• In another one of my reviews I mentioned I've become desensitized to anything horror and gore. Well, you can officially scratch that! We have a winner! (insert game show winner SFX). It has been a long, long time ago since a film really shook me up. Now, let's get into this review. I'm going to keep this one short and sweet!

    This is the face of the "friendzoned" man!

    Samantha (Najarra Townsend ) is a troubled young woman. Having gone through both alcohol and drug abuse, she seeks solace in her romantic relationship with Nikki (Katie Stegeman ). Frustrated by Nikki's unwillingness to fully commit to her, she goes back to the bottle and meets a mysterious young man at a party. After receiving a spiked drink from the man, the two go off to his car and what seems to be a consensual one night stand, soon turns into a rape. The next morning she wakes up in her own bed, more confused than anything by the events of the night prior. As the hours and days go by, her body starts to deteriorate and it seems she has contracted an STD. The truth behind her condition is much worse than she could ever imagine.

    Lo and behold, the "friendzoned" woman!

    The writing is pretty decent actually, you see; at its core the movie is about a young woman trying to leave her demons behind. Trying to fix whatever mess she created in her past but going about it all the wrong ways of course. As unsympathetic her character is, it would have been fascinating to see her love affair with Nikki crash and burn, the relationship with her mother (Caroline Williams) deteriorate and her falling back into her old habits. This could have been one of those Brett Easton Ellis, L.A. tragedies. You see, Samantha is a doomed character; destined to lose. Her demise takes a turn for the horrific though. That's its great strength and weakness at the same time. When the film does turn full on horror in its third act, it falls apart. Common sense and logic go straight out the window. Yes, even for a horror movie, the choices some characters make are just too unbelievable and head scratching stupid. 

    Ah, my typical Friday night...

    On the other side, this movie has body horror that would make David Cronenberg proud. It's definitely not as outrageous as in The Fly. Her bodily breakdown is firmly rooted in reality and is much more relatable. Now, mind you I can watch a man get ripped apart and heads explode and not bat an eye, but this had some scenes that had me cringing and made me look away from the screen. It's here that the movie succeeds as a horror. It's not a full on splatter-fest. It shows you just enough for you to fill in the terrible blanks. I guarantee you, if this film becomes mandatory viewing during high-school sex-ed classes; no one there will practice unsafe sex...ever.

    ...And what I look like the next Saturday morning.

    Yes, the movie is uneven, not very original and at times just plain illogical, It remains an interesting and fascinating watch though. A very different and fresh take on a horror sub-genre that's over-saturated at the moment (you'll get it half way into the movie what Samantha is becoming). Well worth your time. 

  • I wasn't always a fan of zombies. I used to think all they had to offer were gore and bad acting all wrapped up in a trashy sensibility. All it took was me stumbling into a late night triple bill of Romero's dead Trilogy. It changed my mind and I fell in love with the whole thing immediately. Since then I've been looking up and collecting everything I could get my hand on; movies, comics, audio drama's and books.

    Many times I've scrutinized this book from cover to cover!

    After I've read the excellent 'Zombie survival guide' by Max Brooks, it was a no brainer to get his highly anticipated follow up; 'World War Z'. The book follows a nameless interviewer, collecting and chronicling the first hand accounts of people who survived a great zombie war. Following it from the first signs, the near extinction of humanity and up to the point where the tide turns and we fight back. Epic stuff and more complex than you might think. Does that translate well to film though? The writers of the 'World War Z' movie seemed to think not. Now, why is that? Let's sink our teeth into it all and find out. 

    D'aaaaw, he's so dreamy...

    It all starts out quiet enough as we meet Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former UN investigator and his family as they do the usual morning ritual thing; pancakes, orange juice and idle chatter. When his wife Karin and him bring their kids to school, they get caught up in chaos as the world is hit by a strange pandemic. The dead are coming back to life and viciously attack the living. Narrowly escaping the city, Gerry gets forced to travel the world to find the source of this lethal virus and possibly find a cure.

    The iconic 'Battle of Yonkers'...is not in the film.

    Now, apart from the title this movie has actually very little in common with its source material. Sure, it features one character, some lines and vaguely some situations from the novel but for the rest it is a wholly original beast. In any other case this this would be fine but not when your movie is based on arguably the best zombie novel ever written. I understand the very episodic nature of the book could not be adapted for the big screen, it certainly gave the screenwriters a run for their money and it shows. You barely get to know Pitt's character. He's a man driven to save his family. That is about it. You don't get any deeper than that. Karin Lane, his wife (Mireille Enos) is actually nothing more than the woman waiting for her man to come home.

    At least they've got this right! Shoot 'em in the head!

    There is no real depth to her and her children. The rest of the characters of the movie are barely in it. You never get the chance to get to know anyone. Prime example is Matthew Fox (Lost) playing a parajumper. A role so small, it could have been played by any other lesser known actor. So, much of the big names in this movie are pretty much wasted talent. Even the zombies have little “character” to them. You barely get time to get a look at them. They become faceless and therefore not much of real threat. It is hard to care for anyone. Also, all the reports of the behind the scenes troubles, extensive re-shoots and a completely new 3rd act written by Damon Lindelof didn't exactly help. Everyone pretty much expected this movie to bomb. Is it an unmitigated disaster then? Actually, no.

    Reminds me of riots after a soccer game.

    Despite its apparent flaws this movie actually works. It keeps its focus. Pitt's, Gerry Lane is a man on a mission and the doesn't deviate from that. No, unnecessary subplots. There are absolutely breathtaking set pieces that somewhat capture the epic nature of the novel. The massive ant-like attack of the zombies in Israel is amazing. It offers the viewer tons of amusement. Originally a PG-13 film, the newly inserted gore for the unrated cut of the film adds little to the overall story though. It is “eye candy” only. No new real scenes.

    Yay! Finally! Some gore!

    Even though the movie is a roller-coaster ride, it still remains in the back of my mind that this movie could have been a classic. It could have been for zombie/horror films what “The Dark Knight” was to superhero movies. They should have put more effort into the story and screenplay. This would have been one for the ages. If you are looking for a great zombie story on screen, you are better off on the small screen with 'The Walking Dead', the classics or some of the better, newer fare. There are already plans for a sequel. Now, I do hope they keep closer to the source material and focus on making a great zombie/horror film instead of an amusing action/thriller. It is well worth your time but they could have done so much better than this.

  • Crashing buildings, giant robots and fantastic spaceship battles. This summer, I got visual carpet bombed. Yes, all this big budget, on-screen onslaught looked pretty spectacular but it somehow failed to make a connection with me. My mind needed a little rest. After all this fast food cinema, it needed some good 'ol 'home cooking'. Cue 'Europa Report'. I've seen this film getting positive reactions all over the net. So, I decided to see what all this fuzz was about and find out if all this praise is deserved.

    It was meant to be man's greatest achievement. The first manned mission; heading towards one of Jupiter's moon's, Europa. We see Dr. Samantha Unger, lead mission planner for the Europa mission (Embeth Davidtz), clearly shook up and in tears trying to make sense of the last images that they received of the spacecraft 'Europa one'. At the same time, during the interview with Dr. Unger, we also see footage of the crew lamenting the loss of one of their own. From the get go it is clear, that something went terribly wrong. From that point on we get to see the footage from lift-off, the crew landing on Europa to them getting in over their heads, as they get more than they've bargained for.

    You know that after a picture like this, things are going to go sour.

    At its core this is essentially a “found footage” film. Unlike the disastrously bad 'Apollo 18', the way this footage is presented makes sense and it used correctly. Making use of on-board camera's, handy-cam's, exterior ship camera's and helmet recording's. It is fortunately never 'in your face'. It is also thankfully devoid of the dreaded shaky-cam. The movie pulls you in immediately. It makes you feel excited as Dr. Unger, Dr. Sokolov (Dan Fogler) and Dr. Tarik Pamuk (Isaih Whitlock Jr.) present their findings and discoveries about Europa and announce the mission during a press conference.


    We learn about the crew and their backgrounds through pre-recorded interviews. Captain William Xu (Daniel Wu), Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca), James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley), Dr. Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra), Dr. Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo) and Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist). All more than capable men and women that are specialists in their own field. You feel the electricity in the air as their enthusiasm hits you, the viewer when their spacecraft lifts off into the great unknown. These are real, likable people that act and react realistically throughout this movie. It goes without saying that all the actors bring their A-game to this and create an ensemble that you root for.

    "Gimme some sugar baby"...

    The technology in this films is firmly rooted in reality. No crazy gadgets, propulsion systems or spacecraft designs. This might even be a model for an eventual manned mission to mars. The questions asked in Europa Report are interesting as well. Who and what are we? Where do we come from? I would even say it makes a point that some sacrifices are not in vain. It's a movie that leans towards films like 2001: a space odyssey and even 2010

    At points the movie tends to slow down considerably. The film's biggest strength though, is the ability to pull you back in as soon as soon something happens. It also makes you feel for the crew as they go through their trials and tribulations. Making you feel as if you are there, going through whatever it is they are experiencing. Even at its most dire point the movie keeps its sense of wonder and hope.

    After some Corona's and tequila, this is what my Friday night looks like.

    Great performances all round, excellent directing by Sebastián Cordero; beautiful music by Bear Mccreary, top notch visuals and best of all, a story that does not insult the intelligence. In this day and age of big-budget action, destruction and mayhem; it is refreshing to see that the thoughtful, intelligent science-fiction movie is still very much alive. The heaps of praise thrown upon this movie is more than deserved. Yes, believe the hype and go see this movie.

  • I have a confession to make. I wasn't really that into horror cinema. In fact I downright loathed it. Remember the video nasties era? While movies like 'Driller Killer' and 'I Spit on your grave' were not exactly outright banned, like they were in Britain; these films were still hard to come by. My brother rented a VCR and a couple of video's. One of which was, Sam Raimi's, 'The Evil Dead'. Now, as careless and excited my brother was, he decided to put on The Evil Dead first. To make a long story short; that film corrupted and traumatized my six year old mind. It was my first experience with a horror movie.  

    I got back in to Horror in my late teens. Discovering the classics on late night TV and actively seeking out the b-movie fare. Having been exposed to so much horror cinema, I have certainly become de-sensitized to a lot of it. Would there ever be a movie to scare me again? 

    The silence before everyone goes: Yaaaaargghh!!!

    With the new 'Friday the 13th' and 'A nightmare on Elm Street', failing to recapture the magic of the originals; fan reaction was quite mixed after the announcement of the Evil Dead remake. With the key players of the original (Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert) behind this, there was some hope that this could actually turn out right.

    Mia (Jane Levy), is a troubled woman with a drug habit. Her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) decide to organize an intervention. They take Mia to an old vacation spot; a cabin deep in the woods, hoping to help her overcome her addiction. They stumble upon a hidden cellar and find this book wrapped in plastic and barbwire. When Eric reads passages from the book he unwittingly summons an ancient evil. From that moment on they are being terrorized, have to fight for their lives and save Mia from possession by this demonic entity.

    This movie is to tomato soup, what 'The Exorcist' is to pea soup.

    The plot is simple enough, Just as it was in the original. It's the execution that counts here and I’m glad to say it has been done superbly. First time director, Fede Alvarez (handpicked by Sam Raimi) is clearly a big fan of the original. He might have changed little details here and there (The look of the deadites, book of the dead and the actual hero) but his wild camera moves and crazy angles, perfect use of practical effects and gore; shows that his heart was in the right place. While the film does have its nods and easter eggs to Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, it doesn't slavishly follow the original. Making this movie strong enough to stand on its own merits.

    I remember being this desperate when i saw 'Batman & Robin'.

    'Scream' and 'Cabin in the woods' dissect aspects of the horror genre. While having gruesome scenes of gore and death, those movies were played for laughs. Evil Dead is playing it straight. There is no wink, wink or funny tongue in cheek moments to be found. The characters in this movie suffer so much punishment and terror that you as the viewer, feel it as well. Roque Baños' excellent music score certainly helps. His 'Evil Tango' at the end credits is a delightfully, devilish piece of music. The combination of the score and the images is relentless. The viewer isn't allowed many moments of rest.

    While you feel the horrific moments, you never really feel for the characters. While there was little character development in the original, much of that lack was saved by Bruce Campbell's charisma. Despite a minimum of character development, the people in the film are somewhat likable. I still wanted to know a little more about them. If you care for the characters, the horror becomes all the more real. If there is a drawback to this movie, it is only that.

    Bruce Campbell tweeted: "This movie needs more blood". I agree

    While it did not scare me personally, it took me back to that place when i was six years old. Where that fear is primal and real. I enjoyed it because i saw how other people were affected by it. I was happy to see people scared in the theater again. Screaming instead of laughing. Hiding their faces in their hands instead of chuckling. I am happy to see the “serious” horror film make a return. I am also very excited to see where this will lead to. Sam Raimi has already announced he's writing an Army of Darkness 2 and an Evil Dead 2 is already on the fast track. All I can say is that this is truly a horror movie and a triumph on multiple levels. Highly recommended.


    Even though I am not a very big fan of Tyler Perry; I have to admit that I have seen most of his work. The good (Why did I get married), the bad (For colored girls) and the ugly (Every Madea film). His latest entry is actually no different from his other movies. It's melodramatic, lots of finger wagging, at times unintentionally hilarious and borderline ridiculous. And yet while I've come to learn what to expect from a Tyler Perry production, I am still compelled to see what he comes up with next.

    An estranged married couple try to seek help from a marriage counselor (Candice Coke). The husband, unhappy with his uncooperative wife, steps out the office for a breather. Now, the marriage counselor wouldn't be the professional she is, if she didn't recognize the “signs”. The wife is clearly messing around with another man. The marriage counselor decides to share a cautionary tale about her “sister” Judith. This is where the real story kicks in.

    Phsss...Stop stinking up the place with your "luuuv". 

    The relationship of Bryce (Lance Gross) and Judith (Jurnee Smollet-Bell) is the stuff of fairy-tales. Aaron Zigman's music score strengthens this as he emulates Danny Elfman's Edward Scissorhands. They met as children, fell in love as teenagers and got married in their early 20's. Now living in Washington D.C., The couple seem to have it all. 

    While Bryce is happy with his job at a small pharmacy, Judith is a little frustrated. Her dream is to become a marriage counselor but getting there is a little harder than she thought. So, for the time being she works at a matchmaking company for rich people. After being cussed out by her co-worker Ava (Kim Kardashian with her fine, non acting ass) for her weak wardrobe choices, Judith's boss Janice (Vanessa Williams) introduces her to Social media mogul Harley.

    Yes Kim! That's pretty much how your acting made me feel.

    He wants to invest in Janice's company but before he commits, he wants Judith to show him around the office and explain the in's and outs of the company to him. While he's there, he wants her to match him up with a suitable woman as well. He's got his sights set on Judith though.

    Meanwhile Bryce neglects Judith as he's preoccupied with work, football games and even forgets her birthday. This all feeds into Judith's frustration as she starts to second guess her marriage and the love for her husband. Slowly but surely she falls for Harley's seduction and goes down a path that can only lead to disastrous consequences.

    "Smack that all on the floor! Smack that 'till you get sore..."

    It is clear that Tyler Perry was not going for subtlety. All the women in this movie are extremely beautiful. Judith is supposed to be the girl next door type. I would almost argue they went for an “ugly duckling” type of thing but given the way the actress Jurnee Smollet-Bell looks, you don't buy it for a second. The men walk around without a shirt every chance they get and are of course ripped as hell. Not a love handle or double chin in sight.

    Utterly ridiculous! I am going to try this though.
    The religious overtones in this movie are OUT THERE. As Judith's character, life and relationships are going a down-worth path, her mother played by Ella Joyce, is holding what I can only describe as some sort of long distance exorcism. Trying to get rid of the “devil” in her daughter's life. At one point Bryce even goes to this party to try to rescue Judith from Harley's clutches. Bryce might as well have gone to the pits of hell. You have to see the scene for your self to believe it. Also, the “wholesome” values in this movie are so unbelievable! In one scene Judith actually forces herself on her husband, trying to inject some passion in their marriage wanting to make mad love on the kitchen table. He refuses her and basically says: "Let's eat dinner first honey, go to our bedroom and make love the proper way...in a bed”. I actually yelled at this scene.

    Moesha! :)

    There is also a subplot involving Bryce's co-worker, Melinda (Brandy Norwood). She seems to be on the run, has a dark secret and eventually opens up to Bryce. The outcome of this is just utterly ridiculous and yes, you have guessed it, had me screaming at this movie even louder.

    This and only this can happen in the Tyler Perry-verse. Where women look like supermodels. Men are either extremely evil or unbelievably good-hearted and lives are soap opera's. Speaking of Evil, as soon Harley sets his shifty eyes on Judith, you can pretty much HEAR what he's thinking. This goes back to the whole subtlety thing but I digress.

    Only in the Tyler Perry-verse is this an "ugly duckling"...Yeah, right!

    While this film is entertaining, I can't give it a pass. The actors are fine but they have so little to work with that they are barely characters at all. The writing is sloppy and the “big” reveal in the story is so insulting that it almost killed the movie for me personally.

    Look, this is just basically a dime store romance novel put on film. It's clearly made for the female movie goer. Tyler Perry knows what they want and expect. He's catering to his audience. Nothing wrong with that. It is his strength and gotten him a lot of success. It's just that same strength is also his greatest weakness. Right now his movies rank from bad to just okay. I saw glimpses of a good filmmaker in “Why did I get married” and “Why did I get married too”. If he chooses to branch out, if presented with a brilliant script and the right cast, not catering to his audience than I am convinced that Tyler Perry can be a brilliant filmmaker. I don't hate the guy. I just think he can do a lot better.

    So, yes. This is your typical Tyler Perry film. A bad one at that. One which I can only recommend to his hardcore audience. For the rest of the people it'll be another forgettable piece of fluff.

  • Here we go again. The first words I've written in a long, long time...Well, on a blog that is. It's a long time coming my friends!

    Some of you may know me from my old blog, 'Just Johnny'. There I went off into some of the stuff in my life. Past and present. In short, it helped me cope with a lot of things I was dealing with...in a humorous way of course.

    Then came a point where I felt comfortable enough with myself where I didn't feel the need to share my thoughts, experiences and little blunders anymore.

    Well, since you know I'm such a 'giving' person, i want to share something else, movie reviews. Yes, i know. I'm not a professional writer or critic for that matter, but i do love cinema. Also, I have an opinion to give.

    Just as i went deep into my life, I'm going to go deep into these movies. Yes, even the bad films! I'm going to take a few for the team; just so YOU won't have to.

    Join me as we scrutinize everything cinema! Welcome! Reviews will be up soon!

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