Rapid Review: Jurassic Park III (2001)

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jurassic park III poster

“With the best intentions? Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.”
– Dr Alan Grant

SYNOPSIS: Adventure runs wild when renowned paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant agrees to accompany a wealthy adventurer and his wife on an aerial tour of Isla Sorna, InGen’s former breeding ground for prehistoric creatures. But when they’re terrifyingly stranded, Dr. Grant discovers that his hosts are not what they seem, and the island’s native inhabitants are smarter, faster, fiercer and more brutal than he ever imagined. – via IMDB

jurassic park 3 spinosaurus vs t-rex

GRADE 6.5Alrighty, and we are back! I must admit, that when I was a kid I went and saw this, I was not a fan when I left the cinema. Maybe it is because I watched the crap out of Jurassic Park because there was a VHS available, unlike The Lost World. However, rewatching this recently, I much preferred this one to the last one. It just worked better. I was so happy to have Sam Neill’s Alan Grant back – as fun as Ian Malcolm can be (and Golblum played him wonderfully), he certainly needs a character like Alan to level him out. Well, here we were, with the serious, grouchy, awesome Alan Grant, and he is thrust back into the world of dinosaurs and it is so not what he needs. Ellie is in for just a tad, and then she is gone, which is a pity because she was very cool. The spinosaurus was also pretty badass and a refreshing change from what we have seen. The one scene that showed a proper creepy moment for the spinosaurus is when the family is, of course, reunited, and you hear that satellite phone ringing, and when Alan and Eric turn around, the spinosaurus is just watching them, sizing them up. I think the dinosaurs looked pretty good, and I could even deal with the flawed logic (again!!) that presents itself throughout the movie because we are on an adventure. Maybe not the best, but an adventure nonetheless. Some of the humour was exceptionally juvenile, which I was not a fan of. The story is also pretty unimaginative and mostly bland, but still better than the last. I also really liked how this was more like the first movie in the sense of a smaller group of people on an island, out to survive. That isolation was something I missed so much in the last movie. Something that grated on me was Téa Leoni’s Amanda. I just wanted to slap her silly the whole time. She was hysterical and annoying. I really am not a fan of the way that Jurassic Park has a strong female lead, and then all the other female leads thereafter have to be these excessively whiny, silly women. It’s offensive. For serial. While not a perfect movie by a long shot, I feel that Jurassic Park III endures far more hate than is necessary. 

Review: The Faithful – S.M. Freedman

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the faithful cover

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: FBI agent Josh Metcalf believes he has uncovered a decades-long conspiracy involving missing children. His obsession has led him to compile hundreds of cases. All involve children rumored to have psychic abilities—and all have no witnesses, no leads, and no resolution.

Meanwhile, Rowan Wilson, a meteorite hunter for NASA’s Spaceguard Program, is losing her grip on the past. Memories of the childhood she thought she’d had are vanishing, and dark recollections of kidnappings, mind control, and an isolated mountain ranch are taking their place.

When Rowan’s shadowed past converges with Josh’s research, they uncover a deadly plot to reshape humanity. With the world’s survival dependent on stopping a vast network of conspirators, can they decipher—and expose—the truth in time? – via NetGalley

GRADE 8Right off the bat, let me start with wow. I think this is my favourite book I have requested from NetGalley so far. I liked the write up, it got me quite interested, and when I requested it and received access, I had just finished another book and felt like something new. Boy, this was an excellent read! I love reading about cults and stuff like that, crazy conspiracy things and I love having more go on than you realise, something to keep you guessing. The Faithful ticks all those boxes. I also love how there is potential here for this to become a series of books, though it works alright as a standalone novel, too. You don’t feel that everything is up in the air when it is over, but you can see that there is more to tell if the author decides to – about the characters, about the future, about everything. I hope there is another one, I would definitely be right there to read that! Freedman also writes quite well, the book flowed nicely and didn’t confuse you, even though the storytelling flips from character to character, and from Rowan’s side it is an internal dialogue, it all just works for the novel. Initially I thought I knew what was coming from the novel, but it soon became evident I had no idea. There were places where I thought it could have been more tightly written or better explained, but the book caught me from the very first pages and kept me engaged throughout, which was great. I liked the characters, too, and could support them and care about what was going to happen. The concept of the book was very good – missing children, all with some sort of psychic ability, lambs blood present at all the crime scenes, this MO going back over decades? The who, what, and why is handled very well – not drawn out long enough to frustrate the hell out of you, but not rushed through so that you are wondering what, exactly, you missed and where. I liked the humour that made its way into this novel – it made me laugh because it was real corny and all, but it worked. The fact that a romance bloomed but never took front and centre in the story for me was something I truly enjoyed – I am so over a great story being wasted just so an author can tell the reader how hot the characters are for one another. There were so many things, especially about the cult, that managed to make my stomach roil. Really, this cult was crazy and sick and twisted, and no punches were spared by Freeman for this novel. Definitely recommended if you want a compelling read with good characters, an insane story and a wicked fast pace, The Faithful is well worth the read!

Rapid Review: Lethal Weapon (1987)

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lethal weapon poster

“I don’t make things complicated. That’s the way they get, all by themselves.”
– Martin Riggs

SYNOPSIS: Roger Murtaugh is an aging family man and sensible veteran police officer just trying to make it through the day unscathed. Martin Riggs is a suicidal loose cannon cop who doesn’t care if he even lives to see the end of the day. Reluctantly thrown together to solve the mysterious murder of a banker’s daughter, the unlikely duo uncovers a dangerous ring of drug smugglers employing ex-military mercenaries. After a tragic turn of events, the mission becomes personal and the mismatched investigators must learn to trust one another as they wage a two-man war against a deadly criminal organization. – via IMDB

lethal weapon smiley shot

GRADE 8.5I know, it looks like I am having this massive Mel Gibson run on my blog at the moment, but that really isn’t what this is all about! I just so happened to buy the Lethal Weapon collection box set on special recently, and my Fridays needed filling. What better, honestly, than these? Well, off we go. Lethal Weapon is a real eighties action, buddy cop movie, and it is awesome. Watching it you can understand why it is so popular. The dialogue is sharp and witty, the action is over the top at times but always entertaining, the bad guys are crazy, the cop shop is something else, we have two partners who don’t want each other, a plot involving drugs and murder, and it all comes together quite well. I was entertained from the off, and Mel Gibson was perfectly cast here. His Martin Riggs really is just a little too crazy, never really conforming to the mould, completely bonkers, but he works it. But dear lord, a mullet is never going to look good. I will never, ever understand it. Then there is Danny Glover, and he is the perfect counterpart of Mel Gibson. He is the right age for his role, he is hilarious and works wonders as Murtaugh – he genuinely had me laughing. The humour is awesome, and the partnership between Riggs and Murtaugh is wonderful. Their “pretty fucking thin” investigation style provides endless entertainment, and the development between the two cops is well worth the watch. They aren’t immediately friends, but they warm up quite quickly, though they are worlds apart. Something I noticed in this movie that really drove the age of it home for me was a magnet/sticker on the Murtaugh family fridge: FREE SOUTH AFRICA. END APARTHEID NOW. Wow. That was before I was even born! Anyway, Lethal Weapon has held up incredibly well after 28 years (OMG) and is well worth the watch, whether for the first time or for a rewatch, you just can’t go wrong here!

Oh, and for the laughs, this is seriously one of my favourite scenes:

Review: The Voices (2014)

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the voices poster

“Friday I had a pretty cushy gig. Had lots of friends, I was the office hottie… now I’m a severed head in a fridge. Sucks to be me, Jerry.”
– Fiona

SYNOPSIS: A likable guy pursues his office crush with the help of his evil talking pets, but things turn sinister when she stands him up for a date. – via IMDB

It’s amazing. Things went from this:

the voices pizza scarf

to this pretty rapidly, and it was awesome!

the voices stabbing

GRADE 7Honestly, I watched The Voices because I read a bit about it on Ryan’s site (review here), and also because I needed to do research. Ryan Reynold research for science, of course. Needless to say, he was well worth the watch. It also turned out that The Voices is a better watch than you would actually initially give it credit for (not just a comedy).

I was incredibly impressed by the beautiful albeit slightly boring world that Jerry has. Crappy job, maybe, but he goes home to a pretty neat little apartment and his pets, his loyal and caring dog Bosco who absolutely loves him and Mister Whiskers, who is so freaking insane you can only laugh. He is grumpy and angry and nasty to boot, but Jerry loves him anyway. It soon becomes evident that Jerry’s mind is not as stable as it should be. You pity him because of how he is treated by Fiona, though you can sort of understand why he would have difficulty picking a woman like that up. His looks have nothing to do with it, but his social skills are lacking in the absolute extreme.

Where the movie really won me over, really got me on board, was when you peeled back the layer and saw the world as it really is, not the cushy little version that Jerry has. It is absolutely disgusting. His home is nasty and a wreck, his mind is permanently making things prettier than they are, and it seems that he will get away with everything because he has himself so sheltered and is such a loner. Also goes to show how disinterested people are, otherwise someone would have surely know that something was up with him!

I really liked the way that the storytelling was done. You get to see how Jerry understands and feels about it all, as well as the harsh reality. Nothing is given up immediately, but you are given the information you need in increments, so your view on Jerry slowly but surely deteriorates and changes, too. The humour in here is good, though dark, but I am a fan of that. The movie seamlessly crosses between hilarity and a more serious, disturbing side, which is something movies like this struggle to do most times.

The performances were pretty on the ball all round, too, and the characters were entertaining and not overly shallow, though none were as fleshed out as Jerry. I loved how this movie gets you thinking after you scratch the surface, to really look into the mind of a psychopath – this was an element that worked wonders here. The Voices did have issues in places, undeniably, but overall is certainly worth the watch if you are looking for a horror/thriller comedy and something that is a little different.

Character Tribute: Clay Burton

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BANSHEE BURTON

So recently I watched Banshee at the recommendation of my brother and a very good friend. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but the one thing that kept me hooked no matter what was the possibility of seeing Matthew Rauch’s character Clay Burton. I knew that he needed a Character Tribute, and I spent an indecent amount of time pulling this together. Oh my goodness! What a forbidding guy, but he is the best! He has amazing screen presence, he’s not someone anyone should cross, has such a weird personality and is shrouded in immense amounts of secrecy. I want to know more about he mysterious Burton! I also feel that Matthew Rauch is the best casting for this character, too. He really owns every second he is on screen, gets under your skin and makes Burton so much more real. Mesmerizing.

I have no idea why people are not more afraid of him. Even in a fight, he never loses his calm, but he will put you down, end of story. Non-negotiable. Also, the only man I would not mock or question wearing pink. It is just what it is.

clay burton killer

Always the cleaner. Never complaining. Always diligent.

clay burton banshee cleanup

Kai Proctor’s protector and right hand man, Burton is always by his side. It seems he is incapable of feeling fear, and will walk into any situation at any time and own it.

burton bat burton bat 2

Even his freak out sessions have this deliberate and weirdly contained, dignified and chilling element to them.

clay burton losing itclay burton so sinister

As if he wasn’t creepy enough, just wait for the slaughter of Jason Hood. Right in the middle of banging Rebecca, no less! Not to mention the crazy weird clean up after the fact, his flashbacks, how calm he is about absolutely everything all the time, as well as the whole ritual he had when going about restoring the motel room. Nice.

burton cleaning hotelburton creepybanshee burton smile

Burton is beyond cold, calculated and ruthless. He is efficient to boot, too. Look at him, not even flinching!

banshee crazy stuff

You know bloodcurdling Burton is making an appearance when the glasses go… those things tell you so much about where on the terrified-spectrum you should be.

banshee burton glasses1banshee burton glasses banshee burton glasses2clay burton glasses off again

His loyalty to Kai Proctor is simply astounding. No matter what happens, Burton is there. Violently, at the best of times.

burton killerburton efficient kill

There is absolutely nothing that will stop him when he gets peeved. He is not really one to express his discontent with facial expressions and words, and this epic fight with Nola Longshadow was about as animated as we have ever seen him, yet he remained in control for the most part. He’s like a pitbull. Once he’s got his teeth in you, it isn’t over until one of you is dead.

clay burton banshee glassburton and nola

The way he starts paying close attention to those who pose a threat to Kai Proctor as well as Burton’s standing with him, such as Rebecca. Since she started staying there and becoming involved with Kai’s business, Burton has made Rebecca his business.

creepy clay burtonbanshee season 3 starting a war burton i don't trust you2

Again with the efficiency. Even after all that has happened, Burton will do what he can to care for himself. He is very independent. It seems he does not like the feeling of vulnerability or threats, either, and no matter his state will assert his dominance.

clay burton stitching himself up clay burton stay away

And lastly, I think this picture that was snapped somewhere on set is just awesome:

matthew rauch burton bat and phone

Rapid Review: Whiplash (2014)

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whiplash poster

“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”.”
– Terence Fletcher

SYNOPSIS: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. – via IMDB

whiplash madness

GRADE 8.5Whoa, what an intense watch! I mean I know that the film garnered a lot of love and admiration since the release, and people have waxed lyrical about JK Simmons and the film and all that, but after finally having caught Whiplash, I get it. Whiplash is such a heavy watch, starting off innocently enough and then rocketing on to big and crazy things. Miles Teller was very good in here, and I enjoyed him, but JK Simmons is undeniably the star here. It was so interesting to watch the way that Andrew changes after he comes into contact with Fletcher, and it isn’t a small one, either, though it is gradual. I do enjoy the way this movie looks at pushing an individual to achieve more. Not everyone responds to positive reinforcement, but where are the boundaries when pushing someone? When is it too far? Whiplash explores this, and the bizarre relationship between Andrew and Fletcher will get you thinking. On one hand, you understand certain things that Fletcher does, and how he manages to get people to push themselves to achieve the very best they can, and on the other hand, Fletcher is a total toolbag that needs to be brought into line. Teller worked well, and I admire the dedication he put into the role, to up his drumming capabilities, etc. He played his part, and his splintering personality and change of attitude is mesmerizing to watch. As for Simmons? He owned the screen all the time, and when he was up there he did not fail to fascinate you and repulse you in equal measure. The film was visually stunning, and I loved the sound and the way the film was shot. It looked great. Also, the supporting characters are not really important in this movie, Whiplash is all about Andrew and Fletcher, and that is perfectly alright, seeing as it makes for a dramatic study on right, wrong, motivation, dedication, and change. Whiplash really could have gone a whole different, bland way, but the performances from Teller and Simmons, as well as the execution of the film, make it something commanding, domineering, riveting and thought-provoking. Damien Chazelle knew exactly what to do with the film to make it riveting and powerful, something that lingers for quite a while after viewing. I really loved the visuals in this, especially watching the drumming, the blood flying, the sticks, the concentration… that is without even hearing anything. It comes together very well, and I definitely enjoyed it!

Rapid Review: Dread (2009)

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DREAD_MECH_01.indd

“I suppose that is the worst part of it all. You live with the notion that the thing that causes you the most terror could come back at any time.”
– Jonathan Shaw

SYNOPSIS: Three college students producing a documentary on the true nature of fear are slowly drawn into a world of nightmares when one member of the group begins exploiting the phobias of his fellow participants in hopes of seeking salvation from his own dark obsession. – via Rotten Tomatoes

dread 2009

GRADE 7.5So let me be honest, right off the bat. I am petty enough to have decided to check this out, purely for science. Jackson Rathbone. Yes, the selling point for me. However, instead of a mediocre flick with plenty of eye candy, I lucked out. I got to watch delicious for 108 minutes as well as have a really interesting film play out. Could you imagine my score?! I hardly could! Anyway, moving on to the movie itself. Dread starts and you are almost not quite certain what is to happen, and things jump really quickly from Stephen meeting Quaid and them becoming friends. However, that dooms nothing when Quaid seems to have an obsession with fear. His idea for a film thesis could have really bombed – exploring fear, but instead provided us with the base of a pretty darn good B-movie. Things are trundling along slowly, typical regular fears like clowns and spiders and wet tissues (I don’t know), but when Cheryl shares her story, things immediately get deeper and darker. I was not bored for one second of this movie. As it progressed, it got so much more intense. The pacing is slow, but it facilitates making these characters to people we come to know, and gives time to focus on Quaid’s strangeness, watching him devolve into madness, slowly but surely. He seems to take the project way too seriously, and has his own messed up past that flashes up throughout the film. I really liked that they did not throw away everything they were working towards by shoving in Quaid’s greatest fear as an actual character, because that would have been a surefire way to ruin everything. The movie was shot well. There was this one stalking scene that was hunter and prey, and prey is also hunter, and it was just done phenomenally – quiet, deliberate, not leaning on jump scares or anything like that. The dialogue was also not terrible, and the performances were good. Jackson Rathbone is not just pretty, he can act, too. Hanne Steen was just so good as Cheryl, and Shaun Evans deliverer Quaid to us with such finesse. Another something I have to admit, I read this short story by Clive Barker, and I think that the movie tapped into the fear and dread far better than the short story did. A rare occurrence, but the movie provided characters we got to know and cared about, as well as explored the fears and dread of the characters more, which is important, fleshing the story out properly. Overall, Dread was infinitely better than I expected, though it still has some flaws. I can definitely recommend it to anyone that likes a horror with a little more of a solid foundation – a nice little hidden gem!

Sporadic Scene: The Dark Knight (2008) – The Joker’s Magic Trick

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This scene makes me laugh every time I see it. I know that sounds pretty screwed up, but come on! It was great. It was also the first indication that we were going to get a darker and more insane Joker than the Joker that Jack Nicholson gave us in Batman (1989). The magic trick demonstrated here was little league in comparison to where Heath Ledger took The Joker.

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a picture/gif/video of the scene and an explanation as to why (should you want to include it).