The Crazies


Viewed – 04 September 2010  Blu-ray

Another horror remake, but this time of a little seen no-budget shlocker from George A Romero, more known for his Zombie movies than this off-shoot.  Thankfully without the knowledge of that 1973 movie to blight my viewing I was able to sit down to this afresh.  Starring Timothy Olyphant, probably best known recently for his turn in Die Hard 4, this time plays a Sheriff in a small American town where after the water supply becomes tainted finds seemingly normal folk turning crazy and in one example, setting fire to their own house. Then as he tries to figure out exactly what is causing it, the military descend on the town, quaranteening it and separating people showing any sign of infection.  Then its all about a battle for survival as the Sheriff and the dwindling number of uninfected try to escape.

Not as vicious or blood splattered as much horror around these days, this is more a story of survival and trust, with elements of John Carpenter’s The Thing with characters not knowing who will ‘go crazy’.  I enjoyed it, and its full of suspense and some good action, with heart-in-mouth moments such as a battle in a car wash and a fight against a morgue attendant wielding a bone saw.  Olyphant delivers a likable lead, even if he is missing some of that more well-known intensity because he’s playing the good guy, and the supporting cast, especially Radha Mitchell also offer gutsy, emotional performances, even if lacking any real characterisation.  Perhaps it adds nothing new to the idea of infected towns folk, and could have easily been another Zombie splatter fest, with a bleak ending that left me thinking this was more of a roller coaster ride than anything with actual meaning … but then this was never going to be about deep social commentary, and with that in mind this is a worthy nights viewing, even if you’ll be hard pressed to watch it again.

Verdict:  3 /5

Hitman


Viewed – 11 April 2008  DVD

Videogame adaptations have had a rocky history on the big screen, and many will have you believe that videogames just don’t make good movies.  I’ll agree that the likes of Street Fighter and Super Mario have been turned into utter pointless shite – but then again, these are games with no real story, and thats why the likes of Silent Hill and Resident Evil have faired better, even if they still came in for criticism.

So turning one of my favourite videogame franchises into a movie, in the name of I.O. Interactive’s seminal Hitman – I and many fans thought this just could not fail.  Overall, the casting of Die Hard 4.0 bad guy Timothy Olyphant as the deadly professional killer ’47’ works brilliantly, and his iconic red tie and tux complete with bald head and bar code tattoo is realised perfectly.  Thankfully the (often violent) action is handled just as well, with some great shoot outs, an impressive subway sword fight and stylish direction throughout.  What doesn’t work is the very simplistic plot, a villain with no charm or presence, and a few too many twists that make your head hurt.  Dougray Scott’s special agent who is on 47’s trail lends some weight to proceedings, and a sexy down on her luck prostitute becomes an unwelcome love interest for our normally lone Hitman, but thankfully things don’t get too slushy.  Only a brief running time stops the film having much of a plot to care about or any time to breathe between gunfights – although that said this still proves to be an exciting and stylish 90 minutes that kept a smile on my face.

Verdict:  3 /5