Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Film Review: Paranormal Activity

When I was young I had a fascination about ghosts. This hasn’t really gone away (but the hunting of them has, which friends and family are pretty glad of…), and I do love a good horror. This isn’t a horror as such. This was way too close to the bone.

The normality of the characters and their fears and reactions were real and almost as unsettling as the ‘scary bits’. It’s like watching your two friends on film – I was bought into it after the first ten minutes as if my mates had said ‘here, watch this homemade film – its good! Honest.’

Then, something horrible happens. And it happens again. And it happens again. Then it happens again. The similar scene we are shown – the video recording of our protagonists bedroom at night – again and again, with chilling consequences and images is powerful, evil and set up with a clever eye. I felt I was in that room, or worse, that what happened in that room could happen to me while I slept.

This is a horror film. It starts slowly, with the mundane, and then it builds and builds. Every time I saw that bedroom I became edgy, scared and worried. It was an addiction by the end of the film – what will happen next? How will it end?

I wholeheartedly apologise to my lovely girlfriend who was reduced to fearful sobbing due to this masterful film, for making her watch it. Yes, we did leave the light on that night, and I’m glad she was there. I’ve never been so scared since I was part of an Ouija board when I was a kid. I’ll tell you about it one day.

A must see for all horror fans.

5 out of 5 tear-drenched, fear-gripped girlfriends.

Think I’ll leave the light on again tonight…

Monday, 8 March 2010

Film Review: Up

I was warned that the first 10mins of Up would have me in tears. And, being a trusting fellow, I prepared myself for it. I may have joked to my girlfriend about it before we watched Up. I had to pause the film at several points as she ran to the toilet, crying her eyes out. I admit, even with the forewarning, I too struggled to cope with the emotional torrent that Up exuded.

-1 man point from the off.

Up is now an Oscar winning film, and so it should be. I may be a fan of Horror, SF, Fantasy and Thrillers, (+ 1 man point), where if the body count is poor in the first 20 mins I’m annoyed (+ 1 man point, surely), but this little Disney/Pixar flick gripped me right from the start. (Okay, - 1 man point). Pete Docter and Bob Peterson are remarkable storytellers and film makers. I’ve never been affected so much by the start of a film since The Fellowship of the Ring. They captured something about life in those first minutes, and throughout the story.

And, It just gets better. Up is full of great characters, and the humour is spot on too. Talking dogs, chocolate loving birds, grumpy old men, balloons… this film has it all. The writing is great, the direction is superb, and, well, it may be one of the best films I’ve ever seen. Top 10 is a def.

I know I’ve not gone into any kind of depth with my summary and review of Up, but this is the reaction I feel and had. (- 1 man point). You have to see this film.

See this film. Now.

5 out of 5 balloons.

Man points: -1.

Film Review: Pandorum

Since I'm in a SF mood these days, I was looking forward to catching Pandorum on DVD, since I missed it on the big screen. Part of me is glad, and doubly glad that it was rented and not bought, but it's not all bad. I actually kinda liked it. I know, I’m clearly aiming for the middle of the fence so far!

The first 30/40 mins, when Ben Foster awakens on a dark, rotting and eerily silent spaceship, his memory foggy and confused, is engrossing, atmospheric and scary as hell. It's not 'jumpy' scary per se - just the thought that of waking up in such a horrible, weird situation really put me on edge. And the scene with Foster crawling through the ships internal, hot and claustrophobic ducts is awful (in a good way!). The true horror comes from the start. And the pulsing shakes of the ships death throes throughout the film add a delicate heartbeat that builds tension.

It’s the ‘mutant’ humans I don’t like. Only because they remind me of the blind mutant antagonists from The Descent. And that’s where the film loses its momentum – I felt I’d seen it before from that point, where the ‘bad guys’ where warped cannibals that had ‘adapted’. Very Hills Have Eyes etc.

Mind you, the twist of the ‘actual’ antagonist does save the plot, and the questions over Foster’s character throughout add something to the film – which I liked.

It’s not an original plot, but its handled well, and it’s a better than average Sci Fi, Horror, Thriller, which opened well and was fun to watch (as a horror fan). And Dennis Quaid was good in it too.

Exciting, if not predictable in parts, with a darkly atmospheric beginning.

3 out of 5 flesh-eating antagonists.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Thousand Sons, by Graham NcNeill - A Review

Right from the start this novel feels that its all about character. The first few chapters do not wholly delve into the heresy, but concentrate fully on the people that will populate this important part of the heresy puzzle. I like the fact that Mr McNeill takes his time to tell the story, which sets up brutal, plot gripping action scenes where you actually care about what happens to these Space Marines - even though you may know the history behind the novel, and the Chapter.

Magnus the Red. I thought little of how he impacted the story of the heresy until now. I have a newfound respect for each of these heretics becuase of the way Mr McNeill creates these potent individuals on paper, bringing the heresy more to life that ever.

One of the strongest points to this novel is the writing. Fast when it needs to be, chilled when it doesn't. Well constructed scenes, great imagery and brilliant descriptions throughout. All of it leads to the howling war at the end, which is captivating, exciting and worth the wait. The comsumate SF novel for the Horus Heresy (yes, even better than Horus Rising and Fulgrim!).

5 out of 5 stars!

Roll on Mr Abnett and the Wolves!

Oh, and when you finish the book, go back and read the prologue again. Trust me.