03 October 2015


Most of the reviews I skimmed over online before trying to pound out my own were pretty high about the third film from Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers and The Descent, both which are pretty fair horror films). Everyone noticed all the “homages” to films like Escape from New York, The Road Warrior, Resident Evil, 28 Days Later and Aliens. There is even a gimp like in Pulp Fiction. I wonder if that is what we are suppose to do here, try to point out all the "clever" inferences to all the great films this turkey stole its ideas from? The film's lead Rhona Mitra sulks around like just another pissed off femme fatale - a lot like Kate Beckensale did in Underworld (only Kate can act better and had a better haircut) - and big names like Bob Hoskins, Malcom McDowell and Adrian Lester seems to show up for far less time than they should have. So, when I read all these rabid reviews about a film that I basically detested I have to wonder what is up. Did I miss something? Do I need to watch this thing one more time? Well, that is not going to ever happen and I will tell you why. A lot of films I promote here at the Café can easily be labeled bad movies. So what makes a film like Ted V. Mikels Astro Zombies (a cheesy Z-film with a zero budget) a film I would watch again while this mess is something I just cannot recommend? I have to wonder more why were 95% of the reviews I read about this thing so favorable or at least wishy washy? A film like Astro Zombies or Destroy all Monsters are films that never really take themselves too seriously. They never pretend to be more than what they really are: cheesy flicks They make no big promises but deliver something that can be, in its way, entertaining. This movie makes promises it cannot deliver on.

When you blatantly rip off (not “pay homage” to) great genre films like Escape from New York or Road Warriors you had better deliver the goods, or get at least close. The bar is set very high and while you do not have to top those films you at least have to show something of exceptional quality. And Neil Marshall just does not do it. It all starts off promising enough with some nice aerial style shots of a London ravaged by a killer virus. Eventually the contagion is contained in Scotland and a huge wall is erected all around the country. Thirty years later a crack team of commando types are sent in to retrieve a cure for the virus that has resurfaced and threatens to destroy London once again. Now, it all sounds great really. And I did not expect a great, great movie. I was hoping for a marginal B-movie with good action and blood and reasonable acting and dialog. But what I found the film to be was something that tried to be so many things all at once and was never any of them effectively for any endurable period of time. Right off the bat I got tired of Mitra’s character Eden. It been done so many times before and will be done again: the angst ridden, super trained, nihilistic but extremely sexy brooding uber chick with a chip on her shoulder who hates mankind but decides to save it for her own reasons and heaven help anyone who stands in her way. I like this sort of dark character usually too. But I just suddenly took a dislike to her and the rest of the film did not have anything to compensate for my disdain for the lead character.

I will cite a few examples as to why I was soon bored to tears with the movie. First, why it is that after an apocalyptic catastrophe that decimates most of the population do we have to believe that a substantial portion of the survivors will appear as leather clad punks with purple mohawks and chains running from their ears to their nostrils? Sure it worked for The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but I hated most of the copy cats of those films back in the the day when it was all happening, so I am much less tolerant of those cliches whey they happen a couple and a half decades later. Even the cars in the lethargic chase sequence looked like they were right out of The Road Warrior. Is that a bad thing? It should not be, but it is to me here because there is nothing really original or special going here. It is simply a Mad Max car chase in Scotland and nothing else, and the punks all hoop and holler and shake their hands in the air like the apes did in The Planets of the Apes (the original good one, not the Tim Burton remake). And then there is a scene where a motorcycle wrecks and is hit by a huge truck that suddenly explodes into a huge fireball. Why? If the truck had flipped over a few times maybe, but it hits the bike and just explodes for effect. Nothing but a cheap shot. To make it worse Eden drives her car with her typical stone face through the side of a bus - you know, the luggage doors open or something and create a convenient ramp – and guess what, the bus explodes into a huge fire wall! Why again? She did not hit the fuel tank. The chase is boring and so full of rip offs from The Road Warrior I could barely finish the film.

The lead punkers are so unoriginal it is beyond belief. They are not intimidating in the least. The tattooed girl prances around and looks up at everything with wide eyes and almost seems like she is going to sniff things like an animal. Ohhhh. It is supposed to make her intimidating and wicked, but it makes her simply a card board cutout character from a trillion such films from the last twenty years. In one scene she sticks out her long ass Gene Simmons style tongue while a guy is roasted alive and makes weird faces by widening her eyes all the time. Wow. And then the guy is eaten in a totally repulsive scene that brings the flick down to a low grade gore film. I have seen plenty of gore films and zombie films, and I can like good gore as much as the next borderline personality, but they shred and cut in the sheared meat and blubber in such a manner that it is not really so much unbearable as just in bad taste and stupid. 28 Days Later had gore, but was a good movie and did not rely on gore alone to carry the story, nor was the gore done so poorly. The quality of the scene is right out of the mid-seventies cheap exploitation films. And that is fine too, but this movie is trying not to be that. It really wants to be a good science fiction film.

Another large bit of confusion is that Malcolm McDowell has become the ruler of a Medieval community far up in the hills of merry ol' Scotland. The people all dress like knights and serfs and stand around with falcons on their arms. Okay, why in the hell would the denizens of Glasgow become crazy, mohawkers with pierced noses while the other half of society reverts back in time and become Macbeth and his court? The film does even try to explain this. It assumes we mindless viewers will just accept that that is exactly what happens when the world comes to an end. I will be honest, while I liked Dog Soldiers and The Descent I simply hate this shambles of a film. There was not one surprise or original concept in the whole mess. But according to the sites I scanned I am in the minority on this matter. But millions and millions of people still buy Madonna records too, so should any of us trust the masses any longer?

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