• 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.

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