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Review Resident Evil: Vendetta (2017): Adequate but feels like a filler episode of an ongoing anime series!

genre: animation, action, adventure, horror

For once I wished people would bring their A material when making these movies. Whether it is live action or animation I want a movie that captures the essence of the first games where less was more and where fright and atmosphere was king. Sorry to say but Resident Evil:Vendetta came close but not nearly enough.

Vendetta doesn't waste time to tell you what's going on and who the main players are in the story. This introduction is surprisingly effective and scary. So much so that I really was looking forward to see more of the same. Unfortunately like the videogames the scary and creepy elements are pushed back to favour the action. Which would have been fine if not for the fact that the action is hardly something to get excited about. Only in a few sequences is it stylish and enjoyable. For the most part it's pretty average and pointless. Often I felt like that had this been a game I would have appreciated it more. Because at least then I would have been given control and something to do. Now there was not that much to follow story wise and character wise. Like I said if the whole film was similar to the intro then this easily would have been the best Resident Evil movie to date. Then why on Earth did they drop the ball on this one? Actually why did they release such an average film? Maybe it's to keep the franchise alive or they truly thought that this is the one that will appease the fans. And who knows it might. Favourite characters Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield are the stars so that already is a big plus on the Hollywood versions. But the lack of dangerous and evil villains like Albert Wesker is a major downer. Instead we get Glenn Arias who does have some creepy tendencies. But he is a Wesker clone without the characteristics and attributes that make him compelling and interesting. His reason to attack the world is one of the most cliché ever and it's time film makers think of something else for a change.

The animation and CGI was adequate. Nothing really impressed me that much and while I didn't get bothered I can imagine some people could have real issues with the plastic face of Rebecca Chambers. I mean it's an animated character and still looks like those actors and actress who have had plastic surgery that went wrong.

If you can't get enough of Leon and Chris and the whole Resident Evil franchise then sure you probably will be able to enjoy it. But outsiders who aren't familiar with the games or the live action films will have a hard time understanding or liking this since it is assumed you do know a thing or two about the games at least. But if you were hoping for this one to be better than Resident Evil: Degeneration or Resident Evil: Damnation then I will have to disappoint you. (Of course it's been a while that I saw those and will have to refresh my memory to be absolutely sure.)

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Review Blindspot Season 2 finale Lepers Repel: Completely bonkers! (spoiler free)

genre: crime, action, mystery, thriller

Blindspot already had a premise that was pretty out there to start with but as the show went on it featured twists and turns that on occasion put Lost and Alias to shame. Not because they were weird or bizarre but mainly since the show is trying to make it seem all of it is very probable and realistic.

And in the last two episodes of this series they took everything to a whole new level that was immensely cool and fun on the one hand and totally preposterous on the other. Luckily what made me appeal to the show is still very much in tact and you will find me very willing to keep tabs on Blindspot. Although I have to say I am somewhat skeptic in what kind of direction they are going to take it. Biggest issue I have is that it looks like they went for a twist for the sake of having a twist. In my opinion that is never a good thing. Because that implies that you want your audience to compel in ways that are artificial instead of writing good stories. Still despite the craziness before the writers always made sure we still could appreciate and relate to the characters. Jamie Alexander's character especially is someone you want to side with all times. Ever since I got introduced to Jamie in Kyle XY she has had the ability to make even the most dangerous and evil characters give a human side. Sullivan Stapleton basically plays a character he is very familiar with in Strike Back but it has to be said that unlike in Strike Back he is far more serious and righteous. I personally prefer him as Damien Scott.  Archie Panjabi was a good addition as Nas and hope she makes a return in the third season. 

This season finale has to be taken with a grain of salt and not be pondered about long after. It's one of those finales that you are supposed to be forgetting about since it does demand you to focus on what is to come and not what has been while not entirely closing off the past. I personally don't like it when flashbacks are forced upon the viewer and it certainly seems like that is going to be a thing so you better strap yourselves and be prepared. 

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Review Bloodsucking Bastards (2015)

genre: comedy, horror

Bloodsucking Bastards (BB) offers what I hoped The Belko Experiment would give me. Unfortunately that one was all serious and no play. While BB is more the comedic type it does give a nice spin on vampires and they certainly are the deadly kind unlike those glittery ones.

I liked how BB is more like Office Space (directed by Mike Judge) with a little horror element than a horror film set in an office space like environment. It genuinely is funny and with the added supernatural element it's even funnier. A big reason for that is the fact that you get to know some of the characters and all their little quirks and ordeals. They all have some flaw or issue that makes them likable. Main character Evan (Fran Kranz) for example is very ambitious and works very hard to get the promotion he thinks he deserves. But his boss Ted (Joel Murray) seems to think otherwise. Even if you never have worked in an office you can relate to him since most people have had such an experience. On top of that Evan also is very flawed when it comes to relationships. Another aspect we can relate to. Tim (Joey Kern) seems to take advantage of the good natured Evan. Normally that would make me dislike him. However despite his laziness and other bad traits he is good friend to Evan so I was willing to give him a pass. The devil is in the details they say and they are right. It really helps make the events more compelling and gives it that something extra next to the whole vampire thing. It's obvious that the entire cast were having a blast and didn't take everything too seriously while never making it seem that way. The main characters do give off the vibe that they are in quite the predicament. And that makes it super fun for the viewer.

BB is a small film with a low budget and most of it is set in one building. But they make the most of it. When things start to pop they aren't afraid to show it off only don't expect BB to focus on the vampire slaying. Bloodsucking Bastards is very much worth your time and is only 86 minutes. How can you pass that up?

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Review Dead Awake (2016): Sadako and Kayako wannabe fails to terrify!

genre: horror, thriller

A long time ago when I was studying at the university I had to prepare for several exams that week and like often rest and sleep was something I deprived myself of. Naturally your body and mind have a way dealing with this and I felt this in something I never experienced before. I had a nightmare. For me that is very rare since I can only recall having two or three of them tops. It was one of those dreams that seemed so real that I thought I was awake already. Then suddenly I saw this woman appear who did not hesitate to grab me by my throat and started strangling me. I screamed but no sound came out. There wasn't a thing I could do since I could not move. Then I woke up. I don't have to tell you that this experience was quite unsettling and terrifying. Now there could be a number of explanations for this. Obviously withholding sleep isn't the most clever things to do especially when you are stressed but of course the stress itself also can add anxiety and make you see things. But yes briefly I did consider that something supernatural could have occurred. Normally I really don't believe in those things. However I am not going to rule it out for the off chance those things truly exist. Dead Awake plays around with this phenomenon that is tied to sleep paralysis which is caused by an entity called the Night Hag at least according to a nutty Dr. Hassan Davies (played by Jesse Borrego).

So does Dead Awake do a good job dealing with this creepy premise? For a while it had me going and for the most part it set the right mood and ambiance. The Night Hag is used sparingly and when she appears she doesn't fool around. Damn evil entities, always eager to get down to business without making small talk. Sigh! Sounds good right? Then what's the problem? The problem is that apart from a few moments all the moments that the Night Hag shows up are predictable. While they have an air of being unnerving they mostly aren't scary or creepy. And isn't that the whole idea of a horror film? It's not enough to have your characters on edge when they technically have ample time to deal with this supernatural phenomenon. It would have been nice if the viewer had been made to doubt events. But no attempts are made to give other explanations except for Lori Petty as Dr. Sykes who looked like she didn't want to be in the film. She keeps telling everybody that the phenomenon can be explained scientifically and is relatively harmless. Not even when her patients who suffer from it keep dying. Even as character Dr. Sykes she doesn't give a damn. It would have been sweet to have seen this stubborn woman be confronted with some truth other than the solution they chose. It was so lame. Apart from Petty most of the cast take their roles seriously and is what makes you buy everything. I don't think they could have done more to improve things. Director Phillip Guzman however was out of his depth. He stuck to the most average and predictable conventions of horror without adding anything unique or creative. And he did not have to do that much. He would have accomplished more if he had increased the dread and surprise factor. As it is now The Night Hag comes across as a Sadako (The Ring) and Kayako (Ju-on: The Grudge) wannabe.

Dead Awake doesn't feel like a complete waste of your time however it does commit the carnal sin not to capitalize on the creepy premise. It did not even come close to the real nightmare I had. Almost makes me wish we could replay dreams and then record them so that we could give people some real scares.

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Review Life (2017): Very flawed for sure but not deserving of the hate it is getting!

genre: horror, science fiction, thriller

While I am gradually getting used to it I still am dumbfounded by the random outrage of people when it comes to their opinions of movies. Especially when the same people show love and appreciation for films that often are appallingly bad. Life certainly is flawed and has some issues but so bad that it's not entertaining? Hell no!  Most of the criticism towards this film is biased and unfounded. For some reason Life is being compared to Gravity or Interstellar as if these films are the representation of A grade science fiction.

First of all both Gravity and Interstellar are just as flawed or even more so than Life. On top of that they are super pretentious. Life is not. If the trailer wasn't an indication then eventually you will figure out that Life is nothing more than an Alien clone. One of the better ones in my humble opinion. It never pretends to be thought provoking or realistic. So for people to use that against the film is sheer ignorance. There are many different sub genres within science fiction and not all of them are meant to inspire or make you think. Some just want to entertain. I really don't see what is wrong with that. And for the most part Life is very entertaining. That being said though there are some issues.

Pacing. It's uneven and that is me putting it mildly. Some scenes go by quick and fast mostly due to build up tension and thrills. But then there sequences where a lot of time is taken to emphasize how dire the situation is for the characters. If these quieter moments would have given these characters more substance or depth then I could have forgiven these slowdowns. Unfortunately the majority of these slowdowns are empty and artificial. They are there to lengthen the duration of the film. I wished they would stop doing that. Either give me something interesting to chew on or simply shorten the film. The viewing experience of many contemporary films would improve considerably because of that.

Another small issue is that Life is predictable and done by the numbers. Once you realize what the film is it offers very little to no surprises. Pretty much every event can be foreseen although there was one scene that has a twist on that predictability which I could appreciate. And I do want to point out that despite Life being predictable it does give you all the monster movie goodness you could wish for. The alien life form called Calvin (which is a horrible name for any living being if you ask me) is clever, ruthless and relentless beyond belief. Even when you are technically not rooting for him you secretly do find some satisfaction when he manages to dispose of someone.

Life for the most part is entertaining and will be worth your time if you don't expect it to be more than it is. Plus there are some redeeming elements that will make you overlook it's flaws.

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