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Friday, May 25, 2018

These Final Hours (2013)

An Australian adventure directed by Zak Hilditch.
The end of the world is drawing near and a man leaves his girlfriend to go to a party. He encounters obstacles on the way and ends up saving a little girl from being tortured. Together, they look for her parents.
With all of the post-apocalyptic cinema of late, pre-apocalyptic stories should be told as well. The dynamic pacing of this really helped. It sped up during action and slowed down to allow thought. The 2 main characters were a good team and their stories gave the supporting cast something to latch onto, like puzzle pieces fit together. The dialogue and acting were very emotional. Even the tough hero showed lots of emotional sensitivity. The only real "set piece" in this was the bunker at the party. Everything else was just well-chosen locations. Camera-work and editing looked good. Most scenes had a warm, bright "summer in the desert" look to the color balance. I won't spoil the only special effect at the end. Audio was not bad, but of the style of the time. IMDb rates it 6.7/10, metacritic has a METASCORE of 61% and Rotten Tomatoes rates it 82% TOMATOMETER and 64% AUDIENCE SCORE for an average of 68.5%. I would say that a D is grading slightly low for this. For the 2 main characters and the spot-on pacing, I rate this adequate. You might want to check it out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Rover (2014)

An Australian adventure directed by David Michod, starring Guy Pearce and Scoot McNairy.
A man's car is stolen by 3 men. He finds the brother of one of them, who leads him to them and his car.
Pointless! The slow pacing made this seem to take forever to tell no story. The characters were all rough guys, even the woman doctor was tough. There was a definite lack of dialogue and what was said was lost between modern audio practices and thick Aussie accents. Australia has a whole outback full of desert and dirty clothes are easy, so that covers sets and costumes. If I have anything good to say about this it's the camera-work. Everything looks like it was shot professionally. In audio, I already covered dialogue. Loud music and sound effects almost go without saying. This won 10 of 31 awards it was nominated for. 9/10 of those were for best sound! IMDb rates it 6.4/10, metacritic has a METASCORE of 64% and Rotten Tomatoes rates it 66% TOMATOMETER and 51% AUDIENCE SCORE (I shit you not, those are the letter cases from their websites) for an average of 61.25%. I agree completely and give it an F too for Fucking pointless award-winning trash. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Cowboy Bebop (1998)

A Japanese anime series directed by Shinichiro Watanabe.
A pair of bounty hunters travel through space, looking to earn money by turning in criminals. They pick up a dog, a woman who has forgotten her past and a young computer genius to accompany them.
This was much slower paced and more deeply thoughtful than most other anime in the shonen/funimation genre. 26 episodes seemed too short because I liked it (having watched some episodes when it originally aired on TV). The plots were mostly single-episode, but some spanned 2 episodes and there was a general plot/timeline that all of the episodes existed in. I liked the characters and cared what happened to them. My favorite was comedic relief, Ed. All of the dialogue was written very much in-character and the English voice actors did a great job. The animation style was mostly traditional anime cartoon, but I think that there was some computer work done somewhere in there. Everything was drawn expertly and in great detail. Audio seemed to be mixed correctly. Given the musical name of the series, there was a heavy metal episode, but I would have liked more of that kind of theme-ing done with different genres. T.H.E.M. anime reviews gave it 5/5 as did Kyle Mills of DVD Talk. However, I would hesitate to give it a perfect score. Nonetheless, I did like it quite a bit and rate the series good. This would be one to watch.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child (2016)

An Australian science fiction directed by Shane Abbess, starring Temuera Morrison.
A fighter pilot has left his daughter at home when a crisis breaks out. His aircraft crashes after an aerial battle and he must find his way to rescue his daughter.
Definitely entertaining. I'm not mentioning duration anymore unless it strays from the hour and a half norm. This did not. The pacing was amazingly fast for a non-Hollywood film, but I guess that would be a sign of the times (pun intended). There was always something happening and the editing cuts were usually very quick. The plot held my interest all the way through, although some elements were a little stale. I did care what happened to the characters, but some of them seemed marked for death from the start. I thought the writing and dialogue were done very well. The little girl's narration really sold it to me. Some people don't like narration, but I think it can be beneficial. The acting was good as well. Sets and costumes looked very convincing. The city looked like a city, jail like a jail and desert outposts were sincere. What I really liked were the monsters. I don't know if it was costume or special effects, but it worked. Besides fast editing, the camera-work looked good. I could see everything that was going on and exposures were excellent. There were lots of digital special effects: spaceship battles, explosions, views of impossible places... and it all looked real enough for my tastes. audio was not too shabby. I could hear dialogue, the music was a little low and sound effects were a little loud. The future desert theme will always remind me of Tank Girl (1995). IMDB has this rated at 5.6/10, Rotten Tomatoes has 63% tomatometer with 45% audience score and metacritic has 55% METASCORE for an average of 54.75%. That is called a failing grade where I come from, but I saw no failure when I watched it. What I saw was a film that fits the standard for modern science fiction. I rate this good because it was entertaining, full of action and I liked the monsters.

The Last Wave (1977)

An Australian mystery thriller directed by Peter Weir, starring Richard Chamberlain.
A lawyer takes on the case of some aboriginal men accused of murder and finds that his dreams have something to do with their beliefs.
This was alright. The hour and 39 minute duration seemed sparsely populated because the content happened at a relatively slow pace. The plot was almost interesting, but fell just short of really holding my attention. I thought the characters seemed a little bit shallow or poorly written. The dialogue and acting seemed just short of being good too. The main character had a habit of reaching out and touching people he was talking to. costumes and locations seemed to fit and I liked the final set (not spoiling). Most of the special effects were "dream" editing like stuff appearing and disappearing, but the black rain looked a little fake. It seemed to only be raining black on the main character's car windshield. As with most audio, the music was too loud and the dialogue too quiet. I think that the style of this set the stage for films like The Omen (1976), Stigmata (1999) and The Ninth Gate (1999). It's not a bad genre, just not really what interests me. I rate this adequate.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Starcrash (1978)

An American science fiction directed by Luigi Cozzi, starring Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff.
An evil count threatens peace in space with a giant weapon. A pair of adventurers must find a crashed ship and defeat him.
Beautifully hokey! The hour and a half duration flew by because of the absurd style. The plot was not written or communicated very well, but ran along the lines of a general heroic adventure story. The shallow characters fit this film very well, but would have been a detriment to any other piece. Dialogue and acting seemed like a "let's get this in one take" situation was happening. Like the plot, they were not written well. I thought the sets and costumes fit together very nicely. Everything was very colorful and bold. Camera-work was predictable, but showed what was going on decently. The shot compositions looked more like 1940s than 1970s. I'm thinking The Thief of Bagdad (1940). Same goes for the compositing work. Some people would say that the special effects were a joke, but I found that joke highly amusing. I would not want good special effects for this. The tiny models and sloppy compositing pretty much made the film for me. Audio was not too shabby. I could hear everything, but the music was mixed way too loud at some points. I would best describe the style as akin to Flash Gordon (1980) and Barbarella (1968). IMDB gives it 3.9/10, AllMovie has a 1.5/5 AllMovie rating with 3/5 user ratings and Rotten Tomatoes has 33% tomatometer with 38% audience score for an average of 40%. Although I agree that this is not classy or refined, it has such innocent charm that I would argue for a better grade. I rate it awesome. Only watch this if you know what I'm talking about and agree that B movies can be more fun than Hollywood blockbusters when seen from the correct perspective.

Predestination (2014)

An Australian science fiction thriller directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, starring Ethan Hawke.
A writer walks into a bar and tells their life story to the bartender. The bartender then produces a time travel device and the plot gets strange.
This was pretty interesting for a few reasons. The hour and a half duration seemed too short to me because it left me wanting more. Pacing was relatively quick, but probably slower for the time period. The plot held my interest throughout, but the ending was inconclusive. Hence, why I wanted it to be longer. There was some ambiguity in characters, but that made it more interesting and ending more frustratingly inconclusive. I cared what happened to the people/person in the film and their story was developed. The dialogue and acting seemed natural and there was some narration in scenes when the story was being told which benefited the plot. Sets and costumes fit the varying times depicted, but mostly by being generic. Those that were more stylized almost looked out of place in contrast. I really liked the camera-work. There was good focus and exposure, but the compositions tended to be more centralized than I would have liked. Color correction/grading was done artfully and most of the scenes had a warmer color balance. The special effects were minimal and only happened at time jumps. Audio was of the time, but had a relatively good mix. Although the music and sound effects were louder than dialogue, I could hear what everyone was saying. This won 11 awards out of 30 nominations. IMDB rates it 7.5/10, Rotten Tomatoes has 84% tomatometer with 75% audience score and Metacritic has a 69% metascore for an average of 75.75% C grade. I disagree, arguing that it deserves a B+ at least. The interesting plot, good camera-work and artful color grading lead me to rate it awesome despite the inconclusive ending. Watch it!