I think Nickelodeon has things bassackwards when it comes to “Monster Trucks.” In the nineties and perhaps even eighties, a normal company would have released a “Monster Trucks” toy line followed by its very own movie. Instead we have a long gestating kids movie about glowing monsters that hide in trucks that transform in to… monster trucks—or something. And there’s not a toy line to be had. I say that because “Monster Trucks” watches more like a pitch movie for a franchise than it does an actual movie. “Monster Trucks” was created by a four year old (no seriously, look it up), and intended to be aimed at younger kids (Honest) as a sort of pseudo-Transformers. Which in and of itself is pointless when young kids are still very much all about Transformers.
I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to “The Void.” Not only have I not been a fan of what Astron 6 has put out there for audiences, but “The Void” seemed generally like a vain attempt at Lovecraft. I’m glad to admit, though, that “The Void” is so far the best film Astron 6 has ever put out there. While the fan boy winks and nods are still there, it’s considerably toned down and doesn’t bog “The Void” down too much. Directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski are damn good at taking a miniscule budget and building with that, as “The Void” is an incredibly creepy survival horror film that feels like a nightmare from beginning to end. Even when the film has seemingly closed, “The Void” is never done choking you with its mesmerizing imagery of another world, and assures you that it will indeed return to haunt the audience once more.
In the nineties, Hercules and Xena garnered humongous fan bases that were vocal and loud. And this was long before the internet became a common facet in every home in the world. Hercules begat Xena and Xena became the more popular of the pairing, with Hercules still showing up every so often to remind us that, yes, Kevin Sorbo was still on his journeys as the half god. Both series were so big they even prompted a ton of merchandise, including a prequel TV series aimed at kids starring a very young Ryan Gosling, and this animated action movie, which barely clocks in at eighty minutes. I’m not sure if this movie is even considered canon, but it is Hercules and Xena together again, fighting evil Titans and trying to stop the evil Goddess Hera.
I’m not going to argue that “Power Rangers” isn’t a movie made by a committee. The action loving, kid in me, however, really enjoyed what “Power Rangers” had to offer. It really is a re-imagining of the “Mighty Morphin” era of “Power Rangers” but tackles every plot element and universe building idea with so much more finesse and logic. The reason why these Rangers control robotic dinosaurs makes sense. The reason why Alpha Five is so important makes sense. Zordon being so crucial to helping the Rangers makes so much sense. The diversity is so much more natural and fluid than the original TV series, where everything just felt tacked on for broader appeal. Best of all, the blue ranger finally gets his due in a movie where he is the heart and soul of the entire group.
Around 1996 and in to 1997, the “Power Rangers” pop culture phenomenon had just about died down and Saban entertainment were looking to re-invent the series for a new wave of toy buying tween boys. I was a big “Power Rangers” fan for many years and, like most people my age, I checked out once “Turbo” was introduced. It just felt so tired once they devolved from mystical giant dinosaur robots to… cool cars! Forget a giant dragon that can smash buildings, you have a red car that goes vroom! Of course, I opted out of seeing “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie” for a very long time, and for good reason. “Turbo” is a movie apparently made on half of the budget of the 1995 movie, and with none of the ambition. You can say whatever you want about the “Mighty Morphin” movie, but it was at least ambitious and tried to take the series in to a bigger scope.
Dani arrives in California to visit her cousin for a month and have some fun away from her worries and her past. The two girls do fun tourist things and prank each other, until something goes wrong, very, very wrong. As things go from bad to worse, the film explores voodoo, the supernatural, and hell, all through a found footage lens. The story created by writer/director Tom Costabile has a lot of good ideas and some truly unnerving imagery and moments. The opening with the voodoo curse being put into place goes from interesting to freaky fairly fast. The film itself then takes a little bit to establish the two cousins and the other players around them (including an unnecessary but not annoying cameo by Ron Jeremy) until one pranks leads to all hell breaking loose.
“Day of Reckoning” is a pseudo-biblical horror movie that teams “Doom,” “Day of the Dead,” “The Walking Dead” and the Roland Emmerich disaster pornos in to one ball of baffling entertainment. “Day of Reckoning” is teeming with potential and actually manages to be entertaining every now and then. When a mining company accidentally unearths a hibernating brood of demonic monsters, the beasts arise from their slumber to begin wreaking havoc on humanity. The monsters are a variety of winged, stampeding, anthropomorphic demons with varying degrees of appearances and habits. Sometimes they’re a random herd of monsters, and sometimes they’re scheming and planning. They can poison people to apparently turn on everyone else, and they have a thirst for human flesh. Best of all they can be taken out by dousing them with enough salt.
Bryan Bertino has a talent for depicting the inexplicability of evil, first with “The Strangers,” and now with how a seemingly chaotic force of nature threatens to destroy a mother and daughter. What’s worse is that when we do meet the titular monster, it’s about to completely obliterate a relationship already on the cusp of falling to pieces. Director and writer Bertino succeeds in creating a creepy monster movie that also builds a compelling relationship that pulls us through the emotional wringer time and time again. Zoe Kazan and Ella Ballantine are an excellent pairing as Kathy and Lizzy, an estranged mother and daughter that are constantly at war with one another.