[EXPRESSO] The Plane (2023) | Militia Landing

There’s something to be said about a movie title that’s so incredibly generic and yet so apt it basically comes around to be perfect, as a plane it’s indeed the central focus, even when this big budget disaster b-movie about a pilot (played by Gerard Butler) trying to maintain order and make the passengers live through a ill-advised flight route (made worse as they’re forced to also take a convinct on board) over the South Chinese Sea…. well, it turns into another action movie about fighting off separatist militia thugs, because they happen to land into an island in the Philippines where there’s no real police or regular army presence, but local terrorists militia group/cartels control the place, forcing Gerard Butler to trust the convinct in getting the passengers back…

If you saw the trailer it’s exactly what you’d think it would be, that kind of unapologetic, moderately over the top (but not THAT over the top) action flick where Gerard Butler is here to save the day from generic action movie danger, the cliches overflow like blood from a goth fountain, but you could guess all of that by…. just the fact it’s a movie with Gerard Butler in it, let’s be frank.

You don’t go to see a movie like this to get out of your comfort zone, quite the opposite, as you want something that’s easy on the ol’ cerebellum, you want to snuggle with the expected stuff like the pilots keeping printed photos of their family with them and whipping them out to tempt fate, etc.

You want something predictable yet fun to kill some time, and i can’t deny The Plane it’s quite entertaining action movie junk food (but in a “good” way) all the way through, surprisingly a bit better than expected.

Decent timewaster.

Pinocchi-O-Rama: the 2022 “Pinocchio frenzy” and celebrating the 140th Anniversary of Collodi’s classic

No review today, sorry, but we’re doing something a bit special.

If you remember, last year was surprisingly full of Pinocchio adaptations, from the resurfacing of Guillermo Del Toro’s project, that cheap russian retelling/reworking with the infamous Paulie Shorie english dub (called Pinocchio – A True Story, FIY), and Disney continuining with their crusade of shitty live-action remakes of their classic animated films.

And italian audiences were also treated with a live-action Pinocchio movie in 2019, directed by acclaimed italian director Matteo Garrone (Dogman, The Tale Of Tales), and starring beloved italian actor Roberto Benigni, which already was world famous for playing the titular character in the 2002 Pinocchio movie.

If you’re like me, as in italian and pretty much hailing from Tuscany, living nearby Florence, hence more than familiar with the original book by Luigi Collodi, you’d be wondering why now, as it seemed random to see a resurgence of Pinocchio adaptations out of the blue. I mean, the book was already in the public domain in the U.S. since 1940, so i wondered if there was some anniversary relating some of the more famous adaptations…. but nothing that made sense.

As in, the original book was first published (in full, after it was published in a weekly children’s magazine starting 1881, then stopped and eventually resumed with the second part) in 1883, so the following year would mark the 140th anniversary, notable but not the kind of number that publisher choose to publicize some new edition of a popular book.

Doesn’t have quite that ring, but somehow 2022 was the “Year Of Pinocchio” regardless, so irked by this i’m gonna do “sumethin about it” and actually spotlight a noteworthy or overlooked Pinocchio adaptation or “heavily inspired by ” work each month of 2023, with special reviews, starting with a post/review at the very end of January.

There will be no precise release windows for each piece, just each a month for the entirety of 2023.

[EXPRESSO] Alice In Borderland (Season Two) (2022) | Fallen Figures

After a good year plus of waiting, the second season of Alice In Borderland is here (again, as a Netflix exclusive show), picking up where the cliffhanger finale left our protagonists, who now are pretty much forced to confront the new games held by the high ranking card figures, with teams of “inhabitants” that challenge the players directly, in the hope of figuring out a way to come back home, or if there’s even a way out to begin with..

There are some surprise comebacks, new faces, and the various games are quite entertaining and creative, the returning characters get more characterization, and ultimately we also learn a lot more about this “Borderland” world, even though we don’t get many answers because we’d lose that vague mystique and there’s technically enough source material for a third season.

Speaking of which, while i’m personally kinda tempted to lower the overall score/vote for the ending alone – that and some really cliched and basic philosophical wafflings – … i will give it credit since it could work as a proper conclusion for the series overall.

As i said before, you can clearly tell it’s adapted from a manga series, one that draw easily into the popular branch of suspense/supernatural death games (very akin to The World Ends With You crossed with stuff like As The Gods Will) and also belongs to the battle royale subgenre, though this live-action adaptation had the accidental luxury of releasing worlwide just before Squid Game – and its craze that re-popularized the battle royale – came into existence.

Overall, i’ve enjoyed this one more than the first season, it’s just more compelling in terms of characters, death games and stakes, making me surprisingly glad i gave it a chance, even if it’s a bit flawed at times.

[EXPRESSO] M3GAN (2022) | Child’s Ploy

Killer robots are back to the big screen (using the plural since there was apparently a christmas killer robot santa movie that also came out last year but it’s still US only, in a legal manner), and intriguingly James Wan it’s back as writer after his friend (and Saw co-creator) Leigh Wannell delivered the excellent cyborg thriller Upgrade some years ago, this time with a new take on the killer doll trope, which while sharing similarities with Chucky (even more considering the surprisingly solid recent remake), manages to stand on its own.

Even though the title character starts out as an anti-Chucky figure of sorts, since it’s a robot created as an advanced life-sized child companion/tutor/friend and pitched by a woman working in a toy company after her sister’s family dies on a crash, with only her young nephew, Cady, surviving the incident, after realizing the nephew treats Megan as a real friend, realizing she can kill two birds with one stone by also forwarding the robot unit instead of the toyline she was supposed to fix.

Problem is “Megan” has been built with an adaptive learning pattern and soon cold logic brings the robot to realize that extreme measures will need to be taken in order to protect Cady…

2022 was indeed the year of Pinocchio more than i realized, but aside from that the movie it’s good, not great, but definitely good, the script is strong, characters are quite likeable, the drama delivers, the title character-killer it’s creepy as fuck, the effects are good, and direction by Gerard Johnstone is quite solid too.

Takes a bit to get going, but when it does you’re in for quite the fun killer robot horror film… and one that kinda ambushed me with how funny – deliberatly comedic – it was.

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #21: Hatched (2021)

Clearing up some of the last year’s releases with Hatched, a 2021 dinosaur film about a woman and her family moving to her reclusive brother’s farmhouse to check on him, only to find out he moonlighted as Dr. Alan Grant, resulting in many living dinosaurs that trap the family inside the house.

Yes, the dinosaurs are coming from inside the house, hur hur.

I’ve heard this one described as “Michael Myers but if dinosaur”, for some reasons that don’t really make much sense when you think about it for more than 3 seconds, but i would say we’re more in Carnosaur or Raptor Ranch territory, because we’re yet again talking about someone doing clonosauruses around chicken coops and shit.

At least we’re not in space?

Continua a leggere “12 Days Of Dino Dicember #21: Hatched (2021)”

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #16: Raptor Island (2004)

Some tales are indeed worthy of a Princess Bride style framing, as they retold time and time again.

Some are expendable TV movie fodder that will be only remembered as vague snippets of an – often incorrect – IMDB entry by generations of trash seeking cinema nerds, lured in by the dinos.

Those aren’t definitely getting any younger. Or older.

And indeed Raptor Island is one of those, where the “dino cheese” is so thick you could just read a synopsis and rightfully assume this was a TV movie for the Sci Fi Channel, because it involves a team of Navy Seals fighting terrorists somewhere in the South Chinese Sea area, stumbling on a island where a bunch of dinosaurs seem to have survived that global extinction event thingie.

Continua a leggere “12 Days Of Dino Dicember #16: Raptor Island (2004)”

Krampus Origins (2018) [REVIEW] | WW Krampus

I guess i really should review a Krampus movie that’s actually about the Krampus creature this year, and i’m fairly sure i didn’t watch this already under a different title, so it’ll do…fine, i hope.

During World War I, a group of American soldiers storm a German bunker, finding there a mysterious book that can summon the ancient evil of the Christmas Devil, the Krampus.

The men are killed in action, and the book is sent to the commanding officer’s widow, whom has just taken up the role of teacher at a Catholic orphanage. One of the orphans there gets a hold of the book and accidentally summons the Krampus, forcing them, the teacher, nuns and priest to face it.

Continua a leggere “Krampus Origins (2018) [REVIEW] | WW Krampus”

Dead Island Riptide (Definitive Edition) PS4 [REVIEW] | #deadislandretrospective

Aka the “actual” Dead Island 2, as time would eventually tell.

Technically not, but actually yes, since it’s developed by Techland and in terms of story it’s a direct sequel, following up immediatly (after a brief recap) where we left off that unremarkable (to be kind) narrative, which means the group of survivors gets aid by an american Navy ship but it’s immediatly captured by one of the side villains from the previous game, Serpo (guess Betraldo didn’t have the same ring to it), intenting of using their immune blood to concoct a cure and a weaponized bio weapon, or something. Doesn’t matter much, as you shipwreck into a nearby island in the archipelago, where the zombie epidemic has also spread after the incident in Banoi, and learn that they plan to nuke the entire island in order to contain the zombie plague.

Yeah, the story it’s about as crappy and easy to completely not give a shit about, with the obvious twists seen coming miles and miles away, but i’d argue it’s actually, objectively worse since there is barely a plot in Riptide, like, at all, aside from the beginning and ending, where a side character in the first game becomes the main antagonist… barely, so you can say this game does recycle too much from the first, even in this regard.

Continua a leggere “Dead Island Riptide (Definitive Edition) PS4 [REVIEW] | #deadislandretrospective”

[EXPRESSO] Violent Night (2022) | Santa Hard

Tommy Wirkola is back after last year’s The Trip (available on Netflix) to the snow tinted realm of horror…. but not quite.

This time around he cooked up a christmas black comedy that has been described as “Die Hard but with Santa Claus instead of John McClain”… because it’s pretty much that, set in a rich family’s villa where a group of terrorists (with the leader played by John Leguizamo) lies in wait to get their hands on a big chunk of million money.

It just happens that by accident the real, factual Santa Claus finds himself in that very house when shit goes down, and decides to fight them to save the family, especially as the younger child earnestly believes in him, by way of some magic, a warhammer and a lot of gruesome violence.

Yeah, it isn’t strictly a horror movie, it’s definitely heavy on action and comedy as you would expect from this deliberate pastiche of Die Hard and christmas movie, but again, it’s a Tommy Wirkola film, so it doesn’t really matter that this isn’t a new installment of Dead Snow or a christmas slasher, because we also get to see Santa pile up a more than respectable bodycount, using everything from ornaments to shovel to woodchippers and even a warhammer (tied to his backstory/lore here)

Heck, for good measure there is a straight up Home Alone “trap scene” and even that provides a lot of gore effects played for laughs that will still make you go “OW”.

There’s also the “Bad Santa” angle to the main character, but not quite, since he IS real here, and otherwise the surprisingly decent emotional moments would lose any kind of weight.

Violent Night it’s a pastiche of familiar elements indeed, but it’s a bloody fun holiday romp, too.

[EXPRESSO] Prey For The Devil (2022) | Mid-sorcism

As much i’m very much kinda fed up with horror movies about haunting or possessions and/or about exorcisms… i’m still a horror fan/buff, so i’m up to support horror movies when they come in theathers, even if there’s the chance i’m walking into a turd. You never know, etc.

And this one didn’t look too bad from the trailers… nor did it look stunning, but whatever.

The plot of Prey For The Devil sees the Vatican secretly reopen schools for exorcists, in response to the numerous cases of demonic possessions, so they can fight back this reborn tide of evil.

But sadly for sister Ann, a young pious woman, it’s only men who are instructed to practice exorcisms, though her convintion in being gifted exactly for that purpose/role leads her to be noticed by a professor/priest that indeed believes in her gift, letting her attend the exorcism classes and perform the rituals when needed.

This leads to Ann meeting a powerful demonic force via one of the patients in care there, which spreads to the whole institute, and the demon itself has ties with Ann’s traumatic past…

Aside from the school/church/hospital setting and the more progressive idea of “female exorcists”, all of this sounds very familiar, overly so, and it’s not like there big surprises, i mean, we do have the demon possessing a little girl, the jumpscares, all the shizzle you expect to see.

Yes, indeed, but i won’t deny i was actually somewhat invested in the story, the characters are surprisingly likeable, acting it’s quite decent, the possession stuff has some flair, stuff happens at a good pace, and the movie isn’t overly long, quite the opposite.

It’s a predictable, mediocre and kinda throw-away exorcism film, run-of-the-mill even, but it’s perfectly watchable, you can do FAR, FAR worse.