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Remake Vs Original: My Bloody Valentine

By: Justin Hopkins

**Spoiler Warning**

  It’s that time of year. Love is in the air. Couples are doing… what couples do and those who are not in a relationship are trying to not stand out in a movie theater and avoid the sentence, “I have a friend that will be perfect for you.” I am kidding of course.. I always stand out in a theater. But it’s that magical time known as Valentines Day, and what better way to celebrate it, than a slasher movie surrounding the day of love, but which one to go for; the original or the remake. So, let’s break them down and see which one prevails, shall we, and like always we start things off with the original.

My Bloody Valentine 1981

The movie starts out, with the miner killing a woman, who was trying to seduce him in the mine, before we make a jump to the showers, where a group of miners are getting ready to leave for the day. Ascending on to the town to help set up a Valentine’s Day Party. We learn a few small things about the character. Notably, that Axel is now with T.J’s Ex-Girlfriend, Sarah. A relationship that started after T.J. up and left town to try and make it on his own. and that this is the first Valentine’s Day Party to happen in twenty years. Meanwhile, the Mayor receives a heart shape box of chocolate hearts, with a heart inside. Along with a warning about what happened long ago. Later, at the bar, we learn about the curse on the town. Twenty years ago, during a Valentine’s Day Party. Where everyone, but seven were there. Five in the mine, and two supervisors who got impatient who left before the five came up. Not checking the methane levels and an explosion rang out. It took six weeks and only one came out, Harry Warden. After a year in an institution, he came back. Killing the supervisors and cut out their hearts and placed them in heart shaped boxes. Leaving them at the Party. Warning them to never hold another party again, and as the story went. He would come back every year to make sure they are not having one. Meanwhile, the Mayor and Sheriff are trying to reach the institution and the corner tells them it’s a human heart. The mayor wants to cancel the party, and when the Sheriff goes to talk to Mabel about it. Discovers that she has been killed the night before. Sheriff agrees that the party has to be cancelled after another note is found, but keeps everything quiet. Trying to avoid a panic, but the teens simply move the party to the mines, and that is where I will leave it.

The story was a pretty simple, let effective one. Just a small little town, trying to enjoy the holiday and move away from the rocky past that still reverberates in the minds of the older people who lived it. It didn’t need to be more than that. Using the atmosphere, and mostly importantly, The Miner to build the tension.

I loved the Miner in this film. Definitely in the running for most underrated of the slashers. Black oxygen mask and jumpsuit coming across as extremely intimidating. Giving him a bulky look and the creepy nature of the mask. Throw in the use of a pickaxe and you got a great killer. They had a nice little twist with him as well. Everyone so sure it was Harry, to find it was actually Axel. The son of one of the Supervisors, who saw Harry kill him, when he was a child.

The carnage candy was pretty solid. Never really getting to see the death blow, but they shined with the aftermath. From Mabel falling head first out of the dryer and the girl who got her head shoved through one of the shower spigots and when she was found. We see water flowing out of her mouth. It was good fun all around.

Last pro, would be the shots. They did a good job at framing the shots of the mines, and creating a claustrophobic atmosphere. From the characters not being able to stand all the way up and winding tunnels.

I normally have a paragraph about the cast and would feel bad about not talking about them. They all did a good job. Lori Hallier was good as Sarah and Neil Affleck was good at balancing Axel as both a potential victim and later, deranged killer. No one really stood out to much, but everyone had good chemistry together.

Alright, negative time, and there is only one, and that is the little love triangle. I am not going to count it too much against it , but it never really works. If we had more time than maybe it could have worked a bit more. The problem lays mostly with T.J. and Axel. They each go back and forth between likeable and non, like flicking a switch. At any moment, you can go from liking one, to disliking them, and by the end the only reason T.J is likable is because he’s not the killer.

This movie was pretty solid all the way through. It was a fun little slasher, with creative kills and a menacing killer in the form of the Miner. Final Grade: A

My Bloody Valentine 2009

This one, starts off with a series of news stories and interview segments over an explosion at the Hannigan Mine, in Tunnel 5. Triggered by Tom Hanniger, son of the Mine, forgot to bleed the methane line. Burying six in the mines. One survived, Harry Warden, who killed the other five to preserve oxygen for himself, but falls into a coma. A year later, we see him dreaming of the accident, and he wakes up. Killing everyone in the hospital, on his way out. Returning to the mine, in full Miner Suit. Killing people having a party, except Sarah, Tom, Axel, and Irene. When they are attacked. Axel uses him assaulting Tom, to get the girls into the jeep and leaves him alone with Harry, who nearly kills him, till the Sheriff and his men shots Harry. Forcing Harry to retreat further into the mine, and it caves in behind him. We then jump forward ten years. Axel is not only a cop, but is married to Sarah and they have a son, and having an affair with one of the people she is working with. There is no Party. Just a town who is trying to move on, but the media continues to bring it up. Tom comes back to town, after his Dad’s death. To sell the mine. Ends up having to stay, due to a delay, and that is when the first kill happens, and it is Irene. Instead of people throwing a party. The Miner is going after people either associated with the miner, or those there the day he woke up and came back to the mine.

The story veers away from the original and for the most part. It did work in it’s advantage. Using the holiday to psychologically torment instead of fuel him on. They came out and told you during the movie that Harry was dead. They had hunted him down and killed him after the fact. Although, his grave was empty. Leaving a little bit of wonder if he had survived, but mostly, who was behind the Miner’s mask this time. It all worked so well.. until the reveal, but we will talk about that later on.

Now, if you disagree, I truly understand why. The 3D does hurt the kills, but I really did love the kills in this one. They all felt unique and brutal. From him sticking the little person to the ceiling and pulling the pickaxe out and body falling. Sheriff getting the pickaxe to the chin and having his jaw ripped out, and the shovel cutting through the woman’s mouth and head sliding off. I wish it wasn’t in 3D. It did hurt some, the eyeball one at the start, but they were fun.

There is a reason why there is only one Miner in the picture above, and that is because they did such a good job at bringing the miner back to life, in all of his intimidating glory. Only little differences, like a side piece on this one, and it still works just as effectively in this as it did in ’81, and I think that has a lot to do with it. We haven’t seen him in nearly 30 years, and it kept it special.

Casting wise, Jensen Ackles really shined. Fantastic job at bringing Tom to life. Feeling bad for the guy throughout. From the start where he is scared to return to the mine and you feel for him when he is left behind. Get behind Tom for most of the movie, we will talk about the end in a bit, and Jensen does great throughout. Kerr Smith and Jaime King both did well as Axel and Sarah, but the end hurt them way more.

Alright, negative, what in the world was that ending?! I get where they were going. Tom was so scared by what happened that he would mentally slip in between Tom and killer Harry, but everything that occurs because of this was just unsatisfying. Axel, after being the most unlikable character in this movie, that you want to see get him comeuppance, survives and Sarah comes across as dumb for staying by him, despite all the jealousy and cheating. Then there is Tom himself. You understand why he went crazy. Town hates him, because of his accident in the mine. The three leaves him behind to face Harry, and you feel bad for him throughout and get behind him. Just for him to the killer. This end was so bad and hurts the film so much, that there is only one way I can go with this contest. Final Grade: B

Winner: The Original

Had they done anything different with the ending. Had Harry been alive all this time, Sarah be sole survivor, or Tom kill them all and be the last one standing. This could have gone the other way, but as it is. The original takes it. Had some fun kills and fun watch all the way through. Do you agree? Disagree? Feel I am overlooking the twist? Let me know. Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed and as always..

Thank you for reading.

 

Boa vs. Python Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

  This was a challenging. Made multiple changes and started at least four other movies only to change my mind and seek out another B Movie. None of which seemed right. Wanting to find one that was more fun, after the last two more serious toned movies, Jacob’s Ladder and 88. Than, I found it, Boa Vs. Python. I loved Boa and Python, and surely having the two together, would be just the type of movie I was looking for. Was it worth all of that, or should I have kept looking? Let’s dive in and see shall we.

The movie starts out with these two, clear villains of the movie, Broddick and girlfriend Eve, at some underground fighting ring. Excited, because the package he was expecting, was in it’s final leg of delivery. Of course, it doesn’t make it. Turns out to be the giant python, that escapes into axis tunnels of a water treatment plant. While a local reporter believes that the accident has to do with terrorists. FBI Agent Sharpe, puts together what happened and seeks out two experts. One, Monica Bonds, an underwater biologist, maybe.. who works with dolphins and the use of camera and gps on animals, and Emmet, Herpetologist who has grown a massive Boa Constrictor. Who was working with her, to create a universal snake venom toxin. Shape’s plan, use his Boa to track and take out the Python. Meanwhile, we learn that Broddick was planning on using the Python to hunt for himself and several rich investors and he has the hunt moved to where the snake escaped, and I will leave it there.

The story suffers massively on two fronts. One, a major pacing issue. It takes a long time for anything to really happen. We meet the go through meeting the characters, which is fine, but we spend so much time with them, with only a little bit of Python action sprinkled in, because they keep the other have of the fight, in surgery getting her equipment attached to her head. Than, when things are starting to look good. They stop for a setting change, and this is where the next problem rears its ugly face into play, and the characters show to be the dumbest of all time, and every bit of it, is centered around the Broddick character. They arrest him, in the services tunnels, but have him, in the main tent, without even being handcuffed, and he actually slips away while everyone is standing there, gets into a tank, and drives away, like it was nothing. Not one highly trained soldier, sees who is nothing more than a rich, big game hunter, get out of the tent, and into a tank. I don’t like to point out when characters make bad choices. A list movies do it all the time, and this is a B Movie, but no. This is one level to much. Everyone came across as dumb and just so bad. Can see they wanted Broddick to play into the climax, but could have just had him escape the tunnels and everyone saves face for it.  I enjoyed some of what they had here, and could have done so much better if they would have tightened things up and sped things up, and brainstormed the Broddick side of things up.

I really liked the CGI for the snakes. Particularly when they were alone. The python looked really good, but the Boa looked beautiful. Nice shade of red, and with the camera and equipment on her head, made it look like a visor, and I know it sounds weird that I am fixing in on that, but having seen all these snake movies. It gave this Boa something special and added to her look. A big example for this was when she was staring down Eve when she was holding one of her eggs.

Cast wise was fine. No one really stood out, but don’t want to blame them for that. David Hewlett and Jaime Bergman had a lot of chemistry together. Him being more of a loner to her outgoing fun character playing well off one another. Angel Boris Reed owned every scene Eve was in, and Adamo Palladino did fine as Broddick, but the character was just so boring. Atanas Srebrev created a mysterious character in Foley. Thinking something fun was going to happen with him, but nothing ever did. It all just seemed like a missed opportunity.

So, it comes down to one question, would I suggest Boa Vs. Python; unfortunately, I can’t say I would. Boa and Python were much better movies, and many others are more enjoyable. While this one is alright and there are some fun moments to be had here. Just does not do nearly enough to make this something I could ever suggest to anyone, no matter how much they are into the genre.

And that is all I got. Hope you enjoyed and as always…

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

Friday Roundabout 1-24-2020

By: Justin Hopkins

Hello and welcome to this weeks Roundabout. As you know, we take various stories that have happened and give our two cents, and this week we have quite a few, so let’s jump right in and get started, and no better place than what seems to be the never ending story of the Spawn Reboot.

It seems like has been cropping up a few months for years at this point. Some movement on a new Spawn movie, or will it be a reboot of the show. Or is it both. Or is it two movies. Will it be PG-13, no It’ll be hard R rated. These are just a few rumors that I remember seeing at some point. Now, we have the creator, Todd McFarlane, saying that Big News is incoming about the reboot, and I have no faith that this is going to go anywhere. At this point, as much as I would love to see a return from Spawn. I have very little reason to buy anymore of the speculation about it. Until something concrete  happens. Just going to take whatever he has to say with a grain of salt. Sad, but just to much disappointment to get my hopes tied up in rumors.

Going from there to JJ Abrams Bad Robot company developing The Justice League Dark Universe in the form of TV and Movies. This is rather exciting news. I love the Arrowverse and the D.C Movies are improving with every new film, but something like a Dark Universe can really open up the world to some great characters. Zatanna and and her Father Zatara. Etrigan The Demon, Deadman and so, so many more. Can bring back Enchantress and give her another shot, and of course, John Constantine. Would love to see them use Matt Ryan. A rarity for them, but he has been breaking the barriers, by not only playing the character in his show, than the Arrowverse, and even voiced him multiple times for their animated stuff. Sure he would love to make the jump to a live action and would bring his fanbase along with him. Hoping for good things coming from this.

Staying in the land of D.C. Karen Gillan has recently come out saying that she would love to star and direct a Batgirl movie. That’s a rather tall task, but would be fun to see what she can bring to the table. We have seen the character in the animated movies and shows, but if memory serves correct, haven’t seen the character live, since Batman and Robin. She does a great job as Nebula and has the look to pull of Barbara Gordon. I am not going to get my hopes to high. D.C has always been strange in their casting choices, but Karen Gillan should be high up on their list.

Jumping from there, to Video Game rumors. Read that Konami has been working on not only one, but two Silent Hill Games. One being a soft reboot. The other more decision making such as Until Dawn. I have a  love hate relationship with the Silent Hill games. I love the first two, but the puzzles have made me want to lay down and die.  That said, would be thrilled to have either. More so, the reboot. Not quite sure how an Until Dawn style Silent Hill would play out. The source of the rumor, AestheticGamer, has a bit of a track record for being on par as far as rumors go. After the Silent Hills P.T. debacle though. Going to keep my fingers crossed that he got this one right too.

We had a few trailers drop, that I refuse to watch. Remember, stop after the first. Do not encourage their spoiler filled behavior. #NoMoreSpoilersInTrailers

Today marked the end of the end of the 16 year career of New York Giant Quarterback Eli Manning. For gave it his all, and always held himself to a higher level. Walking away as a Two Time Super Bowl MVP. Besting a team that seemed destined for perfection along  the way. To me, there is no question he should be a first ballot hall of famer, and wish him the best of luck in whatever he does next.

In much more upsetting news, we once again have some deaths to talk about. Three unfortunately. Singer/Songwriter David Olney, Dragon Ball narrator and voice of Captain Ginyu Brice Armstrong, and Comedy Legend and one of the minds behind Monty Python Terry Jones. Brice Armstrong hit me a little harder. A Dragon Ball Fan since I was a kid. How exciting it was hearing him kick off the show. Than you have the way David Olney went, dying on stage, with a guitar in his hands. Never want to see someone go, but have to feel, in some way. He went out doing what he loved, and had to meant something to him.  Our thoughts and positive energy goes out to the families of these three legends.

Ending on a more positive note. Untitled Goose Game, is in the running to have a potential Lego set made, and I am pulling hard for them to pull it out. Not a huge lego guy, but would throw my money at them for this set. The Goose exploded onto the scene last year, and thrilled to see them get this far. Cheering them on.

And I’ll leave it at that. I hope you enjoyed, and as always…

Thank you for reading.

 

Jacob’s Ladder (2019) Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

    A Co-worker lent me the original and while I enjoyed it. Thought it would make a great remake. A great story, with psychologically disturbing element to it. Just knew if they came at it from a different approach, they could do something special. When I heard about that one was indeed being made, was excited, but as quickly as I heard, it kind of vanished. Read it was coming to theaters, but it turned out to select theaters and kind of slipped by me for a bit. Now, here we are. A little late to the party, but that is okay. The only question, is was it worth the wait? So, lets travel the ladder, and breakdown Jacob’s Ladder.

The movie starts out with a soldier, being triggered into a flashback, by the sound of a can crushing under his foot. Can became a bomb, and helicopters and flashing lights. All stopping when he took a drug. Only, to have what appeared to be choked out from behind in one moment, and overdosing the next. Two people dragging his body away after he died. We jump to a military base, where Jacob is talking. Feeling is slightly uneasy. He goes to make a call home, and find out he is going to be a Father, when he has to leave, cause a wounded soldier is brought in. Turning out to be his brother, and as the sound of a flatline comes in. We see Jacob in a surgery room, in a hospital. Lost a person and the sound triggered the previous flashback. We see he has a happy life, with his Wife Samantha and son Gabriel. Except, he is having nightmares of a firefight. After he arrives at the hospital, another Soldier has an Overdose, and like the first. He too, is taking the drug. On his way to the therapist, he runs into a homeless Vet, who claims that his Brother Isaac is not only alive, but in the city and is in danger. He doesn’t believe it, nor does his therapist. On the subway he experiences his first hallucination, and when he gets home. Is attacked by two men. One of which is horribly mutilated. He tried to take the second to the police station, but he is not in the trunk. Except the same vet is there, and this time, Jacob takes him seriously. Is going to take him to Isaac, and starts to explain what H.D.A is. A drug that targets traumatic memories in those with P.T.S.D. Except, it makes them crazy, and people are hunting them down. Before he can get finish. Is pushed in front of a train. When no one believes him. Jacob takes it on himself to investigate and after a few jumpscares. He finds Isaac, except the paranoia and as the line between truth and fantasy gets even wider. We find that nothing we have seen is how it is supposed to be and I will leave it there.

(I am putting this here as a secondary warning. If you are planning on watching this movie and checking this out first to see what others think. Would suggest not going further cause I am going to talk about the twist and can ruin the experience of watching it unfold.)

This movie.. tries to pull off a wild swerve, and I didn’t see it coming till the big reveal. Which is that Jacob was the lost brother, on The Ladder all this time, and Isaac was the V.A.Doctor the whole time and The Ladder not only was wiping out the traumatic memory, but making him believe that he was his brother the whole time. Now, I think it was creative, but the process of achievement was very sloppy. There wasn’t a gradual change in the characters, but a rough and rugged one, Samantha especially, cause she was coming off more unlikeable the more we saw her. They really could have used a bit more time to show a natural shift of Samantha and Jacob being the coupe to Samantha and Isaac, but that was not the only problem. An even bigger one, was what Jacob did immediately after, by going to the red head we saw earlier.

She turned out to be a dealer of sorts, working with Hoffman. This scene felt so tact on, because they wanted to bring in more from the original Jacob’s Ladder with her demonic angel wings. The problem is that they were telling a completely different story and it no longer fit the narrative. Would have been better to skip the scene all together and go to Hoffman, or the very least, show her with the wings earlier, and not have them here.

Now, this movie wasn’t all negative. There were some good things as well, and thing I loved was the message that this was telling. They really got the Flashback scene at the beginning of the movie right. The smallest surprise of a loud sound is all it takes to trigger a flashback. Showing how many soldiers suffer from PTSD. The lengths some will go to make the memories stop and how susceptible they are to people like Hoffman. Who is using them like lab rats. A pretty powerful message to have.

Acting wise, you have Michael Ealy playing Jacob and Jesse Williams playing Isaac. I did enjoy their chemistry when they were together. About to building up the brotherly bond between the two. Each had difficult roles, because they had to pretty much switch on the fly. While they pulled it off, Nicole Beharie didn’t. Don’t want to point the finger at her. Maybe if she had more time, would work better, or might be better if I watched it again, but first opinion; she wasn’t that good. Lastly, I did enjoy Guy Burnet’s Hoffman. He seemed like a throw away character till the end, but I did enjoy his speech at the end. As twisted as it was, legitimately believed that he was the only one doing anything for the vets.

Would I suggest this movie to someone? A question that has been floating back and forth since the movie ended, and even all the way through this blog. I enjoyed some of the acting and I liked the message with the P.T.S.D. In a way, it did keep the spirit of Jacob’s Ladder, but only as far as the drug is concerned. The demons were more tacked on to appease the fans of the original and used as nothing more than a jump scare than anything. And the swerve, while creative, wasn’t executed well and I am sure there are better movies that tackle the P.T.S.D. side of things. With that said, I would suggest checking it out. It’s not a movie for everyone, you can have a bit of fun with it, and I did enjoy watching it. And that is all I got. I hope you enjoyed and as always…

Thank you for reading.

Event Horizon Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

  So, I was struggling a bit. Choosing which movie I wanted to review for this Classic 13. Would pick one, I was so sure about, only to change my mind at the last moment. Even started watching one and turned it off after a minute. Just nothing seemed to feel right, until I spotted Event Horizon. A movie a Co-Worker of mine stressed how great this was and called it, “Hellraiser in space.”  Have to say, after watching it. He wasn’t that far off, except this may be in fact, better than Hellraiser.  So, lets go amongst the stars, and go through the psychological horrors held within Event Horizon.

The movie opens with a bit of information on where Mankind is on space exploration. 2015 colonized the moon. By 2032 began mining on Mars and in 2040, The research Vessel went to explore the far reaches of the solar system, only to disappear beyond Neptune and we open in 2047. A rescue crew and Dr. Weirs are heading to Neptune tol address an immediate situation. Once they get closer to Neptune, Dr. Weirs makes them aware of the situation and what the Event Horizon actually was, and that was finding a way to travel ” Faster than light.” By using a gravity drive, the ship would fold time and space, so that it’s location and destination would be one in the same. Allowing it to punch through and appear where it was going in seconds. We find out later on, that it achieves this affect, by using a man made Black Hole. It all appeared to go exactly according to plan, but never returned till now and they are going to find out what happened. When they arrived, they couldn’t detect any signs off life, and a Miller, Stark, Mr. Justin, and Cooper go in to investigate, and while checking out the room the Gravity Drive. He gets sucked inside. Sending out a massive shockwave that damages the Lewis and Clark ship. Forcing everyone to evacuate onto the Event Horizon. With twenty hours of oxygen, they not only have to try and get the ship fixed, but figure out what happened on the ship, as more and more start to hallucinate and paranoia begins to sweep over, and that is where I am going to leave it.

I almost don’t even know where to begin throwing positives. Philip Eisner, seems like a good place. The Writer, who brought this psychological masterpiece together. It is one thing to scare someone, but this movie gets into your head. The way it tortures everyone with their greatest regrets, failures, and desires even. Way it haunts peters and teases her with her son and his condition. Miller is a caring leader, but strict, and the ships hurls the reason why he is so strict at him, and poor baby bear (Justin) And everything in this movie has some sort of meaning, and that is so much more powerful than just building emotion. It makes repeat watching even more fun. I am watching it while I type this and picked up to things that I overlooked the first time, because I knew more. That is just beautiful. Standing ovation for Philip Eisner.

Giant kudos goes out to Paul Anderson and everyone who worked behind the scenes as well. The shots and lighting were great. The scene where they are first inside. Flashing of lightning illuminating the gory walls waiting to be discovered. The atmosphere is intense. When you are looking at the Event Horizon, in the dark and dim lights. You see all these regular instruments, that take on an evil, and scary form. You had these floating balls of coolant that were such a fun addition to have floating around the glorious room that housed the Gravity Drive. The sets were great and shots made them that much better. The CG involved, is not bad for a nineties movie. Don’t know much about space, but they don’t do anything to outrages to the point of dumb, and the carnage candy is awesome. Especially the death of D.J and again where Justin getting sent out into space.

I don’t even think I can give a nod to one actor over another here. They were all so good. You had Laurence Fishburne, as Captain Miller, who you don’t really like, but he has a reason for being so strict and his sole reason for being is his crews safety. Than you have Sam Neill as Dr. Weir. This is the first movie I have watched of his that is not Jurassic Park, and definitely want to watch more. While he may not have started out as the bad guy, by the time he gets there. Is such a good bad guy. Could talk about the chemistry these two have been great, but that’s the truth between everyone. Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Jack Noseworthy, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee, and the “lifesaver” Richard T. Jones. Absolute All-Stars, each and everyone.

Negative wise… Guess you can say some of the space CGI is a bit dated, but I have seen so much worse in recent years than what we get here. So, minor nitpick I can see someone might have. Doesn’t really bother me to much, but one big one, is something we don’t have, and that is the full 130 minute cut of the film. It was cut down due to how gruesome some of it was and whatnot, but when they went back and wanted to use it. It was not well achieved, and most of which is simply lost. Obviously, this isn’t going toward my final thought on the film, and I don’t have anything negative to say about the film itself. Just something depressing I found out about the movie.

In closing, if you haven’t had a chance to check out this classic film. I couldn’t suggest it enough. Mastercraft in Psychological Horror, and shows that you don’t need jumpscares to scare your audience. Just a showcase of talented people, crafting a story, with some talented actors bringing it all to life. Final Grade – S

Hope you enjoyed and as always…

Thank you for reading.

Underwater Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

  I found myself more excited for this movie than I originally thought I would be. I enjoyed the trailers. The little bit of what we have seen of the monsters, I liked. Really made me think about what they were. To a point, was was excited to see Kristen Stewart. Outside of one of the Twilight Movies, have never seen one of her movies, and she is a big name and excited to finally see one of her movies that I wanted to see. So, I went in with a fair amount of hype… and they cleared all expectation by leaps and bounds. Lets go in and explain what I love so much about Underwater.

They start things off with some rapid fire news clips about an incident that shows an explosion had taken place and that drilling would continue. It was kind of hard to read, but you get enough to know that something bad had happened. Then you go to Norah, who has a bit of monolog as she is in the showers, brushing her teeth. She goes to investigate a sound and you get an idea of how big the place is, before everything goes crazy as an explosion rings out, and she races down the hall. Trying to make everyone aware that they have to go now. Her and Rodrigo manage to make it, but before anyone else can make it. They have to close the doors, before the pressure takes down the entire rig. After checking on the terminal. Seeing the damage was extensive and they have to get to the pods immediately. They start through the falling apart rig and ever enclosing claustrophobia. Managing to save crew member Paul along the way, and find the pods have all been taken and only Captain Lucien and a handful of survivors and the only way they are going to make it out alive, is to go further down, and walk across the sea floor, and get to the pods on the drilling facility itself. Stressing the amount of danger that is alone, but an even more dangerous entity awaits and that is where I stop, because you should go and watch this movie as soon as possible, and don’t let the incoming spoilers ruin it for you. So, if you haven’t come back when you have before reading on.

This movie did several things that I loved, and one was way they build tension, and used everything they could to achieve that. That the monsters were not the only danger that the survivors had to content with, but the crushing pressure, lack of oxygen, low lights. All of which played into the monster attacks as well, because when they did come for them. There was so little that any of them could do and the monsters seemed to even use those elements to their advantage. A way a predator in its natural environment would.

Love the way this film was shot. Making you feel just so claustrophobic at times. All the sounds of the rig falling apart and later the monsters scratching and slapping off the metal. The muffled sounds from underwater sounded great. Underwater scenes looked great. Only showing little bits at a time, and the monsters seemingly coming from nowhere because of how dark the ocean is. Goes into what I said earlier and how well they used everything they had to their advantage.

Than we get to the monsters, and wow they really knocked it out of the park. Looked like a bizarre mixture of squids and humans and then you get a massive creature that comes out of the drilled hole in the ground. They show them, but never fully, nor do they tell you much. They make the excellent choice of leaving them unexplained and let your imagination come up with what these things were, but all of them, looked great.

Than there was the humanity that is in play here. Normally, when you get a group, in a dire situation. You get one who is either hiding information to save themselves, or sabotaging someone else. Not here, you don’t quite the opposite. Most of their demises, came because of them making the ultimate sacrifice, so, the others could live. From Rodrigo not telling anyone his helmet was defective, The Captain cutting the cord. All leading up to the finale. It was the ultimate display of humanity, making sure they could get as many out as they can.

Before I move on, have to talk about the cast. Like, I said, don’t know much about Kristen Stewart. Hear a lot of negative things about her, but I think she was stellar as Norah. Norah was a character already rocked by death, from losing her fiance, and haunted by her decision to close the door on the rig that was blowing up, and you see her carrying the weight of every loss, and when it was her time to make the sacrifice. You really cared and was awesome to see her take out the creature at the same time, and Kristen Stewart brought her to life in the best possible way and really shined. Right behind her was Jessica Henwick as Emily. Really rooting for her, and had me on the edge of my seat when it looked like she was going to die. Evolving from someone so scared to even step into the water, to saving both Norah and Liam. At first, I thought I was going to put T.J. Miller in the negatives. Every other word out of his mouth, was some sort of a joke. Some hitting and some missing by a wide margin, but I got to thinking more about his character, and what happened to him, and most importantly, when he died, and it all clicked in one big positive for me. His jokes, despite being a little to many. Makes you really care about his character and he dies before the tension from the monsters kicks into high gear and doesn’t slow down the pace when it really starts going.

Negative wise…. I got nothing. I explained the issue I had with T.J’s jokes, and there are times where you struggle to see what is going on, but that is not a negative as far as I am concerned. It represents what is going on to the characters at that moment and you do get to see the creatures and everything you want to see anyways. The actors were all spot on and loved the story.

The highest grade we give on these, is S, and this is an easy S grade movie. I had so much fun and strongly suggest watching this in the theaters, and that is all I got. I hope you enjoyed. As always…

Thank you for reading.

 

My top 6 anticipated games of 2020

By: Justin Hopkins

It is a sad way to kick-off a new year, when you realize that a game you love, is just not for you anymore, but that is the way this year is starting for me. A game that I have loved for the best part of a year and a half, has finally pushed my last nerve and have to walk away. It is sad, but as I look into the new year. There is a lot to be excited for. So, one game may have come to an end for me, I have six more to look forward too. Before I start, got to say, I play on Playstation, so with the exception of my Honorable Mention. We will focus on Sony. Not that there’s anything wrong with PC or Xbox, just going with what I got. Cool, let’s get started than.

HONORABLE MENTION – HELLBLADE 2: SENUA SAGA

The only reason that this is sitting at Honorable Mention and not number 1, is that it is not confirmed for 2020. I haven’t bought an Xbox since the 360. The moment that trailer dropped, I knew I would be getting an Xbox X-Series to continue Senua’s Journey. I loved the first game. Such an intense, beautifully made game, with a gripping story that sucked you in the game with everything they did and can only imagine what they have store for the second game.

6. PREDATOR: HUNTING GROUNDS

It seems that I am in need of a new online multiplayer game and what better, than Predator Hunting Grounds. Seems like a very basic idea. You either play as your choice of Yautja and hunting a team of marines. The Marines are working together to complete their mission and escape alive. The concept art looks fantastic, especially for the Yautja and am really excited to use the bow and you get the skin from the first movie if you Pre-Order. As always, go into it with a bit of caution. Online multiplayers can fall apart quickly, but still willing to give this one a chance all the same.

5. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2

This game is probably the one game I know the least about, but am strangely being pulled towards it. It action roleplay game, that sees you playing a young vampire in Seattle, and that was all it really needed to be said to win me over. As you play through, you learn new abilities through factions engaged in a civil war, and I just like it. Wish I could say why. Didn’t even play the first one. Just has a certain vibe that has really won me over, and if they have a fair amount of creative character, would be that much more happy for it.

4. MARVEL AVENGERS

Alright, so the first trailer did not do this a whole lot of justice. The Kamala Khan one though, did a lot better, and with test players hyping it up even more. Don’t know if this was announced, but curious on how many heroes will be involved, and the story looks interesting, and I have a weakness for Superhero games. Have even enjoyed the bad ones, so this one should be a blast. Especially, if we get to play as our choice of characters, or focus a bit more on the lesser known heroes.

3. RESIDENT EVIL 3: NEMESIS

Resident Evil 2 Remake was fantastic and set the bar for how a video game remake should work. They stayed true to what made it great. Tweaked a few things to change it up and gave side stories and than the original versions. We might not get all of that this time around, but with them saying they took what they learned in 2 and carried it over to 3 has me confident going in, and as a bonus, you get the online multiplayer that they have been talking about for some time now, Project Resistance. Capcom has a successful track with their remakes, and have no doubt they can make it at a hat trick with Nemesis.

2. Doom Eternal

I love the Doom Series. They are so much fun. The adrenaline filled carnage of playing Doom Guy. Running around killing everything in your wake. Game literally knows exactly what it is. Oh, this rocket launcher, isn’t enough. Well how about if it shoots multiple locked on rockets? Still want more, how about a movable turret? No, here is a gun that will wipe out everyone in a bloody paste and you get to carry them all around at your ready. Low on ammo. Get up and close for more, or use this chainsaw, and god yes, give me more. Can play these game all the time, and a pre-order for Doom 64. A big yes to even more Doom, and just misses out on the number one slot.

1. DESTROY ALL HUMANS

I don’t think there is any game series that brings back more fond memories than Destroy All Human. A friend of mine way, back in high school gave me a game he swore I could not beat without cheats, it was Destroy All Humans, and I did beat it without cheating. Bought a Wii for the lone purpose to play, Destroy All Humans: Big Willy Unleashed. Watched another friend fail for over 4 hours to get any points in human plink-o in Destroy All Humans: Path Of The Furon. I even have the Original on PS4 due to a charity giveaway, but when this game finally comes out, am going to be getting a copy and just getting lost in the world of Cryptosporidium 137 all over again. Graphics look spectacular and hope for some new content, but one way or another. Destroy All Humans is the game I am most looking forward to the most, in 2020

I know, I didn’t say Cyberpunk 2077. I am going to play it, but is a game I know less about than Vampires. I know they have been working on it for a long time and don’t want to look into it at all. Want to go in blind, and because of that. It did not make the list, but I am sure there is plenty more that didn’t make the list. Feel free to drop any in the comments. In the meantime, hope you enjoyed and as always…

Thank you for reading.

Friday Roundabout 1-10-2020

By: Justin Hopkins

Hello and welcome to another roundabout. Hope you all had a great week. As always, bringing my thought on rumors and news from around the entertainment world in the past week, and a little longer to touch on one rumor. With all of that said, let’s jump right in with the big Marvel story from the week, in Doctor Strange and the loss of the director.

It is a shame to see Scott Derrickson dropping out of the Multiverse Of Madness, sequel to Dr. Strange, especially due to creative differences. Was a big fan of the first movie, and felt Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance in Infinity War and the climax of Endgame definitely hyped up the urge to see his return.  At the same time, not going to panic over it at the same time. Marvel has been a consistent machine at pumping out solid movies and with them having similar issues with the first Antman, they have some experience in righting the ship from creative differences with Directors. Hope that they can find a way to reconcile with Scott, but if not. Still hyped for this sequel.

Going from the big screen to the smaller one and movement on a remake of the classic 1981 Werewolf movie, The Howling, coming to Netflix. The announcement came in the form of Director Andy Muschietti working on an adaption for Netflix, which I find really exciting. Andy has said before that The Howling was a dream project for him to work on, and The Howling does have a rich story with some room to grow and take into different directions, and like all remakes, even if they don’t live up to expectations. Still have the classic to enjoy.

From there we go to the world of Video Games, and before I go into this one, need to stress that this is just a rumor. I tried to find something official but at this point, all I can find is speculation, but as a Sony player. Feel the need to give my two cents on this one. It has to do with various sites reporting that the PS5 will be backward compatible. Going all the way back to Playstation 1. If this is true, I would be elated. Would be satisfied with PS3 and over the moon to access PS2, but getting them all would be fantastic, and they really need that feature to compete with Xbox, who has announced that the X Series will do just that. With the PS5 due up later this year, really wish Sony  would put out some official statements to curb some of the rumor trains. In the meantime, I have my fingers crossed that this rumor carries weight.

Speaking of games, we got a bit of what to expect from Resident Evil Nemesis. This is such a small thing to be excited for a game that I am pretty much Pre-Ordering the first chance I get, but they were talking about Nemesis himself, and to not expect what you remember. Learning from their time working on Mr. X in the remake of Resident Evil 2, and he will not work in scripted terms, but as he sees fit. Making him unpredictable and increase the horror factor. Also, Carlos will have a playable section, which will add even more new content. Truth be told, I am super excited for this game and any reason I can find to talk about it; I jump. Releases on April 13th, barring any delays and please, don’t let there be any delays. Need a new game to play.

There is a few trailers that have dropped. New Mutants and Birds of Prey seem to be the big ones, but have given up trailers for New Year Resolutions. Going to do my best to avoid trailers, after the first ones, because I am tired of them spoiling aspects of the movie after the first trailer drops, and encourage everyone to follow my example. #Nomorespoilersintrailers.

In close, want to congratulate Frozen 2 on becoming the highest grossing animated movie of all time, and hope you all enjoyed this week’s edition of the roundabout. As always…

Thanks for reading.

Slay Belles Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

And here we are. The holiday season drawing closer to the end. Busy last minute Christmas shopping getting done (Or started if you are like me) While Jack Frost and Santa Slays were movies I were looking forward to watching and reviewing. This movie jumped ahead of the line at first glance. Seemed bizarre and strange and after watching; certainly lived up to that, and I may have just saved the weirdest one for last. Was it in a good or bad way though? Lets peel back the layers and take a look.

This movie starts out in complete chaos. With a Cop handcuffed in a chair, with three blood covered women and a Santa Claus standing around him. Demanding to know what was going on. At gunpoint, the story takes us back twelve hours earlier, to the woman, Alexi, Dahlia, and Sadie coming out of a store. Laughing and swearing up a storm about stiff they just shoplifted, except Alexi who chickened out and bought something. They are youtubers, known as Adventure Girls. Who basically film themselves breaking into abandoned places and film themselves running about and looking at stuff and taking stuff left behind, and this is Alexi’s first time out with them. Since it is Christmas Eve and all. They decide to go to a rundown place called Santa Land. Stopping off at a bar along the way. Everyone makes it clear how little they care for Christmas here, and they learn that bad things have been happening to the kids. Belief that a bear is responsible, and after a little conversation. Decide to push on. They show up to Santa Land, and they are shooting their Youtube show. Oblivious to the hidden camera around the trees. Being watched by an old, biker guy. About to leave, when they spot one more place they haven’t checked. While inside, a monster shows up. They watch as he loads these hairy things into christmas boxes. When one of their phones go off. Causing them to run and saved by the old man. Forced to hide in the cottage, due to their van being towed. Barricading the door as the old man comes through the chimney. Turns out, the old man is Santa Claus, and the monster outside, is Krampus. With people slowly forgetting or banning the old ways. Santa seeing a world quickly not needing him. He froze Krampus in the snow and opened Santa Land, which was around for a long while, but slowly went out of business. Now, somehow, Krampus escaped the ice, and has something dark planned, and it is up to Santa and the three woman to stop him. All the while, Krampus is taking out kids and people all around the world.

This was a rather interesting tale. On paper, it sounds crazy and out their, but they pull it off really well. To have Santa and Krampus, connected together, to the point where if one gets hurt the other feels it, and they have to use it to kill Krampus was a nice way to go and the ending was just crazy. I didn’t see the twist coming, with Mrs. Claus being Cherri the bartender, and she was behind letting Krampus out, because she is angry over how Santa has treated her, and how the world views her as a fat, old woman who only existed to be by his side and laughed so hard when it came out that they ate the reindeer.

The action throughout was a lot of fun and carnage candy was pretty decent. Especially the Brian kill, where Krampus gored him with his horn, and you see the flesh still hanging off his horn in the next scene. Using the decapitated head of one of the kids Mothers to taunt him was a nice addition. Although, some of the kills came with this weird vision blur. The gore was good, but don’t understand the blur, cause it wasn’t from his point of which, which maybe it should have been, because when it was his POV, it came with this red and green hue, which I thought would have made those kills in particular more interesting. Also, the prosthetics used to Krampus was spectacular. He looked scary and intimidating. Going practical on him was the smartest move they could have done.

On a small note, they had a scene that kind of threw me through a loop. We have all seen movies, where the police bring in a suspect they are all so sure could have committed the crimes. No matter how insane it seems. They had that here when the one cop brought in a drunk. Police Chief looked at him called him an idiot and how he couldn’t possible have done it and cut him loose.  A smart decision you never really see and was surprised to see it in this movie of all things.

Casting wise, was so important for a movie like this, and they did a solid job at that. The three women especially. Could have been easy to just be eye candy. Standing around not doing much else, but Kristina Klebe, Susan Slaughter, and Hannah Minx made them a lot more than just that. Chemistry was good and they made this film so much more enjoyable. Barry Bostwick was a decent enough Santa. Kind of tell where they were going with him and Krampus being connected and still made you feel a bit, when he got his head cut off.

As much as I would like to say that this didn’t have any negatives. It most certainly did have a few.  Starting with the musical montages throughout. They not only hit you with some cringe worthy song, which might just be me being around Christmas songs all the time, but wish they were over faster. They mix it with their Youtube footage, which is as worse as any found footage jerky cam motion. Would have been fun, if they were quick scenes, but they really drag them out. Than, there was the scene where Krampus has mounted Sadie, and when they knock him out and flip him over, they show everything going on with him, and did not ever need Krampus junk in my life. Just didn’t. A big negative for that.

With all of that said, Slay Belles was a crazy, bizarre, yet fun ride. Had a lot of fun watching this film and would gladly suggest this to anyone fans of the genre. With that, wish you all a happy holiday and…

Thanks for reading.

Star Wars Episode IX The Rise Of Skywalker Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

  I should start by saying I am not the biggest Star Wars fan. Outside of the Clone Wars Cartoon, The Mandalorian, and I had a lot of interest in whose Rey’s parents were. I haven’t had much interest in the series in general. Why am I saying all this you might ask? Two reason, to heighten just how much I enjoyed this entry in the Star Wars Library, and to keep any potential spoilers out of the intro paragraph on social media. Like some pages gleefully ignore. With that out of the way, lets jump in and take a closer look at the end of the Skywalker Saga.

The movie opens with it’s usual crawl explaining what is happening, with Palpatine returning. Sending out a mysterious radio message. General Leia has sent out spies to try and find out what is going on and The Supreme Leader Kylo Ren is killing anyone who gets in his way, and that is who we jump to. Kylo is manhandling and killing everyone in his way to retrieve this triangle devise. That leads him to the Sith Homeworld and the Emperor Palpatine was waiting. Offering him everything he wants, including a massive fleet and idea of succeeding where Vader failed, but he has to kill the scavenger (Rey). We go from there to Chewbacca, Poe, and Finn. Going to get intel from a spy, and just as they are getting it. Are attacked by Tie Fighters and a crazy space chase breaks out where Poe is Lightspeed skipping the Falcon and amassing a lot of damage in the process. Meanwhile, Rey is training with her new Master General Leia. Trying to draw in the Jedi of old, but can’t, and in her frustration goes to run the training course. Where she has a Force vision of her taking Palpatine’s throne, and it obviously jolts her.  When talking to Leia about not feeling worthy of Luke’s Lightsaber and giving it back. When the crew returns, gets into an argument with Poe. It starts off small, but it’s really over the fact that she is their best fighter and not on the field. They finally hold the meeting over what the spy gave them, which is not only confirmation of Palpatine being alive, but plans on executing what is being called, ” The Final Order.” Rey recognizes the name of the planet from Luke’s notes and along with Poe, Fin, Chewy, and C3PO. Go out to start where he left off and find the planet before the Final Order begins and while I am going to talk way way more about what happens. Going to back of the story for those who really need to go and watch, but I will go in depth from here out, so if you haven’t watched it. Come back after.

I really enjoyed the story that they were telling here. How they had to go directly to the source of the dark side of the force and deal with the biggest threat they had ever had to face in Palpatine, who in my opinion, never looked stronger than he does here. The amount the resistance had to go against felt like the stakes were at their highest. Important to have for a final fight of this magnitude. To even get to that point though was captivating, especially when it came to Rey and Kylo. Kylo coming off like the powerhouse enemy, that he has only shown glimpses of so far. Rey not only having her powers growing at an alarming rate, but getting more and more scared as they start to turn toward more darkside. Unaware of what her lineage to Palpatine, which I got wrong, my money was on Kenobi till they announced the return of Palpatine. Even still, they did a good job conveying. Gave her another dynamic then simply good fighting dark, but someone who could easily access the dark side, but resists because that is not who she is and together, they were amazing. The fight scenes they had felt unique and different. Their connection through the force was so well done. Switching from her location to his was seamless. Even passing stuff off to one another. All of which succeeded due to the talented Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver.

Ever since this trilogy started, Daisy Ridley’s Rey has been the only real highlight, in my opinion. Watching her come up from a lowly scavenger to being a powerhouse force user in such a rapid time. Believing in the good when there was nothing else their and Daisy really ramped it up in this. Her emotional distress over the idea that she might end up turning to the dark side visibly shaking her. To the point where she was ready to isolate herself to an island to make sure it didn’t happen and Daisy did a wonderful job portraying all of it and her Lightsaber battles were great. On the other side of that, Adam Driver at long last, got to play the cool, powerful villain I thought he could be. So, sure that he could turn Rey and take out the Emperor to start his own reign. And I will be the first to admit, after him killing Han, didn’t believe there was any good way to turn him back to the good side, but Adam pulled it off. The pain he experienced losing his Mother and Rey saving his life. The heartfelt reunion he had with Han. As his swan song with the character. Adam definitely delivered.

There is so much more that I can go into here, but for one last positive, as I said at the beginning, I enjoyed the Clone Wars and while Cad Bane and Maul were big reasons. Ahsoka Tano was the biggest and was thrilled that her voice was part of the Jedi Voices, pushing Rey on at the end. To see one of my favorites get some recognition was a real joy. Glad we got all of them involved, but Ahsoka the most.

Now, as much as I have praised this movie so far. There were certainly some negatives.  That being Poe and Finn particularly at the start. Finn just came off as dumb at times. They all recognize Rey as the strongest, stop trying to charge into her fights. It got really annoying real fast. It got much worse than that and it revolves around C3PO. When you have a beloved character, who is essentially wiping his memory, in a a big emotional moment (That was ruined by the trailers, thanks for that.) it does not help when Poe and Finn has been blatantly ignorant to C3PO. The entire thing just means nothing to them, even when he is giving his heartfelt speech. The only one to show anything, was Rey, and it lead to me not caring at all about Poe or Finn the rest of the way through. Know it lead to him being more of a joke than before, but C3PO has been here since the start and in nearly every version of Star Wars. If they weren’t going to show this mattered. Than it may have been better to not even have them there.

I know there is a lot of reviews saying otherwise, but in my opinion, this was a stellar way to bring about the end of the Skywalker Saga. It’ll probably land as my favorite among the movies. You have a lot of callbacks and fanservice to go along with the Rey storyline. I strongly suggest checking this out in theaters as soon as possible. Final Grade: A+

Thank you for reading.