The Belko Experiment (2017)

Like most of Greg McLean’s films, “The Belko Experiment” is just a big excuse to be as sadistic and inexplicably cruel as humanly possible, while taking pages from Koushun Takami’s “Battle Royale.” Coincidentally, another film in the same vein as “The Belko Experiment” came to theaters in 2017, in the form of Joe Lynch’s “Mayhem,” and while both films are insanely violent, at least the latter film had something to say about office culture and corporate politics. There’s a certain point in “The Belko Experiment” where it’s clear that McLean and writer James Gunn have no commentary on office culture and are by no means exploring the idea of fighting for a job through over the top violence, clearly just going for cruel unnecessary violence.

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The Shape of Water (2017)

What “The Shape of Water” ultimately amounts to is Guillermo Del Toro’s own adoration for monster and romance cinema. Del Toro constantly evokes shades of “The Creature Walks Among Us,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” while also channeling Woody Allen’s “Purple Rose of Cairo.” Much like the latter, “The Shape of Water” depicts a somewhat whimsical romance in a world filled with misery and darkness at every corner. Del Toro has a lot to say about the ugliness of humanity and the ideas of what monsters truly are in this world and others.

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Another WolfCop (2017)

If you loved the out there nature of “WolfCop,” you’ll be happy to know that director Dean Lowell rewards fans for their long wait for a sequel with “Another WolfCop,” a sequel that is so far out there, it’s surreal at times. Director and writer Lowell channels a lot of classic films once again, centering on our vigilante WolfCop as he protects his small town in the most violent methods, all the while concocting a premise involving the furry vigilante that feels like an amalgam of “Halloween III,” “V,” and “Howling II,” if you can believe it. That’s not where the wheel stops spinning though, as director Lowell deals his furry crime fighter a new villain that is beyond anything he’s ever experienced.

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Kill Order (aka Meza) (2017) [Blood In The Snow 2017]

A teenager with strange abilities discovers why he has these and has to decide what he wants to make with them and himself.

Written and directed by James Mark, the film is a nice long string of fight sequences with other scenes and sequences in-between to build the story that unfortunately come off as forgettable, especially next to those fight scenes. The fighting in Kill Order is where it’s at. It’s rousing, exciting, and fun to watch. Which makes the in-between stuff this much sadder being that they are some much fun and the rest of the film feels a bit forgettable. The story is interesting but it’s not developed in a way that keeps the attention. The only reason this reviewer kept watching was all the awesome fighting. Fans of stuff like Ong Bak and B13 will love the action, but will probably check out during the rest of the film. Also not helping this are scenes that have subtitles that are white on white, thus extremely hard to read.

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Darken (2017) [Blood In The Snow 2017]

After trying to help a fallen warrior, a young woman falls into a dark world where people are seemingly stuck against their will under the rule of a ruthless woman.

Written by RJ Lackie and directed by Audrey Cummings, Darken creates a complex world with a lot of characters that feels like the start to something like a tv pilot or the first in a series. This means that the film sets up quite a few characters and a world of its own for them to evolve in. The film does good work creating that and introducing plenty of characters before killing quite a few off for the story to move forward and the other characters to have a reason to go on their quest. The film is entertaining while it does this and the characters are varied to add to this.

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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

What I love about “Kong: Skull Island” is that while it’s essentially a good old fashioned matinee monster movie at heart, it’s also a pretty clever take on the Vietnam war. “Kong: Skull Island” implements the classic trope from the classic giant monster movies taking a group of armed men and women in to the wilderness, and uses that as an allegory for the Vietnam war. Like the aforementioned war, US soldiers storm in to a wilderness they were unprepared to do battle with, except they face an unparalleled force of nature. Also very effectively setting up a cinematic universe, Jordan Vogt-Roberts aspires for a lot, and succeeds as a simple and harrowing adventure with big monsters, and menacing creatures far and wide.

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TV on DVD: Supergirl: The Complete Second Season [Blu-Ray/Digital], The Flash: The Complete Third Season [Blu-Ray/Digital]

“Supergirl” never really fit in on CBS, since the channel has almost always avoided genre fare since its renaissance in the early aughts. “Supergirl” finally found a great home at the CW network, avoiding being cancelled, and gets a chance to bloom and fit in with her fellow superheroes at the channel. For the second outing of the “Supergirl” series, the writers and producers are so much more devoted to bringing in new viewers. Not only did the network give a whole season marathon over the course of the summer before its debut, but season two finally introduces this iteration of Superman.

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Justice League (2017)

If “Batman v Superman” was Zack Snyder’s own way of exploring how antiquated Superman is, “Justice League” is the proof by Joss Whedon that Superman is actually a bad ass with the right mind behind him. I won’t pretend that “Justice League” is a masterpiece of the comic cinema boom, but I can’t claim it to be one of the worst movies of the year, either. With some spit and polish, it could have risen to be a fantastic film, but in its final form, it’s a neat diversion with a manic energy, and the return of a modern cinematic Superman who presents an iota of positivity, charm, and hope. Finally.

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