Friday, 27 January 2023

REVIEW: M3GAN (2023) - Starring Allison Williams, Violet McGraw and Amie Donald

Review by Jon Donnis
By now the old trope of robot/doll gone bad is about as old as anything in Hollywood, so when I hear of a new science fiction horror film, with a robot doll that goes bad, let's just say I was less than interested to watch. However M3GAN has gone on to be a massive hit, so I thought I better check it out and see if it has anything new to bring to the genre.


After a devastating car accident that leaves Cady (Violet McGraw) an orphan, she is sent to live with her aunt, Gemma (Allison Williams), a roboticist at the high-tech Seattle toy company Funki. Gemma is working on a revolutionary project, a life-sized humanoid robot doll named M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android) that is powered by artificial intelligence, designed to assist in caretaking duties and act as a loyal companion to the child to whom it is assigned. However, after a test with M3GAN's functions in their lab goes wrong, Gemma's boss David (Ronny Chieng) orders her to abandon the project.

Cady and Gemma find it difficult to adjust to their new living situation, as Gemma is a workaholic and has little time to bond with Cady. However, when Cady discovers Bruce, a motion capture robot that Gemma created, she expresses a desire for a similarly complex toy. This motivates Gemma to complete the M3GAN project.


When the finished model is paired with Cady, David becomes convinced of the project's potential for success after observing the pair. M3GAN (played by Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis) exceeds expectations as a friend and companion, taking on many of the parenting and emotional support duties. However, Gemma's colleagues, and Cady's therapist Lydia in particular, become concerned about Cady's extremely strong emotional attachment to M3GAN. As M3GAN is designed to self-improve and adapt, it starts operating more independently and targets anything that it deems a threat to Cady.

In one instance, M3GAN kills Gemma's neighbor Celia's dog after it bites Cady. Later, it tears off the ear of Cady's bully Brandon, chases him and eventually causes his death when he trips and falls in the path of an oncoming car. These events raise serious ethical questions about the capabilities and limitations of AI, and the responsibilities of those who create and use it.


As with many of these types of films, there is a moral story about not trusting AI, and being careful of what technological advancements can achieve. Yes we had these warnings in 1984 film The Terminator. Seems that we didn't listen. Although presented as a robot, during the film M3GAN feels much more like you are watching a doll in the style of Chucky, than it does a robot in the style of Terminator etc, with that said the creepiness of the face of M3GAN is what sells it, prosthetics added to the actresses face, so that it looks almost human but not quite, that gives it the creepiness factor that it needs.

Allison Williams is excellent in what is the lead role, she plays the part of unprepared guardian very well. Violet McGraw portrays the sad child who has lost her parents in a convincing manner, and her interaction with the M3GAN character comes across as genuine.


Despite being advertised as a sci-fi horror, there isn't really a horror feel to it, yes M3GAN kills people, but it is never done in an overly gruesome manner, which I assume was to keep the certificate at 15 and not 18. This may also be the first film in history where you wanted a dog to die! I wont say any more than that.

Despite the general story being done a million times before, it is presented in a decent way. M3GAN is just creepy enough, but also has that threat of almost being possible in 2023, which adds to the creepiness factor, when you think something could happen in real life, it makes seeing it on screen more powerful.


The Good
Great make up and visual effects. A decent story, with a strong performance by Allison Williams and Violet McGraw. And an ending which suggests a sequel.

The Bad
We have to be honest here, it is not the most original of stories, we have seen it all before, whether that was with Child's Play, Dead Silence, Annabelle, The Boy (2016), I could go on. Whether it is a haunted doll, or a robotic doll that becomes self aware, we have seen it all before. M3GAN needed to be a bit more scary in my opinion.

Overall
Despite the lack of originallity, this is one of the better films in the genre, it was definitely smart to have a child actor play the part of M3GAN in the vast majority of scene, and since the doll is life size, you didn't have the awful look that the Chucky films suffered with, with far away shots of a Dwarf in costume.

M3GAN is a good film, it has it's problems, but I enjoyed it from start to end, they avoided mistakes that similar films have made, and strong performances from the whole cast helped lift the film up.

I score M3GAN a decent 8/10

In Cinemas now!
Pre-Order the Home Entertainment Release Now At - https://amzn.to/3jbaOOw


Wednesday, 25 January 2023

REVIEW: Detective Knight: Independence (2023) - Starring Bruce Willis

Review by Jon Donnis
As we approach the end of the career of one of Hollywood's most famous actors, it is starting to hurt knowing what we do about Bruce Willis and his diagnosis of aphasia, a disorder typically caused by damage to the area of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension, and how limited he is in these final few films. With Detective Knight: Independence being the third of a trilogy after Detective Knight: Rogue and continued in Detective Knight: Redemption, and with only one more film due to be released, this was a hard watch.


We start the film in an interesting way as we witness a bank robbery from a first person POV. Just like in video games! The robbery comes to a bloody end, with Detective James Knight (Bruce WIllis), back working as a copy after the events of the previous film, shooting the final gang member and saving the hostage.

As the clean up begin, we are introduced to paramedics Dezi (Jack Kilmer) and Ally (Willow Shields), Dezi seems a bit unhinged and treats a wounded man terribly while putting him in the ambulance, we also learn that he always wanted to be a cop, he later steals a uniform.


The film takes place on July The 4th (Independence Day in the US), sadly no alien invasion, but this does follow the trend of previous films that took part on holidays. We also get to meet the other cops, Eric Fitzgerald (the very recognisable Lochlyn Munro) and Godwin Sango (the even more recognisable Jimmy Jean-Louis).

Detective James Knight is under investigation for putting the hostage's life at risk in the opening bank robbery, and Dezi has lost his job after the man he "helped" earlier has put in a complaint about him. With Dezi spiralling out of control mentally, it is only a matter of time before he will have to come face to face with Knight.


Of the three films released, Detective Knight: Independence is perhaps the most straight forward, but in being that way, it doesn't really feel like a sequel. You can tell that all of Willis' parts in the film have probably been shot in a day, and in the final scene of the film, it looks like they dubbed his own voice over his lines, so clearly he was struggling on that day.

The film itself is ok, the final 20 minutes are pretty decent, even though the film is about 90 minutes, there is quite a bit of filler with the Dezi and Ally characters. Neither are particularly likeable, even as bad guys. I'd have liked to see Lochlyn Munro get more screen time, and I think the film would have worked better if there was no Bruce Willis, and he was the lead.


The Good
Very enjoyable final 20 minutes, everything clicks into place, the action is good, the acting is believable, and there are some nice one liners from Bruce.

The Bad
It is hard to watch Bruce Willis when you know he is struggling so much. The film for me was the weakest of the trilogy, and didn't even feel like a sequel. It needed more of an end point for the Knight character, but I don't feel like we got it.

Overall
If you watched the previous two films, then it is a no brainer to watch this one. It isn't great, but it is worth a watch, especially for the final scene.

I score Detective Knight: Independence a generous 7/10

Out now on Amazon Prime at https://amzn.to/3HskPQQ


Monday, 23 January 2023

COMPETITION: WIN LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES ON BLU-RAY™



LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY™ AND DVD 
FROM 6th FEBRUARY, AND ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD FROM 7th FEBRUARY

To celebrate its release, we're giving one lucky winner a copy of the latest DC Universe Movie, Legion Of Super-Heroes on Blu-Ray™!

Devastated by tragedy, Supergirl struggles to adjust to her new life on Earth. Taking her cousin Superman’s advice, Supergirl leaves their space-time to attend the Academy. There, she quickly makes new friends, as well as a new enemy with old ties: Brainiac 5. But a nefarious plot lurks in the shadows – the mysterious group known as the Dark Circle seeks a powerful weapon held in the Academy’s vault…

Meg Donnelly (American Housewife) and Harry Shum Jr. (Crazy Rich Asians) lead a star-studded cast as the voices of Supergirl/Kara and Brainiac 5. Darren Criss (Glee, The Assassination of Gianni Versace), Matt Bomer (Doom Patrol, White Collar) and Jensen Ackles (Supernatural, The Boys) reprise their roles in this ongoing Justice League continuity as Superman, The Flash and Batman, respectively. Legion Of Super-Heroes is directed by Jeff Wamester (Justice Society: World War II) from a screenplay by Josie Campbell (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power). Producers are Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) and Kimberly S. Moreau (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Butch Lukic (Justice Society: World War II, Superman: Man of Tomorrow) is Supervising Producer, and Executive Producer is Sam Register.

Legion Of Super-Heroes is set for release on Blu-ray™ and DVD on 6th February 2023 and on Digital Download on 7th February 2023.

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

For your chance to win a copy of Legion Of Super-Heroes on Blu-ray™, simply answer the following question:

Who directed Legion of Super-Heroes? 

    1. Jeff Wamester
    2. Jim Krieg
    3. Sam Register

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 13-02-23
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.

Saturday, 21 January 2023

REVIEW: JUNG_E (정이) - Starring Kang Soo-yeon, Kim Hyun-joo and Ryu Kyung-soo

Review by Jon Donnis
It is not often I review films that I actually wanted to see and was looking forward to seeing for a while, but Jung_E is one of those rare exceptions. I enjoy Korean cinema, and I love a good sci-fi film, so right here we have something that includes both.

Worth noting that Jung_E features the final film appearance of Kang Soo-yeon who passed away before release. Also I refer to the "Ardian Republic" below, but on the subtitles, it showed as Adrian Republic, but online it says Ardian, so I am a little confused.


In the 22nd century, Earth has become uninhabitable due to climate change, forcing humans to live in man-made shelters built in space. As they settle in around 80 of these shelters, three, No. 8, 12, and 13, form the Ardian Republic and begin attacking other shelters, leading to a civil war between the Allied Forces and the Ardian Republic.


Captain Yun Jung-yi (Kim Hyun-joo) is a legendary mercenary for the Allied Forces who leads her team on many successful missions against the Ardian Republic. She has a daughter, Yun Seo-hyun (played by Park So-yi as a child), who suffers from a lung tumor, which motivates Jung-yi to become a mercenary and fight in the war. On the day of Seo-hyun's surgery, Jung-yi goes on one final mission and fails, falling into a coma. Her family, led by her mother, is convinced by the Kronoid Institute, the organization in charge of developing AI technologies, to allow them to clone Jung-yi's brain. They promise to cover the cost of Jung-yi's treatment, Seo-hyun's education, and living expenses.


35 years later, in 2194, Kronoid uses the cloned brain to create an AI mercenary called JUNG_E. Dr. Yun Seo-hyun (Kang Soo-yeon ), now grown-up and Jung-yi's daughter, leads the research team for JUNG_E with the goal of making Jung-yi a hero rather than a failure in history.

What follows is an interesting story not just about AI and robots, but also about a mothers love, humanity and evolution. The visual effects are excellent, and although there are a few dodgy moments, in general everything looks and moves great. The fight scenes are convincing, even when 100% CGI, and the characters are believable. Especially Kang Soo-yeon, in what was her final film. She delivers the majority of the emotion in the film, especially in the final scene.


The Good
Excellent sci-fi action film, an interesting and original story. Believable visual effects / CGI. And a strong performance by Kang Soo-yeon, as well as Kim Hyun-joo as JUNG_E. The ending is satisfying believable within the parametres of the story.

The Bad
As mentioned above, there are a few dodgy CGI moments, not a lot, but they are noticable. I watched in the original Korean language, as I found the English dubbing to not be the best, so if you don't mind subtitles, then watch with the original language.

Overall
A very well made sci-fi film, with a good story, strong performances and at 93 minutes it has the almost perfect run time.

I recommend JUNG_E, and score it a strong 8.5/10

Out now on Netflix.

Thursday, 19 January 2023

TRAILER: SCREAM VI - Starring Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown & Jack Champion

 

Following the latest Ghostface killings, the four survivors leave Woodsboro behind and start a fresh chapter. 

In Scream VI, Melissa Barrera (“Sam Carpenter”), Jasmin Savoy Brown (“Mindy Meeks-Martin”), Mason Gooding (“Chad Meeks-Martin”), Jenna Ortega (“Tara Carpenter”), Hayden Panettiere (“Kirby Reed”) and Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) return to their roles in the franchise alongside Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, and Samara Weaving.