BARE BONES: PREDATORS (2010)

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PREDATORS (2010)

Second direct Predator sequel finds an assorted group of mercenaries, gangsters and killers (Adrian Brody, Danny Trejo and Alice Braga to name a few) kidnapped from Earth and dropped on a remote planet. There the group are hunted for sport by a group of familiar looking alien creatures.

Directed by Nimród Antal from a script by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, flick gets a lot right, far more then those AVP movies, but also falters in a few places that keep it from being the great movie Predator fans were hoping for. Returning to the jungle is fine, as is sending in another collection of badasses to challenge the hunting skills of the title creatures. The first half of the film is good, as is the cast and characters. It’s the middle of the film where the trouble begins when the film slows down for the scenes with Laurence Fishburn. These sequences serve only for exposition and really aren’t needed. It stops the film dead. The flick starts to pick up speed again, but only to deliver a climax far too derivative of the original and far too open ended to really satisfy. It works fine enough to an extent, but we’ve seen it all before. So far, Predators is the best of the sequels up to this point and a step in the right direction for those who haven’t tired of this series. There is a lot of action and an interesting plot element that there is more than one type of Predator and they don’t all get along. Entertaining if you don’t expect something that measures up too close to the Arnie original.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: MANDY (2018)

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MANDY (2018)

Mandy is a surreal and over-the-top revenge story from director Panos Cosmatos and starring Nicolas Cage, who is no stranger to over-the-top. The story is set in 1983 and finds logger Red (Cage) living in peaceful harmony with his artist/lover Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), in a secluded cabin in the woods. One night they are besieged by a group of apocalyptic bikers, who brutalize Red and abduct Mandy by order of Children of the New Dawn cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). When Mandy rejects the deranged Jeremiah, he and his people burn her alive right before Red’s eyes. Red frees himself, forges a weapon of vengeance that would make a Klingon cry tears of joy and tracks down biker and cultist alike for bloody revenge.

Cosmatos directs this wild film, from a script by he and Aaron Stewart-Ahn, with such a surreal touch that it almost feels like it’s set on another world…and maybe it is. It’s like Last House on the Left meets Phanstasm, with a lot of other movies mixed in, as Red uses bow, arrow, chainsaw and his axe of vengeance to slice and dice his way to Jeremiah. It’s not an easy path to revenge and Red earns his scars, but he gives as good as he gets and better. It’s weirdly atmospheric, delightfully unhinged, giddily gory and we get the Nicholas Cage we came for. It’s also has some stunning cinematography by Benjamin Loeb and an amazing 80s-esque score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, who passed away earlier this year. If there is one gripe, it’s that at 121 minutes, it is a bit too long for it’s own good and a few scenes…especially Jeremiah’s delirious pontificating…wear out their welcome before they are over. Otherwise this is an original and enjoyably out-there tale of bloody revenge with some vicious and brutal action scenes.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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CAPTAIN MARVEL GETS A TEASER TRAILER!

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The Adventures of Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) are headed our way on March 8, 2019 and we finally get a first trailer! Looks like it could be another hit for Marvel! Film is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck!

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source: Youtube

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REVIEW: THE PREDATOR (2018)

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THE PREDATOR (2018)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Messy story has a Predator (Brian A. Prince) crash landing on Earth right in the middle of a covert operation by military sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook). His men are killed, The Predator is captured and eventually McKenna is taken into custody by a black ops unit, only after sending his autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) some of the Predator tech as security. Biologist Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is brought in to examine the creature and discovers the species is using various collected DNA, including human, to improve themselves. What they don’t know is that their captive is a traitor and a massive 11 foot tall tracker has been sent to earth to eliminate it. When The Predator escapes, McKenna, a band of psychotic army inmates and Casey, must team up to evade slimy government operative Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) and get to Rory before The Predator…or the monster that hunts it…finds his son and ex-wife (Yvonne Strahovski) first…still with me?

Flick is directed by Shane Black (Iron Man 3) from a script he co-wrote with Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps, Monster Squad) and it is a bit of a mess…though a fun one at times. One basic problem is that the film jumps around a lot with no transitional scenes to give us the illusion that characters traveled from one place to another or learned something that they suddenly know at a later point. While Rory is a savant with the alien technology, other characters including his dad and Munn’s Casey, suddenly know their way around the Predator technology when necessity serves. Let’s just say Black uses a lot of conveniences to move his story along. He also doesn’t seem to take his own story very seriously, as there is an overabundance of humor and it seems to overshadow the more serious moments, keeping the movie from building some real intensity. On a more positive side, Black doesn’t shy away from the gore and there are some very enjoyable action scenes. There is also some fun character banter and it is entertaining to see Predators stalking the suburbs on Halloween night…though they could have made better use of that aspect, too. Still, the film starts to feel like it’s being made up as it goes along once the mega-Predator arrives. The second half especially feels like they are not following a story, but going from one scene to another. The flick also starts out fairly seriously and then seems to get sillier and sillier as it progresses, till it ends in a goofy climactic confrontation of clichés and SPFX. It just doesn’t seem like Black trusted his own material enough to play it straight and tough like the first classic. Even the AVP films took themselves serious enough to get us to buy into them, even if they ultimately disappointed.

The film has an eclectic cast which works even if the material is weak. Boyd Holbrook makes a fine enough hero, though it seemed like he needed a bit stronger screen presence. Olivia Munn proves, after impressing as Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse, that she makes a solid action hero and when not left out of that action babysitting Rory, she can kick ass with the boys. Sterling K. Brown is OK as the government bad-guy. It’s a cliché role, but he works hard to make him a good bad guy despite being two dimension-ally written. Tremblay gives another good performance as the bullied and autistic Rory who has a gift for understanding the alien language and technology. As McKenna’s back-up, Trevante Rhodes is good as the soulful Nebraska, Keegan-Michael Key is fun as the joker of the group Coyle, Thomas Jane is solid as a soldier suffering from PTSD and touretts, Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones, John Wick) is good as the Irishman Lynch and Augusto Aguilera is amusing as the weird but likable Nettles. Rounding out is Yvonne Strahovski as Rory’s tough and protective mom and Jake Busey in an amusing role as the son of Predator 2‘s Peter Keyes, who was played by his father Gary Busey.

Overall, this was a bit of a disappointment yet, not without it’s entertaining moments. There was some cool action, some solid FX and the cast of eccentric characters worked well together. Unfortunately the script is weak and the director favored goofy humor and allowed the film to jump from place to place, where it should have taken itself a bit more seriously and a smoother narrative would have made things flow a lot better. The second half seems to be made up as it went along and despite a cool new Predator, the film was more silly than scary. Your move.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 updated Predators.

 

 

 

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES SEPT 14-16

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!

1. “The Predator” $24 Million

2. “The Nun” $18.5 Million

3. “A Simple Favor” $16 Million

4. “White Boy RIck” $8.8 Million

5. “Crazy Rich Asians” $8.7 Million

6. “Peppermint” $6 Million

7. “The Meg” $3.8 Million

8. “Searching” $3.2 Million

9. “Unbroken: Path To Redemption” $2.35 Million

10. “Mission Impossible: Fallout” $2.3 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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BARE BONES: BLOOD FEST (2018)

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BLOOD FEST (2018)

Horror fan Dax (Robbie Kay) is excited to go the the ultimate horror movie festival, “Blood Fest” with his friends Krill (Jacob Batalon) and Sam (Seychelle Gabriel). However, his psychologist father (Tate Donovan) protests all things horror due to the murder of Dax’s mother by one of his patients years ago. His father forbids him to go, but Dax goes anyway only to find the horrors of Blood Fest are very real.

Horror/comedy is written and directed by Owen Egerton (Follow) and has a severe case of The Cabin In The Woods envy. Much like that film, the horror homages fly fast and furious while a bunch of nerds watch and manipulate from behind computer consoles. It still has it’s heart in the right place, even if Egerton hasn’t come up with the most original idea, unlike his twisted and disturbing Follow. The cast are very charming, especially Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Batalon and feisty Seychelle Gabriel, who steals the flick from leading man Kay. There is some nice gore and some cool fiends…mainly zombies, vampires and clowns…to harass our characters and it’s amusing enough even if it’s big reveal is no surprise and the film is quite derivative of things seen before. Also stars Barbara Dunkelman as a wannabe actress trapped inside with our heroes and a cameo by Zachary Levi.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: MARA (2018)

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MARA (2018)

Police psychologist Kate (Olga Kurylenko) is trying to determine if a woman named Helena (Rosie Fellner) brutally murdered her husband in their own bed. Helena claims her husband was being stalked by a demonic entity, but police detective McCarthy (Lance E. Nichols) thinks she should be locked up one way of the other. Kate’s investigation starts to reveal a series of similar deaths that may be linked to a sleep demon called Mara (Javier Botet) and worse yet…Kate might be next.

Very similar to the 2016 Dead Awake with Jocelin Donahue, which also involved sleep paralysis and a dream stalker, but this flick does right a lot of what that movie did wrong. Mara is a good example of how a skilled director, in this case Clive Tonge, can take very familiar story elements and make an entertaining and effective movie out of them. Jonathan Frank’s script offers nothing we haven’t seen before in films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Mama (ironically also played by Javier Botet), but the film is atmospheric and gives us some nice chills thanks to Tonge’s good use of these familiar dream demon tropes. Olga Kurylenko portrays a strong and likeable heroine to emotionally invest us and there is also a sympathetic turn by Doomsday’s Craig Conway as a war vet who’s crossed paths with Mara and is desperately wanting to be believed. Mara herself is a bit of a routine boogie man (boogie woman?), but she is utilized well enough. There is nothing new or inventive here, but there is some effective direction and good performances to turn the familiar into spooky entertainment.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ACTUALS SEPT 7-9

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Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!

1. “The Nun” $53.8 Million

2. “Peppermint” $13.4 Million

3. “Crazy Rich Asians” $13.1 Million

4. “The Meg” $6 Million

5. “Searching” $4.5 Million

6. “Mission: Impossible-Fallout” $3.9 Million

7. “Christopher Robin” $3.4 Million

8. “Operation Finale” $2.8 Million

9. “BlacKKKlansman” $2.6 Million

10. “Alpha” $2.5 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE NUN (2018)

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THE NUN (2018)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The Nun is the latest film in The Conjuring film series now referred to as “The Conjuring Universe”. The film explores the origins of the demonic nun that plagued the Warrens in Conjuring 2 and is a spooky fun entry in a series that, up till now, has taken itself a bit too seriously at times. The story opens in 1952 where a veteran priest, Father Burke (Demián Bichir) is asked by the Vatican to travel to Romania to investigate the suicide of a nun at a remote Abbey. He is asked to bring along young Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who is about to take her vows to join the sisterhood. There they find that the locals think the place is cursed and maybe with good reason as the Abbey is housed in the castle of a duke who used to perform occult ceremonies. Something evil he conjured has been reawakened and now needs a human host to escape. It’s focused on Irene and so she, Burke and a French-Canadian migrant named Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), must find a way to send this demon in nun’s clothing (Bonnie Aarons) back to the hell it came from before it releases it’s bad habits upon an unsuspecting world.

Flick is directed by Corin Hardy (The Hallow) from a script and story by James Wan and Gary Dauberman. Hardy brings loads of atmosphere and some incredibly spooky visuals to the proceedings. The man knows how a Gothic horror should look. He manages some spooky scenes and delivers loads of nods to other movies such as Fulci’s City of the Living Dead, Raimi’s Evil Dead and at times it even evoked the Blind Dead series and obviously, some of the nun themed horrors out of Europe in 70s, like Jess Franco’s The Demons. It’s never truly scary, even if it does play it’s story straight, but it’s fun in that it throws it’s familiar tropes at us fast and furious and mixes and uses them quite well. We get frightened villagers, ominous woods, exorcisms, fog strewn graveyards, re-animated corpses, folks buried alive and more crosses than you can shake at a demonic nun. We do find out who the demon in question is and why it’s here, but other than liking the style or mocking it’s prey, it’s never clear why it prefers to dress like a nun. But with all the spooky goings on, do we really need to know? What the heck…It works. By the rolling of the credits a good time has been had and the film does gives us that vital link to the Warrens that makes the Conjuring connection. After the holy smoke clears we haven’t seen anything new, but are amused by the way Corin Hardy took all the familiar tropes and ran with them…and run with them he does. He also had good support from Maxime Alexandre’s sumptuous cinematography and a really Gothic score by Abel Korzeniowski.

The cast work well, especially young Taissa Farmiga as Sister Irene. She portrays well a young woman of the cloth whose faith and strength are tested against something not even The Bible has prepared her for. She’s a good actress much like her older sister Vera Farmiga from The Conjuring films. She makes for a good heroine. Demián Bichir is good as the priest with a past. He has a grizzled demeanor and a gravelly voice which essays a man who has seen a lot in his lifetime and experienced some harsh events. Of course the demon uses those events from his past against him and it makes things interesting. Jonas Bloquet is OK as the French Canadian Maurice or ‘Frenchie’ as he is known to the locals. He has some of the weakest lines and his character disappears for a long stretch, so his character development is the weakest. Rounding out is Bonnie Aarons as our demonic nun Valak, and she is effective under the make-up and CGI, but never appears long enough to really chill us like she should.

Not being the biggest fan of this Conjuring Universe, the general opinion is that they run hot and cold with the original The Conjuring still being the most effective of the lot, with Annabelle: Creation and now The Nun being the more enjoyable spin-offs. The Nun is full of things we’ve seen before, but mixes them well and serves them up at a rapid pace with some real nice atmospheric and visual support from director Corin Hardy. It’s played straight, but one can tell Hardy is having fun throwing all the crosses, headstones, spooks and specters at us and the film is more self aware and a bit less serious than it’s predecessors in this series…and that’s a good thing. Spooky fun.

For those who haven’t seen Corin Hardy’s first film The Hallow, I recommend you check it out! -MZNJ

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 demonic nuns.

 

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: COLD SKIN (2017)

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BARE BONES: COLD SKIN (2017)

Period piece is set in 1914 with a young man named Friend (David Oakes) traveling to a secluded island as a Weather Official. There he finds the man he’s replacing is missing and cantankerous lighthouse keeper Gruner (Ray Stevenson) has fortified the lighthouse against something he won’t speak of. Soon Friend finds out that he and Gruner are not alone, as the surrounding waters are home to a society of aquatic humanoids that aren’t happy about the island’s human occupants.

Flick is atmospherically directed by Xavier Gens (Frontier(s),The Divide) and is a Lovecraftian tale of man against monster…or so we first believe. The script by Jesús Olmo and Eron Sheean hints that these creatures are quite intelligent, though and may simply be acting in self defense, as Gruner hasn’t been exactly treating them nicely. There is a lot of action, fierce battles and plenty of bloodshed as Gruner and Friend fend off their attackers. As with many flicks of this type, we soon begin to question just who are the bad guys and who are the victims. Gens proves again he has a solid visual style and delivers an old fashioned and entertaining tale of man discovering things yet undreamt of. Also stars Aura Garrido as a female creature that Gruner has captured and been mistreating in some questionable ways.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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