BraveStorm (2017)

This remake of the 1970s Japanese TV series Shiruba Kamen (Silver Mask) and Supa Robotto Reddo Baron (Super Robot Red Baron) takes the heroes from both — an armored bionic superhero and a red giant robot — and has them fight aliens to save Earth and prevent the extinction of mankind.

In the year 2050, life as we know it is gone on Earth. No, not just the COVID-19 we’re dealing with now, but the Killgis have used their giant robot Black Baron to terraform our planet and make it just like their planet. The Kasuga family travel back in time with the plans to make their own robot, a device that shows them who is an alien, psychic powers and the Silver Mask suit, which is soon given to a scientist’s pit fighting brother.

If you’re a fan of the Senkosha heroes like The Samurai, Moonlight Mask, Kousoku Esper and Yusei Oji, you’ll be happy when Goro Kirishima, the hero of Iron King, shows up at the end to warn that the Shiranui are coming to Earth. Here’s to more crossover films like this, as I had a blast watching it.

I like that the aliens chose Earth because we were going to destroy ourselves anyway. This is the kind of mindless — I say that in a good way — giant robot punching magic that Japan does so well.

Want to learn more about BraveStorm? Check out the official site. Its available on DirecTV, Dish, Charter, Cox, iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay and FandangoNow, and on DVD at Amazon and Walmart stores nationwide.

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Distribution Solutions for sending this blu ray our way for review.

Jurassic Dead (2017)

Back in March, we covered Jurassic Thunder, another film that was directed by Milko Davis and Thomas Martwick. They also made Tsunambee, which we covered earlier this week. Obviously, we’re going to watch every movie that these guys put out.

Dr. Wojick Borge has had enough of being made fun of. So he signs up with the Axis of Evil to destroy America with a series of mad scientist weapons like a gas that turns people into zombies and EMP blasts. But that’s not enough. No, he has to live up to the title of this movie by unleashing an undead T-Rex called…the Z-Rex.

There are plenty of bullets fired, bodies devoured and zombies walking about. Imagine a sub-Shocking Dark and you have a good idea of this movie.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by Wild Eye Releasing.

 

REPOST: Lost Gully Road (2017)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This review, originally posted on January 14, 2020. is being reposted as Wild Eye Releasing has sent us the DVD copy of the film. This is a really intriguing film and way better than so many of the movies you stumble across on streaming or direct to DVD.

Lost Gully Road tells the story of Lucy, a directionless young woman who travels to a secluded cottage in the forest to wait for her sister. However, time seems to drag on. Cut off from the outside world other than phone calls with her sibling, Lucy turns to drinking to pass the solitary days of waiting…until a potentially sinister presence joins her.

Director Donna McRae, on hero IMDB bio, cites the films of Val Lewton as an influence. I will say that this Australian horror film looks gorgeous and has a definite look and feel, which is a major plus in the streaming horror world, where nearly every movie and concept feels recycled.

This is pretty much a one woman acting show and Adele Perovic does quite well in it. While the story may be slow at times, the talent on display more than makes up for it.

Lost Gully Road is available on demand and on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing. You can learn more at the official site.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by its PR company.

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle (2017)

A year after defeating Valentine in the first film, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) has officially joined the Kingsman, having taken his late mentor Harry Hart’s title of Galahad and is dating Tilde, Crown Princess of Sweden (Hanna Alstrom). He’s soon attacked by Charlie, the rejected Kingsman who turned on the world in the wake of Valentine’s plot. During their battle, he hacks into the Kingsman’s database, allowing Poppy Adams (Julianna Moore) and her drug cartel the Golden Circle to murder every single Kingsman agent save Eggsy and handler Merlin (Mark Strong).

How can Eggsy save the world from a deadly virus spread by doing recreational drugs? Simple. Head to America and meet the Statesmen, the American side of the secret spy world.

While the Kingsman are based around fine clothes, the Statesman are based around hard alcohol. They’re led by Champagne (Jeff Bridges) and have Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Tequila (Channing Tatum) in their organization. And oh yeah — they’ve saved Harry’s life, but he remembers nothing of being a spy.

This movie is completely ridiculous, taking the farce of the first movie even further to the point that Elton John battles a robotic guard dog.

I love the scene in the Italian Alps, as it feel as if it were taken directly from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Again, despite how outlandish this gets, it’s so much better than the recent spate of Bond films.

At the wedding scene at the end of this movie, Harry claims that one of their founding agents once said. “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” That person would be British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

I’m excited to see where the Kingsmen go next, both in a proposed third film and a prequel that has been moved to September of this year.

Magic Pills (2017)

Medicine is obviously big on our minds right now, as we confront an epidemic that currently has no cure.

This documentary is pretty interesting to watch while keeping where we are now in mind.

Filmmaker and homeopath Ananda More, Hom, DHMHS has traveled the world to meet with scientists, practitioners and patients to more about homeopathy. While she initially was a skeptic, now she wants to know if its science-based or is an elaborate placebo that impacts millions and endangers lives.

Science believes that homeopathy can’t work because we can’t prove how it works. How did we figure out gravity and electricity back before we could prove it? That’s the problem that Anada presents as she shows how homeopathy is being used to treat cancer in India, support the use of antiretroviral medication for HIV/AIDS in Africa and prevent common epidemics in Cuba.

Can science explain how nature works? How does homeopathy work as well as medicine? Is it better, as often medicine focuses on toxic treatments that can have irreversible or life-threatening side effects? Should the profits of healthcare be people or the company making the cure?

Magic Pills is available on demand.

DISCLAIMER: This movie was sent by its PR company.

Becoming Bond (2017)

Directed by Josh Greenbaum, who also made Behind the Mask for Hulu, this documentary is all about the left and times of the man who played Bond just one time, George Lazenby.

I love the set-up that they wrote for the film: “The stranger-than-fiction true story of George Lazenby, a poor Australian car mechanic who, through an unbelievable set of circumstances, landed the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, despite having never acted a day in his life. Then after being offered the next seven Bond films and a $1 million signing bonus, he turned it all down.”

An interview with Lazenby is intercut with Drunk History-style recreations, as the movie star recalls being a failure in high school who finally used what he learned in a “How To Win Friends and Influence People” class to improve his car selling job, got his heart broken by a girl and ended up becoming James Bond despite having no real acting experience outside of some commercials.

Lazenby discussed that becoming James Bond meant giving up too much and how walked away from fame and fortune. He went back to Australia, became a realtor and then married and raised a family. He neglects to mention all the movies that he appeared in after that, but when someone is so good at telling their story, why get in the way of it?

The actor also appears in another documentary, This Never Happened to the Other Fella, which is in post-production.

You can watch this on Hulu.

Main Street Meats (2017)

Made in the dairy state of Wisconsin, this tale of a struggling family-run meat shop — which learns how to cook up human flesh to become a success — is blessed by a vocal cameo from the Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis.

It’s the first feature from writer, producer and director Jeff Lyon.

The Lewis cameo makes sense. This movie feels like something he would do, as it’s as much concerned with being humorous as it is with being gross. It also looks way better than most streaming features, which is another bonus. I look forward to seeing what the filmmakers do next.

Wild Eye Releasing was kind enough to send us this movie on DVD, but you can also watch this right now on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

Despite 12 years between movies, Xander Cage being supposedly killed off and mixed reviews, this movie film grossed over $346 million worldwide on an $85 million budget, making it the highest-grossing film of the entire franchise.

One of the reasons why this movie did so well is because it has an international cast, like Donnie Yen (Ip-Man) as Xiang, a rival xXx agent; Indian actress Deepika Padukone; Kris Wu, who was in the Chinese/South Korean boy band EXO, Australian actress Ruby Rose; Tony Jaa (Ong Bak), Canadian actress Nina Dobrev; British actor Rory McCann; British actress Hermione Corfield; American football player Tony Gonzales and British MMA star Michael Bisping. Ice Cube also shows in at the end in a cameo as Darius Stone from the second film.

This one starts off with Augustus Gibbons (Samuel Jackson) and a Jason Bourne-like character being killed by a falling satellite and doesn’t ever let up, with such insanity as fighting a government base to give the people cable and racing motorcycles across giant waves. Yes, this is a movie that has absolutely no interest in reality and exists only to entertain you.

Jaa and Yen are two of the best martial arts-based actors in the world, so this movie features plenty of fights, as you’d hope. Sadly, Jet Li dropped out of the picture, but that may have been too much.

Of course they’re planning another xXx movie and I have no issue at all with this development.

The Taste of Betel Nut (2017)

A polyamorous male couple decides to test the limits of the restrictive society that they live in when they become romantically involved with a young woman. Yes, this is the winner of the SIFF 2018 China Stars Award for Best Film and not usually the kind of film we feature on our site.

That said, it’s well-made and interestingly shot, starting off almost as a series of non-sequiturs.

Li Qi works at a dolphin show and his friend Ren Yu runs a mobile karaoke that is popular because he looks like screen actor Leslie Cheung. A young woman Bai Ling hooks up with both of them, but soon, an event rocks all of them to their very souls.

This movie is mostly dialogue-free, so if you’re concerned about the foreign language barrier, there really is none. The movie is known as Bing Lang Xue in its original language.

It’s the second film of Hu Jia, who also directed Dance With Me.

The Taste of Betel Nut is available on demand and DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment.

DISCLAIMER: This movie was sent to us by its PR department.

Box Officer Failures Week: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

One day when I was shopping at Walmart, my wife noticed a Valerian t-shirt. She said, “I have no idea what this is, put it looks like something you’ll be into.” I was already primed for this movie, which came and went in no time at all. I’m glad I bought that shirt — I’m wearing it now and it’s inordinately soft and comfortable, thanks for asking — but I’m not so sure about the movie itself.

This was written and directed by Luc Besson, who famously brought the world The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita and Léon: The Professional and perhaps not so famously The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, a movie that this resembles not only because it is based on a comic book that few Americans know, but because it so deliriously cares so little about not making any sense whatsoever.

Valerian has been a comic book that ran in France from 1967 to 2010. One of its artists, Jean-Claude Mézières, worked with Besson on The Fifth Element and asked him. “Why are you doing this shitty film? Why you don’t do Valerian?”

It would take years for the technology to catch up to the point where all the many races of the comic could be depicted on the big screen. Besson was worried about the challenge, continually rewriting his script, which follows much of the sixth volume of the series, Ambassador of the Shadows.

The beginning of the film sets you up for magic, as it details how the International Space Station grew to meet more alien races and how the human race changed to adapt, with Rutger Hauer acting as the face of humanity. It’s totally awesome and packed with imagination and probably the last part of the movie that isn’t non-stop action.

Now that space station is called Alpha and its explored by the United Human Federation. Two of the best agents are Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline. This movie is about their adventures to save the alternate planet Müi after Valerian gets a telepathic message from the now-deceased Princess Lihö-Minaa.

What follows is a delirious odyssey, dealing with the deceptive Commander Arün Filitt (Clive Owen), meeting a shapeshifting entertainer named Bubble (Rhianna) and getting to the bottom of the end of planet Müi.

I want to love this movie — I mean Herbie Hancock plays a military leader and John Goodman is the voice of a gangster alien — but man, it’s all over the place. It’s confusing enough figuring out where you are in the movie when suddenly people are in more than one place at the same time and it’s playing tricks of people appearing and disappearing, as well as alternate worlds and duplicitous leaders. It’s as if you’re suddenly dropped into a sequel of a franchise you’ve never watched before — because that’s exactly what is happening.

This would work if everyone knew the story of Valerian, but nope. They don’t.

Besson is still holding out hope for a sequel, despite this movie costing $400 million and only making $225 million back. That’s the perils of big time moviemaking.

But man — I don’t hate it, the more I think about it. It’s audacious, with two hundred different alien species appearing and so many major set pieces that it took seven soundstages to film it all. Besson is a maniac — he wrote a detailed six hundred-page about the aliens and the worlds they’d be filming that the actors had to read before they appeared in the movie.

My biggest problem with the movie is Valerian himself. Dane DeHaan seems to be channeling Keanu Reeves and not in a good way. He comes off as perhaps the most unlikeable character and you never get any true sense why Laureline would have any interest in him whatsoever.

Despite the change in hair color from red to blonde, I have fewer qualms about Cara Delevingne’s acting. You may remember her as The Enchantress from Suicide Squad. She’s also in Her Smell and Paper Towns.

There’s also a Jessica Rabbit cameo, played by Sand Van Roy, an actress who has accused Besson of sexual assault. Delevingne has also discussed how Harvey Weinstein tried the same with her.