I’ve been a long suffering “Puppet Master” fan who has waited patiently for the movie series to go back to its original course and head in to the deeper look in to the puppet mythos. After many years of pseudo-sequels and really awful bargain basement follow ups, we get a reboot but one that’s not a reboot, apparently. S. Craig Zahler’s “Puppet Master” is a new direction for the series that is an alternate timeline series that will exist alongside the original movie series from Full Moon. So not only do we have a crappy original series that needs a course correction, but a brand new series that’s junk from the starting gates with a feeble attempt to be provocative and controversial.
Off the coast a China, a research crew finds an unexplored part of the ocean and decides to explore it to see what may hide beyond the partial physical barrier. Once there, they find that probably should have left it alone. As they are rescued, something follows them to the open waters and causes havoc. Only one man seems to be the one able to contain the situation.
Director Daniel Robbins’ survival college thriller is a pretty typical horror film that surprisingly takes a lot of its beats from “Hostel.” At times it almost felt like a cheap rip off. Despite some interesting ideas, “Pledge” is a pretty crummy horror offering with no real pay off to the climax and lacking any kind of protagonist during its entirety. In fact I was left with a lot of questions when the movie came to a sudden end rather than with a sense I’d been dropped in to a nightmare.
One thing you can say about “Memoirs of an Invisible Man,” is while it’s not one of John Carpenter’s best films, it certainly is inventive. Carpenter is no stranger to science fiction and whenever he hits the genre, he attacks it with a new angle and inventive gimmick that make it worth watching. “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” is about a man who begins to live life when he realizes he’s completely invisible to just about everyone, and must also deal with everything from a clandestine government organization to learning how to eat in spite of being incapable of seeing his fingers or mouth.
No matter what the tragic back story the writers feed us it’s impossible to root for characters when they make consistently stupid decisions. “Desolation” is heavy on clunky symbolism, and comprised of three characters that do nothing but make bad choices when they’re in the middle of a bad situation. Anyone with common sense probably could have made it out of the situation director Sam Patton presents, but there’s more concern with doling out goofy poetic irony than any kind of chills or suspense.
Following a death in his father’s family, a young boy is dropped off at his maternal grandfather so that his parents can go to the funeral. Once there, grandpa puts him to work and shows him a few things about baseball. As this happens, the odd neighbor comes and goes on the property. As things advance, young Henry has to go get this neighbor for assistance and things go from bad to worse, forcing him to fend for himself and fight for his life.
It’s disheartening when you’re watching a very good movie from a group of people you love, and then as the film reaches its home stretch you can see the wheels slowly coming off. That’s what “Knuckleball” was like. It’s a great idea, and a twisted premise with some great performances, but by the final twenty minutes it gets unnecessarily weird with a twist that feels tacked on and absolutely out of left field. Which is not to say “Knuckleball” is a bad movie, since right up until the final twenty minutes, I’d highly recommend it as a wrenching of the “Home Alone” formula that also kind of feels like a spiritual companion piece to M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit.”
I’ve come around on “The Purge” movies in 2018. What I once thought of as goofy exploitation movies, are now goofy exploitation movies with a point. They’re exploitation we need right now, they’re kind of angry diatribes about society that I’ve come to respect. Stuff about the white privileged banking off of the purge, the purge becoming an industry on to itself, “The Purge” posing as an alternate universe tale where the female candidate for president reigned supreme, and now where “The First Purge” begins as an “experiment.”