BARE BONES: MALIGNANT (2021)

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MALIGNANT (2021)

Malignant is the newest flick from James Wan, a filmmaker who has made a name for himself in contemporary horror with the Insidious and Conjuring flicks. This film tells the story of pretty Madison (Annabelle Wallis) who is in an abusive marriage and now seems to be haunted by a murderous entity that calls itself Gabriel. The malevolent specter speaks to her through electronic devices and shares each of his gruesome killings with Madison through her own eyes. There is more to Gabriel than Madison knows, though, as she and this dark being share a terrifying secret together.

Film is stylishly directed by Wan from his script and story with Michael Clear and Akela Cooper. The result is a bit of a rambling mess, but it is a good looking mess, as Wan has always been a stunning visualist. There are some nasty killings and some really great gore and make-up FX, but the film seems to be a bit of an overindulgent attempt by a filmmaker trying to pay homage to maybe one influence too many and indulging in too many contemporary filmmaking toys. We see nods to everyone from Wes Craven to Dario Argento and the result starts off well enough, but gradually goes off the rails and looses it’s fright factor quickly. In the second half things really go over-the-top and the film gets more silly than scary, especially when we get the big reveal. The action scenes start to resemble a video game—this is where the overuse of digital toys comes in—and there is some cringe worthy dialogue, as again we see a talented filmmaker overindulging himself on all levels. One can truly appreciate what Wan was trying to do here and maybe for some tastes this flick may be exactly the off-the-wall goofiness they came for, but IMO it’s a sign of too many influences spoiling the soup and the result is an overstuffed and overloaded bloody mess that elicits eye-rolling more than screams. In it’s defense, it’s definitely the type of film that could grow on someone over time with repeat viewings, once you get used to the ludicrousness of it all. Now available in theaters or streaming on HBO Max.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

BARE BONES: REMINISCENCE (2021)

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REMINISCENCE (2021)

Reminiscence tells of a near future Miami where global warming has raised the ocean levels to the point of leaving Florida’s now flooded hot spot looking more like Venice, Italy. In this water-logged city operates private investigator Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) who uses technology to help folks find their lost memories. Nick soon finds himself in need of his own skills, when he falls in love with a client named Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) who then disappears. Nick begins searching his own mind and the minds of others to track her down, but he might not like what he finds.

Flick is written and directed by Westworld’s Lisa Joy and is a Blade Runner-esque mix of science fiction and film noir detective story. Jackman’s Nick Bannister is very much a noir private eye type, as his search for femme fatale Mae gets him in a lot of tough spots and uncovers a conspiracy involving kidnapping, drugs, high-society, criminal activity, betrayal and murder. It’s an entertaining enough 116 minutes and Jackman makes a fine film noir style hero, as does Ferguson make a fine femme fatale when onscreen. The reveals and resolution were a bit of a letdown and a little too cliché, but the bittersweet finale is oddly fitting and effective. Nothing special, but does pass the time entertainingly enough if you go in with moderate expectations. Flick was released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO MAX.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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JAMES WAN’S MALIGNANT GETS A TRAILER!

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JAMES WAN’S MALIGNANT GETS A TRAILER!

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A trailer has dropped for the latest fright flick from James (The Conjuring) Wan, Malignant! Horror will premier in theaters and on HBO Max on 9/10/2021 and the synopsis as per Warner Bros…

In the film, Madison is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities. 
 Flick stars Annabelle Wallis as Madison and is directed by Wan from a script by Akela Cooper based on their story with Ingrid Bisu!
OIP
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-MonsterZero NJ

Source and Photos:  Youtube

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BARE BONES: 30 COINS (30 MONEDAS) (2020)

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30 COINS (30 MONEDAS) (2020)

30 Coins is a Spanish horror series from director Álex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus) currently streaming on HBO Max. It tells the story of a secret and sinister religious organization that is searching for the 30 coins Judas received to betray Christ. It is said these coins will bring them apocalyptic power and the last coin is in the hands of disgraced priest and exorcist Padre Manuel Vergara (Eduard Fernández) in the remote Spanish village of Pedraza. Hell is literally unleashed on this small farm town as the search for the coin tightens.

30 Coins is a very involving, disturbing and quite creepy series as atmospherically directed by Álex de la Iglesia from his scripts with Jorge Guerricaechevarría. Aside from all the spookiness, there is a lot of gore, some unsettling creatures and it’s not afraid to use heavy biblical lore and imagery in the story. There are some very interesting characters. Eduard Fernández is a badass hero, as disgraced priest and boxer Padre Vergara, Megan Montaner was a strong willed and sexy as hell heroine as village veterinarian Elena and Miguel Ángel Silvestre was a noble hero as Pedraza mayor Paco. Manolo Solo and Cosimo Fusco were also very effective as the scary bad guys. There was also a spooky score by Roque Baños (Evil Dead, Come Play) to add to the atmospherics. It wasn’t perfect. Sometimes the narrative wandered from the main story and there was some weak CGI to lessen the effect of some scenes. Ultimately, though, it was a spooky and disturbing eight episodes of horror television. Definitely would watch a season 2!

All episodes listed below were directed by Álex de la Iglesia and co-written with Jorge Guerricaechevarría :

1. “Cobwebs” (Telarañas)

2. “Ouija” (Ouija)

3. “The Mirror” (El espejo)

4. “Memories” (Recuerdos)

5. “The Double” (El doble)

6. “Holy War” (Guerra Santa)

7. “The Glass Box” (La caja de cristal)

8. “Sacrifice” (Sacrificio)

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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REVIEW: ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE (2021)

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ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE (2021)

Justice League was a movie fans had been waiting a long time for and was sadly, not the movie we’d hoped we’d get. Originally it was to be brought to the screen by Zack Snyder from a story and script by he and Chris Terrio. When a family tragedy forced Snyder off the project, Avengers director/writer Joss Whedon was called in to finish post-production and write and direct re-shoots. A lot of the film was changed and the result was met with less than stellar reactions from fans and critics. Now, four years later, after relentless campaigning by fans, Zack Snyder has returned to finish his version of the film and HBO Max is presenting the Snyder cut exclusively on their streaming network.

The story now opens with Superman’s (Henry Cavill) death and his final scream echoing across the planet, the effects of his loss rippling across the world. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) begins searching the planet for meta humans, as he feels an attack on earth is imminent, while the world and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) mourns Superman’s death. Earth soon does find itself under attack from an ancient being called Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds), in the name of an even more powerful being named Darkseid (Ray Porter). He needs to recover three powerful ‘mother boxes’ to come to his full strength and conquer the planet…something Steppenwolf and Darkseid failed to do once before. Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) are trying to put together a team of meta humans to join in the fight. To  do that they need to convince Arthur Curry, The Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), Victor Stone aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Barry “The Flash” Allen (Ezra Miller) to unite with them to stop Steppenwolf from conquering Earth and retrieving something here that Darkseid badly wants. But even with these heroes united, their only hope of defeating the villain and his army of pandemons, may lie six feet under in a grave in Smallville.

Under Snyder’s guidance the film is a lot more somber, but also packs a lot more emotional resonance. We are truly made to feel not only the difference Superman made in people’s lives, and the effects of his being gone on the mood of the world, but on his family and friends as well. It is also twice as long, at over four hours, and is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which may not sit well with those used to more panoramic superhero epics. The film is far more intense in it’s violent moments and is not quite as family friendly, as was the theatrical cut, as it now carries an R rating. There is, though, a lot of character development now, Cyborg and Steppenwolf in particular, for everyone involved and this greatly improves on giving the comic book material a lot of depth and substance. Sure it takes a long time to get to the heroics, but the battles with Steppenwolf have far more weight, as now do all the characters involved. There is also a healthy amount of action added too, so the flick is far from talky. There is also the added caveat of an anti-life equation that Darkseid wants and Steppenwolf believes is here on Earth. It adds even more urgency to the proceedings and echoes of future conflict to come. We see a lot of the humor that was added to the theatrical cut removed, but it is not all doom and gloom, as there are still some nice lighter moments between characters. Obviously, there was a healthy amount of Snyder’s material still in the theatrical cut, so there are many familiar scenes, but the amount of new material, added story elements and alternate versions of sequences makes it practically an all new film. On a production level, the new FX sequences merge flawlessly in with the original material and the mood is well set by a very effective and more fitting score by Tom Holkenborg, who goes under the stage name of Junkie XL. Overall, this Justice League can stand up far better next to the Infinity War saga from it’s MCU counterparts.

The cast’s efforts in this cut are even more evident as we get much more of their strong work. Affleck is once again solid as Batman/Bruce Wayne. Batman is a bit more brooding and intense here, which is more in character, and we see where some of his lighter moments were added in the theatrical cut. Affleck shows again he is a solid caped crusader. Gal Gadot once again proves she was born to play Wonder Woman and she has some really good extended and added moments. The chemistry with Affleck’s billionaire hero is still evident, as is now with Alfred as well. Ezra Miller still steals his scenes as the sarcastic, slacker hero The Flash. He gets some of the best lines and his dorky charm fits the character perfectly. He also has solid chemistry with his co-stars. Ray Fisher is effective as the tragic, yet powerful Cyborg. He’s still learning how to use his powers and still conflicted over being Frankenstein-ed by his father (Joe Morton) and we sympathize. Another role nicely expanded by more footage. Jason Mamoa is less the surfer dude as Aquaman. Here he gets a lot more depth and there is some foreshadowing of his adventures to come and we see his inner conflicts clearer. By now it’s no surprise that Henry Cavill returns as Superman and here is he is a more conflicted and troubled hero before deciding to resume his role as protector. No CGI erased mustaches either, but there is a foreboding black suit. J.K. Simmons is still here as Commissioner Gordon, but again only has two or three scenes. Ciarán Hinds still voices a more imposing Steppenwolf, and here he also seems to have a lot more character development and depth, as we learn more about him and his debts to Darkseid. As for other returning cast members, Amy Adams and Diane Lane ease back into their roles as Lois Lane and Martha Kent respectively and get more scenes in this cut. Irons is still perfect as the cynical Alfred and also benefits from more footage. This version also has Harry Lennix as Calvin Swanwick, who is now revealed to be Martian Manhunter, Peter Guinness as DeSaad, one of Darkseid’s generals, Willem Dafoe as Vulko, Ray Porter as Darkseid and Jared Leto returns with an absolutely chilling cameo as The Joker. A great cast, now even more evident with added performance material.

In conclusion, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the flick were wanted the first time. It is a four hour opus filled with the emotional depth, character development and brooding intensity that was missing in the theatrical version. The casual viewer may find the 242 minute runtime a bit daunting, but fans of this stuff will simply eat up all the new material and it’s darker tone, though it’s nothing much darker than say the last two Avenger’s epics. It’s also satisfying to see Snyder’s vision come to light, one that is sweetly dedicated to his daughter, whose loss lead to his leaving the project initially. Now that this series is back on track, let’s see where they go with it.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 4 (out of 4) heroes.


 

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BARE BONES: UNPREGNANT (2020)

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UNPREGNANT (2020)

17 year-old Veronica Clarke (Haley Lu Richardson) is a high school girl with big plans for her future…big plans that come to a screeching halt when she finds herself pregnant. Veronica makes a decision, but the only place the Missouri teen can get an abortion without parental consent is Albuquerque, New Mexico. Veronica turns to her one time best friend, nerdy Bailey Butler (Barbie Ferreira) to take her on a road trip to get the procedure without her mother, or her popular new friends finding out. Obviously, the road trip does not go as planned.

Movie is based on the book of the same name by Ted Caplan and Jenni Hendricks. It’s directed very well by Rachel Lee Goldenberg from her script with the book’s authors, along with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson and William Parker. It’s a bit daring to make a road trip, drama/comedy based around such a hot topic, but the film doesn’t preach either way and both points of view get made, though the film does lean more towards a woman making her own choices. And that’s what makes this sometimes very poignant and funny flick interesting, is that, in a way, it’s not about Veronica’s abortion, but a young woman coming of age and making her own choices in her own life. Choices she feels are the right choices and right for her, as Veronica rediscovers the friend in Bailey and that her boyfriend Kevin (Alex MacNicoll) may not be the guy for her, despite his wanting to take responsibility for her pregnancy and marry her. The flick has a good cast, with Haley Lu Richardson once again proving she is a star in the making and Barbie Ferreira displaying a dynamic young actress to keep an eye with her eccentric and energetic, nerd Bailey. An enjoyable and sometimes thought provoking comedy/drama. Also stars Breckin Meyer and Sugar Lyn Beard as a well-intended, but overzealous religious couple and Giancarlo Esposito as a very strange limo driver named Bob. Film is a an HBO Max original.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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