Boss Level (2021)

Boss Level (2021)

The cover to the Australian Bluray release

Film: The whole ‘a day gets repeated over and over again’ is a trope that horror, sci-fi and comedy love. Personally, I think it’s for the opportunity of cheap laughs, showing the protagonist get injured/ die/ kill people over and over again without repercussions. Thankfully it would seem that most filmmakers KNOW it’s a trope that is quite derivative, and that gives them an opportunity to mix up the story a little, like with slasher film Happy Death Day and it’s sequel.

Boss Level is a surprising beast. Directed by Joe Carnahan, who co-wrote the screenplay with Eddie and Chris Borey, Boss Level should be a low budget piece of trash that pushes a ‘new’ action movie stars with a bunch of nobodies… but this stars Frank Grillo from the Marvel movies, and includes Mel Gibson, Maggie Q and Naomi Watts, and is as entertaining as dumb violent action gets.

Grillo and Watts

Boss Level tells of ex-special forces muscle-bound himbo Roy Pulver (Grillo) who wakes up every single day to find a bunch of assassins trying to kill him. Pam (Meadow Williams) tries to shoot him, the German Twins (Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson) try to blow him up, Kaboom (Aaron Beelner ) also tries to blow him up (but with explosives, whereas the German Twins use bazookas), Smiley (Michael Tourek) tries to spear him, Guan Yin (Selina Lo) tries to cut him up… you get the idea: there’s a lot of people out to get him!

‘I am Guan Yin, and Guan Yin has done this!‘

Roy’s problem is, every single one of them have succeeded in killing him, but the second he dies, he wakes up back at the beginning of the day, with all the knowledge that he had been killed over and over again, and no matter how many times he tries to survive.

He does continue to try though (but only after a few depression episodes where he just allows himself to be murdered), and eventually starts to work out that he is very deliberately stuck in this time loop, but what does it have to do with his ex-wife Jemma (Watts) and her boss, Colonel Clive Ventor (Gibson)…

This film, like all these types of films, as I stated earlier, exist to show the funny side to how ridiculous the concept is, and the torture of the lead character is completely for our own amusement, especially when you think he’s achieved something that gets him away from one baddie, only to fall to some other fatal mishap. Let me tell you as well, these are some bloody and violent mishaps too! Roy even talks in a voiceover about how he’d prefer to be shot rather than stabbed because stabbing hurts more!

The mix of actors in this film is great too. Grillo’ s performance is hilarious, action-packed and even tender at times. Watts (who I have a crush on for years) is still a solid support and Gibson’s magical villain is spectacular. The wonderful array of assassins is fun and funny, and they even cop some of the deaths just as bad as Grillo does. Selina Lo’s Guan Yin is a particular highlight and her beauty combined with violent swordsmanship is a grand juxtaposition, and her exclamation whenever she kills is fantastic too.

Honestly there’s not much to NOT like about this film, but it’s essentially like a Fast and the Furious film: you see it for the spectacle rather than an intelligent story. I will say though that it’s sudden sci-fi U-turn is both expected and surprising.

Score: ***

The menu from the Australian Bluray

Extras: None.

Score: 0

WISIA: It was dumb fun, so it’s definitely getting watched again!

This review was done with the Australian 2021 Bluray release.

Guns, guns, guns.

An Adventure in Space and Time (2013)

An Adventure in Space and Time (2013)

Film: Basically, Doctor Who is a third parent of mine. I don’t mean my mum was once an intern in the 60s at the BBC, but instead, he took care of me by being my after school babysitter and also taught me a general sense of right and wrong when I watched him on the ABC as a kid.

My first experience with Doctor Who though wasn’t the TV series but instead the books, when my mum bought me a copy of the novelisation of Death to the Daleks in the 70s and I was immediately hooked. When I then found out it was a TV series on ABC I became immediately enamoured with it. Since then it has always been a part of my life, and I have a sad and tragic collection that includes DVDs, comics, magazines, books, toys, t shirts… Basically everything.

Having read so much about it though I do have a pretty good foundation in knowing when and where the show came from, but imagine my excitement when I discovered that a TV drama was being made of the genesis of my favourite TV show, written by a writer whose work I admire, being League of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss, directed by award winning director Terry McDonough (Wire in the Blood) and starring several actors I like, including Brian Cox (Manhunter), David Bradley (the Harry Potter films)and Jessica Raine (The Woman in Black).

An Adventure in Space and Time is based in the early 60s and tells of then Head of Drama Sydney Newman (Cox) coming up with an idea for a TV show for children called ‘Doctor Who’. He approaches his former production assistant Verity Lanbert (Raine) to be head producer and make the show along with director Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan), but can a Jewish girl and an Indian man create a show when it appears they may have been set up for failure by the old guard of the BBC?

You better believe it!

They employ well known actor Bill Hartnell (Bradley) to play the Doctor and we follow the next three years of production, obviously told in a quite abbreviated matter and look at the key elements of the series’ life in those early days if television, and how Doctor Who went from being something that the BBC didn’t have faith in, to a million viewer show.

With the current huge fan base for Doctor Who, this really was the best way to create a historical document about the origin of the show. Sure, there could have been factual documentary made, but essentially, a lot of the people involved have passed and for the rest it would have been little more than a talking head doco that may not have held too many people’s interest except for die hard fans, like your truly.

Having a drama though, written by post millennium who writer Gatiss, and starring a Harry Potter series favourite was definitely to best way to go to get the younger fans involved. The script is fun and the actors are charismatic enough to make what could be a stodgy story about the old Beeb irreverent and entertaining. I must admit to having somewhat of a crush on Jessica Raine now as well.

The story moves along at a cracking pace and a lot is fit into the time, but it never feels rushed. The departures of Hussein and Lambert seem to happen quite suddenly,  though their absence, along with some of the initial costars does lead to Hartnell’s departure as well.

The story is quite well written as well in the sense that it is a show about a TV series, and yet starts as a story about Lambert yet ends as a tale about Hartnell, without taking a breath. The tale ends with a round up of what each character went on to do with their careers.

A special mention must go to the soundtrack by Edmund Butt (Ed Butt… Brilliant: he should have been a WWE wrestler). It is a wonderful combination of cinematic whimsy with a few winks to Doctor Who, and really suits the production magnificently.

Eagle eyed fans should also keep a look out as there may be an old cast member or two turning up here and there.

I really only have two real criticisms of this production. The first has to do with opportunistic, schmaltzy fan service. In a scene where Hartnell ponders his and the show’s future, we are presented with a phantom of the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith. The populous piece of claptrap exists to make sure the current fans get a look at their Doctor, but to this old fan, it seems to be a disservice to all the other people who have played the part of the Doctor. Am I being over sensitive? Possibly, but it essentially served no other purpose.

The second criticism involves a catastrophic bit of miscasting. Reece Shearsmith is put forward to play a young Patrick Troughton, Hartnell’s replacement of the role of the Doctor. He simply looks terrible in his extraordinarily bad wig, and I feel like he only exists in the role as a favour to Gatiss, the pair of them being ex League of Gentlemen cast mates. Don’t get me wrong, I like Shearsmith, and the role is only brief, but it is like fingernails down a blackboard as he plays it like a pantomime caricature which doesn’t sit well within the well executed acting by the rest of the cast.

The An Adventure is Space and Time DVD looks and sounds great, presented in 16:9 with a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack.

All in all though, and even taking those criticisms into account, this is a thoroughly enjoyable drama about an important part of my life, that is, my adoration a silly science fiction children’s television program, and also is an interesting look at TV production in the 60s, told in an amusing and affectionate manner.

Score: ****

Extras: A great deal of extras for the Who fan here as well:

William Hartnell: the Original looks at William Hartnell’s career with interviews of former cast and crew mates, others Doctors, family members and directors.  It is an affectionate look at his life, and includes some wonderful footage of him in an interview from the 60s.

The Making of an Adventure is a good old fashioned making of, though it is hosted by actor Carole Ann Ford, who played Susan, the original Doctor’s granddaughter. It is a combination of a documentary about the original series, and a making of this production.

Reconstructions is a series of recreations of scenes from the original series. They are really clever and include all the faults, dialogue mistakes and miscues of the originals, and also act as deleted scenes (though there are a few of those as well). They include Scenes from An Unearthly Child, Regenerations, Farewell to Susan and Festive Greeting.

The Title Sequences compares the actual original title sequence from Who with the replica titles from this production.

There are also two deleted scenes: the The Radiophonic Workshop and Verity ‘s Leaving Party.

A special mention must also go to the menus and the accompanying leaflet. The artwork on the cover is a recreation of the first Doctor Who Annual. The leaflet itself contains photos from the production, a drawing if William Hartnell as the Doctor and a few Daleks, and an introduction from writer Mark Gatiss.

Score: ****

WISIA: As a dedicated Who nut I found this extraordinary, though a non Who fan may not be as impressed, I doubt though they could not enjoy the production in itself, as it is well written and a lot of fun. Having said that, it may not have the water to regularly rewatch!

Planet of the Vampires aka Terrore Nello Spazio (1965)

Planet of the Vampires aka Terrore Nello Spazio (1965)

20 years ago this came out!!

Film: There is no doubt that director Mario Bava is truly the Godfather of Italian cinema. Able to dance between genres like a ballet dancer at breakdance school, he did everything from horror to westerns, from historical to sci-fi proving himself to be a master of cinema.

American International Pictures hit a few home runs with the Bava films Black Sunday and Black Sabbath (as well as some other non-Bava Italian films) and were looking to invest more heavily in the production of films so they could have the rights in the USA. Planet of the Vampires was one such collaboration and is based on the short story, One Night of 21 Hours by Renata Pestriniero, originally published in Interstellar Science Fiction Magazine. The screenplay was adapted by Bava, along with Ib Melchior, Alberto Bevilacqua, Castillo Consulich, Antonio Román, Rafael J. Salvia and Louis M. Hayward.

Angry astronauts attack!

So, do many hands make light work, or did too many cooks spoil the broth?

Planet of the Vampires sees the deep space vessels Argos and Galliot answer a distress call on the planet Aura. As the ships descend into the atmosphere, a high gravity pressure forces the crews into unconsciousness, only finding themselves acting temporarily violently upon awakening.

When the ships land, the only person unaffected by the temporarily is the captain of the Argos, Captain Markary, who, after his crew come to their senses, organise a team to search the strange alien landscape for the Galliot.

The finest in astronautical fashion and equipment!

When they find the Galliot, they discover the entire crew has killed each other and so all are buried, only to come back to life and attack the surviving crew. What is causing the crew to return to life though, and what happened to the gigantic alien race whose crashed spaceship seems to have suffered the same fate…?

Essentially, this is more or less a stock standard sci-fi film of the 50s but with a little bit of blood and gore… I mean, a LITTLE bit… but it’s notoriety comes from the influence it had on films like Alien and Prometheus, and if I may throw a little suggestion in their as well, Event Horizon and Lifeforce, but not to the same extent.

Bava’ s use of studios for the planet’s exteriors make for a bizarre looking alien world that does use his amazing skill of depth of field using lights and forced perspective, and should be included in any film schools education repertoire.

The costuming is a highlight though because it’s out of this world (wink wink)!! The best way to describe the main suits of the astronauts would be… um… ok, imagine if Hugo Boss has designed the SS uniform based on Kiss-Ass’s superhero suit/ wetsuit, but with 70s shirt collars flipped up like a polo on a frat boy. Yep. Nailed it.

Ultimately it’s 50s sci-fi made in the 60s. It’s quaint and it’s fine but I wish I’d watched Alien again instead! Or Lifeforce.

Or Event Horizon.

Hell, even Prometheus!

Score: **1/2

Planet of the Vampires Menu Screen.

Format: I had a weird revelation whilst watching this DVD in that it’s 20 years old.

Yep. This release from MGM’s Midnite Movies brand is 20 years old at the time of this review, and for a DVD that old, it’s 1.85:1 image and mono audio wasn’t too bad. It’s not brilliant, but it was watchable and the audio was clear.

Score: ***

Extras: A trailer, and that’s it.

Score: *

WISIA: Like I said, I wish I’d watched Alien again.

SHOCK! HORROR!

Gigant Volume 1

Gigant Volume 1

Sometimes creators occasionally seems to like to say about a new product they are releasing is that it is ‘above genres’ or ‘can’t be classified’. Usually, you’ll read about that is the now-defunct comics magazine Wizard, or Fangoria, which even once had a section of their magazine called ‘It’s Not A Horror Movie’ due to the amount of time creators would think that they could make their project more legitimate by giving it some kind of weasel word like ‘horror-adjunct’ or ‘it’s a gore-thriller’.

Well those people shouldn’t have been entering their films into a magazine dedicated to horror, and usually, in the Wizard articles, the ‘new take on super heroes’ would result in a super hero comic.

I’ve discovered recently that the REAL unclassifiable stories come from Jason and Korea in the form of manga, and that managkas, or comic creators if you will, really make comics that are unclassifiable. if you are in Sydney, you can visit a big book store called Kinokuniya, who have a MASSIVE Manga section, and realistically, the only genre split is ‘General’ and ‘Adult’.

… and in the ‘Adult’ section was where I found this manga, Gigant.

Gigant is created by the mangaka Hiroya Oku, the creator of manga/ anime series Gantz, a story about a mysterious black sphere who takes people from the point of their deaths and subjects them to a trail where they fight horrible demons and Inuyashiki, story of an old man whose body is accidentally destroyed by aliens, so they provide him a cybernetic battle body.

Yep, Oku is an interesting guy, and if you think those stories sound nuttier than squirrel poo, well, sit down, strap in and grit your teeth because this story is off the freaking charts.

Gigant tells of young wanna-be filmmaker, Rei Yokoyamada who discovers that porn star, Chiho ‘PaPiCo’ Johansson has moved into her neighbourhood whilst removing slanderous poster put up in the streets near their house, and due to his kindness, they developed a friendship.

One day, Chiho find an old man in a helmet, a backpack and a pair of Y-fronts who is injured lying the the street. She goes to assist when he slaps a strange watch-like device on her wrist, and then turns into a ventriloquist dummy.

Very quickly she finds out that the device has the ability to grow to ‘Gigant’-ic sizes and burst out of her clothes, which her porn movie producers quickly incorporate into her films. If this wasn’t enough of an upset to her life, her boyfriend gets increasingly jealous about her relationship with Rei, and they break up after he assaults Rei, no she has to use her powers to save him.

Another weird thing is happening whilst Chiho’s life has been turned upside down. A website called Enjoy the End has become popular: it’s schtick? It has a series of questionnaires that people can vote on, the options being increasingly bizarre options…. but they come true.

Faeces falls from the sky like rain and an earthquake occurs because they were voted on… does it have anything to do with Chiho’s weird device?

Well, it’s only volume one so I guess I won’t find out for a while.

Oku’s art and story are both extraordinarily sexy and violent at the same time. His art is exquisitely beautiful, and obtuse, with some bizarre traces of realism that remind me of Western comic artist John Byrne’s addition of real photos into his work occasionally.

I’m going to say that this is an intriguing comic that has piqued my interest, and I’ll definitely be buying the next issue.

Score: ****

Board Game Review: Cthulhu Gloom

Cthulhu Gloom

Gloom is a card game created by Keith Baker and published in 2004; its an amusing game where the players have a tableau of cards, representing ‘their’ family, and require a desire to kill them, but not without making them suffer first… sound like your cup of poisoned tea? The general gaming populous must have also decided as it was their cup of tea as well, as it has five expansions, and three themed decks, Gloom in Space (a sci-fi version), Gloom of Thrones (a Game of Thrones version) and this one, Cthulhu Gloom, based very loosely on the work of horror/ sci-fi author Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

The way a person wins this game is by having the lowest, negative score possible, which is done by having awful events happen to your family of cards, and then killing them whilst at their lowest. A player cannot ‘kill’ one of their family members if they don’t have a negative score, so the other players must provide good events on their opponents families to stop them from being able to kill them off. The first person to kill their entire family wins.

Seriously, Gloom the movie would potentially be hilarious.

The rules of this game are very simple. In front of each player is a selection of cards representing members of a family, and each player has a hand of 5 cards and on each turn, can perform 2 actions: play cards to their or other’s families, following any or all instructions upon those cards, or discard cards, drawing more cards up to the starting hand of five at the end of each turn.

The cards you’ll mostly be playing are cards that add or subtract points from each character, which is how the game is won: by having the lowest possible score. You can also throw an ‘untimely death’ card onto a character, which is how you can either make points for yourself, or beat another player by stopping a character from ‘earning’ more misfortune, as there is nothing worse than death… right?

The really amazing thing about this game is that the cards are all transparent so when you are playing a card, the negative points act as an overlay, which means every negative or positive that can be seen accumulate to make your score, and you can drop the score of another player by giving fortune cards which have positive points which may cover the players negatives point score.

The most fun can be had with this game by actually reading aloud some of the misfortunes that happen, like ‘minced by Mi-Go’, will occasionally bring a smile to everyone’s faces, especially those who are familiar with Lovecraft’s work.

Atlas Games are obviously aware of some of the unfortunate opinions of when Lovecraft wrote his stories, and so some characters have been give Mad Magazine styled alter-egos so as not to offend.

All in all, Gloom is a fun game for a quick throw around or a games night party-starter, and those who love a Lovecraft theme (like me) this game is an entertaining distraction that can still be macabre fun in an Addam’s Family style for those who aren’t fans of his work.

Score: ***

The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

One from the to watch pile…

The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

The Bluray cover to The Dead Don’t Die

Film: Until watching The Dead Don’t Die, I had only ever seen one film by independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, and that was way back with 2003’s Coffee and Cigarettes, which was because I am a fan of the White Stripes, of whom members Jack and Meg White appear, and Steve Coogan, as I am a fan of both Alan Partridge and the hilarious English comedy, The Parole Officer. Now I haven’t avoided his work, as I quite like Coffee and Cigarettes, it’s just that there is always something else I would RATHER watch. I have seen that he regularly has quite extreme reviews, which is interesting, but just never got around to watching his output. Something I guess I should correct.

This film, The Dead Don’t Die, is clearly a tribute to George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and the style of the film feels very much like that classic horror, as well as having more obvious tips-of-the-hat, like the make of a particular car and a reference to Pittsburgh. It also echoes Romero’s work with what seems to be a commentary on consumerism, and the fact the zombies emulate there ‘living’ versions, and has several obvious jokes, like the RZA’s delivery man character works for ‘Wu-PS’, or Steve Buscemi’s scathing MAGA hat.

The loveable constabulary of Centerville: Adam Driver and Bill Murray

It’s a regular day in the town of Centerville, and Police Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) are going about their regular business, though for some reason they have noticed that the day seems to be going longer… even for daylight savings!

The news has been reporting on excess fracking in the Arctic and Antarctic circles, which may cause the earth the alter it’s position on its axis, which is cause daylight to no longer match up with our man-made construct of time.

To make matters worse, a double-murder has occurred and Peterson’s suggestion of zombies being the cause, very quickly comes true! The cops, along with another officer, Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) decide to patrol the streets of their undead ridden town, whilst the local oddball mortician and apparent ninja, Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton) mans the radio but then starts doing something weird on the computer… is she behind everything, is it something more sinister, or just completely unrelated? Will our heroes survive?

Tilda Swinton as… are you ready… Zelda Winston: the mortician with a secret

It’s a weird bird, this movie, as it’s the calmest damned zombie movie you’ll ever see, that’s also funny, completely off the wall and has a few of the most bizarre fourth wall breaks you’ll see this side of a Deadpool movie.

The zombie make up is very tradition and done well. Their executions, on the other hand, are magnificent! Instead of the usual bloody explosions when heads are shot and streams of blood and gore when they are decapitated, Jarmusch instead goes for an almost supernatural waft of dust, which is really effective!

The soundtrack by Sqürl, Jarmusch’s band, has this wonderful hypnotic drone about it that suits the film brilliantly. As soon as I can I’ll be adding this soundtrack to my record collection.

As I said previously, the influence of Romero and 80s horror sits heavily on the chest of this film, and Dawn of the Dead’s message the dead conveying what they wanted in life makes for some funny moments (Sara Driver and Iggy Pop’s Coffee Zombies being a highlight) and a particularly tragic one too. There’s heaps of great in-jokes too…a few Star Wars digs aimed at Adam Driver are particularly funny.

This is an interesting zombie film that is completely atypical to any zombie movie made before it. I will say though that I found myself thinking a lot of the Spierig Bros movie Undead, which would possibly play well as a double feature.

Score: ***1/2

The menu screen for The Dead Don’t Die

Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian released Bluray which was presented in a perfect 1.78:1 image with a matching DTS-HD 5.1 audio.

Score: *****

Extras: There is the grand total of three extras on this disc:

Bill Murray: Zombie Hunting Action Star is a minuscule interview where he talks about Zombieland typecasting him into a zombie hunting action hero.

Stick Together asks the question ‘why would a Jim Jarmusch zombie movie exist?

Behind the Scenes of The Dead Don’t Die has 6 mini… and I mean MINI… features about the making of the film.

Score: **

WISIA: There is a lot happening here so yes, definitely will be watched over and over.

Fashion Zombies! Kill ‘em in the head!

Countdown (2019)

One from the to watch pile…

Countdown (2019)

Film: As a movie obsessive and technically a hoarder, I’m always looking for a new movie to buy, and if something cheap or unusual crosses my path I’m willing to give it a go.

I found this film, Countdown, at a local retailer and honestly it caught my eye for no reason other than I thought it was a collection of episodes of the Jimmy Carr comedy games how 8 Out of Ten Cats Does Countdown.

It’s obviously not, but I just saw the word ‘Countdown’ and became excited.

What we have here though is a film written and directed by Justin Dec, and starring Once Upon a Time’s Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway from Riverdale and Black Lightning, and Peter Facinelli, best known as Maxwell Lord from the Supergirl Tv series, or Carlisle from the Twilight saga, which owes a LOT to both j-horror and the Final Destination series.

Our story tells of a student nurse, Quinn Harris (Lail) who meets a patient who has downloaded an app which predicts his death, and that he claims is responsible for the death of his girlfriend. Quinn tells her co-workers and some of them download it, finding that they have multiple decades to live, but Quinn’s phone tells her she has 2 days, 22 hours, 37 minutes and 12 seconds left to live.

Whilst it unnerves her, she doesn’t think to much of it until she does some research and finds it has a history, and that it can’t be deleted off her phone, and even when she replaces her phone… the app finds its way back.

Upon buying a new phone, she meets Matt Monroe (Calloway) who is also haunted by the app and together they discover that they violated the Terms and Conditions on the app and that’s why they have such little time left.

They seek the assistance from a priest, Father John (P. J. Rourke) who tells them the app is actually a curse put on them, and they attempt to seek a resolution…. but how many people will die…?

This film owes a lot of what it is to the tension found in films like the j-horror classics Ring, The Grudge, one Missed Call and even the American film series Final Destination, but with pretty solid storytelling, and engaging cast and a generic, albeit well-designed ‘bad guy’, it doesn’t feel like it just attempted to copy them flat out.

It does contain a few American jump scares, but they aren’t ‘cat in a cupboard’ ones. Also, there are some creepy scenes that even made me cringe… having to unlock a phone by holding it up to a corpses face will sit with me for a while, for sure and there is a foot trauma scene that I can barely even think about.

All in all, this film was a lot of fun, scary and creepy, and for a blind buy I was pleasantly surprised.

Note: make sure you wait in the credits to see the Tinder date mentioned earlier in the film by the phone shop manager.

Score: ****

Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian, region B Bluray release and was presented in a perfect 2.40:1 image with a matching DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio.

Score: *****

Extras: No extras for you!

Score: 0

WISIA: Even though this film was reminiscing of other horror franchises I found it totally engaging and will definitely watch it again.

I Kill Giants (2017)

One from the to watch pile…

I Kill Giants (2017)

Film: Having a site called ‘The To Watch Pile’ means I need to make sure I watch as many new films as possible… well, not necessarily ‘new’ but certainly ones I haven’t seen before. My ACTUAL to-watch pile is ridiculously large and is spread across my house, filling a footrest and a whole cabinet under my TV. I know that a lot of this is going to be pretty awful, and as a devout movie fan. I’m happy to torture myself with silly stuff. I also know that occasionally I’m going to find a gem amongst the manure.

.. and this is one of them.

I Kill Giants was written by Joe Kelly and is based on the limited series comic made by him along with Ken Niimura which was published by Image Comics between 2008 and 2009. It was directed by Anders Walter, who win an Academy Award for his 2013 short film Helium.

I Kill Giants tells of 12 year old Barbara (Madison Wolfe), an extraordinarily strange girl who walks to the beat of her own drum, resisting normalcy no matter what her sister, Karen (Imogen Poots) asks if her, no matter what the school psychologist, Mrs. Mollé (Zoe Saldana) says and especially no matter what school bully, Taylor (Rory Jackson) does to her, and she seems to have an incredible strength that rises her above all this.

This is because Barbara has a secret: she is the sole defence for her town against the constant threat of giants. Giants that no one else can see.

Barbara has covered the town with protective runes, and has many wards and symbols that help her in her goal, and she also enlists new neighbour Sophie (Sydney Wade), but this causes a problem… Sophie can’t see what it is that Barbara says she can, and is concerned that perhaps Barbara isn’t quite mentally well, and maybe that disbelief will cause Barbara to lose her powers against the giants…

An ambiguous synopsis? You better believe it. Honestly I’ve watched the film twice as of this writing and I am still not quite sure if Barbara can see these mythical creatures or not, and I think that perhaps that ambiguity really makes the film something special.

It’s not just the ambiguity of Kelly’s script though, it’s also the acting skill of the cast, both the established older actors and the children. This whole film hangs on the talent of Wolfe and she not only rises to the occasion, she nails every scene she is in. In particular, there is one scene where she is being challenged by the psychologist and goes from distracted to tears no naturally it’s astounding.

The other small rise to the occasion too. You forget that Saldana has amazing talent now that she is a blockbuster sweetheart, and I have to say her characters husband is played by Noel Clarke was a nice surprise, me being a Doctor Who fan. Imogen Poots also kicks goals with her role as the sister who is trying to keep her family together after a family tragedy (which is an underlying theme of the plot) and her frustrations are almost palpable.

Walter has created a beautifully designed film too. The constant dark and oppressive sky doesn’t just set a tone of potential danger, and reflect Both Barbara’s real and fantastic situations, it also acts as somewhat of a cover for the films giants, which beautifully fit into the landscape.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this film, and I have to say I was surprised by what I did get: an engaging quasi-fantasy film that played an amazing song upon my heartstrings.

Score: ****

Format: This film was reviewed on the Umbrella Entertainment R4 NTSC DVD which runs for approximately 106 minutes. It is presented in 2.35:1 image which is great, and a decent audio, running on Dolby 5.1. I did have the sound lose sync on two occasions, but I have been assured by Umbrella Entertainment that this has not been a common complaint.

Score: ****

Extras: Seems to be a common thing with Umbrella DVDs these days, but no extras.

Score: 0

WISIA: I did enjoy this film, very much, but I think it would lose some of its magic with a rewatch, so I thunk I’ll leave it where it is.

Krull (1983)

One from the to watch pile, even though it’s technically a rewatch, though I haven’t seen the film since it’s first release on VHS in the 80s…

Krull (1983)

Film: I am terribly sorry to those of you who love the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings/ Hobbit films, but they aren’t for me. I don’t like ‘em. Sure they are technological achievements in cinema and Jackson fulfilled a lifelong dream, but they are just so looooooooooooooong, and boring.

Yep. Boring.

What I want from a fantasy film is expediency in storytelling, a story that tells a Dungeons and Dragon styled ‘bunch of rogues versus impossible evil’ tale, a pile of violence, and maybe, just maybe, boobs.

Krull was directed by Peter Yates, who directed things like The Deep, An Innocent Man and Eyewitness, from a script by Stanford Sherman, who wrote a whole bunch of episodes of the Batman TV show from the 60s, and honestly, that possibly shows with this movie.

Krull tells of the occupants of the planet called… Krull! Krull has a scourge on its surface though in the form of the Beast (voiced by Trevor Martin), and his constantly teleporting vehicle/ castle/ meteor The Black Fortress.

On the evening of the wedding of opposing kingdoms Colwyn (Ken Marshall) and his bride, Lyssa (Lysette Anthony), The Beast attacks and everyone is killed, except for Colwyn, and Lyssa is kidnapped. With everyone from both sides of the family killed, Colwyn in now the king of a united kingdom, but has no army.

So, he travels across the land, collecting a band of miscreants, including a cyclops who is cursed to see his own death (Bernard Bresslaw), a wizard (David Battley), an elderly seer (Freddie Jones) and a gang of escaped convicts (including Robbie Coltrane, Liam Neeson and Alun Armstrong with several others) overcoming many obstacles and adventures until they finally find themselves at the gates of The Black Fortress, ready to save the princess trapped inside.

So, yes, what you see here is the classic fantasy story with all the tropes, like kidnapped princess, evil bad guy, ragtag gang of heroes, charming male lead, that has been used in everything from Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, to Star Wars and even video games, and Krull doesn’t try to rise above and challenge those lofty themes.

The world of Krull, like Star Wars, is a wholly fantasy one that exists outside of any Earthly timeline… perhaps it too, is a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… though it appears to be set in a D&D styled environment, with a little sci-fi thrown in for good measure.

As I mentioned, the script is as one would expect. It’s camp and attempts a Shakespearean styled dialogue even though what they are saying is melodramatic claptrap… which I guess is perfectly Shakespearean! Thankfully the performances are solid, and the direction and cinematography is amazing. The exterior shots are impressive long shots which show amazing scenery, and the smaller scenes and interiors, all filmed in a soundstage a Pinewood Studios incredibly, look fine.

The special effects are occasionally clunky, but it’s to be expected. In actual fact some of them are quite effective, like the stop-motion crystal spider and even the cyclops’s prosthetic eye, though Bresslaw’s lack of vision is occasionally apparent when he has trouble manipulating objects.

There is also a couple of effects which are surprisingly gruesome for a G rated film, especially in regards to the Beast’s appearance, and the fact that his H. R. Giger-ish soldier’s head split open and release a bloody worm that burrows into the ground.

Krull is a fun rollicking adventure that you can watch with the kids. Sure it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s charm outweighs how derivative it might appear.

Score: ***1/2

Format: This bluray release of Krull from Umbrella Australia is presented in a 2.35:1 image with a Dolby DTS 5.1 audio, both of which are really nice for a film that’s 30 years old.

Score: *****

Extras: There’s a nice mix of extras on this disc.

We have two commentaries (found under the ‘Audio’ selection rather than in the extras). One is a cast and crew commentary performed by director Peter Yates and performers Ken Marshall and Lysette Anthony and another labelled a ‘Behind the Scenes’ Commentary, which features a reading taken from Cinefantastique, a now deceased sci-fi magazine.

In the regular Extras section, there is a trailer for the film, Journey to Krull, a half hour TV special on the making of the film and finally, a look at the Marvel Comics Movie Special of Krull, which came out in 1982 (Marvel Comics, in the 80s, and after the success of the comics of both Star Wars and to a lesser extent, 2001:A Space Odyssey, was doing heaps of comic adaptations of films, some of which became regular series’s, like the aforementioned Star Wars and The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones). This feature shows panels of the comic with dialogue from the film played over the top.

The cover is also reversible: one side has new art from Simon Sherry and the other has the original poster art from the 80s.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: Now that it’s back under my nose, I’m sure I’ll have no problem putting it in again when I feel like a nice easy watch.

The To Watch Pile’s GoFund Me campaign

You may have heard, like Arnò above, that running a website isn’t free. I don’t mind that either as the To Watch Pile is a passion project and I enjoy doing it cost is something that can accompany ANY hobby.

I want to change things up a little though, and start a comic related podcast, and extend my YouTube stuff up a bit more, but need equipment to do so, and unfortunately I DON’T have the capitol for it.

So, I have started a GoFund Me Page to try and acquire better cameras, microphones and stuff so I can make more content for you to enjoy.

I can’t offer anything in return, but just a bit of spare change thrown towards the TWP will not just keep the doors open a bit longer, but also give me an opportunity to make more engaging content, maybe even with an occasional co-contributor!

The link for the page is right here: https://www.gofundme.com/keep-the-to-watch-pile-website-afloat?pc=ot_co_dashboard_a&rcid=e28632772b5242a08151aafce5b9b0a0