Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Machine

machA scientist builds a sentient machine modeled after his dead co-worker.  The machine soon proves to be better than imagined, and the military try to swoop it away for their own nefarious purposes.

Sounds familiar?  It should, because the basic premise of the Machine has been done dozens of times before in similar-themed movies.  The drama of a creation longing to be wholly human?  The replicants of Blade Runner did that and even they copied from Frankenstein.  Superintelligent AI that tries too hard?  2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL did it before it was cool.  Indestructible robot human lookalikes built for the military?  James Cameron practically invented that doing Terminator.

mach3

The coworker, whose likeness will soon be used for the machine.

My point?  You don’t need an original plot to make a good entertaining movie.  And that’s exactly what The Machine is.  A good entertaining movie.  Sure, it deals with heavy topics as human experimentation and free will, but only lightly.  The action and good-looking robotwoman take front stage and soak up all the attention.  At least, that’s what happened to me.

mach1

Robotlady, still mint in package.

Sure, there are some minor plotholes, and sure, everything happens so fast in the movie (a period of weeks is just a few scenes long) that I sometimes got a bit disoriented, but I was almost instantly hooked again as the story progresses.  We are treated to some nice special effects, some fast fighting action, a seriously cool vintage Vangelis-sounding soundtrack and one hell of a goodlooking robot.  Did I already mention I liked the robotlady?

Yeah, I'm not posting pictures of the other castmembers.  Deal with it.

Yeah, I’m not posting pictures of the other castmembers. Deal with it.

All in all I enjoyed The Machine.  The acting was decent, the story was good albeit not really original, the special effects were nice and I thouroughly enjoyed seeing Dennis Lawson (Wedge from Star Wars!) as the villain.  Well worth the watch, and in time even worth a rewatch!

Jan

Plants behaving Badly, Part 1: Murder & Mayhem

111339_Plants_Behaving_BadlyGreat, another horror movie!”, I think to myself as I unwrap the bluray.

Go on, admit it, you thought so too when you saw the title!  “Plants behaving Badly, Part 1: Murder & Mayhem”.  The title really does speak to one’s imigination doesn’t it?  I was picturing giant carnivorous plans, possibly mutated by alien rays from outer space, on a rampage through a city.  Cities worldwide overgrown by some evil scientist’s escaped experiment.  Blonde starlets being ripped to shreds by razorsharp vines,…  In short: bloody, campy mayhem.

pbb2

But nothing of the sort.  Apparently this is a two-part nature documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Bummer.

Well, the disc is unwrapped and my corn is already popped and buttered…  Might as well stick with it.

Which, as it turns out, was not a bad decision at all.

pbb1

The documentary is expertly narrated, very interesting and doesn’t bore at all.  I was on the edge of the sofa, learning all kind of cool things about carnivorous plants.  Venus flytraps, pitcher plants and flypaper traps no longer hold any secrets for me.  I can now tell which plants eat what and where to find them.  I even know that the rat found half-digested in the world’s first discovered carnivorous plant, probably got there by accident!

pbb3

I’m pleasantly surprised by this series, I almost can’t wait to watch part two, which deals with orchids.  But first, I think I’ll rewatch Little shop of Horrors.  Do a little fact-checking on Audrey II….

Jan

Enemies Closer

closercoverA movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as an evil ex-military mercenary who’s vegan, concerned with the environment and sporting a questionable hairdo?

Yes please!

Enemies Closer revolves around Henry, another ex-military man, who became a park ranger.  He spends his time alone in a cabin on an almost deserted island, working his ranger duties and clearing his head of the past and the man that died under his command.  Just when things are improving for him, the brother of that man comes to the island intent on avenging his death.  And, as if things couldn’t get worse, Van Damme and his cronies arrive at the island the very same night, looking for a missing drug shipment.  Turns out eco-friendly Van Damme really wants those drugs, and because the shipment is in the lake somewhere and the ranger is the only diver around, he also really wants him.  In order to survive, the ranger and his would-be killer will need to work together.  Lots of shooting and martial arts ensue…

"You aimez mon new 'aircut, non?"

“You aimez mon new ‘aircut, non?”

To be honest, I fed this movie to the bluray player with one eyebrow cocked.  I was expecting a run of the mill “Oh noes, I’m hunted by the bad guys and I’m all alone” underdog kinda story.  Turns out I was wrong.  But not by much.  You still get the underdog part two guys against an army of mercenaries, but whereas in most of these movies the protagonist start off as unexperienced, the ease with which these two guys start killing the trained mercenaries is almost unbelievable!

And then there’s the horrible acting.  Throughout the whole movie, actors deliver lines like they’re onstage in a middleschool play or a soap opera at best.  You know, one of those afternoon dramas your mom likes watching and you always make fun of.  It really is that bad!  The only redeeming factor in this crapfest seems to be JCVD’s portrayal of bad guy Xander.

JCVD drives his point(y stick) home

Early on we see Van Damme singlehandedly take out a complete squad of trained FBI agents, giving us a glimpse of what a badass he really is.  He rarely passes up on opportunity to teach about the environment or veganism before he goes berzerk.  He even stops in the middle of pursuit to pick, admire and eat a wild strawberry before continuing the hunt.  Van Damme plays the part brilliantly.  Xander comes off as a rambling yet calculated madman, with just the right amount of camp.

“Stop getting le ketchup all over my arm!”

Yet I wonder…  Was Van Damme’s campy portrayal intentional?  Or is he really just trying too hard, driving his method-acting dangerously close to the realms of Nicolas Cage’s “new shamanistic” acting?  A closer examination of the portrayal seems in order, but a rewatching of Enemies Closer just isn’t worth it.

I guess we’ll never know.

Jan

Witching and Bitching

wandbConfession time, people.

I don’t watch Spanish movies.  Ever.

Not that I dislike Spain, far from it.  The selection of movies that reaches me from there just fails to capture my attention.  The few that do capture my attention get dismissed pretty quickly on account of their plots.  Drama’s and love stories just rub me the wrong way, and up until now I thought that Spanish moviemakers only made movies based on the love or drama premise.  But that all changed yesterday, when I popped in “Witching and Bitching” for a quick view.  There’s no love and drama to be found here, only horror and comedy!

A nice and relaxed dinner with witches...

A nice and relaxed dinner with witches…

The movie starts out with a heist.  A couple of ne’er-do-wells rob the local jeweller and make off with 25000 gold wedding rings.  On their mad dash to the French border, they get stranded in Zugarramurdi, a town known to be the birthplace of witchcraft.  As in all good horrorflicks, bad omens are plentiful, and bad feelings are had and sure enough, the trio get stranded and find themselves tangled up in the middle of a witch’s coven.  Hijincks ensue, and we’re treated to a comedic splatterfest that regularly had me on the edge of my seat.

Scenes like this had me on the edge of my...  uhm..  seat.

Scenes like this had me on the edge of my… uhm.. seat.

I had a blast.  The movie never bores despite its running time of 112 minutes.  Gore is plentiful, but not overdone.  The plot is well thought out despite its similarity with similar films in the genre.  The comedy managed to get a couple of honest laughs out of me, the special effects are top notch, and the acting is great.  You know what?  I’m actually go ahead and call this the best movie this site has reviewed as of yet.  I’m even willing to make up an award for the movie right here and now.

“NerdTimesGeek Best Horror 2014”.  How does that sound?  Too unimaginative?  How about “NxG Shiver award 2014”?  Better?

awarded to "Witching and Bitching"

There.  Feel free to use that logo on future boxart, production company!  I’ll throw in a quote you can use too: “Best Spanish frightfest I’ve seen all year! – NerdTimesGeek

You’re welcome.

Jan