Turbo Kid & Space Station 76 Movie Reviews

I figured I’d review these two movies together as they’re both (spoofs of? homages to?) a couple of very specific genres that I love. And I really enjoyed them both! But neither manages to quite capture the spirit of the films they’re emulating, although I appreciate their effort. Let’s discuss… 🙂

Turbo Kid (2015)

Directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell & Yoann-Karl Whissell

Starring: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Edwin Wright, Aaron Jeffery, Romano Orzari

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows the adventures of The Kid, a teenage boy turned superhero in the “Wastelands”, an alternate 1997 Earth where water is scarce. He teams up with a mysterious girl, Apple, to stop the tyrannical leader Zeus.

My Opinion:

An 80’s-style post-apocalyptic film set in an alternate sci-fi 1997?! And starring Michael Ironside, my favorite low-budget Jack Nicholson?!! Holy shit – sign me the hell up! I actually knew nothing about this movie until reading Digital Shortbread Tom’s great review (HERE). So, when it finally appeared on UK Netflix a couple of weeks ago, I watched it immediately. It’s a lot of fun! It’s flawed but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was hoping to love it but I appreciate the effort they put into the film.

There’s Michael Ironside hamming it up perfectly as the main baddie! And check out this other baddie, who looks like some fucked-up mash-up of Jason Voorhees & a Quiet Riot album cover.

This was out ages ago in America but if you’re in the UK & don’t know anything about it, be warned that it’s mega violent. Funny, very fake violence. Lots of people exploding & blood splattering everywhere. The type of OTT fake gore that I can actually handle – I’m a wuss about realistic violence in movies but it’s played for laughs in this one. In fact, I have to give the writers credit on some extremely inventive kills here, such as one involving a bike & a rather lovely one involving an umbrella. They’re almost up there with the marionette death in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (but not quite – nothing beats that one).

As every review of this states, this movie is Mad Max on bikes instead of in cars. That alone was enough to sell it to me. Seeing all the images from the film helped as well and I think they did a decent job making things look good on (what appears to be but maybe it’s meant to appear to be??) a very low budget. The gory special effects had the great fake 80’s look they were going for but, more than anything, I just really liked the design of the characters and their crazy mix of 80’s-post-apocalyptic-inspired costumes. And look how cool our two main heroes look! I’d dress like Apple if I was a teenager & into cosplay instead of a boring old woman working in an office. Mainly, I just BADLY want my own gnome stick! 

Speaking of Apple, I was afraid she’d be waaaay too annoying at first but I have to say they managed to turn that around & I ended up liking her by the end. So bear with her if you watch this – she’s meant to be annoying but she ends up rather endearing. And I thought that Munro Chambers, who plays Turbo Kid, was really good! I wonder if this role will get him noticed – it looks like he hasn’t been in much besides TV stuff like Degrassi: The Next Generation. Ha! I remember when they made us watch Degrassi Junior High early on in high school because it dealt with issues such as pregnancy & the teachers didn’t want us to get knocked up, I guess. Or to have to teach a class instead of sticking us in front of a TV…

This will be one of those reviews where I say loads of great things then confuse people by giving it an average rating. I can’t quite put my finger on it but, overall, this film doesn’t quite work. It maybe tries a little bit too hard? Like I said to the hubby, it often feels like current movies like these are being made by people who love 80’s films but are too young to have actually lived through that whole decade (I can’t find info on the directors’ ages). I have to say that Space Station 76 actually got things more “right” in terms of re-creating a mood from a specific era although Turbo Kid is the more entertaining film of the two. I do respect what they’ve done with this movie, though, as it feels like a movie where those making it have really put their heart into the project. I’d certainly be interested in watching anything else this group of people will hopefully make in the future. Turbo Kid 2? I’d definitely check that out if it happened. I mean, don’t a lot of people prefer the second Mad Max film to the first one? Maybe Turbo Kid 2 would be perfect.

My Rating: 7/10

Space Station 76 (2014)

Directed by Jack Plotnick

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, Marisa Coughlan, Kylie Rogers, Kali Rocha, Jerry O’Connell, Keir Dullea

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A 1970s version of the future, where personalities and asteroids collide.

My Opinion:

A dark comedy in the style of a 1970’s sci-fi film?! Plus Keir Dullea, Todd Rundgren, and a hot guy (Matt Bomer)?!? Sign me the hell up! I’m obsessed with 80’s movies & with post-apocalyptic movies just like the makers of Turbo Kid clearly are but nothing beats good ‘ol 70’s sci-fi for me and I absolutely loved the way they captured the look of those films for this. However, I’m going to put this disclaimer in right now: I am not recommending this movie to anyone. Watch it at your own risk & don’t come moaning to me if you hate it. Got it? Because most of you would hate this movie. I almost steered clear when I saw its IMDB score of 4.9/10. Yikes! That’s the kind of rating for the movies Eric watches! But I’m glad I decided to watch it anyway & make my own mind up. Because I really liked it.

I’d say that labelling this a “comedy”, dark or not, was maybe a bit of a mistake as a lot of people were probably expecting something very different. This movie is quite depressing at times, as each character is suffering from a different kind of lonliness and a longing to be loved or, at the very least, accepted. I read that the director thought of the space station in the film as a suburb, which perfectly describes how the movie feels. A groovy 70’s suburb! Far out, man. The closest I can come to describing this movie is to say it’s Dynasty in space. But more Seventies than Eighties… (Hubby disagrees with me & says it’s “Space: 1999, the Richard Linklater edition” but I never saw Space: 1999 so can’t make that comparison)

We don’t know what year this movie is set in (and don’t need to) but it’s meant to look & feel like the 1970s in the same way so many sci-fi films made during that decade still looked totally Seventies because of the clothing & the decor despite being set in the future & in space . What I really liked were all the movie’s subtle little touches & anachronisms. They’re on a fancy space station complete with cool gadgets such as therapy robots yet they use videotapes labelled with those awesome label maker labels. Remember those?! You’re all too young. We had one like the one below. I want one again! I also want a therapy robot…

The characters are also stuck in the past: the men are male chauvinists, especially the male captain (Patrick Wilson) who is a closet homosexual & treats his new female co-captain (Liv Tyler) horribly as he feels threatened by her. The women are self-absorbed & catty and, of course, everyone smokes constantly. But it works well as everyone is a sympathetic character in their own way. Well, except for the mother of the young girl – I wanted to punch that woman… The characters played by Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, and the young girl playing Bomer’s daughter (Kylie Rogers) make up for the less likeable characters, though. I have to say that I’ve never noticed Bomer before & that I only knew him from that shitty Magic Mike movie but he’s absolutely adorable in this. It helps that he’s the only male character who isn’t a pig (although he does like to listen to Todd Rundgren while fantasizing about a naked Playboy model played by Anna Sophia Berglund. There – I’ve named her so that should get me some pervy Google views. But I won’t post the full frontal nude images from the movie. Sorry, boys!).

This movie is hard to describe & I can understand the low ratings but those will mainly be due to it being watched by the wrong people. I hate when people say “you just don’t understand it” when talking about a movie as I think that sounds snobby as hell but, well… I think that’s the case with this movie. If you don’t love the Seventies and/or sci-fi films from that decade, I really can’t see you appreciating this one at all.

I have to say that, although Turbo Kid is fun and the one that I’d recommend, I actually think Space Station 76 did a better job of portraying a specific era & genre and I actually have more respect for this one. If I’m honest, I preferred it to Turbo Kid. It’s surprisingly sad at times & I found the stories involving Liv Tyler & the young girl especially heartbreaking. I’m not sure I was happy with the way the movie ended as we don’t get much of a resolution. However, I’ve never seen anything quite like this film and I like that. It’s different. They took a gamble with this movie and it certainly won’t work for everyone but I found it very unique and have thought about it a lot since seeing it. I’m glad I ignored the IMDB rating.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Not gonna lie – I’m old & uncool so I loved the use of all the Todd Rundgren songs Space Station 76. I’m sure it was easy to get the rights with the Liv Tyler connection as he was her step-dad… Anyway, at least Daft Punk agree with me that Rundgren is cool! International Feel is used in this film and, as I said in my review of Daft Punk’s Electroma, they also prominently featured the song so I’m going to share that clip from Electroma (in Space Station 76, it plays while Bomer fantasizes about the naked Playboy model):

And, of course, they use Hello It’s Me – one of Rundgren’s most well-known songs:


Dredd (2012) Review

Dredd (2012)

Directed by Pete Travis

Screenplay by Alex Garland

Based on Judge Dredd by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra

Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris, Lena Headey, Domhnall Gleeson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd, a law enforcer given the power of judge, jury and executioner in a vast, dystopic metropolis called Mega-City One that lies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Dredd and his apprentice partner, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), are forced to bring order to a 200-storey high-rise block of flats and deal with its resident drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).

My Opinion:

I finally watched this movie for three reasons:

1) I loved Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and noticed after seeing it that he’d also written the screenplay for Dredd (as well as two other favorites, 28 Days Later & Sunshine)

2) I’m a big fan of a little movie called Hardware (as some of you well know) which, like Judge Dredd, comes from the comic book 2000 AD and

3) I was also a big fan of Anthrax in my teen years and they had a song about Judge Dredd (called I Am The Law) so I was always curious about the character as Anthrax always sang about cool shit.

Oh – and before I start this review, I better give a shout-out to Mike of Screenkicker for finally doing as I said and watching Hardware the other night. Thanks for the running commentary on Twitter as you watched my awesome recommendation, Mike! 😉

I’ve been getting a little sick of all the comic book movies in recent years. I go to them, yes, and I’ve enjoyed the majority of them. They always make for good “popcorn” movies but I can’t say they ever really end up being all-time favorites of mine (although I did love Guardians Of The Galaxy). I even get a little bored with the Avengers, especially when they stick them all in one movie together. Superhero overload!

However, this I quite liked. The dystopian setting and the ultra-violence in Dredd is such a far cry from the likes of the glossy & pretty Marvel films (and Thor’s beautiful hair. and non-hairy butt). It’s weird as I don’t normally like extreme violence but, sometimes, I can stomach it if I think it suits a film and its mood. In the case of Dredd, it works. I hated Sin City. I hated Kick-Ass. I liked Dredd.

As usual with these kind of films, I have ZERO knowledge of the comic book so I can’t compare them but I do know that fans were a million times happier with this version than with the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film (which I have no interest in ever seeing as it looks cheesy as hell). I can’t say I fully bought into the character of Judge Dredd in this, though, as it was more the overall look & mood of the film that worked for me. But this movie does have me interested in knowing more about Dredd’s world as well as knowing more about Judge Dredd himself since there’s unfortunately very little development of the title character.

My favorite bits of the film were the “Slo-Mo” sequences in which we saw the action & excessive violence in slow motion (the way in which those who take the hallucinogenic Slo-Mo drug in the film would see things). These scenes were quite beautiful in a way & I liked that they looked like comic book panels (such as in the above photo). From what I read, Alex Garland helped work on these scenes and spent a very long time getting them just right. It’s unlikely that we’ll see a sequel as Dredd did poorly at the box office but, after proving himself with Ex Machina, I’d love to see a Dredd sequel directed by Garland.

Obviously, I did really enjoy Dredd but I can’t pretend that it doesn’t have its issues. It’s a very flawed film in some ways. I know they chose to focus on just one story instead of an origin story or one that’s more about Judge Dredd himself and, while I did like the Slo-Mo/Ma-Ma drug lord story, I certainly can’t say I know much more about the character of Dredd or his world after this film. Heck, I’d say I don’t know any more about Judge Dredd now than I already knew from that Anthrax song I mentioned.

As I said above, there’s also very little character development of not only Dredd but of all the characters so it was hard to care about any of them. I did like Dredd’s female partner in this but she’s not given a lot to do and ends up a bit too “damsel in distress” for my liking. Things like Mad Max: Fury Road have proven that you can have women who kick ass! Lena Headey is fine as a fairly predictable victim turned villain while Karl Urban is also a decent enough Dredd but, to be honest, someone else could’ve played the character and it wouldn’t have made much difference to this film (except Stallone!). The most sympathetic character was the one played by Domhnall Gleeson (below), who is used very cruelly by Ma-Ma. And I have to say I had no clue that was Domhnall Gleeson until the end credits. Guess his Garland connection landed him the role in Ex Machina! (And I’ll be seeing Gleeson later tonight in…. what’s it called again? Oh yeah – The Force Awakens?) 😉


I enjoyed Dredd quite a bit despite its flaws. It’s far from perfect but if you just want a kick-ass, ultra-violent action movie with some style, you won’t be disappointed. If you want something deep or strong characters you’ll buy into, this may not be the film for you. I have to say that my husband and I like a lot of the same movies but when we disagree, we really disagree, and he was very disappointed with this film. I do think you’d either love this one or hate it.

I love anything post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian so this movie’s world suits me just fine. The only comics/graphic novels that I’ve ever read are Watchmen & Tank Girl plus I really liked the V For Vendetta film (although I’ve not read that). I guess I’m just more of a fan of dystopian British sci-fi comics than the slick & glossy American ones. Maybe I just need to get more sun? That’s why the British dystopian thing works so well – the writers aren’t getting any sun! Because, seriously – England is dreary. I can’t imagine someone being able to create Judge Dredd in California!

As for movies based on stories in 2000 AD, however, I have to say that Hardware did it better than Dredd did and on a FAR smaller budget. I liked Dredd a lot and would love to see a sequel where we learn much more about the character but I do wish the film was a little better overall. It does kick ass, though. 

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of The Force Awakens! Hopefully. I’ll be very very tired….. 🙂

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015) Review


Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

My Opinion:

Well, I was attempting to take a week off from blogging but I just watched the final Hunger Games film so figured I should say something about it before the weekend (I also watched Steve Jobs this week but a review for that can wait until next week). Hmmmmmmmm……. Mockingjay – Part 2………….. What can I say? I want to stay very spoiler-free, even for those who’ve read the books as I’m sure the readers will be very curious to know if certain things get changed. But I’m not going to tell you! I can say that I’ve read the books and was a very big fan (of the first two, at least. like most people). I also think the first two films are very good. These final two, though? Well… I’ll get to that more in a bit.

What’s interesting is that my husband, who hasn’t read the books, had quite a different reaction to this film than I did. He thought the first two were good but did NOT like these final two. He had a lot to say about it but I’m not going to go into any of that – I just find it interesting that he disliked these final two so much & wonder if others who haven’t read the books will have the same reaction that he did. I think they probably will. I think they’ll feel exactly the same way about the final two films as us book readers felt about the final book.

I think The Hunger Games book trilogy is fantastic. I know it’s “YA”, which puts some people off. But it’s nothing like things such as Twilight – Collins is a great writer and the first two books are two of my very favorites that I’ve read in the past decade or so. Yeah – the first two. Not the final book. I think most readers felt the same way about that one.

I don’t know how to go about reviewing this movie as, for me, it’s impossible to review it on its own & not compare it to the book. No, I didn’t like the final book. So… I was never going to love the final two movies (not helped by the fact that splitting one book into two movies pisses me the hell off). As a whole, though, these movies are quite faithful adaptations & that’s always very important to me. It’s been a long time since I read these but Mockingjay – Part 2 is very faithful from what I remember (without giving away to the books’ readers whether or not anything big was changed). So, I can’t fault the two Mockingjay films. They did what they could with them and remained pretty loyal to the source material. Which is great! It’s just unfortunate that the source material isn’t so great.

I haven’t reviewed the first film as I wasn’t blogging yet but I reviewed Catching Fire (HERE) and Mockingjay – Part 1 (HERE). Catching Fire was really good (I gave it 8/10) but Mockingjay – Part 1 felt pointless as there was no need to turn it into two films (I gave it 7/10). Part 2 is at least a bit better than Part 1 since you finally get a conclusion instead of being left hanging halfway through a story. I once again enjoyed re-visiting these characters & stand by my opinion that Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect choice to play Katniss (although the hubby thought she seemed bored in these last two films, which I don’t totally agree with but do admit that it did feel that way a little at times).

Elizabeth Banks & Woody Harrelson have very small roles in this final film, which is a shame as they’re two great characters. The character of Peeta is once again a bit of a bore (sorry if you like him! but his character is a bit bland). One big complaint I’ve had all along & still have is that I don’t think they developed the character of Primrose (sister of Katniss) enough. Well, the books were kind of guilty of this as well if I remember correctly but they should have given more screen time to the two sisters and slightly less to the somewhat annoying love triangle. I don’t think the films fully gave you the sense of love that Katniss has for her sister and also felt they didn’t fully explain some important plot points to a movie audience that hasn’t read the books. I think I’d have been slightly lost during the two Mockingjay films if I hadn’t read the books.


I really want to hear from you guys what you all thought of this one & whether or not you’ve read the books. I’ve not yet read any other reviews so don’t know what kind of reaction this movie is getting but I’d guess that those who haven’t read the books will feel the way that my hubby did & won’t really like this film. As I said, I can’t really fault this movie as it’s a good adaptation and I think they’ve done a pretty great job in choosing the cast for this entire series (especially Lawrence). Mockingjay – Part 2 is a good film but I kind of lost interest in it in the same way I did with the final book. Obviously you’ll want to see it if you’ve watched all the others but don’t expect it to be much different than Part 1. However you felt about Part 1, you’ll probably feel the same about Part 2

Sorry for that rather uninformative review! It’s a very hard one to talk about without spoiling things so feel free to discuss it with me further in the comments. 🙂 Just try to put a spoiler warning at the start.

My Rating: 7/10


The Maze Runner & The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (Book Reviews)

Well, these books weren’t very good at all. So let’s get my crappy reviews out of the way while the Americans are off work & won’t be reading this! Plus, The Scorch Trials movie is due out in the UK this Thursday so, yeah – let’s just do this…

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (Book 1)

What It’s About: (from the book’s back cover)
When the lift cranks open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone – an army of boys welcomes him to the Glade, an encampment at the center of a terrible maze. The Gladers have no idea why they’re there, or what’s happened to the world outside. And following the arrival of a girl with a message, they must find a way out – or die.

My Thoughts:

First of all, I’ll say that I try to always read the book before seeing its movie (if it’s a book I’m interested in, at least). But I saw The Maze Runner last year (my review is HERE) and liked it enough that I decided it would be the next Young Adult series that I would tackle. Dammit! Well, I remember it was partly because I thought the book would explain what happened in the movie a bit more and that it would flesh out the characters (especially the girl, who seemed a bit pointless). Oh, hell no! It does none of those things! The movie is actually much better in this case (I still quite like it & do plan to see The Scorch Trials). Honestly, the story itself is decent enough that, if it interests you, just skip the books & go straight to the movies.

James Dashner has… I don’t know – an odd writing style?? It’s hard to explain. It’s like he says the same unimportant things over & over & over (it’s like one of my reviews!). The books would be a quarter of the length if he didn’t treat the readers like idiots. We’re paying attention – stop repeating everything! And, especially in this first book, it got super annoying how no one would tell Thomas a thing about the Glade & what was going on. It was always “We’ll tell you later” and this went on for the whole damn book and just got so freaking boring after a while. I mean, I’ve never written a book – I wish I had the talent to be a writer! I give the guy credit for an original story, which I did like, and he came up with some great “killer robots”, the eerie maze, etc etc. The story itself is okay but the only way I can describe it is that it feels like you’re reading something written by an 11-year-old instead of reading what an adult wrote FOR an 11-year-old…

I didn’t care about any of the characters, other than  Thomas a tiny bit. Two books in & I still don’t really care about their fate – they’re all so poorly developed. At least Thomas is the only somewhat likeable one – I was surprised at the difference in how the characters are treated in the book & in the movie (don’t expect to like Alby – he’s nothing like in the movie). I do actually want to like the characters in a story – luckily they realized this when making the film adaptation & did a far better job on character development.

Sorry – it’s impossible to not compare this to the movie! As I wanted to get through The Scorch Trials before this next movie, I read the first book really quickly. The movie is actually quite faithful to the book other than it changing some of the characters a bit to make us care about them. I feel bad trashing a book that someone put their heart into – I suppose, as it’s YA, it’s written in a style meant more for that 11-year-old age group but, considering it’s just as violent as The Hunger Games & that series is very well-written, it just feels a little odd & unsure of its target market. I still like the story and thought the mystery of the maze was really cool. Considering that I’ve picked up the final book (The Death Cure), I obviously like it enough to keep going.

My Rating: 2.5/5

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (Book 2)

What It’s About: (from the book’s back cover)
Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escaping meant he would get his life back. But no one knew what sort of life they were going back to…

Burned and baked, the earth is a wasteland, its people driven mad by an infection known as the Flare.

Instead of freedom, Thomas must face another trial. He must cross the Scorch to once again save himself and his friends…

My Thoughts:

I guess I’ll have to talk about the actual book this time! This book has the same writing style issues as the first book but they’re so similar, just in a different setting, that you should like it fine if you liked the first one.

I thought The Scorch Trials started out pretty good & I was kind of enjoying it more than the first book. This could partly be due to the fact that the story was new to me as I hadn’t seen the movie first but I preferred the diseased, post-apocalyptic desert setting to the Glade in the first book. I’m a sucker for all things post-apocalyptic and the desert setting is how I expect my post-apocalyptic stories to look (Mad Max: Fury Road! Hardware!). What it reminded me of, really, was the first book in the Wool trilogy by Hugh Howey. I reviewed that (HERE) and enjoyed it but for some reason never continued. I should be reading that series instead of this one! (I know why I went with this one – they’re short & quick to read while the Wool books are thick. Long books are exhausting).

So, things look good for our surving Gladers. At first. Then it all goes to shit! Of course. These kids never get a damn break, do they?! I did enjoy the book at first but hated whatever the hell it is Dashner is doing with Teresa (the girl from the first book). Speaking of girls, there are more of them in this story! But they don’t really show up until a little over halfway through & only one new female addition really has anything to do.

What started out okay & slightly more promising than the first book totally fell apart by the end. The situations got more & more ridiculous & one character’s unexplained behavior just got on my nerves. But I’m sure it’ll be explained in the next book. Of course! So if you’re looking for answers to what’s happening in this world, don’t expect any in The Scorch Trials! Seriously – if The Death Cure doesn’t come to a saisfying conclusion, I’m gonna throw the book out of the damn window. I feel that a lot of the dystopian YA books that are around these days kind of feel like the author is making it all up as he/she goes along but The Maze Runner series is the WORST for this (so far)!

Like with the first book, the story in The Scorch Trials is decent & I really liked the creepy instruments of death used toward the beginning (trying to avoid spoilers) but, overall, it’s becoming a bit of a convoluted mess & the “mystery” is starting to just piss me off. I’m off to read the final book now – wish me luck! I’ll try to not hit anyone if I end up chucking it out of the window.

My Rating: 2.5/5


How I Live Now (2013) Review


How I Live Now (2013)

Directed by Kevin Macdonald

Based on How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Saoirse Ronan
Tom Holland
George MacKay
Anna Chancellor

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.


My Opinion:

I watched this movie having no idea what to expect as I knew nothing about it other than reading the plot synopsis online. It sounded like it could be a cheesy YA post-apocalyptic romance as it’s based on a YA book (that I’ve actually not read! Thought I’d read that entire genre). No, this movie isn’t exactly cheesy. It has a more serious tone than I was expecting and is more like a weird combination of the original Red Dawn (not that awful remake – Chris Hemworth’s hotness couldn’t even save that) and that SUPER DEPRESSING British TV movie Threads (I don’t recommend that one – bloody hell!). But with a love story thrown in, of course. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how convincing the romance really is and Saoirse Ronan’s character is hard to sympathize with, even after seeing the hell she goes through after war breaks out while she’s in a foreign country. Well, foreign to her – she’s an American in the UK. Like me!


First of all, I’ll say this movie is very “me” as I’m obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction. I’ve read most the YA novels in this genre, I did a list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies (HERE), and the only story I’ve ever written in my life was about a group of teenagers who’ve survived an apocalypse (it sucked, of course – I’m not a writer). This was years before this & all the “dystopian future” YA novels were such a big thing & I love that it’s such a huge genre now (even if it IS getting a little old it’s still better than Sweet Valley High). Anyway, How I Live Now feels much more realistic than the future we see in movies such as The Hunger Games & The Maze Runner. It’s set now (I believe) instead of some unspecified future and very much feels like something that could happen at any moment. I think this makes it a much more powerful movie. It may not be as “entertaining” as The Hunger Games but it feels a lot more grown-up than other YA stuff, which is something I really liked about the film.


However, I unfortunately found it really hard to relate to the characters – especially Saoirse Ronan’s “teenager with issues & an attitude problem” Daisy. She’s very neurotic before the war breaks out & she does learn to stop worrying about all the superficial things in life that really don’t matter after London is bombed but she still comes across as very selfish since all she seems to care about now is being with the boy she’s fallen in love with since coming to England. Or should I say… her COUSIN?! Did I miss something? Anyone who has seen this feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but… they’re cousins, right? Like, possibly first cousins? I know they don’t say what her exact relationship is to them through her mother but that’s a little weird! Anyway, I had no issues with any of her cousins. The young girl named Piper (who I found out is the voice of Peppa Pig after watching this. how did I not notice that? I hate Peppa Pig!) and a boy named Isaac are both very sweet but Eddie, the one Daisy falls in love with, doesn’t have much of a personality. I can’t help but feel that these two main characters are probably MUCH more developed in the book. I think the movie really doesn’t do a great job fleshing these two out so I may read the book now as I really liked the story. If they’d done a better job with the main characters, I think I’d have liked this movie a lot more than I did.



How I Live Now may be based on one of a myriad of “post-apocalyptic YA” novels but has a more serious & realistic approach and feels much more grown-up. I liked the tone of the film and found the soundtrack very interesting. Aside from Nick Drake, I’ve not heard of any of the artists on the soundtrack which is unusual for me – It’s cool to hear some songs I don’t already know in a movie. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t very well developed & I didn’t feel like I knew anything more about Saoirse Ronan’s Daisy at the end of the film than I did at the beginning. I think it would be worth reading the book first to really understand Daisy’s feelings & motivations. It’s a good story overall but I’m thinking it just didn’t fully translate to film. If it sounds like something you might like, I’m going to recommend reading the book first even though I have yet to read it myself. I just think it’s likely you’ll get to know far more about the characters than you do in the movie.

My Review: 6.5/10



The Maze Runner (2014) Review


The Maze Runner (2014)

Directed by Wes Ball

Based on The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Dylan O’Brien
Kaya Scodelario
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Will Poulter
Ki Hong Lee

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Maze Runner is a science fiction dystopian action thriller film. The story follows sixteen-year-old Thomas, portrayed by O’Brien, who awakens in a rusty elevator with no memory of who he is, only to learn he’s been delivered to the middle of an intricate maze, along with a slew of other boys, who have been trying to find their way out of the ever-changing labyrinth — all while establishing a functioning society in what they call the Glade.


My Opinion:

I actually quite liked this movie. As I said in my review for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I, I do love my “YA post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi books” but I’ve not read The Maze Runner or Divergent. Of those two movies, I definitely enjoyed The Maze Runner more than Divergent and will possibly read the books now. So, obviously, this review won’t be comparing the movie to the book (which will be a relief as I can get pretty picky if I’ve read the book first, as you can see in my review of The Giver. Not too happy with that adaptation!).


I liked that this was some sort of sci-fi Lord Of The Flies. I liked the mystery of the maze & not knowing who had put these kids there and why. If I had any complaints, they’d probably be that I’d liked to have seen even more of the maze and its mysteries (I’m assuming it’s even more complex in the book?) and that I’d have liked more character development of the girl, who doesn’t seem to have much to do in this film. Other than that, I liked the relationships that formed between the characters and that they each had very distinct personalities. There’s a pretty generic “bad guy” but that’s to be expected as you need two different groups wanting to deal with their predicament in different ways. It just seemed to work as a movie much more than Divergent but I’m not sure why.



I actually enjoyed The Maze Runner a bit more than Mockingjay even though I think Mockingjay is the superior film. I assume the following books & films will suffer from the same problems as The Hunger Games in that the first book has a great and original idea that you can’t exactly repeat in book 2 (well, except for The Hunger Games having yet another Hunger Games in book 2…). 😉 I mean, I’d assume there’s not a second maze, which is the cool thing about this first movie. But instead it’ll turn into this big fight against the evil powers in control and blah blah blah. Right?? Well, it’s the only direction these sort of stories can ever really take so I’m not really complaining – I’m just hoping it’s a more satisfying conclusion than in Mockingjay. I’m at least intrigued enough to probably read this series.

My Rating: 7/10



The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) Review


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Woody Harrelson
Elizabeth Banks
Julianne Moore
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jeffrey Wright
Stanley Tucci
Donald Sutherland

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story continues to follow Katniss Everdeen; having twice survived the Hunger Games, Katniss finds herself in District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the Capitol and fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.


My Opinion:

I love YA fiction (especially of the post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi variety!) and have read The Hunger Games books. It was before this blog started but I did review the Catching Fire movie (HERE if you’re bothered). The first two books are possibly my favorite of the YA stuff I’ve read in recent years and I think the first two films were very faithful, especially the second, and I’ve been happy with them and with the choice of actors (other than maybe Josh Hutcherson). I’ll admit that I’m not a big fan of the final book so I’m naturally unlikely to like these last two movies as much as the first two. However, from what I can remember of the final book now all these years later, I think this film again stayed pretty faithful. It’s a solid movie and everyone again does a good job with their roles but I still can’t help but feel a bit “meh, so what?”. It especially doesn’t help that they’ve done that thoroughly annoying thing again of splitting the final book of a series into TWO movies. Why why why?! It’s not as annoying as the whole Hobbit bullshit but, seriously – they’re doing it to get more money out of us as opposed to making sure to make the best piece of “art” they can and it gets on my nerves.


Now that I got that little rant off my chest: Is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Freaking 1 any good? Yes, it’s fine. I enjoy the story and seeing the characters again and still think Jennifer Lawrence is perfect for the role of Katniss (even though we’re starting to see her in too many movies and I’m afraid she could someday be on my annoying list instead of my favorites list). They have some very famous actors in these movies and it feels like they take their roles seriously as opposed to just “phoning it in”, which it feels like famous actors do in some other YA films. I think it makes The Hunger Games movies feel a bit more “grown up” than others (which I see as a good thing). The final book is the darkest and the movies have been good at getting the tone right but, hopefully, no parents are letting anyone see these if they’re TOO young…



I don’t think I need to go into this film much. If you liked the first two, you’ll like this one even though you may be annoyed at again not getting any sort of “conclusion”. If you like the books, you’ll be happy enough with this adaptation. The acting is really good, especially for a “YA” film, and Lawrence is still the perfect Katniss. I understand that the story needed to take this direction in the final book and couldn’t just do the same thing once again but it just didn’t work as well for me and I don’t expect to like the final two films as much as the first two. Speaking of YA stuff, I saw The Maze Runner a couple weeks ago but haven’t had a chance to review it yet. Maybe Wednesday…. Yes! I’ll make this a “movies based on novels” week here at CPD since I also just watched Odd Thomas! Anyway, although I think Mockingjay is the superior film, I kind of enjoyed The Maze Runner more as I haven’t read the books and liked watching a story unfold without already knowing what would happen. I’ve watched Mockingjay as I want to see how they handle the books but I really wish they’d just made this into one film. But I’ll of course shell out money once again this time next year to see Part 2. And I’m sure I’ll complain about that once again. 😉

My Rating: 7/10



CPD Classics: Hardware (1990) Review

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Hardware (1990)

Directed by Richard Stanley

Dylan McDermott
Stacey Travis
John Lynch
Iggy Pop
Carl McCoy
William Hootkins
Mark Northover
Paul McKenzie

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Hardware is a British-American post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film. Inspired by a short story in 2000 AD, the film depicts the rampage of a self-repairing robot in a post-apocalyptic slum.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

This movie is all kinds of awesome. Why isn’t it more well known? First of all, it’s a “post-apocalyptic science fiction horror”. How cool is that? I love sci-fi, I’m not huge on horror but love it when it’s GOOD (like this is) and, for whatever reason, I’ve always been a sucker for that whole post-apocalyptic thing (you can see my list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies HERE).

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I will say this is quite low budget and feels more like a very early 80s film than a 1990 one. That’s a good thing anyway as the 90s sucked & had a terrible look to everything (watch a re-run of Friends – it’s not aging well!). Really, Hardware is a low budget Terminator but, again, that’s another movie that was all kinds of awesome so that’s fine by me.

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As it says above, this is inspired by a short story in 2000 AD, which I know absolutely nothing whatsoever about. According to Wikipedia, that’s a British science-fiction comic most noted for its Judge Dredd stories. I did know this was based on some sort of comic book and it very much has the look & feel of that. Certain images in the film seem to be right out of a comic book (I mean that in a good way). When I try to figure out just what it is that I love about Hardware, I think it’s a combination of the overall look & style, the quirky (though extremely underdeveloped) characters, and the fact that it has one of the coolest soundtracks ever. Oh, and Iggy Pop & Lemmy from Motörhead are in it.

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One other great thing is that Hardware has a strong female character. Dylan McDermott feels like the lead but, by the end, it’s just as much Stacey Travis. I’m surprised she didn’t have a bigger career (although she’s still around & has had lots of roles, mainly in TV). I mean, she’s a blow torch wielding metal sculptor in this. She’s cute & she’s cool. Come to think of it, she should have been on my recent list of Girl Crushes.

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I haven’t said much about the plot but, basically, Dylan McDermott is her sexy post-apocalyptic soldier boyfriend who brings her home these robot pieces he bought off a nomad to give her as a Christmas present as he knows she loves that kind of thing for her metal sculpting art (not knowing it’s a killing machine that’s part of a secret government project). I actually found their relationship very sweet and they have a super sexy shower scene that is very high on my list of My Top Ten Shower & Bath Scenes In Movies. (Yes, I’m mentioning that list yet again as it’s my most viewed thing on this blog BY FAR. That post gets views every single day!). And the f*^king amazing The Order Of Death by Public Image Ltd (I love John Lydon) plays over the scene & fits in SO perfectly, making it one of my all-time favorite uses of a song in a movie. Screw it – I posted the YouTube clip of it before in my shower scene list and I’ll post it again at the end of this review. This song really defines this film for me and gives you a good feel for the vibe of the whole movie – I can’t hear it without immediately picturing the film.

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This review is getting a bit long so I’m not doing well on keeping these CPD Classic reviews short. This movie is cool. It looks cool. The story is cool. The characters are cool. The music is cool. There’s biblical shit going on with the name of the robot (M.A.R.K.-13) & McDermott’s character (Moses). And, holy hell – I’ve not even mentioned the pervy peeping tom neighbor who is one of the creepiest characters in a movie EVER (they all walk the wibbly wobbly walk… *shudder*). Why has no one I know seen this? Why does it have such a low IMDB rating? Why isn’t this a bigger cult classic? Well, I may be alone (along with Mista Mutant) but I think this is a great film, especially for its genre. That’s why Hardware is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 8/10

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Wool by Hugh Howey – Wool Trilogy 1 (Book Review)

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Wool by Hugh Howey – Wool Trilogy Book 1

What It’s About:

Wool is a science-fiction novel that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where people have been forced to live in a large underground silo hundreds of stories below the earth in order to survive in a world where the air is now toxic. It is part 1 of a trilogy with Shift and Dust being the 2nd & 3rd books.

I know the focus of my blog is movies but I do occasionally read a book. 😉 So to get your attention, I’ll say the film rights for Wool have been snatched up by 20th Century Fox and the person most-rumored to direct is Ridley Scott and to write the script is Steve Zaillian. I can’t find any up-to-date official information (IMDB currently lists J Blakeson as director but there’s zero other info) but Ridley Scott is the name most mentioned and would be an excellent choice for this dystopian tale. So hopefully I have your attention now. I think this book is certainly worthy of being made into a film by the director of Alien & Blade Runner.

My Thoughts:

Odds were pretty good that I’d like this book as I’m a sucker for all things apocalyptic and/or dystopian. I should maybe see someone about that… Anyway, Wool surpassed my expectations.

Wool starts out early on with a “cleaning”. The people living in the silo are forced to follow strict rules & regulations. The population numbers are controlled through a lottery. Those with curious minds are considered dangerous and are closely watched. The survivors in the solo have survived for many generations and very little is known of how and especially why they are living in this silo. They are simply told that the outside world is dangerous and to even talk about it (and especially to express an interest in it) can lead to the punishment of “cleaning”. Those who are sent to cleaning literally do just that – they are given a protective suit to allow them long enough to be sent outside & clean the silo’s camera lenses, which offer a view of the outside world through a large screen in the uppermost floor of the silo. The person sent to cleaning then dies as the toxic air eats through their suit. The days following a cleaning are a celebration of sorts, in which those living in the deeper levels of the silo will try to make the days-long trek to the top level to get the temporarily clearer view of the outside world.

Wool does start out a little slow as the characters of the silo’s mayor, sheriff, and deputy are developed. Howey does a great job fleshing out these characters and making you care about them and want to know more about them. I’ll never complain about time spent on character development – that’s very important to me in a novel. For those wanting to get to the action, though, they may be a little disappointed that it takes quite a while to get there. It also takes a long time to finally be introduced to the novel’s main character, Juliette, who works in Mechanical in the deepest depths of the silo and who they wish to recruit to come & work “at the top” as the deputy was very impressed with her when she helped them out once in the past.

Once we meet Juliette, the story really picks up as we start to learn more & more about all the secrets & lies within the silo. Juliette is a very strong-willed and curious person and curiosity in the world of the silo is a very dangerous thing. When I got to the final third of this book, I could NOT “put it down” (Man – that’s said all the time but I didn’t know how else to say it. Which is why I’m a reader and not a writer). 😉


A fascinating book exploring a very possible & frightening future for humanity if we don’t shape the hell up. But how did the characters end up living in this underground silo? That’s not yet answered but I’m assuming all will be revealed in the further two books (the second one, Shift, is a prequel and the third one, Dust, picks up where Wool left off). As far as I know, anyway – I’m not reading too much about them yet in order to avoid spoilers as I’ll definitely be reading them both. Wool does stand well on its own, however, with a satisfying conclusion for those who may be worried at an abrupt ending as there’s a further book. I highly recommend the book and really do hope they make a film out of it – With the right people involved, it could be a great one.

As for Hugh Howey, I find his story of self-publishing interesting. For wannabe authors, you’ll probably want to look him up if you aren’t already aware of him (but you probably are). In another life, I’m a successful Young Adult author. But not this one. Because I’m rubbish in this life. It took me two hours to write this “review” and I still can’t do this fabulous book any justice! Just read it, dammit. 🙂

My Rating: 4/5


My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies

In order starting with my favorite (and I’m cheating massively with this list by putting films together that are part of a series). 😉

1. Alien & Aliens

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3. George A Romero’s zombie films

(I love them all but especially love Dawn Of The Dead, which is one of my all-time favorite movies in general)

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4. The Terminator & Terminator 2: Judgment Day

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5. Hardware

(Yeah, I have a thing for this film for some strange reason. Especially the music in it. And the shower scene…)

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6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (the BBC series)

(That’s right. Not that horrible Hollywood film. Ugh. The BBC series was a much better adaptation of my favorite book.)

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7. Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

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8. 28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later

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9. Planet Of The Apes

(Spoiler! Screw it. It’s old. Everyone has seen it.)

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10. Children Of Men

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Honorable Mentions:

Night Of The Comet

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
The Matrix
Warm Bodies
Deep Impact
The Stand
Omega Man
I Am Legend

World War Z
This Is The End
The World’s End

An explanation of this list:

This was much more difficult than I thought it would be. I love apocalyptic (& post-apocalyptic) films. I don’t know why but I’ve always been drawn to them. I made the mistake of discussing this list with my hubby and we ended up arguing over ones that he insisted are NOT apocalyptic.

After spending way too long discussing it, I decided to just go by this list of what’s considered an apocalyptic film according to Wikipedia. And two we disagreed on (WALL-E & Alien/Aliens) are on the list. So, nyah! I win. I’ve included them.

There are some that are iffy, like The Omen. Not in the Wikipedia list so I’ve left it out although I’d consider that to fit their criteria of a “prelude to such an end”. And there are others I thought might be considered apocalyptic but are really dystopian (turns out I like a lot of those as well so I’ll do a list of that at some point too). And I’ve now spent way too long thinking about this… So, bye. 🙂