Sunday, August 30, 2020

Review: The Tomb: Devil's Revenge (2000)

So ... we've got this script from the chap who wrote Star Trek: The Next Generation, Maurice Hurley, but on the available evidence, I wouldn't be shouting about it. It seems that Hurley died in 2015, so this script must have been knocking about for a bit. One can only wonder what happened to make William Shatner (yes, he of Captain Kirk fame) pick it up and say, 'Let's make this film!' but that seems to be about what happened.

It stars Shatner in a small-ish role as the father of our main protagonist, John, and he seems to be so permanently gritted teeth angry that there's nowhere for him to go when he needs to get really angry. He also has the best line in the film: 'Go back and find it (the relic) ... or I'll blow your brains all over that horse!'

The plot ... well ... the film has so many issues that I guess that plot is the least of them. There's a cave somewhere in America (I assume) and in this cave there's an ancient shrine (built from modern-ish bricks and mortar) and in the shrine is a relic - which looks like a carved statue (a relic is usually a piece of a saintly or important person rather than a stone statue), and protecting the relic are a bunch of demonic people with skull faces and large spears and blades, led by some alien demon creature thing with glowing red eyes which makes a sound like the Predator ...

The film is so uncertain that it reveals all its monsters in the opening minutes as the credits roll ... and then the same footage is repeated over and over as the film rolls ...

Anyway, into this cave (which seems to have many ways to approach it depending on how much time the director wants to spend in people getting there) comes archaeologist John, looking for the relic. Well one of his partners is killed by the demons (after falling down a very slight incline and breaking his ankle - it's just not believable) and John just escapes, but then driving back home to his wife (Jeri Ryan) he has a heart attack at the wheel and crashes the car into a tree (at about 1 mile an hour - it's the least convincing car accident I've ever seen).

He's rushed to hospital and Ryan joins him there where the doctors struggle to save his life while the operating theatre fills with demons watching and the like ...  He's saved, but then they go to get their kids from college and they're there kissing boys and trading drugs - you know, like you do at college - and they all leave as John has decided they're all going back to the cave to get the relic as John's dad (Shatner) has threatened to kill John if he doesn't - nice guy.  But then the demons show up and start slaughtering people at the college who John interacted with ...

But they didn't come for his wife ... or the doctors ... or his dad ... strange.

Anyway, they all head off back to the cave, and this time they need a boat to get there and it takes ages and ages ... they arrive only to be attacked by the demons again who kill everyone except John. Except they don't, and they let John leave with the relic which he destroys, and then Shat says they need to go back to the cave to rescue the family who are still there, so they do this, but are impeded by a group of people who were burying the guy who died at the start so the demons come and kill all those people ... the family is rescued from the cave but Shat blows it and himself up trapping all the demons underground ... or has he ... or is John still on the operating table ...

It's an absolute, unqualified mess of a film which makes no sense, has terrible performances from just about everyone (the only character I believed was the daughter (Ciara Hanna) who must have been wondering how she got involved in this total car crash of a film.) and really has no redeeming features at all.

In the end I was watching it more for the laughs as it got more and more ridiculous and things happened just because ... but it's not a film I want to watch again, and is so poor that everyone involved really ought to hang their heads in shame,

And then they come to release it and so are desperate, hence the fairly decent promo images and plot write up ...

It's a waste of time for everyone - the people who made it, who star in it and who watch it. Avoid like the plague!

Review: Upgrade (2018)

I caught Upgrade recently on Netflix (I think) and came away quite impressed. It's a well done film which covers some old ground, but managed to be just about original enough to get away with it.

The film follows Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), and as the film opens, he's travelling in a self-drive car with his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo). The car develops a fault and crashes, but then a group of men descend on them, kill Asha and injure Trace so he's paralysed from the neck down.

We then follow Trace as he tries to rebuild his life ... His client, Eron, has developed a computer chip called STEM which will give Trace back his movement, and so he has this implanted, but it soon becomes apparent that STEM has a life of it's own, and it speaks to Trace in his mind, encouraging him to take revenge on the men who did this to him.

The film then plays out a fairly standard 'revenge' plot, but it's the conclusions where it shines, with twists and turns you don't expect, and an ending which is as bleak as they come ... but you'll have to watch it to find out!

The use of near-future tech is great, and Marshall-Green does a tremendous job of acting as immoble, and also when his body is controlled by STEM and moving without his own control ...

It reminded me somewhat of the basics of Robocop but it goes off in its own directions, which is no bad thing!

Review: Sputnik (2000)

It's always good when something new crosses your path which is actually well made, intelligent, and gripping, and Sputnik is all three!
It's a Russian film (so it has subtitles) and it tells the story of a couple of cosmonauts who hit problems when returning from a mission. When their capsule crashes back on Earth, one of the astronauts is dead, and the other (Pyotr Fyodorov), while wounded, is okay. He's taken to secure premises for checks and observations and the scientists and doctors discover that he is not alone - there is some alien being inside his stomach, curled up and living there.

They realise that it emerges at night and so start tests to see what this thing is and what it wants. It seems to convey strength and healing to its host and so is some sort of parasite creature. It's also violent and vicious and attacks without warning.
The set up to the film may be a more benevolent take on Alien, but the ideas behind this film are sound, and the effects are excellent. The alien creature is achieved with CGI (I think) but it looks and moves like a real thing ... really creepy and well done.

I enjoyed the film a lot. The acting is good and the various subplots also work well - all linking in with the themes of love and loss and adoption which the various human characters are working through. All in all it's one of the better films I've seen of late and is well worth a watch.