The Strangers


Viewed – 23 November 2011  DVD

When I first heard about this home-invasion horror, I immediately thought it might be a remake of French chiller Ils / Them. Telling the tale of a young couple who after attending a party, return to the man’s parent’s secluded house in the woods. All is not well. A proposal has been turned down and suddenly all is not well with the once smitten duo. Then there is a knock at a door. A girl’s voice asks after a friend, who the couple don’t know. What follows is a night of pure terror and torment as the couple try to survive against a trio of homicidal masked nutjobs.

Liv Tyler may not be a-list leading lady material, having made her name in art-house hits such as Stealing Beauty, and then of course her role in Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, but along with her obvious good looks, she makes for a likable, if limited actress. This movie won’t exactly set her career into orbit though, with a script filled with clichés (yes, she falls over and hurts herself when running, groan…) and a fair bit of predictability. Supporting Tyler is a bland Scott Speedman who more often than not leaves his terrified girlfriend alone rather than protect her, and I even began thinking he was to do with the whole home invasion-thing. Now that would have been original. Thankfully director Bryn Bertino shows a degree of skill behind the camera, with some effective jump-scares, atmospheric camera work and bags of tension. Although like Them, this is a movie that answers no questions, where the villains are just that, villains … and even though I get it, I understand what the movie was trying to do … this ultimately left me feeling unsatisfied.

Verdict: 2 /5

Super


Viewed – 25 August 2011  Blu-ray

I knew this wouldn’t take long.  The blue-print set in stone by Kick-Ass now spawns a copy-cat movie with an ordinary guy trying to be a super hero.  Yet this movie seems more set in the real world than even that brilliantly realised movie.  Frank (Rainne Wilson) has lost his recovering-drug-addict wife (Liv Tyler) to a local scum-bag gangster (Kevin Bacon), and following a vision, he turns himself into masked vigilante The Crimson Bolt, and sets about fighting crime.  At first he gets his ass kicked, but soon he’s weilding a wrench and splitting heads (literally), eventually making the local news.  This attracts the attention of comic-book store employee Libby (Ellen Page) who turns to Frank to become his side kick … Bolty.

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The Incredible Hulk


Viewed – 21 Feb 2009  DVD

As a comic book admirer and a fan of the superhero adaptations we have seen hit the big screen lately, I must admit to approaching this one with a luke warm temperament.  You see, I was never a huge fan of the big green monster, and remember thinking the TV show was a little too scary for my (at the time) young mind.  So I of course needed something to pull me into this one, and it wasn’t going to happen if Eric Banner was reprising his role from the last Hulk outing, of which I just didn’t see it either.  No, this has a much more interesting actor namely Edward Norton, an actor who seems to have built a career on split-personality performances, so naturally this role seems like a perfect fit, right?

Well I hazard a guess  that this does follow on from the first film, and we have the familiar sight of Bruce Banner (Norton) hiding out in Brazil, ducking and diving and generally trying to lead the most inconspicuous life possible.  Of course as he has a tendency to turn into a big scary green giant and to smash things to smithereens, the military (headed by a scenery chewing William Hurt) are always hot on his trail, and its not long before Banner is running for his life (in an opening on foot chase to rival Casino Royale).  Step forward shady marine Tim Roth who after learning about Banner’s affliction, volunteers to become a genetically enhanced ‘super soldier’ so to fight Banner when he gets all angry.

It has to be said this is all done with no small amount of panache, is vibrant, stylish and well shot … Norton is a likable hero battling with the monster inside, and you feel for his plight.  Add love interest Liv Tyler (always more than just the token babe) and the cast is impressive to say the least.  Now it would have been nice for Tim Roth’s villain to have a back story or some reason behind his thirst for super human abilities, as really Roth brings little to the role any bit part actor couldn’t do in his sleep.  Hurt on the other hand is a credible macho scumbag throughout.

With some incredible special effects (I think they have finally nailed the Hulk look) and plenty of action, this zips along and has enough personality and entertainment to make you glad you watched it, Hulk fan or not.

Verdict:  4 /5