[EXPRESSO] Studio 666 (2022) | Dave Grohl Made Me Do It

No, this is not a Jojo reference, nor its one of those weird hybrid music video-concert films (see for example Metallica’s Through The Never), this a full on fictionalized affair, and one i’ve been looking forward to since it was announced. Sure, rock and metal superstar bands aren’t new to cinematic experiences about their personas, but the pitch-premise of a comedy horror starring Dave Ghrol and his bandmates as themselves it’s so good it’s hard to ignore.

As the band Foo Fighters it’s struggling to come up with ideas for its tenth studio album, they get recommended a secluded house in Encino, California, where in the 70s a band called Dream Widow went to record an album, ending with the frontman massacring all the band members before killing himself. The band settles in despite the creepy vibes they pick up from the house, but things get progressively out of hand, leading to Dave Grohl being possessed by a demon. Among other things.

It’s a good dang premise, and thankfully the script and direction are up to snuff to make the most of the pitch, having a zany time with horror cliches and the expected “behind the music” stuff, with the band proving to be very good sports in this delightfully ridiculous comedy horror romp, especially Dave Grohl overacting like a champ as he grows progressively more obsessed once he manages to “magically” get over his artistic block.

Yeah, it’s pretty funny, there’s more to the story than expect, and Studio 666 isn’t afraid to be extra cheesy and honestly it’s kinda surprising that the effects are very good, but besides that, i’ve seen horror movies that try to take themselves seriously but ultimately wish they could pull off even half-successfully a random jumpscare this movie uses as a joke.

Recommended!

Dynasty Warriors (2021) [REVIEW] | Wuxia Warriors Of The Three Kingdoms

One last review to end this year’s Musou May (and yes i want to make this a regular column) proper, and it couldn’t be anything else than the Dynasty Warriors live-action film that came out last year in Chinese territories and has landed on Netflix pretty much everywhere. In 2021.

I genuinely did not knew it arrived last summer, and somehow Netflix forgot to tell me they even had it, shocking given my cronology, and due to me genuinely looking forward more to the movie than to mainline Dynasty Warriors games, as i’ve lamented before.

Though it’s one that both leaves you with a lot and very little to talk about, at least in terms of plot, since the series it’s one of the many adaptations of the Romance Of The Three Kingdoms novel, and despite their over the top nature, the games stayed fairly loyal to the source material in terms of characters and events, heck, even on stuff like the sparing supernatural-magic elements.

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[EXPRESSO] The Bunker Game (2022) | Paranazical Activity

Out of the blue a new italian (well, an italo-french production, but still, shot in Italy with italian actors) horror movie sneaked into cinemas here as an event screening.

I will say that this time i’m not so much disappointed or angry but utterly confused as to what they were even trying to do.

The setup is that there’s a LARP set up in a WWII nazi-fascist bunker in Italy, with an alternate history post-apocalyptic scenario, but when security measures break down, they evacuate the place and only the staff decides to remain and investigate to what happened, as the game/scenario creator has gone missing…

Given the title you’d expect the movie turning into either a battle royale, a Saw-style thingie, even a simple slasher, but nope, it goes into supernatural territory…. for reasons.

In the first part you kinda forget – despite the movie stating immediatly it’s a LARP – that’s a farce, a game, and i honestly wonder why it didn’t play the “alt-history Fallout cum Fourth Reich” scenario straight, i mean, the production values are quite good, the costumes too, so it could have been simply a modern nazisploitation flick.

For what it actually is, a horror movie, one where the horror part feels really forced and cliched, there’s some atmosphere due to the setting but no tension as the movie randomly veers into horror, the characters are token, unlikeable or barely have any screen time to be even worthy of adjectives.

The Bunker Game has some good cinematography, decent-to-good acting, but it feels way longer than its 90 minutes runtime, as it meanders about unsure of what the hell it’s even doing or saying, if anything at all.

Still better than In The Trap, but this one frustrated me way more since it had actual potential.

[EXPRESSO] Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (2022) | & Knuckles

Might as well, since i did watch the first live action Sonic movie 2 years ago, i didn’t hate it, so let’s see if there are some improvements or whatever. Shame that since it’s dubbed here i won’t be able to hear Idris Elba voicing Knuckles, but what can you do?

After banishing Eggman/Robotnik into another dimension at the end of the first movie, Sonic and his acquired human family move to a peaceful town in Montana. Sonic tries to moonlight as a superhero-vigilante but as he causes more trouble by doing so he’s recommended to lay low and wait until his powers will be needed again.

Turns out that time is sooner than expected, as Dr. Robotnik comes back from his fungine dimensional exile, bringing a powerful creature known as Knuckles fighting for him in search of the fabled Master Emerald, while Sonic finds an ally in the two-tailed fox Tails.

To my surprise, this one (in a similar fashion to the actual videogame sequel of the original Sonic The Hedgehog game) is better, still nothing mind blowing, but it’s definitely a step up, not only as the story ups the ante (as expected), introduces more characters, but also has more lore about the world from where Sonic was born, with the owls vs echidnas wars and stuff.

It’s just more fleshed out all around, with even the human characters having some funny bits, the various elements from the game being integrated more into the plot, which is pretty much predictable all the way but quite enjoyable, in no small part thanks – once again – to Jim Carrey’s gargantuan serving of acting ham as Doctor Robotnik, but also due to the more substantial plot.

It’s honestly a decent family-kids movie with a 90s flair (deliberately and fittingly so).

[EXPRESSO] Uncharted (2022) | Not The Erudite Henchman!

After years of delays, some vague posters showing a confused main cast that felt out of place and a trailer, the Uncharted movie its finally in cinemas pretty much worlwide, promising something with Tom Holland, Mark Whalberg and action adventure movie cliches based on a videogames that also looked at spy flicks, heist movies and Tomb Raiders as inspirations.

Personally, i had only one question in mind before seeing this: could it be worse than the shit Tomb Raider movie from 2018? Really was aggressively bored by that one and its undecisive handling of the mystical stuff, i still remember being way more frustrated than entertained when watching it.

I mean, this at least being directed by Ruben Fleischer (of Zombieland and Venom fame), so i did expect something out of it, despite the project looking very mediocre, at the very best… and i’m glad he directed it, as it moves about a great pace, the action is what you would expect from the material (and in turn the material Uncharted itself pillages/is inspired by), and there are some fun action sequences that stand out, like the airborne pirate ship battle.

It helps as it’s a very miscast adaptation, with lead actors chosen because they’re popular Hollywood faces and… that’s it, you never believe that Holland and Walhberg (or Banderas) are actually playing a character, at all, not that their characters resemble the ones from the games they’re supposed to represent, with a younger Nathan Drake that doesn’t tally up a respectable body count, because i guess Tom Holland would never do that as Spider Man doesn’t kill people, let alone with guns.

It’s not bad, it’s fine, but also the generic and lukewarm videogame movie adaptation you would expect, honestly even the games themselves have better stories.

Serviceable, though.

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #12: Journey To The Beginning Of Time (1955)

It’s the final day of the 12 Days Of Dino Dicember, so let’s end it with a proper obscure gem, the Czech movie Journey To The Beginning Of Time. As in the original, not the re-cut, re-filmed version that reached US territories in 1966 under the same name.

Today thankfully you can watch it as it was released on a region-free Blu Ray by Second Run, which also includes the English version, but i’m not gonna bother with that for now. Sorry, but i simply can’t afford the time to watch that as well and compare the two.

This comes from Karel Zeman (no, not the soccer manager), nicknamed the “Czech Melies”, famous for his fantasy films combining live action and animation, and hugely influential, not surprising to fellow czech Jan Svankmajer (you can’t imagine how happy i am by just having the occasion of nominating him in any of these reviews, retrospectives, but beloved by many american directors, like Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton, and serving as inspiration to Jurassic Park itself.

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12 Days Of Dino Dicember #10: Legends Of Dinosaurs And Monster Birds/Legends Of The Dinosaurs (1977)

We previously spotlighted the delights of live action tokutatsu monster and superhero anime hybrid with the Dinosaur War Izenborg 4 episodes-to-compilation film “Attack Of The Super Monsters” by Tsuburaya Productions, so let’s talk about an even more obscure kaiju film, this time by Toei, with Legends Of Dinosaurs And Monster Birds, also known as Legend Of The Dinosaurs.

Interestingly, this was a japanese kaiju movie spurred by the international success of Spielberg’s Jaws (release in 1976 in Japan) and a coincidental resurgence of reports of Nessie in Loch Ness, so Toho settled to make it about a geologist who start investing strange reports of fossilized eggs and odd events surrounding the Saiko Lake (one of the Five Fuji Lakes) community, including a headless horse carcass and mysterious disappearances of people in the lake area.

Eventually Takashi puts the clues together and surmises it must be a Plesiosaur doing this, which turns out to be true, as it attacks the lakeside attendants during an event (hi, Jaws parallel), but in japanese monster movie tradition, the creature it’s bound to fight with another monster, a “Rhamphorhynchus” (basically a type of pterosaur like the pteranodon), emerging from a hidden cave in the Aokigahara region (aka the tragically famous “Sea Of Trees”, subject of a very crap Gus Van Sant movie to make things even worse), as accidentally discovered by a young girl.

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12 Days Of Dino Dicember #4: Attack Of The Super Monsters (1982)

It really IS Christmas time, because today we’re doing a movie that’s both dinosaurs and vintage tokusatsu cheesiness from the 80s. How can you go wrong? You simply can’t.

Add drill spaceship to the mix and you really can’t go wrong.

Though it’s worth pointing out this is actually an edited down TV series (i suppose it’s just the first 4 episodes of the series mashed together, as it was a common practice at the time), Dinosaur War Aizenborg, itself quite the interesting piece of media, as it’s an hybrid anime and live action show, with sentai style rubber suit and stop motion puppets action for the dinosaurs and giant monsters, but animation for the humans and most regular animals, played over live-action miniature sets.

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[EXPRESSO] Spider Man: Far From Home (2021) | Multiverse Mayhem

I feel kinda bad for this part of the new Spider Man series because… yeah, let’s get this out immediatly, Marvel themselves already did it years ago as one of the best animated movies i’ve seen in a while, a miracle all the way that worked as well as it did also thanks to be being not bound to the fucking MCU. And that is finally getting a 2 part sequel too, really looking forward to those.

This one…. yeah, whatever, guess i’ll have to watch it so we can get over it, might be even fun.

This one follows directly from the ending of Far From Home, where Mysterio revealed Spider Man’s real identity being Peter Parker and framed him as a murderer. As he, his friends and family have trouble living with this false stigma, Peter asks Doctor Strange to cast a spell in order to make everyone forget that Peter Parker IS Spider Man, but something goes wrong and multiverse portals invade this reality/continuity, bringing a lot of well known faces from the Spider Man series……

Given the existence of Into The Spiderverse and me not liking too much the new MCU Spider Man movies…. you can color me surprised, because this one was incredibly easy to mishandle, but to my surprise it manages to balance the fanservice and the many villains with a story that actually makes this Peter Parker go through some decisive character development, with a lot at stake and some meaningful consequences.

It’s “also” quite fun, with some funny moments that actually don’t feel forced, there just because the Marvel algorhythm requires some quirky (but not TOO quirky, risque or creative) comedy bits.

Definitely the one i’ve enjoyed the most out of these MCU Spider Man movies, and arguably the better one overall.

The Iced Hunter (2018) [REVIEW] | Mozgus Chaser

Welcome to another installment of “no, you never heard of this one before, and i haven’t either”, with The Iced Hunter, an italian horror fantasy action film directed by Davide Cancila and about the titular “iced hunter” (you can tell his namesake was never intended to be translated in english, because it sounds like a fancy non-IBA approved cocktail or a Blooborne collaboration cafè item), a mysterious non-human warrior with fittingly mysterious origins and with memories not of his own, being trailed by the “Domini Lupi” sect, hellbent of getting rid of him at any cost.

Does this feel like a werewolf spiced live action “redo/reinterpretation” of the “Holy Iron Chain Order” arc in Berserk?

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