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CHAPPIE (2015)

Neil Blomkamp’s third feature, co-written by Terri Tatchell is entertaining enough, but the originality that made his District 9 so enjoyable and even his lesser effort Elysium entertaining, is substituted for a Short Circuit meets Robocop mash-up that has heart, but a severely cloned one. Movie tells the story of a very near future Johannesburg, which is plagued by crime and is patrolled by robot police officers. When one of those is damaged, it’s maker (Dev Patel) uses it to experiment with an artificial intelligence and the robot dubbed “Chappie” becomes self-aware. Add to it that, Chappie has been taken by a street gang to be used in criminal activities, gives the child-like robot some very conflicting emotions to sort through as he tries to learn right from wrong. There are some fun moments in the film, but it is far too familiar to embrace completely with some scenes lifted directly from Verhoeven’s Robocop including Chappie’s battle with a large battle drone. It also has some severe tonal shifts as it is on a children’s film level one minute and spattering the screen with bloody violence the next. I wanted to like this more, but Blomkamp recycles too much and resorts to clichés too often. Also stars Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman and Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley as the voice and movements of Chappie. FX are top notch as always in Blomkamp’s films.

3 star rating


black water vampire


Flick is a shameless rip-off of The Blair Witch Project substituting the witch for a vampire-like creature. Film has amateur filmmaker Danielle (Danielle Lozeau) wanting to investigate and make a documentary about a series of killings of young women that take place once every ten years in the woods surrounding the rural town of Black Water, WA. In each case the victim is left with large bite wounds and a complete loss of blood. Danielle and her crew (Andrea Monier, Robin Steffen and Anthony Fanelli) enter the woods and obviously, find far more than they bargained for. Written and directed by Evan Tramel, this found footage horror rips-off scenes directly from the previously mentioned Blair Witch, [REC] and even a bit of The Last Exorcism and doesn’t even do it with any style or inventiveness, so you cut the flick some slack. The acting and dialog are sub-par and the few effective scenes it has don’t make-up up for the laziness of everything else. Creature looked cool, I’ll give it that.

2 star rating




By-the-numbers and dull supernatural horror has a group of people in rural Bogota, Columbia getting into a car accident during a bad storm and finding refuge in an old, closed-down hotel. Once there, they are greeted by a very odd man (Gustavo Angarita) and soon find he has a little girl locked up in the cellar. Against his protests, they free her only to find out she has been locked up for almost 40 years and is possessed by a vengeful witch who has the power to take over people’s bodies. Directed by Victor Garcia and written by Richard D’Ovido, this is a very routine possession/supernatural horror that does nothing new with it’s oft told tale of possession, revenge and murder. The FX are fine and location atmospheric, but the execution is very mundane and the cast, except for Brit cutie Sophia Myles, are equally dull. A few moments here and there, but very formula and very predictable. Also stars Nathalia Ramos and Peter Facinelli.

2 star rating


 -MonsterZero NJ







A very pleasant surprise as sci-fi/action flick is not only fun and entertaining, but creates strong likable characters and a good sense of drama. Outlander tells the tale of an alien warrior, Kainan (the underrated Jim Caviezel) whose ship is downed on Earth during the time of the Vikings by the same creature that murdered his family. While in pursuit of the beast, he is captured by a village run by kindly King Hrothgar (John Hurt) and his lovely daughter, Freya (Sophia Myles). But the monster, called a Moorwen, sets it’s sites on Hrothgar’s village and has already destroyed the neighboring village run by King Gunnar (Ron Perlman) who places the blame on Hrothgar. Now Kainan must somehow convince these rival warriors and their people of what is really responsible and that there is a monster, unlike they have ever seen before, that has chosen them as it’s new food supply…and more importantly, that they must unite and fight with him or die.

Outlander is a very entertaining movie that blends genres well and is not only helped by it’s good cast, but by also presenting a cool creature that is not only dangerous, but a bit sympathetic too, once we find out the whole story behind how it came to be there. The production value is strong, the visual style makes good use of the Novia Scotia and Newfoundland locations and most of the FX are top notch, thought there are a few instances where the CGI is weak. The action sequences are well staged and there is plenty of blood and gore to go along with the mayhem. A very entertaining, suspenseful and sadly overlooked genre flick from writer/director Howard McCain.

MonsterZero Nj trivia: Originally Karl Urban was sought to play Kainan but, the role went to Caviezel.

3 and 1/2 Moorwens

outlander rating



MIMIC (1997)

I’ve always liked monster movies and am a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro, so it’s no surprise I champion his giant bug movie set in the sewers of NYC. But I really do believe this is a good and very underrated monster movie. The story tells of a deadly disease devastating the city’s children and carried by it’s cockroaches. Entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) creates The Judas Breed, a new insect bred to destroy the infected cockroaches then die-off themselves. But the Judas Breed have other ideas and are soon lurking and growing in the city sewers and are now preying on humans. Susan, along with her husband, NY health department employee, Peter (Jeremy Northam) and a reluctant subway cop, Leonard (Charles S. Dutton) find themselves in the fight of their lives, and the lives of everyone in the city, as an expedition into the depths of the subway system gets them trapped in the monster insects’ nest.

I really enjoy this sci-fi/horror as it’s got a good story, has a top notch cast, the creature FX are really good and there is enough carnage and action to satisfy the average monster/giant bug movie fan. The attack scenes are intense and suspenseful and Del Toro gives his creatures a nice air of mystery till he’s ready to reveal them and when he does, they are menacing and have a character about them. He creates a lot of mystery and atmosphere and his visual style is gorgeous as usual. There is now available a director’s cut as Del Toro was unhappy with studio tinkering on the original release. It expands the story of Sorvino’s Entomologist and her husband, Peter as they try to have a baby, basically adding a bit more of a human element to already likable characters. But those looking for more creature stuff will be sadly disappointed. Film also stars Josh Brolin, F. Murray Abraham and in a small role, Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus.

 3 and 1/2 Judas Breed Bugs!
mimic rating