May 22, 2015

Theatrical Review: Ex Machina (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0470752/
(aka sEx Machina)
Release Date: April 24th.
Country: USA.
Rating: R.
Written by: Alex Garland.
Directed by: Alex Garland. 
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, and Sonoya Mizuno.

We saw Ex Machina weeks ago, and here I am still sitting on the review, trying to figure out how I feel about the movie.

On one hand, it's a stunning piece of work that had us totally immersed in its world from start to finish, and it left us wanting more, in a very good way. On the other, I'm wondering if it used its stunning visuals and effective atmosphere to preach to me about feminism, sexism, or some sort of other ism that I don't particularly want to be preached to about.

Maybe I'm just over-thinking it way too much.That's probably it.

Nathan is a billionaire tech genius, who created the world's biggest search engine, Bluebook. He lives in a secluded compound in the mountains, where he's developing the world's first humanoid AI in the form of a sexy robot named Ava. He also has a hot robot sex slave, so he may be sexist or something. At least that's what Twitter will probably tell you.

NO ONE UNDERSTANDS HOW HARD IT IS TO BE A BILLIONAIRE.
Caleb is a mousy tech geek who works as a programmer for Bluebook. He's chosen by Nathan to visit the mysterious compound for a week to test Ava, in an effort to discover whether or not the AI has a consciousness, or feelings, or something. Of course given the fact that Ava is gorgeous, and that Caleb is an awkward computer geek with limited social skills, he instantly falls in love with her.

"LEAVE ME ALONE, MOTHER, I'M ON LEAVE NINE!"
Ava is a robot girl just trying to make it in a human world. She's smart, sexy, and all she really wants out of "life" is to be loved. Then again, she's not to thrilled about being locked in a room with no freedom, or about the idea of her maker eventually destroying her, so she probably wants a bit more than just love.

NOTHING UNSETTLING ABOUT HER AT ALL. NOPE.
Will Ava pass the AI test, and prove that she is more than just a robot? Will Nathan's ego be the death of them all? Can a man like Caleb bang a hot robot, and not be considered a complete creep?I don't know about those first two questions, but as for the last one, there are plenty of creepy dudes out there who have relationships with rubber dolls, so, why not? Love is love, man!

THAT ABOUT SUMS IT UP.
Visually stunning, foreboding, and smart, Ex Machina is a haunting as it is sincere. It's also fairly creepy, given its subject matter. It's also kind of sexy in a way, which makes us feel kind of creepy even saying that... so overall, I think it's safe to say that this is a a pretty effective movie, on a few different levels.

From his start as a writer on Danny Boyle flicks like 28 Days Later and Sunshine, to his PERFECT script for Dredd (yes, we said perfect), we've long been fans of Alex Garland. One more time... Dredd was FUCKING PERFECT!

Ahem.

For a first time directorial effort, Alex Garland shows that he is indeed a man of great vision, and even style. Maybe it's because he grew up under the tutelage of Danny Boyle (that guy is pretty great too) that he has such a way with words, and can tell such great stories. Makes sense to us. Whatever it is though, Alex Garland is going to be the go-to guy for serious Sci-Fi movies for a long time to come. 

LIQUID AI, OR BREAST IMPLANT? YOU DECIDE.
Ex Machina is definitely one of those movies that asks us deep questions, chief amongst them: What does it mean to be human? It also asks us how creepy is it to bang a robot, and are there any billionaires out there that don't have some sort of misguided God Complex, but the humanity question is the important one. Whatever the questions though, this movie poses them in a fairly unsettling way; there really wasn't one moment of this movie that didn't feel like there was an impending sense of doom hanging over its characters, human or otherwise.

This movie also boasts some great performances. Oscar Issac has already proven himself a solid actor with roles in movies like Inside Llewyn Davis and A Most Violent Year, but he's about to star in new Star Wars and X-Men flicks, which is probably going to bump him to A-list overnight. His performance in Ex Machina only serves to strengthen his already impressive resume.

Domhnall Gleeson (son of Brendan) is no slouch either, both in general, and in this movie. He's got a vulnerable, likable quality about him that was a perfect fit for the Caleb role. He's also going to be starring in a new Star Wars movie too... coincidence? I don't think so. As for Alicia Vikander, she was pretty damned inspired playing inhuman in this one, and we'll be looking forward to seeing more of her soon.

THIS SCENE RIGHT HERE...
BEWARE, HUGE ENDING SPOILERS!

What was with the ending? Are you telling me that after everything that Caleb did to help Ava, that she's just going to leave him to die trapped in that escape-proof house, without as much as a second thought? She obviously failed the empathy portion of the Turing test.

She played them all!

STONE COLD.
Why is there still no Dredd sequel?

With Ex Machina having stirred the souls of just about every critic on the planet, Alex Garland is a critical darling in every sense of the word now...   so really, someone giving him some money to make the sequel that fans are rabidly clamoring for, seems like a no-brainer to us.

Are you honestly telling me that Netflix can spend $100 million on a bore-fest like Marco Polo, but they can't pony up a measly $50 million to fund a sequel to what may be the most under-appreciated Sci-Fi/Action flick of our times?

Garland creates it, Netflix finances it, they actually run a strong Ad Campaign for it this time around, and then they release it wide. The end result? It makes its budget back theatrically, it sells millions on Blu-ray & DVD, and after all of that, it streams exclusively on Netflix, which strengthens its brand even further.

Take back the money that you sunk into that ill-advised partnership with Adam Sandler, Netflix, and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

WE MISS YOU, JD.
There are a few bloody scenes in this one, but tension was way more the focus here than gore was.

DOES THIS REMIND ANYONE ELSE OF THEY LIVE? EVEN A LITTLE BIT?
Full-frontal robot nudity.

SEE? SHE'S COMPLETELY NAKED.
Playing God never ends well. Also, robots have feelings too. Fake feelings, but they have them.

"SSH. JUST LET IT HAPPEN."
Ex Machina is one of the best Sci-Fi movies that we've seen in years. We loved the quiet and graceful way that the movie's story unfolded as much as we did it's breathtaking visuals. We even didn't mind that it made us think a little bit, as that is never a bad thing.

If you can, go see this one in theaters now, as it's the perfect kind of movie to see on a big screen. If it's not playing anywhere near you, then be sure to catch it when it hits Blu-ray and VOD.

A-

Ex Machina is still in a few theaters now, and will be hitting Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD in July. You can pre-order it below.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XI057M0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00XI057M0&linkCode=as2&tag=thehorclu0a-20&linkId=GAW2QLOGWT7UUORC


Alicia Vikander and Sonoya Mizuno are just about as sexy as robots get.

May 20, 2015

DVD Review: White Settlers (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2883352/
The whole premise of this movie doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.

I guess that I personally don't get how someone could get justifiably angry with people moving to their country and buying homes and property that they themselves can't afford. I mean I get why they'd be angry, but it's not someone else's fault that you can't afford something and they can.

I suppose the fact that this movie came out right before the big referendum for Scottish Independence might explain its plot devices away, but if that is the case, then it makes it even worse in a way.

A posh couple decides that they want to live a quieter and less expensive life than the one they have in London, so they move to Scotland, and get themselves a nice little house on a gorgeous piece of land.

Even though the previous owner had plenty of family, the bank took possession of the house when he died, because apparently none of them could afford it. So of course here come two rich, idiot Londoners (and I say idiot, because they act like idiots) to grab it right out from under the family who it has belonged to for generations... which probably doesn't make them very happy.

YEAH, THEY'RE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO BE HAPPY AT ALL.
The first night in the house, the wife begins to hear all sorts of odd noises, which the husband chalks up to her being being a stupid idiot. She grows more and more unnerved as the night goes on, which hubby again chalks up to her being a stupid idiot. When men in pig masks show up, break into the house, and begin attacking the couple, it's revealed that it's actually the husband who is the stupid idiot.

Home invasion and racism between white people ensues.

WHY DO THEY ALWAYS WALK ON THE ROAD WHEN TRYING TO ESCAPE? STICK TO THE TREES, THEY PROVIDE COVER!
It feels a bit disingenuous and forced at times, but overall, White Settlers is a pretty decent Home Invasion Thriller. The movie does a good job of building intensity and maintaining a creepy atmosphere throughout. Visually and atmospherically, this movie works really well.

Scotland is also a gorgeous country, and this movie captures a lot of its scenery beautifully.

I'D GLADLY LIVE THERE.
Just once I'd like to see the characters in one of these Backwoods Horror flicks not act like complete assholes.

The husband in this movie not only makes light of the previous owner's death in front of the real estate agent (who has been looking at them like they're evil interlopers the whole time to begin with), but then throughout the rest of the movie, he's nothing but a dick to his wife, calling her stupid, telling her she's an idiot.... and she just takes it.

And what's with having front doors that only open and lock with keys? It's 2015, Europe, ever hear of deadbolts?

NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO TAKE A BREATHER!
BEWARE ENDING SPOILERS!

So basically, the "bad guys" terrorize and brutalize the couple, and end up driving them back to London and leaving them there bound and gagged as if to say "don't come back." Alright, but then they all move into the couple's house, where it's revealed that it belonged to their family, and so they've "reclaimed" it for themselves... and that's really supposed to be it?

Wouldn't they assume that the Cops would show up and arrest them all, seeing as how they're illegally occupying a house that someone else paid for, not to mention attacked them in order to force them out?

And if the couple killed one of the attackers, why were they driven back to London instead of being killed in the first place?

Some parts of this movie just felt like they were not thought through at all.

"OH, YOU MUST BE THE ASSHOLES FROM LONDON!"
One guy ends up getting brained, there's an incident with a bear trap, and a few other people get cut up a bit. Really though, there's not a lot of blood or overly brutal violence in this movie.

No nudity, but there is one scene that involved the couple "seducing" each other in the woods.

People in Scotland are arseholes. Also, so are posh people who move from London to Scotland. Who knew?

LOOKS LIKE THE STUPID IDIOT WAS RIGHT AFTER ALL, HUH?
White Settlers is a decent movie that packs a lot of atmosphere and some genuine scares into its short runtime (less than 80 minutes, actually), but it's also a movie that has annoying characters and some pretty silly plot turns. I guess it was supposed to make a statement about how Scots hate the British immigrating to their land or something, but most of that was lost on us, because we're ignorant Americans.

C-

If you're really dying to see this movie, you could order it through Amazon UK, and have it imported. For most people though, it''s probably best to wait until it hits a VOD platform near you, and avoid the hassle.

Pollyanna McIntosh is pretty in a very unconventional way.

May 19, 2015

Blu-ray & DVD: The Digital Dread Report for May 19th

A pair of outlaws, Sam Peckinpah's final film, poltergeists, a possession, and a pack of flesh-hungry zombie beavers... this is The Digital Dread Report for May 19th!

*Read on, and be sure to click the pics to order whatever strikes your fancy.

harley
"Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, Sin City) and Don Johnson (A Boy and His Dog, TV’s “Miami Vice”) rev their engines and flex their muscles in the full-throttle action movie Harley Davidson and The Marlboro Man, finally available on Blu-Ray from Shout! Factory."

As "Buddy Action" movies go, it doesn't get much better than Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. Watching Don Johnson and Mickey Rourke acting cool and kicking ass was one of the best times that we had in theaters back in 1991, and this disc will be getting plenty of play in our machines from here on out, whenever we need an action fix.

The bottom line is that this movie rocks, and we're thrilled to damn death that it's finally coming out on Blu-ray.

osterman
"The host of an investigative news show is convinced by the CIA that the friends he has invited to a weekend in the country are engaged in a conspiracy that threatens national security in this adaptation of the Robert Ludlum novel."

The last movie of the great Sam Peckinpah's career, and considered by many to be his worst, we have an odd affection for The Osterman Weekend. In all fairness, we probably love this one so much because we saw it when we were like 8, and what the hell does anyone know about quality at 8-years-old?

It's hardly a perfect movie, but it boasts one hell of a cast, and it reminds us of the Thrillers that we grew up on. Because it is one.

This isn't a movie that we'd recommend as a blind buy for most people, but it is one that we love, none the less. 

polter
"Ghosts!"

Poltergeist fanatics, rejoice!

With the remake nearly here, MGM has decided to re-release Poltergeist 2 and 3 on Blu-ray, both separately, and in this handy little 2-Pack. We never cared all that much for the sequels, but there will no doubt be plenty of people looking to revisit these classic (?) sequels before venturing out to see the remake.

More power to them.

stigmata
"A lost soul has just received the wounds of Christ... and a shocking message that will alter history. Stunning performances from Patricia Arquette (TV's Medium, True Romance) and Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects) and a cutting-edge score by Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins and Elia Cmiral make Stigmata "a visual and visceral feast" (Entertainment Today)!"

As possession movies go, Stigmata is definitely one of the better ones. It's stylish, creepy, and Gabriel Byrne usually tends to make whatever he's in better, especially back in the 90's. Patricia Arquette usually makes everything better too, but for completely different reasons.

We have no doubt that this Scream Factory release will be top-notch, as per their usual.

zom
"ZOMBEAVERS is an action-packed horror/comedy in which a group of college kids staying at a riverside cabin are menaced by a swarm of deadly zombie beavers. A weekend of sex and debauchery soon turns gruesome as the beavers close in on the kids. Riding the line between scary, sexy and funny, the kids are soon fighting for their lives in a desperate attempt to fend off the hoard of beavers that attack them in and around their cabin."
 
Zombeavers is campy, sometimes funny, and oftentimes filled with really hot chicks. If you like the Sharknados of the world, then you'll most likely get a kick out of this one too. If so, then it's definitely worth the $9.99.

This Blu-ray disc is a Best Buy exclusive for now.

Read our review of Zombeavers here.

There really are a lot of solid releases this week... but there are also plenty of junky Direct-to-DVD titles to sift through too.
  • American Sniper is going to be a HUGE release. It's a good flick, and probably worth the watch for most people, we just didn't find it as "amazing" as it was touted to be by most who saw it. A lot of hype, but again, it was a good movie.
  • To us, Boardwalk Empire will always be a good show that missed its chance to be great. We could honestly write a thesis paper on the subject, but ain't nobody got time for that. If you loved the show, this is the set to get. The first two seasons are perfect.
  • The Evil Eye (aka The Girl Who Knew Too Much) is not only a Mario Bava film, but is regarded by many to be the first Giallo film ever made. If you're a fan of either, then this disc is absolutely worth a look.
  • The rest of this week's Blu-ray releases are a bunch of old catalog titles that we're not too interested in buying, but we have to admit that the Trancers II disc would be a lot of fun to watch.

As for the week's DVD releases...

  • Roommate Wanted has Alexa Vega in it, so it might be worth a watch, especially for fans of hers.
  • Deadly Weekend (aka Zellwood) was not a very good movie, but I'll be damned if watching Sara Underwood run around half-naked and screaming for 90 minutes didn't make us smile. If you like cheap slasher flicks, you could do way worse than this movie,
  • Whoever came up with the title Raiders of the Lost Shark should be smacked in the mouth with a copy of their own movie. 
  • Curse of the Witching Tree looks like it could be HALFWAY decent. Maybe.
  • Everything else looks pretty bad, especially Awaken the Devil; that one just looks rough.

amerboardcreatureevilexp2p3termtrancersallawake bawakecampwitchdeadlyoutlivelostroom