Thursday, 29 September 2022

REVIEW: The Infernal Machine (2022) - Starring Guy Pearce, Alice Eve, Jeremy Davies and Alex Pettyfer

Review by Jon Donnis
The last time I saw Guy Pearce he was making a cameo in the last ever episode of Australian soap Neighbours, well he is back in a feature film called The Infernal Machine, sadly this is not some sci-fi film about erm.. an erm.. Infernal Machine, no that is the name of a book written by a reclusive author Bruce Cogburn, (played by Guy Pearce).


Cogburn has been living alone for years after a book he released inspired Dwight Tufford (Alex Pettyfer) to kill 13 people in a school shooting, he did so using a rifle while positioned on a clock tower, we learn of the tragic events through a news report. Cogburn hasn't written a book since the tragic events.

Despite living in the middle of nowhere, with no phone and no television, Cogburn starts receiving letters from someone called William DuKent, DuKent is seemingly a crazed fan, and he starts sending more and more letters and parcels, and keeps managing to find Cogburn's location.


Cogburn seeks help from Officer Laura Higgins (Alice Eve), and she joins in on trying to find out about this DuKent chap, after things start to get weirder and weirder.

Throw in flashbacks to Cogburn's younger days as a professor, and him giving lectures and talking to his student Elijah Barett (Jeremy Davies), and we soon learn the impact that his book being the influence for a school shooting had on him.



Now of course this is a thriller, so we need some twists and turns, as well as Cognurn going from quiet recluse slightly annoyed by some fan mail, to a paranoid man ready to shoot anyone in the head if they get too close to his house and we have a rather interesting film.


The Good
A strong plot point leads to an interesting film, Guy Pearce is an excellent actor, and he is onscreen for most of the film and he does carry it. When the twists and turns do come, they aren't too obvious, and are delivered well.

The Bad
At about 1 hour 47 minutes before credits, the film feels a little long and drags in parts, I also found certain bits confusing, and I feel like certain elements were not explained well enough, although a second viewing might help that.

Overall
If the film was cut by 17 minutes to get it to a nice 90-minute total, and perhaps a better explanation of some of the main twists, then this film would have been better, as it is though, I did enjoy it, and found Guy Pearce to once again carry a film on his back to a higher level than it would have been without him.

I score The Infernal Machine a fair 7/10

Out now on Amazon Prime - https://amzn.to/3LRNBuH

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

REVIEW: The Spy Who Never Dies (2022) - Starring Paul O’Brien

Review By Jon Donnis
We are back once again, and this time we have an action/rom-com/spy/thriller for you. The Spy Who Never Dies is directed by Corey Pearson and stars Paul O'Brien in the lead role as Brad an international spy who falls in love with a veterinarian, while the world around him is falling apart..

Clearly this film is a bit of a spoof on James Bond, and from pretty much the first moment, you will realise that it does not take itself at all too seriously. 

The film starts with Brad meeting with his boss, he is sick of the spy life, he is starting to feel like he is no more than just a run of the mill assassin, so he wants out, he wants to lead a normal life, with no guns, no bad guys, no saving the world. 

He is convinced to take a break instead of just quitting, but before you know it, he is called to assassinate a bad guy who happens to love dogs. Upon doing the deed, he tries to walk away but sees a dog that needs help, so he grabs the dog and takes it to a vet. While at the vet he meets a woman he instantly falls in love with, despite the dog poop on her face. Veronica (played by Georgia Walters) seems like a normal girl, everything Brad is looking for, he drops the dog off, and agrees to return later to pick it up. When he does, he takes some flowers, a bee in the flowers stings her, and she goes into anaphylactic shock, he uses his spy phone to make an EpiPen, but she has a heart defect which means when her heart beats too fast it stops, and she can die. He manages to save her with his spy phone. But as you can see, when you are a world class international spy, these things can happen when you just want to be normal.

Throw in some Russians with stolen hypersonic missiles, a female spy who wants to steal the "big load", (yes there are quite a few "big load" jokes) who also hates Brad, and wants to destroy the world, and you have a pretty standard Spy film storyline, but wrapped in comedy and romance.

Despite being a satire of spy films, the film itself works well within the genre. It has everything you would expect, fight scenes, chases, action sequences, dumb Russians and sexy women.

The film deliberately throws every cliche you can think of at you, and manages to walk the fine line between satire/comedy and just poor parody.

Now the budget isn't huge, so this is firmly in the "low budget" film genre, but they do well here with what they have, and I was pleasantly surprised, as I did scan through the film a few days back and I wasn't too impressed, but when I sat down to watch it, I soon forgot about the low budget and just enjoyed a nice satirical spy film. Paul O'Brien does a good job as the lead, and Georgia Walters is impressive as the love interest.

The Good
A fun film that I enjoyed, nice set pieces, good action, and a decent if cliched story.

The Bad
Despite running only about 90 minutes, I feel like a few scenes could have been cut without affecting the film, and some of the comedy scenes in general tightened up. If this film ran for 80 minutes or even 75 minutes, I think it would play better.

Overall
A simple, comedy spy film with a bit of romance thrown in, what more could you want?

I score The Spy Who Never Dies a solid 8/10

Coming to the UK on Digital Soon in 2022
Currently streaming in Australia on Stan Australia

Monday, 26 September 2022

REVIEW: Blank (2022) - Starring Rachel Shelley and Heida Reed

Review by Jon Donnis
Take a look at the three posters for this film that I have conveniently put side by side for you. If you only looked at the posters, you would think these were three different films. The first one (red), would describe some kind of Terminator like film. The second one (white) kind of looks like a coming of age feminist type film, and the third one (blue) is probably the most accurate one of the three, but also the most boring one.

So we are back again with a film that has AI going wrong, Blank stars Rachel Shelley as Claire Rivers, Claire is a writer suffering from writer's block, as she looks at blank pages (blank hence the name of the film), she is having to put up with pressure from her agent and bills that need to be paid, but without a finished book, she finds herself stuck.

Claire decides to do what all writers do when they face writers block, she decides to go to a creepy futuristic retreat with AI and Robots. What could possibly go wrong?


Upon entering the house, she is met first by a holographic Wayne Brady, who she later names Henry. He explains how the retreat works, and introducers Claire to the robot called Rita (Heida Reed). She is there to take care of Claire's every need, so she can relax and get those brain juices flowing.

Just when you think everything is fine, it seems that there is a worldwide malware/virus attack. And before you know it Rita has locked all of the doors in the house, which also strangely has bullet proof glass windows, and Rita keeps resetting every day, and won't let Claire leave until the book is finished.


Throw in flashback scenes from Claire's childhood which show some very strange childhood trauma. A more and more messed up Rita as the film progresses, and Wayne Brady popping up every so often, and we have an interesting if slightly unoriginal film. 

At 92 minutes before credits, the film feels slightly long, and I wonder if this would have been a better film if made as a one-off TV episode as part of Black Mirror or some other anthology type show with a much shorter run time, maybe even as short as an hour. I say that because this is a low budget film, and as such the longer a film is, the more you may have to stretch things out, where you might usually use visual effects to distract the viewer.


The Good
Strong performances from Rachel Shelley and Heida Reed carry the film, and it is always fun to see Wayne Brady appear.

The Bad
AI goes wrong, person gets trapped, it is unoriginal, and if you don't have the budget then perhaps stay away from this kind of sci fi film.

Overall
Blank is a decent film, but suffers from a low budget and longish run time. Strong performances from the two female leads helps raise the film up to a slightly better level than what the story alone does.

I score Blank a fair 6.5/10

Out now on DIgital.


COMPETITION: Mr Malcolm's List on Blu-ray


Mr Malcolm's List on Blu-ray on 3rd October.

And to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 2 copies to give away.

Synopsis: 
When she fails to meet an item on his list of requirements for a bride, Julia Thistlewaite is jilted by London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Malcolm. Feeling humiliated and determined to exact revenge, she convinces her friend, Selina, to play the role of his ideal match. Soon, Mr. Malcolm wonders whether he’s found the perfect woman... or the perfect hoax. 

Boasting a fabulous all-star cast including Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Sope Dirisu (Gangs of London), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Bly Manor), Ashley Park (Emily in Paris), Zawe Ashton (Nocturnal Animals) and Theo James (The Time Traveler's Wife), Mr. Malcolm’s List is the must-see, feel-good film of the year.

Dazzler Media presents Mr. Malcolm’s List on Blu-ray and DVD from 3rd October

Order from Amazon at https://amzn.to/3xSY17y

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

Who plays Mr. Malcolm in Mr. Malcolm's List?

Send your name, address and of course the answer to competition365@outlook.com

Quick Terms and conditions - For full T&C click here
1. Closing date 10-10-22
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.
5. Entries that come directly from other websites will not be accepted.

COMPETITION: Win The Twin (A Shudder Original) on DVD


The Twin released on DVD on 3rd October.

And to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 3 copies to give away.

Synopsis: 
Prepare for double the trouble as we come face to face with The Twin – a disturbing and terrifying psychological horror from Finnish director Taneli Mustonen (Lake Bodom, Reunion). Midsommar and Hereditary fans will be thrilled with this unflinchingly eerie and spine-chilling Shudder Original, arriving on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital 3 October 2022 from Acorn Media International.

In the aftermath of a tragic accident that saw their son killed, Rachel (Teresa Palmer – A Discovery of Witches, Lights Out, Hacksaw Ridges) and Anthony (Steven Cree – Maleficent, Outlander, Brave) decide to move to the other side of the world to focus on their surviving twin son, Elliot (Tristan Ruggeri – The Witcher).

What begins as a time to heal in the isolated Scandinavian countryside turns into a desperate battle for the very soul of their child. When an entity claiming to be his dead brother possesses Elliot, Rachel must embark on a deadly and disturbing journey to unravel the horrible truth about the twin. Forced to confront the unbearable truth, Rachel’s nightmare is only just beginning... 

This horror promises twists and turns galore and sinister shocks aplenty that will keep viewers guessing until the very end.

Dare you meet The Twin in this highly atmospheric and unrelentingly tense thriller?

Order from Amazon at https://amzn.to/3raZKRG

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

Who directs The Twin?

Send your name, address and of course the answer to competition365@outlook.com

Quick Terms and conditions - For full T&C click here
1. Closing date 10-10-22
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.
5. Entries that come directly from other websites will not be accepted.