The Predator (2018)

I was around 11 years old when I first saw the original ‘Predator’ movie (back in 1989). Whilst at a friend of the families it was popped into the VHS to keep me and my brother quiet whilst the grown-ups enjoyed their evening (I believe they had actually won this particular copy of the film in some competition). I was both amazed and petrified at what I saw. That one evening changed my young life, it warped my little mind. I had become an Arnie fan (despite not knowing who he was) and a Predator fan (despite being terrified of it).

Ever since that moment I yearned for more Predator action which we did (eventually) get with varying degrees of quality. ‘Predator 2’ in 1990 is still the best sequel by far in my humble opinion. ‘Alien vs. Predator’ in 2004 was a solid attempt but watered down badly. ‘Alien vs. Predator: Requiem’ in 2007 got it half right but they forgot to turn on the lights. And ‘Predators’ in 2010 was again solid but too similar to the original. Alas all sequels have failed to carry the franchise further with much success.

So this leads us to the next inevitable attempt to try and revitalise the franchise. And what better way than to use one of the original cast members who has since become one of Hollywood’s top action flick writer/directors, Shane Black (and Fred Dekker??). What could possibly go wrong this time?? Surely this was bound to be a home run.


So the start of the movie is a badly paced and edited mess of horrendous proportions. Black essentially copies the start of the 87 original with the Predator ship looming into Earth’s orbit, and then essentially copies ‘AvP2’ by having it crash on Earth in virtually the same looking location. Apparently Predator ships are also able to jump through wormholes in space now? Or create them or something? Jump to a sequence with our main protagonist McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), who is a sniper, trying to save a hostage. The Predator has conveniently crashed in his immediate vicinity and immediately intervenes killing everyone, apart from McKenna who manages to incapacitate the hunter with its own tech which he conveniently found moments earlier.

McKenna is then seen trying to avoid some form of secret US government who are after him because he’s encountered an alien lifeform. He reaches what looks like some shitty Mexican looking town (no idea where it was) where he mails the alien tech to his son before being apprehended. Jump to his son receiving the tech in the post, playing with it, and activating it (of course). His son is autistic you see and this conveniently enables him to be able to decipher alien technology. And finally jump to McKenna being stuck on a bus full of other ex-military nut jobs on the way to a military facility for a good probing or whatever.

This is the now overly used and highly cliched part in the movie where we are introduced to the bunch of overly macho military types (thank you James Cameron). We already know McKenna who is the all-round good guy. Along with him we have Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), a Marine veteran who kinda offers the comedic relief…but is black. Baxley (Thomas Jane), another Marine veteran who suffers from PTSD and also offers comedic relief…but is white. So just to be sure they cover both sides. Lynch (Alfie Allen), stereotypical British cockney and ex-Marine sniper. And Nettles (Augusto Aguilera), ex-helicopter pilot was has suffered brain damage, so more comedic relief. A small team of foul-mouthed, unfunny, ridiculously over the top macho meatheads.


So the introduction is weak, very weak, but things don’t really get any better. The secret government organisation manage to capture the Predator (they’ve known about the Predators for a long time) and its here we get the God-awful throwback line of ‘you are one beautiful motherfucker’ from the utterly pointless character of Dr. Bracket (Olivia Munn). I cringed deep into my seat. Turns out this Predator came to Earth to help mankind, to try and save us. But that doesn’t stop him from escaping the facility and killing every human that stands in his way. In fact up to this point there is no sign whatsoever that this Predator is in fact trying to help mankind, he’s having way too much fun slicing humans down with his weapons.

These government dudes make me laugh too. They know all about the Predator yet when he breaks free they try to shoot him. That didn’t really work with the encounter back in 87 or 97, why would it work now with the Predators being even more technologically advanced. Also the government agent leader Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) is such a cocky moron. Its like Brown and his costars had a competition to see who could be the most arrogant asshole of the feature. The real problem is none of these characters are enjoyable to watch, they are just cringeworthy and annoying.

It’s worth pointing out that the military prisoners manage to escape from their military prison escort really really easily. Its literally as if they didn’t even have to try because the guards were so dumb and useless and they knew exactly how to defeat them. You got the impression they could of quite easily broken free at any point, whenever they wanted too. No effort required at all, cos they’re that badass apparently.

Moving swiftly on we get to the main crux of the story, the all new giant Predator…in CGI (that’s the cue to roll your eyes). Yep for some bizarre reason (despite other movies with similar ideas) Black decided to once again introduce a new breed of Predator, but this time a giant one. The super Predators from ‘Predators’ were a reasonable idea but badly imagined, I thought, especially the new look face. This giant Predator looked the part but also looked entirely fake because he was CGI, a huge mistake. Not only that whoever did the motion capture movements for the creature swaggered way too much trying to be tough looking. Don’t get me started on the way he ran. I’m still not entirely sure why he was so big. Something about the Predators apparently taking DNA from their prey to enhance themselves. So why aren’t all Predators giants?


Turns out climate change will eventually kill off the human race (political commentary, groan!) and the Predators know this somehow. So they are coming to Earth to get all the DNA they can. McKenna’s son being autistic also plays into this because the Predators see this as the next step in human evolution. But that still doesn’t really explain why there are still regular sized Predators and why one particular Predator wants to help humans. Must be an SJW Predator. Nonetheless try and help us he does, and he does so by leaving the human race…an Iron Man suit? OK an Iron Man suit with a Predator mask and shoulder cannons. Really Black? Of all the things you could of stuck in at that point, Dutch, Harrigan, a xenomorph, Ripley, Newt, an engineer, Bishop, Royce etc…You chose a flippin’ Iron Man suit?! Presumably to jump on the Marvel bandwagon.

But that’s not all, oh no. We once again have Predator dogs because this movie is set before Robert Rodriguez’s movie. The only thing is they look bloody awful, laughable basically. They essentially look like small four-legged Predators. They have the same eyes, a similar facial structure, and they have their own mop of dreadlocks which looked terrible!!. To top this nonsense, and I can’t believe Black managed to do so, they even made one of the Predator hounds docile to the humans after it takes a bullet to the brain. Come on Black!!

Surprise surprise in the end the movie boils down to a long action sequence set in an environment which looks suspiciously like the original 87 movie. There are some admittedly decent moments but also some incredibly dumb moments. The giant Predator apparently eating the face of one victim? Traeger blowing his own head off with the Predator shoulder cannon (ffs!). Black tries to engage and lure us in with musical trickery by playing the original movies key tunes, but it just doesn’t work. Finally McKenna manages to bring down the Predator and whilst looking at it he asks ‘what the hell are you?’. But before the Predator can reply McKenna blows its face off. So why ask?


I honesty don’t think I’ve been so disappointed with a movie, a movie franchise that I’m a fan of. The plot is terrible, its all over the place and doesn’t make any proper sense. We know the movie underwent huge reshoots and boy does it tell. The cast was bad, real bad. Its like they deliberately chose the worst collection of people they could find, or they were forced to. None of them gel, most can’t act, they aren’t funny, and they aren’t badass. The worst part being some of them, such as Olivia Munn’s character, weren’t even needed. Clearly that’s the modern day diversity quota in action again. The movie is also chock full of pointless tiresome meta references from the original two movies (mainly the first of course), mainly repeating lines and visual elements. There really is little originality here and what there is is just nonsense.

Just because Shane Black was in the original movie and contributed to it, doesn’t mean he’s the right guy for the job, it seems. Black has done good work sure, he’s good at action comedies sure, but this was the wrong route for this franchise. Honestly, I thought Black would be good with this, I thought he would understand the franchise, well apparently he doesn’t. As a result we now have possibly the worst Predator movie ever, and yes I am including the Strause brothers gloomy effort.



A-X-L (2018)

A young boy (teen) stumbles across a robot dog which he manages to befriend. Said robot dog is in fact a military weapon designed to protect soldiers in the field. Its code name is A.X.L. Attack, Exploration, Logistics, and the military want him back. Methinks one has seen this concept on the silver screen before.

Yes once again it appears as though the moneymen thought it would be a good idea to somewhat remake the 1986 science fiction adventure ‘Short Circuit’. Despite the fact that Neill Blomkamp essentially tried the same thing with his 2015 movie ‘CHAPPiE’ to middling success. I guess this time making the robot a pet might help its chances? But its not just ‘Short Circuit’ this movie is based off oh no, throw in some ‘Robocop’ and some ‘Karate Kid’ for a right royal rip-off…sorry its called a homage these days isn’t it.

The robot in question is a huge thing I might add, it’s like a big cat sized robot. An ultra sleek, smooth, shiny, fully equipped robot that can rip a human apart, hack into any software…and bark. Yes that’s right because when you make a robot dog you make it so it barks too…apparently. This robot also fully acts like a real dog. It bounds around in a playful fashion, it begs, it growls, it seems to like being stroked, and it even enjoys chewing on sticks (metal bars…cos its a robot). Like why the feck would you design your military robot to do any of that? The soldiers its gonna protect know its a robot, they know it’s not a real bloody dog so you don’t have to have it imitate one.


But this four-legged box of tricks doesn’t stop there. Throughout the movie it is revealed that this robot can do virtually anything it wants. It can project images and lights (like in a disco), it can play music, it has rocket boosters on its hind legs, it can use social media…oh and it will self-destruct to stop the enemy from getting ahold of it. Many of these things could be useful, I guess, in a conflict situation. But generally its pretty obvious these traits were simply added to fuel the plot in specific situations.

As for the human characters, well they are also your standard unbelievable stereotypes. Our protagonist Miles (Alex Neustaedter) is your usual good looking toned teen who broods behind his flowing locks a lot. He is being raised by his single-parent father so that’s why he’s more rugged, manly, and moody I guess. His father (Thomas Jane) is also what you might expect. A scruffy baseball hat wearing mechanic who looks like he could be stern but is actually a good man. But in true ‘Karate Kid’ fashion the hot young stud has an enemy whom he must contend with over the course of the flick. This bully pretends to be his friend but in reality he’s jealous of his dirt bike skills and the fact Miles is taking his woman (so kinda justified).

Said main love interest Sara (Becky G…?) is incredibly attractive and curvy in all the right places…because of course she is. No ugly or plain-looking young folk in this movie. She’s literally like a young Megan Fox for this movie (apparently she’s one of these ex-You-Tube youngsters who has since become a singer or whatever). All these young characters speak in a dialect I don’t quite follow, some kind of hip-hop speech or something (2018 folks). ‘I’m gonna bounce’ seems to translate into ‘I’m going to leave’. Lots of ‘bro’s’ and ‘my bads’ and all this crap youngsters speak these days. There really doesn’t appear to be much acting going on but rather constant posing and strutting. Who can look the coolest, who can swagger the hardest, who’s more toned etc…


Now with the other movies I’ve mentioned the special effects were pretty awesome. Now with ‘Short Circuit’ the plot was very thin and cliched but the practical effects were terrific (for the time). What they achieved with a real robot was impressive. And here’s where this movie fails again. As with everything these days practical/live-action effects are virtually a thing of the past. Everything is CGI nowadays and this movie doesn’t try to change that. So the robot dog is mostly CGI with the odd close-up of a practical body part. Whilst the small bits of practical effects were nicely done, the CGI just let everything down as you might expect. Yes I know they couldn’t use a real robot dog but the reliance on CGI is just too much.

I’m not gonna say this movie is all bad but it was close. Clearly they have tried to make something semi-serious here, a sci-fi with an actual emotional core. Unfortunately they have missed the mark quite badly. I mean, apart from the cliched beautifully toned young people and all their posturing, the blatant plot rip-off, the obvious predictability (more so if you’ve seen those older films), and the needless chase sequences along with over the top stunts. You also have ludicrously dumb sequences where Miles and Sara manage to fix the robot dog after its been badly damaged with fire (yes the military robot is invulnerable…apart from fire? And it’s a military robot??). They literally rebuild the thing! OK Miles is a mechanic like his dad but there is no way he should be able to rebuild this robot. The US government clearly need to hire the kid.


The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Ho, Ho…Ho?

A Netflix movie with a title that kinda suggests a cinematic universe? The hell you say. Anyway I think its fair to say that most of you should guess what the premise of this flick is gonna be. It this the usual Santa schtick or is there some kind of surprise to be had?

Wait for it!! Deep breath!! Aaand…no it’s the usual Santa schtick, sorry. Bottom line, a widow is getting over the recent death of her husband which has of course led to problems in the home with her two kids. Her daughter is generally OK but constantly watches old recordings of her father and fights with her elder brother who has gotten mixed in with a bad crowd and is stealing cars! Nevertheless as you might expect on Christmas Eve they both decide to try and catch Santa and end up fudging up old Saint Nick’s plans good and proper. Thusly they all have to work together to save Christmas (ugh!).

So I basically heard about this and wasn’t overly bothered at first but when I saw Kurt Russell standing in that Jack Burton-esque pose on the poster, I was sold. Yes I saw this movie solely based on the fact that Russell was Santa. Had this been anyone else I probably wouldn’t have bothered. But is Russell worth the admission? Well yes and no. Firstly yes it was inspired to cast Russell as Santa. I would never have thought of that as Russell just doesn’t leap out at me as a Santa type guy. But blow me he sure as hell looks the part with his thick wavy hair dyed grey and white and that glorious beard of his. My only real complaint would be he looks too good, too fit and rugged to be Santa. Is that bad?


Admittedly Russell can only work with what he’s given and that’s not entirely anything original let’s be frank. The whole secret Santa thing has been done to death over the decades and there really is little to bring to the table now. So with that said yes everything that happens is kinda neat but totally ‘been there, done that, seen it, and bought the t-shirt’. His sleigh typically has all the modern day technological gadgets. His reindeer do what most other magical reindeer do in these films. Santa can magically zoom about in a flash of CGI. Santa also has magical powers like a magician. He uses some kind of time portal to travel around the world. And his sack of presents is bottomless which also leads to his elf driven workshop…I think. Either that or the elf homeworld or Santa’s grotto, not actually sure.

We also have the usual reoccurring questions that pop up with these Christmas adventures. How come no one has seemingly ever seen or exposed Santa before? Until now. He roams about in this movie using his powers and chatting about his unique role quite happily, so one assumes he’s always done this, yet nothing has ever cropped up? No news reports, witnesses, or video evidence of any kind? Surely by now Santa would have been exposed. At the start of the adventure they just leave the sleigh where it crashed, just like that! Yet no one comes across it? No one comes across the large lost sack of presents just hanging in a tree in the middle of the city. No one has ever seen any of the elves (which are essentially cutesy copies of ‘Gremlins’) etc…Basically, with the amount of magic that flies about the place you’d just assume it was impossible that Santa would still remain a secret.

And I haven’t even mentioned the song and dance routine yet! Yes in one of the more original aspects of this movie Russell dons some shades and thumps out a little Christmas number with the help of a small backing band. Despite it all looking very Blues Brothers-like, very quickly any film buff will recognise Russell’s Presley-esque techniques which he displayed back in 1979 for John Carpenter’s TV movie ‘Elvis’. So what we have is Kurt Russell, dressed as Santa, essentially doing Elvis, epic much? But once again this kinda makes you wonder how on earth this guy has managed to remain hidden when he does things like this and doesn’t even try to hide his identity (he magically flies up a vent in a puff of red glitter at the end).


It also amused me how Santa allowed the young girl to record almost everything on her old camcorder. Sure he takes the tape in the end but still, kinda risky. As for the young duo that accompanies Santa, well they’re just your bog standard kids really. The girl is all happy happy, totally believes everything and is full of wonder, rainbows, and unicorn poo. Whilst the elder boy is of course more doubtful, cynical, and harder to convince. A lot of which is down to him struggling to cope with the loss of his father. But as the adventure progresses the duo (mainly the boy) must learn to help each other, be nice, use their brains, and believe in the spirit of Christmas (naturally). Its all about emotions, feelings, and being nice…all that cliched gooey crap. They might have been in a race against the clock but there’s always time to stop for some sentimental schmaltz.

Of course you know exactly how everything will turn out in the end with Santa and the kids. Kinda silly how they ruin the story by essentially hinting at the fact that everything was a setup by Santa to merely get these kids back on track with their mother. Then even more ridiculous when Santa essentially looks towards the camera and suggests he and Mrs. Claus watch the adventure he just had with the kids (all recorded on that old camcorder), which is basically saying to us the audience to keep rewatching this movie. At the same time suggesting it will become a new Christmas classic, we’ll see Netflix.

So overall it’s cliched, predictable, and completely unoriginal. The effects are acceptable but obvious CGI and greenscreen abound especially for the sleigh sequences. The youngsters are fine, the elves are oddly violent (chainsaw??), and Santa’s long red coat is leather. So yes as you may well have expected its all about Russell and his hip blues singin’ Saint Nick. I can honestly say without Russell this would be just another dull jingle bells without the fun. So put simply, it’s worth seeing for Russell and that’s it, the rest is complete meh.



The Cyclops (1957)

This was director Bert I. Gordon’s third movie in what would become a long line of (50’s) classic sci-fi/giant creature movies. Almost any movie Gordon directed could easily fall into a top ten of 50’s schlock B-movie sci-fi epics. Epics such as ‘King Dinosaur’, ‘Earth vs. The Spider’, ‘Attack of the Puppet People’, and 60’s legend ‘The Magic Sword’.

But like some of Gordon’s other movies (and many other movies of the time) the basic story here is all too familiar. Essentially a team of experts travel to a remote part of the world only to discover giant creatures living there, and that’s it. And yes once again the reason for these giant abnormalities is a dose of good old-fashioned 50’s radiation. The only real differences here from other similar themed movies are, the team of experts is searching for a missing person and the remote location is in Mexico; not the usual distant undiscovered island. Alas everything else we see here is by the books and highly formulaic.

The lead scientist Russ Bradford (James Craig) is a well built, well rounded, good looking chap with a stylish Flynn-esque moustache. The second expert Marty Melville (Lon Chaney Jr.) is the more trigger happy unpredictable character who gets upset and flustered quickly putting the others at risk. Pilot Lee Brand (Tom Drake) is the in-between character so to speak, he is sensible and well rounded but also easily led astray. And naturally you can’t have a movie like this without an attractive female character to put in peril and so you have Susan Winter (Gloria Talbot), the woman who has organised the search and rescue mission.


The giant creatures discovered are all regular creatures such as lizards, birds, bugs, and some small mammals. All of which consisted of the usual stock footage which had been crudely projected against live action footage of the actors. Twas the standard effect for movies like this at the time but here it looks especially poor, mainly down to a lack of budget and time restrictions. What’s amusing is the fact that the animal footage is clearly completely different location wise to the live action location footage with the actors. In some scenes the actors were obviously in some botanical garden area somewhere (in Hollywood probably) whilst in others its clearly a set.

On top of that the actors really don’t seem to be reacting to the giant threats all that much. Clearly they had no real idea how to react and where to look, plus their lack of amazement at the discovery of giant creatures is somewhat of an eyeopener frankly. Most people would be understandably shocked and amazed by finding giant animals alive and well roaming around Mexico. Not these experts, it’s just an inconvenience for them. Also, did they actually show footage of a small rodent actually being killed by a bird of prey??

The location for all these giant radioactive animals also raised some questions. Supposedly these creatures dwell in the jungles of Mexico, but initially the search and rescue mission was clearly flying over a mountainous desert region of Mexico. And when the team land they are still in a mountainous desert region. Now I’m no expert on Mexico but the northern part is more desert and the southern part is more green I believe, so where exactly where the team supposed to be? And not one person had ever reported these giant creatures? Not even the giant human cyclops?


Ah yes the giant human cyclops, the titular character. Now this character turns out to be the missing person but, like the animals, has mutated due to the radioactivity in the area. Not sure why he has become a disfigured one-eyed mutant seeing as all the other creatures just got bigger but whatever. Also not sure why this person didn’t manage to leave the region in search of help before he mutated into a cyclops but again whatever. The makeup for this giant mutant was actually well done (for the time) and pretty disturbing. His huge bulging non-blinking eye, bald head, and nasty disfigured mouth with protruding teeth were probably quite terrifying for folks back in the 50’s. Sure he does literally nothing other than lurch around and growl (why is he unable to talk?) but kudos on that makeup job.

In the end it’s actually pretty typical and amusing that the team of experts manages to find this missing guy…but end up killing him. Yup, they go through all that and just end up blinding him before killing him…somehow. Before the credits role we see the cyclops lying dead (in a horrendous projection shot) but I’m not really sure how. They don’t try to help this guy, they don’t seem to care about the giant animals, and they don’t seem overly bothered about the large deposits of radium in the area that caused all this. They just kill the cyclops and fly away to safety in a happy ending. Maybe they looked further into these things when they got back to the good old US of A.

So in the end I can’t really recommend this Gordon directed feature I’m afraid. I wasn’t expecting anything groundbreaking here, I knew exactly what I was gonna get, but it’s just not on the same level of enjoyment as other similar themed movies. Dare I say its actually just a poor movie? Everything about this was just badly done, seemingly lacking any sort of real passion. Not even Chaney’s stupidly rash character could elevate this much. I found myself somewhat bored to be honest although I do appreciate how this early project was a building block for Gordon and later (better) features.



Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018)

The seventh movie in the Kickboxer franchise, holy crap. And lets be honest with ourselves, the first was the best and didn’t need expanding further, but here we are. This movie is a direct sequel to the last entry ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’ which was itself pretty dire.

The Plot: Tong Po is dead, Eric Sloane was avenged, and Kurt (Alain Moussi) is now a professional mixed martial artist. After a fight Kurt is basically kidnapped and awakens to find himself back in sticky Thailand in prison. It seems he has been brought back to Thailand for the death of Tong Po. It also seems Thomas Tang Moore (Christopher Lambert), the man who controls the underground fighting competition where Kurt defeated Tong Po, wants Kurt to fight his new champion (the man who replaced the now dead Tong Po). Moore offers Kurt various deals to get him out of prison and fight but naturally Kurt refuses because he’s an idiot. This of course leads to Moore kidnapping Kurt’s wife along with other forms of intimidation yadda yadda yadda and Kurt agrees to fight. I think you know how this goes from here on.

Right so first off the baddie character of Moore has bribed the Thai police (and some US Marshal?) into dragging Kurt all the way back to Thailand and slinging him in prison. All this without any form of official intervention from anyone in America or Thailand?? I mean I’m sure Moore is wealthy and could bribe some Thai cops and bigwigs but somehow I doubt he could bribe that many people across two countries in order to extradite Sloane with no questions asked. The fact that Kurt is tasered in the US and only wakes up back in Thailand is just beyond ridiculous.


Whilst Sloane is in prison (held by Moore’s bribes it seems) Moore actually offers him 1 million Dollars to fight his new champion! Aaand of course Kurt declines this rather excellent offer, because of course he does. Predictable cliche one, whilst in prison all the other inmates wanna fight Kurt. Of course Kurt defeats them all easily because all these guys are your typical undernourished looking Thai males. Predictable cliche two, whilst in prison Kurt makes friends with other inmates who just happen to be really good fighters (and they’re cameos). This includes Mike Tyson, various real MMA fighters, and…footballer Ronaldinho?

Predictable cliche three, whilst in prison Kurt also stumbles across Master Durand (JCVD) again, because of course he does. It seems Master Durand is now training prisoners for some reason. Not sure why he would be allowed to do this but whatever. So of course he decides to help Kurt once again. One problem, he’s now blind due to Moore’s treatment. Luckily that’s really convenient for all that Jedi-esque type fighting where you rely on your senses and spiritual side etc…

Predictable clic…oh for Gods sake there are just loads in here. Kurt’s new inmate buddies help him train for the big fight once he agrees to it. So Tyson teaches him boxing, the other MMA fighters teach him…umm…more MMA. And Ronaldinho teaches him…dodging? By kicking footballs at him?? What??? What I don’t get is Kurt is supposed to be this ultimate MMA fighter who already proved his worth and skills by killing Tong Po. So why does he need training from these bums in a Thai prison??


After all the obligatory prison set guff and a complete rip-off of the famous Bruce Lee ‘Enter the Dragon’ mirror sequence; we eventually get to the big showdown between Kurt and the new champion who is basically some massively overweight white guy. Sure he’s big and wide, but he’s also fat. The difference in this movie is that Moore and his scientists have been experimenting on the new champion with a combination of steroids and adrenaline making him über strong. So now not only does this final showdown look like a scene from a Mortal Kombat movie complete with Lambert sitting on a throne in a dingy torch lit dungeon setting. The big villain Kurt must fight is some gigantic roided up monster who literally roars all the time.

This is the main problem with this movie, the big finale is essentially a remake of the classic finale from the first classic movie. Its not a scene for scene remake but they have clearly copied it visually with all the usual beats. But again there is one main difference with this movie, and again its not good. In this movie the bad guy does actually kill Sloane in the finale. Yes you read that right, Kurt Sloane is actually killed in the finale. But fret not because Kurt’s kidnapped wife manages to bring him back from the dead with one of the adrenaline/steroid concoctions used by the baddies (despite her not being a doctor, but I guess he was dead so…what the hell). Kurt comes around, shakes off the fact he had just expired for around 10 minutes and goes on to win the fight. Merica!

So basically what I’m saying here is, this movie offers nothing new whatsoever. Its exactly the same spiel as almost everything else that has come before it and is literally a complete waste of time and money. This is the seventh movie in the franchise, what is the bloody point in redoing the same final showdown from the first movie??? The plot is so fecking mundane and basic, so many tropes Jesus! Van Damme wasn’t required, he was more of a token to lure in fans as was Lambert. And not only that the fighting wasn’t even that good! Yeah sure if you’re into MMA then you may get a kick out of this (no pun intended) but in all honesty watching a real MMA fight would probably be better.

I think the issue here is thus. Back in the day with the original you had a young, somewhat mysterious, up and coming martial artist from Europe with a curious accent. You had Jean Claude Van Damme in his glistening prime. The genre was ripe for the era and Van Damme (along with other classic action stars) was simply at the right place in the right time. Those early flicks were just lighting in a bottle and I don’t think you can recapture it. Plus these days there are so many martial artists/musclemen with rippling physiques, there’s nothing special about it anymore.



The Meg (2018)

Amazingly this movie is an adaptation of a series of books! Yep, we could actually get sequels to this, hmmm.

The Plot: A team of very clever people financed by a millionaire are all exploring the depths of the Marianas Trench. They believe at the bottom of the trench there is a thick layer or (thermocline) cloud of Hydrogen Sulfide which is hiding an even deeper section of the trench. Of course they are correct and discover another deeper world. Shock horror this new world is the habitat of a huge Megalodon. By accident (a hole is punched through the thermocline cloud) the Meg gets loose from its hidden world and is now free to eat (or swallow) its way through the South China Sea.

Yes that’s right, I did say the South China Sea. Did you know this was apparently a movie specifically aimed at the Chinese market? Nope neither did I. Well I say that but the story is set around the Marianas Trench in the western part of the Pacific Ocean and Hainan Island of the coast of China, so I guess that covers it. But its a hell of a coincidence that this movie just happens to be somewhat aimed at one of the biggest and most important movie markets of the time (cynical much?).

The Team: OK well we’ve got a sexy blonde, a fat white guy, a nerdy looking Chinese guy, an attractive Chinese lady, a middle-aged Chinese scientist bloke, token black guy, the somewhat annoying and heartless white guy millionaire, a sexy inked up white goth-esque chick, a middle-aged white guy scientist, and a middle-aged New Zealander scientist bloke. Diversity box well and truly ticked.

This movie is pure cheese, that should not be of any surprise. The movie confirms this for you straight away with Jonas’ (Jason Statham) backstory. Jonas was part of a top deep sea rescue team. On his last mission things didn’t go as planned and he ended up leaving some men behind in a sunk submarine (they died). Since then he’s been a drunk layabout in Thailand feeling sorry for himself. He is asked to help the rescue mission at the Trench where a few of the team are stranded at the base (large prehistoric shark attack). At first he declines basically stating that his war is over, but is eventually talked into it. Yep this is basically the Rambo III of the sea.

So the Meg/s live down in the Trench in this hidden realm that is home to prehistoric creatures (remember, sequel). Apparently one reason they can’t leave this zone is because of water temperature, the ocean is too cold for them. Down is their habitat it’s warmer presumably its closer to the Earth’s centre? Anyway this is why the shark swims near the surface all the time, it’s warmer. But the other reason was this thermocline cloud of Hydrogen Sulfide. Now a touch of homework will tell you this chemical isn’t good but would a cloud layer of this be able to stop a creature as large as a Megalodon?

The first issue we witness surrounds the first teams venture down into this new zone in the trench where they are attacked by the Meg. Of course they get stranded down there hence the need for Jonas to be called in. But in order to get Jonas they had to fly to Thailand to meet him. But the team stuck at the bottom of the trench had around 16 hours of oxygen left I think it was. So would that be enough time to fly all the way to Thailand, find Jonas, convince him, fly back, get to the bottom of the trench and then rescue them??

Its also during this movie when I had to ask myself, is this shark really this stupid? At one point it tries to swallow an entire plastic and metal cage. Now I realise sharks might not be that clever and I realise a shark this big would need lots of food to keep going. But surely any creature would understand there’s no point in eating/swallowing something that is clearly not edible (not biteable or chewable) and doesn’t even fit in its mouth! It’s a bloody shark not a snake. I might also add that the shark doesn’t even really eat people here, it merely swallows them. The sharks mouth is so big compared to a human there’s nothing for it to chew, which kinda takes the horror out of it for me.

Did…did we actually have a chase sequence in this movie?? We did, we actually did! Statham is inside a small submarine and is being chased by the Meg. In order to try and escape he’s piloting this small submersible through all these little holes, cracks, and caves on the ocean floor whilst the shark chases him smashing through it. It was like something outta Star Wars. Would a shark be that bothered to eat this thing? Surely it can find easier prey? Isn’t it hurting itself?

Oh we had a topless scene for Statham, just thought I’d point that out. Yep he’s getting out of the shower, all wet and glistening, someone knocks on his cabin door, its the attractive Chinese lady and she falls for him instantly. Awkward, embarrassingly hammy, cringeworthy…yeah this scene had it all. Also the inked up rock chick (Ruby Rose), what was with her hair? Was like permanently soaked in gel. And her face was always covered in obvious thick layers of makeup and fake tan, always looked perfect even after getting out of the water. Really movie? Really?

K so this movie is obviously popcorn trash that does exactly what it says on the tin. Everyone knows what they’re getting with this so there should be no complaints right? Well no. Despite that this movie is bad, real bad, and its a huge anti-climax. There is virtually no gore or shocks which surprised me. The effects are pretty lame for a modern blockbuster. Why did I not see that shark leap out of the water and take down one of those helicopters??!! Why movie?? It was right there, you had it. It would have been silly but with a flick like this I don’t think that’s anything to worry about. I mean I kinda respect director Jon Turteltaub for not going down that specific (B-movie) route but damn, that money shot went begging.

Alas this let me down. A third-rate, sanitised copy of ‘Jaws’ essentially. ‘smile you son of a bitch‘ now becomes ‘chew on this you ugly bastard‘. Bottom line, this is the quintessential example of a movies poster being infinitely more awesome and captivating than the actual movie.


Space Cowboys (2000)

Teaming up aging iconic stars, a kind of elderly brat pack if you will. Always a solid formula that generally wins over all viewers of all ages. On one had these movies are usually great fun, on the other hand a little sad because you know they’re kinda doing it before the inevitable

The Plot: Its the 50’s and our four protagonists are in the US Air Force. Hawk (Tommy Lee Jones) is a pilot. Tank (James Garner) is also a pilot and navigator. Jerry O’Neill (Donald Sutherland) is an engineer. And Frank Corvin (Clint Eastwood) is pilot also. Both Frank and Hawk are two of the best pilots in the Air Force that are aspiring to be astronauts. Alas their dreams are hampered when the Air Force is relinquished of space test flight duty and its handed over to the newly created NASA.

Fast forward to the present day (back in 2000) and NASA has an issue with an old Soviet satellite which is on a collision course back to Earth. NASA needs this satellite working again but its electronics were designed way back in the 50’s…by Frank. So NASA begs Frank to help them, he agrees with one condition, that they allow him and his old team go into space to fix the problem seeing as no one else knows his old design. At first NASA scoffs at this but eventually, knowing Frank is the only man who knows the workings of the satellite, they agree.


This movie is pre-digital de-aging so for the early sequences which show a young Jones, Eastwood, Sutherland, and Garner, young actor look-alikes were used. But that wasn’t all, these young actors were given a touch up with makeup to highlight some of the iconic stars features. For example the young Eastwood had a little mole on his face plus some extra recognisable Eastwood facial wrinkles (by the looks of it). At the same time all the young actors had their voices dubbed over with the actual older stars voices. Sounds cheesy but it worked flawlessly for a very good overall outcome finished off in black and white.

As for the characters themselves, well they’re a sweet cliche bunch to be sure. Let me be honest here, this movie isn’t really stretching any limits, it plays it safe and straight. Clint plays gives us his usual tough guy persona, the ‘don’t take no shit from anyone’ routine which he does so well. Garner plays the more sensible down to earth type fella. He was a preacher before joining in with the mission, but one gets the feeling he may have been a bit of a slightly dodgy geezer behind the scenes; not as Godly as one might presume. Then you have Sutherland as the ladies man who literally chats up every woman in the movie. And lastly we have Jones as the fast talkin’ daredevil wildcard who acts first and thinks second.

As you might expect these old fogies have to go through the rigorous training programme to prove they can make the grade. And as you might expect this is where most of the charming chuckles come in as we see these old men trying to keep up with the youngsters (and impress the officials). The entire notion of this is of course completely and utterly ridiculous but you gotta just go with it and enjoy the light-hearted ride. Watching these guys puffing and wheezing as they try to get through the daily workouts is definitely amusing and genuinely tiring to watch. The best sequence (which is coincidentally their best performance in these tests) is when they get through the eyesight test. Although the idea that O’Neill memorised the eye chart and it hadn’t changed since he was a young man (a good few decades) is somewhat preposterous.


Twas pretty creepy watching Sutherland’s character chatting up all the women in the movie. Every time he sees a woman he leers at them and tries on his best lines (even when naked). Can you imagine that these days! That kind of thing is virtually forbidden. But to make things even more corny, creepy, and cheesy is the fact that some of these women actually liked these old geezers coming on to them; and both Hawk and O’Neill actually manage to get something going with two women! Hawk manages to pick up one of the NASA officials for crying out loud (hardly professional). Although this was clearly to give the movie some extra emotional oomph in the big finale.

The meat of the movie kicks in when the team eventually get into space to carry out their mission. Naturally all is not what it seems as the Soviet satellite turns out to be an old nuclear warhead launch platform. And of course one of the young astronauts has an alternate mission (ordered by the slimy NASA project manager Bob Gerson, played by James Cromwell) which leads to all sorts of problems. I wasn’t entirely sure why Gerson wanted to keep the satellite in orbit though, surely it would get discovered eventually and the accidental launch danger would always remain. No win scenario for him, might as well just reveal it and get it sorted.

But yeah basically what we get is a long section of the movie with loads of high-tech space jargon that none of us civvies would understand and loads of very cool but very complicated technical visuals. Don’t get me wrong the visuals are wonderful considering how old this movie is, lovely CGI all round. But half the time the various satellite sequences are simply a mass of glistening metal, hoses, nuts and bolts which you just take for red as realistic (because basically, who the flip knows). Sure there are some shots and sequences which highlight some obvious CGI and greenscreen, but like I said this is quite an old movie now. They do also utilise some stock footage of real rocket launches and landings but its blended in well.


For all the visual glory and charming performances the plot here is pretty predictable and hammy frankly. I mean they literally hit every emotional cliche you can think of. Everything is blatantly obvious, all the characters are dated stereotypes, and the action is very tame. You know someone isn’t coming home, at least one, and you do get a clue with Hawk earlier in the movie. But credit where credits due, it’s not overly obvious. The only thing I would say is the moment its time for the grand sacrifice it’s not as emotional as you’d think. Director Eastwood really missed a chance to pour on thick layers of easy schmaltz if you ask me.

In the end this is a by the numbers affair really. Eastwood plays it so safe it’s almost unforgivable, almost. But at the end of the day the movie is just so damn delightful and endearing it’s really hard to not enjoy it. I’m still not sure if the final little sequence at the end of the movie is a happy ending or not. I suppose it is kinda, depends on how you look at it.