Pod (2015)

directed by mickey keating
Alexander groupe/high window films/illium pictures

The second feature from director Keating following 2013’s Ritual, this science-fiction hybrid feels like a more fully realized affair. Though it seems to borrow heavily from various sources, it’s as homage rather than imitation – albeit as noted, the ultimate effect is somewhat to resemble The X-Files. Getting all the way to that point, however, is more than half the fun here, as the story’s slow buildup focuses on some familial dynamics, and only in exploiting the well-meaning dismissiveness exhibited toward one sibling by his brother and sister are the realities of their situation revealed. One thing this watcher found exemplary – which other reviewers seem to think a major drawback – is the novel approach taken to fleshing out the details behind the discoveries: None. No explanation is given, no tidy synopsis offered; it’s up to the audience. Personally, I thought this gambit worked perfectly, given the subject matter. The denouement unspools in stages, some of which are surprising (not SHOCKING) and some of which are business as usual. (The makers of Antibirth must have been taking notes, however.)

why did i watch this movie?

I thought 2013’s Ritual was interesting enough an attempt to investigate the director’s successive offerings.

should you watch this movie?

With the understanding that it’s not going to blow the doors off with originality, it’s a good time, replete with suspense, enough frights, and plenty to nettle the squeamish.

highlight and low point

The moments when it dawns on the brother-and-sister tandem that their other brother wasn’t dissembling, delusional or dipsomaniacal are perhaps a tad de rigueur for this type of picture, but it’s a carefully controlled exposition and the payoff is welcome. The ending feels a bit shopworn.

rating from outer space: B−

Evil Dead (2013)

directed by fede Álvarez
filmdistrict/ghost house pictures

Now that Ash vs Evil Dead has run its course, let’s discuss this reboot of the source material, made with the imprimatur of its creative team. (Produced by its principals, in fact.) The new angle taken here is to remove the humor and slapstick elements from “Dead By Dawn” and revert more to the creeping, unsettling nature of the original, ramping up the tension and gore to heretofore unseen levels. Also, the demon and resultant possessions are different this time around, and the characters’ motivations and interactions hew closer to convention as well. Sure, some of these (and other) changes made to the story structure may be questionable – if not predictable – but from the gripping opening sequence onward, first-time director Álvarez keeps one on the edge of his or her seat. An auspicious debut.

why did i watch this movie?

I am an unabashed fan of most everything Evil Dead, and Bruce Campbell assured the fanbase it was a worthy addition to the canon.

should you watch this movie?

Were you to approach this film from the perspective that it’s merely another horror option – irrespective of the fact that it’s THE “Evil Dead,” that is – I believe you would find it satisfying.

highlight and low point

I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the basement of the cabin seems to be much, much larger than would be warranted, and of course the fact that the Naturom Demonto is for some reason sitting down there, on a table. I did not particularly enjoy the ending, although I admit this is perhaps unreasonable given my support of most of the frankly dubious occurrences throughout the many iterations of this saga. In addition, I found a scene where an animal is killed to be unnecessarily cruel, but I always do. (Yes, I realize horror is kind of built on unpleasantries.)

rating from outer space: b

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

directed by j. a. bayona
universal pictures

When was the last time you saw a really dumb Hollywood spectacle? I mean D-U-M-B like Armageddon (renegades fly into space to save the Earth by landing on an asteroid and blowing it up), the 1991 Point Break (Keanu plays FBI agent Johnny Utah infiltrating a gang of bank-robbing Zen surfers), Over the Top (long-haul trucker Sly wins his son’s custody by arm wrestling) … and this one, as should be obvious from this introduction. But how does it rank in the Jurassic hierarchy, you want to know. Well, hmm, let’s see:

  1. The original, obviously.
  2. J-World (2015), which was a pretty honorable reboot of the franchise, even with the podracers gyrospheres and the invention of yet another new dinosaur.
  3. — 5. You decide! The Lost World (1997) was a dispiriting cash-in, a prototypical sequel with superfluous kids and giant invisible dinosaurs; JPIII (2001) was only barely related, an actioner that could’ve been adapted to any series; and there’s this one … which you will probably not be too surprised to hear features yet another new dinosaur created by Science and a whole lotta subplots and setups liberally borrowed from other stupid action flicks.

Yes, it’s true: This picture about cloning and genetically engineering dinosaurs and [REDACTED] doesn’t have an original bone in its body. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Don’t despair, however, because JW: F’in’ Kidding still could be redeemed. If the planned 2021 sequel follows up properly, it could be tremendous – like 28 Days Later, only with dinosaurs! Hell, someone remade Point Break.

why did i watch this movie?

My local MLB team had a day off.

should you watch this movie?

Don’t you have anything better to do?

highlight and low point

The baroque pomposity of the score during a particular “climactic” scene really illuminates the claptrap on display, and the [REDACTED] offers a tantalizing hope for the future of this ridiculous franchise.

rating from outer space: D
Note: Some details omitted because film currently is in theaters