Wish Upon (Cinema Review)

15 – 90mins – 2017


 

MY SOUL TO TAKE

I don’t know what the hell I’ve been doing for the past twenty summers, but it is now TWO DECADES since Ryan Phillippe played the teenage protagonist in late 90s slasher hit I Know What You Did Last Summer – and now, at 41 years old, he’s playing the father to a teenage daughter in a supernatural horror which very much feels like a purposeful hark back to those now retro genre hits, which spawned many a franchise (Scream, Final Destination, Urban Legend). Boy do I feel old!

… Keep Scuttling!

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The Void (Blu-ray Review)

Image result for the void film

18 – 90mins – 2016


 

SYMBOLS & TENTACLES

Predominantly set in a soon-to-be-abandoned hospital, this Canadian love letter to old-school, low-budget, 80s horror packs a bucket-load of (high) concepts, masterful physical effects and thematic homages into its ostensibly limited set-up, courtesy of some creatively unhinged plot developments.

… Keep Scuttling!

The Pier Falls (Book Review)

Written by: Mark Haddon, 2016

Published in the UK by: Jonathan Cape/Penguin Random House

Pages: 347


From the historical disaster account of the titular tale to quasi-supernatural psychological horror (“Wodwo”) via tragic almost-romances (“Bunny”, “The Weir”), this selection of nine short stories from the pen of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time scribe Mark Haddon must be commended for the astounding diversity of their perspectives and authorial voices – even if they don’t necessarily sit well alongside one another in this recent hardback collection from Jonathan Cape.

… Keep Scuttling!

Independence Day: Resurgence (Cinema Review)

12A – 120mins – 2016 – 3D


 

CORE BLIMEY!

Two decades after the “War of ‘96” as depicted in high-concept multi-billion blockbuster Independence Day, Master of the disaster epic Roland Emmerich’s long-stewing, highly-anticipated sequel, Resurgence, leant heavily on the nostalgia factor in its largely-returning ensemble cast and iconic poster-riffing marketing campaign.

For those reasons, I was fully expecting a template-adhering rinse-and-repeat viewing experience this time around, with mankind once again forced to unify and fight back against the landmark-flattening, national holiday-interrupting, seemingly-invincible alien invaders. While that does happen (of course), I was pleasantly surprised to find Resurgence not resting on its laurels by offering up a surprisingly progressive status quo for humanity, post-first contact. Our close encounter has lead to a technologically-advanced society which has implemented dedicated Earth Space Defence programs both on our planet and the Moon.

While a lot of familiar faces – or at least names, in the case of now-matured offspring, Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe) and Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (Jessie Usher) – are back for more alien ass kicking, it was admirable to see that the intervening 20 years hadn’t been an easy ride of whooping and back-patting for the heroes of the resistance. Former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) has noticeably deteriorated into a confused, frail state, while Dr. Brackish Okun (Brent Spiner) has been preserved in a coma ever since being used as an alien ventriloquist puppet. Will Smith’s unfortunate absence is explained away as a test flight tragedy, upholding Captain Hiller’s legacy.

Considering ID4’s optimistic sunshine tone, such doom and gloom is a refreshing change of gear, adding character-enhancing levity to the smashing CG-spectacle. Even headstrong new boy, Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) hasn’t had it easy: orphaned, frustrated and fearful of being reacquainted with best mate, Dylan, following an air force training mishap nearly killed Hiller Junior.

This is not to say there isn’t still spades of the original film’s memorably amiable banter and chucklesome asides, with motor-mouths Charlie Ritter (Travis Tope) and Floyd Rosenberg (Nicolas Wright) providing their fair share of giggles by bouncing off their straight-men supporting cast. Plus Jeff Goldblum’s assured return and wry delivery never fails to raise a smile every time computer expert David Levinson is on screen.

Sure, you could argue that Judd Hirsch’s school bus-stealing subplot is strictly superfluous, while Vivia A. Fox is given desperately short shrift. Plus not every gag lands, but you cannot write Resurgence off as unentertaining – especially not when it is so willing to jovially tip its cap to its own history with its tongue firmly in check (“You’re even saving the dog?!”).

Since its release last Thursday, I have read a fair few less than complimentary reviews attacking Resurgence’s shallow and repetitive nature and I really couldn’t disagree more! I’m sure even Emmerich and his story writers will concede that the science jargon is bunkum, but this is not lazy or unintelligent filmmaking by any means, with an advanced aesthetic (often evoking Prometheus), resource-stealing motivation for the antagonists and an additional enemy-of-my-enemy tributary teasing a tantalising intergalactic threequel.

It’s busy, bombastic, stakes-raising, speaker-shattering, large-scale eye candy, but if you had a blast cheering on Will Smith and co. through mouthfuls of popcorn and fizzy pop in 1996, I guarantee you’ll still find plenty to love here in this steady and spectacular sequel. Don’t listen to the naysayers who are determined to convince themselves this is a wipe-out: I hereby declare Independence Day: Resurgence a triumph!

CR@B’s Claw Score: 4 stars