Monster Hunter (2014), Lifeforce (1985) & The Forest (2016) Reviews

Three quickie reviews of two dreadful movies & one that was decent…

Monster Hunter (2014) (aka US Title: Dark Was The Night)

Directed by Jack Heller

Starring: Kevin Durand, Lukas Haas, Bianca Kajlich

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An evil is unleashed in a small town when a logging company sets up shop in the neighboring woods.

My Opinion:

This is the movie that was decent. It’s now almost a year ago that I watched all three of these films so that’s why I’m doing quickie reviews as I can’t say they were all that memorable. I remember this one the most, though. The look of the creature was done well and there was some decent acting, which is more than can be said for a lot of mainstream horrors that have bigger budgets.


Little Lukas Haas is in this. Aww. Remember him? It’s so weird that I still think of him as a little kid like when he first started out in movies such as Witness, which is stupid as he’s actually the same age as me. He plays a New York City cop who is now deputy to the sheriff (Kevin Durand) in a small town logging community. I liked the characters and thought Kevin Durand did well as a father grieving the accidental death of one of his sons. Decent characters in a horror movie! Yay!

There’s nothing in this movie that’s exactly groundbreaking. The story is fairly predictable and the characters behave as you’d expect in this sort of genre. However, I found the film enjoyable and really liked the “isolated small town” atmosphere, which is a setting I’ve often gone for in horror films (maybe being from a tiny isolated town myself). The onset of winter also added to the isolated feel, which is another horror cliché that I really like. I’m okay with some horror clichés as long as a decent film comes out of it and I’d say that this movie is quite good for one that doesn’t seem to have any big names attached to it or to be that well known (I’d only heard of it thanks to this good review at Vic’s Movie Den).

If you’re a fan of “creature” movies and not too picky, this is one I’d definitely recommend. It’s a very straightforward but fun monster movie that isn’t too silly or too serious. I’ll end with this bit from Wikipedia if you’re interested in checking the film out:

“The film is loosely based on the real-life events that unfolded in Topsham, England in 1855, known as The Devil’s Footprints. The small town woke to find freshly fallen snow and biped hoof prints tracing the landscape. Dark Was the Night is said to tell the story of a present-day community’s reaction to a similar event.”

My Rating: 6.5/10

Lifeforce (1985)

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon & Don Jakoby

Based on The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson

Starring: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film portrays the events that unfold after a trio of humanoids in a state of suspended animation are brought to Earth after being discovered in the hold of an alien space ship by the crew of a European space shuttle.

My Opinion:

Ugh!!! This movie was so bad. Why does it have a decent IMDb rating of 6.1 out of 10?! Oh. That’s right. It’s because the woman is fully nude for, like, 90% of the movie….

I was kind of excited about this one. Directed by Tobe Hooper (RIP), who did do a lot of dodgy stuff but also did the awesome Poltergeist & Salem’s Lot. Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon (also RIP), who wrote things like The Return Of The Living Dead & a decent little thing called ALIEN(!!!). And, of course, Patrick Stewart was in this and I love Patrick Stewart. Sounds like a recipe for success to me! Ugh. Hell no. And Stewart was terrible.

I can’t be bothered. This movie sucked. I’m sure it has its fans but I do wonder if they’re all male. Feel free to speak up if you’re a fan! I promise I won’t be rude. I’m genuinely curious to know what it is that people like about this movie. To be fair, I may not have been in the right mood since I wasn’t feeling well when I watched this. I watched it in bed on a small iPad while lying on my side, giving me a backache. My backache and the movie’s full frontal nudity are all that I really remember now.

My Rating: 3/10

The Forest (2016)

Directed by Jason Zada

Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Forest follows a young woman who travels to Aokigahara (the suicide forest) to find her sister.

My Opinion:

Crap. Seriously. Surely Game Of Thrones star Natalie Dormer can be in movies better than this boring & cliché horror tripe. I mean, she got to make out with Chris Hemsworth in the surprisingly good Rush. Hot DAMN he was hot in that. How can you go from that to starring in this???

Where’s a movie starring Chris Hemsworth fully nude for 90% of the movie like Mathilda May in Lifeforce? Hmm???? Equal rights, dammit! Anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah. The Forest. Um. I don’t remember this one AT ALL. I watched it almost a year ago. Natalie Dormer goes into a creepy forest to find her possibly suicidal twin sister, who went missing there. Weird shit happens. There’s a potential love interest. It doesn’t end well if I remember correctly (as to be expected from this predictable sort of supernatural type of horror). How stuff like this gets a major mainstream release in loads of cinemas is beyond me. Unless you’re absolutely in love with Dormer, don’t bother with this one unless you’ve never watched another horror film in your entire life. If you have, you’ve seen this all before.

My Rating: 3/10

**Here’s my review of a (comedy) horror that I actually did enjoy, which makes fun of horror movie clichés: The Final Girls (2015). I had problems scheduling it last week & don’t think it posted correctly. I do like horror movies sometimes! There are just way too many bad ones.

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Ex Machina (2015) Review

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Ex Machina (2015)

Directed by Alex Garland

Starring:
Domhnall Gleeson
Oscar Isaac
Alicia Vikander

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

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My Opinion:

Ex Machina was one of my most anticipated movies for this year. Sci-fi is my favorite genre and Ex Machina certainly didn’t disappoint in that department. It even makes up for the inferior Interstellar, which I found to be a pretty big disappointment. Ex Machina doesn’t really give us anything new as far as the exploration of artificial intelligence or “the singularity” but it’s a topic I’ve always found fascinating (such as in the obscure Electroma, which I reviewed HERE) and I think it does a decent job with a popular sci-fi concept.

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First of all, I have to mention that it was good to be able to see Domhnall Gleeson & Oscar Isaac together in a movie before we see them again in Star Wars The Force Awakens & it’s probably helping Ex Machina to get more attention than it otherwise would, which I see as a good thing. This is Alex Garland’s first time directing after being a writer & I was excited to see how he’d do as I’ve really enjoyed his movies. He wrote The Beach novel, 28 Days Later & Sunshine plus the scripts for Never Let Me Go & Dredd. Okay, I’ve not seen Dredd but people really seem to like it so I’m eager to finally see that one now as well. Apparently, based on Ex Machina, there’s now talk of him directing Star Wars IX. I’m happy to see someone who seems very talented getting some recognition.

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I thought Gleeson was very good in this and the right choice for his role. Isaac was good but it kind of felt like a role that could have been played by most anyone & I thought he paled in comparison to Gleeson & Alicia Vikander. Vikander as the female A.I. was probably the best thing about Ex Machina but may not get as much attention as the male leads, which would be a shame. She is, of course, lovely & her sad brown eyes alone displayed so much emotion (or DID they?). Yeah, she’s gorgeous… I hate her a little.

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As I said above, the story itself doesn’t really do anything “new”. We’ve seen the dangers & morality issues associated with artificial intelligence explored in a wide variety of sci-fi movies such as Blade Runner, The Terminator, Westworld, etc. Oh, and of course D.A.R.Y.L. & Short Circuit… (had to get those in here!). I loved the look & feel of Ex Machina but can’t say the story is totally original. It doesn’t really delve as deep into the moral issues as I was hoping it would but it’s still far from “shallow”. I really liked that it didn’t feel the need to throw in a bunch of technobabble, however, which made it feel far less phoney than Interstellar as that tried too hard to impress. Garland tells this story in a pretty straightforward way & does leave you with something to think about once the film ends. It also looks quite beautiful (its style reminded me of Oblivion) and Alicia Vikander as A.I. Ava looked amazing. It wasn’t a case of style over substance, however – I just wish they’d had a little more to say about the moral issues involved in creating advanced artificial intelligence. I liked Ex Machina a lot & think it’s a worthy addition to the sci-fi genre.

My Rating: 8/10

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Under The Skin (2013) Review

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Under The Skin (2013)

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

Starring:
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy McWilliams
Joe Szula
Kryštof Hádek
Paul Brannigan
Adam Pearson
Michael Moreland
Dave Acton
Jessica Mance

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Under the Skin is a 2013 British-American science fiction art film directed by Jonathan Glazer, and written by Glazer and Walter Campbell as a loose adaptation of Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same name. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien seductress who preys on men in Scotland.

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My Opinion:

Finally! I finally managed to see this movie after looking everywhere for a cinema actually showing it when it came out and having no luck. I was intrigued because, first of all, it looked like “The Woman Who Fell To Earth“. Being a big David Bowie fan and loving The Man Who Fell To Earth way more than I should, I really wanted to see this. Plus, I found out that the director has made some of my favorite music videos (more about that later). So did Under The Skin live up to all the hype in my head? Yes and no.

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I mentioned this movie when I reviewed Lucy HERE on Monday and, yes, I think Under The Skin is the superior film of the two although I did really enjoy Lucy. Scarlett Johansson is indeed the true star of both films and, I think, makes both movies far better than they would’ve been with a different actress (and this is coming from someone who has never really been a fan of hers). Under The Skin is a very brave role for her to have taken on and I think, along with Her, it’s paid off and made her a far more respected actress. Under The Skin could have been a massive failure for her and, although there will certainly be plenty of people who hate the film, I think it’s a huge success as far as her professional career is concerned. As for the movie…

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Yes, it’s weird. Very very weird. It’s exactly what I expected, though, having seen The Man Who Fell To Earth (it does have plenty of similarities so it’s hard to not compare the two). I enjoyed it a lot although I don’t think it’s quite as iconic as the Bowie film (which is NOT a good movie but it’s hard to deny that Bowie is extremely fascinating and certain images from the movie will stay with you). In the same way, there are images from Under The Skin that will never leave my mind. I think that’s a good thing, though. I see that as a sign of a great piece of art. As a coherent and fully rewarding movie-watching experience, however, Under The Skin falls a little short. For as much of a mess as The Man Who Fell To Earth was, we at least had a backstory and knew what Bowie’s alien’s purpose was on Earth. If you’re the type of person who wants a movie with a proper storyline & a satisfying conclusion, Under The Skin may not be for you. If you want a nice piece of art to look at (like, weird & abstract art – not Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade), you MIGHT enjoy Under The Skin.

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Summary:

Well, I don’t think I really need to say much more than I already have. Basically, Under The Skin is weird and you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. I found it to be an interesting piece of art and, as the director has made music videos before, perhaps that’s why this feels a little like something in between a music video & a movie. If you want a straightforward movie or even something that has some deep meaning, you won’t get that here (but I may just be too stupid to figure out some “deeper meaning” to this film). You will, however, get a good performance from Johansson and some images that you’ll never get out of your mind. I really enjoyed the film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Here’s a list (thanks Wikipedia) of a few of the music videos made by the director of Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer). I’ve included two of my favorites (FYI – the UNKLE one isn’t one to watch if there are kids around):

Karmacoma by Massive Attack
The Universal by Blur
Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai
Karma Police by Radiohead

Plus my two favorites:

Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead:

Rabbit in Your Headlights by UNKLE ft. Thom Yorke:

**I’ve recently participated in the Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon being hosted by the robust Rob of MovieRob and the zany Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. You can read my contribution, a review of Hitchcock’s 1964 film Marnie, starring Sean Connery & Tippi Hedren, HERE. Thanks, Rob & Zoe, for hosting this blogathon! 🙂