Prospect (VOD) - Apr 21, 2019
ProspectDirectors: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl

Main Stars: Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal

Rating: 3.5 out 5

Cee (Thatcher) spends her days reciting her favourite book from memory while her father chastises her for her lack of focus on the task at hand. That task being prospecting - retrieving valuable fossils? from the goopy innards of an alien species buried in the ground on the moon below them. The task being made all the more challenging as they must also survive the moon's toxic green forest. Her father has the coordinates to the big score and promises her they just need to do this one last job and then they can leave this life behind them. Unfortunately the orbiting space station has informed them that they are leaving shortly for new locales. Will they be able to harvest the goods and make it into orbit again before they are permanently left behind?

I happened to be flipping through the movie trailers on my Apple TV and came across this little Indie offering. It looked different so I decided to give it a watch.

Here we have a great example of not needing a large budget and lots of special effects to craft a decent and engaging sci-fi entry. To be honest there's not a lot of dialog or different sets - everything either taking place in the interior of their drop ship or on the moon's forest. And yet I was surprised when the credits rolled at how fast the movie seemed to fly by. It obviously kept me engaged throughout. If I had anything negative to say it would be that at times the dialog was a bit muddled - not really surprising considering everyone spends almost all their time with helmets on their heads. I'll have to look up the one actor - Pedro Pascal to see what else he has done as I found him to have a commanding screen presence. The girl who plays Cee was equally effective especially considering it was her film debut.

Visually competent although again, there's not a lot of different scenery to be had. The forest manages to look other worldly enough via a constant and dreamy looking colourful dust floating around in the air. I also liked how the story kind of just throws the viewer into the middle of things with barely any exposition and you're left on your own to figure out what's going on. To be honest I was shocked to find that this was an American production as it definitely had a Euro vibe to it. A decent and gritty genre film that while not groundbreaking manages to do a lot with only a little.

Overlord (Blu-Ray) - Mar 25, 2019
OverlordDirector: Julius Avery

Main Stars: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbaek

Rating: 3.5 out 5

On the evening before D-Day a group of American paratroopers is tasked with dropping behind enemy lines to destroy a key radio tower, thus helping to ensure success for the coming attack. Thinks quickly go awry when their plane is shot up all to hell, and the survivors scattered all over the French countryside. Private Ed Boyce (Adepo) eventually links up with some members of his squad and they proceed with their mission. However once inside the bunker at the base of the tower they soon encounter something much worse than just enemy troops.

Nazi zombies. I'm not sure why, but combine those two words and you're sure to peak my cinematic interest. For me, the high water mark of this particular sub-genre was the 2009 film Dead Snow. That said, it was your typical low budget indie offering. However, when news broke of Overlord, there was excitement in the air as this was going to be a big budget effort associated with non-other than JJ Abrams. The guy behind the latest Star Wars movies was producing a Nazi zombie movie! So does having gobs of money guarantee a classic? Not really. Another reviewer probably summed it up best - "This is a B-budget movie, with A-budget production values." The opening scenes are stellar. A visual and sonic onslaught leaving you on the edge of your seat. I thought at one point my subwoofer was going to explode. But by the mid-point the film reasserts its horror origins and while never quite descending into camp territory, there were some scenes that looked right out of Re-Animator. I kept expecting Herbert West to make an appearance.

Despite the middling lull, things wrap up nicely with a frenetic finale. While I appreciate the attempts to elevate the story into something more, they perhaps did too good a job at the start as it was a bit of a letdown when things transitioned from war flick to horror flick. And without giving anything away, the whole zombie aspect wasn't quite what I was expecting and as such was a bit disappointing. An interesting effort that doesn't quite achieve its lofty goals, but for fans at least is still worth watching.

Mortal Engines (VOD) - Mar 20, 2019
Mortal EnginesDirector: Christian Rivers

Main Stars: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae

Rating: 1 out 5

Tom Natsworthy spends his uneventful days working at the museum on the tracked city of London hunting down examples of ‘ancient tech’. One day his whole world is turned upside down when he instinctively attempts to catch a would be female assassin who just narrowly missed killing London's de facto leader and champion. Eventually Tom and the girl both end up tumbling to the earth as the city leaves them behind. Will he ever return home and will the mysterious assassin ever avenge the death of her mother?

I'll say up front that I've read the book, and while I wouldn't say I'm a 'fan', I obviously like it enough that I'm currently reading the 4th entry in the series. I knew going in that this didn't have great reviews, but again, having read the book I wanted to see what someone else's vision of the material would look like. And visually, it doesn't disappoint. I wasn't entirely sure how they'd be able to pull off the vast scale of the cities involved but they managed to do a great job. It's worth a rent for this alone. Unfortunately by the end I was furious as they changed several aspects of the story and fates of certain key characters. I hate, hate, hate when studios do that! It's one thing to take a story and base a film on it which expands upon the scope or the characters (think Blade Runner), or even when introducing new characters to advance the plot for various reasons (think Lord of the Rings), but to do so for no apparent reason drives me crazy. What? Idiots they pulled off the street for a test screening couldn't grasp the concept of someone doing something under protest and eventually redeeming themselves - so instead some pinhead exec decided to make them a one dimensional bad guy? I'm itching to go off on a rant about what a joke Hollywood is, but I'll abstain for now.

If you want to see a grand visual spectacle and haven't read it then it's worth a look, however if you even remotely enjoy the book stay far, far away from this travesty.