Late Phases – Review

“Late Phases Is An Interesting Diversion, Though Hardly The Best The Werewolf Genre has To Offer.”

When all is said and done, what separates great werewolf movies from also-rans is the quality of the titular beast itself, which unfortunately isn’t Late Phases strongest point.  The aforementioned monsters here look less like wolves than large hairy gnomes, which is interesting–and a little bit odd–because it’s not like research material–wolves–can’t be found in zoos or on the Internet.

In nature they’re beautiful, powerful creatures (and significantly larger than you’d think) that are in their way quite graceful.

The closest filmmakers have come to capturing the innate grace and power of the animals has been in movies like Dog Soldiers (where director Neil Marshall actually had them played by dancers, in an effort to give them a certain elegance of movement) and Joe Dante’s The Howling.

In John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London, while it had groundbreaking practical effects by FX virtuoso Rick Baker, the creature itself was more bear-like than wolf (which had a lot to do with how bulky it was.  Wolves aren’t massive in that sense, and they move with an ease that Landis’ monster lacked).

Where Late Phases does shine is in its depiction of relationships, in particular, those between fathers and sons.  Nick Damici does well as Ambrose, a soldier who’s blinded in combat, and whom can’t seem to put the war, the Vietnam War, behind him.

Ethan Embry holds his own as his son, Will, who’s doing the best he can for his father, though the tension between the two is always bubbling beneath the surface.

Damici plays blind well, though something’s a bit off about his performance.  Part of it is that he really looks like Charles Bronson, which is distracting.

Another is that he seems always tense, as if his sense of peace went along with his vision.

As I implied, the movie is for the most part petty well-done, though it’s at it’s weakest when the werewolves make their appearance.

Which is a pity, since it is after all a werewolf movie.

Late Phases is currently stalking on Netflix.

Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead -Review

Red Snow 2: Red Vs Dead movie poster

“Apparently, No One Told Director Tommy Wirkola That Sometimes Too Much Is Just Too Much.”

Have you ever known a person that you enjoyed being around, despite that they always seem to try way too hard to be the center of attention?

You may like them as an individual, but wish that they would just tone it down, if only a little bit?

Well, Tommy Wirkola‘s Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead is the movie version of that friend.  The first Dead Snow was a pretty enjoyable horror movie and tribute to directors like George Romero, Sam Raimi, and John Carpenter (especially Carpenter, seeing that it was essentially a gorier, more humorous version of his 1979 movie, The Fog).

Unfortunately, the sequel tries way too hard, upping the ante by throwing in an evil arm (very Sam Raimi), and a troop of Russian zombies on top of the Nazi zombies that were raising Hell from the first movie.

But sometimes more isn’t better, it’s just more. In fact, when things really get moving you have to be amazed that he can even wrangle it all.

Despite the similarities to The Fog, it actually plays more like a  Sam Raimi movie–as opposed to something from John Carpenter, who takes his subject matter more seriously–who’s likely to mine horror for humor as much as violence.  Though there’s an important caveat:  When Raimi tends to do so the humor acts as a release valve (for tension), while in Wirkola’s case the effect is often the reverse.

In other words, while the humor and outrageousness are ramped up considerably, it’s typically at the cost of the horror.

Which is a pity because while the Nazis never needed help in being terrifying, very little of what made them so makes it intact to Tommy Wirkola’s movie.

 

Red Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead is currently on Netflix

Why Is The Upcoming Thunderbirds Are Go! Seemingly All CGI?

Thunderbirds Are Go!Maybe it’s just me, but I am just not seeing the logic.  Computer graphics have enabled filmmakers to create the seemingly impossible, and while I think that I will always prefer practical effects, I do understand that the leaps that CGI have reached are pretty impressive and such effects can’t often cannot be done any other way.

That being said, the upcoming Thunderbirds Are Go! will be all CGI, but with the characters rendered in the fashion of puppets.

Huh!?  Since they’re working with a tool that gives producers literally the ability to create what they want, why not stretch the medium a bit?  In other words, if they aren’t going to use actual puppets–like in the fashion of Gerry Anderson series like the original Thunderbirds, Terrahawks, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, among others, then why not use people, combined with green screen and CGI?

Would it be more expensive to do so?  Probably, because you’re talking about practical sets, enhanced by special effects.  Then again, Anderson’s series were always innovative and unique, while it appears what they are considering doing is nothing of the sort (besides, it has already been done with the New Adventures Of Captain Scarlet).

I know that Weta, the company that is handling special effects, best known for the work they’ve done for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, seemingly doesn’t have much in the way of experience with puppetry, though it’s a skill set worth keeping alive.

 

Z Nation: Not Nearly As Bad As It Should Be

When Syfy premiered Z Nation a few months ago, the only thing that I was curious about was what took them so long.  The Walking Dead has been breaking ratings records for AMC for years now, so that it took so long for someone to premiere another series that revolved around the undead was a bit of a surprise (and I don’t mean high-concept pseudo-zombie series like The Returned).

If we forget for a moment the insane idea that Syfy, a network so based on science fiction that it’s actually in the name, was so late to the party and that the series is made by The Asylum (known for schlock like Sharknado, Atlantic Rim and American Battleship), it’s actually not terrible.

Trailers Somehow Possess the Magical Ability To Make Things Less Pathetic

The series revolves around a zombie apocalypse, with a rag-tag group of survivors trying to make their way to California.  The twist is that a member of their party includes a person who is apparently immune to the virus that creates zombies, which means that they have to protect him as best they can as they make their way to the West Coast.

The FX is pretty spotty, character development is just about nil, but for an Asylum feature, it’s actually pretty good.  Now, if it weren’t so lacking in logic–which is saying something considering that we’re talking about a series about the walking dead–and flimsy characterization, it could give critical darling The Walking Dead a run for its money.

What bugs me–beyond that which I already mentioned–is that everyone works way too hard not to use the word “zombie”(as if The Walking Dead has it copyrighted–and they very well may) or something, despite the fact that it’s the first word someone would use under such conditions.

 

Z Nation is currently on Netflix

‘Terminator: Genisys’ Trailer

Do we really need–or more importantly, want–another Terminator movie?  Especially since the last movie in the saga, Terminator Salvation, performed relatively mediocre?

Well, according to Paramount and Skydance, we do.

Enter: Terminator: Genisys.

The trailer looks okay, but is it really doing something that we have already seen?  Or is it bringing something new to the table?

I am assuming the former.

And what’s with the rather creative spelling of ‘Genesis,’ anyway?

‘Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus’ Trailer

I might have to turn in my African-American membership card after I admit this, but I have never been a huge fan of Spike Lee’s films.  I often admire what I assume are his goals when making them, but in my eyes the final execution always left something to be desired because (it felt to me) that he brought a self-indulgence to most of his projects that distracted from the project itself.

This is why movies like his remake of Oldboy, Inside Man and to a lesser extent, Clockers, are three of my favorite movies of his.  In the three aforementioned films, his stylistic flourishes (his signature move would typically have a person on a dolly moving through a scene as if on rails–which in a sense they were–always felt dream-like and fantastical to me) were minimal.

But his confrontational style and the way he did what he did, and damn anyone who didn’t like it?  That was awesome.

His most recent film, the Kickstarter-financed, Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus, seems to play with themes and ideas most often seen in vampire movies and looks to be typically Spike Lee (by which I mean self-indulgent and meandering) though I am curious what a Lee-directed vampire movie would look like.

Mea Culpa: The ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Edition

I admit it, I shat the bed, figuratively speaking.  When I saw the trailer below, I assumed that it was for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars sequel, The Force Awakens, and should have known better.

Why?  Because a huge clue was staring me right in the face the entire time, which I have posted just below.

Bat Robot logo

Bad Robot logo

For those who are unaware, Bad Robot is the production company owned by Abrams (Mutant Enemy is owned by Joss Whedon, which is why you see it credited at the beginning of Marvel’s Agent’s Of S.H.I.E.L.D.).

For it to appear on the latest Star Wars trailer would mean that mean that Disney and Lucasfilm were sharing the wealth, so to speak, with Bad Robot.

Which is a relatively stupid idea, if you give it any sort of thought because Disney just finished paying $4 billion for Lucasfilm and the last thing they would do is to share any potential profits with Bad Robot–which isn’t to imply that Abrams isn’t making a buttload of money from directing it, because he probably is.

I have posted the actual trailer below (The Force Awakens will always sound to me like the title of a movie on Lifetime, mainly because there’s something oddly feminine about it) and it’s pretty good, though not quite as dynamic as the fake.