Categories
2020 Reviews 2020s

The Hill and the Hole Runs Itself into the Ground

The Hill and the Hole is one of the most frustrating films I’ve watched in a while. This film had so much potential, but falls flat, straight down a hole into a cold abyss. We almost got two great 60-70s-esque science fiction films in the first half of the year. A film that came out this year that I find myself often thinking back on fondly is The Vast of Night. With The Vast of Night, director Andrew Patterson did nearly everything right. He perfectly captured the feel of old-school sci-fi and crafted a low-stakes film that was mesmerizing. He also found a way to make it feel unique, despite the fact him and co-writer Craig Sanger were clearly paying homage to an era of science fiction.

Directors Bill Darmon and Christopher Ernst begin The Hill and the Hole in a similar fashion. They have a stylized filmic look, the something-is-wrong-here premise, and the camp and quirk to amuse fans of science fiction. Despite having these things going for it, The Hill and the Hole greatly disappoints. I honestly wouldn’t be as upset if it didn’t have those things because then my hopes wouldn’t have been as high.

I’m not sure if it was due to sheer laziness, a busy and overrun shooting schedule that resulted in a rushed finish, or if it always planned to be the way it is, but the film gets worse as it goes on. I cannot assume, nor do I know whether or not it was shot in order, but it certainly feels like it might have been. About three quarters into the film everything becomes nonsensical. Rather than having this be a quirk, it feels more like a cruel joke played on the audience expecting them to find explanations. Mostly, it feels like a cop-out for Darmon as a writer.

I could have been a decent film, but The Hill and the Hole features poor direction that leads to even worse performances and a lousy screenplay that greatly drags it down.

1.9/10.0

Categories
1950s Oldies

Terror is a Man (1959)

I don’t remember how exactly how I stumbled upon Terror is a Man, but I do recall how the story behind the making of it intrigued me. Filipino directors Gerardo de León and Eddie Romero teamed up with American producer Kane Lynn to create one of the first Filipino horror movies: Terror is a Man. This movie was a success and gave birth to the Blood Islandseries and changed the Filipino film industry forever. I’ve loved horror films for a long time, so when I caught wind of a 50s horror like this, I knew I had to check it out. Unfortunately, the background of Terror is a Man is the only interesting part of it.

Maybe I expected too much going into it. I thought that Terror is a Man was going to be a bold horror with plenty of gore, but ultimately it’s derivative of the other campy monster films that were coming out around the 50s and 60s. It’s not as good as The Fly (1958) or Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). It’s fairly generic and the only part that is remotely exciting happens during the final act. However, I was so bored by the rest of the movie that the ending of the film made virtually no impact on me.

This apathy could be attributed to the fact that you can see what’s going to happen from a mile away. A soldier, William Fitzgerald (Richard Derr), washes upon the shore of a small island. He is discovered by Dr. Charles Girard (Francis Lederer), who conducts experiments that many people would not agree with. Obviously, Mr. Fitzgerald is going to be one of those people and spends the whole movie trying to find out more about Dr. Girard’s experiments. It felt like every scene between Fitzgerald and Dr. Girard was the same. They talked about Dr. Girard’s experiments and Dr. Girard danced around specific questions we already knew the answers to in order to extend the film’s runtime. The only difference is that sometimes the filmmakers might change the location of the conversation and the phrasing of the questions

The logistics of Dr. Girard’s experiments aren’t as sophisticated as Fitzgerald makes them out to be. William Fitzgerald is a very frustrating character. He seems to want every minute detail of what’s going on before he makes a move. Even when it seems like Fitzgerald knows everything he keeps prying Dr. Girard for answers, all while trying to steal his wife. Fitzgerald is the type of bland leading man you might expect from a monster movie from the 50s. It doesn’t help that the rest of the characters are about as exciting as a slice of rye bread. Gerardo de León and Eddie Romero could have reduced the damage of their uninteresting characters with a more engaging story, but they are two peas in a pod.

Terror is a Man is a movie with a plot so thin and blandly executed that it probably shouldn’t have been more than 70 minutes.

Categories
2016 Reviews

Embers (2016)

Great Sci-Fi movies are often hard to come by these days. However, every once in awhile we’re treated to a science fiction film that’s worth talking about. Embers comes from director Claire Carré and features a screenplay she wrote with Charles Spano. Embers focuses on several different characters and how their profound memory loss affects their lives in an apocalyptic world.

Embers is a quiet, atmospheric film that will affect you emotionally. What the characters go through with their minds is incredibly depressing and devastating. Embers will require your patience, but you will certainly be rewarded for it. This is a film that you cannot miss if you’re a fan of science fiction. Regardless of your love or disdain for Sci-Fi, Embers is definitely a film you should consider checking out!

7.8/10.0

Categories
2016 Reviews

Hardcore Henry (2016)

Innovative and action-packed, Hardcore Henry does not disappoint. The film is shot entirely from first person point of view and because of that, has some very cool and engaging cinematography. The best way to describe Hardcore Henry is that it feels like you’re watching someone else play a video game. Everything about Hardcore Henry screams video game, especially its story structure, which happens to be the film’s major flaw. The story is overly simplistic. It begins with Henry having a single mission and then evolves into him trying to work with Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) to take down Akan (Danila Kozlovsky). Having a simple story isn’t always a problem, but it is when the dialogue is poor and seems like an afterthought at times. Hardcore Henry is certainly a lot of fun for lovers of action movies, but don’t go see it if you’re looking for a strong story.

7.2/10.0

 

Categories
2016 Reviews

The 5th Wave (2016)

The 5th Wave is another miss for Apocalyptic Sci-Fi movies.  For an action movie, it isn’t too exciting most of the time.  I often found myself bored.  Maika Monroe brings life and energy into the film when her character is introduced, but she isn’t on-screen for a great amount of time.  The dialogue can be pretty cheesy and cringe-worthy at times.  Basically, The 5th Wave has very little to offer.

Skip.

3.4/10.0

Categories
2015 Reviews

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The last movie of The Hunger Games franchise is the weakest one.  After seeing both parts of Mockingjay I think they should have made only one movie.  Part 1 was a lead-up to Part 2 and Part 2 doesn’t deliver.  I wanted the film to be more action-packed than it really was.  Not to mention, all of the action felt downplayed and was unsatisfying.  I felt that the Hunger Games franchise had lost its strong appeal after Mockingjay Part 1 .  In addition, I found the ending to be cheesy, overly sentimental, and not believable.

Mockingjay Part 2 isn’t bad, but it is a disappointment for a franchise whose first two movies were great.

5.8/10.0

Categories
2015 Reviews

The Martian (2015)

Ridley Scott’s The Martian does not disappoint.  The movie is so immersive that you are transported into its world and feel like you’re actually there.  It has its dull moments, but they are lifted up by its exciting ones.  I found the film’s main problem to be that it pushes its luck when it comes to the ending.  It felt a little too ridiculous.  Other than the ending I enjoyed The Martian.

I’d recommend it.

5.8/10.0

Categories
2015 Reviews

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a massive disappointment.  This sequel to the surprise hit is devoid of all the excitement and intrigue that its predecessor displayed.  The screenplay is atrocious.  It plays like a series of cliche action movie lines heard hundreds of times in other movies.  The Scorch Trials doesn’t capitalize on any of the similarities it has to its genre cohorts.  The Maze Runner felt unique to some degree.  The Scorch Trials feels like all the other dystopian movies we’ve seen several times already.  This wouldn’t be so bad if the movie was remotely exciting.  The film is a journey that the audience is bored to be on and unfortunately it exposes the one-dimensional characters in the film.  There were many questions left unanswered after the first movie.  The few answers you receive in this movie are disappointing and uninspired.

Needless to say, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is not worth your time and money.

3.3/10.0

Categories
2015 Reviews

Fantastic Four (2015)

Fantastic Four is not as bad as everyone claims.  It does have many problems and was a huge miss, but to call it a catastrophe would be exaggerating.  Fantastic Four has a really good cast, so that is a plus.  Personally, I enjoyed that the movie was more of a science fiction than superhero movie.  A big issue with the film is because it is a superhero movie, the filmmakers figured it should have a superhero brawl.  The half-executed fight feels forced and as if it was an afterthought.  It seemed like the filmmakers had very little interest in the fight, considering it is thrust in at the end of the movie with very little build-up.  The story is very poorly constructed.  The screenplay structure is the major flaw that ruined any chance Fantastic Four had at being a good movie.  This is a shame because I was hoping to see a noteworthy Fantastic Four movie.

Skip it.

3.8/10.0

Categories
2015 Reviews

Ant-Man (2015)

Marvel had its work cut out for them when they decided to give Ant-Man a solo movie. Even though the premise alone didn’t sound too promising, Ant-Man delivers.  Marvel Studios showed they could make Ant-Man compete with all the other superheroes in terms of intrigue.  Although I didn’t like the casting choice of Paul Rudd due to his already powerful star-power and previously established likability, Rudd brings great life to Scott Lang.  It will be great to see him among all of the other superheroes when the time comes.  Ant-Man has a lot of character and plenty of humor.  It’s more lighthearted than the other Marvel solo movies, but it is still a fun watch.

6.3/10.0