District 9 Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

District 9 is one of those films that really did not live up to expectations. It’s not a big alien invasion film or a cool thriller with a lot of action scenes and explosions. Instead it’s going for a more “realistic” kind of vibe as humanity lets the aliens live in one district while running inhumane experiments on them the whole time. This movie is all about the grit and extra details while never allowing any of the characters to look all that heroic. It’s not a great look for humanity.

The movie starts with an alien ship appearing but for a while nothing happens. So the humans eventually cut themselves in and we see that the aliens are all very sick and can’t really fight at this point. So they are moved to Earth in a rather poor district and the humans who lived around there are not happy at all. The aliens have their own language which is translated in the subs and the humans can try to learn it to an extent. Wikus is one of the main guys going around handing out the eviction notices to some of these aliens so that they can be transported somewhere else. One of these operations goes wrong though as he it contaminated by a tube that one of the aliens was using and now Wikus is slowly turning into an alien. Humanity can’t allow an alien to be alive without advanced study so now everyone is hunting Wikus down to experiment with him until he dies from it all. Can Wikus escape?

The idea is that Wikus is effectively a fugitive on his own planet now. There is no real escape to be had so he has to try and fend for himself. At least for a while, eventually he meets up with Christopher again, one of the aliens. Christopher can cure Wikus if they can get off of the planet somehow in the spaceship and to do that they’re going to need a lot of fuel. At this point the humans can’t be reasoned with so Wikus is really on his own.

From the jump the movie doesn’t really give you any real likable characters to root for. Wikus is not the nicest guy to say the least and until he’s turned into an alien, he’s only marginally better than the other humans with how he interacts with the aliens. He grins gleefully as he destroys their babies and is having a lot of fun while this is serious business for the aliens. It’s all too late to feel sorry for him once he’s an alien and the film could have used a bit more nuance with the human characters. Make some of them a little nicer at least right?

Likewise I can’t say that the alien designs are all that good. Part of the point of the movie is that they’re all banged up and not exactly in fighting shape but that doesn’t make for an effective design. If anything you just feel like this is another aspect where the film dropped the ball because some nice visuals would have gone a long way. There is just nothing very nice to look at, the slums are breaking down and everything is rather desolate.

You have characters puking, you see cannibals eating aliens, and there is always a moment of shock value right around the corner. The movie paints a rather grim picture on the current state of affairs for everything and did I mention that this is documentary style? So you don’t even have great camera work because it’s always using the shaky cam style. I use the word shaky loosely as it’s filmed like a real documentary so they’re holding onto the camera tightly but a more traditional style would have greatly benefited the film.

A cynical film about how the government will always be messing with aliens behind the scenes can work well enough if you have one of the aliens as the main character and he is determined to save his comrades or something like that or it’s a big action movie where there’s a lot of fighting but otherwise the movie will just come across as rather mean spirited. The whole film is filled with extra details that you don’t need to know while also making sure that there is never any hope for the characters at any point in time. Certainly a big miss.

There’s just nothing particularly good to say about the movie. It doesn’t have good visuals, an impressive soundtrack, good characters, a solid story, or any fun moments that would make you cheer or laugh. It’s just a film that is determined to be as somber and depressing as possible. Now I do have some ways to fix it even while keeping to the same approach. If you want a film with a dialogue about how humans would treat aliens then you have to ditch the documentary style. We need a character who works for the news, someone in the resistance, and then the army characters from this title.

Give us some debates, some back and forth and different perspectives. The only way a film like this works is if there can be some meaningful dialogue and also a scenery shift so we can at least have some scenes with a happier touch. That would absolutely be the best way to handle this and it would really do wonders for the movie. You can also remove a lot of the grim dark scenes like the tortures and just blowing up aliens for no reason. Lets not make this so over the top.

Overall, Alas, this is not a winning film either way. I’d recommend just about any other alien film over this one. It’s certainly trying to do something new and different which can be applauded but ultimately it didn’t work. Sometimes being experimental doesn’t pay off even if that doesn’t mean that you should abandon being unique all together. It’s all about trial and error and eventually it could pay off. That said, I’d rather we not do a sequel to this film and focus on a reboot that is quite different instead.

Overall 1/10

Cube Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Time for one of those death trap films where you have to survive until the end to win. Of course it won’t be very easy and if you know your genre well then it’s unlikely that more than 2 will survive. In fact, sometimes you can’t even expect 2 to make it. So as you watch the film you will be wondering just when these guys are gonna die. Unfortunately the film is pretty bad and doesn’t end up using the concept to its full potential.

The movie starts with all of the characters waking up in a mysterious Cube. Each room is lit up by the same 4-5 colors and it’s easy to get lost. The place seems to be endless as well which causes the characters to start cracking. Making matters even worse is the fact that many rooms have death traps installed within them. Can the heroes really find a way out of here or is it game over for them?

A movie like this is usually doomed as soon as you see the cast since the characters tend to be unlikable and this one is no exception. The characters always end up being either mean, evil, or complain a lot. They’re not ready for this kind of adventure and it’s why you always wish they would do a film with a group of trained professionals instead. For once it would be nice to see the characters not be panicking the whole time and actually just make the right calls when it counted. This isn’t that film though.

First you have Quentin who’s the worst character in the film. You know how his character arc is going to play out almost as soon as he starts talking. Maybe it’s an escape room type gimmick but you know that you’ve seen this character arc play out before. It’s a shame since the drama should really be focused on the literal death traps instead. Quentin’s scenes just get worse and worse as he film goes on which is a shame since it just drives the film lower and lower.

Granted, the film was always going to be a really low one. It’s a pretty violent film with the death traps everywhere and each death is always rather gruesome. One guy gets his face melted off, others are stabbed. There aren’t really any happy moments in the film. Since the characters started off already in the cube, we don’t even get a happy intro with the characters talking as they walked in an area for a test or something. The film is part mystery as they don’t even know why they are in the Cube in the first place.

Joan is effectively the main character here. She’s a math genius which really comes in handy here due to how the Cube works. The film throws a lot of twists about this but the key thing to remember is that as a trap/puzzle there is a right way to move around. If you find this method then you will end up going far and claiming victory. Of course it isn’t easy though. Joan definitely goes through quite a lot in the film. I wasn’t particularly a fan of hers either though. She complains a lot with the rest of the group and isn’t particularly nice to Kazan.

Nobody is safe from cracking in this film. Kazan is one of the biggest examples as the whole experience basically broke him completely. Unfortunately you feel like he’s just here to make everything more uncomfortable for the rest of the characters. One of the worst scenes is when he has to use the bathroom and it’s crude moments like that which will hold the film back even more. You don’t need anything like that in this film or any other.

David is the cynic of the group who thinks everyone is dead anyway so we may as well not try further. He is hiding some secrets which strengthen his case on why they shouldn’t do much but of course that’s not very helpful in trying to stay alive. He’s really not being helpful to the cast at all. Someone like this is just really annoying to have in the group spreading more negativity.

Helen also can’t stay focused as she talks about the government conspiracies and how someone is always watching. Her theories only serve to aggravate the rest of the characters even more. She seems nicer than most of the other characters at least even if she breaks down a lot. The only character who seemed likable was Wren. He wasn’t panicking and was at least making some moves in trying to get out of here. I can at least respect that.

But yeah this is the kind of film that’s just very mean spirited the whole time. It’s about throwing the cast into an unwinnable situation as you watch them all get bumped off and turn on each other. If the film had stayed about survival and didn’t go down the “Lord of the Flies” route then it would have been better. Likely not good of course but at least it would have been better. The death traps are all you need and everyone turning on each other is always one of the worst plot points.

In fighting is bad enough but the films always have to go way too far with it. If everyone was just upset at each other or snapping with insults that would be fine. It’s when they try to murder each other or go further that we have a problem. That’s most of the second half unfortunately because the characters figure out how to get around the traps reasonably early on and so after that the people are the real danger.

The ending is your classic horror ending so I won’t say how it goes but you aren’t expecting a happy ending here anyway. We get a few jump scares but the last one doesn’t even make any sense. I don’t see how this person would be here given what we just saw. That’s absolutely impossible, it’s just not going to happen and is here for pure shock value. The film simply couldn’t leave well enough alone and it makes the whole journey feel even more pointless.

Overall, This film is just pretty bad. There’s already not much to salvage within the sub genre when you take it to the horror extreme and this one lowers the bar further by adding all kinds of unnecessary plot elements. The only thing I would say for it is that the design of the Cube is rather solid. I liked the various colors and there were some decent background music tracks within. The mystery itself might compel you a bit but as the film goes on you get the sense that you’re not going to be getting any answers to it anyway. You will have your headcanon at least which will have to do. Of course with more films out you may get all of the answers there. I wouldn’t advise checking this film out or any of the sequels though.

Overall 1/10

The Promised Neverland

Well, this series has been getting quite a lot of hype lately so it’s nice to finally start it. It’s definitely got a pretty unique premise so that’s good. I’m wondering how this plot can be stretched out for very long though and I’m hoping for a big time skip. Still, a solid start and I’ll review the series once it’s over.

Overall 6/10

And Then There Were None Review

It’s time to look at a really retro film. This title came out almost 10 years before the original Godzilla, which shows that it has certainly seen a long film history. You’ll be reminded of Clue almost instantly as the film begins. Little did I realize that this one would even beat Clue (Granted that it’s been a while since I saw that film) and this could be one of the best mystery thrillers that I’ve ever seen! It certainly surpassed my expectations.

The film opens with quite a few different characters entering a mysterious house. They have all been called here under various pretenses, but then they start to figure out that something is a wrong. A voice emanates from the shadows and accuses them all of various crimes involving murder. They were never brought to justice for their past deeds so the host has decided that it is his job to prosecute the characters. Can the 10 criminals trust each other long enough to come up with a plan or are they simply going to die until the title of the film rings true!?

The premise is a good one although it can be difficult to execute it properly. If this film had come out 50 years later, I’m sure that the director would have made this more of a modern slasher film where everyone dies in the diciest ways possible. Luckily, this was the 40’s. Back when everyone had constraint and the film is actually very tame considering the fact that the body count is quite high. All of the violence is off screen and their fates were all rather simple and direct. The film knew that the best way to go about this was to be direct and to the point. It worked like a charm!

As I always say, one of the best things about mystery films is trying to figure out who the culprit is. Likewise, the best thing in a slasher film is trying to figure out who’s going to live if you think that anyone will survive the experience. Needless to say, I tried to do both here. I was right about the character who lived through this, but I was wrong about who the culprit was. Ah well, 1/2 isn’t all that bad when you think about it. No worries, there are no cop outs here although one scene will have you questioning it quite a bit. I find it a little hard to believe personally. The crossed out section quickly mentions the scene and while I tried to make it spoiler free, you should still skip that paragraph until you watch the film. Since this is a mystery film, such potential spoilers are more important to mention than usual.

The scene in question involves a possible injury. It’s hard to elaborate on that without spoiling the film, but do you think you could tell if someone was shot or not if you had a clear view of the supposed bullet hole? It’s safe to say that you would be able to discern such a thing with ease. It’s actually tougher on the viewer than the character because you could just assume that the special effects were not up to snuff so it is hard to tell if the character is injured or not. It is a valid excuse for a movie watcher, but not for the characters inside of the film. There is no way that they would not be able to tell the difference.

That was just a small critique though. The film probably couldn’t think of a better way to go about this so that was still a mostly acceptable way of handling it. Trust me, it could have been much less believable! The atmosphere is very cloudy and mysterious, which suits the film. It is definitely a title that would be much different if it had been in color. I’m hesitant to say that any film is better in black and white, but it certainly worked for me here. For a mystery, black and white just seems to make sense.

Naturally, the most important factor for this film was going to be the cast of characters. You need a likable bunch or else you’re going to start rooting for the villain. After all, two wrongs don’t make a right, but the heroes have gotten away with murder…haven’t they? the ending does a good job of stopping this actually as the ending addresses everything, which makes the film happier than it might have been otherwise. Let’s just say that the crooks don’t necessarily get away with anything, but things are more complicated than they appear on the surface.

Of course, it’s also the kind of film where you don’t tend to remember any of the names after watching it. You will be able to recall how the characters looked and acted, but the names simply weren’t unique enough to recall. That’s all right though since the characters are the important part. The team is made up of 10 fugitives and then we’ve got the butler and his assistant. I’ll try to quickly give you a rundown of them so you can decide who is shady and who isn’t.

The butler is…the butler. What else can you say about this guy and why you should suspect him? He serves the food and knows the mansion better than the rest of the characters. The assistant doesn’t seem to like any of the other characters and she wants to get away from the mansion as soon as possible. Maybe she has a strong motive eh? We have the main character who seems like a really nice lady who is oblivious to the danger at first. Surely such a nice soul could not be the mastermind…right? An older lady is also present who loves knitting. She loves to voice aloud her agreement with Mr. Owens (The boss behind the shadows) in the fact that the fugitives (Minus herself) need to be punished with death. Maybe she is simply giving them a hint! There’s a crazy guy who loves singing and making the atmosphere morbid. He definitely seems suspect! There’s a judge of sorts who seems to be brilliant. He’s constantly making deductions and he is always able to make an airtight case against whoever is allegedly guilty at the moment. Maybe he’s turning the team against each other? A doctor is also in the house and he likes beer although he doesn’t admit to it. Is he trying to forget his wicked deeds before destroying the rest of the cast? You certainly can’t trust anyone who’s not being honest with the cast. We also can’t forget the guy who is always agreeing with the Judge. He is easily swayed by opinions and he’ll follow whoever seems to have the best idea. Perhaps he is saving his cunning mind for when he will truly need it! Finally, we’ve got the generic American, action hero. This guy’s cool, calm, and collected. He’s also armed with an illegal handgun that he is pretending to not possess. Hmmm….nothing shady about that eh? I believe that I named all of the main characters or at least I hope I did. If I left anyone out, it was just accidental misdirection…..

As I mentioned earlier, the ending is fairly satisfying with a little humor involved as well. For some context, my favorite character was the driver of the ship who was taking the 10 convicts to the private island. He was having fun with his sandwich and he certainly knew the score. Unlike the main characters who were fighting for their lives, the captain was just sleeping at home! He makes it back to the island for the ending and it is safe to say that he handled the situation quite well. The film ends there, but I have no doubt that he will be ready to take the win.

There are two elements to the plot that I did not mention earlier so I should quickly elaborate on them. For starters, the heroes cannot leave the island because the boat only comes on Mondays. Or, the next boat is on Monday. Either way, they have to survive 3 nights if they want to stay alive. Moreover, every character is dying according to a creepy poem that is in the house. The villain wants to stick to the script so that should at least give the heroes a heads up on what’s about to happen to them…if they heed the poem of course!

Overall, The film’s title allows you to quickly get yourself interested in what’s about to happen and the film executes the plot to perfection. There is little room for improvement here as the film really does a good job on all areas. The characters are interesting and the pacing is nice and quick. The ending is solid and the film was a slasher while still staying true to the mystery element. There are few films that I would recommend sooner from the 40’s than this one…if any. I highly recommend checking this film out and if you love a good mystery, it is safe to say that you will greatly enjoy this one!

Overall 8/10