Movie Review: ATOMIC BLONDE – some terrific fight scenes liven up an otherwise sub-Bourne action spy thriller.

The action movie genre has produced some notable game-changers in the last 35 years.  For me, these are movies that hit the still waters like an obnoxious kid doing a cannonball in your pool.  They might not have that massive instant impact, but the effect ripples out across the surface.  First Blood, Commando, Die Hard, Predator, Terminator 2The Matrix, and The Bourne Identity are the movies I’m referring to.  The splashes they made had a cumulative effect on the genre.  Without these movies, who knows where the action movie genre would be right now?  The Bourne Identity took The Matrix’s balletic violence to street level, and simultaneously muscled into the action spy thriller, whose main player up to that point was the Bond franchise.  Matt Damon, arguably at his peak in these movies, was a bone-crunching, take no prisoners mano-a-mano combatant, and it forced movies into a new era of fight choreography, where the scenes still have that videogame lack of consequence, but look and sound more natural.  The influence is most strongly seen in the post-Bourne Bond franchise, where Daniel Craig’s Bond is a return to the “enforcer” type played by Sean Connery, and in Marvel’s Captain America franchise.  The latest movie featuring this kind of hand to hand combat is this year’s Atomic Blonde.

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Movie Review: SUN CHOKE – Exploitative nudity and a deliberately evasive screenplay make for a frustratingly hollow movie.

It’s unfair to say I disliked Sun Choke, because it has a few good things going for it, but after getting around to finally watching it after about six months, I came away from it mostly unimpressed and though I wasn’t angered by it, it prompted me to take to Twitter to get a couple of things off my chest.  I’ll preface this review by letting you know that it’s being written in the immediate aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.  What does that have to do with this dark psychological drama?  Read on …

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Movie Review: BLADE RUNNER 2049 – a mediocre story is shored up by terrific visuals and a truly impressive score

Mediocre story, you might ask?  How can the movie that has shot into the top 100 sci movies of all time have a “mediocre story”?  How can a movie that has quickly become beloved to many sci-fi fans across the globe be described by anyone as being “mediocre”?  Well, it’s all a matter of opinion, of course.  As in Captain America: Civil War, or the ongoing national debate over Left v Right Twix, this is a movie where, after watching, you’ll definitely feel as if you have chosen a side.

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Movie Review: RAW – daring, and different kind of horror movie, but the scenes of college life are cliche and banal.

Raw, the critically acclaimed French-Belgian movie written and directed by Julie Ducournau is described on many sites as a “cannibal” themed horror movie, but while that’s literally what happens in the movie, it’s as much about cannibalism as the Antonia Bird movie Ravenous was back in 1997.  Human flesh may be consumed here, but this is what Stephen King would call a vampire movie, using his archetypical definition in Danse Macabre, his fine non-fiction look at the horror genre.

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Movie Review: A SERBIAN FILM – it’s one of the most notorious movies ever made, but is it any good? A resounding YES.

It’s fair to say that A Serbian Film is the most vilified horror movie of our generation.  Other generations had Salo, Cannibal Holocaust, and The Men Behind The Sun, and A Serbian Film, made in 2011, joins the club of horror movies with scenes that are so extreme they come to define the movie itself.  I’m willing to bet that just like those other movies, A Serbian Film is also one the most vilified horror movies that’s actually never been seen by its harshest critics.  If you’ve heard of the movie, you’ve also heard of that scene, and you may have already made up your mind about it and decided not to see it – which would be a shame, because it’s a truly effective, character-driven horror movie.  I don’t often review movies older than a couple of years, but this is an exception.

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Movie Review: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN – a remake of the 1960s original that’s too bland and featureless to justify its own existence

Although I haven’t seen the original The Magnificent Seven for the best part of 20 years, I still retained enough memory of the plot to try comparing it with the 2016 Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw)/Denzel Washington, and from those hazy memories, there didn’t seem to be many large deviations from the plot.  Instead of a village being raided by bandits, it’s a small (and kind of unconvincing) western town bullied into submission by Bartholomew Bogue, a mining company owner (played by Peter Sarsgaard) who wants the surrounding land, and the vein of gold under it.  After a brutal opening wherein Sarsgaard’s armed goons kill a few of the more rebellious townsfolk, the widow of one takes it upon herself to seek vengeance, and a way to stop Bogue from plundering what remains of the townspeople’s land.

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Movie Review: 7 WITCHES – low budget and a waaaaay too short running time dilute this indie horror’s potential. Could, and should, have been better.

One of my favourite horror elements is that of black magic, specifically witchcraft, and specifically performed by witches.  I never really took too much to the idea of wizards or warlocks – there’s just something about female practitioners of black magic that appeals to me, they seem darker, somehow.  Not that men can’t – the real world has a much higher ration of evil men to evil women, and maybe that’s where the appeal lies; it’s different in the world of the supernatural.  And I will be even more specific here – I prefer younger witches to the old ones.  Like the archetype of the vampire, there’s a strongly sexual appeal in the youthful-looking witch image.  They’re women who yield power confidently, unafraid, unrestrained.  I’ve always had a thing for Samantha from Bewitched, and Samantha Robinson as The Love Witch is about as sexy (and sociopathic) a practitioner as you could possibly find.  The movie 7 Witches features a another darkly sppealing witch, as part of a familial coven.  I watched this movie last night, knowing nothing about it, arriving as it did from a mysterious benefactor …

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