The Beast Of XMoor – Review


Luke Hyams’ (no relation to Peter HyamsThe Beast of XMoor (X Moor) at first glance reminded me of Daniel Nettheim’s far superior The Hunter, which also revolves around the hunt for a cryptid (according to Wikipedia, an animal or plant who’s existence had been suggested but not discovered by the scientific community).

In the case of Nettheim’s movie the animal in question was a Tasmanian Wolf–which actually may still exist–while The Beast of XMoor‘s seek some sort of panther they suspect is hiding out on the moors.

The most immediate problem with the movie is that it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be.  It begins as a search for an a cryptid, then makes a Wrong Turn, with two very rapey Scottish folk, then turns to a confusing serial killer story.

What’s worse–if that were possible–is that the killer is less a threat to the aspiring cryptozoologists than they are to each other.

The Beast of XMoor isn’t a terrible movie, it’s just very unfocused.  If it were just about a cryptid–an interesting subject in and of itself–then it would have probably been a much better movie.

If the director had jettisoned the whole cryptid storyline, and instead made a movie about a serial killer, then it might have been a much better movie.

Or if the cryptid and serial killer storyline were abandoned, and instead the story revolved about a bunch of mad Scots, then it would have probably been much better movie.

But all three?  It’s a bit too much.

Brave the moors of X Moor via Netflix, because otherwise there are too many ways to die.

Spectre – Final Trailer

I like this trailer a lot.  What I like about the Roger Moore Bond movies was their sense of scale.  Sure, many of them are sort of silly, but the villains tended to be larger-than-life, as were their schemes.

Specter seems to harken back to those movies (or the trailer does, at any rate).

The Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan Bond movies also tried to meld the esthetic of Moore’s movies with a somewhat more grounded approach (Dalton’s Bond, with perhaps the exception of The Living Daylights, never quite seemed to gel, while Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough were probably the strongest from Brosnan, and Die Another Day the silliest–and the most Moore-like), an esthetic that has grown into its own with Daniel Craig’s interpretation.

The Forest – Trailer

Jason Zada’s The Forest revolves around Aokigahara, a 14-mile forest that sits in the shadow of Mount Fuji.  It’s also known as the Suicide Forest because hundreds of people have killed themselves there over a twenty-five year period.

As if that weren’t horrifying enough, according to Japanese mythology the forest is demon-plagued.

Heck, the movie almost writes itself, which is why I was dismayed to read a review from FilmBook, which pretty much says that  the movie shat the bed, replacing any sort of tension and horror with jump scares.

It amazes me–if the review is accurate–how filmmakers can take events, places and things that are actually horrific, and somehow make them less so.  The review reminds me of Ouija, a not-very-good movie that somehow managed to make a terrifying object–just looking at ouija boards gives me the willies–boring (luckily the sequel is being directed by Mike Flanagan, who knows a thing or two about horror, having directed Oculus).

And that’s not that an easy thing to do.

The X-Files- Official Trailer

If you’ve haven’t been living in a cave–or were in a  place with more to offer than what’s coming on television–you probably noticed that The X-Files was coming back in the form of a six-episode series.

And I think that that’s a good thing.  The cast looks pretty much the same–Gillian Anderson is aging really, really well–though what I am more interested in is that the series had typically been ahead of the curve in terms of its perspective on the very real growth of the surveillance state, combined with an interesting take on various paranoid-mined musings, urban myths and folk tales.

If the trailer is any indicator, it feels like they’re playing catch-up (and while I am admittedly curious, didn’t Cancer Man die via missile toward the end of the show’s television run?) this time around, though they’ve been off the air for awhile.

Part of what led to the downfall of original series–if you call a nine-year run a ‘downfall’ for me was its convoluted mythology, which after a point seemed to make scarcely any sense at all.  It’s an error that I hope the limited series doesn’t make–they don’t have the time to–and decides. while the truth may be out there, some things are better left unsaid.

Why Superhero Fatigue Is Nonsense (With Zombies!)

Superhero fatigue” seems all the rage among some, but it’s a dubious concept at best, and easily disproven.  Reason being, if superhero fatigue were a thing, it would have been proceeded by ‘zombie fatigue.’

Look at the 2013’s World War Z, the Brad Pitt-starrer that was for awhile looking like the Fantastic Four of its time.

Except that it wasn’t, and despite a $190 million budget it went on to earn over $500 million and spawn a sequel.  And zombies haven’t only been successful in movies.

And speaking of zombies, whether or not they shamble (as God and Romero intended) or run despite the fact that their muscles should have atrophied as much as their bodies have, they clearly aren’t going anywhere.

AMC’s The Walking Dead has not only spawned a spinoff, Fear The WalkIng Dead, but the show continues to be a ratings behemoth for the cable network.

And for the life of me, I don’t quite understand it.  Where I used to work I was the first person to sing its praises (I didn’t have cable, so I purchased the first season via iTunes) and introduced it to anyone that would listen.  The fifth season has recently turned up on Netflix, and I have been watching that too, and its pretty good.

Though what it’s also, is relatively one-note in that while the cast may change, very little about the series itself does.  Not really,

Screenshot 2015-09-28 08.42.08

The scene above, from season 5, episode 10, Them possessed a bit of gallows humor the series sorely misses on a regular basis.

Though there are relatively rare instances when it rises above its humble origins, like in the picture above, though that’s the exception because, except in relatively rare situations, the series refuses to embrace the absurdity of the situation.  It’s as if the writers and directors have a mandate (like the one DC Entertainment supposedly has toward humor), and that mandate is that things will be as grim, as relentlessly bleak, as possible.

And I understand that.  After all, the series exists in a world were dying isn’t quite what it used to be.  The thing is, what the series misses–a lot–is that there’s humor to be found in the bleakest situations.

So, The Walking Dead has lasted over six seasons and shows no sign of slowing down and consistently remains one of the highest rated shows on television, while also being, sometimes literally, a pretty grim slog.

So if a series as repetitive–though admittedly enjoyable (in a end-of-the-world hopeless kind of way) as The Walking Dead–can not only grow, but thrive, then I expect that superheroes, be they in movies or on television, will as well.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones – Teaser Trailer

The latest teaser trailer for Marvel’s Jessica Jones is perhaps one of the best trailers I have seen–for anything–in a long while.

And while some might think that that’s hyperbole, take a look at it, and you’ll see what i mean.  So much information about Jones is given in a very short span of time, which is impressive.  You can tell that she lives in a small apartment, she’s flirting with alcoholism, is a bit of slob, has a problem with rules (no one sets their alarm at 9AM when there’s no pressing need to do so) has superpowers, and parties pretty hard.

All of that just from a camera panning across her room for a few seconds.

I have seen whole television series that have had less character development.

Is Marvel On The Verge Of Regaining The Fantastic Four?

This post is based on (admittedly) thin evidence, though there is a logic.

This year Fox released their latest version of Fantastic Four, which was–to put it bluntly–a box-office disaster, earning almost $167 million against at budget of at least $120 million.

At this point, to break even (typically double the production budget), which is the most that Fantastic Four can hope for at this point.  There are a lot of people who hope that Marvel Studios regain the license to the characters, though this was before one of the producers, Simon Kinberg, announced that there were plans for a sequel.

Which is utter nonsense, and little more than the producer of a failed movie saving face.  The proof is easy enough to see because you’ll find few companies willing to take a franchise that has already failed–and blatantly so–and pump more money into it.  By way of example, Disney’s Tron: Legacy earned over $400 million on a $170 million budget while Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim earned $411 million on a $190 million budget.  Most of that money was earned internationally, which was probably why Universal was so reticent about going in on a sequel with Legendary.

Both films were moderate successes, yet neither are getting sequels (though hope springs eternal for the latter). Continue reading