Film Review: AVP: Alien Vs. Predator (2004)

Also known as: AVP (promotional abbreviation), Alien Vs. Predator (short title)
Release Date: August 12th, 2004 (Puerto Rico & Thailand)
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Written by: Paul W.S. Anderson, Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett
Based on: characters by Dan O’Bannon & Ronald Shusett and Jim Thomas & John Thomas
Music by: Harald Kloser
Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, Ewen Bremner, Tommy Flanagan

Davis Entertainment, Brandywine Productions, 20th Century Fox, 101 Minutes, 103 Minutes (extended cut), 109 Minutes (Unrated Version)

Review:

“I think this is a manhood ritual. The humaniod ones, they’ve been sent here to prove that they’re worthy to become adults.” – Sebastian de Rosa

I haven’t seen AVP: Alien Vs. Predator since it was in theaters. From what I remember of it, it was a massive disappointment and didn’t live up to the best either franchise had to offer.

Well, it was at least better than Alien: Resurrection but it didn’t come close to being as awesome as Alien 1 & 2 or the original Predator. Hell, Alien 3 and Predator 2 both kick this in the balls too.

But now having some distance, fourteen years to be exact, this wasn’t as bad as my memory of it and I at least found the experience of revisiting it, a bit amusing.

At the end of the day, this gives you exactly what the title implies. It gives you alien xenomorphs fighting against the Predators. Strip away everything else and a grudge match between these two alien species is still a main event worth having. I just wish that the story around it was better and fit the already established mythologies better.

Yes, there is a team of humans in this and frankly, you should already know that they are just meat to be ripped through, trapped in a war between two vicious species that don’t give a crap about collateral damage.

I didn’t care about any of the people in this film but it was neat seeing Lance Henriksen return to the franchise to play Weyland of the Weyland Corporation from the Alien films. Obviously, his appearance as that character was to show you that the android Bishop was modeled after his visage. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed Henriksen, so seeing him bring his level of gravitas to another action sci-fi film was cool. His demise in this was even cooler.

The problem with the film is that the action was lackluster, so it didn’t really make up for the bland story or bland characters. It was nice seeing Ewen Bremner and Tommy Flanagan pop up in this but they were just there to be eaten, really.

AVP is just a film that had so much potential. The comics were typically pretty good and so were the games that they did before (and after) this. This could have taken the best bits of those stories and turned them into a worthwhile movie. But we got this instead.

But hey, at least it’s better than its sequel.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: The other films from the Alien and Predator franchises.

Film Review: Brainscan (1994)

Release Date: April 22nd, 1994
Directed by: John Flynn
Written by: Brian Owens, Andrew Kevin Walker
Music by: George S. Clinton
Cast: Edward Furlong, Frank Langella, Amy Hargreaves, T. Ryder Smith

Admire Productions Ltd., Coral Productions, Triumph Films, 96 Minutes

Review:

“It doesn’t have to make sense. All these horror movies you watch… does ‘Death, Death, Death’ make sense? No. It’s not about sense. It’s about death, death, death.” – The Trickster

I remember the trailers for this when I was a young teen but I never had the urge to see this. Even when I worked at video stores, I didn’t have the desire to waste one of my free rentals on Brainscan.

However, I figured I’d give it a whirl now, as I don’t have any sort of nostalgic attachment to it, good or bad. And really, I’ll watch anything just to review it.

This came out at the tail end of Hollywood’s short lived Eddie Furlong experiment. Granted, I think the actor’s personal problems contributed to his sudden lack of work until he turned things around a bit with his role in American History X, four years later.

This is about a hardcore horror nerd who is given a game that will be the most immersive horror experience he could ever have. Well, it is. Little Eddie Furlong thinks he’s playing a game but he’s actually out murdering the crap out of people. The game’s host, The Trickster, who drops the “The” and only introduces himself as “Trickster”, leads Little Eddie Furlong into madness.

All this crazy stuff happens in the most mundane way possible and there really is no suspense or anything exciting in the entire picture. Granted, it does have some sort of grunge rock/heavy metal ’90s vibe that works. And The Trickster is actually interesting enough to keep you engaged in his scenes, even if he does look like a really bad ’90s cliche.

The real problem with this movie is that it is dark and fucked up but then it shows that it actually doesn’t have any balls and erases all the evil shit when it’s revealed that it was actually just a game all along. Or was it? They give you a little twist after the twist and this film has a sort of non-committal, non-ending that shows me that the filmmakers had no idea how to wrap the film up.

Brainscan is fine if you have 90 minutes to waste. But I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to see it.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: The Lawnmower Man and Arcade, which is a terrible movie but still fairly similar.

Documentary Review: Heroes Manufactured (2016)

Release Date: October, 2016
Directed by: Yaron Betan
Written by: Yaron Betan

Key West Video, KingSky Productions, White Night Studios, 90 Minutes

Review:

I didn’t know what to expect when I fired this up but I’ve been watching whatever free comic industry documentaries I’ve been able to dig up recently.

This is primarily about Canadian comic book creators and takes place at various comic conventions throughout Canada.

Mostly, this was an entertaining documentary about a scene I’m not intimately familiar with having grown up and primarily lived in Florida. I know some of the top Canadian creators and their titles but this delved a bit deeper and gave me some new stuff to check out.

This wasn’t too exciting though and doesn’t seem to have a cohesive narrative other than linking everything together with Canada as the running theme. However, we get a lot of time devoted to Stan Lee, who is a New Yorker, which means he’s not a Canadian. But I’ll watch Stan Lee in anything, so I’m not complaining.

Heroes Manufactured has a really high IMDb rating, which I found to be misleading as it certainly isn’t a documentary that should be anywhere near an 8.8.

It’s a good and informative little film though, if you want to know more about the Canadian comic book scene.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: Comic Book Independents24 Hour Comic and The Image Revolution.

Film Review: Next Floor (2008)

Release Date: May 15th, 2008 (Cannes)
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Written by: Jacques Davidts, Phoebe Greenberg
Music by: Warren “Slim” Williams
Cast: Simone Chevalot, Luc-Martial Dagenais, Kenneth Fernandez

Phi, CBC, Canal+, 11 Minutes

Review:

“Next floor.” – Maître D’

Before wowing audiences with SicarioThe Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve made several short films that won him over with producers that would go on to fund his feature length projects. This short film made its debut at Cannes, a real accomplishment for the young director at the time.

This is only 11 minutes long but it makes its point pretty effectively in that time and with almost no dialogue.

I guess the most important thing about this short film is its style and the master craftsmanship behind it. Villeneuve showed that he had great skill, was able to create a well lived in set and had a stupendous eye for cinematography alongside Nicolas Bolduc, who would also go on to carve out a nice career.

The story is about this insane banquet where these fat cat types are violently and quickly scarfing down the strange meat selections of all the weird creatures and big game wheeled out to their large table. Every few minutes (or quicker, actually) the floor breaks and our dinner party falls into the room below. It’s a strange yet interesting idea but there doesn’t seem to be much point to it other than poking fun at gluttony in all of its forms.

There really isn’t much else to the film though. The dinner party goes through a floor, the waiters rush down a flight of stairs, wash, rinse, repeat until the big ending.

Still, the film looks damn good visually but there’s not much more to digest.

It also has what I consider to be a continuity error but I guess the filmmakers could argue that it’s their art. But after the group crashes through the first floor, one of the people looks up revealing that they’ve already been through several floors. The problem with this, is that all the people are very clean when you first see them. As the film progresses beyond the opening moments, they get more and more dirty from the building collapsing under and around them. Where is the dust and drywall from the previous floors before the film starts?

Anyway, that’s just me bitching about a small detail.

This is really just a concept and an idea executed pretty well. It’s not a great idea but it was at least interesting trying to decipher what was happening in the first few minutes.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Denis Villeneuve shorts 120 Seconds to Get Elected and Rated R for Nudity.

Film Review: Cube Zero (2004)

Also known as: Cubeº, Cube Ø
Release Date: October 15th, 2004 (Screamfest)
Directed by: Ernie Barbarash
Written by: Ernie Barbarash
Music by: Norman Orenstein
Cast: Zachary Bennett, David Huband, Stephanie Moore, Michael Riley, Martin Roach

Lions Gate Entertainment, 97 Minutes

Review:

“Do you believe in God? It all hinges on that?” – Eric Wynn

I thought I had seen Cube Zero before but it may have just been in my mind. They sort of all blend together. However, this one was always said to be better than Cube 2: Hypercube but I disagree with the consensus. This is my least favorite Cube movie out of the three.

This film serves as a prequel to the other two, which is sort of cool but at the same time, leaves the interesting reveal at the end of the previous movie completely unresolved. But truthfully, nothing is really resolved with the conclusion of this series. There is some new insight and new clues dropped and I’m okay without having all the answers but it seems like each film after the first just threw shit on a wall, waiting to see what would stick. And furthermore, the director of the first film never returned for any of the sequels and I have to view that original vision as the official and sole body of work in the Cube universe. Everything else is just other people’s attempt at explaining the complex story of another artist.

The Cube movies are similar to the Saw films series, as I just have to ignore the sequels and appreciate the original body of work on its own because every new chapter is a bastardization of the original and only complicates things further than they need to be. They’re just glorified fan fictions, really.

Like the other films int he series, this one has some terrible acting. The bad script doesn’t help the incapable cast either.

However, this film does have the coolest traps, overall. Being a prequel, this Cube is more simplified in its design and in its lethal trickery.

At first glance, the addition of seeing the world behind the Cube was a welcome change. But in the end, it distracts from the Cube experience itself and just gives us a movie of two halves that are both sort of a mess on their own. Once they mix, the mess gets worse.

I’m not sure why people prefer this one to Cube 2. I mean, neither are great but this one is boring as shit and none of the new stuff is as interesting as just watching the game within the Cube unfold.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: The other two Cube movies.

Film Review: The Demolitionist (1995)

Release Date: March 10th, 1995 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Robert Kurtzman
Written by: Brian DiMuccio, Anne Kurtzman
Music by: Shawn Patterson
Cast: Nicole Eggert, Richard Grieco, Bruce Abbott, Heather Langenkamp, Susan Tyrrell, Peter Jason, Sarah Douglas, Tom Savini

A-Pix Entertainment, Two Moon Releasing, 100 Minutes

Review:

“You’re under arrest for the murder of Alyssa Lloyd.” – Alyssa Lloyd/The Demolitionist

If you were to take Robocop and take all the really good stuff out of it, replace the actors with mostly incapable ones, bastardize the plot and make the hero look like Jamie Powell from Charles In Charge, then you would have The Demolitionist. But hey, special effects maestro Tom Savini acts in this!

This movie is terrible with a capital TERRIBLE. It’s mid ’90s sci-fi/action schlock for the straight to VHS market. Granted, even though I lived in video stores throughout my youth, I never rented this. The first time I saw it was in the early ’00s when I was a third shift security guard at a high rise condominium on the beach and this popped up on TBS or TNT at three in the morning. I actually didn’t get to see it with full violence and boobies until I just watched it the other night.

Why did I decide to watch this again? Well, it’s been like fifteen years and even though I knew it was bad, I’m a sucker for terrible motion pictures. So, being a sucker for cinematic shit, reliving this experience was not a disappointment.

First, this film has Richard Grieco in it as the sadistic villain. Grieco was decent on the original 21 Jump Street and his own spinoff of that show, Booker. He also starred in a terrible but fun movie, If Looks Could Kill, which saw him play a high school student mistaken for a James Bond type of spy. Other than that, his acting work has been abysmal and this is no different. Well, it could actually be the big glorious cherry on top of his sundae of shitty performances.

Nicole Eggert of Charles In Charge and Baywatch fame stars as the hero. She’s basically Robocop but a hotter version with a normal head and a body that also doesn’t really look altered. Granted, she’s basically a zombie and needs some special injections to prevent her from rotting away. Sadly, we don’t actually get to see Robozombie eating douchebag brains.

Eggert and Grieco were just atrocious in this. It’s really bad, man. Their acting is actually worse than I remembered. I can’t say that it is wholly their fault though, as this entire production is horrendous. Weirdly, it is directed by Robert Kurtzman, who is actually really respected as a monster movie makeup artist. However, his work in the director’s chair leaves a lot to be desired.

Nothing about this movie is good, other than I have a soft spot for Eggert because I used to crush on her hard when I was a young lad in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

You may be wondering if this cyber turd should be run through the trusty Cinespiria Shitometer? Of course it does! The Shitometer can eat and analyze the toughest turds! Even cyber turds! The results read, “Type 4 Stool: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft.”

Rating: 2.5/10
Pairs well with: Robocop and other clones of its story but this is no friggin’ Robocop.

Film Review: Cube²: Hypercube (2002)

Also known as: Cube 2 (simplified), Hypercube (promotional title)
Release Date: July 29th, 2002 (München Fantasy Filmfest)
Directed by: Andrzej Sekula
Written by: Sean Hood
Music by: Norman Orenstein
Cast: Kari Matchett, Geraint Wyn Davies, Grace Lynn King, Matthew Ferguson, Neil Crone

Lions Gate Films, 94 Minutes

Review:

“Each one of these rooms has six of these doors and portals, but no matter how many different doors and portals I go through I always end up in the same three rooms.” – Jerry Whitehall

Cube²: Hypercube is a worthwhile sequel and it isn’t.

The reason why it is worthwhile is because it takes the established formula from the original Cube and expands on it and builds off of it. The rules are sort of the same but things have changed, as our abductees find themselves in a new Cube structure. Things aren’t as simple as they were before and now there is an extra time and space dynamic that makes things more timey wimey than an episode of Doctor Who.

The reason why this isn’t worthwhile is actually more than just one reason.

For starters, the film is a jumbled mess and while it introduces some cool science-y ideas and concepts, it is a giant ass paradox of paradoxes and pretty confusing at points. It is one of those movies that relies on the viewer being more than a novice at quantum physics but if you are more than a novice, it all falls apart. It’s like the writer read some amateur science blog written by someone who theorizes a lot but doesn’t actually study and test their zany theories.

Secondly, the traps in this movie are terrible and flat out suck. Every danger is some sort of shitty CGI thing. There are the shitty CGI glass pillar things that decapitate, the shitty CGI killer tesseract blender blade thingy, a shitty CGI moving wall that looks like… well, shitty CGI.

Also, you have atrocious acting. I think, overall, the acting is a step up from the first Cube but the actors who are the worst here are worse than the worst from the first movie. The main actress is okay and comes across better than anyone else in this series, thus far. Still, none of the acting is anything to write home about.

I don’t hate Cube² but I also don’t like it. It had some really interesting ideas that fell flat almost as soon as they were introduced but it did kept me engaged enough to want to see how this story panned out.

Really, I just want to know what the hell that ending was about and I want more backstory to these strange experiments. But that’s what Cube Zero, the third and final film is for.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: Cube and Cube Zero.