FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Savage Dog [2017]

“The human is the hardest animal to kill” When a film opens with Scott Adkins rising from the mud with a scream in Indochina circa 1959, you begin cultivating expectations. You forgive the ham-fisted voiceover narration and the quick slow motion cuts disorienting place and time. You forgive the lack of context as to why this man (and a woman too) was trapped under mud in the first place because you’re re-situating yourself in your seat to brace for the impact of the actor’s fists against the flesh of whomever…

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REVIEW: The Thing [1982]

“That’s going to win someone the Nobel Prize” It may not be the first adaptation of John W. Campbell Jr.‘s novella Who Goes There?, but John Carpenter‘s The Thing is definitely hailed as the most definitive. Unlike The Thing from Another World‘s humanoid adversary, Bill Lancaster (who took over screenwriting duties from an uncredited Tobe Hooper) writes the alien force wreaking havoc on his Antarctic research team as originally envisioned. The terror therefore isn’t conjured as a result of what it is as much as what it can do. An…

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REVIEW: The Nice Guys [2016]

“You will never be happy :)” Even a huge Shane Black fan like myself won’t necessarily tell you his style has nuance. You watch his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (released almost a decade after his previous screenwriting credit) and you feel its kinship to his scripting debut Lethal Weapon. His most recent assignment behind the camera Iron Man 3 feels exactly like both despite being entrenched inside an over-arching universe micro-managed by an outside force. So watching the trailer for his latest The Nice Guys is like seeing…

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REVIEW: Pitch Black [2000]

“Looks clear” People weren’t kidding when they used Chronicles of Riddick‘s expanded budget to blame for its box office demise. I always knew its predecessor was made with much tighter purse strings, but the level of ingenuity necessary to make it still look good surpassed any expectations I might have had. Not only does co-writer (with Jim and Ken Wheat) and director David Twohy play with color tints, vision filters, and an abundance of darkness to hide some of his CGI creatures’ fabrication, he ensures the plot and characters are…

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REVIEW: Assault on Wall Street [Bailout: The Age of Greed] [2013]

“Grenades are fun. You take it easy.” Despite the appeal of rubbernecking at a car wreck, I have never seen an Uwe Boll film. Whether back when the infamous German tax break scheme was in effect on his videogame adaptations or more recently with extreme violence and attempted social satire, I’ve always found something better to view. But when his newest thriller Assault on Wall Street (previously known as Bailout: The Age of Greed) came across my desk, I thought maybe the “auteur” had found his stride. Maybe he was…

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REVIEW: Death at a Funeral [2010]

“Always thought he had a little sugar in his tank” It does not take long to show just how exact a remake Neil LaBute’s Death at a Funeral is compared to Frank Oz’s original. Right from the opening credits, an animated journey of the hearse bringing the deceased to his home for final goodbyes, altered mainly by being more literal than its abstract cousin, everything is just as it was. Once the cartoon fades away to leave reality beneath, however, we get to see just where the differences lie. I…

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REVIEW: The Princess and the Frog [2009]

“Freedom takes green” Two-dimensional animation is back in the Mouse House, but for how long? The Princess and the Frog is the first hand drawn feature length to be released theatrically since a string of failures at the hands of Disney studios, before they bought Pixar and began distributing Studio Ghibli work. I have no problem saying that it is a return to form and hopefully a sign of things to come, showing that creativity still resides in the cell by cell creations. However, despite praise and opening weekend success,…

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REVIEW: Coraline [2009]

“Great, the village stalker” OK America, before you go blindly into an animated film with your young children, why don’t you do a little research on what they are about to witness. A PG rating and stop-motion animated aesthetic do not always make a child-friendly adventure. Based upon the horror novella by acclaimed author Neil Gaiman, Henry Selick’s Coraline is chockfull of heavy material, dark story threads, and bleak possibilities. For a guy like me, those things equal undivided success; for a child aged ten, those things equal nightmare filled…

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