a million dollars, but someone whom you don’t know will die. This is the offer given to Norma and Arthur, an ordinary decent couple played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, by the mysterious Arlington Steward (Frank Langella).  The question “What would you do?” will ring in your ears as you witness that their decision is just the beginning. Based on a short story by the writer of “I Am Legend” and from the director of “Donnie Darko”, “The Box” takes you on a tense, gripping and totally unpredictable ride as the couple realise that they are part of something greater and far more terrifying than they could ever have imagined.

2009  –  Certificate: 12  –  USA
Rating Details:  Moderate horror and psychological threat
7 out of 10

Has some sort of universal death wish descended on the world’s cycling population this week?  Or does a bit of snow render all bicycle lights inoperable and telepathically compel cyclists to wear really dark clothing?  The number of people riding bikes in the dark with no lights or anything reflective on, seems to have skyrocketed this week.  They’ve been everywhere, literally jumping out in front of me as I drive along, like zombies, except on bikes, and faster, and not undead with bits of rotting flesh hanging off them, not yet anyway.  I’m really starting to think that I should take a few of them out with my car, get the issue on the front pages and thus in the long run save many more from getting themselves run over.  I know I know, it’s another opportunity for me to become a national hero; and probably locked away by an uncaring judiciary for my troubles too.  Whatever happened to the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few? I’ll end up a citizens’ champion, losing my liberty for upholding the teachings of Surak, the subject of many an online petition to have my trial or sentence re-examined. This film offers a not dissimilar choice to people, to sacrifice your own freedom for someone you’ll never met.

This intellectual, sci-fi thriller is a brave attempt to do something a little different; it partly succeeds and the first part is excellent, but in the end it sort of looses the plot a bit, literally.  The idea is great, it looks good and it’s fun enough to watch, but it sort of gets a bit too complicated whilst at the same time being a bit too simplistic and leaving too much open to interpretation.   If you have to listen to the commentary to find out what was going on, then it’s kind of failed.  A second watch would probably be more rewarding, which isn’t such a bad thing.  I also didn’t really warm to the main characters Norma and Arthur.  They had plenty of money, a nice house, son and lifestyle, yet had over-extended themselves financially a little.  However, they didn’t seem to be in any particular difficulty but still choose to press the button.  An “ordinary decent couple” it says in the overview.  They just condemned someone to death.  Geez, I’d hate to meet an ordinary couple that wasn’t decent then.  After that, they did lose what little sympathy I had for their ‘plight’.  The end should have been pretty heart-rending, but I just found myself thinking that the situation they found themselves in served them right.  Maybe that makes me a bad person, but I really don’t think I’d have pushed the button.  The best scenes are the ones with Employee Arlington Stewart in them; an excellent bit of acting and a wonderfully rendered character.  The music is pretty good too.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for people willing to concentrate.

Top badass moment?   Cameron pressing the button.  Greedy bitch.

The Box at IMDB (5.6/10)


Twelve Monkeys: 3.5 Stars


Twelve Monkeys  -  FrontBlu-ray Cover (UK)What’s the point of daylight in winter?  Even on the odd occasion that it’s sunny, it’s so cold that no one really wants to spent time outside.  But most of the time it’s grey, miserable and wet, like today.  By 4pm it’s virtually night.  It’s so cold, the days are so short and it’s so dark all the time, that nothing grows.  Trees and plants have been around a lot longer than humans, so if they think the winter is a waste of time and just go to sleep, I really don’t see that we should be questioning their good judgement.  We should hibernate in the winter and enjoy the summer, when we can actually have fun being outside and it’s light for more than 20 minutes a day.  If I ever get my hands on a time machine, I’m going to grab myself a good pair of scissors and go back to wherever it was in our evolution that we decided that hibernating was a bad thing and snip off that particular evolutionary branch before it goes anywhere.  Trust me, you’d thank me for it.  This film is all about time travel and snipping off our evolutionary branch right here, right now; (well 1997 actually, but who’s counting)?

1995  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

Good, another film about animal rights weirdos.  Seven years before trying to turn everyone into zombies in “28 Days Later”, here they are apparently trying to “erase humanity from the planet”.  They never want to do anything nice, do they?  (The irony being, we seem to be doing a good job of this ourselves, anyway, without any ‘help’).  Bloody hippies; I bet they all enjoy a McDonald’s double flesh-burger with calf-stomach rennet cheese when they think no one’s looking.  So throw in a bit of time-travel and a moody Bruce Wills and what do you get?  A decent, if sometimes confusing, slightly too clever for its own good, sci-fi  film, with a couple of horrendous one-line plot contrivances that appear to have been added in a desperate attempt to stop the story smashing into a dead-end, from which there would be no escape.  Image someone marooned on the Moon, air running out and with no chance of rescue, then suddenly coming across the remains of one of the lunar models from the 70s in which there’s not only a supply of air, but also an engine capable of allowing it to be piloted back to Earth safely, including a manual, in a language the guy understands of course, to teach him how to do this; with none of this being explained other than by something like the guy thinking, “wow, aliens must have done all this, lucky for me.”  I didn’t really like either of the main characters either.  Bruce Willis had a bit of an excuse, his character being a bit distressed and having a somewhat difficult lifestyle and everything, but I really wanted to strangle Madeleine Stowe’s Dr Kathryn Railly.  For someone who was meant to be an experienced and well thought of psychiatrist, she managed to turn into a rambling idiot bimbo at the drop of a hat.  And what on Earth did she like about Bruce’s character; god, there’s hope for me yet.  However, it is a decent film, despite all that, with the secret, special ingredient that Terry Gilliam adds to all the films he makes; I’m not sure if it’s good for you but I could definitely taste it.  A bit like what Colonel Sanders puts into Kentucky Fried Chicken to try to disguise what it is and make it edible, probably.

Recommended for animal right activists.  Not recommended for monkey enthusiasts, as there aren’t 12 in it; in fact I’m not sure they’re any in it.  Sounds like an e-mail to Trading Standards might be in order.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I’m struggling a bit here, but I’m going for Bruce bashing the hell out of a pissed-off pimp with an old-fashioned telephone.  I’d like to see someone do that much damage with a modern, hands-free set or mobile.  It’s good to talk, but clearly even better to bash someone’s brains out with a phone.  That’ll stop the silent calls and salesman ringing.  Finding a way to combat the latter is most certainly badass.

Twelve Monkeys at IMDB (8.1 / 10)